Posts in the 'wedding etiquette' Category
I have an etiquette question for you. Someone sent me a gift in the mail, and it was off registry. It is a kitchen item I already own. It didn’t have a receipt, so I don’t know how or where to return it. What do I do?
Hopefully there was a card with the gift, so you at least know who sent it. If so, and it’s a close friend or family member, I see nothing wrong with calling them and explaining that, due to them clearly having fabulous taste, you already own what they purchased for you, and that you’d like to exchange their present for something you don’t already have. If they’ve already given you something, clearly they want you to enjoy whatever you end up getting! In a perfect world, they might even still have the receipt, which would make your life much easier.
If that won’t work, but the item in question is fairly common, I’d go to a store with a liberal return or exchange policy and simply ask if you can exchange it for something else, explaining that it was a present without a gift receipt included. You can verify ahead of time, either online or in person, that the store sells the item you need to exchange.
If the gift is uncommon, or only sold at stores with a painful exchange policy, you can attempt to exchange it for something else, or save it for later re-gifting. Just make sure you don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you.
Have you received any off-registry gifts that you either already owned or did not want? Did you exchange them or just end up keeping them? Let us know in the comments below!
Image courtesy of Creature Comforts
I just got a notification that a wedding guest pledged a large amount of money towards my honeymoon fund registry. This person is a new friend of my fiance; I’ve only met them once. Do I thank them right away or just send a thank you after the wedding, which is in two months? Is it weird to call them now and thank them? I’m not sure about the “proper” way to go about this. If it were a close family member or close friend, I would feel more comfortable calling them right away to thank them, but I don’t know how to handle this particular situation.
I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, who would object to being thanked for a gift, nor do I think it’s possible to thank someone too soon. If you don’t know them well, though, it might be a little awkward for them to be called by you and thanked profusely. However, I see nothing at all wrong with having your fiance give them a call to say thanks.
Regardless of whether your fiance calls them or not, though, I suggest writing them a lovely thank you note tonight and mailing it as soon as possible. Make sure your fiance contributes to the note, since these are “his” people. This way, they know their contribution was received and appreciated, and you’ll have one fewer thank you to write after the wedding.
For other folks in a similar situation — I’m a huge fan of opening wedding presents as they are received and writing the notes right then. As I pointed out to Leia, it lets the gift givers know that their present was received, and it takes a task off of your to-do list for when you return from your honeymoon. I’m also in the “divide and conquer” camp when it comes to thank yous — if someone is closer to your future spouse than they are to you, hand over the pen. There’s no reason why one person should feel obligated to write every single note.
Did you open your presents the moment you received them? (If not, how could you resist?!) How did you handle the timing of your thank you notes? Let us know in the comments below!
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!
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!
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.
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?
Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!
My fiancé and I have finally (!) picked our wedding venue and now we are to the point where we are selecting our photographer, caterer, and florist. Our venue has a list of their preferred companies, but I don’t know if I want to use them. For instance I have my heart set on a florist that my best friend used in her wedding, but they’re not on the list. Am I required to stick with the suggested companies or can I choose my own? Is there a benefit to using the companies that are being recommended to us? I am afraid that the only reason they are on there is that someone is getting a kickback.
Off the Grid
Ah, the “K” word, “kickback.” Nope, most of the time preferred vendors are on a venue’s list because they’ve worked there enough times to be trusted to not trash the place. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it does come down to those with more experience at the venue and a good relationship with the venue. I’m a preferred vendor for several sites in L.A., and have never had to pay a dime to any of them. I have been known to drop off pastries, though.
I can’t tell if the list they’re giving you is a “suggested” preferred list, or if it’s a list of the only vendors you can use. Either way, use Wedding Rule #2 – Ask. Explain that your florist is a professional, that she did the flowers for your best friend’s wedding, and you’d like to use her. They could say “No,” in which case you’ll have to move on. They could say “Yes, but with conditions.” Maybe your florist needs to have insurance, maybe they need to talk to your venue manager first or schedule a visit, maybe you’ll have to pay an extra fee (I’m going through outside bakery vs. venue right now, myself), and you can decide from there. Or, they could just let you have your florist, which means that your problem is solved. But you’re not going to know until you ask.
So, how about you? Are you stuck with a vendors list, or having trouble getting your vendors waived in? Let us know in the comments below! And if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
Got a question for Liz (Coopersmith)? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!
So, last week, the crew here at BAB was offered an interview with Lizzie Post, the Great-Great Granddaughter of Emily Post. Yes, that Emily Post. Lizzie has put her famous last name to good use, tackling taboo etiquette topics on TV, radio, in magazines and online. She’s also authored and co-authored three books out of the Emily Post Institute. She recently partnered with Bank of America to provide advice on how to reduce stress and budget wisely during the holiday season. Reduce stress and stick to a budget? We’re all about that over here, right? So, how long did I have to talk to her, I asked. “Ten minutes,” was her representative’s reply.
It takes me ten minutes to finish saying a sentence, and you know, just by reading this column, how much trouble I have being succinct. I took a deep breath, took a look at the Post Institute’s wedding etiquette page, thought a bit, boiled that thought down, and very, very early on Wednesday morning, after a couple of tech glitches (mine) this is, more or less, how it turned out:
Liz C.: I read a little bit on your website about the traditional division of wedding finances, of who pays for what. A lot of the breakdown was familiar; the bride’s family pays for the engagement party, the ceremony, the reception, her dress, the groom’s ring. The groom and the groom’s family pay for the cheapest parts of the wedding, the marriage licence, the officiant, the rehearsal dinner. He’s also supposed to pay for the honeymoon, but that still seems a little inequitable to me!
Lizzie P: (Laughs) Sure.
Liz C: That article was written in 2009, and it did point out that those rules didn’t really apply any more -
Lizzie P.: That’s so true.
Liz C.: – And couples finance their weddings in various ways: they pay for it themselves, or their families divide the costs right down the middle, or the couple and each side of the family each pay for a third. But, even in the past four years, the demographics of engaged couples have changed. Thinking about the clients that I work with as a wedding coordinator, a lot of them are older, not as many are walking out of college one weekend and down the aisle the next. A lot of them are professionals that are making good money on their own. Some of my couples are gay, so there might not be that expected separation of “bride’s” responsibilities and “groom’s” responsibilities.
Lizzie P: Of course.
Liz C: But, even given those circumstances, weddings can be expensive. Nationwide, the average cost of a wedding is between $20-25,000. That can double or triple, depending on where you live. A lot of couples, no matter where they are in life, could use some help with that.
Are there new rules of etiquette for the division of wedding finances? Given that etiquette is basically what you should expect to do, and what you should expect from others, as a couple planning their wedding in 2013, what should those expectations be?
Lizzie P: What we suggest is that Brides and Grooms sit down and have a very open and candid conversation with both sets of their parents, or whoever they think would be open to helping out, or has said that they want to. Sometimes the conversation is about the traditional financial divisions, and their parents might say, “We’re happy for you, we love you, but you’re on your own.” That does happen.
Liz C.: Yeah, sometimes parents aren’t able to give anything at all.
Lizzie P.: But, no matter what, it’s very important that a couple starts out with a budget that they’re comfortable with, that they believe is going to work for everyone. And, we also suggest that they set up a banking account just for the wedding. And what I love about our partnership with Bank of America is that they have a mobile app, that allows you to check your bank account any time, day or night. So that when you’re shopping for your dress, or at catering options, or looking at different venues, you can check your bank account and know what’s pending, what’s already been paid, what amount you have left in your budget. You can even set up alerts, to ensure that you pay vendors on time. It’s really easy, and it makes sticking to your budget a lot easier, too, and you don’t have to worry about it. Less worry creates less stress, and less weirdness about the whole thing!
Liz C.: So, branching off of that, if you do need help, how should you ask for it? What should you say?
Lizzie P: (Laughs) “Hi, I need money!” You can be a little more tactful than that! I think that the best way is to say, “We just wanted to check and see if the wedding budget is something you feel that you can can contribute to, or if it’s something you don’t think you can or even want to contribute to.” Understanding that you might get a “No” is a great place to come from, so you won’t feel so heartbroken if it happens.
Liz C: And from the other side of that, as parents, can you offer financial help, but still set limits on how much, and for what? Should you expect to have control over how that money is spent?
Lizzie P: (Laughs) Right! This is the other part of that candid, respectful conversation that you have with your folks. Not just about the amount, but the expectations of what comes with that money. So, if Mom says, “I want to pay for your wedding dress,” you can reply, “That is such a generous offer, but I need to find out what you have in mind. Because if you want me in a specific dress that might not be what I want, or what I’m comfortable with, that’s not going to work.” It’s okay for you to say, “Thank you, but I think I’m going to cover this on my own.” (Laughs) The polite turn-down. And parents should be aware that could be the response they’ll get!
Liz C: A lot of it is just about simple communication. People are afraid to say these things, because they think they’re going to offend the other person.
Lizzie P: But, the more open and honest you are, on both sides, the better off everyone’s going to be.
True, so true – I tell you so all the time. Lizzie was wonderful to talk to ,and, yes,I did mail her a handwritten thank you note for the interview.
So, how are you dividing up your wedding finances? And did you get a “No” from your parents, or a demand to do it their way, if they said “Yes”? What do you think of Lizzie’s advice? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you’d like to find out a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit t www.silvercharmevents.com.
Also, we have one lovely hardcover copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition to giveaway this week! If you want it, give us a shout-out in the comments (and if you really want it, leave a wedding planning/etiquette question for next week’s edition of “Ask Liz”)!
See you at the end of the aisle,
Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!
We’re getting married in a month, and we’ve already gotten a few gifts. Should we send out Thank You Cards now, or wait until after the wedding? What if additional thanks is needed?
Oh, my God, YES. What an absolutely fantastic idea, do it now, and get as many out of the way as you can. If you do get another gift from the same person(s), then send another thank you card. That shouldn’t happen enough to be a problem, though.
We got a bunch of cash from different relatives at our wedding – do I have to write thank you cards? How do you write a thank you card for cash?
Note Dash for Cash?
Enthusiastically! No, but seriously, you should definitely send a card, and mention how you’re going to use the money. Downpayment on a house? Filling out the rest of your registry? Buying a 62″ HD screen TV? Thanks, Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike!
I’ve seen all the stories about brides and grooms getting pissed at guests who gave them bad gifts. What are you supposed to do when someone gives you a bad gift??
I dunno, say “Thank You?” and move on? Don’t ask them why they sent it, don’t insult them and make them feel bad. It’s a gift, they meant well, and that’s all they needed to mean. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Okay, that was a bit of a rant, but gahh! Those stories make me cringe. Just, be a person, already, people! Anyway, what was I saying? Right: Try this, card wise, “Thank you so much for the lava lamp/basket of caramel corn/$20 gift certificate to Olive Garden. It was very thoughtful of you, and we appreciate it.” Full stop. Is that so hard?
Got a Thank You gripe of your own? Or are you having a problem with one of these? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
Excuse me while I rant for a moment, BABs, but maybe some of you can relate.
Why the heck will hardly anyone RSVP for our wedding?
Sure, we did go the non-traditional route by sending out video e-vites instead of paper invitations. But still! We included the link to our wedding website at the end of the video AND in the original email! Our wedding website, if I do say so myself, is awesome, functional, and has a bright and shiny RSVP button in clear view! The button leads to what I thought was an easy-to-use RSVP form for the majority of our guests who are young and tech-savvy.
Le sigh. It is now officially six days away from our RSVP deadline and literally LESS THAN HALF OUR GUESTS have responded. Granted, some have talked to us over the phone or email and we know they’re coming. But I worked so hard on the wedding website that I kinda wish people would give me the satisfaction of USING THE DAMN THING!!!
I’ve heard of other brides having similar trouble getting peeps to “respondez-vous.” It’s just weird to me because an RSVP seems like a common courtesy and I know I’ve RSVPed to every wedding to which I’ve been invited! Is it really a lost art? Since our wedding involves travel for most our guests, the easy solution is to assume anyone who doesn’t RSVP isn’t coming. I certainly don’t feel like calling all those people and pathetically begging them to come! But some may have genuinely forgotten the invite in the shuffle of their busy lives. So, the question is, what should I do now?
Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!
I’m waiting for my fiancé’s visa to be approved (he is not a US citizen) so we have a while before making most of our wedding decisions but I am already stressing about my wedding party! I’m the youngest of four and not close with any of my siblings. I’ve been engaged since August and I made sure to call each one of my siblings to tell them the news but was disappointed to get apathetic reactions from all of them. They don’t share many of my beliefs and are very much opposed to the “institution” of marriage.
Because my fiancé does not live in the US only a few of his family members will be able to come. I have several friends who are very important to me and I’d like to honor them by having them as bridesmaids. I am thinking we will have to ask my two brothers to be groomsmen and maybe some other male cousins of mine to have some symmetry in the bridal party.
My question is: do I have to ask my sister to be a bridesmaid? We are very close in age and she has never committed any particularly egregious offense towards me so I know it would seem a bit strange to my family. On the other hand, I recently made a trip to visit her that didn’t go very well and she didn’t ask me anything about my fiancé or our wedding plans. I would rather honor one of my friends who has been particularly supportive than give the place to my sister after years of coldness. How much will I regret it if I don’t include her in my bridal party? Will it be strange to have my brothers involved and not my sister?
Disappointed Little Sister
No, you don’t have to ask your sister to be a bridesmaid. But it sounds like your REAL question is whether or not you should. Yes, your family and friends will wonder and ask why your brothers and your cousins, who aren’t close to your fiance, are members of the wedding party, and your sister isn’t. Yes, It will look like a deliberate snub. Will there be long-term consequences to that? Probably, since no one is just going to shrug that all off. And, not just on your wedding day, but leading up to it, and after it, believe me. There are obviously issues going on between you and your sister, and leaving her out will not smooth them over. If you really don’t want her as a bridesmaid, you should make it look like less of a hit job, and take your male family members out of the wedding party, too. If it was me, though, I would make her a bridesmaid. Short-term pain, long-term gain.
My future in-laws are helping my fiancé and I pay for half the wedding as their gift to us. When we started to make our invite list we kindly told his mom that we were not going to include her sisters plus four each, (totaling 25 additional people) As my fiancé and I have been together for almost three years and I have never met them, and his Mom never visits or has contact with them. She understood at first but is now insisting that they be invited, and wants to put in an additional two thousand dollars to cover it. But the point was that we didn’t want an enormous wedding and only wanted people there who know us love us and wanted to be a part of the day…help!!!
Too Many Seats At the Tables
Truthfully, by this point, she’s already told them that they’re invited! If she’s willing to pay for them, then you should let it go because, a. It will make her happy, b. It won’t make her…unhappy, c. It’s a couple of tables of people that you will only see briefly and not deal with all that much, and d. It’s a couple tables of people who will now, even after only seeing you briefly and not dealing with you all that much, will know you a little bit better and bring a little bit more love to the day. With presents, even. Don’t forget the presents.
What sibling and future in-law drama are you going through? Anything to add to my advice? Let me know 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,