Ask Team Practical: Veterans’ Day, Toasts and Unwanted Gifts

It’s Friday! Hooray!!!! Not because it’s starting to look a little bit like spring, and I get to spend the weekend actually relaxing, and painting our TV stand with David (we do love a good project together) instead of doing my god-d*mn tax accounting like last weekend. No! I’m excited because that means Alyssa is here with Ask Team Practical Friday. And is it just me, or is she getting funnier? Maybe it’s all the writing on her new personal blog? But anyway! This week she’s tackling a grab bag of questions, because dang it, when you email her, she wants to help you out. So let’s do this thing.

Our first question comes from reader Chris:

When my fiance first proposed the idea of getting married on 11-11-11, I scoffed at the cheesiness of it.  But as we continued our talks about our wedding, he emphasized  that getting married on that date was high on his list of priorities (he pretty much said that was the ONE thing he’d ask).  I had procrastinated on securing the venue and I assumed 11-11-11 would be booked quickly, but after a cancellation, our venue is now available for that date.

My biggest concern now is whether it would be disrespectful to veterans and their families to get married on that day.  Of course I would acknowledge and express appreciation for the sacrifice made by our veteran heroes during the ceremony and reception, particularly for the freedom we have to enjoy such things as weddings. We have few war veterans in our immediate family, but I want to be mindful of the feelings of our guests.  Is it offensive to get married on Veteran’s Day?


A show of hands, how many of y’all reading saw 11-11-11 and went “Ooo, pretty numbers,” instead of “Oh, that’s Veterans’ Day.” Chris, you can’t see them but I’m magic and I can, and I can tell you nearly everybody reading your letter thought the former. And about one-third of them saw that and went, “Hey, that’s MY wedding date!”

My meaning is that while it is a federal holiday, not everyone celebrates it. As an Army brat who lived on or near a military base all of her life, I can tell you that we celebrated it as a day we were out from school or work and a day to attend beautiful, touching patriotic events if we so wished, usually at 11am.  After that, it was an excuse to barbecue with neighbors.

Honor isn’t about one day, it’s a year-round project. Your nod to the veterans is lovely, but only if it is something you would do if it were held any other day of the year. If your only reason is because of the date, then a quick sentence in the program or on your invitations is appropriate and thoughtful.

Your only real issue is whether the veterans in your family have an issue with it and will not attend. Read this post. And if those veterans fall into the category of “people who should weigh in on your wedding date,” then think about changing. But only if they have a real issue with it. Don’t mention that it is Veterans’ Day, just ask them if they have any conflicts on November 11th, because that is the day you and your fiance picked as the day that works best for your family.

And if it doesn’t work out, just remember your date is important because it’s the date that you got married, not because of the date itself. A date that causes you the least stress is going to be the best date for you.


My question is about toasts and involving family. We also generally do not like a bunch of people staring at us so we’ve already nixed the bouquet toss/garter thing, our iPod will be DJ and I hadn’t planned on being announced or doing toasts. When I mentioned this to my mom and grandmother they said we MUST do toasts and be announced. Sigh. So I guess, what are the point of toasts? Would it be completely bizarre if we didn’t do them? What if no one wants to say anything? What if my uncle grabs the microphone and starts doing his awful Robin Leech impersonation that my family loves but that my fiance finds insufferable? Do we have to say anything (gulp)?


You can always just “tragically be unable to get a microphone” and not tell your family until the day of your wedding.

Not helpful?  Fine.

Toasts are lovely ways for your guests to show their admiration for you both individually and as a couple.  And announcing the couple is a way of announcing your marriage and the first time you are presented as a married couple. Neither one is necessary, and neither will the absence of either be bizarre if you don’t want to do them.

But if you do decide to do them, designate someone as the owner of the microphone, a friend you can trust and who will not get hammered and start impromptu karaoke, and let them announce you. Then let them be the one to hand over the mike to the people who are going to do toasts.  (And only the predesignated list of people, not Uncle Bill. The open mike toast idea can sound really nice ’till you’re on the tenth toast and someone is saying “I don’t know the bride that well, but…” and then all your guests are trying to sneak off to the bar, and this is a true story and you don’t want it to happen to you.) And no, you absolutely do not have to say anything, unless you want to. In fact, pro-tip, you’re not even supposed to drink when people toast you, because you’d be drinking to yourself. So your only job is to raise your glass and smile. And really? Having been there? Toasts can be a wonderful thing. Listening to your normally jaded friends, tearfully tell you why they love you and your partner? That can stay with you for a long, long time.

Talk to people in your family and see who is actually interested in doing a toast. The fathers of the bride and groom are usually candidates for toasts, as are the best man and maid of honor. But this is APW, and we think women should get a word in edge-wise. So ask the people that are important to you if they WANT to do toasts, and think about it. Some people do toasts at rehearsal dinners, where it’s a little more intimate and relaxed, so that might be a compromise. But bottom line: toasts should always be discussed beforehand. No one wants to be blindsided if they’re not prepared and no bride and groom want to feel unloved if they wanted toasts, but no one realized it.

BUT. if you don’t want to do either, DON’T. No one will die if you don’t and your mother and grandmother will be okay.  If they get mad, blame it on me.  They can email at alyssa [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.


I’ve always been very close to my guy friends, and very protective of them. Recently, one of my best friends had his heart broken by a girl he was with for several years. She and I were never close, but we hung out on occasion because she didn’t have many girl friends. Well, now that they’ve broken up, she and I don’t speak, and she’s been taken off the guest list for the wedding. Seems simple, right? WRONG. I got a call from my mother 5 months before the wedding telling me the first of the gifts off my registry had come in, and guess who sent it…LITTLE MISS HEARTBREAKER! I know the polite thing to do would be to send her a Thank You note and be done with it, but I don’t want her to think that I’m rekindling our friendship or that I’ve forgiven her. The wedding is still a few months off, so I’m pretending I didn’t open it yet.

What should I do? Return it?  Write a Thank You note like nothing ever happened?


How good is the gift? Because if it’s awesome, keep it.  If it sucks, sell it on Ebay.



Acceptance of a gift is not an acceptance of friendship, nor is it an acknowledgment that they will be invited to the wedding.  You may get satisfaction from returning it to her, but that’s rude, and it’ll cost you postage. If you can’t stand the thought of having it in your home, donate it, or if you can return it to the store for cash, return it and donate the money.  (Keeping the money from it or buying something new is the same as keeping the gift.)

Regardless, write a thank you note. You’re never going to know the tone in which the gift was given and, honestly, while she did something to your friend, she did not do anything to you. She might be a giant skanky ho, but she’s a giant skanky ho who sent you a present. Take the high ground (which she kind of just did), send a sincere but impersonal thank you and treat any other friendly overtures on her part as something entirely separate from your wedding.

And if it’s a SlapChop, send it to me.  I broke ours…

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa a askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). Seriously though. You guys are not making up sign off names and WE ARE DISAPPOINTED.

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  • Moz

    Alyssa’s column is my favourite part of APW. And that is saying something.

    • meg

      See, now I feel very sad. Though Alyssa probably feels happy (but sad for me).

      • A little sad for you, but considering the amount of “Meg, you’re amazing!!” mail you get (and I get about you,) I’m totally keeping Moz. :-)

        • meg

          Ok, point. Moz, your Alyssa’s #1 reader, though I’m sure there is competition for that role.

          • Heather G

            Thank goodness we don’t have to choose what we part of APW we like best!

            I will say this, though. Last Thursday, I thought it was Friday and I kept saying to myself, “Where is ask Alyssa? Where is it? I wonder if she’s sick?”

            And then I realized, duh, it’s Thursday, it’s tomorrow! Tomorrow!

            And Meg, I think this makes you extra smart. You write, we listen, we love. You get some smart, sassy people to write, we listen, we love.

          • Yes to Heather G!
            Also, if there’s competition, can I hold a cage match fight for the #1 spot?
            Or is that inappropriate?

          • Denzi

            Aww, I am sad that there is now I finite level of replies (i.e. I can’t reply to Alyssa’s comment directly).

            Anyway. Alyssa, you’re from Texas. Can the cage match be a high noon duel with guns instead? :D

          • Moz

            I didn’t say the rest WASN’T amazing. And Alyssa – I will take the #1 fan challenge.

  • Rachel

    OK I feel I have to comment on Question 2 about toasts, because what that asker said is basically everything I felt about my wedding, right down to the iPod DJ.

    I knew that toasts would be very emotional for my family because we’re extremely close, which would have been a stark contrast to Dan’s family, who holds everybody at arm’s length. We decided to have the parents do their toasts at the rehearsal dinner, which turned into almost in the bridal party giving a toast. (This was my first rehearsal dinner, so I don’t know if that’s normal or not.) Then we only had our best man and maid of honor give toasts at the wedding so our more traditional guests didn’t feel confused by the structure entirely.

    Incidentally, I had an uncle that I was concerned would grab the microphone and say something wildly inappropriate, and I did the best thing I could think of: I asked my officiant if he would guard the mike after the benediction for dinner. During our premarital counseling, he asked what concerns we had, and this turned out to be a wonderfully organic solution, primarily because I didn’t have to put one of my family members in charge of the crazy uncle and I didn’t have to inform someone who didn’t know the particular uncle of his emotional problems. Plus, you can’t buy off a pastor on a mission. It worked out really well.

    Good luck!

    • SEz

      Rachel, the family differences for you and Dan sound just like ours! We, however, ended up even further on the non-traditional side with no toasts at all, as my husband was pretty much terrified of the thought that anyone in his family would be tempted to say something… It was pretty tough for me, because I am with Alyssa and feel they can be a really nice part (in moderation of course!) of a dinner or party (for instance, I would have really enjoyed having my brother say something if he’d wanted, or my sister), but really, it just wasn’t something I could convince my now-husband to embrace and I respected that.

      Since my dad had really been eager to say something, and it was one of the only things he’d asked for in terms of my wedding, we ended up making the successful compromise of having him say some words, similar to a toast, but as a “welcome” right before the ceremony. For us, this worked, and seems like it could be an alternative to toasts in a number of cases. Readings, personal words or some other involvement for those that might have otherwise given a toast can make them feel special in the way you/they want, and can remove the pressure from others.

  • Katie

    I think the advice on November 11 really depends on your cultural context. In British Columbia where I was raised effectively everyone took the day off and lots of those people might think it was really offensive. So while Alyssa’s advice is excellent in some contexts, it might not work where you are.

    • Rachel

      I agree with this one, it might be a cultural context, or maybe vary country by country. I’m also in Canada, and Remembrance Day (our name for Veteran’s Day) is quite sacred, and very solemn. Although I think offended would be a strong word for how I’d feel about it, I would feel uncomfortable attending a party or event with a celebratory atmosphere on such a serious, solemn day. It’s entirely possible that Remembrance Day is just a very different sort of event in Canada than it is in the United States, but I do honestly believe that if this wedding was a Canadian one, a lot of people would be offended by the date. I’m not sure if that’s fair, but I do think that would be the outcome. I don’t know of anyone who holds BBQs or other celebratory events on Remembrance Day (but that could have something to do with all the snow…) but I know a lot of people who take it very seriously and spend the day at memorial services.

      I have to admit that the first thing I thought when I saw 11-11-11 was ‘That’s Remembrance Day! You can’t have a wedding on Remembrance Day!’ – although my more rational reaction immediately following that one was that I have no business telling people when they can or can’t have a wedding ;)

      Another thing to point out, in Canada at least, 11-11-11 is going to be an especially big deal. Many cities are planning huge commemorative events because of the significance of the number 11 for Remembrance Day, which makes the ’11th year’ added on to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month an extra-big deal. Streets will be shut down, transportation will be a nightmare, businesses will be closed, hotels will be booked up months in advance for foreign visitors and veterans who are being flown in for special ceremonies, so logistically, it wouldn’t be an ideal day for a wedding.

      All that being said, I think the most important people to talk to are the veterans in your family who are special and important to you. They are by far the best equipped to contribute to a discussion on whether or not it’s offensive to hold a wedding on Veteran’s Day. They may very well say that they think it’s a beautiful tribute, in which case, who am I to disagree? :)

      • My apologies, but I assumed since we referred to it as Veterans’ Day and not Remembrance Day that everyone would know we were talking about the American holiday. And I believe that it is mostly definitely dealt with in a different way in America. Whether that’s right or wrong is a conversation for an entirely different post, but Veterans’ Day is not celebrated the same way as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.
        But, yes, definitely consider not only your cultural context, but the context in which the bulk of your guests are coming from. This is (as far as I know) a completely American wedding, but if the bride or groom’s family were primarily from Canada, the advice might be different.

        • Rachel

          No need to apologize Alyssa! I think your advice is spot-on for American weddings assuming Veteran’s Day is handled differently than Remembrance Day, but just thought it was important to point out the cultural context as well – since I know there’s a ton of Canadian readers on this blog as well :)

          And I should also add that if I was invited to a wedding on Remembrance Day, I would go, be supportive of the couple, and be totally happy for them – it’s just not a date I would choose because I consider it a very solemn and contemplative sort of day :)

          • What? Wait, are you implying that America ISN’T the center of the universe? BLASPHEMY!

            No, but thank you, it is a good reminder to think about other cultural contexts, even if it was an American letter. I appreciate it!

        • Kristin

          As another Canadian reader, I must say I was also taken aback at the thought of a Remembrance Day wedding. It’s interesting to hear that the day is not observed in the same way in the States.

          • meg

            Yeah, it’s not observed the same way AT ALL. In fact, it’s one of the holidays many people don’t have off. We do memorial day in a bigger way, but still, that’s a vacation party day.

            David (who wrote his thesis on WWI history) says that Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day here, but after a number of wars, we made it a more general holiday. Add to the fact that the US entered WWI very late, and didn’t loose a whole lot of men, as compared to the UK or Canada, and you have something that’s treated very differently.

          • Morgan

            Just a history tidbit – Remembrance Day memorializes not just the first war, but WWII and Peacekeepers as well. So ours is also a more general day now too.

            (It’s also culturally more important because the wars forged Canada’s identity as a nation – not just as a colony. Canadian forces fought for the first time under a Canadian commander in WWI. Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and the Battle of the Somme are still remembered today by as part of Canada’s founding myth, to both its identity and culture. (*wiki) So Remembrance Day isn’t just about those who died, it’s also about those who lived and how we became a nation.)

            Wow. I’m a giant nerd. But I stood at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in the fall, and I cried. So. My bias is clear.

          • Rachel

            I’m trying to reply to Morgan’s comment, but the reply button is missing, so I’m sticking it here :)

            I totally agree with what you’re saying about how important WWI was to the national identity of Canada. I think that’s a huge part of it. And yes, the fact that we also honour all other veterans from wars since, as well as Peacekeepers and all currently serving service personnel means that it still hits quite close to home.

            Don’t worry about crying at Vimy Ridge, I often cry at Remembrance Day ceremonies when I see the elderly veterans saluting the memorials with tears streaming down their faces, or see a young child give a poppy or thank you card to a veteran. I also often get a bit emotional at the end of the memorial service every year when the crowd sings Abide With Me and lays their poppies on the memorial. I hope to go to Vimy Ridge sometime, and I’m almost certain it will be an emotional experience.

          • ellobie

            I bet if you stopped 100 Americans on the street, less than 25 would be able to tell you when Veteran’s Day even is!

          • Morgan

            To Rachel: Just for you, I uploaded a couple of the Vimy pictures – just click on my name.

            If you go to Vimy from ~April~September, in the afternoon, Canadian students give tours of tunnels and trenches. How the boys lived like that I cannot imagine.

          • JUST JENCIL

            This is why I love APW. Wedding advice and international history lessons all in one!!

            Have to agree with Meg, from your descriptions the American Memorial Day seems a bit more like Remembrance Day in Canada. I, too, am known to get teary-eyed during the ceremonies with the service men and woman on Memorial Day! But after our morning ceremonies, it is BBQ and family vacation time, so it is still quite different I believe.

      • Darcy

        My Grandparent’s wedding was on Remembrance Day. My Grandfather fought in WWII and chose that date to celebrate the freedom we have.

        I fondly remember going over to their house every November 11 to watch the memorials and then the rest of the day was focused on being with the family. So it can be handled appropriately with the right spirit and intention.

        • Susan

          We got married on 11-12-10 and used the chance to acknowledge Veteran’s Day as a way to honor our grandfathers who served in WWII. My grandfather married my grandmother in London on June 6, 1945. I’m sure that honoring DDay was a major part of their decision. I like to think that we followed their footsteps.

          • Mags

            I imagine it would be like getting married on Anzac day here in Australia – I’m sure if happens but I think it’s unusual.

  • Alyssa, in #1, you forgot category 3: “Oooh, sweet, I already have the day off.”

    Granted, not everyone gets Veteran’s Day off. In fact, enough probably don’t that a venue may honor a non-Saturday discount (though probably not this year, given the 11-11-11 prettiness), but enough people DO that it will make it easier on quite a few guests, PARTICULARLY (for example) teachers, who can take school days off in limited instances, but it can sometimes be a challenge. It was for this reason, actually, that my husband and I *briefly* considered 11-11-10 (a Thursday), but then we decided we wanted to get married outside, which would have been sticky in November in Upstate NY … (not to mention how unpredictable the weather can be … blizzards are not unheard of at that point!)

  • We Did Open-Mike Toasts – maybe shouldn’t have

    Awesome questions and responses as always Alyssa!

    I response to Amanda, we chose not to do LOADS of things my Mum thought were necessary, we weren’t announced, there was no dancing, we didn’t cut the cake or throw bouquets (there wasn’t a garter), I didn’t drink champagne (I don’t drink, apparently this doesn’t matter “but it’s your WEDDING!!!”) and it was fine! Honestly :) There was an amazing grad-post on here recently where the bride said something to the effect of “if people don’t know in advance then they don’t have time to stress about it” and we definitely found that to be true!
    Mostly I don’t think people even noticed (probably because of the sheer volume of cake being consumed, seriously)
    Do what you like, smile graciously when people tell you you HAVE to do something, then maybe have someone you trust know what you want to avoid so they can run interference and hide any microphones!

    • ElfPuddle

      I just wanted to thank you for the creative name.
      Thanks for the smile!

  • I don’t have a lot to weigh in on, but I do have to say that our toasts were amazing and, for me, emphasized again how important it was to have our family there for our wedding. It was basically a chance for people who really, really love us to tell us how much they really love us. When I was writing my wedding recaps, it really hit me how powerful it was, and I wrote (um, it’s weird to quote myself, but I already said it once and I think I said it well, so here it is):

    The toasts were amazing and tear inducing and one of the best parts of the day. Not only do you get to stand up with your partner and hear him/her tell you how much s/he loves you and how much you mean to him/her, and not only do you get the blessing of all of these other people who love you… but then you also get some of the other most important people in your life to do essentially the same thing. This is a pretty powerful thing.

    Re: the attention being focused on you? Yes, it sort of was, but I was too busy listening to what my mom and sister and mother-in-law and wife’s best friend had to say to really care.

    But as usual, in true APW fashion, do what feels right for you! Good luck!

    • Amy

      You might also be surprised by who truly wants to give a toast! We cut out toasts from everyone but my parents, us, and the best man/maid of honor because I thought they’d be a bit boring for the guests. Turns out one of my husband’s groomsmen really wanted to give a toast during our wedding and asked specifically if it would be alright. It was so lovely and touching to listen to these people share kind thoughts and well wishes and not something I would have given up.

      • We asked our fathers to give toasts, and then our two closest childhood friends. All the toasts were lovely, and they spoke from the heart, and we were really touched. But what surprised me the most was the toast from my husband’s close friend. The friend and I had butted heads early on, because I was “stealing” his best friend (this was high school, so forgive the immaturity!).

        He stood up and talked about how he loved us, but then he talked about the way we look at one another– how early on in the relationship, he saw the way my husband looked at me, and knew that he was totally in love. And he said that he saw the exact same look on MY face just the day before at our rehearsal dinner. It was eloquent, sweet, and hugely, HUGELY touching. It was the only time the entire day that I really cried, and I’m tearing up now thinking about it.

        Sometimes the way our loved ones surprise us can be the most amazing and beautiful moments in an already beautiful day.

    • Darcy

      I agree. Having our loved ones say awesome things about us was epic. It is one of the treasured memories of our day as well.

      Oh, and don’t forget to write down the list of people you want to thank. I got up to give a response and that was the only time that I lost it during the entire wedding and forgot to thank anyone. Oh well, that’s what thank you cards are for.

      • Jessica

        This brings up an important point – I think of the toasts not just as toasts to the couple, but as a chance for you and/or any parents to thank the guests for coming, to officially welcome them, etc. Of course, you’ll do that individually (e.g., table visits), and if you really don’t like toasts, you definitely don’t have to have toasts. For me personally, though, they feel like an important part of being a good host. My wedding is pretty big, though – in a more intimate wedding, this definitely might not be an issue.

      • i feel your pain! We stood at the mic together to thank people, but of course as soon as we sat down we thought of all these people we missed! I felt terrible, but everyone assured us it was okay.

    • meg

      Yes. For me, the toasts were among the very best parts. They were what made the wedding the wedding for me, and part of what I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And like everyone has said, it was David’s best friend’s toast that brought the house down…

      • Didn’t Have Toasts – Due to Veto Power/Compromises

        I can’t help but feel a bit jealous by (most) everyone’s recounting of the toasts from loved ones as being one of the best parts of the wedding day, since, for us, it wasn’t on the table…. but I can still enjoy them at other people’s weddings (even if my husband doesn’t) and know that all the help throughout our wedding weekend, the personal time with friends and family, the cards, the gestures, all amounted to a lot of the same expression of love from those truly special people in our lives.

    • Caitlin

      I have to agree, I didn’t know if anyone would want to give a toast and a part of me thought it might be a burden for people, but in the end it was one of the best parts of the day. Mike’s best man gave the most touching, moving toast. I thought he would get up there and be funny and make it short and sweet and instead it was a tribute to their friendship, the kind of man Mike is, and how happy Nick was to have me in his life. It was such a loving gesture that I can’t believe I almost told everyone that I didn’t want it to happen. And the best part is, everyone was looking at Nick giving the toast, and not at us! So that took the pressure off their as well. We also stood during the toast, and that made a lot of other people stand too (they had been standing for our first dance and then Nick started with the toast so we all just kept standing) and that felt more casual because everyone was still up on their feet with us.

      As for being announced, we just had my brother, who sang our first dance song, start playing and then we walked in from the cocktail hour space into the reception and he said something simple like, “ladies and gentlemen, Caitlin and Mike Cannon”. The applause was so loud and we just started cracking up because we had almost said no to being introduced as well, and to be honest, it kind of made us feel like rock stars.

    • aarika

      My sister is incredibly shy, and so am I, she wasn’t sure she wanted speeches but I am SO glad she did.. I was very nervous at her wedding to do the MOH speech because when I get nervous I talk way-to-freakin-fast, and sometimes I even stutter, awesome. But writing that speech was one of the most transcendent things I have ever done, I love my sister more than my own breath and I got to write about it, and shout it out to all our loved ones, Simply amazing. And you know what I may not be a good speaker but there wasn’t one person at the wedding who wasn’t moved by the emotions of the speech.. even if my hands were shaking so bad I could barely see the speech in my hands =) So of course go for what feels right, but there may be someone in your life who can’t wait to talk about how much they love the two of you!

  • Louise, are you sure that the girl knows that you aren’t speaking to her and have taken her off the invite list? I just wonder if maybe she doesn’t realize. I’m not advocating a dramatic de-friending, but you might want to check if she knows you don’t consider her a friend post-break-up. Just a thought!

  • I think the last question also plays into another issue–how to deal with people who might expect to be invited to your wedding, even though you had no plans of putting them on the guest list. Miss Heartbreaker might just want to extend her best wishes, but I wonder if she’s also expecting an invitation. Does anyone have a polite way to handle people who hint at their anticipated presence at your wedding? (Not just people like Miss Heartbreaker, but people you genuinely like and can’t invite?)

    • I think what makes it extra awkward is that most people with manners aren’t going to come out and ask you if they’re invited…so then you’re stuck wondering what’s worse: addressing it or not addressing it. Casually working phrases like “it’s a small venue” or “we’re keeping the wedding very small” into the conversation are classic polite ways to do this dance.

      • kyley

        You know what’s tricky about the “keeping it small” thing is that sometimes people *aren’t* keeping it small, but there’s still no room for person x, you know? My partner and I have huge families; family (that we like! and are close to!) alone is over 100 people.

        I guess what I mean to say is that you shouldn’t have to justify inviting or not inviting someone. Just like budgets are relative, the size of your wedding is also relative and deeply personal.

        • msditz

          I’m in the same boat–big, close families totaling about 100 people. Saying it will be small is not true, it is simply that some people are not making the cut. I literally had a friend leave a comment on my facebook page the other day that said, “I better get an invitation to your wedding! I’m serious!” She is so not invited. I just ignored it, but am worried about how some of my friends will feel once our date comes and realizes they aren’t there.

          • We had the same thing– big families, lots of friends, STILL a tight guest list with over 100 attendees. It’s hard when we’re such social people, and we have a lot of “friends”, but when you start whittling it down to closest friends and we could hit 150 people… Yeah, it’s hard.

            The biggest thing for me was simply NOT talking about the wedding, especially around people who weren’t invited. We just didn’t talk about it, and the wedding came and went, and we spend time with people we like. If the wedding comes up, we apologize that they couldn’t join us, and people usually wave it off.

            You don’t need an excuse for your guest list. But if it’s not the topic of conversation, it’s easier to avoid missed expectations or hurt feelings.

          • According to Miss Manners, “A small wedding is not necessarily one to which very few people are invited. It is one to which the person you are addressing is not invited.”

            Kyley is right. And when saying it’s a small wedding, no need to mention numbers. It’s a tough topic (and one that might be on ATP soon,) but in the end you have to do what’s best for you, your partner and your budget.

        • meg

          Y’all, Miss Manners wisely says that, when asked, a bride should always say “it’s going to be a very small wedding,” and leave it at that. Small can mean a lot of things. Etiquette is not about being strictly honest, it’s about protecting peoples feelings. So, you say it’s a small venue and you leave it at that. And NO, you don’t directly tell people they are not invited. If they don’t get invited, they’ll figure it out, and they’ll still undertand and love you.

          • K

            I can’t reply to Alyssa’s post just above this one, so I’m replying to both of you. Miss Manners’ is excellent advice, to a point, but I would love to see a longer post about this on ATP. I’ve found myself not even mentioning my upcoming wedding to people I really love and enjoy, even when I’m sorta jumping up and down on the inside to tell them, because I know we can’t afford to invite them. Part of the problem for me is that I’ve been out of the country for a year, and now that I’m back in the Bay Area for awhile I’m realizing how much I missed all those lovely folks, but I still can’t afford to invite them. If I were them, though, I’d be disappointed! But I can’t keep casually forgetting to mention it either–that in itself is potentially insulting. Any words of wisdom from other AWPers in the same boat, past or present?

    • Caitlin

      Seriously, I would love to hear advice on this question as well. I recently found out that a woman we were not intending to invite (a woman who did not receive a save-the-date) nevertheless assumed she was invited (or was maybe verbally invited by someone other than me and the fiance), and had already made her travel and hotel arrangements. We wound up just inviting her because ultimately, having someone I don’t like that much at the wedding seemed like a better option than dealing with the fallout of “uninviting” someone.

      • Yikes, that’s so awkward! Although it seems like you handled it the right way. Once travel and hotel arrangements are booked, it’s hard to tell someone they can’t come and will have to lose out on any deposits. Even so, definitely not a cool move on her part.

      • Kristen

        That’s an interesting point, Caitlin. I had a somewhat similiar situation. I invited a friend of my mother’s and her husband to the wedding (even though it was a really small wedding) because I was close to them when I was younger and they have been good to my family. But it turned out that the woman wanted to use the invitation as an opportunity to have a “girls weekend” and invited a female friend – a woman I didn’t like at all – as her guest *instead* of her husband. I thought about it for a while, but ultimately had to stress that the invitation was not transferable – we were happy to have her and her husband join us, but the invitation was for them, not somebody random. An awkward couple of days, but I’m glad we held our ground.

        • suzanna

          Caitlin and Kristen: Whoah, gnarly! This is the kind of stuff that gives me ulcers. I really like hearing both your solutions–in one case, it was fine to just go with it (like Meg said, some things are just not worth fighting over), and in another case, it was worth standing your ground over. It’s good to remember that we can be thoughtful, polite, and firm all at the same time.

          And Alyssa, it would be rad if this was covered!

      • meg

        Ah, well, in that situation, the person closest to her can nicely explain the situation, which is always, “We’re having a very small wedding, and we simply can’t accommodate everyone that we love.” Or, you just let it slide. Some things are not worth fighting.

      • Sarah

        We had the exact same thing happen. Upon announcing our engagement to a great Aunt (who WAS invited to the wedding) over brunch one day, her adult son …. who I do not like very much and have never been close to … asked when the wedding would be. We said “next August” and left it at that.

        Fastforward 6 months, and great Aunt is calling to ask which hotel we’d like everyone to stay at because she wanted to make sure to get “all her rooms” next to each other. Turns out, her son had told his brothers and sister, and their kids, that they’d all be going to California for our wedding! (Um, no. That was an additional *18* people we hadn’t intended on.) Plane tickets had already been purchased. ::headdesk:: Invites hadn’t even gone out yet.

        I was in a bit of panic … how do you tell someone, especially family, that they’re not invited? A family member told me she’d take care of it … and she did. I’m not sure what she said/did, but the “un-invited” ones sent lovely cards and called to wish us well, and no one put up a fuss.

        But oy … I know where you’re coming from.

    • We had one or two issues with this. Facebook seems to be a prime place for people to assume they are invited.

      At my parents wedding there were a few people at the ceremony that neither of my parents recognized at first. Turns out they were some of my mom’s cousins who had invited themselves.

      Another friend of mine ended up having to move their ceremony time and location because more people than the original place would accommodate invited themselves.

      So we didn’t give out any details on the when and where to people outside of the actual physical invitations. We still had some people asking where their invitations were and such though. I think I just used the “small reception” line. Since the guest list was my biggest stress to begin with, they did not help matters any.

      • IppyHooray

        Yes totally, Facebook has made this issue even more difficult to manage. We are committing the ‘etiquette crime’ of having a large engagment party (90 guests) and a small wedding (30).

        We have a little disclaimer about our interstate, immediate-family-close-friends only wedding on our engagement invites that will go out next week. And we have had older family members take up the cause and explain it to our extended family. Nonetheless, we have had a few people we did not intend to invite asking on Facebook when the wedding is so they can make plans. It’s all very awkward.

        But it is really important to my fiance that we keep the wedding to 30 and I’d prefer to keep him happy rather than save someone else’s feelings by continuing to extend our guest list.

  • Everyone giving speeches is a tradition in Denmark where my husband is from but we quicly decided to ignore that idea, partly because of the language barriers, and partly because my husband said they toook hooooooours which sounded pretty horrific.

    Instead we and my dad gave short speeches at the recpetion, and then in the evening we had a meal together with our immediate families (15 people in total) and there everyone gave a speech. They were incredible personal and meaningful, more so than they might have been if they’d been said in front of the hundred-odd people we invited to the wedding, and that meal was one of the most special parts of the day.

  • Yeah, the Veteran’s Day wedding? That’s awesome. It’s obviously important to your fiancé, and you’ll likely always have the day off to celebrate your anniversary. Go for it! As a service member, let me just reassure you there is NOTHING offensive about getting married on this day, generally speaking. Now, George Washington’s birthday is another matter entirely… Its a good thing your fiancé doesn’t have strong feelings about February ;-) Seriously, enjoy your day!!!

  • We’re getting married on 11/12/11…with gobs of out of town guests, the long weekend was ideal for us. Besides, lots of people have stated that they are excited to be able to go to D.C. on Veteran’s Day and pay their respects and then head to our wedding an hour outside of D.C.

    I don’t consider it disrespectful if you aren’t being disrespectful about it…like in some weird “Who cares about the Veterans and people serving our country? Today is OUR day and we’re not paying any respects to them…” And who would actually do that?

  • Oh, Alyssa. You crack me up.

    That said, this advice is (unsurprisingly) awesome. As far as toasts go, we didn’t really do anything formally to prepare. We also had an “ipod dj” and after brunch, my sister just spontaneously gave a toast (she’d prepared it in advance, apparently) and then his best man also gave a short toast. Like Alyssa said, it was really touching and kind of affirming to hear people so close to you talk about how they think you two are awesome together. It also gave us a nice opportunity to stand up and thank all the people we needed to thank. Which was everyone. :)

  • clampers

    Ask your mom and grandma to do toasts! If they want a toast so bad, they shouldn’t have a problem making one. :)

  • Carreg

    Re: Veteran’s Day — do you wear poppies in America? I guess not — they’re sold by the _British_ Legion, duh. But I guess that’s what I would do: I wouldn’t avoid marrying on Remembrance Day, but I would make damn sure I and the rest of the bridal party were wearing a poppy, even if it clashed with the rest of the decor. And I would try to make sure we all had a two minute silence at eleven o’clock — even if we then carried on like nothing had happened. We don’t have to give up a whole day for mourning but we can all spare two minutes.

    About toasts — well, we’re not having them! They take up time when we could be dancing with our guests or talking to them… Even when they’re good, they’re not that good. But I’m more than six months away and a) plans may change b) plans may turn out to be not such good plans after all. So don’t listen to me. But you’re not the only one about who doesn’t like speeches.

    • Amy

      Poppies are generally not worn in America for remembrance day (and from what I’ve heard from international friends we’re a lot more lax about the day than both Canadians and Europeans). That being said, with the US in two active wars, I think it would be nice if you had a moment of silence during the day, or if you’re having a mass/religious service, perhaps ask your officiant to offer a special prayer for active service members and for those who have fought for our safety? My cousin is an active service member and we included a special prayer for him and all other service members living and deceased during our mass.

    • I have seen poppies been given out by veterans’ groups as a thank you for donations, (I LOVED them as a child and would always beg to give money to donate) but they don’t have the same obvious connection to November 11th as they do in other countries. But including them and the moment of silence is lovely.
      Any gesture is lovely, as long as it is done in honesty and honor.

      • meg

        Agreed. You should be doing something because it’s something you really care about. Not just because you feel like you have to.

        And no, we don’t do poppies here (or a moment of silence, actually. I’d never heard that there was a moment of silence on 11/11 in other countries till David told me this morning. Which isn’t to say you couldn’t do it… but it’s not part of our current cultural heritage.)

        I’ll tell you what though, if I was having a religious service on 11/11, I’d include the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save, which I love anyway. (Hint: that link is going to play music at you.)

        • Oh, I LOVE that hymn. It’s very moving. Great idea!

        • The American Legion in my hometown *always* sold little paper poppies for a dollar, usually for Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day. My grandfather (WWII Vet) always had two or three affixed to his rearview mirror.

      • on poppies: that’s right! isn’t veterans day technically a remembrance of the first world war?
        unless your guest list is heavy with wwi vets, grab that date! (and even if there are wwi vets on your list, they ish they saw way-back-when … they would probably be thrilled to replace a few of those memories with happier associations).

        • It used to be, when it was Armistice Day, but it was switched to honor all vets in the 50’s. (What? I do research; I don’t always just pull this stuff out of my butt….)
          And, sadly and coincidentally, we just lost the last US survivor of WWI a week or two ago…

          Sidenote? Poppies are pretty.

  • Zan

    Can always count on your for a good chuckle Alyssa!

    Keep it up! (no pressure)

  • I’ll chime in on the Veterans Day question since my perspective’s probably slightly different from most readers. We got married six months ago today (yay!), which means we got married on the anniversary of a major tragic event in our country that was pretty much guaranteed to be the first thing people thought of when they heard the date, and I’m pretty sure that some people reading this right now are thinking “no…she didn’t get married on September 11! How could an APW reader be so incredibly insensitive and offensive? I must be reading this wrong…” And it’s entirely possible that a few people felt that way when they found out about the date. (No one said anything, but I doubt they would have told us to our faces that they found our choice of wedding date offensive.) I completely understand why people would feel that way, but we (obviously) didn’t, and the close family and friends we consulted on the date didn’t either. We basically decided (along with all the various logistical reasons that put the date on the short list to begin with) that anyone who wasn’t close enough to us to consult on the date anyway, and who we didn’t trust to be honest and truthful, wasn’t someone we needed to schedule our wedding around, and if they were bothered by the date, that was their issue and not ours. (Which sounds harsh the way I write it, but I need to get back to work soon so I can’t really polish this….) It’s not necessary, and probably impossible, to take into account the opinions of every single person you are inviting to the wedding, so you have to prioritize the ones you care about. In your case, your husband-to-be’s opinion counts for a lot, yes?

    I will disagree with Alyssa on the appropriate gestures to make — a line in the program might be lovely, especially if you are including other thanks and “in memory of” in the program. Or if your wedding ceremony includes something along the lines of the Prayers of the People where there are many short prayers for a number of things, including one for veterans would be appropriate. But I would be somewhat taken aback by a mention of it in the invitation – to me that starts to make it more *about* Veterans Day (the invitation is less “whoo, we’re getting married on 11-11-11! Ones!” than “whoo, we’re getting married on Veterans Day! Veterans!”).

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Ha, I was already writing my comment about Sept 11 (directly below yours) when you posted.

      Happy 6 month anniversary :)

    • meg

      There were a lot of people who have gotten married on 9/11 recently, because the venues are cheap/ available. And it’s fine, bringing some joy to that day is a wonderful thing. BUT. I want to add a strong caveat though, as someone who survived 9/11. For traumatic events that are within living memory, it shouldn’t be quite as harsh as “if they have a problem, it’s their issue not ours.” If it’s within recent living memory, you should check to make sure that their is no one on your guest list that lived through it or was personally affected by it. If there is, they would be really pleased and relived if you chatted with them about it personally. I still have some traumatic stress, as do a lot of survivors, and on 9/11 I often have a really hard day. If I was going to a wedding that day, I’d mostly be tense that I was going to fall apart and f*ck things up for the couple. If they didn’t check with people to see if it was going to be a problem for anyone, and had a general, “it’s your problem if you have a problem” point of view, I’d be WAY more tense, and might not want to go. You need to keep in mind that, if you saw it on TV, it’s a date. If you lived it, it’s something else all together.

      So be careful. Anniversaries of recent events that might effect your guest list should be treated somewhat differently than national holidays, though both should obviously be treated with respect and care.

      • Jennifer

        Grm, my fears that I was writing too quickly and it would sound too harsh were not unfounded. I apologize for what must sound very dismissive of people for whom 9/11 is a difficult day. On the “it’s their issue, not ours” I was more anticipating someone saying “well, maybe those people you asked about the date really did have a problem but didn’t want to offend you by saying so, you can’t know what they were really thinking” — if they placed a higher value on avoiding saying something uncomfortable than on being truthful, I do think that’s their issue. And if we invited someone who we didn’t know well enough to know whether the date was a problem for them (we had a good idea of the level of sensitivity, or not, for the core of our guest list, since they’re people we’ve known for years, most since well before 2001, but not necessarily whether it would be a problem for someone’s fairly new partner) or to make them a consideration in scheduling, we didn’t have a right to be hurt if they chose not to attend. If you, Meg, were a friend or relative of ours and we went ahead with the date despite your experience because hey, that’s your problem … that would be pretty awful of us. I’m sure some still disagree with our take on it, but I think at least I’m a *bit* closer to the mark on what I intended to say with that. I hope.

        One additional note, which your comment about cheap/available venues calls to mind — I think it is important for anyone scheduling a wedding on 9/11 or other more sensitive dates (like it sounds that 11/11 is in several other countries) to be sure the reasons you’re choosing the date are ones you feel completely comfortable with; discussion about 9/11 – whether or not it’s in connection with wedding discussion – will always be a reminder of why we chose our wedding date, whereas someone picking some other random fall day wouldn’t likely have that. I’m reminded of the specific loved ones whose needs were our priority in scheduling (and that we didn’t want to wait several more months beyond what was already a decently long engagement, which was admittedly also an option); reminders that these are the things that were important to us in starting our marriage is something I welcome. I wouldn’t so much welcome reminders that our priority in choosing a date was to afford a fancy venue and other various splurges, regardless of what that date meant to our guests. (Our venue actually wasn’t any cheaper for that date, but I can imagine some were/are.)

        • I will say, neither I nor my husband would have any issue ATTENDING a wedding on 9/11, we just didn’t want *our* anniversary on or terribly close to 9/11 (i.e., 9/10 or 9/12). We’re NYers, but we’re not NYCers, which is probably a key difference: that is, it affected both of us enough to not want our wedding on or near that date (him moreso than me – I was OK with 9/10 and 9/12, for example; he wasn’t), but not enough to be bothered by someone else choosing that.

          What’s funny is, my mother – who grew up in Brooklyn, was in grade school in NYC when the towers were built, and worked on Wall St. in her first post-college job (WTC was her subway stop for 5 years) – thought less of it than even we did. I remember sitting at lunch with my mother and her best friend, talking about another friend attending a wedding that day and hadn’t even thought twice about it being 9/11.

      • Bee

        Yes. Yes entirely. I don’t comment a lot, but I have to say that I think this is super important. I think there are a lot of places and contexts where a Sept 11 wedding is just fine. However, I think it’s so important to be sensitive to those who might feel uncomfortable with it. I know that, as someone who lived through 9/11 it would be very stressful for me to go to a wedding that day. I would want so badly to be happy for the couple getting married, but like Meg said, there’s a huge difference between having seen it on TV and having lived in the city while it was happening.
        That said, I think there are a lot of places where that wouldn’t be an issue. I know that where I grew up, few people were directly affected by 9/11, so bringing some happiness to that day (and possibly saving some money) may be perfectly acceptable.
        Also, I imagine that if any of the people you were close to really were uncomfortable with the idea that it would have been fairly difficult to hide from you (ie- you would have known) so I wouldn’t worry that people were being disingenuous. At least from personal experience, the trauma related to that day and its effect on my life is fairly difficult to mask.

    • Ruth

      I also got married on September 11 last year and am relieved I’m not the only one in the APW community to do so!! We struggled with choosing that as a date. No one we invited or know was personally affected by the events of that day and our wedding was in Michigan. Still we often questioned if we were being insensitive. It was one of the only Saturdays in August and September that was a good option for us and immediate family members, which is what led us to that decision. Also, we know quite a few people with wedding anniversaries and birthdays on 9-11, reminding us that life goes on and adding positive meaning to the day was not a bad choice.

      However, we found out we were moving to NYC a month before the wedding. I know if we had known that, or had already lived there, we wouldn’t have chosen that date. Most people in the city are understanding about it but it doesn’t feel great as something to admit when you’re newly married and just moved. As has been said, when it comes to sensitive wedding dates, it’s really about what the date means to the couple, their family, and their guests.

    • We had already decided to get married on a Friday evening to cut costs, and 9/10 was a possibility for us. My husband (who grew up less than 50 miles from Manhattan) was ADAMANT about not even having the wedding on 9/10, therefore 9/11 would have been out of the question. We ended up having it on 9/17 instead … so 6 months for us is on Thursday, AND it is St. Patrick’s Day. :)

    • Jessica

      A girl I went to college with got married on Sept. 11th this year. I remember thinking it was a strange date to pick the first time I heard it, but it obviously worked for them. If I think about their wedding, it is always slightly tinged with a “huh, weird” thought because for the last 9 years it’s been a “taboo” date, but I think in time, that will fade. People don’t look back on a December 7th, 1951 wedding and think “Huh, weird, didn’t they think that’s the anniversary of Pearl Harbor?”

      I think I would have a similar reaction to a Veteran’s Day wedding- a “huh, weird date” thought, but then it would pass more quickly and completely, because I don’t think of 11/11 as a “taboo” date.

    • We didn’t get married on September 11, but we did have the celebration of our marriage in my partner’s home country of Spain then. I’m from Michigan and do not have any personal connections to the events of that day in 2001 (except how devastated I felt while watching it on TV), but it *did* still seem odd to me to be getting dressed up and attending a party (for us!) on that day instead of spending time looking at stuff from different memorials online (as I’ve done in other years that I’ve lived abroad on that date).
      September 11th is also a major Catalan holiday (to those in Catalonia who celebrate it, it’s like Independence Day for Americans), and no one had a problem with attending a celebration on that day, which actually kind of surprised me.

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    I always know when Veterans Day is because it’s the day after my birthday. Which meant that, growing up, there was always a 3-day weekend. Which was AWESOME for sleepover parties.

    As a New Yorker, the related question that I hear is “Is it ok to have a wedding in 9/11/XX?”, especially where XX = 11. Would I choose to have my own wedding on September 11th, and particularly on the 10th anniversary of the attacks? No. For me and many of my guests, it’s a solemn day of remembrance. But I know the boy wouldn’t hesitate — he doesn’t have the same associations that I do. I wouldn’t have a problem with having our wedding on, say, Pearl Harbor Day (Dec 7). But I’d probably avoid my grandmother’s yahrtzeit — an important occasion for my family, even though it’s been almost 18 years.

    Deciding whether or not you can have your wedding on a specific date is really about knowing yourself and your guests. What dates are sacred to you for personal or cultural reasons, to be reserved for only that purpose? If 9/11 (or 11/11) is one of those, pick a different date. Otherwise, go for it!

  • clampers

    Re: the gift from Miss Heartbreaker. I have two sayings that have done me pretty well in the past: “Do the right thing and you’ll never be wrong,” and, “It’s nice to be nice.” I definitely agree with Alyssa, send a thank-you note.

  • shorty j

    agreed on the “toasts at the rehearsal dinner” idea. We did this at my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s wedding and it was a really good compromise. His mom still said some pretty mortifying stuff, but at least it was only in front of a dozen people who knew them really well :P

  • We had toasts at our wedding, because it was very important to one of my wife’s wedding party to give one (this is also how we ended up with wedding parties!). I highly recommend identifying the folks you want to give toasts early and asking them to do so. I felt like we need someone from my side so there wasn’t just one toast, but I knew my two attendants wouldn’t feel comfortable at all so I asked my dad to do one. This made my wife’s mother feel like one of her family needed to do one too, so we ended up with three toasts – Jami’s friend, my dad, Jami’s brother. I didn’t worry about it being uneven, and I don’t think anyone noticed at all. And I wasn’t stressed about it day of because it had all been worked out way in advance. And as one of those “hates to be the center of attention” people, I can tell you I didn’t feel that way at all during the toasts – everyone was looking at the Toasters, not really at us until the very end. It was fine.

    Finally, because I know this was an issue for us… We went back and forth on having champagne for the toast and finally decided against it. Everyone toasted with their beer or wine (or water or soda) and I don’t think anyone even noticed the lack of champagne.

  • To the bride-to-be who wrote in about toasts….

    In a grad class I took about fundraising for nonprofits, I remember a development officer saying, “just remember…people are flattered when you approach them as individuals and ask for their help (monetary or otherwise)” In my experience, it was the same for toasts. People love you! So saying a few words isn’t a chore or a burden, it’s an honor. It’s about celebrating you as a couple but also about celebrating community, love, and friendship.

    Now…I agree with those who warned that unscheduled open-mic toasting can introduce too many wild cards. It also heavily favors extroverts and leaves out the shy and the introverts. I’m a big fan of approaching people close to you ahead of time and asking if they’d like to say a few words at the reception. Then someone can kind of MC a short round of toasts.

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding!!!!! Let us know what you decide and how it goes!

  • Ali

    Sending a thank you note is not rekindling the friendship, it’s being appreciative of that person’s thought and generosity. She deserves a thank you note, at the very least so that she knows you received the gift.

  • Alyssa is totally right about Miss Heartbreaker’s gift– keep it or Get it Gone, whichever feels right, and write a thank you note (and don’t feel bad if you DO keep it– she spent the money, it was from your registry, it’s in celebration of YOUR big day).

    And don’t worry about rekindling anything or feeling obligated to invite her to the wedding. Hopefully it’s pretty simple:

    “Dear Heartbreaker,
    Thank you for the lovely Slap Chop. We are looking forward to making our own salsa for our weekly nachos. We will love the fresh tomatoes and onions! Thank you for generosity.
    Best, Louise & Mister”

    High road taken, gratitude expressed, no friendship rekindled and no implication of a wedding invitation. Good luck!!

  • alyssa already gave e’ryone BRILLIANT advice. so all i will say is this: the times i’ve been dragged across the country and forced to buy a $X00 dress that i hated and participate in all the “SQUEE!”ness of the day and hear too many people say “amazeballs” or whatever…my favorite part of most weddings is the toasts.

    1. if i don’t know the couple that well – (why was i at the wedding in the first place, a) it gives me a peek into who they are and why i keep watching them kiss when the sound of glass chimes. 2. if i love the couple so dearly as my own family or friends or the like, i actually think giving and hearing toasts gives you a chance to say things that might be too cheesy for every day life or might put people uncomfortably on the spot in an everyday kind of situation. i think toasts are a must…sit through it for a few minutes and get teary and allow yourself to feel cheesy and it’ll be something the people who took time to tell you how they feel about you and what they love about you as a couple will remember forever…and likely, you will too.

    • meg

      True. Guests love toasts (as long as they don’t go on for hours).

  • You may get satisfaction from returning it to her, but that’s rude, and it’ll cost you postage.

    This might be one of the best lines of APW yet… Alyssa, you’re giving Ms. Manners a run for her money.

  • mere…

    “No one will die if you don’t and your mother and grandmother will be okay. If they get mad, blame it on me. They can email…”
    I just love Alyssa’s spirit, seriously makes me happy.

  • brdnbutta

    Wow so much to consider on the 11/11/11 wedding date. My fiance and I are marrying on this date simply because it’s the anniversary of our first date. My fiance is currently in the air force and my father, future father in law and all of our uncles are either Vietnam or Korean War veterans and none have raised any concerns about have a Wedding on that date in relation to Veterans Day. The issue has been about it being a Friday wedding, but when people realize its a significant date to us, they are more receptive and most people will be off that day so in my family, the date has overall worked out well for us

  • Great advice today! One thing, I was lukewarm on toasts, and now two years after the fact they are the things I remember the most about our wedding are the thoughtful and hilariously unthoughtful toasts that friends and fmaily made.

  • Jo


    I'm so looking forward to toasts, mostly because *I* want to say stuff to people.

  • Sarah

    Ok … thoughts!

    1. Alyssa summed it up. =)

    2. We had a similar situation (didn’t want to be announced, wanted to keep toasts to a minimum etc … my mom was not happy with it!). Day of, she looked at the coordinator and said “Of COURSE they’ll be announced!!!!!” when that wasn’t the plan. Coordinator looked at me, I said no, we proceeded along.

    As for the toasts … we asked the family members and bridal party members if anyone would like to. My MOH and dad wanted to, his dad wanted to “speak” … we ended up with my dad doing a welcome, my FIL giving a blessing, and my MOH a toast. And then the mic magically disappeared (disconnected from the cord and put in the room we got ready in). A couple of people went looking for it, but when they couldn’t find it just forgot. So it all worked out.

    If there are those that you’d like to have speak, talk to them about it … and if you’d rather no one do it? That’s fine too. I went to a wedding where they had no whole-group toasts, but people toasted them, privately, when they were together … aka, the bride and groom came to their table to say hi, and the table toasted them quietly. It was lovely, and very personal …. all the good feelings with none of the “I’m the center of attention.”

    3. Accept the gift, send a thank you, leave it at that. We received a couple gifts from people who hadn’t been invited to the wedding (an old high school friend I’d lost contact with, for example) … which was odd and a little uncomfortable, but a nice gesture on their part, so we just took it as that. I recommend doing the same. =)

  • awesome ATP as usual!

    ok everyone has already pretty much covered my thoughts on the 11-11-11 wedding, but I’ll just chime in agreeing that in the US, it’s not as solemn of a day as in other countries, I personally would not be offended by that. But as with most wedding decisions, check with yourself, check with your nearest and dearest, and then go from there. a note in the program sounds lovely.

    re: toasts/speeches. doing toasts does not mean you have to be announced, you can do one or the other or neither. we were not announced (this doesn’t mean you will avoid attention! we snuck in and still there was uproarious cheering as soon as we were noticed), but we had a couple toasts. we wanted to keep the toasts kind of short and sweet so we only asked best man/MOH to do them, and it was awesome and amazing. I had a minor concern that someone would take over the mic and do something crazay but that didn’t happen (not having hard liquor available mayyy have helped that).

    as for speeches from us, we kind of approached it thinking, whoever “hosts” the wedding should make some kind of welcome/thanks for coming type of speech.* we asked zach’s parents if they wanted to say something, but they didn’t feel comfortable appearing to be the hosts (they gave us money but had no hand in planning; his dad did speak at the rehearsal dinner, since they paid for/planned that 100%). we asked my mom, and she had even less comfort with the idea. so we did a really short and sweet thanks-for-coming/the-buffet-is-now-open kind of a thing. at one point I also made a teeny “speech” just to recognize that it was also zach’s parents anniversary. but we didn’t do any speeches to each other.
    *Just to clarify, i don’t mean to say that only people paying for the wedding are appropriate for speeches! we just wanted to minimize the monologues so we only asked parents. if you want more speeches/toasts, just ask in advance, as others have suggested. try not to put anyone on the spot.

    aaand if anyone makes it this far through my comment: I agree that Ms. heartbreaker needs a thank you note, but that’s it. you don’t know why she sent it, and it doesn’t matter. sending a thank you doesn’t at all imply an invite, and her sending a gift isn’t necessarily her way of asking for an invite.

    • Exactly, about not knowing the Heartbreaker’s intentions. She may just be saying something like, “We may not be (good) friends any more, but I’m still happy for you”. And that’s nice, whether or not you like her/her actions. And I definitely think you should send a thank-you note, but not feel obligated to do anything more (especially not invite her to the wedding if you still feel so strongly).

  • Another Sarah

    This is my first comment on APW, ever. I’m not offended by the idea of a couple marrying on Veteran’s Day. However, it bothers me that in the comments people are emphasizing that Veteran’s Day (and Memorial Day) are just “a day off” for Americans. I don’t come from a military family, but my family acknowledged the meaning of those days – by attending parades, thanking service men and women we knew, and visiting veteran cemeteries. I imagine that Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are even more important to those with friends and family who are on active duty at home or abroad. It’s a personal choice, but I don’t think brides and grooms should start from the assumption that it’s a meaningless day off.

    • meg

      Well, that’s why we let Alyssa handle the question, since she grew up in a military family, with an active duty father, living on base. If anyone has perspective on it, it’s an army brat. For the record, I also come from a military family, and my Grandmother would want us to have a line in the program acknowledging the day, but wouldn’t have a problem with us getting married that day.

      Which is to say, yes, it’s meaningful for some people, and if it’s meaningful for you and your loved ones, you should include something in your ceremony to reflect that. If it’s NOT meaningful to you, however, pretending it’s a big deal to you is perhaps worse than just doing something small and honest, like a line in the program.

      • Another Sarah

        I think we agree that it’s a personal choice. I’m not saying “Oh noes you jerks didn’t consider military families!”

        My point was that I disagree with the generalization that most Americans don’t care about Veteran’s Day as anything other than a free day off.

        • I think the generalization is more of a “some” than a “most.” And the majority here on the post have not really said that. And if anything, those that don’t care is probably more of a lack of understanding or frame of context about Veterans’ Day than a deliberate dismissal of the day.
          That being said, you will find active duty military personnel that will not care that much about Veterans’ Day. For them it is also a day off and the honor is year-round, not just in November. And like I said, prime barebeque and beer time. (At least on Fort Hood.)
          But I hear your point and consider you lucky to have a family that cares about those beyond their own perspective!

  • Rachel

    Haha! This was a great one and very funny.

    Alyssa is right, no one will die if you don’t give toasts and think of it this way, no toasts means more room for eating, drinking, dancing, and fun.

    We are not allowing toasts at our wedding and no one has complained and if they do well they can see me after the wedding. My father will give a quick thank you to everyone for coming, we will say a quick thank you and boom – we are done – onto the hora!!

    About 11-11-11, I am definitely in the group of oooohhh – pretty numbers. Also in the group of “oh look, binary”

  • Marina

    Toasts! WTF is it with toasts?? I had a ridiculously huge fight with my best friend and maid of honor about a week before my wedding because she told me we HAD to have toasts–it wasn’t even something I’d considered at that point.

    Thing is: you don’t HAVE to do any d*mn thing. Ask your mom and grandmother (politely, not confrontationally) what will happen if you don’t have toasts and aren’t announced? Will any specific person’s feelings be hurt? If so, you can definitely reach out to that specific person and make sure they’re involved in some way that’s meaningful to them.

    We didn’t have toasts. We weren’t announced. (We actually ended up sneaking in the back after our yichud, which I kind of regret because our cantor was waiting for us at the front entrance, but not really because the first people we hugged were our moms. That was great.) And we still somehow managed to end up married at the end of the day, and as far as I know no one’s feelings were irreparably hurt.

    I think you have to take the focus off the logistical issues (like toasts, or clothes, or who pays for what, etc etc) and keep it on the feelings. Because once you get down to needs, there are always multiple ways to fill them. WHY are toasts important to your mother and grandmother? Because they want to say nice things about you? Because they want your wedding to be linked to other family weddings by certain traditions? Because they’re simply unable to imagine what a wedding would look like without toasts? (May seem silly, but I swear this was the root of 90% of arguments I had about wedding planning–people are simply unable to imagine what a wedding looks like outside of a familiar structure. When you lay out what you WILL be doing, rather than what you WON’T be doing, the problem goes away.) What are other ways can you honor those needs besides toasts? If you do end up deciding to have toasts, what ways can you honor your own needs within that structure?

    • Marina

      Also I just want to say I am very pleased Alyssa is magic and can see all of us. … except that maybe I have to stop reading before I get dressed…

      • Nah, that t-shirt and undies combo is super cute! :-)

  • Jillian

    I have to say that after vows, toasts are my favorite part of a wedding.

    • Yup. I *LOVE* toasts. As a guest, they are my favorite part of the reception (internal conflict: besides the booze? More than the booze? Yeah, seriously maybe even more than the booze. After all, booze I can drink any day, but a good wedding toast? That’s magic.)

  • dragon

    My mom made a 55 minute speech at the stateside reception that she threw after my brother’s overseas wedding – which still freaks me out! She’s um, really loving but has some issues with boundaries. I’m trying to minimize the number of things for my mom to be involved in / anxious about (like planning), but I don’t think I can avoid a toast for her only daughter.

    We exchanged our rings over a year ago in Hawaii, just the two of us, and finally made the decision to have a celebration/ceremony for family and friends back home. We’re not having a rehearsal dinner so we can’t have toasts there. We’re going to have my parents speak together. My wife’s parents are very supportive of her but not of her orientation, so we’re not sure if they will be coming. If they come and want to speak that would be wonderful. We hope her brother will be there either way, and might speak in their place. We’ll ask which members of the bridal brigade want to speak.

    We are setting a 5 minute max for each. I run lots of rallies and have found that this really helps with folks that are long-winded without being personal. Everything will be enforced by the Day of Coordinator, so that she’s the bad guy, not us. She’s an acquaintance who does community theater and is affordable! She is responsible for taking away the microphone, hiding it when the approved stuff is done and making sure certain people do not get to speak, running the Ipod, and dealing with anything that goes wrong.

  • They weren’t exactly toasts, but our parents welcomed us into each family the night before at a family dinner. And as for being announced, right after the ceremony the officiant “presented” us as married, and that was that.

    I did have one long ago friend from high school find our registry through our website (which they found on facebook) and get us something off it. It was one of our first gifts and came completely out of the blue. Definitely send a thank you card.

  • j9

    I think you are right, Meg, Alyssa is getting funnier. Keep up the great work!

  • april

    Regarding the toasts ~ I love ’em! We had three toasts at our wedding: one that my husband and I gave to our guests; a big “Thank you for coming we love you all” toast.

    The second was by my Best Lady and , much to my sadness, she COMPLETELY BLUNDERED IT. It was embarrassing and all I could think while she was speaking was “OMG – she’s just making it up as she goes!?!?! She’s had like a YEAR to practice. WTF!?”. Thankfully it was short, but sadly, she made me sound like I’d been doing nothing for the last 14 years but drinking and shoe shopping with her. She didn’t mention my new husband either. It was a letdown. And I have it on video. I wish with all my heart I’d been a little more control freak-ish and asked her what she had planned to say. Oh wels. I try to not remember it and hopefully, none of the guests recall it 1.5 years later either.

    Third: Hubby’s Best Man. Ahhh, he wins in the “Best Toast Ever” category. It was short, it was funny, it was touching and from the heart. RAD.

    My advice for “to have / not have the toast?” Have ’em. They can be wonderful and memorable. Just – you know – DISCUSS with the people that are giving them. I’m not saying you have to hand them a written script (altho that would be my preferred method), but make sure they at least know to make you and the hubs sound awesome… not like a raging drunk. Unless of course you don’t mind that sort of thing. ;)

    • marbella

      lmao at “she made me sound like I’d been doing nothing for the last 14 years but drinking and shoe shopping with her”!!!

    • As a giver of many wedding toasts (four in the last four years) I’d be put out if my friend asked to see my toast ahead of time. It would just lose something of its magic. Plus, what are you going to do if you see the toast a day beforehand and it’s not up to snuff? Tell your best friend that they can no longer give a toast? Rewrite their toast for them? Have a panic attack and cry because one more thing seems to be going wrong right before you’re getting married?

      I understand that sometimes toasts disappoint, but I think unfortunately if you are going to ask for toasts you have to accept the risk. You can certainly minimize the risk by setting time limits, not having an open mic, giving your toasters plenty of notice, or even having a trusted good writer friend or relative help your toast givers with the speech writing. But at the end of the day … it’s like all things wedding related. One has to let go.

  • So while I love, love, love a meaningful toast at a wedding (my sister’s blew me away and I never expected to have that reaction), I’d just like to throw it out there that the pictures of my face when we were being announced are some of the most unflattering pics of me in existence. My face literally reads:


    So, um, to each his/her own on that front. :)

  • Renee C

    One option — if you wanted to find a way to honor veterans on veterans day, you might consider a little donation on behalf of guests to a charity like the Wounded Warrior Project. They work to help injured U.S. servicemembers.

  • SafroniaB

    On the issue of toastination — we are not into being stared at, either, so we let our family get it out of their systems at the rehearsal dinner. Knowing that we weren’t that into toasts, instead of doing one, my dad wrote a (two-page) fairy tale about me and my now-husband filled with all of these amazing details about our life together that I never even knew he was paying attention to, and it got passed around. To this day, (oh, what am I talking about, it’s only been four months!) I can’t read it without tearing up.
    So all of that is really just to say that finding a way for your family to express themselves (other than Awful Uncle Ernie the Mic Hog) can surprise and truly touch you.

  • My husband is a veteran. We were married on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. We thought a lot about the date and all its factors, just like anyone picking a wedding date.

    It was extremely important to him to honor those he served with. It was on our wedding website, service members wore their dress uniforms and we had a display with a flag, white roses and photos.

    So no matter the date you choose, if you do it thoughtfully, you can make it work.

  • Toasts…
    My dad’s best friend (who’s already been father of the bride a number of times) offered to give my dad some tips on his toast and speech. He said:

    “The short version of my father of the bride speech is “Thank you for coming.” and my long version is “Thank you very much for coming.””

    I’m really hoping my dad takes this advice as I don’t exactly trust him to make a speech which isn’t somewhat derogatory.


    11.11.11 – Ooooh pretty numbers! But in the UK it would be a little odd. A lot of people keep the minute silence at 11.11am – in schools, a lot of workplaces, cenotaphs, a lot of churches have Rememberace services. Might be awkward but nobody’s decision but your own (though we all know that’s not really true!).

    • Emmy

      Giving a different UK perspective, I’d have said that 11th November wouldn’t be that much of an issue, unless it was on a Sunday. As Rhiannon said, organisations here tend to do a minute or two’s silence at 11am on the 11th and there are some events that happen on that date. However the processions, services and noteably the commemoration at the Cenotaph in London usually happen on Remembrance Sunday, which is the second Sunday in November.

      As for toasts – I’d love the community idea of speeches at our wedding, but it’s not a normal occurance in the UK. There are 3 men who get to stand and speak according to tradition (Father of Bride, Groom & Best Man) however I’ve been to several now where mothers have spoken, and I heartily approve of that!

      More cross-cutural questions now – I’ve watched the Simpsons episode where Marge and Homer practice a routine to perform as guests at a wedding (then Homer misses it to buy a winning lottery ticket – do you know the one?). Is this actually a thing? What kind of things to people perform and is it generally seen as a fun task, or a massive chore?

  • Christina

    That’s our wedding date! It’s perfect for us in many ways…
    One being that my future husband has been to Iraq, has served our country, and is a Veteran. : )

  • brian

    In Canada we reserve that day to remember those who have fought and given their lives so that we may have the freedom to be who we are. Although I feel that it would be disrespectfull to diminish their day simply because of the 11/11/11, they died so that you can.
    Why not use one of the other 364 days.

  • L

    About toasts…..

    I agree that it’s very important to consult with people who might be interested in giving one.

    When my sister got married, her fiancé was (and still is ;-) a control freak and insisted on making all the decisions… including that our wonderful, loving, supportive dad (who was also paying for the wedding) should not be allowed to make a toast, without any indication as to why (even though other people were asked to make a toast). Of course he heeded “their” wishes, but it hurt him bad; and even though that was ten years ago, he’s still sad when he remembers it. The moral of the story: While weddings should reflect the preferences of the bride & groom, it’s silly to needlessly trample over other people’s feelings. I think that if there are people who truly love you and want to toast your happiness, AND you can trust them to keep it clean– then for crying out loud! Just include them.