The Unwritten Rules of Wedding Planning
Written by Lindsay Ropella
I always LOVE getting comments and suggestions for post ideas from readers. I love that people actually read my blog, feel comfortable asking me to write about certain topics, and value my opinion enough to want to hear my thoughts in the first place.
So naturally, when I got a Facebook message a month or two ago asking me to write about some of the “unwritten rules” of wedding planning, I answered with an enthusiastic YES! Not only is it an awesome topic idea, but I think it’s one of those areas of wedding planning that can be tricky to navigate, since there isn’t really a concrete “right” and “wrong” way for handling many of these certain situations.
I got to work right away taking notes on different “touchy topics” and jotting down my personal thoughts on each. There may have even been a chart. You guys – I wanted this one to be good.
But then of course, summer happened and life totally got away from me, and here we sit almost two months later. I want to give a shout-out to the fabulous gal who requested this post (I’m not sure if she would like to remain nameless or not)! I feel absolutely terrible that it took me this long to get this post up on the blog, so I hope she forgives me. :) And I hope that the rest of you enjoy as well! She gave me a few specific topics to touch on, but I included some of my own as well. As you read, please keep in mind that these are just my personal opinions on the topic based on my own thoughts and experiences. I’d love for you to share your views as well in the comments!
Is it OK to give cash as a gift?
Ugh, this is a tricky one. Probably should have saved this one for last, huh? But really, my personal opinion is that this is actually OK. Obviously, sticking two crumpled up $20 bills into an envelope is different than writing out a check to “Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so.” Make it look like you planned to give money as a gift ahead of time, and not like you ran to the ATM 35 minutes before the ceremony started.
Also, keep in mind that by giving cash, you will probably end up spending more than if you just bought a gift in the first place. Often times you will be able to find some sort of discount or coupon to use when purchasing a wedding gift, making a $50 gift really only cost $35. When you give money the couple can tell exactly how much you are spending on them.
That being said, I do think that going off the registry is always best. You aren’t the couple and don’t know exactly what they need or will use, so if you aren’t either giving them a gift off the registry or something very personal, go with money and don’t just purchase something you think they will like.
Is it OK to invite someone to the reception and not the ceremony?
Definitely! I know some people see this as a no-no, but I’d have to disagree. With weddings these days often ranging from 250 to 400 guests, many smaller churches simply cannot accommodate that many people for a ceremony. Often times brides choose to get married in smaller churches or unique locations that have limited space, and cuts have to be made. Obviously close family members take precedence over your parent’s work colleagues, and I think most people today understand that. I know I’ve never had hurt feelings over being invited to the reception but not the ceremony, especially if I know the ceremony location is very tight.
However, if you are having your ceremony and reception at the same location, then I suggest inviting everyone to everything. It can get tricky if guests who received a “reception only” invitation arrive early before the ceremony is over, and it can also set a bad vibe for your wedding for the few people who weren’t invited to the ceremony and end up walking into a roomful of guests already in party mode.
Is it OK to not do a seating chart?
I think there are two scenarios in which it’s OK to not making a seating chart. The first is when you have under 150 guests. If you are having a smaller wedding, less guests make it much easier for people to find a place to sit together and a seating chart becomes not as important.
The other scenario where I think it’s fine to not have a seating chart is when all of your guests know each other. That way if families have to get split up for the dinner portion due to table constrictions, they will all fare just fine. You won’t have to worry about guests who don’t know many people having to sit with strangers or the family of 6 arriving late having to sit at 5 different tables.
Remember, the purpose of a seating chart is to make guests feel welcome, comfortable, and stress-free. There’s nothing worse than a couple who only knows a handful of people having to sit at your Great Aunt Sally’s table or singles sitting in a free chair at a table full of couples and families.
Not sure if you need to make a seating chart or not? I say when in doubt, just make one. It makes the entire feel and flow of the evening that much smoother, and it really only takes a few hours to complete. Not sure where to start? Check out my post on how to create a hassle-free seating chart.
Is it OK to not give a guest a plus one?
This can be another really tough wedding topic. There are so many different rules and guidelines for who gets a “plus one” for a wedding and who doesn’t. Some people go by the “fiance or spouse” rule, some give all family members plus ones but not friends, and some don’t give anyone plus ones and only invite couples where they know both individuals.
Really, don’t stress out about this one too much. Ultimately, it’s your wedding and your guests will end up just going with whatever limits your invitation sets for them. Hopefully your invitees will remember that the wedding is supposed to be all about you and celebrating your commitment to one another and keep their mouths closed. If not, a swift punch in the nose should do…
If you are stumped, here are the rules I follow when deciding who gets a plus one and who doesn’t:
1. All parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and first cousins get a plus one (16 and older).
2. All other family member and friends get a plus one only if they’ve been dating the same person for over a year.
It’s certainly not full-proof, and I definitely make exceptions here or there (like for certain guests who won’t really know anyone else at the wedding), but it’s my basis for deciding.
Is it OK to plan your own wedding close to a family member’s wedding?
I suppose it depends on your definition of “close” – right? However I’m a big believer that planing a wedding close to a family member’s is a big “no-no.” First of all, it’s not fair to your family who will have to be worrying about a ton of expenses in a very short amount of time (especially for family who lives out of town). Second, you are going to be creating a lot of logistical problems for many people due to all the events that happen around a wedding such as the bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, travel time, honeymoon for the newlyweds, etc.
Of course, planning your wedding a few weeks after your step-brother’s wife’s sister’s wedding is a lot different than planning your wedding two weeks after your sister’s or your first cousin’s wedding, but a good rule is to give family member’s their own month. Give them a solid 3 week padding around their own wedding date to allow for all the craziness that happens around wedding time. If you need to have your wedding close to theirs for a specific reason, just be open and honest and talk with them about it. Ask them how they would feel about your wedding being so close to theirs, but if they say no, be ready to respect that!
And for gosh sakes, if you’re going to have your wedding close to a family members, don’t book the same vendors as them. That’s just sad.
So, what do you think about all this? Any first hand experiences to share? Also, if anyone would be interested, I thought it would be fun to do a “part 2″ to all this down the line. I could touch on things like wearing white as a wedding guest, and letting parents invite their friends to your wedding. Let me know in the comments below!
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