Ask Team Practical: Veterans’ Day, Toasts and Unwanted Gifts by Alyssa Mooney 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? No. 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)? –Amanda 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? –Louise How good is the gift? Because if it’s awesome, keep it. If it sucks, sell it on Ebay. Kidding. Mostly. 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. Alyssa Mooney Emeritus Staff Alyssa received a BA in Theatre and a minor in Gender Studies from Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her adorably red-neck husband, Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sassy baby Tater.