Posts in the 'family drama' Category

Your Family vs. Your Guest List

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Credit: Life’s Highlights

Last week, I got an email from a bride who didn’t have a problem yet, but was anticipating a huge one. She and her fiance want a small wedding, surrounded by their good friends and close family. She was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen once her mother got ahold of the list. What if her Mom insisted on inviting the 120 family members that she would probably want to add to that list? There’s a ton of you worried about the same thing. I know there’s a few (unnamed) couples on my roster who are, for sure.

So, how to combat that? For starters, stop thinking about it as a battle. It’s a wedding, its not a war. And if you keep looking at everything as a potential conflict, that’s exactly what you’ll find. I’m not so zen that I’m saying the guest list won’t be an issue. I…have parents, too. And what I (eventually) figured out was that it’s easier if you manage their expectations of your expectations. You’re not going to be able to avoid the conversation with them, but you can certainly put it into context.

Get specific with your numbers

Sit down with your fiance and make a list of everyone the two of you want to invite. It won’t take long, but go over it a couple more times to make sure you didn’t miss anyone, and that you included their significant others. Now, given that list, how many more people are you willing to have at your wedding? So, say you come up with a list of 50 people, or 25 couples. Are you willing to have another 50 people at your wedding, to bring it to 100? Another 25 people to bring it to 75? Think about it as people, and think about it as tables. 50 people is five tables, 100 people is 10. What feels right to you?

Mom?

Be straightforward, and tell the truth: “We want to keep the guest list to 100 people, and we have 50 people that we want to invite. Can you help us and give us a list of the 50 people you want to invite by [make up a date in the next couple of weeks]?” This is what we want, this is what we have so far, this is what we’re asking from you and here’s the date we need it by. We really appreciate your help! DO NOT under any circumstances, apologize. You’re not being mean, you’re not being rude, DO NOT get defensive. Just state what you want, which is a wedding with this number of people. Ask for their help. And then change the subject as quick as you can. Check in a couple of times before your deadline. Be prepared to have the conversation again. Express gratitude for their help as often as you can.

Bonus points: Get specific with the costs

For extra credit, if you’ve already booked a venue and/or caterer, figure out out how much it is going to cost per person and for the entire group, and give that to her, too. So, say, your venue is $2500. if catering is $75 per person, plus tax and service (30% here) = $97.50 per person, or $14,750 for 100 people. See? You’re trying to be reasonable by sticking to a reasonable budget, whether they’re paying for it or you are.

They’ll be thinking about those numbers while they’re going over their own list. And, again, Do NOT apologize! No, “I’m really sorry about this.” For one thing, that’s a lie. For another, you’re not doing anything wrong. Ask her for help. Thank her for her help. Take a deep breath, and smile.

So, really, how many of you are facing a massive guest list from your folks that you don’t want? Got any questions about my advice? Let me know in the comments below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Real Bride Shannon: Beating the Bridal Gown Blues

As brides, we have a lot to stress over. Whether it’s the environmental stress of an industry demanding we spend, spend, spend, the intimidating task of pleasing everyone, or the stuff we completely make up (I’m not alone in that, right?), planning a wedding can wreak havoc on your chill. I knew before I got engaged, hell, before I was even sure that I was ever getting married, my wedding dress would cause a mountain of stress.

To start things off, I never qualified for my “Love Your Body” card. I’m a hateful nitpicker in front of the mirror, saying things to myself that no one would ever think of me and I certainly wouldn’t think of anyone else. As I admitted to you last week, I tend to have this strange, backward way of thinking where the more compliments I get, the more afraid I am of not living up to what I perceive as lofty expectations of me. So, needless to say, I was already in a hole the first time I went shopping, and to make things even more difficult, I didn’t really have a budget.

My mom, on the other hand, was reeeeeeally excited. She had hauled me all over the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex in high school to find the perfect prom dress (two years in a row!), and she was still getting over her disappointment that my sister only tried two dresses on, so she was ready for some hardcore wedding dress shopping.

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Our first trip was to an outlet mall with racks and racks of every size dress. We weren’t so much shopping as testing the waters. I never had a vision of what my dress would look like. I just didn’t want to look bad, so we pulled several dresses from the racks and I headed back to the dressing room with minimal fanfare.

These were the best of the bunch and you can see I was none too pleased. I didn’t think either of them were worth half of their $899 price tags, which terrified me for the day I actually got my budget set. Looking back at the pictures now, both dresses seem nice, but I obviously didn’t see it then:

NOPE

Not exactly a “yes to the dress” expression.

While my overly dramatic look of disgust might suggest that it was an epic waste of time, we actually accomplished the two things we set out to do, both of which were a surprise to me: I learned that a mermaid silhouette complimented my figure best and that true white or a very pale ivory washed out my already-pale skin the least. If you have major questions that likely can’t be answered without trying something on, I highly recommend a trial run at a similar store where you won’t be pummeled with high-pressure sales.

My second trip was still an “I’m just looking” venture, but this time my mother, sister and I went to one of the largest bridal salons in Dallas. At this point, I knew my fiance was willing to spend a lot more on a dress than I originally expected, but I was still pretty iffy on where that budget was coming from. Sensing that I probably wasn’t buying that day, the saleswoman told me to pick out eight dresses and hang them on a hook. It wasn’t exactly customer service, but at least there wasn’t any high pressure.

capbeadAs feared, the first dress I tried on looked much better on the hanger than it did on me. At a street size 8, I’m right in that sample size area and this one was just a hair too big through the middle while practically bursting at the hip seams. I had been warned, but perhaps didn’t put enough credence into the notion that it’s extremely rare to fit perfectly into a sample size without alterations, but I was already disappointed.

smdressThis one fit quite nicely and I really liked the illusion neckline. Although I wasn’t overly excited, this was my mother’s favorite and it took no more than her saying so for me to feel overwhelmed with (perceived) pressure. When I told my mom, “I guess this would be ok if I don’t find something better,” she told me it was time to try something else on. I’m sure what I was sensing was not her irritation, but my assumption that she was upset that I wasn’t equally in love, and I reluctantly headed back to the dressing room. I got in and out of a few dresses without any “wow” moments. I was beginning to think that I was just going to settle for something that “worked” even if it didn’t make me feel beautiful or special or like a “real” bride.

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The strapless dress just seemed lackluster and I was inclined to avoid strapless anyway. I adored the lace and beading on the silvery dress on the right, but it was a discontinued sample and was only available to buy off the rack in a size that I knew wouldn’t fit properly without some extreme dieting. I shimmied out of it and pulled out the last dress — the one I had intentionally saved for last.

ac1This Allure Couture dress was the most expensive I pulled that day. Coming it at a staggering $2250, it was more than I was willing to commit to, but not impossible if I cut corners elsewhere. Yes, the sample was a bit too snug, but what left me really disappointed was when mom said unemotionally, “It’s…nice.”

“That does that,” I thought.

Mom was ready for me to choose another eight gowns and I was just ready to get out of there. I wasn’t sure if I was hangry because I was hungry or because stuffing my face just sounded like a good idea, but I used it as an excuse and we headed to grab lunch.

Things were tense between my mother and me for the next couple of weeks. I allowed myself to get crippled by fear. I was afraid of disappointing her. I was intimidated by her pages of handwritten notes of designers and dresses and where they were sold in the area and how much they were. I was scared to death of my then-unestablished budget. Things culminated in a particularly nasty fight that tentatively resolved with, “I love you, but I can’t be your Wedding Barbie.” I explained that while we have the same decadent taste, “decadent” wasn’t in my budget. We ended on the kind of understanding you only get from family. She hasn’t pressured me since (even if I invent reasons to feel pressure).

After making peace with my mom, I went home for a visit. That weekend my dad handed me an envelope with $1,500 in it and explained that if he could do anything, he wanted to buy my dress. I knew it was more than he had to give, but it was also something he desperately wanted to do. Sometimes the sacrifices we make for people we love are far outweighed by our joy in doing something to help. This was one of those times. I hugged him and thanked him and knew I had a budget.

I was still feeling the pull from Mom to go shopping again, and despite our successful reconciliation, I was still feeling overwhelmed. I was also more than miffed that the store that was supposed to be THE store in Dallas was … really disappointing in terms of both selection and staff. I had heard good things about Bridal Boutique in Lewisville, about 15 miles south of my house, and on a whim one day, I made an appointment to go … all by myself.

The purpose was twofold. I didn’t want to drag my mother across the world to be annoyed that dresses we had Pinned and researched weren’t actually there, and I wanted to see how I felt about dresses without her opinion.

Full disclosure: I am in no way being compensated for this statement.

Oh my goodness, if you live within whatever distance you’d be willing to travel of Bridal Boutique Lewisville, you want to go to there. My associate Candice was so warm from the get-go that I knew I was going get through this! She asked me questions to know how to best help me and, boy, did she ever help! She even talked me out of trying on a dress that I adored, but knew was outside of my budget. In what seemed like seconds, we had a load of dresses to take back to the dressing room.

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She got me out of my comfort zone, while still embracing my style. One thing she mentioned that will be helpful to anyone shopping is that she was glad I had my hair and makeup done. Even though my hair was just a messy updo, being a little extra made-up will give you more of the over-all bride feeling when you’re checking yourself out. You may want to consider bringing some jewelry, too!

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She even took the pictures for me and gave me a little pose coaching so they were ready to show my family. You can see her in the mirror up there. I knew from my last excursion that I favored the modesty of the illusion neckline, so we had plenty of those to try on.

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She retook that picture several times, but apparently I was so excited, I blinked every time. It was getting a little silly so, it was time to take it and run. I tried on a few more; not all of them were great, but we even got to visit my old friend, this time without rips and tears!

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In the privacy of a Tuesday afternoon, just Candice and me, I found THE one, for $1,250, which was under my (gifted) $1,500 budget. It happened to be the first dress she pulled for me based on what I told her I was looking for. And all that customer service and enthusiasm? It came AFTER I told her I wasn’t going to buy anything until my parents were there! Before I had even made an appointment to bring the folks in, I got a sweet, hand-written letter in the mail from Candice telling me how wonderful it was to work with me!

I was so nervous to tell my mom that I’d actually found my dress without her, but once I showed her pictures, she couldn’t argue. I learned that sometimes, whether other people are making you feel overwhelmed or you’re overwhelmed because you’re stressing out about other people, taking some alone time, even for something you’re putting a lot of emphasis on, is a really empowering, yet calming way to go. I made my appointment to try the dress on again for Mom and Dad and when I did, I caught Dad tearing up. Success!

So which dress made my daddy cry? It’s not here. It’s too obvious! You’ll have to wait another seven months (Y’all. I’m getting married in seven months!), but I’ll tell you all about my shoes next time!

The Holidays vs. Your Wedding

The Holidays vs. Your Wedding

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out that the current number of Mrs. Coopersmiths would soon be increased by one  — my husband’s little brother got engaged. Yay! But then I looked at the calendar again and frowned. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. Seven weeks before New Years.

Here we go.

The best part of the Holiday season is the number of chances you’ll have to spend time with your  family and friends. And  if you ever lacked attention from any of them, you are definitely going to get it now that you’re engaged:

“Oh my God, congratulations! When are you getting married??”

“You got engaged last Saturday? Did you find a dress, yet?”

“How many guests are you having?”

“My wedding was so stressful. If I had to do it all over again, I’d elope.”

“What are your colors? Do you have a Pinterest board?”

“Where are you getting married? All the good places book up fast, so you need to start looking now.”

Umm ...

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is really happy and excited for you, and you need to remember that once you start contemplating murder. But, all of a sudden, they’re heavily invested in your wedding day, offering a stream of unsolicited advice, unsolicited opinions and a ton of questions that you don’t have any response to right now.  You’re still startled every time your new shiny new ring slides into your peripheral vision, now you’re feeling insecure about how you’re going to pull this all off, anyway, especially since  all the questions make it obvious that you don’t know what you’re doing, right?  Weddings cost how much? And how do you start looking for a wedding venue that’s not even going to be available when you find it?

Get it done and why haven’t you found it and what are you waiting for and NOW. And there’s that pressure even if you’ve been planning for a while, too.  That one question that will be asked over and over — “How’s the wedding going?” — can be a killer. Well, how is it going?, you ask yourself, thinking about the open checklist boxes, the invitations you’re still trying to choose, the bridesmaid dresses that came in the wrong color, the DJ you haven’t booked … yet. Not so great, you’re thinking as you reply while smiling bravely, “We’re working on it.”

Another deep breath. The season of peace, love and joy starts with you, so give yourself a break, first of all! You don’t have to know all the answers right now, you don’t have to accomplish all the things before your Mom’s annual Yuletide bash.  What you do need to do is give yourself credit for everything you’ve already done, even if that’s just finding the person you wanna hang out with for the rest of your life. Enjoy it. Bask, even. When you’re asked about the wheres and the whens and the whys? Shake your head, smile, and repeat after me, “We haven’t decided any of that, we’re going to talk about it next month.” Full stop.  And if you’re not so new and a wedding check-up is requested, list everything you’ve already finished (because you are a Rock Star), and the one (choose ONE) thing you want to check off before the end of the year. If they ask about anything else, shrug and repeat after me, “Yeah, we’ll get that done after the holidays.” Because you will.

So, how are the holidays going so far? Any crazy questions or unreasonable expectations from your nearest and dearest? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like to find out more about me and my little part of Wedding World, visit www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

 

 

 

Liz

On Marriage: 11 Fulfilling Ways to Keep Your Relationship Youthful

The holidays tend to bring out that big, nasty stress monster in nearly everyone I know. Even Metro and Dolly are a little more catty. All of this hustle, bustle, pressure and travel can often lead to taking the ones nearest and dearest to us — who also tend to be our own personal shelters from the storm — for granted. And that’s pretty sucky. This article, originally on The Huffington Post, is a rad collection of ways for us to extend little gestures of gratitude during an otherwise chaotic time.

Photographer Persimimmon Images

Photo: Persimmon Images

We all want to do more for our significant others, but sometimes we get so caught up in the stress and hustle of everyday life that we don’t do as much as we could to let them know that we love them.

To keep your relationship feeling young and spontaneous, try a few of these simple and fulfilling ways to show your spouse how much you care.

1. Pack a surprise lunch

Take a few extra minutes in the morning to pack a sandwich, veggies and some crackers for your significant other’s lunch break and leave them a note to help them find it. Not only will they appreciate your effort, but they’ll love the fact that they no longer have to throw their lunch together before running out the door.

2. Go on a coffee date

As we get older, we tend to plan most of our “romantic outings” around dinner, wine and occasionally a movie. Reach into your college-years-dating manual and take your spouse out for some coffee. Coffee shops have a great atmosphere for facilitating conversation and the increasingly cold weather makes coffee a perfect treat any day.

3. Set their commute music

If your spouse is the kind to still listen to CDs, go old-school with this tip and make a nostalgic mix for them. Or, simply make a playlist and upload it to their iPod when they’re not looking (just make sure you don’t wipe any of their other songs from their iPod when doing so).

4. Leave coffee by the bed

If your spouse wakes up slightly after you, get their coffee ready early and have it waiting on their nightstand. Nothing starts a day off on the right foot quite like the smell of fresh coffee and knowing that someone cares about you.

Click here to continue reading “11 Fulfilling Ways to Keep Your Relationship Youthful” on The Huffington Post.

BAB Throwback: Ask Liz: Managing Your Wedding Expectations & Owning The Wedding You Can Afford

Got a question for our wedding planning guru Heather? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

BAB Throwback: Ask Liz: Managing Your Wedding Expectations & Owning The Wedding You Can Afford

 

Via.

Dear Liz,

I really like the idea of asking a friend to be a stage manager for the wedding, or possibly hiring a professional as a day-of coordinator. The venue where we’re getting married has their person, who is the one managing both the catering and the venue logistics.  She said she wouldn’t recommend bringing a planner in, since they tend to be grumpy,  and she’s got it covered. Should I just trust that she’ll do what we want?  We have a meeting well ahead of the rehearsal to discuss exact timing for the ceremony, for example, and her staff will even set up all the centerpieces and escort cards if we leave them there. Or, should I risk stepping on her toes and bring in someone who’s just focused on us? Am I worrying too much, or should I just appreciate the level of service the venue is offering?

Signed, 

Day-of Dilemma

Dear Dilemma,

I’ve worked a few weddings where after a couple of meetings I kind of think, “Okay, well, why am I here?” And the answer is “insurance.”  Having someone there who, as you say, is just there for you, and be your advocate in case the things you’re really worried about (whatever those are) go wonky. You don’t want to worry about anything, you want to enjoy the day, and you feel that having her there will make that happen. From your venue manager’s perspective, however, that’s great as long as they aren’t going to question her at every turn or try and fix a system that’s not broken.  This is probably what she meant by the word “grumpy”! So, be very clear with your friend – if you do decide to “hire” her – as to what her responsibilities should be. I’d focus on three things: Vendor management on the day of, bridal and wedding party wrangling, and break-down – what needs to get tossed, sent back to whatever company it came from, or carried away by friends and family. That’s always a scramble at the end of the night, especially if you have a deadline to get out of the space. But, most of all, make sure she asks the venue coordinator how she can facilitate what is already being done. How can she help them help you?  That’s the way that everyone wins.

Dear Liz,

How do you manage inviting groups of people like colleagues, sports groups, etc, when some are close friends but you don’t really care about inviting some other members (and much less their partners who you’ve only met once and were incredibly rude)? How do you compromise between keeping an intimate atmosphere at your wedding and not ruining your life at work afterward?

Signed, 

Picking Teams

Dear Teams,

If you really, truly do not want someone at your wedding, do not invite them. It’s your wedding, you don’t have to make any excuses before or after, and you may be worried about expectations that they don’t even have. “If I invite one member of the soccer team, I have to invite them all.” No, you really don’t. For the most part, people know where they stand with you. But, if you feel that in your particular circumstance, it’s going to cause problems for you that you just don’t want to deal with, then you have to change the way you look at it: You invited them because you “had” to, but you don’t have to hang out with them all night. Like relatives you haven’t seen since you were 12, you can stick them in the corner, go by and say Hi at some point, and enjoy the rest of your wedding. But seriously, if you are going to resent that they are there at all, and that’s going to color how you feel about them on either side of your wedding day, DO NOT INVITE THEM. Now is the time to be honest with yourself.

Dear Liz,

My in-laws expect a very traditional wedding and with our current financial situation, we are in no place to pay for it. I’ve had to cut corners here and there to stay respectful, and also to keep up proper etiquette. Do you have any words of wisdom for dealing with pushy in-laws who refuse to offer any help or monetary contributions, just endless criticism?

Signed, 

A Pain in the MIL

Dear Pain,

Own your wedding: “I love what we have planned, this is the wedding that I want.” “But you need to have a four-tiered wedding cake! “No, I want cupcakes instead, and I love the ones from this bakery. This is exactly what I want.” And then, change the subject to something non-wedding related, or get away from them. You love your wedding, you love everything you have planned. “How could you like this?” “This is what I like.” Smile while you’re saying it. If they get belligerent, “I understand how you feel about it, but I don’t want that, this is what we’re doing, and I love it.”  Do NOT apologize, do not let the words “I’m sorry” cross your lips.  It makes you sound guilty, and you have nothing to feel guilty about. Do not say, “Well, it’s all we can afford,” because that could put them on defense and then you’ll never get rid of them ! Affirm what you’re doing, that you’re doing what you want, and then get the hell out of dodge.

How did you decide who to invite from your office? Are the parental units giving you a hard time about your wedding choices? Let us know (and feel free to vent your own wedding woes) in the comments below! And, if you’d like to find out a little more about me and my part of wedding world, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Real Bride Jess: The Invite Dilemma

Hi all!

First of all, let me apologize to my friend, Rachel. Rachel got married a few years ago and I was hurt that she didn’t invite me or any of her other friends from junior high through high school. Now, as a Broke-Ass Bride, I totally understand and apologize for being mad.

OK, let’s talk about one of the most difficult aspects of your wedding: the guests. Who do you invite? Who do you leave off? Do you listen to your parents?

Guest List.jpg

 

Made with PicMonkey

I think I mentioned before that I split our list and told Michael that his family was his responsibility (a decision that I still stand by). The difficulty of this is in people asking, “why didn’t cousin X get invited?” I dutifully respond, “Michael was in charge of his side of the family, take it up with him.” I love being able to this because I HATE confrontation and I like deferring the blame.

What I ended up doing, since I have a large family who live locally, is inviting my whole family and a few close friends. We each had 75 invites and 56 of those (on my side) are people I am directly related to.

What Michael did, since most of his relatives live in other states/countries, is invite his grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but no cousins. He said that most of his cousins he has never met or met once when he was little and he wanted to save his invites for the people closest to him. While I totally respect and understand this choice, it did rub some people the wrong way. Luckily while I tend to be more of a people pleaser and would have bent if people complained, Michael stood strong — which I really admire.

The other rough subject of invites is plus-ones. We have had a few people that were shocked that everyone did not get a plus one. Even if I could afford for everyone to bring a guest, I wouldn’t want them to! My wedding is about celebrating with the people I love –I don’t want random people there. I don’t want my sister to invite a guy she met that morning at Starbucks to the most important day of my life (this won’t happen because my sister is 13). The question then becomes: How do we keep  our guests from inviting unwelcome guests (and how do we categorize “unwelcome”)? What we decided was that we would allow people to invite their boyfriends/girlfriends as long as they had been dating for at least a year. To minimize our risk further we didn’t send our invites to “Johnny Smith + 1” but rather, “Johnny Smith and Andrea Biltmore.” Then, the thought is, even if Johnny and Andrea break up, he can’t bring a stranger.

How did you deal with the guest list? Did you get any major pushback?

Ask Heather: Seating Chart Drama and a 3-Hour Wedding

Seating chart

Jennifer Yin via Flickr Creative Commons

Dear Heather,

How do you handle a seating chart with multiple family situations and conflicts making it mind numbingly hard!?

Shelby

Dear Shelby,

You have two main strategies here: (1) Seat people wherever the hell you want and assume that they are grown-ups and can handle themselves for a single day; (2) Knock yourself out and do your absolute best to cope with various family drama. I will warn you right now: No matter which strategy you choose, you will piss someone off. The key: Don’t let this bother you. Weddings breed craziness. Don’t get sucked into it.

Since you’ve written to me, I’m assuming  you’ve decided to not go with Option 1. My suggestion: Post-It notes in many different colors. Use one color for the drama-free folks. Use different colors for each “warring faction.” Seat like with like and use the non-drama folks as buffers. Do a sweetheart table so you don’t have to deal with offending folks who aren’t seated at the head table. Put as many tables equidistant from the sweetheart table as possible, so you don’t have to deal with Uncle Jack complaining about how Aunt Jane was seated closer to you than he was. And use table names rather than numbers, so Phyllis can’t throw a fit that Margaret’s table number was lower, and therefore better, than hers.

Again, you’ll likely make someone angry. Know that you did the best you could and if they can’t put their differences aside for one meaningful day in your life, they can suck it. So neener.

Dear Heather,

My ceremony and reception are both at the same garden, and I only have three hours to do everything. We’re doing a buffet, and this amount of time doesn’t include set-up or clean-up. How do I fit it all into a few hours?

Tiffany

Dear Tiffany,

That’s a fairly tight amount of time, which will make sticking to a timeline absolutely critical. First off: Make sure you start your ceremony when you’re scheduled to start it. Brace yourself, though, as guests will inevitably be late. Unfortunately, those folks will just end up missing part of the ceremony. I’d also suggest doing a first look, so you can get most (if not all) of the posed pictures out of the way prior to everything starting. This will obviously need to be done offsite, but this isn’t the end of the world. You’ll get plenty of non-posed onsite shots during your shindig.

Twenty to 30 minutes is probably a fair amount of time for a garden ceremony, assuming you aren’t doing a bunch of readings or an elaborate unity ceremony. You’ll likely need to cut the cocktail hour down to a cocktail half-hour. This leaves you with about two hours to go. Appoint someone to emphatically shepherd guests from the cocktail area to the reception, and have your wedding party announced as soon as possible. Trust me: Once you start entering, people will get their butts into their seats. If you can skip toasts, that’s great. Otherwise, do them while folks are in line for the buffet. Ideally, guests would be seated for toasts. Realistically, you’re on a timeline here!

Obviously, you and your spouse should be first in line for the buffet, or someone should have already put your food-laden plates where you’ll be sitting. If you can, have multiple buffet stations, since this will cut down on waiting time for your guests. As soon as you and your spouse are done eating, segue into the cake cutting. Yes, some folks will still be eating while you’re cutting your cake. That’s okay. Right after cutting the cake, move into your first dance and parent dances. After a couple of songs where the dance floor is open, do your bouquet and garter tosses. This will hopefully leave about a half-hour of dancing after the official traditions are done.

I’d also suggest doing some sort of no-host party after the reception is over. My husband and I went to a local bar after our reception had ended, and there’s nothing quite like walking into a bar wearing a wedding dress. This also has the advantage of continuing the party without you having to pay for it. Our guests were thrilled to have somewhere “official” to go, and my husband and I were happy to have somewhere we could go, have one drink, then head back to our hotel and collapse.

How about you? Did you struggle with your seating chart? How did you eventually make it work? And what sort of timeline would you use if you only had your venue for three hours? Let us know in the comments below!

Real Bride Elizabeth: Family Matters

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 Sisters!

I am extremely close with my family. Of my three younger siblings, it’s difficult for me to think of three people I would rather hang out with. I was convinced that all the horror stories I heard from friends about family members going crazy during the wedding planning process would not happen to me — no way, no how. Then my younger sister, Tegan, got married. There wasn’t too much drama, but there was a tense moment the night before the wedding when Tegan told my cousin she would prefer she not wear a white, lace dress to the ceremony. No brainer, right? What followed on that wedding eve consisted of my aunt telling my sister she was a spoiled brat who had never been told no (if you know my parents, you would know this is laughable) and Tegan dissolving into tears.

Still, my naïveté persisted and lasted until my engagement bubble was rudely burst, all by family members. I am still four months out, so I am sure there will be more, but I’d like to present you with the top three most dramatic moments in my planning so far, ranging from “Excuuuuuuse me?” to “WTF?!?!?”

1. My mother (would the list be complete without a mother-of-the bride moment?)

My mom has made it clear from Day 1 that she is not happy with my choice to get married in North Carolina instead of my hometown in Wisconsin. My fiancee has a majority of his family and friends in North Carolina, and mine are scattered all over the US. Plus, I’ve always wanted a destination wedding but didn’t have the budget to pull off Mexico, so this was a happy medium. Every couple weeks I get a text or a call along the lines of, “Why are you getting married in North Carolina again???” She tries to pull everything from the tradition card (I’m not that traditional, so doesn’t bother me) to the fact that a lot of my extended family won’t be able to make the trip (that’s the point!) to try and get me to change my mind. Deposits have been made, appointments set, there’s so going back at this point.

2. My aunt

I heard through the family grapevine that one of my aunts had confided in many family members that she was on “Team Ex,” and was not pleased that I was marrying Bryce because she didn’t think he was “as fun” as my ex. Well, that’s pretty offensive to both me and my groom-to-be. Yes, my ex was a nice guy overall, but there were definitely reasons I called it off. And while he may have been more outgoing and extroverted around my family than Bryce is, I’m the one marrying him, so it really matters how we interact with each other, right? If you like my ex so much, why don’t you marry him?

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 At the end of the day, you don’t remember all the drama that happened before the wedding.

3. My other aunt (the same one that threw the white dress fit at my sisters wedding, shockingly)

This one definitely takes the cake. After we got back from North Carolina, we headed to Wisconsin to see my family there and celebrate the good news. My aunt and cousins were there as well, and everyone seemed really happy for us. However, I woke up the next morning to a text from my aunt asking if I was sure my fiance was straight. OK, I admit, I can somewhat understand this. Bryce loves Beyonce, shopping and watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” When I met him, the thought that he was gay did cross my mind. When we started dating, one of my friends was convinced I was his beard. At this point in our relationship, I’ve dotted my t’s and crossed my i’s.  I assured her I had the situation under control, but she continued to tell me that “many” of my family members have expressed the same concern. I think what bugged me more was the fact that all these family members were lip-flappin’ about my personal life!

Throughout all this drama, I have chosen to take the words of my homegirl RuPaul to heart: What other people think of you is none of your business. This has become my mantra throughout the wedding process, and will keep me going until I walk down the aisle. This is my wedding, and I’m doing it the way I want, with the person I want.

Real Bride Peach: Bridal Failure

This is my face.

No one tells you how shitty planning a wedding can make you feel sometimes. I was simply not prepared.

Before I expound, I have to make this humble request: If there is actually a 100% tested-and-approved rule book to follow for not pissing people off when planning a wedding, please order it for me on Amazon and send it my way. But as far as I know, there is no such thing in existence.

I wish there was, as it would appear the planning process is filled with potential traps and pitfalls around every corner. Just when you’re patting yourself on the back for checking a biggie off the to-do list, there is someone just waiting to pull you by your shirt sleeve off into a corner and whisper conspiratorially into your ear about how you should have done it.

The guest list, for instance. Trust me on this: Someone will be forgotten. And even if it was COMPLETELY on accident and you have not spoken with them in years, they will be deeply, gravely and irreparably hurt. Or conversely, you may invite someone controversial – someone you know will cause a ripple in the emotional pond, but social obligations win – and suddenly you’re being angrily chastised for your insensitivity. As it turns out, guest lists are a tricky, tricky bitch to tame and you can’t and won’t win, so the best you can do is just make your choices, put on the battle gear and prepare yourself for the reactions.

Speaking of, don’t even get me started on my Save the Dates. I second-guessed my use of the clear address labels. The fonts I picked. The magnet vs paper. The design. The colors. The stamps. When to send them. And what to include in the content of them. In the end, I loved what we sent. And you know what? Apparently I screwed up because I didn’t put the location of our wedding on it. Oh, and I didn’t create a website (or register yet!!) and include that on it too.  I’m a terrible bride-to-be. 

I thought I did so well…

Now prepare yourself, because I’m going to be straight-up, balls-out, honest with you for a minute. Between my bestie (also getting married) and I, we have personally been through the following because of our choices thus far:

  • de-friendings on Facebook
  • nasty phone calls/texts
  • silent treatments
  • family feuds of WWIII proportions
  • fist-fights between grown men
  • being made to feel inferior because of our wedding decisions
  • being told our choices are flat-out wrong
  • requests that decisions be cleared by family members before being finalized
  • emergency therapy sessions (for us)
  • emergency therapy sessions (for family members with us, because of the wedding)
  • Tears. Epic amounts of tears. Ours, especially.

I only wish I was kidding.

If you knew my bestie or me personally, you’d know that we are two of the most considerate and loyal people out there. We are doing everything to try to please everyone on both sides, not rock the boat and be/do all things wedding perfectly. But our very best attempts at playing nice in every single sandbox are being thwarted. Almost comically so.

We DO realize that it’s not just about us and that we have to take other people’s feelings into consideration. But please, somebody tell me what we are doing so terribly. Are we just doomed to offend someone, somehow, no matter what? And does this feeling of inadequacy and “NO, YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!” happen to all brides?

Because at a time when I’m supposed to be dreaming of my gorgeous dress and how romantic the ceremony will be, standing in front of the garden’s waterfall and professing my love to my person… I feel like crap. And I kinda want to bag the whole thing and go elope in Times Square.

Who’s with me out there? Happen to you, too? Tell my bestie and I that we’re not alone.

Till the next throat-punch,