Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Women Discuss: Our Best Wedding Advice

We are in peak wedding-planning season, and I know from the forums and from my in-box that the anxiety around this special occasion in one’s life can be overwhelming. So many things to think about and keep track of! So many ways to unintentionally offend! So little time to actually enjoy the reason you’re in this boat in the first place (you found someone you want to spend your life with – hooray, congrats!). After the jump, we hear from a few women who have some words of advice for you to help this process go more smoothly and be more enjoyable, from the initial planning stages to the big day itself.

While You’re Planning

Delegate!

“If you have loved ones who are very keen to be very involved, pick the things you care less about and let them take charge of those. For me that was decor. If I’d been 100% in charge, we’d have gotten married in the room as it was, but my mom and MIL thought this was the tragedy of the century, so they were sent on their way with Google/Amazon/Etsy and sorted out backdrops and flowers and ribbon and confetti, and it was lovely. It meant they felt involved and listened to, and I could put my foot down about the things I cared more about (“no, no one is giving me away,” “yes, I am walking down the aisle with both my parents,” “no, we aren’t sleeping separately the night before – we live together, that ship has sailed!”). I’m even very grateful for the decor they chose: it was really beautiful.

(This probably only applies if you spend your own money. I paid for the stuff I cared about, and when family wanted extras, they could go to town, but they paid for them, which was lovely and generous and prevented me from either being frustrated by spending money on things I didn’t need, or arguing endlessly with family about a party. If they’d been spending my money recklessly, it might have been a lot less effective.)” — Emily, newlywed

Think Outside the Box

“I couldn’t stand the idea that I was putting on some standard production that everyone else has done. For my second wedding we had pinatas (for kids and adults), wine/beer tasting games, and a round of trivia.

Also, you can have a really nice wedding for less than $5000. Even that is a LOT of money. Yes, the guest list has to be small (food/drinks will be your biggest expense), but don’t spend tons of money on clothes or accessories or decorations. No one will remember those, least of all you.” — Liz A., newlywed, second marriage

Keep It Simple and Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

“Eloping or a small city hall ceremony is ALWAYS an option. Remember, this is about you and your future spouse, not about napkins, your in-laws, the perfect dress, or any of that. You are making this memory together. You can always celebrate with family and friends at a casual party after the fact.” — Liz, married a second time for three years

“I would say: relax! Weddings have been made into such a big deal, but the focus should be on being as prepared as possible for all the days that come after the wedding. A lot of people act like getting married is crossing a finish line, when really it’s just the beginning! Don’t sweat the small stuff; have an enjoyable day with the people you love. My husband and I have been married for ten years and we had a really small wedding. At the time, I was sure we’d have a bigger ceremony a few years later. And now? I can’t imagine spending that much money on one day. Our small wedding was perfect.

Also, make sure that you’re marrying the right person, and that you have the same expectations for what married life will be like. Wendy has posted lists of things people need to discuss before they get married — everyone should read those posts and take her advice! ” — Jenny, married ten years

“My advice: Elope. 🙂 It’s the marriage that matters, not the wedding. But if you insist, then keep it simple, simple, simple. Only invite the people YOU and your partner want there. It’s YOUR celebration and you should get to enjoy it and eat the food and spend time with the people you want (and actually know). Keep it FUN. My cousin offered beef or chicken on the response cards and served burgers and grilled chicken clubs; it was awesome. Do NOT blow out your finances to do the thing – build a LIFE not an event.” — Katherine, married eight years

Get Lots of Candid Photos

“You’re going to end up cherishing your candid photos so much more than your posed professional ones. Set up some way for people to share their photos with you. Maybe even go super old school and put disposable cameras on each table. And unless you have to for family obligation reasons, don’t waste your precious time taking dozens of staged, posed photos. Concentrate on your significant other and your love for them and let that shine through in the pictures. Those are the ones you’ll keep coming back to.” — Kate, married a second the for five years

Know What You Want and Stick to It

“My advice would be to have a solid understanding of what you want, what your future spouse wants, and finding a way to meld those things together. People say a wedding will bring out the crazy in family members, and it will. But knowing what each of you wants and sticking to it makes it easier to tell those outside sources no. You’ll hear from people opinions on things even when you don’t ask. Let them slide off your back. Your wedding is about celebrating the love between you and your future spouse.” — Jennifer, engaged to be married in June

Know How You Feel

“There are tons of people (and a whole industry!) telling you what you should be feeling right now. Make sure to pay attention to how you actually do feel. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and find yourself swept down the road wondering how you got there (whether that has to do with the wedding, the marriage, or any number of things)!” — Megan, divorced and currently single

Sign a Prenup

“Seriously consider a prenup. It is not just for the wealthy. I was fairly broke when I got married, I have had some modest career success, and my divorce was financially devastating.

I know no one wants to think about divorce, but as more women become breadwinners or at least equal earners, more men are receiving spousal support. Mine was voluntarily unemployed, perfectly capable of making a living wage, and yet I still had to fight tooth and nail to avoid paying alimony.” — A.W., divorced

It’s the Big Day!

Spend the night Before With Your Betrothed

“If you already live with your partner, stay together the night before so you can get ready together in the morning. It’s fun and giddy. My husband and I drove to the wedding location together in our car (it happened to be at his parents’ house 20 minutes away), with our dogs in the backseat. ” — Liz A., newlywed, second marriage

Start the Day Slowly

“It’s going to be a long day, so greet it slowly. Do some yoga or stretching, eat something nourishing, and take some time with yourself.” — Katherine, married a second time for eight years

Chill Out

“One of my bridesmaids dubbed me “bridechilla” because I was so go-with-the-flow that day. I figured that I had done all the planning I could, and if something went wrong, it was going to anyway. I wanted to enjoy the morning with my closest friends and look forward to seeing Bryan. I feel [that attitude] helped me remember more special moments from that day, and I really enjoy the party I spent months planning instead of dwelling on the minor hiccups like the cake showing up late or one of the groomsmen being too drunk to take a good picture.” — Emily F., married 2-1/2 months before being widowed

P.S. Dear Wendy’s All-Time Most Popular Wedding Columns and 25 Dos and Don’ts for Surving Wedding Season and Being a Great Guest

55 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Danielle March 14, 2019, 9:41 am

    I was a bit late replying to Wendy’s email earlier this morning so here’s my take:

    I think the best advice I can give is to manage your expectations and maintain perspective, because something is bound to go wrong and you don’t want to derail your whole day. Keep in mind that’s it’s just a celebration kicking off your marriage, which is the important thing. My case is extreme, but I wound up in the burn ICU 9 weeks before my wedding with an injury that I’m still dealing with four years later. I still feel resentful sometimes that my day wasn’t perfect because I was stuck wearing compression gear and out of it on pain meds. I have struggled to keep in mind what the day was all about: marrying the man I love and sharing that with our friends and family. When I focus on that, the bad stuff just falls away and I realize that my wedding day was actual perfect.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark March 14, 2019, 10:43 am

    Weddings… sigh. They typically cause so much chaos and drama simply because… well, most straight people can’t throw a classy party to save their own lives… 😉

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  • avatar

    Mommyof2 March 14, 2019, 11:03 am

    My wedding in 2015 was simple and cost almost nothing. I was married at home. The gentleman who performed the ceremony showed up on a Harley. He was a friend of my tattoo artist. He performed the ceremony with my sons help who was 10at the time. It was fun and beautiful and I’ll never forget it. My dad brought a small cake. This was my second wedding to the same person but that’s a story for a different day.

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  • avatar

    csp March 14, 2019, 11:03 am

    I loved my wedding. It was big. Here are the things I would have changed:
    1.) I would get the cheapest bridesmaids dresses I could. Honestly, no one cares about the bridesmaids and your friends have to shell out money. We should have gone to david’s bridal.
    2.) I know people say “Its your day” but it is really two families coming together. I had a lot of conflict with my mother in law. She was undermining me but honestly, she wanted more of a say and I should have given it to her. Her feelings mattered and so did my parents. The traditions and the event are a reflection of you and your families.
    3.) I am so so glad I got a wedding video. I am glad there were tons of candid pics and I took the time to put them in albums. I got married in 2007 and seeing pictures of my friends when we were younger or the video of my grandparents when they were alive and happy. It just means a lot in ways I couldn’t imagine. If you can’t afford the videographer, make sure you take the time to get all the iphone videos and put them on a disc. take the time to photograph the people who aren’t normally in the album. Like “there are my old coworkers” or old neighbors.
    4.) take the time to appreciate that every guest there took the time out of their life to make it to the event. They flew there or took off work just to be part of your life. They do this because they love you. It was overwhelming to have everyone I love in one room at one time and it is so much more important to feel that then what kind of cake you had or the dinner served.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant March 14, 2019, 11:37 am

      I cannot underscore the “This isn’t actually your day” point heavily enough.

      We went in with a very specific vision of what we wanted for our wedding, only to be shocked, SHOCKED, how excited and involved our families wanted to be.

      In retrospect, duh, but I spent so much energy fighting people (mostly my mom). If I had just went with it, accepted this was a celebration for everyone but the marriage would be just the two of us, I think it would’ve been a lot less painful.

      The caveat is people can’t through around demands if they’re not fronting the cash. My mom chipped in a substantial amount to get our wedding more in line with her vision.

      Its fine to capitulate on the more expensive place settings, or growing the guest list, or whatever else it is that is going to blow up the original budget so long as you aren’t absorbing the increased costs yourselves.

      Hold steady on what you are willing to spend, and if others want more, they are welcome to contribute directly to the budget to make it happen.

      Nobody gets to demand you spend more money than you can/are willing to.

      You want it, you pay for it.

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      • avatar

        csp March 14, 2019, 2:04 pm

        I totally agree about guestlist if you aren’t paying. I had so many friends go into debt because the parents wanted 2nd cousins there. But when I look back at some of the stress, I don’t know why I cared so much about this little stuff.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant March 15, 2019, 4:01 pm

        Oh yes, agreed.

        Most of our fights were guest list related.

        I genuinely wanted a small (VERY small) wedding, my mom wanted to have more of her/our family there.

        Primarily it was a fight about just making a bigger deal than Imy husband and I wanted, but the cost implications were also there. We eventually just accepted we would have a bigger thing than we wanted IF we also didn’t have to pay for it. My mom agreed and made up the difference of what we would’ve spent if we did things our way.

        Ultimately we went to City Hall with 15 people (ourselves and our photographer included), and then had a reception for about 40 at a nice restaurant.

        Which is still tiny compared to most weddings, I know, but my husband and I initially wanted to just take 6 people to city hall and then take just those six to dinner, so that was a fairly big jump. It also meant inviting out of town guests, helping them figure out where to stay, and hosting a brunch the day after as “they made all this effort to come here”. All stuff we didn’t initially anticipate or want to do.

        I had a lot a lot of resentment for the first year or two, but now I’ve come to accept it really was a lovely time and the wedding really wasn’t about just the two of us.

        But if we had been made to stomach that budget, I’d still be mad.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph March 14, 2019, 11:24 am

    I’m totally with Emily on letting other people do things if they’re obsessing about them and you don’t want to spend the time, but in my case it worked out that they didn’t want to do the work either. Was funny to me how people thought things were important enough when I was going to spend my time, energy, and money on them, but not that important when THEY had to do the work themselves.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph March 14, 2019, 11:27 am

      Oh also planning was a pain in the ass and it cost a lot of money but I wouldn’t trade my 150+ person wedding for an elopement. As csp says, its about two families coming together. Getting the chance to celebrate with so many of our loved ones was totally worth it! We will never have that many people we care about in the same place at the same time– maybe our funerals, but we won’t get to enjoy it.
      (If you have family drama, or if a small wedding is your thing, thats fine. But if you want a big blowout bash with everyone you love in one place… embrace that and enjoy it!)

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      • avatar

        TheHizzy March 14, 2019, 11:35 am

        I keep thinking about how I would have rather eloped.

        Now that I’m getting RSVPs back and seeing people saying they’ll be there, it makes it even more exciting and more real. All these people are wanting to celebrate with us. They’re traveling, taking time off work and spending money to be with us. We couldn’t be more grateful!

        We show our gratitude by food and booze!!

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 14, 2019, 11:43 am

        My takeaway, and advice is have the wedding you want, not the wedding think you should have. By that, I mean, you can have any size ceremony/party you want, but you don’t necessarily have to go the traditional wedding “musts” route to have a good time. No Instragram-worthy centerpieces? Who cares! You’re dress didn’t cost $5k? No biggie. You’re still beautiful. Oh my god, you didn’t have a cocktail hour and then a sit down dinner? That’s ok.

        I mean, if you want all that, got for it! But people will also enjoy a backyard BBQ as much as they do the traditional weddings.

        The best weddings I’ve witnessed and celebrated are the weddings where the couple’s personality came through.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph March 14, 2019, 12:43 pm

        I just don’t like how the advice is either “elope” or “have the pinterest wedding.” There’s space in between for people without bridezilla/pinterest maniac tendencies to still have a big wedding that isn’t over the top if they want.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 14, 2019, 12:47 pm

        Agree. Ours was in between, more on the low key side, and it was perfect. I’m not going to lie though, at least twice a week leading up to the wedding I wanted to elope. Even small, easy weddings take up time and resources.

        We had a blast and I’m glad it turned out the way it did.

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      • avatar

        Marie March 14, 2019, 12:52 pm

        Definitely agree – it’s a special occasion to celebrate together with your loved ones. It’s ok to spend money on it!

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      • avatar

        TheHizzy March 14, 2019, 1:22 pm

        We picked the items we want to spend money on, and the items we didn’t care so much about.

        Therefore our centerpieces came off facebook marketplace. I think there is almost more of a pressure on my end since I’m older to have a “certain wedding” because I should be better off financially than my friends who married in their 20s. And my parents keep making some dumb assumptions on what they think we should want. Sticking to our goals helps us say no.

        “I appreciate your help but you’re trying to solve a non issue” is a line I’ve used more than once!

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      • avatar

        MaggieB March 15, 2019, 3:04 pm

        So much agreed, KT and Spacey!

        The wedding industrial complex has gotten way out of hand, but I treasure the memories of my mid-size $5k wedding because of all the loved ones I could have in one place, and because I could show them a taste of our life–many of them had never visited my city and almost certainly never will again. I already had so many memories of special moments with my husband, and will have a lifetime more of them, so in a way, what made my wedding day over-the-top special was the other people who were there with us.

        And hey, to each their own! But “elope and spend the money you saved on a house/honeymoon” is such an internet cliche at this point, and it’s bad advice, because blanket advice usually is. I personally wouldn’t trade my wedding for travel if I had it to do over again.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 15, 2019, 11:46 am

      Oh my gosh, it happened to me too that parents were like, we want x or y but given reins on planning (or paying for) that bit, opted to do nothing. I can think of at least 3 things off the top of my head when it comes to my mom, and there was certainly more than that…

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  • avatar

    DOL6 March 14, 2019, 11:48 am

    1. While you will hopefully cherish your wedding day for the rest of your life, use the time leading up to your wedding to further prepare for marriage. Your wedding is one day; your marriage is hopefully a lot longer.
    2. If there are serious red flags that pop-up during the planning process, do not let the sunk cost fallacy prevent you from postponing or calling it off altogether.
    3. Go to pre-marriage counselling.
    4. If you do call it off, you will be okay. Trust your gut.
    5. Ask yourself, “what do I want to remember in 20 years?” Focus on those aspects of your wedding. Let the rest go.

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    • avatar

      Kate March 14, 2019, 12:00 pm

      The moment I remember best from my first wedding was my dad saying to me, right before we walked into the church, “you know, you don’t have to do this, you can back out now and it’s okay.” He liked the guy, but he knew I was young and stupid and this wasn’t a great idea. He wanted me to know I didn’t have to go through with it. And he never said, “I told you so” when it didn’t work out.

      But yeah, best to just call it off if it’s not right. Much better than going through with it and getting divorced a year later.

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    • avatar

      csp March 14, 2019, 2:16 pm

      I found the premarriage counseling to be wonderful. We had a weekend retreat with my church that was required. We went over everything from finances to sex. It was very very valuable. I wish we had done more but it helped with all the major stuff.

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  • avatar

    _s_ March 14, 2019, 12:03 pm

    Don’t be That Couple that disappears after the ceremony to take 9000 photos and leaves their guests cooling their heels doing nothing. I went to a wedding once where the couple went off for a good two hours after the ceremony to do photos, while the guests were just sitting around the reception hall, bored to tears, eyeballing the cakes we couldn’t eat. Take your photos beforehand, or if you want to be traditional and not see each other ahead of time, take ALL the his side/her side photos early so all you have to do after the ceremony is the couple and both sides photos. And have SOMETHING for your guests to do in the interim.

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    • Copa

      Copa March 14, 2019, 12:18 pm

      I thought this was pretty standard. I don’t think I’ve been to a single wedding where there hasn’t been time to kill between ceremony and reception. But I’ve never been without something to do or drink or eat.

      The wedding I went to a couple weeks ago, the ceremony was at 1 and very short. I think the reception officially started at 6. They had drinks and appetizers. It was fun!

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      • avatar

        bondgirl March 14, 2019, 2:20 pm

        Most weddings I’ve attended were all at one location…..fairly quick ceremony and then immediately went into cocktail hour and reception. Was always fond of that as church weddings seemed to have like 2 hours in-between and kinda interrupted the wedding day flow. I liked going straight to the party and am doing the same thing for my big day. Only exception is I went to my first traditional Jewish wedding last year and it turns out they do cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony which was super amazing!

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      • avatar

        _s_ March 15, 2019, 8:25 am

        You’re right, it’s totally standard to have a gap, and people expect it – but there’s a big difference between an hour++ gap with nothing to do or eat and a 30 minute gap with drinks and snacks and maybe a mariachi band or “photos booth” or something.

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    • avatar

      csp March 14, 2019, 3:05 pm

      So I know if you are catholic and want to get married on a Saturday then you have to get married early. My brother and sister were married on Saturday and had these big gaps. I got married on a Friday and it was immediately after. I liked that better but then had to get married on a Friday. So I think it depends on the religion.

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  • avatar

    ron March 14, 2019, 12:31 pm

    Do a simple, small wedding. Use the $ which would have bought the big wedding for a house purchase. Use the time you would have spent planning the big wedding to plan your future lives together. We had a small wedding, two sibs had VERY small weddings. All marriages have lasted decades. None of us has ever regretted not having a big wedding. Stay away from bridal magazines and the Madison Avenue myth they are selling. You’ll be happier and have a lot less stress.

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    • avatar

      _s_ March 15, 2019, 8:26 am

      This is honestly the best advice.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl March 14, 2019, 12:42 pm

    This advice is all really good – I would add to quick (and easy) suggestions.
    1) I have a massive family so had an over-sized wedding to match. Most of my out of town cousins were in their 20s and 30s so had small children. I paid for two professional babysitters to watch the little ones during the reception – we were able to get a room with a TV to play Disney movies and had a special kid-friendly menu. This ended up being a life-saver. Parents were able to stay longer and have fun, kids weren’t bored out of their minds, and the babysitters made a fortune on tips.
    2) I raided the local dollar store and bough dozens of cheap flip flop sandals which I put in a basket in the women’s restroom. My guests loved being able to put on flats midway through the reception – the only complaint was that I didn’t do it for the guys as well.

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  • avatar

    bondgirl March 14, 2019, 2:08 pm

    Very timely as I’m 6 weeks out from my big day and slowly starting to go crazy.

    Our RSVP deadline is coming up VERY fast and we’re still missing more than half of the responses! And a decent amount of guests we’d anticipated on making it are not coming (including backup list people) and these don’t include people we’re expecting to say no. Getting a little nervous about making the min head count. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s experienced a hassle trying to get RSVP’s from people….were you guys nice about it or did you enlist your most assertive bridesmaid to hunt people down? I did start reaching out to friends and extended family asking them to send in their replies as soon as they could and that seems to be helping a little.

    Maybe it’s just me, but people seem to have gotten really lazy/flaky about the whole RSVP thing. My bridal party had the same problems with responses for my shower and especially bachelorette party. Super difficult to make reservations when people wait until the last second! Friend of mine got married and despite months of almost 40 extended family members saying they weren’t coming, they all told her just days before the big day they were coming! I mean, I’ve always been someone who sent in RSVP’s within days of receiving it just knowing brides were going to have issues with getting responses.

    Sorry that sounded more like a vent lol.

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    • avatar

      csp March 14, 2019, 3:09 pm

      So the RSVP thing was annoying. I sent out our mothers for family members. But I remember our best man never RSVPed and twice we had to call him and just asked if he wanted Chicken or Beef and he couldn’t even get that to us. It was frustrating. But don’t be afraid to reach out to people. I had a friend who I got the Save the date but never the invitation. We hadn’t talked that much during the year and I thought maybe I didn’t make the cut and did want to put her in a bad situation. I was accidentally taken off the list and she called in a panic and apologized. It was all fine but sometimes things do get lost in the shuffle.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph March 18, 2019, 11:03 am

        This is definitely annoying. I also sent the mothers after all the family members but it kind of backfired on me because I also gave my MIL access to the guest list spreadsheet in google docs and she was going in there and marking yes for people who she had talked to months ago and had said they wanted to come, not actually calling them to find out if they were coming. I found this out when I got a “no” RSVP in the mail and went to my spreadsheet to find it had been marked for 2 attending. So my husband had to have a talk with her about that.
        Also we got married in February and literally got 2 RSVP cards in the mail the following May that had both been post marked in November but were lost in a vortex for months. So some probably do get lost, but not dozens.

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      Poppy March 14, 2019, 3:22 pm

      @bondgirl As someone who can very much relate to your post, I sympathize with you. I would go at it one last time and be direct with the people you invited about RSVPing….. People have become rude/flakey. Id tell them if you show up without RSVP you might not get a meal. You could even announce informal on facebook if you wanted too I suggest calling the invited guest one last time with having your fiance/husband and the bridal party all get together and make the calls to these people. We didnt have near as many people show up as they said they would and no one really responded to the RSVP but verbally say they were coming but didn’t. We could have saved money on our food cost.

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      • avatar

        bondgirl March 15, 2019, 8:03 am

        Poppy that is horrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you! Honestly I’m afraid of people just not showing up the day of. My mom’s reassuring me we’ll make the min head count and if too many people RSVP no she will help me find people to fill those spots. Strangely enough, all the guest that have to fly in are all yes’s.

        One issue we’re having is guests telling other guests if they’re coming yes or no….but they’re not telling us, we have to specifically reach out and ask. And specifically, apparently one guest won’t RSVP yet because her bf doesn’t want to go and doesn’t know if she wants to without him…..even though he’s not even invited (she got a plus one though) and he’s dragged her ass to multiple weddings already. I have no patience for this BS. Guests have a deadline, if they can’t give me an answer by then, there won’t be a meal waiting for them if they randomly show up the day of.

        The majority of the wedding planning has actually been super low stress and I don’t plan on changing that up now. I got all the big stuff done super early so I’ve been able to do everything at my own leisure. These last few weeks though seems like it’s going to be crunch time.

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        snoopy March 15, 2019, 9:19 am

        Bondgirl- if you don’t make your minimum head count, you can always call your caterer/venue and ask if they will add in some extras. Normally the min head count is actually to make sure they meet a minimum $$ amount to be profitable, most are happy to do some small upgrades so you get something for the money you are spending.

        My family was pretty involved and so my mom and dad called the missing RSVPs from their side of the family and my MIL and FIL called the missing RSVPs on their side. Husband and I tracked down a few friends. Just be direct- “my numbers for catering need to be in by x date, if I haven’t heard from you by then, there won’t be food or a place for you to sit. Would love to have you there but understand if you can’t make it. Please let us know by x date”

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      ArtsyGirl March 14, 2019, 6:00 pm

      Hi Bondgirl – I ran into the same thing when planning my wedding. I ended up calling and asking the hotel to give me the list of people who booked our block of rooms which I then used to match up with my missing RSVPs.

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    • avatar

      _s_ March 15, 2019, 8:36 am

      @bondgirl, trust me, your venue doesn’t care if your minimum amount of people actually show up, they only care if you pay them for the minimum amount of people, which you are likely contractually obligated to do. So I mean, yeah, if your contracted minimum is 50 people and only 40 show up, you’re stuck paying for 10 extra meals, which sucks, but it’s not something worth stressing over.

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  • avatar

    MP March 14, 2019, 2:21 pm

    Ah my wedding was so good! For my actual wedding day we just went to the courthouse and got lunch after with our friends. Then we had receptions at our respective in-laws houses (they graciously paid for catering) and had only family and super close friends. I wore an old TopShop dress I already had and I just told my “bridesmaids” to wear black hahah. It was so joyful and fun and AFFORDABLE that we actually profited from the wedding!!! I have zero regrets and recommend everyone that wants a marriage more than a wedding to keep their big day(s) small and thrifty and simple.

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  • avatar

    Ange March 14, 2019, 11:37 pm

    You don’t have to have bridesmaids and groomsmen. We didn’t and it was so easy to only worry about ourselves. Our wedding was so little stress I honestly don’t know why people put themselves through the huge production. You’re still just as married at the end of the day and the important part starts tomorrow.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 15, 2019, 11:49 am

      Agreed, I think not having bridesmaids/groomsmen really cut down on potential stress for my wedding too.

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    allathian March 15, 2019, 8:47 am

    I really enjoyed my wedding as it was almost completely stress-free. Neither of us wanted a big wedding. We only had immediate family present, that is my parents and sister, my MIL, her husband, my SIL, No bridesmaids, but with our siblings as our witnesses. My FIL didn’t attend the ceremony but he did come to the reception at our house.

    We only had coffee and cakes bought from a local caterer, no particular decorations except some cut flowers on the table. No written invitations, we just called round. We served coffee and cakes on the china we got as a wedding present. It was a dry wedding because my MIL and her husband are teetotalers, my dad is a sober alcoholic and I was 8 months pregnant at the time. A dark suit for him and a mommy dress and black stretch pants for me (a white dress on a pregnant bride looks silly IMO, even if most brides who marry in the West today aren’t virgins).

    This was simply perfect for us, and we’re going to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary tonight.

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    snoopy March 15, 2019, 9:32 am

    My biggest piece of advise is to focus on what’s important to the both of you and keep coming back to those main tenants. For my husband and I, it was important to have our (large) families there, a good party, delicious food, and mountain views. Those are the things that guided our decision making and when things got overwhelming, we would ask ourselves if we were staying true to our main wishes.

    I also think the “it’s your day” advice is bullshit. Often, a wedding is seen as the joining of two families. And those two families often have expectations/hopes/ideas of what a wedding is or should have. You have to decide how much that plays into your wedding and planning. Our parents helped us out financially and their opinion was important to us, so we made sure to ask them about what was important to them and were honest about what we thought we could incorporate or not. Additionally, the second you invite guests, you are hosting, and you can’t be selfish and a good host at the same time. Provide the basic necessities and comforts for your guests, but do it in a way that makes sense for you and your budget. There’s always a balancing act between your ‘vision’, the number of guests you invite, and your budget. Don’t sacrifice comfort for your guests just to have all three of those items. (e.g. don’t keep them there all day with just appetizers and a slice of cake, provide enough seating, etc).

    And finally, examine everything you think you “must” have critically. A lot of it isn’t actually a need but a want. Prioritize your wants.

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      SpaceySteph March 18, 2019, 11:12 am

      We did this too. We actually wrote it down in our wedding planner google doc so it was always there to remind us. Each of us picked 5 things and here they are (because stuff in the cloud lives forever):
      [Husband] would like it to be known that the only thing that really matters is: Bride, parents, immediate family, best friends are all there. And bride says “I do”.

      However, in excess of that, they have the following requirements…
      Stephanie’s top 5:
      Delicious delicious food
      Good, fun DJ
      Photographer
      Location-good hotel close by, transportation not a nightmare
      Outdoor ceremony and pictures, but must have a rain plan

      [Husband’s] top 5:
      Low stress for bride on “the day”.
      Family and Friends have a reasonable opportunity to attend.
      Great food
      open bar (beer and wine only if that’s what it takes)
      Dancing music

      So that’s what we spent our effort on. Upgraded tableclothes? Not on the list. But finding a good hotel were on the list so even though the event coordinator at the hotel was terrible (never answered her phone but also responded to every email with vague answers and saying “we should talk on the phone so I can explain”), I kept calling and emailing her over and over again to get things set up because it was one of the important things.

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    ele4phant March 15, 2019, 4:12 pm

    One thing that latently occurs to me is that even if you don’t want to drop serious cash on paper invites, you should still send a couple out at least your older family members.

    We didn’t, and I regret that. I initially thought they were old fashioned, fussy and way too much money. We had a pretty small wedding, and I thought I could just get away with doing everything electronically – emails and setting up a wedding website. And then, I figured the wedding was small and intimate enough that everyone who still had questions knew who to get ahold of us via phone.

    And oh were there questions. I fielded SO MANY phone calls from older family members, repeatedly, confirming what I thought was readily apparent details.

    If I could do it again, I would’ve sent paper invites to my aunts and uncles. Our friends, siblings, and cousins did just fine with getting the details electronically, but our older guests just weren’t accustomed to it and they KEPT CALLING ME to confirm the time, venue, date. I wish I had just given them something to stick on their fridge.

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      bondgirl March 15, 2019, 6:35 pm

      I totally agree with having the paper invites for the older guests…..I wanted to skip those but knew my grandma barely knows how to turn on her iPhone so navigating a wedding website was out of the question. I disagree though that it’d stop people from constantly asking for the date and venue…..I have guests that not only have a save the date but the invite as well….and are STILL asking me when’s the wedding! Like, that’s just lazy, right?

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      ktfran March 15, 2019, 9:30 pm

      Even though we had a low key wedding celebration at our condo, I sent paper invites. Idk. It feels more official?

      I’m throwing a huge party this summer for my husband and a friend and I’m seriously considering a paper invite over the FB invite. Or e-mail.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 18, 2019, 9:49 am

      I was also surprised at what I thought was clear information, and I even sent out paper invites and had a website. After fielding another basic question a week beforehand, I just turned the front page of my wedding website into just the basic details – locations, times, etc. That way they didn’t need to search through the website at all for just that information, and I thought the questions decreased a ton.

      When I get an invitation with info in it, I usually have a picture of it in my phone in case I forget any details or can’t quite remember the website address. But I’m pretty sure I’m an anomaly there.

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        bondgirl March 18, 2019, 1:46 pm

        Portia, I also keep a picture of the invitation in my phone — not just for me, but I usually get asked by 2-3 friends also going to the same wedding where is it and what time it starts. Not sure why more people don’t do this lol.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 18, 2019, 2:15 pm

        Oh good, someone else does it! It makes so much sense to me – I’ve always got my phone on me anyway. Plus anything on paper tends to disappear around my house, so I think I started to do it because I lost a few invitations…

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        Ele4phant March 18, 2019, 3:18 pm

        This is all making me feel better about not paying for paper invites – perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered.

        By all means if you are a person that likes the formality of paper invites – you should definitely send them if they make you happy.

        I am not though – and I was shocked out how expensive they were yikes! – so I thought I could get away without them.

        I think I would still counsel young couples to send some to older guests, but I guess it sounds like no matter what if you are getting married – you’re going to be getting a lot of phone calls.

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    FannyBrice March 16, 2019, 12:08 am

    I’m late to this but want to chime in anyway! I had a gigantic wedding – (I have a big extended family and we were the last of our friends to get married so everyone we invited also had a spouse/partner to be invited) and I loved it. ANYWAY – 1) It is NOT just “your day” if you’re having the big wedding as many others have said. We each had a parent who had recently come through a major health issue when we thought they wouldn’t, 2 families coming together, all 16 of my first cousins (on one side) were there, my in laws who are divorced both attended and behaved…we had a lot to celebrate in addition to our marriage, and that made it even better to us. 2) carve out alone time during the day of with your spouse. Immediately after the ceremony we had about 30 mins alone before the cocktail hour, which we spent drinking champagne and giggling and saying “holy shit we are MARRIED!” and it was the best. 3) have the caterer assign each of you a server – someone to make sure you have food, water, a drink, etc whatever you need. We did this and are the only people I know who actually ate at our own wedding. 4) People will forget about everything except the food and the music. Put your time/money/worry towards those things and your guests will be happy.

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      snoopy March 16, 2019, 3:15 pm

      We also went straight from the ceremony to a private room while the rest of our guests filed out to cocktail hour. It was amazing. The caterer put two of every appetizer we had in there so we could eat and have a moment together. Then we did family photos and joined our cocktail hour. It was perfect.
      We also spent most of our dinner time saying hi to each table, and then had a few minutes to shovel some food in our mouths. Someone told my mom that they’ve never seen anyone eat so fast in their life…and she told them that they haven’t see me when I’m hungry 🙂
      My bridesmaids and a lot of my friends were also aamaaaazing and made sure I had drink or water all night long on the dance floor. I try to return that favour now at other friend’s wedding- I always make sure the bride and groom have a drink or water because they can’t easily get away and grab it for themselves.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph March 18, 2019, 11:16 am

        We did this, but I kind of wish we hadn’t. Those 15 mins we spent on our own could have been spent with the 100 people who came from out of town for our wedding. Then after that, my mom and sister had to bustle my dress, and then I walked into cocktail hour for maybe 5 mins before being shuffled back out so we could make our “grand entrance” to the reception.

        When the dust settled and we were alone again after everyone went home, I felt like “eh we have our whole lives to be alone, I miss our people.”

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      • Portia

        Portia March 18, 2019, 2:21 pm

        We also had a few minutes to ourselves between the ceremony and pictures/cocktail hour with appetizers and a bottle of bubbly. I’m glad we did it because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten any appetizers, and we were only in there 15 minutes or so. Plus I’m an introvert, so it gave me a few minutes to recover – the whole day was pretty non-stop and surrounded by people and to be honest I was getting a little overwhelmed.

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    SDSmith82 March 18, 2019, 11:32 am

    Remember it’s not the wedding that matters- It’s the marriage after it.

    Weddings make people crazy, and sometimes, those people are not the Bride/Groom. I had a bridesmaid that literally went off her meds midway through the wedding planning, and became a straight up nightmare. I’m not sure how else I could have handled her (other than saying, “yes please do drop out” when she offered two months before the wedding (I encouraged her to stay only because she had already bought her dress, and I didn’t want any additional drama beyond what she’d already caused.) Pick people you really trust, know are mentally stable, and be flexible. Mostly- pick people that are mentally stable. The Bat Shit Crazy bridesmaid tainted the wedding planning/pre-events, but remembering that the marriage is what really mattered (and seeing how happy my husband was on the big day) made it all better.

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    K March 18, 2019, 2:23 pm

    Thanks to everyone for all the comments – I’m getting married in September and am in the throes of wedding planning, so this is helpful. Having the people we care about there, good food, and good music are tops on the list for us.

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