Posts in the 'wedding advice' Category

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

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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 Peach: How to be a Zen Master Bride

In speaking with a fellow bride this week (on Twitter message at close to midnight, natch), she stated, “I know you’re like Zen Master Bride, but if you need someone to hear you say unproportionally angry things, I’m here.”

Wait, what? Me? Zen Master Bride?

BWHAHAHA.

How sweet of her! But that simple message led me to ponder over why I’d be perceived as such, when it sure as hell feels like nothing I’m doing or feeling as a Bride is “Zen”.  Here’s my short and sweet advice.

Zen Bride, Broke-Ass Bride, Real Bride Peach, Bride on a Budget,

 

Made with PicMonkey

1. Don’t freak out.

I know. Seems impossible. But remaining calm and keeping a tight reign on my notorious temper has been key for me. I do whatever possible to alleviate stress in my off time, be it relaxing, reading or running and yoga. Because if the Bride ain’t happy, nobody happy. As for emotionally, I try really, REALLY hard to not take questions or comments or jabs personally. It is so difficult to do, especially for a people-pleaser like me. But realizing that these thoughts are (mostly) coming from a place of love has been invaluable. Yes, there will be drama and disappointment and stress. Just trust me when I say that rolling with the punches is far easier than exhausting yourself with a meltdown or engaging in a bloodbath.

2.  Remember your Wedding Vision.

Stick with your vision, no matter what. Now, if your vision is to have a 3-day mandatory camping excursion with 150 people in tents out in the great beyond (no kidding, this has happened in real life), you may want to rethink your ideas. Your guests will thank you for not being required to hover-pee over poison oak in the forest. But in my case, even pre-engagement, my fiance and I dreamed of a simple, intimate garden wedding in front of our nearest and dearest followed by a rockin’ meal and music. 10 months later? That’s still the forefront of our wedding in October. And by NOT getting distracted by the pressure, the Pinterest temptations or the glitz and glam of the industry, we were able to stay focused throughout all the planning on *our* vision. Is it easy? Hardly. But it’s worth it.

3. Pick your battles.

This, my friends. THIS. In the epic world of planning a wedding, there will be many battles. It is your choice entirely as to which ones you meet head-on.  If someone wants to mess with your dreamy garden wedding vision and insists that you have a destination wedding in Cabo or a cathedral church wedding, well, you have my permission to squash those ideas with a quickness. (Nicely, of course.) But when it comes to the smaller nuances, use your logical and deductive skills to decide whether or not to kick up a fuss or to roll with the curveball. Everyone is different and every wedding is different, but in the end, relinquishing *some* of your bridal control can actually be a good thing.

*And pro tip from me? If someone is insisting on adding something that will either 1. impact your budget or 2. cause you added stress and lost time or 3. both, you have every right to state that you’d be happy to think about it but that you cannot incur the costs of their idea and they will need to help with the execution.  The majority of the time, their tune will change most quickly. If not, and they are willing to pitch in AND you actually do like their idea, then let them run like the wind with it. Then you can keep doing you.

4. Let it out.

Please, please, please remember that you are human. Feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, stress are normal. If you keep it all inside, you’ll not only be miserable … you’ll also be dangerous to anyone within a 10-mile radius. This is when having trusted friends who know you, love you and can bear your pain are priceless. In private with them, let it out. (“In private” is critical. Do NOT go apeshit on your Aunt Milda.) Your friends should act as your Vault. With them, wail, scream, cry, whatever you have to do. Follow it up with a glass (or 2) of wine and a good night’s sleep and you’ll feel far better the next day.

So am I totally Zen? Hardly. But these lil’ nuggets of wisdom have helped keep me relatively on an even keel. And I hope they can help you remain as Zen as any betrothed person can be. :)

‘Til next time,

 

 

Ask Heather: Toast Etiquette

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Flutes from Beau-Coup, Made with PicMonkey

Dear Heather,

The next thing on my list of things to do for the big day is make a list of people giving toasts. But it feels awkward to ask people to toast to you, right? I’m uncomfortable asking. But then again — the last wedding I went to as a bridesmaid, I wasn’t asked ahead of time to give a speech. But at the rehearsal dinner, the bride’s father got up and asked why none of the bridesmaids were giving speeches. Shocked, I gave a speech that wasn’t great and that I felt guilted into. How do I go about giving my toasters-to-be some peace of mind without feeling vain? Thanks so much!

Virginia Bride

Dear Virginia,

Toasts differ a bit between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. At the rehearsal dinner, it’s much more open-ended in regards to who gives a toast. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, so the toasts start off with the groom’s father and can progress to include basically anyone who wants to give a toast, from the parents of the bride to the Best Man to anybody else in attendance. These toasts can be longer and a bit less formal than what you’d expect at the wedding reception. If you foresee an awkward encounter like you experienced, I’d give at least your Best Man and Maid of Honor a heads up. Or, if you aren’t comfortable with that, be prepared to take the toast reigns yourself and graciously thank your guests for attending the rehearsal, thereby avoiding any, “Why isn’t so-and-so toasting?” inquisitions.

As far as the wedding reception, the only person who is absolutely, truly, 100% expected to give a toast is the Best Man, and you have to make sure he’s prepared to give one. In addition to him, the Maid of Honor, parents of the bride, parents of the groom, and the couple themselves can also end up giving a toast. The big thing — make sure people know that they’ll be giving a toast.

For the Best Man, he simply needs to be told, “Hey, part of being the Best Man is giving the first toast of the reception. So, please make sure you have something prepared. And if you’re totally and completely uncomfortable doing this, tell us now so we can devise another plan.” This Other Plan can involve skipping him and going directly to the Maid of Honor, but it’s really unusual for the Best Man to not say anything at the reception.

For everyone else, I’d just ask them if they’d like to do a toast. If so, make sure they’re on the schedule and that they know their toast should be brief. And if you feel awkward asking people about this, think of it this way: This is their opportunity to help celebrate your brand new marriage! Anyone you ask will likely be honored to do so. Plus, it’ll mean that no one ends up getting put on the spot.

How are you handling toasts at your wedding? Will it be just the Best Man, or are you handing the microphone around a bit? Let us know in the comments below!

BAB Throwback: What Not To Wear – Wedding Guest Fashion

As a wedding guest, the dress code has a tendency to be tricky. You want to read between the lines and give it your best go without having to consult a fellow nuptial-goer for fashion advice, but sometimes it can just be plain confusing. BAB tackled this issue way back in 2011 and while there seems to be a bit less rigidity these days (can guest wear white if the bride is wearing pink? Martha says yes.), many of the old tropes still apply. So here’s a refresher from the Broke-Ass archives!

I’m switching gears a bit this week to discuss something that comes up over and over on wedding forums and blogs — what to wear as a wedding guest.

Wedding Guest Fashion: What Not to WearSource

Nowadays, finding something to wear as a wedding guest is almost as stressful as finding your own wedding dress! There are so many etiquette rules, so many stipulations and so many vague dress codes (“festive casual?” “dressy resort?”) that it seems that guests can never figure out which fashions are appropriate for someone else’s wedding.

There are no hard and fast rules, but I’ve been to a lot of weddings and I’ve gotten a feel for these things. So, here is my advice for what a women should and should not wear as a wedding guest.

DON’T wear white or ivory. It wouldn’t bother me personally, but it’s frowned upon in general, and some brides get so upset that they actually ask women wearing white to leave the wedding. As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s better to avoid the situation altogether. There are a ton of other colors out there — choose one of them!

DO dress for the venue. If the wedding is on a lawn or on the beach, those strappy jeweled stilettos might not be the best idea. You might want to consider flats, kitten heels or wedges instead. Or if the wedding is in a fancy hotel ballroom, you might not want to wear a casual sundress with flip flops.

DON’T wear the same exact color as the bridal party, at least not intentionally.

DO dress comfortably. I think that anyone who subscribes to the “fashion before function” philosophy is glutton for punishment! You’re going to be wearing this outfit for several hours — why would you want to suffer in a dress that’s too tight or shoes that pinch? Nowadays, it’s easy to find clothes and shoes that are stylish and comfy!

DON’T wear anything that’s too flashy and/or revealing. This is a wedding, not a nightclub. The bride’s great-aunt has no desire to see your butt cleavage. Trust me.

DO keep in mind that some houses of worship have dress codes. For example, one is not supposed have bare shoulders in a Jewish synagogue. If you’re unsure about ceremony dress codes, feel free to ask the bride, groom or their families. And you could always bring a wrap or pashmina with you just in case.

DON’T dress for the wrong time of day. A slinky LBD would be inappropriate for daytime, and a pastel floral sundress wouldn’t quite work for evening.

DO remember that if you have to ask “Is this appropriate?” it probably isn’t. But also remember that even if you make a screaming fashion faux pas as a guest, it’s not the end of the world. All eyes will be on the bride, not you!

What rules do you follow when dressing for a wedding?

-Dana F.

Ask Heather: Receiving Line and Food Delivery Timing

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Image courtesy of Simone

Dear Heather,

How much time should I plan for the receiving line immediately after the ceremony if there are about 80 guests? I really don’t know how to ballpark this. Thanks!

Stacy

Dear Stacy,

A general rule of receiving lines is about 20 seconds per guest, so yours should take less than a half-hour. However, there are definitely alternatives to doing a receiving line, especially with such a small wedding. If you and your spouse are attending the cocktail hour, you’ll be able to talk to a lot of the guests during that time. Plus, during the reception, right after you finish eating your food (because you WILL eat during your wedding [Ed. note: See No. 3]), you can make the rounds and visit each table. Unless you’re having a super-short wedding, this should give you plenty of time to chat with all of your guests.

Dear Heather,

When should the food be delivered for an outdoor wedding?

Tiffany

Dear Tiffany,

In part, this depends on whether you’re doing a buffet setup or a sit-down meal, how much space you have on-site for food that needs to be kept cold or hot, how many guests you’ll be expecting and how much preparation needs to go into getting the food ready to serve. If you’re using a caterer, I’d definitely talk to them about how much time things will take. Since you’re asking the question, though, I’m going to assume that a lot of the food effort is DIY and you don’t have the option of asking a caterer.

If you’re doing any of the cooking on-site, I’d suggest having everything ready to go one to two days before the wedding, so you have time for any last minute errands to pick up something that was forgotten. Obviously, this will also require that you have the space to store everything overnight, as well as store items as they are prepared the day before and day of your wedding.

For food that’s coming in already made for a sit-down meal, you’ll need a kitchen big enough to accommodate all of the food, as well as a refrigerator to keep the cold stuff cold until the last minute. You’ll also need enough time to plate all of the food. This is probably the hardest option to do, caterer-free, for an outdoor wedding. If you’re going this route and are having a wedding of around 100-150 guests with salad, main dish and dessert, I’d suggest having things delivered about 4 hours before the wedding, to leave enough time to plate multiple courses and figure out which dish is going to what table; meaning that if 4 people from table 3 want chicken, you actually end up with that many chicken dishes at that table. If you’re having a huge wedding, you might need to adjust these times.

Last — the buffet, which I think is the preferred thing to do for an outdoor wedding, especially if you’re doing a lot of DIY catering. One of my favorite weddings I coordinated actually had their food cooked by Chipotle. I had to pick up the food, and the couple had hired two servers to set everything up (Sternos, food, napkins, etc). For that particular event, because picking up all of the food for a 110-person wedding would have been too much for one carload, I went in the morning to pick up all of the refrigerated items and stacked them into the one on-site fridge. The servers left just before the ceremony started to pick up all of the heated items and set it all up during the cocktail hour. If you aren’t hiring servers, I recommend nominating someone (an usher, perhaps) to pick everything up an hour or two before the ceremony, or asking the restaurant making the food to deliver it then. That should give you enough time to get it all set up, but still have the Sternos keeping things warm by the time the guests get to the food. Obviously, leave the refrigerated stuff in the fridge for as long as possible, and have someone in the wedding party put it out during the cocktail hour.

Did you do a receiving line? How long did it take? And, if you’re having an outdoor wedding, when is your food scheduled to arrive? Let me know in the comments below!

Rules to Survive Your Wedding Day with Sanity and Grace

Guys, first, I’m not really a rules kind of gal — more like guidelines, ideas, tips. But these? These are definitely rules.Or at least they are if I am anywhere near your wedding. See, as a gift to friends of mine, I tend to take the reins and act as what I like to call a “couple’s coordinator” on their wedding day (after chatting with them about this, of course. Because: Boundaries). This role of mine allows for any planner or coordinator they’ve already hired to do their job fully, and I simply liaise: if the bride needs a drink, I’ve got it; bouquets are nowhere to be found and the planner is wrangling caterers? On it; Wayward groomsman still hanging out in his towel, drinking a beer? Have no fear, Bossypants is here! But in order to do this, I need certain agreements from the couple. These rules are all things that will help you keep your cool, be present and enjoy your wedding day with intention, grace and panache.

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Photo of bride courtesy Davy Landman via Flickr Creative Commons. Graphic made with PicMonkey.

1. Give up your damn phone. – Broke-Asses, I can’t stress this one enough, regardless of how Type-A must-have-it-and-be-in-control-at-all-times you are. You, as the bride/groom, will get bombarded with phone calls and text messages and Snapchats and while many of them will be well-wishes, there’s also a large chunk that will serve as stressors, and you don’t need that. Nope. So, talk with a trusted and semi-bossy friend who knows how to say “no” to you, regardless of how you’re the bride and it’s your biiiiig daaaaayyyy. Tell (ask) her that she’s in charge of your mobile device, and that means she can answer any and all questions necessary, but by no means are you to have your phone in your possession until the end of the night or the morning after. This conversation should, ideally, take place at or before the rehearsal dinner, and the phone should be in his/her hands no later than the night before the wedding. Bonus if you can wrangle the mother of the bride’s phone from her, too.

2. Appoint your bridesguard. – This person could, potentially, be the same as the cell phone bearer or it could be someone else all together. But you’ll want someone who can nicely but firmly tell your well-intentioned but slightly needy guests or family the information they need without disturbing you. Give your bridesguard a pre-determined list of who can and cannot talk to you while you’re getting ready. Prepare your bridesguard to field any questions that may come her way, either with vendors or family. Make sure your bridesguard is someone nice but strong, vocally, who can command respect and who people will listen to. This person can also be helpful in quelling any potentially dramatic / out of control situations.

3. Eat. And hydrate. – I mean, maybe gorging on a burger isn’t the best route (trust me, I did it), but have something that’s high in protein and won’t cause a sugar crash — and if you’re worried about some bloating, maybe go easy on the dairy — but also feels slightly indulgent, because it’s your wedding day, and it’s nice to feel luxurious. In the same vein, by all means pop some bubbles with your gals, but switch it up with some water — just be keenly aware of how much you’re taking in, because peeing in those dresses is no easy feat. Also, read this. At your reception, ask the caterer to prepare you and your partner a plate and sit down to dig in before anyone else gets served. This ensures you actually get to try all that tasty food you’re paying for.

4. Know when to make the slip. – Now, I’m not talking about pulling an Irish exit, but this is definitely true for the rehearsal dinner especially. While you may be inclined to party all night with your homies that just got in from the far reaches of the earth, remember that you’ve got something pretty big happening tomorrow, and the chances that you’re actually going to get a super restful night of sleep (especially if you’re anything like me and get anxious before big things) are minimal. Ask your maid of honor / bridesguard / the bartender to cut you off after a couple drinks and replenish your stores with a festive non-alcoholic beverage, such as seltzer with lime and a squirt of cranberry / grapefruit / pineapple juice. Ask them to cut you off completely and tell you to go home at 10 with a gentle reminder around 9:30 so you can prepare. And then follow through.

5. Steal away with your new spouse. – Your wedding day will be so full of fun and excitement and people and dancing and toasting and photos and hugs and laughter and it will go by in a flash. So ask your photographer to pull the two of you aside, and then stay at a far distance so you two can enjoy five minutes together as a married couple. It is a great opportunity for some candids, plus with the photographer’s presence, guests are less likely to intrude on the portraits, allowing the two of you to be fully present in the moment.

Do you have any tips that will help fellow Broke-Asses survive their wedding day? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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!

Ask Heather: Corkage Fees and Photobooths

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Photo courtesy of Shannonsl

Dear Heather,

How reasonable is corkage if your venue is not supplying glasses or service? They’ve admitted it’s essentially to cover “loss of revenue” which, considering we’ve paid for the venue itself, is surely only a loss of “potential revenue” and therefore not really my concern? Thoughts?

Emma

Quite frankly, I think charging a corkage fee when the venue is providing neither glasses nor service is bullshit. Alas, I’m not the owner of the venue you’ve chosen and therefore cannot eliminate said corkage fee. If you’re set on this venue, I do think it’s worth bargaining over this aspect of the contract. However, go into these negotiations realizing that the venue has already decided to be a bit of a jerk on this particular point and be prepared to not get your way. Essentially, this venue is saying, “We’re letting you bring your own booze, but we want to make money off of this somehow.” Rather than trying to get them to drop the corkage fee, you could maybe try to talk them into providing glasses or service. My fingers are crossed that you’ll come out with at least something in your favor!

Dear Heather,

Is it worth getting a photo booth for the reception when I already have a disco? I just love the crazy photos you get!

Claire

If you can afford a photo booth, you’ve already answered your own question with “I just love the crazy photos you get!” I had a photo booth at my wedding, and I love some of the photos obtained there more than the actual wedding photos. Would my wedding have been perfectly fine without a photo booth? Of course. But did I enjoy the results from having one? Absolutely.

Dear Heather,

I’m holding my ceremony and reception in the same space — an art gallery. Guests will sit at the reception tables during the vows. The ceremony will be right before the reception with no cocktail hour. How do I break this up in a way that makes sense, gives gravity to the ceremony, and allows my guests to maximize party time?

Ansley

I addressed this scenario in a previous post. In brief, do the normal recessional and find somewhere to go for 5-10 minutes. Go sign the marriage license, give your new spouse a high five, hug your wedding party — find something to celebrate what you just did! Trust me — your guests will manage to entertain themselves for a brief period of time. Then, do the standard wedding party announcements, re-enter the party space, and have a fabulous evening!

How about you? Would you pay a corkage fee if your venue didn’t provide glasses or service? Did you have a photo booth and get some good shots from it? And how would you break up a ceremony and reception being held in the same space? Let us know in the comments below!

BAB Classics: Ask Liz: The Wedding Things You Just Can’t Do

Food and money. Man, oh, man. Isn’t that the broke-ass life? You always try to have enough of both, but what about when you’re trying to throw a big ol’ party? That’s where the stakes get raised, and some good, timeless advice from erstwhile BAB team member Liz, of Silver Charm Events, swoops in to soothe the nerves.

Dear Liz,

My fiance and I LOVE a good party. We have budgeted for 150 guests at our wedding, but there are more than 150 people that we want to celebrate with us. The long and short of it is: we cannot afford to feed everyone. We are having a great local cover band, and we would like to send out secondary invitations for those acquaintances to join us, after dinner has been served at the reception. Is is tacky to ask an additional chunk to come at 8:00 for dancing and drinks but not the ceremony and dinner? How should we word those invitations so as not to offend anyone?

Signed, 

Down to the Count

Make ‘em fit, or leave ‘em out. Anything else is asking for trouble.
(Courtesy of Elizabeth Anne Designs)

Dear  Down,

Not to be harsh, but I don’t really see that going over very well. Basically, you’re saying that you don’t like them enough to invite them to your wedding and pay for their meal, but just enough to hang out with them when it’s going to cost you less money. It’s not what you mean, but it’s definitely what you’re saying. And I don’t know if you sent Save the Date cards to them, too, but if you did, eyebrows are definitely going to rise, just like their expectations did.

So, what to do, what to do? A couple of things, I think. Figure out how much each additional person would cost you, and look at the various pieces of your budget to see where you can make some cuts to accommodate. One step down for your meal, or one less appetizer? Stick to beer and wine and a specialty drink? Don’t go top shelf on the liquor? I don’t know what you’re doing now, but there are almost always places where you can cut and still be comfortable with what you’re getting.

And, realistically? Not everyone is going to be able to attend, anyway. I’m not the biggest fan of B-listing potential guests, mostly because it’s a lot of work, but try and make it work for you. Send your invitations out early enough to the 150, and then for every “No” you get, send one out to the B list.

But, I would definitely do a budget check, first.

The only other option is to not invite them, period. And, yes, this means that you won’t have everyone you want at your wedding, but most couples face that reality, sooner or later. You’re really not doing them, or yourself, any favors by sending out a half invite. Invite or do not invite. There is no “try.”

“That’s so funny! Together, we spent over $3,000 to be in our friend’s wedding!”

Dear Liz, 

 I am a bridesmaid in my childhood best friend’s wedding. I knew I’d have to shell out some bucks, but I had no clue how much I was expected to spend… until now. She’s had an engagement party, a bridal shower, a honeymoon shower, and now her two-day destination bachelorette party is coming up. I told the Maid of Honor that I wasn’t sure I could go if it’s going to cost me more than $300. She has already booked the hotel, but every time I ask her for the total amount I am expected to shell out, she dodges my questions. This has happened three times, so far. It’s getting to be frustrating. I’d hate to cancel last minute on it, but she really won’t communicate with me. Plus, it’s a surprise for the bride, so I can’t talk to her about it. I also have to have a minor surgery a week before this shindig. I don’t want to jeopardize my recovery process by going on this weekend trip, either. My question is, do I stay or do I go? I feel that I will risk the friendship of not only the bride, but also the Maid of Honor (who is another childhood friend) if I didn’t show up. I wasn’t at her bridal shower (same day as my grandma’s 90th birthday party) so I feel obligated to go to this bachelorette party. Yet at the same time I don’t know how I will be physically after this surgery, and I do not want to go broke because of this bachelorette weekend. If I do not go, how do I break the news to the maid of honor? This is really stressing me out!

Signed,

Bridesmaid Bummer

Dear Bummer,

Bottom line? You can’t go. I’m really sorry, I know you want to celebrate with your friend, I know you’re worried about your relationship with her and your other friends. But you will be a week out from SURGERY, and if you’re talking about a “recovery process”, then it isn’t that minor. Not only is it a really good excuse, it’s a really good reason. Plus, it’s not going to help your stress level, before or after surgery, if you’re worried about how you’re going to cope, financially.

Being a bridesmaid is expensive. The last time I was one, about 4 years ago, it cost me over $1,000, and I see girls in my weddings spending that and more. I was honored and thrilled to be a part of my friend’s day, as are all the other bridesmaids I’ve met and known. I’m not saying that it wasn’t worth it. But, that’s not a small amount of money — it just isn’t — and that should be taken into consideration.

So, how to tell the MOB? Tell her that you’re having surgery the week before, and you don’t know how you’re going to feel after it, or what you’ll be physically able to do. So, you can’t go. If you think you can pull it, give her $50 – $100 to buy a round of drinks at the party, or figure out how to get it to the bride, with your name on it.

What are the tricks you used to afford all the guests you want? And, what do you think about Bummed’s predicament? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my little part of wedding world, visit my website at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz