Posts in the 'etiquette' Category

{Ask Liz} Why Aren’t Vendors Calling Me Back?

Patience and the right questions will get you here soon-ish. (Photo by B & G Photography)

Dear Liz:

I got engaged last month, and I was so excited to start planning my wedding. But it’s taking so long to even get to see any venues, we aren’t going to visit the first one on my list until this Sunday. It’s also been really hard to get a hold of any photographers too, and I don’t know what to do.  Is this the way it’s going to go, I just have to keep calling and emailing over and over until I can get meet with anybody? How am I supposed to hire people if they won’t call me back, or can’t see me for weeks?


Bride Blocked

Dear Blocked,

Most of my job as a wedding planner is trying to get in touch with one person or another, so, believe me, I get your frustration. I know it feels like bad customer service, but a lot of  it’s just bad timing. Bad timing and busy, busy schedules. The venue you’re going to see this weekend most likely has a wedding right after your visit and another wedding next weekend. Same thing with photographers, plus they’re editing weddings they’ve already shot, too. Your wedding is months away, and not actually their wedding, yet. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle…or at least feel like you are.

RING, Already!

Knowing what to expect helps. Generally speaking, the best time to contact any vendor is between Tuesday and Thursday.  Venue managers usually take Mondays off. Friday is not great because everyone is gearing up for Saturday again. Photographers might work on Sundays, too. Never try to contact them during the weekend – anyone who has to work the weekend of your wedding is probably working this weekend too.  Never drop by without an appointment.

In your initial contact with any vendor, give them as much information as you can. Date, guest count, location, overall budget, anything you know about your wedding so far. Try not to create a phone tag situation – if you are emailing or have to leave a voice mail, tell them best time and wait to get back to you. If you reach an assistant, find out the best time to reach the boss, and try again. Figure out your schedule beforehand too: If you can only meet in person on a weekend because of your schedule, say so. If you can meet after work or at lunch, say so. Give them specifics to respond to.  Always give specifics.

Now, I’m not saying that I haven’t run into wedding pros who simply will not respond in a timely manner, but that’s not the norm. Most are eager to talk and find out more about your wedding and, well, get paid. A good rule is if you do not hear back in two days, move on to the next company on your list. If they miss a scheduled phone call or meeting, seriously consider moving down the list. It’s not going to get any better once you hire them – it shows disrespect for your time that is  not going to change.

So, what’s the longest it took for you to hear back from a vendor and meet with them? What do you think of my advice? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my Wedding World, visit my website at

See you at the end of the aisle,


{Ask Liz} Jumpstarting Your Wedding & A Few Words About Bridal Shower Etiquette

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

Fill these seats carefully! (Photo by Pictilio)

Dear Liz,

My brother is getting married in May and his bride-to-be has asked for my help with planning the wedding. We will have to travel about four hours to where it is taking place. There will more than likely be 50 (or less) guests in attendance, which is what they want. She doesn’t feel terrible about leaving a lot of people out on her special day especially since she knows a lot of them wouldn’t want to make the trip. I was just wondering is it acceptable to invite uninvited guests to a huge bridal shower in her honor??


Shower Struggle

Dear Struggle,

Yeah…no. You really can’t invite people to the shower who haven’t been invited to the wedding. Showers = gifts and money. So basically you’re telling them that even though they weren’t important enough to watch her get married, they can still travel X amount of hours to give her a blender. Plus, you’ll be positioning your future sister-in-law – publicly – as “the woman that didn’t invite them to her wedding”. At some point, to someone, she will have to explain why, and probably have to do so over and over again.  Trust me, someone will mention it or ask for details. Awkward. Awkward, awkward.  If you are worried about a low turnout, invite the guys, too.


Resistance is futile.

Dear Liz,

I just got engaged! Is there some type of simple check list, for starting to plan a wedding? Like…

1- Budget

2 – Guest list

3 – Dress??

I’m so overwhelmed by the whole process!


In the Deep End

Dear Deep,

Welcome to Wedding World! First of all, bonus points for putting your dress third. That sort of practical thinking will get you far around here. Start with your guest list – his list, your list, and your parents’ lists. And, yeah, if your budget is a consideration, figure that out while you’re getting your guests together. You should reserve half of your budget for your ceremony and reception site, and your catering. A little perspective – a comparable wedding dinner at Olive Garden for 100 guests would be around $5,000. Those are also the first three things you need to pay for. Once you got that done, I give you permission to start shopping for your dress. You should probably book a photographer first, but there’s no reason to be a saint. Have fun!

Who did you invite to your bridal shower? How long did you resist shopping for your dress? Just engaged, and got questions? Let me know below! And, you can find out more about me and my slice of Wedding World at

See you at the end of the aisle,


{Ask Liz} Well, We ARE Family

Got a question for Liz? Go to contact page and let us know what’s up!

So, how was YOUR family gathering on Thanksgiving?

All I’m saying is, you know, I’m just sayin’…

Dear Liz,

I’m getting married in June and need advice about a guest list dilemma.
My father has two sisters and a brother we’ll call Bill. Dad doesn’t speak to any of them unless it’s unavoidable and would prefer if none of them were invited to my wedding. I have better relations with them than he does and am definitely inviting his two sisters and their families; the problem lies with Bill’s family. My dad and Bill had a falling out about five years ago, and long before that things were tense – despite living not that far away, we stopped visiting Bill’s family 12-15 years ago. I’m 28, and I think I was in late elementary school or junior high when we last spent any amount of time together.

My sister and I have made some efforts at reconnecting with Bill’s two daughters over the past couple of years but literally haven’t seen his two sons for over a decade. This past summer one of Bill’s daughters got married; my sister and I were invited to her bridal shower (though neither of us was able to go) and my whole immediate family was invited to her wedding (which my parents and sister attended; I live across the country and couldn’t go, but sent a card, which my cousin thanked me for.) Up to this point, all of the first cousins have always been invited to each other’s weddings. I would hate to be the person that further deteriorated relations in our family by not inviting Bill’s family. On the other hand, numbers are tight (Bill’s family, all-included, makes 12), I don’t know any of them very well compared with our other guests, and none of them has thus far acknowledged my engagement – plus, my father can be difficult in a lot of social situations and I can’t imagine that having Bill’s family around would lead to him being very agreeable at the wedding. In a recent conversation with my mother it became clear that she also thinks it would make more sense not to invite them. Most of Bill’s family lives near where we’re getting married, so there’s a good chance they’d be able to come. Oh, and my mother also doesn’t think it’s OK to invite only Bill’s daughters and not his sons (and, reluctantly, I tend to agree). 


Family Fracas-ed Out

Dear Fracas,

Your Dad and Bill do not get along, but his family has obviously tried to reach out and establish a relationship with you, as part of their family. You want to invite them, but the big sticker is Bill and Dad’s feud, which is why you hope that they won’t come.  I get that you’re afraid of the tension, but here’s the thing:  If your Dad went to his niece’s wedding, then they’ve already had to deal with each other, and quite recently. They are grown, and they will get through it. And, if you invite them all, some of them will come.

That being said, if you really don’t want to deal with the possible stress on your wedding day, then don’t invite any of Bill’s family. Making his daughters choose between you and their Dad isn’t fair…sort of like how your parents making you choose between them and Bill’s daughters isn’t fair. There is room for all, or there is room for none. I’m just saying.

What do you think? Should her Dad suck it up, or should she just give it up? Let me know in the comments below!

And HEY, are you in Los Angeles? I have a great Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday Wedding deal for you – $500 off Day-Of Coordination. You get me, my lovely assistant, and all the joy and peace we’re going to bring to your wedding day. But, only if you book online by Monday.  There’s some other lovely discounts to get you down the aisle too, so GO.

See you at the end of the aisle,


{Ask Liz} Your Family & Everyone Else’s

Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what’s up.

Break’s Over. Oy:

Photo by Up Imagery

Hi Liz,

I’m in need of some advice! I’m getting married next year and butting heads with my parents a bit on the guest list. One of my major concerns is my mom’s brother. Although he is an alcoholic and has sent time in rehab in the past, he still will drink at family parties from time to time and everyone looks the other way (which I’ve always disagreed with). I don’t have a relationship with him- due to him being in and out of rehab stints through most of my childhood and teen years- and would prefer he not be invited, but my mom was very offended when I suggested that he be left off of the guest list. Knowing that not inviting him is not an option, do you have any suggestions about how I could best handle this? My mom said that she would keep an eye on him throughout the night, but I don’t want her worrying about that and not enjoying the day. Do you have any suggestions on how to best handle this?


Hard to Say “Uncle”

Dear Hard,

If your mother is insisting that he comes, and you feel that there is no other alternative, then accept that she will be in charge of him. She’s not going to have a good time if he’s not there, and she’s fine with being responsible for him if he is. This is what she wants, so agree with her and keep moving. It’ll be okay. Or, at the very least, it will be an interesting story.

Uh-oh, looks like he’s about to blow…

Dear Liz:

My fiance and I are trying to figure out what to do about kids at the wedding.  At first, we agreed that the wedding and reception would be adults only but then we learned that my sister is expecting (!) and is due about 4 months before our wedding. We obviously want the baby at the wedding and, thought about making an exception to our “no kids” rule to allow for the baby but we’re concerned about the number of our guests with children feeling a bit slighted.  So, our new thought is to allow children to attend the wedding and then provide on site child care (with kids activities, movies, and kid friendly food) for the adult reception. We’re getting married at a very casual spot which gives us free reign of the entire property so we have areas that we can use as a “kids care” area and have spoken with a few nannies who would be available & up to the task (there will probably be about 8 kids).

My questions are more about logistics – first, is it OK if we let the kids come to cocktail hour and then go to the babysitters for the reception? My fiance likes this option (because our cocktail hour has lawn games and other fun things) but I’m concerned that the kids, once seeing the party, will be hard to get to leave the party and I’d like to avoid crying/tantrums. What do you see typically being done? Second, I’m having nightmares that a child will cry (or somehow be distracting) during our vows and that the parent won’t take them away from the ceremony.  Is this something I should not worry about – have you noticed that parents tend to take their crier outside or should I somehow politely remind people to take their child away if they begin to cry (if the latter – how to do that politely??).  Lastly, I’m concerned one couple won’t bring their child (who will be 8, so no where near “adult” in my mind) to the babysitter because they’ve flat out ignored “adult only” reception requests for other weddings.  How do we get everyone to use the service?

Ugh – I have to say, saying “no kids” was SO much easier!!


Rug Rat Regret

Dear Regret,

Don’t drive yourself nuts. I don’t think you have to invite everyone’s children if your sister can’t leave hers at home. She’s your sister, and the baby is family. You don’t have to spend all the extra time and money trying to accommodate everyone else, and have the kind of wedding you didn’t want in the first place.

BUT. If you do decide to provide childcare, make sure that the parents know that it’s available, and when. Usually, it’s either right after the ceremony or starting with the reception, and you should have the nannies round the kids up, so they know which child belongs to who, and they can talk to the parents personally. Make sure that the area that they are going to is accessible to the reception, because at some point, someone is going to need their Mommy, and vice versa!

P.S. Parents, if they are at all self-aware, will sit at the back or on the side, where they can exit quickly if their child starts crying. As with most matters of etiquette,however,  if they won’t do it automatically, they won’t do it if prompted. You can try, though – put it in the program.


Do you have a relative whose presence at your wedding is going to make you cringe? How are you managing the kids at your wedding? Let me know below!

See you at the end of the aisle,


{Real Bride: Mellzah} 3 Things This Broke-Ass Bride Looks For In A Wedding Vendor

It can take a lot of time and effort to find the right vendor for any part of a wedding. And while lots of websites have list upon list of key questions that you should ask each and every vendor, here are the things that send up little flags for me personally as to whether I’ll consider doing business with a vendor.

1. Timely responses to my phone calls and emails! First  things first–let’s talk about timeliness.  I expect that as a prospective client, when I come a-knockin’, that my email will be acknowledged within a reasonable time frame; say, a week.  I don’t even expect to have all of my questions answered at that time, a “Hey Mellzah, got your message, I’ll have time to give you a full reply next week” response will suffice (provided that they do actually then respond to me within the time frame they’ve now set for themselves).

I don’t expect anyone to sleep with their phones under their pillow or devote their lives to email outside of business hours, but if a vendor doesn’t reply to an inquiry within a reasonable time frame, they’ve already sent me a message: “Your business is not important to me.” Think about it: when you go out to interview for a job, you’re on your best behavior–you arrive on time, you’re clean and well-dressed, you go out of your way to impress the interviewer because you want the job, even if your natural proclivities tend toward lateness and merely occasional swipes of deodorant, because you want their money.

As a personal example of businesses doing it wrong, when I was searching for my ideal venue,  I ended up cutting two I had initially loved off of my list: one had asked me if I wanted a tour, and when I responded in the affirmative, fell off the face of the earth and never replied to me again. The other, while beautiful, has negative review after negative review on Yelp for “weeks of no contact” “emails constantly ‘getting lost'”, “urgent voicemails left with no response”…it’s not something that inspires confidence. My personal belief is that if a business doesn’t impress me while still in the honeymoon stage of trying to get my money,  they’re certain to treat me even more poorly after they have it. On the flip side, when a business responds to my questions promptly and thoroughly, I’m nearly overwhelmed by the urge to fling money at them.

2. A decent website, with GOOD photos. My friends, it is 2012 and there is no reason for a vendor to not have a website. Perhaps back in 1997 when AOL billed for internet time by the minute and it took you the better part of an afternoon to download a picture of a unicorn it was fine to go without, but in this day and age, if you’re a vendor who doesn’t have a website, you pretty much don’t exist to me. The one paragraph blurb you paid out the nose to have placed in the back of Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom doesn’t begin to give me enough information.

Websites are the single best way to answer a ton of questions that many, if not all, potential customers will have, so you don’t have to answer them individually, saving you an assload of phone and email time. Seriously–put tons of information on your website.  Rates, packages, promos, reviews, FAQs–on a well-organized website, no one is going to say “Great googly moogly, I am overwhelmed by this readily available information and wish I could go back to the days of calling someone and maybe not ever getting a response or having to call again later when I remember a question that I forgot to ask earlier and then a third time when I need a clarification!” A great website with a ton of information directly influenced my decision for a wedding and reception venue.  I refer back to it when I’m trying to figure out what size tablecloths I need or what length aisle runner I need to construct if I want it to run from the door to the altar. It has been an invaluable resource to me.

Speaking of websites: those babies had better be loaded up with pictures. GOOD pictures.  I’m not spending three hours on Pinterest at a crack because of all of the compelling text, and if the pictures of your venue/food/rentals suck, it tells me that you accept mediocrity, and that if you aren’t trying when you advertise yourself, you’re not going to try any harder for me.  Venues:  If all I see when I visit your site are photos of the same fountain or fireplace from several different angles, you are telling me that there’s something wrong with the venue, because it’s the same trick apartment complexes use on Craigslist to hide the fact that their apartments have shag carpeting and no windows by only showing photos of their modern business and fitness centers.

If you’re a working photographer without a significant amount of photos on your website, this is an even bigger problem to me: how do you not have work available to show? This is your product! It’s what you do!  I saw a local photography company host a sale on one of those “deal a day” websites and the only picture they had to show was a blurry (not artistically blurry, just poorly-focused) first dance photo.  There is no price low enough for blurry, bad photographs to make it a good deal! If you’re a photographer and I can’t see your work, if you can’t show me a full wedding from beginning to end after I’ve inquired, if all you can show me is one lucky shot that you captured out of 300 weddings photographed, it is an enormous red flag to me.

3. A better than average reputation. I always take individual Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, as I know that people (a) are more likely to write about a bad experience than a good one, (b) like to complain, (c) write bad reviews in the hopes of getting special treatment or perks that they would not receive otherwise in the hopes of getting their negative review retracted, (d) are generally unreasonable douchebags (read: “I visited a steakhouse and there weren’t enough tofu options.” ), but a significant number of bad reviews is likely to sway me.

I place more emphasis on my monkeysphere; do my non-douchebag friends know or have had interactions with this business?  I put out a call on Facebook recently to ask my friends if there were any local photographers that they knew or recommended. A few recommended a friend of theirs (whom they had not hired); another friend wrote me privately and told me that he had previously considered this same photographer a friend, but that she had offered to give them a significant “friend discount” for their wedding and then pressured them to sign a deal with her that was $1,000 higher than the going local high-end photographer rate, taking advantage of the fact that they hadn’t shopped around on price. Given my friend’s personal allegation of this photographer’s dishonesty, I am not even considering her in my ongoing search for my photographer.

I love planning lavish parties, and this isn’t my first rodeo–friends still talk about the insane circus sideshow themed birthday party I threw in 2008–so I’m no stranger at throwing gobs of money at vendors to bring my party vision to life. I’m also colloquially known as Seattle’s equivalent of Kevin Bacon; I connect people. So when a vendor impresses me, I intend to use them for future events, and I’ll recommend them to friends as well. Vendors can’t have a “well, they’ll only get married once so it doesn’t matter how I treat them” attitude. It matters.  Websites. Reputation. It’s how you’ll get my business. Timeliness, honesty,  and respectability is how you’ll keep my business.  Because when it comes down to it, I’m just one person and it doesn’t really matter whether I hire you or not…but I’m far from the only person who holds these viewpoints, and the steps you take today will ensure whether or not you have a healthy future business.

Ask Liz About Wedding Calculations

Dear Liz:

Help! We have to bring everything into our venue, chairs, tables, everything. I’m scared that we’re going to forget something. Do you have a list of rentals that we need to have for our wedding?


Table Troubled

Dear Table, everything.

First of all, thanks – it’s because of your question that I expanded this topic in  my e-book a couple of nights ago! Rentals are a pain in the butt, I’m not going to lie to you. And there’s no “list” per se, but there are easy-ish ways to find out what you need. Start with your venue. What can you use there? Is there a functioning kitchen, or are you going to have to build one? Is there running water? Trash cans? That’s the first way to determine what you don’t have to rent. From there, go to your caterer. Go over the menu again,keeping in mind what the venue’s facilities are, and how many staff members your caterers are going to have.  Find out what they are bringing in themselves, and determine together what you’ll have to get for them. This is important: When it comes to their shopping list for you, stick to the numbers that they are comfortable with. If they ask for 300 plates for 100 people, get it. 400 glasses? Do it. Plates get dropped, guests want seconds, and odds are it’s easier to have more glasses on hand then to put someone on dish washing duty. Oh, and don’t forget about the small stuff like salt and pepper shakers and sugar and creamer pots. If the caterer has a rental company that they prefer to work with, get a proposal from them. Otherwise, ask your venue for recommendations. Finally, make sure you physically see the rentals before you put down a deposit. I’m serious.


Dear Liz,

Is it correct to count an item as “free” just because you didn’t write the check for it yourself?  For instance, my aunt is buying our wedding cake for us.  To me, there’s a big difference between the cost of a wedding to the couple and the overall cost of a wedding.  I’m not going to say I had a $10K wedding (with a free cake)…I would say I had a $10.5K wedding, but multiple people shared in the cost. Is this the right thing to say?


Words and Numbers

Dear Words,

I had a 10k wedding 9 years ago – our anniversary is in two weeks, actually – and we had a little bit of help, too. But it still all came out to $10,000, because that is what was spent, total. And I know this, because I was the one who was keeping track of it! So, yes, as far as I’m concerned, the way you stated it is correct. But I’d be interested to see what our readers have to say.

So, how do you talk about your wedding budget? And do you have any rental questions? Let me know in the comments below…

See you at the end of the aisle,






Ask Liz: About Second Weddings

Dear Liz,
My fiance and I are both getting married for the second time. I love the idea of wearing a beautiful dress and sharing this day with my closest friends and family, but I’m not sure the etiquette for a second wedding. I am content with court-house nuptials and a low-key party afterward. I have spread the word that I don’t expect or want bridal showers, bachelorette parties, etc. Honestly, I’m not that interested in spending tons of money or having the headache of a big celebration. Do you have any ideas or advice for a small, casual celebration for the second (and last) time around?
Better The Second Time Around

Your idyllic second marriage can start with an idyllc second wedding. Totally up to you. (Courtesy of B&G Photography)

Dear Better,
There are a few benefits to second marriages, and I think one of the greatest is the stress factor – as in, there isn’t as much where the wedding is concerned. At least that’s what I’ve found with the second-timers I’ve worked with, and the ones I know personally, actually. You already get what a lot of first-time brides are still trying to focus on, that’s it all about you and the guy you love, pledging the rest of your lives together, with a nice party with your nearest and dearest afterward. Just that simple. My sister-in law, Tristan Coopersmith, wrote a great article last week on this subject, pointing out that even though it is a second marriage, you’re still going to share a lot of “firsts” with each other, too. Like for instance, the first time the two of you are having your wedding!
At any rate, the rules to second weddings remain the same as with the first. That being, there is only one rule: HAVE THE WEDDING YOU WANT.  You want small and casual, figure out what that looks like to you, and go for it. Courthouse ceremony followed by dinner? Excellent.  If there is stuff that you absolutely want to do, do it. If there isn’t, don’t.  Let everyone know, and then stick to your guns.
You said that you don’t expect it, but don’t be surprised if your friends and family do want to throw you a bridal shower or bachelorette party, though. And you should think about participating, since they’re only doing it to show how much they care about you and support you, and that’s never bad. Don’t be afraid to enforce limits.  If you feel Vegas is too extravagant, spend a night out on your town. Enforce a no-stripper mandate. Whatever it is that you feel comfortable with! That’s another thing that second wedding should definitely be about: Comfort.
So, what do you guys think? Are any of you wedding for the second time, and what did you definitely want or NOT want this time around? Any tips for Better? Let me know in the comments!
See you at the end of the aisle,

Ask Liz: Doing it Your Way

Reception venue of your dreams?

Hey, Liz! Crazy question.

My fiance and I have decided to get married next month and hold off on having a big traditional ceremony and reception until next year. We’re not doing it because of illness or he’s in the military or anything, we just really want to.

My question is, what is the wedding etiquette for that? Can I still have all the showers and gifts? Is it ok to still go through all the regular motions? Also, I have found there is almost NO info for people like us, of course all our friends have said it’s our wedding and we can do whatever we want, but any advice would be so appreciated!


Twice Celebrated

P.S. I’m changing my name after we get married – should we use his last name on the invitations, or just use our first names?


Dear Twice,

Yeah, you’re right, there isn’t too much out there, but I love breaking new ground, so let’s do this.  The funny thing, it happens all the time – couples get married legally, and then throw a reception later, or even vice versa, for whatever reason. And they also have all the fixings – the shower, the gifts, all of that, because you’re STILL celebrating your marriage, whether it’s tomorrow or in 2015.  Your friends are right, you should do what you want. Don’t feel guilty, just enjoy it.

But as far as the pre-wedding festivities go, you probably shouldn’t take the lead on those. Once you announce your reception date, let your friends and family take over plans for the a shower or bachelorette party, if they’re willing and able. Odds are they will be, but don’t push it.

And totally use your last name on your invites if you want: “Twice and Hubby Smith cordially invite you to a celebration of their marriage…” Something like that. But first names work, too.

Dear Liz,

Both pictures courtesy of Sun Dance Photography

We knew where we wanted to have our reception, but I want a church wedding, and it took a little longer to find that! As it is, it’s a little farther than I would like. It’s  a half an hour, indirect route to get to dinner. But I love both places – should I go for it?


Lost Expectations


Dear Lost,

It is a truth universally recognized in Wedding World that there are two things (in your case, three) that you can never change a bride’s mind about: The Dress and the Wedding and Reception Sites. You’re in love, obviously, so yes, go for it. There are a couple of things you can do to help your guests get from point A to point B. Tip them off on your wedding website that it’s a convoluted trip, and give them directions, plus phone numbers for the church and reception venues. Print them out and leave them at the hotel on the day of the wedding, too. The hotel should be happy to slip them under your guests’ doors, too. You can also look into renting a guest shuttle from the hotel to the church to the reception, so they don’t have to worry about getting from one place to another.

Your guests don’t necessarily have to be hand-held, but you should tell them what to expect. Tell them a couple of times, just to play it safe. :-)

So, what do you think, peeps? Did you get married before or after your wedding, and how did you work it? And how far is your wedding from your reception, and how did you work that? Share!

See you at the end of the aisle,