Unless you're born under a lucky star, you will no doubt encounter one or more of these sticky situations while planning your wedding. Our local experts offer tactful ways to narrow down your wedding party, deal with unexpected guests and figure out whom to thank when a gift card goes astray.
How many thank-you notes should grooms be responsible for writing?
Grooms are stepping up to help shoulder the thank-you note burden — and it's about time. Traditionally the bride's responsibility, composing thank-you notes is "more and more a shared endeavor," according to Naomi Meyer of Bridal Consulting by Naomi. She points out that it's very reasonable for grooms to respond at least to their own friends and family.
Recently married couple Honeylyn and Alan Armstrong employed a slightly different approach. Mrs. Armstrong took charge of the actual writing since she produces a more elegant script, and her husband was present to contribute content and craft responses, especially to his own family and friends. Mrs. Armstrong notes an additional benefit of taking on thank-you notes as a team: "It's good practice for everything else" that awaits in marriage.
Are destination weddings selfish?
The opinion that destination weddings are not intrinsically selfish seems to prevail, but before committing to a resort ceremony, the bride and groom must consider those who are not able to travel due to health or financial concerns. "The wedding is about the couple themselves" and their wishes, contends Pearl Thomas, owner of Rubies and Pearls LLC, an event- and wedding-planning company. Florist Tom Vinns, owner of Tom French Flowers, agrees that the bride should have what she wants but adds, "she takes a risk that somebody is going to be mad" about the far-flung location.
A positive aspect of destination weddings is the intimacy of the ceremony. For the same reason they might be considered selfish — the time and cost associated with attending — such weddings guarantee the presence of only those most devoted to the bride and groom.
What are your obligations to divorced or feuding family members?
Bad blood between family members can cause unpleasant tension at what ought to be a joyous gathering. Pearl Thomas' philosophy on potential problem-causers is clear: "The day is about the couple; it's not about [other family members] and their relationship."
Although it is the responsibility of any testy parties to comport themselves in a respectful, adult manner, the bride and groom can plan thoughtfully to avoid potential conflicts. Careful seating arrangements at the wedding ceremony and reception can minimize the risk of unwanted friction. "Beyond that," Thomas advises, "you can't be responsible."
If your parents are paying for all or part of your wedding, how much say do they get?
Determining parents' degree of influence over wedding planning is a matter of great finesse and also highly dependent on their contribution. Naomi Meyer explains the bottom line: "If parents are paying for all of it, they get the top say." Even then, however, it's important for parents to remember that the wedding is their child's day and not their own.
Recent bride Honeylyn Armstrong, who has a natural flair for event planning, handled the issue of sharing costs with grace. Prior to discussing finances, she determined a firm guest list and budget and selected a reception venue and menu. She then approached her mother-in-law; she says, "I laid everything out and asked what she was comfortable contributing," thereby eliminating the need to negotiate details.
How do you deal gracefully with requests to bring extra, uninvited guests to your wedding?
Solving the problem of uninvited guests begins with tactfully constructed invitations. For example, addressing an invitation to "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" rather than "The Jones Family" implies that children are not expected to attend.
For those who fail to grasp the message and add extra names to their RSVP card, a polite phone call is in order. The best strategy is to thank the invited guest, then convey the message that seating or space is insufficient to accommodate the uninvited party. Such cases are best dealt with on a personal basis, Pearl Thomas explains, as someone might have a health condition that necessitates an attendant. And if a surprise guest appears at the wedding? Accept them graciously, planner Naomi Meyer advises. "Don't start a scene."
How many wedding showers are too many? How many should you expect your bridal party to attend?
Wedding showers are usually kept to one or two: one for the bride's close family and friends and a second for her coworkers. Nicole McAllister, of Little Blue Box Events, believes that "more than two bridal showers is just greedy," unless the bride has invited more than a few out-of-town guests. In that case, a third shower for the out-of-towners may be appropriate.
When it comes to assistance from the bridal party, Angela Parker, of Angela's Elegant Events, says bridesmaids should help out during at least one wedding shower. However, asking them to attend and assist at more than one is asking too much.
How do you gently say ìnoî to your mom when she offers you her dated, 1970s wedding gown?
Brides, please remember to be thankful and polite when nixing the suggestion. Angela Parker says to stick with something short and sweet, like, " ‘Mom, I love you, and I do respect your taste, but I think Vera Wang is more me.' " You may be able to keep her and yourself happy by reworking an element of her gown into your new dress.
Whatís a good size for a wedding party, and how do you narrow down your list of bridesmaids?
"An ideal party should be your closest, nearest and dearest," says Angela Parker. Five bridesmaids and five groomsmen is manageable. And when narrowing down your list, remember who is close to you and knows you best. Nicole McAllister adds that the wedding party should consist of your closest relatives and friends at the time of the wedding. Though childhood friends can laugh with you about things you did on the swing set when you were 7, your best friend at work may know you better when you're preparing for marriage.
Brides and grooms with large, extended families may decide to leave out relatives altogether. That way, they can tell family members that "only friends" are included in the wedding party, and no one will feel jilted.
Whatís an appropriate gift for your husband-to-be?
Classic gifts such as a luxury watch, luggage or golf clubs are sophisticated. However, brides know their grooms best, so gifts can be more personalized. Monogrammed cufflinks are also a great touch, Nicole McAllister says. A little bit of liquor could also do the trick, she adds. "Also, flasks! Guys love that, especially if you put something in it."
What should you do if the card identifying the giver of a gift comes detached and you donít know whom to thank?
For this tricky situation, it is best to go through your guest list and check off the gifts you've received from each person. After that, ask close family members or friends if they know who gave you the mysterious red toaster. If the gift-giver cannot be identified, Nicole McAllister recommends thanking not only people who gave gifts but everyone who attended. Then your unidentified gift-giver won't go unthanked.