Let’s Help Each Other Out

Last week we introduced a new feature to APW: Friday Happy Hour. It was basically an invitation for you guys to hang out with each other, maybe share a glass of virtual (or real) wine, and talk about whatever you needed to talk about. And naturally, it was awesome. Healing, helpful, and awesome. (And damn hard to keep track of! Jeez, you guys can hold down a conversation.)

What I loved most about Friday (other than the thread about centaur smut, which was equal parts hilarious and enlightening), was the exchange of information between folks on the precipice of something big, and folks on the other side of something similar. It became clear that you guys have a lot of questions about a whole host of topics (did I mention centaur smut?), and sometimes you just need to be able to talk through your questions and problems in a safe space with people you trust who might have already been there themselves.

So we’re taking today’s open thread to break out that dialog and give it a place to call home, starting with weddings. I can imagine that a significant number of APW readers who fall under the engaged umbrella probably have something wedding related that’s got you stuck right now. And we want to help. So here’s how today works. If you’ve got something you can’t figure out, or something that’s been bothering you even if you do have it figured out, or a wedding related problem in general, leave it in the comments. We encourage wedding grads and married folks alike to peruse the comments and leave helpful tips, empathetic words, and anything else useful where it applies. And in return I will, as ever, do my best to keep up.

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  • Moe

    What a generous and thoughtful thing to do! My wedding just passed. This website was pivotal and so helpful in planning.

    Bring on the questions, I’d be honored to help someone out if I can. Pay it forward!

    • Rebekah

      Thanks for sharing your photos with us on Friday! You were radiant.

      • Pictures? What is this about pictures? Moe? I want pictures of 1960′s-industrial-desert-distressed-Mexican wedding with blush dresses! :)

        I know it was awesome, and I can’t wait to hear your advice about people’s questions.

  • Shiri

    I agree with Moe! And I want to echo what Alyssa always says: I wish the threads had gone on when I was planning! But I’m thrilled to be a part of them now. APW – only getting better, every day.

  • Alicia

    I haven’t read the post yet, but that’s an AWESOME dress in the picture.

  • Trin

    This is such a great idea! I’m three-weeks engaged now, and we’re thinking about having a courthouse wedding with a dinner and/or party to follow, but I’m worried that it won’t be “pretty enough” or “romantic enough” if we go the courthouse route. Has anyone else struggled with similar worries?

    • Moe

      My friend is considering going the same route this winter. (Partly after seeing all the work I put into my DIY wedding, she just doesn’t want that for herself.)

      I don’t know what city you are in, but have you seen some of the beautiful historic courthouses in some parts of the country? Like San Francisco for example?

      I’ve also seen some brides make a beautiful photo session from courthouse weddings. Then follow it up with a gathering of friends and family in a nice restaurant.

    • Kate

      I’d do a little research and see if there are any historic courthouses nearby you could get hitched at. As someone who collects vintage postcards of courthouses, I can tell you they can be really beautiful buildings!

      Also, I recently saw a photograph of a courthouse wedding where the frame was filled up by the couple and the person marrying them. I’m sure a talented photographer could counteract fluorescent lighting and bland office decor.

    • Check out some of the courthouses in your area, see if there are some that are “prettier”. As far as romance, before you hit the family reception, get a drink, coffee snack with your sweetheart. The intimate moment will be so romantic. Also buy yourself something special..to wear to eat whatever. When I eloped I bought I headband the day before. It made everything feel more special.

    • Small weddings are awesome! Splurge on a cute dress/suit and a photographer. It will be gorgeous. Besides, you will save so much money it doesn’t matter it isn’t “pretty enough” or “romantic enough.” Sitting on a couch in your own house that you are not paying PMI on* is hella romantic.

      *I personally can’t stand paying fees I don’t get anything for. So an extra $200/mo that doesn’t go to the principal of the loan, no thank you.

      • Kara E

        Oh yeah. we just took a shedload of money out of savings so that we didn’t have to do it. Buying what you can afford to buy (and not being indebted to someone out there) is super romantic.

    • Catcat

      We went to the courthouse in January and I would not change it for anything. We got up on Friday morning at like 7 am in the middle of the winter, put our layers on (winter white quilted cocktail dress for me, suit over pajamas for him–it was COLD!), took the subway down and were the first ones in the marriage line on Friday morning. Then we went to brunch with our two witnesses — champagne and eggs benedict at 9 am.

      I say this because a lot of details might seem “unromantic” (i.e. pjs under suit pants! Or terrible office lighting…) but looking back at it, all I can feel is a SWELL OF ROMANCE IN MY BOSOM. We took photos but honestly most of them are pretty snap-shot-y, with only a handful of “nice” ones.

      There is something so intimate, so *romantic* about having a simple, straightforward ceremony, just you and the justice of the peace. It’s pretty because it’s YOU, plural, are pretty and you’re in love, and you bought flowers on the corner, and something about it seems so spontaneous and crazy, even if it’s not.

      And of course, you can hire photographers to take nice photos if you want! Photographers can make lots of things “pretty” – that is, their job is to capture the mood as well as the fact.

      • Rachel


    • It will be romantic enough just because it’s you and your love getting married. The day we did our courthouse elopement was the most romantic day ever and it was as simple as a drive to Toronto, getting married, post-ceremony champagne with our moms and dinner out just the two of us. It didn’t need more details to add more romance.

    • We had a VERY small wedding with dinner after, and it was GREAT. To make sure no one had hurt feelings, we let each family have a party in the manor of their choosing in our hometowns. His family had a more formal party-a catered reception with dancing and toasts. My family had an open house with a photo booth setup in our basement. For us, it was a good compromise between us wanting a teeny wedding and also wanting everyone we love to feel included. The courthouse was high on our list of considerations, but in the end we decided on a small ceremony with an officiant because we wanted to personalize our ceremony and vows.

      If you’re worried about the courthouse not being romantic or pretty enough, take a look at some of the APW photographers who shoot elopements for some visual reference. There’s some beautiful images there! (These are just a few examples pulled off the top of my head. I know there are TONS more!)








      And I just had the chance to shoot my first elopement in the fall, and I thought it was totally romantic!


      The ceremony was short, but it was very sweet. The officiant obviously loved his job and was happy for the couple. He had such gusto! It really boiled the whole thing down to the biggest “why” of weddings – marriage. I was crying into my camera.

      I think whatever you decide to do will be awesome and MORE than pretty or romantic enough!

      • JEM

        Excellent link round up!

    • C

      We are not planning to get married at a courthouse, but our officiant will be the judge that I worked for. Having the ceremony at that court isn’t an option, otherwise I suspect we would also be having a courthouse wedding.

      I second the “research the pretty / historical courthouse” options. I also would encourage you to visit the courthouse you would go to with your SO before making your decision. Think about how that experience makes you feel. (For me, personally, courthouse to me feels just as reverent as a church, and I think they are often just as beautiful).

      Also, a couple of past APW posts might help you ask yourself “how would I feel if my wedding looked like that?” There was a recent wordless wedding at a courthouse in Caifornia (which, mind you, is by far the most beautiful courtroom I’ve seen) Then also a post about a DC photographer who specialized in courthouse weddings, which gave me chills. Maybe look at those and think to yourself “if that was me, would it “feel” right?

    • Moe

      Oh, and as far as “romantic enough”. I originally eloped last summer in a Las Vegas chapel wearing a green dress from Forever 21. It was just the two of us and it was 110 degrees outside. I didn’t think it was so romantic at all until we began saying vows and the entire world stood still.

      The reactions we got from friends when we broke the news said it was the most romantic thing they ever heard of. However you decide to do it, it will be romantic because two people are making a commitment to each other.

    • Kaitlyn

      Are you planning to have a dinner/party on the same day as the courthouse wedding? What’s your motivation for doing it that way? If you’re going for privacy/intimacy, awesome, sounds SUPER romantic! I don’t think you’ll regret it, especially if you end up with some photos to remember it by.

      But, if your motivation is to save money — and you would be interested in having all of your guests witness the ceremony — I have an idea for you!

      We found a good option for a very low-stress secular ceremony. We asked around and found a friend whose father performs wedding ceremonies. At least in Illinois, judges don’t charge anything for this service (they aren’t allowed to), and they’re generally great at it because they do it for the joy of being involved in someone’s wedding. Then we reserved an entire restaurant for dinner (private party room might work, depending on size of your party). We had the judge meet us there, and got married at the front of the restaurant with everyone joining around.

    • Rachel

      I struggled with this too…well, actually, my fiance did, as he was OK with a courthouse but wanted something that felt special, and, admittedly, I didn’t want it to feel like a trip to the DMV either. I Googled the shit out of courthouses and city halls in our area. Hint: search “city hall wedding [your city or state] wedding blog” because wedding blogs are more likely to feature the kind of pretty place you want, and will have better photos than some small-town courthouse website. I searched his home state, my home state, and the state where we live now and used all my Google-fu. We live in Houston but we eventually found a historic one just outside of Austin at a friend’s suggestion. So put the word out to friends/family in areas where you’d be comfortable getting married and see what they recommend! What states/cities are you looking in?

      Also, our courthouse is mainly a historic building/event space now, so you may want to look on traditional venue recommendation sites as well (I saw ours listed there after the fact). It’s kind of a great hybrid between traditional venue and courthouse; it will be private, but it’s still WAY cheaper than a regular venue and has the low-key but pretty/romantic vibe I wanted which means we can get away with less flowers and less pageantry overall.

      Good luck! Let us know what you find!

      • Trin

        Thanks, all of you! This is so encouraging. We’ve been together for over five years and want to get married this fall, even though we don’t really have any financial resources. And we want something secular, so a courthouse ceremony seems like one of the best options for us.

        • Also, if your main reasoning is wanting something secular, officiants are not always expensive, and many cities offer permits for holding events in public spaces that are also not expensive. In NYC, you can get married in Central Park for $25. (Or free if you don’t mind doing it without a permit, have less than 25 people, or don’t have a professional photographer). So if you are hesitant about the courthouse or aren’t loving the courthouse in your city, finding a meaningful/pretty public space might be another option.

        • Our courthouse doesn’t do weekend/holiday weddings, so we got married at the library. Renting a room cost about $40 and we got the most amazing pictures in the stacks.

        • Kris

          We got married next to a waterfall at a local state park (Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio). Cost me $40 to “reserve” one of the falls for an hour. We couldn’t keep away other park visitors (and I wouldn’t have wanted to), the reservation just guaranteed no other wedding would be held at the same time. We had rented a cabin nearby for the weekend, so that was our backup option if it had rained (there were less than 10 of us total, including the officiant).

    • We did our courthouse wedding and still haven’t planned a reception (ahem, 16 months later…) but the courthouse was both funny and good. It was all very simple but the few details that were beautiful weren’t even because we did anything. My friends brought me bouquets because they knew I wouldn’t have thought of it, the place we went to for lunch was lovely. (Well, except for the fact that I couldn’t get a cinnamon roll for my entree. Didn’t see that one coming!)
      I didn’t have time to worry about whether it’d be right but except for things totally out of my control, it was nice. And it wasn’t even at a “nice” courthouse! I’ve seen the SF and Santa Barbara courthouses, they are breathtaking, and would provide a perfect backdrop for you.

    • Brenna

      So here’s my very romantic and lovely courthouse wedding experience. I got hitched to a cowboy-computer geek at the Redmond, WA municipal courthouse in January. We did it on a sunny (!) Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t cute or architecturally interesting, but my man, myself, the judge and our 2 friends-photags-witnesses were the only people around and that felt so intimate and special. We both wore nice clothes from our closet (I do second the idea of buying something special to wear, I got myself some fancy panties).

      After the 5 minute ceremony we took some pictures at a nearby park and then went home for a homemade steak dinner. I felt relaxed and elated the entire day.

      A courthouse wedding isn’t for everybody, but I would recommend one to anybody. Our priorities were economy and to get married as stress-free as possible. I learned that my wedding was special and romantic because I got to marry my person and not because of cake, dancing or decorations.

    • ferrous

      We’re going the courthouse route too. Partly for bureaucracy (benefits, etc), but also because I fell in love with the idea of having an intimate union at city hall, followed by an easy lunch and cupcake celebration. I’m an introvert so it sounds like heaven to me.

      We’ll incorporate loved ones at a reception a few months later, which is where we’ll exchange vows. Now that the two celebrations (legal, community) are separated out in my planning brain, I’m quite comfortable with the split. It took a while, though, for the “special daaaaaay” voice to go extinct. Yesterday I flipped through some wedding mags and was horrified by the (consumer-driven, and disturbingly weight-oriented) advice.

    • We tried for a courthouse wedding in DC, but they were booked up for a month (which they didn’t tell me until after I’d paid to apply for the DC license or we would have gone to Maryland) so the woman gave me a list of officiants, we called one and arranged to meet in West Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial the following Sunday. No permit needed since it was just the two of us, the officiant, and a friend who came to take pictures. It cost a bit more since we had to pay the officiant, but turned out to be really nice.

    • Kristin

      We got married in a courthouse on a Wednesday afternoon in October. No one other than our employers and co-workers know about it and we’re still planning on having a regular wedding in August. I am incredibly happy we did it..it was so perfect for us. We dressed up a little and it was perfect. We also did it for financial reasons…taxes, health insurance, etc., which has saved us a ton of money…and we wanted to be married already, damnit! :)
      Wedding planning while married has been a huge bonus, too. Since I’ll be starting grad school two days after the wedding, I’m really glad we’ll have 10 months of marriage under our belts by then. We decided to have a wedding because we wanted to be able to spend our wedding day with the people we love but are so happy to already be married. :)
      Do what is right for the two of you. It’s so worth it. :)

    • I had a courthouse wedding followed by a pizza dinner and then dancing/drinks at a bar three months ago.

      I definitely worried if it would be “enough” and if I’d regret it later.

      It’s only been three months, but I can definitely tell you it was way more than enough and I don’t regret one single thing.

      What I recommend doing is writing down a list of absolute basic must haves -have your partner do this too (a few of mine for example: loved ones, a good photographer, pizza and minimal stress).. Refer back to your list of basics when you start to worry about “enough” and hopefully it will remind you of the important things.

    • The pastor at my baby brother’s wedding said something like this.

      “It doesn’t matter if you get married in the most beautiful outdoor setting, or the most reverent cathedral or the most dingy city hall back room. The place does not make the event of marriage sacred. The event of marriage is sacred enough.” (Something like that. I know I’ve butchered some of it.)

      If you want to do a city hall ceremony and big kick ass dance party/dinner afterwards, go for it. We chose to get married at my childhood church with a dinner reception (of pasta! garlic bread! salad! cake!) in the same room as our ceremony. We had a half hour of turn around time to make it work and it did. It was perfect for us. What you choose will be perfect for you. The wedding ceremony and day is just the start, the marriage it brings into life is the main thing.

  • Sarah

    Okay…I’ll give it a whirl!

    My fiance and I got engaged last August. When we got engaged it was a “we know that we both want to get married to one another” decision. After we got engaged, we quickly realized that many other people thought our decision meant we were somehow going to plan and pull off a large event (i.e. wedding!!@!@). While we were ready to marry one another, we weren’t quite ready to have a wedding–but we still knew that we really wanted one. We’re both in law school, and have extremely limited funds–my fiance is taking the bar this summer and I’m taking it next summer.

    This past week or so, I realized that I’m sick of not having a date and I want to actually move forward with having a wedding.

    The plan for a long time has been potluck , picnic, park . Morning wedding, brunch potluck, hang out all day in the sunshine. Recently, my best friend also got engaged–and they’re renting out a whole summer camp. My fiance is very excited about the idea of us doing the same (especially because it means it would be more financially do-able for some members of his family). Initially, I was also excited. But, then, I got super nervous–what if I don’t want to entertain people all weekend? What if it’s a huge hassle to organize this whole thing–and what I really want is to just hang out at a park for one day?

    I tried to tell my fiance that his family could probably figure things out on their own (we could show them airbnb.com and they could rent a house themselves), but he wants to make it as easy as possible.

    Anyway–anybody have a summer camp wedding weekend kind of thing? Park wedding? General thoughts? Dealing with family members of wide spectrum of financial reality (on my fiance’s other side of the family are people who complained about the $300+/night hotel we stayed in when visiting because the decor was “too brown.”)

    • Leslie

      We are not doing the summer camp thing, so I can’t speak to that (although it sounds pretty rad). What I will say is that is can be very hard to not feel like it is your personal responsibility to make sure each and every individual makes it to your wedding/has a place to stay/has all of their needs met every minute that they are thinking about your wedding. Yes, you are hosting the event, and yes hospitality is important, but it is just no feasible to make your wedding into the easiest, most convenient event for all people attending. So find the line. How much would this really help those members of your fiance’s family? And how much would it inconvenience other people attending (there are always trade-offs, like I am pretty sure a summer camp would qualify as “too brown”)? You won’t please all the people.

      One thing we did, for the people who we really really really wanted to come and were unsure that they would be able to make it financially was that we organized a group campsite and trip for that weekend. We got our local community to loan tents and sleeping bags and we got the logistics set up so that everyone was in the same area and having fun . They had some cars up there with them and we went and hung out one evening by the hot springs and it was awesome, accessible, affordable, and not at all exclusive or something.

      That is not the solution for everyone, but you can get creative without completely altering what you originally envisioned.

      • Denise

        I agree with Leslie completely. There is also always going to be a trade off. I had the opposite problem: I actually wanted a weekend event with my closest friends and family. I kept picturing sitting around a campfire listening to guests share stories about their weddings and marriages. Unfortunately, there were a few very important people who did not agree with this idea and threatened not to attend at all.

        Like all of you, APW was instrumental in helping me plan and stay sane during the wedding planning process. It helped me realize that I wasn’t getting married to make other people happy. I was getting married because my husband is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. As a result, it got thinking about what was important for us and why it was so important. Was it really only because it’s what everyone expected? My answers surprised me.

        For us, the threat that these important members of our family might not attend got us thinking of alternatives. We couldn’t imagine being married without them. So I asked myself what I really was trying to accomplish by a weekend getaway and found out that I wanted the focus of our wedding to transcend Dave and me. I wanted our wedding to be a celebration of love and marriage as a whole and I realized I didn’t need a whole weekend to achieve that.

        In the end, our wedding was a one day event and it was everything I could have wanted. With some of the money we saved, we were able to hire a DJ and asked our guests for their wedding songs. Throughout the reception, we played their songs to honor their marriages and crafted compilation CDs as favors. Not only was it meaningful to us it was also a huge hit.

        Sit down with your husband and really talk this out. Share your concerns and he might surprise you with solutions you hadn’t thought about. Determine what’s important to the two of you and why it’s so important. Can it be done in a way that will help accommodate your guests? Maybe it can’t and then have to determine how important it is that they attend. Does their attendance take priority? Maybe you’ll be as surprised by your answers as we were.

        Let us know how it goes!!

    • I’m not married yet (September 2013 REPRESENT) but first and foremost – do NOT try to please EVERYONE – it is an impossibility. That is a sure way to go insane right quick. There will always be one person who would have done something differently, and isn’t afraid to tell you why their way is the right way.

      Additionally, your thoughts and feelings and those of your family are just as important and should be considered equally along with those of your fiance and his family. If one party is paying more than the other, you should take that into consideration, but as we’ve said many times on APW – that money is a GIFT, and should be treated as such. Offering to help you with your wedding does not mean that particular party gets total control over the day.

      Likewise, I’ll reiterate – your guests (at least likely the vast majority) are adults. You are neither responsible for taking care of them for the entire weekend, nor responsible for agonizing over where they will stay. They’re adults – they know how to book a hotel. And while it’s certainly very considerate of you and your fiance to attempt to do all of this – let’s be honest – you’re planning a wedding. It’s totally fine, I think, to come up with a couple different hotel/lodging options in different price point ranges, and then let the adults figure out the rest for themselves. While it’s certainly wise and kind to be aware of financial considerations, even if you blocked rooms at the most expensive hotel in the area, those who couldn’t afford it and wanted to come would find a way.

      Our wedding web site is through MyWedding.Com, and is wonderful because on the Hotel Information Page, they link directly to an Expedia (I think?) search engine. So if the guests aren’t happy with the rate for our hotel block, they are equipped to easily search for something else :)

    • I love your all day picnic in the park idea. Im doing something similar the day after my wedding and am starting to wish that it was the actual wedding. If you are not excited about taking a big weekend camping project on, then don’t. It will always be more work and money than you think. If your fiance is worried about where people will stay, what about doing a room block at an extended stay inn or hotel for the weekend, one with a pool and barbecue areas? I did this once for my fiance’s college reunion, and it was awesome. The rooms were cheap and large and had kitchens so people didn’t have to spend money hanging out, and we had a barbecue for everyone in the first come, first serve area.

      If your fiance really wants the camping idea for its own sake, he should take the lead on the research and organizing. You should definitely help, but let him look into it, the numbers and logistics might scare him off. Or they might not, and you’ll have major fiance involvement in the wedding planning, which sounds nice.

      • Cynth

        We ran into this problem- we had our wedding in my hometown, on a lake, where there are very limited places to stay. As in one restaurant, and one inn with 13 rooms. We ended up renting a house for my (now husband’s) family with room for a few extra friends, renting a series of cottages (where we also stayed), and then offering the inn as well, which wouldn’t agree to lock down rooms for us. This gave people a series of price point options, but it became one of the most stressful parts of the planning- if you have a house with 5 rooms, then you tell everyone the cost is X, then someone changes their mind at the last minute, and now the total cost is divided by 4 not five… you see how it got crazy. In the end it all works out- and that is the great lesson of all weddings, not matter how much you tear your hair out, it WILL work out, but really I would recommend against trying to do all that organizing yourself. We had been looking for a more “summer camp/we can all hang out all weekend and play in the grass” kind of feel, and just didn’t find anything feasible for our price range in our area. And, unless your friend group exists on a totally other strata than ours, people will be flaky- I’m bringing my kids! No I’m not! Oh wait, yes I am! etc. etc. Revising the seating chart a million times is bad enough, without taking on the housing issue!

    • Kira

      I’m getting married at a state park in a couple of weeks, and it offers the best of both worlds! It has lovely outdoor spaces, casual (and crazy cheap) reception buildings, and a ton of different options for accommodations, from camping to budget-friendly cabins to a full-service hotel in the park to more luxurious accommodations within a twenty-minute drive or so. It’s got the vibe of a camping wedding for those who want it and the convenience of a non-camping wedding for those who don’t. And there’s a restaurant and camp store in the park as well as several towns nearby, so we don’t need to, e.g., plan out all the meals for the entire weekend.

      • We were trying to plan a state park reception (CA) but ran into a ton of regs about alcohol, security, food service. Did you have any of these issues?

        • Kira

          No! I think it varies a ton by state. We are in Indiana, and we are bringing in and serving our own alcohol (including home-brewed beer, which is sometimes in the legally dicey category). There are no requirements about security, and the only challenge for our caterers is that there’s no kitchen on site. I’m amazed that it’s working out as well as it is (and for only $75 a day–whaaat?). So yes, definitely check out the fine print, but some states make it really easy.

          • RE: Homebrew – a pretty good rule of thumb is that if you don’t charge for it, you are in the clear. We’ve served our beer at a number of private events in public spaces and that was the conclusion our research lead us to, so rest easy!

    • Erica

      Not a summer camp, but we had an off-season New England ski resort wedding, which had a similar vibe. Pros: the lodge we got married in cost $800 to rent, including tables, chairs, linens, and a dance floor. Ski condos are incredibly cheap in the off-season, and we got a bunch of them, so our friends and family were able to stay for $25/person/night. My husband and I are also semi-reformed ski bums, so it really suited our style.

      Cons: middle of eff-all nowhere, two hours from the nearest airport, limited cell service, and we had trouble finding a decent vendors in the area, and ended up going mostly with vendors from the nearest city, and had to pay extra for staff transportation.

      I was also nervous about feeling like I needed to entertain everybody all weekend, but our guests did not seem to expect that. It rained most of the weekend, (with a pause for 2 hours when we were able to do the ceremony and pictures!) so my vision of our friends and family bonding over hiking and outdoor activities were definitely not realized, but everybody seemed happy to just chill in the condos and hang out.

      In the end, the whole weekend was a BLAST though, and worth the logistical headaches. We looked in to the summer camp thing, but it actually seemed like it would be more expensive. I think it depends a lot on the area you’re in, but in Maine, summer camps are pretty trendy at the moment.

    • We rented a big beach house for the wedding weekend to provide places to stay for a lot of our guests (and also be our venue) in large part to make it financially easier for some members of my family and wedding party to attend. I was really worried about needing to entertain everyone all weekend and really did sort of feel like the cruise director for the first day or two. (People started arriving on Wednesday for the Saturday wedding.) In the end though, people entertained themselves when we were busy and we really did get to spend a lot of time with everyone, which I wouldn’t trade. One of my favorite memories is Sunday night when we ordered Mexican take out and played Scattergories around the huge kitchen table with 15 or 20 people who were still in town. I’m not going to lie though, there were times when I needed to hide out for a few minutes and recharge my introvert batteries. And I think your park idea sounds lovely. Yes, it’s nice to provide a place to stay to make it easier for people to attend, but I’ve certainly never expected it as a guest.

    • Rebecca

      Not sure if this would be in your price range/ guest list/ location range, but we just did our post-elopement family ceremony/ reception at the Inn at Cedar Falls (also in the Hocking Hills, Ohio, hi Kris upthread!). They do a package where they plan everything: officiant (he was great), ceremony site, flowers, cake, photos, food, the works. For $2200 + food and drinks (alcohol is consumption based) for up to 40 people. The cottage/ cabin/ Inn setup feels sort of summer-campy, but waaay more luxurious (also more privacy), and Hocking Hills State park is super close and gorgeous. There are also larger cabins in the area you could rent out for larger groups.

      Cost wise, we privately offered to cover costs for those we knew would be strained to cover things, and trusted that if other people couldn’t cover it they could use the internet to find more affordable options (after making sure that more affordable options were available, of course).

      I bring this up because we wanted to have a wedding without, you know, planning one. This was basically perfect in that regard. Entertainment wise, we trapped everyone in a venue without television or cell service (they did have wireless internet), and it turns out that our families contain enough entertaining people that everyone still had a great time. It does give everyone an entire weekend to tell stories about you without other distractions, so, you know, fair warning there.

    • Sarah

      I just wanted to thank everyone for responding!

      I definitely have realized just how much my fiance and I need to sit down and discuss our priorities. I think the idea of the summer camp was more to persuade some important people to make it and also to encourage a lot more quality time. I think I realized that I was having some misgivings when I started to think of all the additional logistics this could create–and also when I started to realize that maybe not everyone would want the same quality time that we did. Not that it’s my goal to please ALL THE PEOPLE, but it’s also not my goal to have my wedding be what people have to do the whole time they’re in the area.

      I think we might try and think of other options that makes it affordable for those we prioritize, give us quality time with different groups of people, and not drive us insane.

  • Ellen

    I’ll bite!

    My wedding is in July 2014. I have four wonderful girls that I’ve asked to be my bridesmaids, and all have gleefully accepted. I am NOT having a maid of honor- partially because I don’t feel like I have one person who could fit the bill, and partially because I really don’t want all of the wedding-associated hoopla- the bachelorette, the shower, the umpteen shopping trips, the forced help on DIY projects, etc etc. I would honestly rather just play some card game the night before the wedding while drinking wine, do the projects on my own (because I really like doing them), and find the perfect bridesmaid dresses on our first outing with a minimal amount of fanfare.

    Apparently, however, that is not what the ladies in my wedding party want! They have been asking about all kinds of WIC-related madness that I truthfully have zero interest in doing. How can I respectfully shut them down on this while still having them be excited about the wedding itself?!?!?

    • Poppy

      I can offer very little advice here – but you are not alone!! My Bachelorette party was very WIC inspired (there were penis straws) and I had really tried to tone it down and keep it to a low key get-together of my favorite ladies.

      I tried to communicate to my wedding party what I’d like – and kept in mind that my friends were celebrating with me and doing a ton for me because they love me, and I rolled with it.

      It felt super surreal though in the moment. . has anyone else has that experience?

      • APW Lurker

        I LITERALLY just came back from New Orleans for my bachelorette party and I too had the penis straws. Also penis candy. And agreed, after a while I just rolled with it because I just wanted them to have as much fun as I was and if that meant making me take a shot and have boobs rubbed in my face then so be it.

        • GCDC

          Was I at your bachelorette party? Even if not, we just got back from New Orleans where the bachelorette party was hosted by the bride’s family. While she was anti-penis accoutrement, that stuff all happened.

          As to the OP – can you plan your own bachelorette party? Or get one person who shares your vision to head up the effort? I think many times the penis straws get whipped out because the guests think that’s what you want. If you calmly spread your vision of low key get together, or get someone to do that for you, then the expectation isn’t there. When you tell people what you want (and repeat as much as necessary) then they know what to give you what you need. And I’m guessing that is what they want to do, since they are close to you and care about you. They just might know how to do that yet.

          • Ellen

            I should definitely be able to plan my own party- especially since it is this low-key. :) Thanks!

          • Rachel

            I did this for my sister– some of the other bridesmaids or family members wanted a more traditional WIC bachorlette party. My approach was to just to talk to my sister, get her opinion, and then hold fast to those opinions. I made the plans and any time someone suggested something different than what my sister wanted I just gently reminded them of that. It doesn’t mean I didn’t accept help…but with a bunch of different opinions going around I know my sister was very relieved that we had a low-key girls weekend at the beach vs. a embarrrassing (to her) night out on the town.

            So, my advice to the bride is to confide in one or two people about what you want, what things you are flexible on, and what things you consider to be off limits. Then ask them to be your advocate (get their buy in!). But then let go of it! They are throwing the party for you, after all! A gift is a gift is a gift – while you can try to shape it, but it isn’t ultimately within your control.

      • p.

        I have been in your shoes. I didn’t have a bridal party and thought that meant I’d get to avoid the whole penis-focused bachelorette. But a friend threw me a surprise bachelorette complete with a huge penis shaped cake. Like you, I rolled with it and focused on that my friend wanted to celebrate me but it did feel surreal. It ended up being just another example of what was for me a fundamental lesson I learned during wedding planning: much of what people do or say is about THEM and not about you. My friend threw me the sort of bachelorette she probably wanted.

    • Beca

      Just tell them, “Guys, I love you, but this shit gives me hives. I’m not interested in any of it. When it’s your turn, though, I’ll party it up with the best of them– but until then, NOPE.”

      They’re your friends and loved ones. They know you (hopefully). They’ll get it.

      • Ellen

        They are all married already- maybe this is their way of doing payback for having had unwanted events themselves!!!!

      • Are all three of them into WIC-ing it up? I wanted a slumber party the thursday night before the wedding as a bachlorette party. 7th grade style, with pjs, movies, junk food (and bonus – wine!). I heard murmurs that my sister was going to do a surprise night out, bar hopping and tiara, etc. I enlisted my best friend to convey that really wasn’t what I wanted, or really what I could handle two days before the wedding. I got the bachelorette party I wanted. Can you get your closest friend to advocate for you?

        • Ellen

          Seventh grade slumber party plus wine sounds AMAZING. Fortunately the wedding weekend itself might be the only opportunity all of us have to be together in the same place- we are spread out from Maine to Minnesota- and I am the only one with tons of knowledge of the area where the wedding is. Seventh grade slumber party might be the default option- which would be perfect!

        • I want to have a slumber party!

        • dawn

          I was thinking the same thing — Maybe instead of avoiding the MOH, you should pick one (the one that will listen to you? or the one the other girls will listen to?). Then the MOH can spread your vision…

      • JEM

        This exactly. Most often everyone goes in to “Default” mode: Wild party, risque favors, feather boas, drunken madness, etc. Which is perfectly fine for some! But I would tell them you would love to spend quality time with them without all the flashy distractions. Set some boundaries and tell them you would love something like cards and wine, low key, good food.

        Good luck and congrats!

    • Moe

      I had four bridesmaids and a MOH. I had a traditional wedding shower of sorts, I had my say in parts of the planning, so I was really happy with how that turned out. Other than that I didn’t do any of the traditional other stuff. I went dress shopping alone. (because I’m a big girl and didn’t feel the emotional hype associated with a dress) I did not want a bachleorette (because I considered my 30’s one wild drunken party)

      When these issues arose I simply just said so when asked, and because these ladies were my closest friends who know me well they understand me and respect my wishes. I also asked for what I did want, because that’s easy for people to understand and your girls will want to be helpful.

      However, I think most group efforts require a leader to be sucessful. Usually a MOH type person fills this role. So I would expect lots of questions and requests for direction unless you delegate this to someone.

    • Lauren

      I may not be the best person to be replying, because I am incredibly blunt with my maids. I also have a MOH, so full disclosure.

      My advice:

      1) With the bridesmaid’s dresses, if you are looking to find the perfect dress right off, I would do some heavy research and lifting beforehand. I.E., send them all a list of your favorites and have them reply back with theirs, narrowing choices down before you even leave the house. Or, I chose to use a website that is essentially the same thing – you pick out what you like and the ladies chose their own styles/colors based on your guidelines. We didn’t actually go shopping at all. My MOH/BFF is also getting married and she just told us specifically what dress to buy and we all did it individually.

      * This is one place where my MOH came in handy to gently bust some heads of delinquent women who didn’t order their dresses until the last minute *

      2) If you just want to play cards while drinking wine, just call that the bachelorette party. That way the girls that are set on going to a bachelorette get their way, and you get yours. And do be unequivocal that you don’t want strippers/balloons/penis straws or what have you.

      3) If they offer to help, I would honestly tell them that you have it under control and are happy doing the projects. They will likely understand.

      In general my advice is to be as up front as possible, as soon as possible. When one of them asks how the planning is going, just dive right in and say “Oh it’s great, I’ve been thinking a lot about [insert unwanted WIC thing here] and I’ve decided I don’t want it, it’s just not me” and, since they are your friends and know you much more personally than I do, they’ll likely agree and move on.

      • Ellen

        I think you are an AWESOME person to be replying- this is exactly the type of response I was hoping for. Thanks!!

        • Lauren

          I was a little slow to edit, but I had a couple of more things come to mind:

          1) I am known for being blunt and take-charge, so my lady friends were not shocked when I did just that
          2) I completely agree with the above commenter that said a MOH is great for a leader. So, if you don’t want to give that person a title, just pull aside your most take-charge friend and ask her to help you out with corralling the others.
          3) I also made a FB group for them all and I post things that I have already * decided I’m doing * with the interest of keeping them in the loop. That way, my opinion is known and broadcast to everyone.

          And you’re welcome! I love being opinionated. :)

          • My bachelorette was Saturday, and even though I was afraid it would be stressful I had a blast. Yes, I had a chalice, and a sash, and a tiara, but I stressed hard-core when my friends were planning it that since the party was walking distance from my house, if there were any anatomically-correct (or incorrect), straws, gummies, or anything overtly embarrassing *for me*, I would walk home or call my fiance to walk me home.

            I am indecisive but have been decidedly decisive about the wedding. I told my bridesmaids to pick their own shoes, but they asked me to pick their dresses. When my fiance and I make a decision about something wedding-related, we state it without using any terms that could make it seem like an uncertainty. It’s been interesting drawing our lines together.

          • Moe

            I did the FB group page for the bridesmaids too. It was very easy to get information out to them quickly….AND they used it as a way to get to know each other and talk about shoe-shopping etc…

          • I didn’t do a FB group, but I did set up a private blog to keep all of them in the loop. It was fun to update them and I was also able to put it out there on the things I needed help with and get it.

    • KB

      Um, HI! Are you my doppelganger???? Because I have this exact issue right now, except I’m a couple months out from my wedding. I sympathize and add that retaining control of all of that stuff, for me, is a way to actually AVOID stress because I’d otherwise be exhausted from coordinating everything getting done and getting “super excited” all the time about stuff. I also hate that my bridesmaids and other people treat me differently, like they get the WIC-voice when speaking to me about the wedding (“Aren’t you SO EXCITED??” “Does [Fiance] have an opinion? Oh, who cares!” etc.).

      Honestly, my bridesmaids (ditto to the ban on MOHs – too much drama), they don’t understand this AT ALL, so I don’t have an answer really, except that I just shut down the stuff I don’t care to organize/buy/make/etc. For example, they asked me a couple times about when my bridal shower was and I just eventually said, “I don’t mind not having one, but I’m not asking for one or organizing it either.” And I figure that, if they want to throw me a surprise one, that’s cool – but I’m not going to go out of my way to solicit the hoopla.

      As for the offers of help, I’ve just been politely declining for now – I don’t know if they’re offended by it or just have gotten used to the “engaged me” or whatever, but the requests have dropped off some. I know that I can ask for help when I need it, and that’s lovely to know. But for now I’ll just give you a solidarity fist-bump for being an independent no-drama bride, too – to each her own!!

      • Ellen

        I am pretty sure that if we knew each other in real life we would be awesome friends because you are READING MY MIND.

        Maybe the non-APW crowd thinks that everyone should be excited about WIC activities? I am hoping that the requests drop off like they did for you!

        • KE

          I’d add to explain why you don’t want a shower/bachelorette/what-have-you. Pre-wedding events are common even for the APW crowd, so you may need to remind your bridesmaids that you’ve thought your decisions through and are happy with them.

          I’m a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my oldest, closest friends. She kept saying she didn’t want a shower, but making it like she was afraid of being an inconvenience. So following the APW mantra “your wedding is not an imposition,” I explained to her that all her bridesmaids adore her and would love to throw her a shower and think it would be really special, but that ultimately it was her decision and we’d respect it. That’s when she explained the actual reason she didn’t want a shower (complicated, but essentially social group stuff).

          I was so grateful that she explained her reasoning because the vibe I was getting was that she did want a shower, but was worried about imposing. (And I’ve known her for 20+ years so I can read her really well.) Maybe there’s a similar situation happening with your bridal party? Or maybe I’m totally off base.

    • Remy

      Maybe send them some links to a few articles you gel with *koff*. If they get the idea that you want ___Fill In The Blank____ vibe and that you are HAPPY about it, that takes a lot of the pressure off them as bridesmaids (and it sounds like they could be trying to do more simply because there is no MOH to deafault to as leader). Write them a nice email of gratitude that they can be with you on your special day, and explain (or do it in person) that you don’t want to make the wedding process a big deal.

      • Ooh, I like the emailing articles advice. A friendly casual, “hey ladies, by the way, this is my favorite wedding website ever, and I just wanted to send you this post from the archives. This author/theme/ideas really resonates with me, so I wanted to pass it on!” Boom. APW has done the heavy lifting work.

    • S

      Ah! I was in your shoes….exactly to the letter! Here’s what happened to me: I didn’t have or want a maid of honor for pretty much the same reasons as you (and also didn’t want to make my bridesmaids feel that one was better than the others) and yet everyone kept asking me who it was and some people (family and friends) insisted that I MUST have one. Crazy! So I stuck to my guns (you should too!) and everyone eventually respected my decision. However, my really good friend insisted that I have a bachelorette party and so we discussed what I want and the night ended up being perfect. We just went out for dinner and to a lounge with a dance floor so we had that option if we wanted to. It ended up being a fun night and a chance to reconnect so I’m glad we did it. As for shopping and picking out dresses, luckily, they all liked the same dress after I gave them some web links to look through so that was easy. My husband and I insisted on planned everything else ourselves. So my advice; communicate your thoughts out loud in a respectful manner so everyone knows what you want and how you are feeling about it. Some people wont like it but at the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you have to be true to yourself :)

      • Ellen

        Love it- thanks! One way that I’ve gotten around people with the no-MOH thing is that I’ve conveyed early and often that my brother will be my witness for our wedding license so I’m getting relatively little flack on that front.

        Your evening sounds really nice and like it might very well be an option for me. I’ll definitely make sure that I stick to my guns!

    • Cleo

      You should do what my best friend did — use the WIC hoopla against them and tell them that you’re the bride, it’s your day, and what you say goes (obv. in the nicest way possible).

      Then tell them that they’re your bridesmaids because you love them and want them to have a special role on a very significant day in your life, not because you want a party planning committee. Then give them their job descriptions (shop for a dress, stay calm, help you stay calm, play cards and drink wine with you, stand on the altar and look pretty, etc… whatever you want it to be), focusing on the positive, what you’d like them to do.

      Then, I would do this:

      Let go. If your friends are anything like mine, they’ll want to throw some sort of shindig/get together for you regardless of what you say. Accept they’re doing it out of love and enjoy the time you’re spending with them, wedding-related or not. :)

      • Ellen

        Ooooh good call- if I think of it as a “gathering” instead of a “bachelorette” I can handle that much better… especially if there is wine involved. :)

    • Mags

      For my wedding I had no bridesmaids so this wasn’t an issue, but as a past and present bridesmaid I think you just need to clearly state what you do and don’t want. I agree with other commenters that lack of a MOH might leave all bridesmaids scrambling to try to fill that role. If you haven’t very explicitly said that you don’t want A, B, and C then there’s a good chance your friends just want to make sure you don’t feel like you’re missing out. And honestly as a bridesmaid (who has always lived a plane ride away from the bride), it is really nice to be told that I don’t have to do extra work except on the day of, because, well, I love you but I have my own life.

    • Shiri

      Can you give them jobs to do that aren’t WIC, but are things you need? My best friend’s job, for example, was to run interference with my dad. Another bridesmaid’s job was to make sure I ate, another’s was to hold my vows, another’s was to have my inhaler, etc. That way, they all had “things to do” but it was really about them feeling like their being there mattered to me and that each was important and special.

      And, to be honest, during the planning I did end up having things I needed help with, even if it wasn’t WIC type stuff, but more of the “listen to me while I cry” or “look at this list of shoes and help me!” type things.

    • I’ve had this experience as well! Honestly, I think everyone just really wants to be supportive and there’s only one really obvious script for what that support looks like. People are afraid of disappointing you and they may not have considered different ways that things can be done. I’ve found that if you just make it super clear what you want, then you’re helping everyone know how to be supportive. In other words, provide the new script for them, and this will eliminate a lot of stress.

      • Cara

        I picked my MOH specifically because I knew she would advocate for me against these types of thing, but when I got a text message from one of my… more open… bridesmaids asking my bra and panty size the night before the wedding, I freaked out. I’m terribly uncomfortable even talking about sex, so the idea that there would be penis straws and edible underwear at my bachelorette party left me tossing and turning the night before. Now, I have eight bridesmaids, and so it wasn’t really fair of me to hope that my MOH would fight all 7 of the other girls away, but I was so angry at them for not listening to her and for deliberately trying to make me uncomfortable.

        Or at least that’s how I felt the evening before.

        Turns out, the party was great. My MOH planned a fun hiking trip through one of the local parks and a picnic, which is precisely my speed. Yes, we did go back to my apartment and there were penis-straws and the makings of a very tame bachelorette party. They pushed me into doing a few shots and they all got drunk themselves… but at one point during the night I realized what the point of all of this is. Sure- I never would have wanted this for myself, but there really won’t be many more opportunities after I’m married to spend time like this with my girls. After I’m married, I can’t just kick my husband out and have a huge slumber party where we talk about boys and drink bad vodka. So were they really trying to humiliate me and make me feel uncomfortable? Probably, but they were doing it because they love me and they want to spend as much time with me before everything changes.

        Same goes for everything else. And actually, it’s been really helpful that they’ve been willing to pick up some of the DIY projects that I wanted to do, even though I picked them to be fun for me. It’s just really nice to know that they love you that much…

    • Kira

      I didn’t have the bachelorette party experience in particular, but something that has been super duper helpful for me throughout the wedding planning process is to frame my desires as positively as possible, with lots of excitement, rather than shooting down ideas from the WIC. I’ve found that most people seem to genuinely want to support me and my fiance and make us happy. The WIC script is the easiest to follow, and they often find it discomfiting when we don’t want to play along because it means they don’t know how to support us. This has led to many awkward and frustrating conversations with people who wanted to do something nice and couldn’t understand why we weren’t grateful, no matter how problematic/unpleasant/horrific their offers sounded. BUT when I have had ideas in mind for things that would be meaningful and exciting, my loved ones have generally been happy to hop on board. So, I guess my advice is to talk up what you want rather than talking down what you don’t want?

    • DanEllie

      Point your ladies here. Honestly!

      There were a few key posts that I sent to my ladies, namely about the bridal brigade and some of the non-traditional things that I really liked that I linked to. They also know me well enough to know that I’m very non-traditional. I also didn’t mind saying no when people suggested ideas that made me uncomfortable.

      Good luck!

    • I told my ladies I didn’t want the penis paraphernalia. I said it probably three times in all, at different points (pre-engaged, then general bridesmaid-y conversation, then actual planning-the-date-for-the-party mode) in varying degrees of seriousness. They got the message.

      Your people love you. They want to make you happy with a few parties about you. So if there are things that are definitely NOT you, tell them (nicely) and they will oblige.

    • This is all great advice, but keep in mind that your ladies are probably just excited for you! I felt exactly like you when I was a bride, but for some reason, when I am asked to be a bridesmaid, I just get the FEVER and want to do all kinds of stuff – bridesmaids are just as influenced by WIC culture as brides, and they may just be trying to do right by you.
      I’d recommend telling them honestly what you do (and don’t) want, and I’m sure they’ll do their best to respect you. However, don’t underestimate how nice it can be to just have a friend sit with you while you craft, address or whatever (especially if your intended isn’t into that stuff). I had a really nice time just drinking wine with friends while I did my thing, and I’m really glad they insisted on spending that time together.

    • I had two bridesmaids and one MOH (my bestie since kindergarten). MOH and ‘Maid S. were very out of town. ‘Maid J. was in town and as I was moving down unda 3 weeks after my big day, *she* moved *her* big day up so we could be in each other’s weddings. She got married 13 days before I did, and she arrived back from her honeymoon probably 3 days before my big day. We both were using red in our weddings (me silver, her gold) and my mom doubled as both of our mother of the bride as J’s mom was out of town too. It was a crazy time but I couldn’t have picked a better person to be my BrideBuddy.

      Mom and J did help a lot with my big day, and we helped with her big day. It worked extremely well. When it came time for my bridal shower, J was the one sitting next to me as I opened gifts, writing down each items details so I could do thank you notes later. For my bachelorette shindig, my MOH (L.) kept things very low key and my taste exactly. We had teriyaki for lunch. We got our nails done (including J. losing my engagement ring for a few mintues while I had my mani done [she found it later after giving me a heart attack]). We went to the park where we’d be taking photos on the day, so my ladies could get an idea of what to expect. We went to L’s parents house for dinner and games. (Hilarious, hands down, best part ever. A homemade version of Penisary [pictionary with a naughty twist]. You try drawing “blowjob” with a straight face! I dare you!) We had dinner and ate and played silly games which mortified one of my ladies who was still single (now engaged herself! yay!). We didn’t go clubbing or dress me up with silly penis themed stuff, didn’t do shots or asking random guys for their numbers. It was clean, tasteful, and enjoyable for me which I really appreciated.

      If you want a simple girls night in with card games and wine, TELL YOUR LADIES! Don’t assume your ‘maids know what you want, tell them. If they respect you, they’ll honor your wishes. Nothing worse than a bride not having fun on her last night as a single lady!

  • Kathy

    So, preface this to say: I have a problem that is nice to have, because people love me.

    I found out that a baby shower I’m attending this weekend is actually a bridal shower for me. I wasn’t terribly keen on the whole bridal shower idea, which is I guess why they’re making it a surprise? So my question is a two parter:
    1. What’s the best way to fake suprise?
    2. How does one get through a bridal shower and all of its inherent awkwardness? I’m not introverted by nature, but I’m not really comfortable as A Bride with all that entails (excitement about centerpeices, etc).

    • Maddie

      I had this happen to me. Twice. (Surprise engagement party AND shower, both of which I found out about in advance.)

      I find that the best way to fake surprise is with earnest. People want to believe you’re surprise. If you just fake it and mean it, they’ll be happy. Also, say “What?!” a lot. And then hug whoever is closest to you.

      As for getting through it, do you have an ally in your midst that you can have join you in the festivities? My sister, for example, LOVES being the center of attention. So she helped me open my presents, modeled the gifts like Vanna White, even wore the bow hat for a while. I probably would have died without her. And because she’s my sissy and she’s a huge ham, it was actually a lot of fun for me.

      When all else fails, champagne.

      • JEM

        I think the last line could work as an answer to every question in this thread (in life?). Maddie wins.

      • Kathy

        Thank you so much! Especially the last is helpful. I might embroider it on something.

      • Yes to the champagne (or wine or drink of choice). And the allies. My best advice is to make sure to sit by at least one good friend/sister/whoever. Make (quiet) snarky comments. Have her deflect some attention if she can. Smile lots. Everyone love you.

      • Champagne, big time. ;)

    • Marina

      The nice thing for introverts about awkward WIC events is that they’re highly scripted. There’s always something you’re “supposed” to do, which is both awful and makes life a lot easier. As a bride at a bridal shower, your job is mostly to look embarrassed when people do embarrassing things and give a standard answer when ten different people in a row ask the same question. The host will be the one saying “Now it’s time to [eat some cake/open some gifts/pin the condom on the stripper/whatever]” and you just have to sit there and blush and smile. Awkward, yes. Predictable, also yes.

  • In some real agony over my guest list. I started with an intimate 50 person garden wedding that, due to outside pressure grew to around 80 people at a very public beach. With my initial list choices were fairly simple about who to invite, there was only room for the closest of the closest family and friends. I had booked a picnic site for a bigger, more casual potluck celebration the next day and felt like everyone who only got invited to the second part would be understanding since the first was so small. But now that the actual wedding is bigger, I am worried that people who only get invited to the picnic will be insulted. We have many family members and very good friends who are not on the 80 person list simply because I can’t handle the wedding getting any bigger in budget and scope. I think they’ll be hurt that they didn’t “make the cut” even though the reasons we chose one person over another were often arbitrary (we found it easier to cut down by groups than individuals so, for example, we’re not inviting my dance company peers or fiance’s college friends). Hanging out with friends is getting awkward, because people are asking about it and I don’t want to hurt anyone. I am overbudget and highly conflicted, and I need to get past this and send out my invites, which are a month late because I keep hesitating. We called people to get addresses so they already have an idea that they are getting invited so I don’t see how to downsize, though sometimes I really want to just start over. Also not sure that I should still do picnic. Need some help!

    • My sister just started the whole process over. She sent out save the dates and then things started to spiral, so she sent postcards with stick people showing her going crazy. They are eloping at the courthouse. So you CAN start over. TOTALLY. On the other hand if you want to keep things you can also think of having an after party with more friends, if they live in town etc. But mostly, just tell people you are keeping things small. After working in the wedding industry, 80 is still small, so you aren’t lying.
      Good luck and do what is best for you!

    • Moe

      Pay for it yourselves.

      This was the only way we were able to control the cost and the guest list, because let’s be honest everytime you add a distant cousin and their spouse you are looking at dollar signs too.

      There were a few things we did to avoid tension and pressure:

      I didn’t post about the wedding on Facebook. (Later I created a filtered list so that only friends invited could see posts about the wedding.)

      I didn’t talk about the wedding in front of people who were not invited.

      I admit there were some tough moments where I simply had to hold my ground and this will not be easy if you really want people to like you or approve of you. (who doesn’t?) I had a former colleague from 10 years ago email me asking for an invite then she got offended when I said no. (Seriously? I’m the b*tch? You demanded an invite then tried to emotionally blackmail me when I said no!)

      When the coworkers asked about invites I was gracious and explained “we would love to invite everyone, but we can’t.” No one likes hearing no, but unless someone is willing to bank roll this wedding for you, you will have to say no to some people.

      There is no way to go about this in a way that will make everyone happy, and really that is what every bride should be told in the beginning.

    • Lizzy

      We did something similar–family, out-of-town very-close friends, and our 2 local BFFs got invited to the wedding (total 90), and then all our local friends got invited to a humongous costume party at our house. It worked great! No one asked why they hadn’t been invited to the wedding. We never apologized for it (and you shouldn’t either; that calls more attention to the fact and invites people to be upset), but framed it more like, “We look forward to celebrating with all our friends!” Plus, we’ve been telling people all along that we’re planning a relatively intimate wedding, so nobody assumed they’d be included. I think it also helped that the 2 events were several weeks apart, so the bigger party wasn’t part of the official wedding weekend. Good luck!

    • KateM

      One of my best friends had planned one wedding, and after getting everyone’s addresses, wrote a mass email to pretty much everyone on her guest list, saying, that after having gotten this far in the planning, they decided to ditch the original plan, and they were doing close family only. She then called the people invited (she snuck in a few friends who were privy to the whole story and kept their mouths shut) and told them they were still invited.
      I was one of the close friends but part of a much bigger group that was excluded. Everyone in that large group was fine with them basically cutting the wedding. People got it. It is stressful, hard to make cuts and expensive. Good luck!

    • as far as upsetting people who are not invited, all you have to say is “we’re having a small wedding”. yes, it’s a bigger wedding than you wanted/though, but it is still small(er than it would be if you invited all the people you are stressed out about). you don’t have to make excuses or go into details. i think this is stolen advice from miss manners…but it may be from apw.

      • That’s exactly what we did. They don’t need to know what “small” means.

      • Marina

        THIS. You don’t have to explain anything. You are making a reasonable decision based on what will work best for you. End of story.

    • kc

      You can potentially *tell* people that you’re sorry that you couldn’t invite them, but you’ve been stressing over this for (however long) and you hope they’ll understand because they know you well and know that you care about them even though your wedding size has gotten somewhat out of your control. Or that you agreed to invite people by groups. Or just that you’re going nuts and are looking forward to seeing them at the reception but the wedding is getting just too big for you to handle it. Or that you’re trying not to offend anyone but are in over your head and baffled. Being direct and honest and showing your stress sometimes defuses the situation a lot.

      Up to you whether you want to do the picnic or not. It sounds like a lot of people want to celebrate with you; that might be a way to accomplish that, or you could do something else, or you could do Nothing At All, or you could go out to coffee each Saturday with each successive “group” of people (although it might take a couple of months) or something else.

      Good luck! Most likely, it will be totally okay. :-)

    • All the advice here- you can still say you’re having a “small” wedding, talk about costs, etc.- is spot on. Plus, I think you can still start over. Who’s to say you didn’t call for addresses to invite them to the picnic? Or to the as-yet-undefined casual celebration later? I think that’s totally doable.

      • Emily

        I’ve gotten some push-back when talking about cost re. dealing with not being able to invite more people, i.e. it makes me sound cheap. So while I’d really love to be more honest about our decision-making process, sometimes I still feel cruddy about it based on others’ reactions.

        • That’s really cruddy of them to imply such a thing, but I’ll go back to tried-and-true APW wisdom here:

          It is none of your business what other people think of you.

          It’s hurtful for them to say/imply that you’re cheap, but the truth is that you are making decisions that in line with your values for a very important occasion. Re-group with your fiance, choose a battle plan, and forge ahead with the best choice for your new family. That way, from both fronts you can say to people “We made the best decision for our family together, and we would really appreciate your support for that” And when people are mean, you have each other to run to.

          Good luck with it all, because that’s a crappy situation to be in! I hope everyone starts treating you more kindly.

    • It’s almost better to be arbitrary in your cutoffs… it’s so much easier to say ‘well, we’re keeping it small so we couldn’t invite any co-workers/cousins/etc.’ than try to explain why coworker X made the cut, or that you’re just really close with cousin Y.

      • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

        Yes, to what everyone else has said. It may even be worth pre-empting some people’s questions with the small wedding explanation. (Said from the perspective of someone who is decidedly not asking about a wedding, but wishes I knew for sure that I’m not being invited.)

  • Carisa

    First this is brilliant. Thank you APW for putting equal effort into your content and making a safe space!

    Ok on to the questions.

    My partner and I will be having a wedding two summers from now (we are planners…can you tell?) and I am starting to look into renting spaces for it since the general location we want is fairly difficult to find suitable places. I have started to look into renting a vacation home for a few days to house some of our closest friends and to have the ceremony and reception. My real question is, how have the logistics worked out for people who had their wedding and reception at someones house? Has anyone attempted something similar to what I am thinking of? Am I really just setting myself up to be a mad woman at the end of all of this?

    Thank you everyone, you are the best!

    • Someone in Meg’s book did this! I couldn’t fit everyone in one house, sadly because I love the idea.

    • K

      Hi — we are doing this for our wedding in September. Rented a massive vacation property and are essentially bringing everything in. I’m really excited about it but it’s definitely a lot of work! I would recommend trying to find a place that has had at least one wedding before because then you know there will be vendors that have made it happen. For ours…I was pretty nervous about the kitchen and catering setup so I just went with the caterer that had done a wedding there before because I knew she could handle it. I don’t know where you’re from, but since we are getting married in a pretty remote location that doesn’t have an in-house wedding team, our vendor selection was a bit more limited. I probably wouldn’t have gone with her if we had been getting married in the city but since she is familiar with the spot, she’s given some great advice about logistics and things to plan for when bringing everything in yourself that I might not think of otherwise. I am completely happy (and excited!) about our choice so far, but I think a big part of it was because we decided we just wanted to have a place where all of friends and family could hang out in one place and party for as long as we want! Others seem really excited as well which is always nice.

    • Kathy

      Hi! We’re doing this, and are very excited, but yes. It is A Lot of Work. You have to think about tents, tables, chairs, generators, bathrooms, transportation/parking, insurance, the whole thing. It will very very likely not be any cheaper than renting a wedding hall-type place that has all of these things.

      On the other hand, it allows you flexibility with time, caterers, and guest lists. But you will get very very weird google ads about Presidential Port A Johns for a long long time.

      Best of luck!

      • Cynth

        We did this for our rehearsal dinner- and self catered. It worked out well, but it was a ton of work. Hauling in chairs and tables, trips over to see what they had already in the house, trying to think of everything that might not be there- extra extension cords etc. We had about 40 people, but with a yard and screened in porch it worked well, though was bit colder than we had hoped! It was a 4 bedroom two bath. We did a big Costco food run, my husband’s family worked for two days on food prep (and stayed in the house for the week), my husband and buddies grilled. In retrospect, we probably should have brought food in, even in trays (no budget for catering!). It was a great atmosphere though- cozy and friendly, casual. You could do this for 40 or less people (without extra bathrooms) and it would be fantastic. Go for it and Good luck!

        • Emily

          Hm… we’re doing the night-before dinner at a close family friend’s house, and are expecting 60 (which is ~half of the wedding guests, sadly we couldn’t fit everyone into the back yard), so hearing how much work 40 people was is making me nervous! Although luckily my mom and her friend, who are dealing with all those details, decided to get “gourmet pizza” which I’m hoping will make everything a lot easier.

      • Shiri

        I did this for my wedding, and as everyone else says, it was a lot of work. And not necessarily cheaper than something more pre-fab. The way we survived it was that it’s normal doing this where we got married and the caterers there organize all the other vendors (rentals, electrician, etc) so it was like having a wedding coordinator. Having her coordinate the others was not only not significantly more expensive, it was expected, so I couldn’t even feel bad about it.

        • Carisa

          Thank you all so so much!

          Do any of you have recommendations on actually finding a house? I’m looking in the Cape Cod, MA area (as close to Provincetown as possible). Were there specific websites you used or word of mouth?

          Again, thank you for the heads up (Ill be sure to add extension cords to the list!). It is great to hear people who loved it even if it was work.

          • Shiri

            I got married at a family member’s home, so can’t help there, but I did see this article in the Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/fashion/weddings/renting-someone-elses-home-for-a-dream-wedding.html.

          • ferrous

            We’re renting a huge home in the mountains for ~20 people for our reception weekend. (Smores and stout will be involved… I think I just found our theme!) My go-to website has been vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner). Good luck!

          • I found the house we used on VRBO as well. And found a lot of our vendors through the owner of the house since they’ve had several weddings there. Like everyone said, it was a lot of work since most of the set up and clean up was on us, but I felt like it was worth it in the end. We only had about 50 guests, around 20 staying in the house, so during the rehearsal dinner and reception everyone was able to just use the bathrooms in the house. We did likely break some fire codes with all of our globe lights plugged into power strips under the house where our reception was. And we wanted to provide basic breakfast and lunch food in the kitchen, so that was an added expense we had to budget for. It made for a cheap rehearsal dinner though. A local Indian restaurant brought us foil pans of food and we used the dishes already in the kitchen. It was pretty well gone by the time it had a chance to cool off. Everyone ate in the kitchen and living room and then we showed our photo slideshow on the big screen TV in the living room. The house was nice, so I didn’t decorate or anything for it. Same thing with the brunch the morning after. We reheated reception food and people just hung out. I loved all of the unprogrammed time with everyone and it was nice for my sister and brother to be able to put their kids to bed upstairs and come back down to the reception instead of having to leave when the little ones fell asleep.

          • K

            I just googled “family reunion chesapeake bay (where we’re getting married)” and found it that way — it seemed like there were a lot more options for having people stay right onsite that way. Also, since it seems like many of the weddings/occasions mentioned have been small, I just want to let you know that we’re attempting to do it for 150 people, many of whom will also be there for the rehearsal the night before. I’ve definitely been stressing a bit about the logistics but I think having supportive parents/guests definitely makes a big difference in the stress levels — they have been wonderful so I would definitely make sure you have that before committing!

    • Kara E

      We had a reception at my parent’s house (ceremony was earlier). We had it more “open house” style (with people coming and going), but planned without RSVP, so guessing tables and chairs etc. was kind of a crap shoot. It all worked out though – we probably had 120 people over 4 hours (though never more than about 65 there at one time).

      The specifics: we rented tables and chairs and a TENT (v. important for July sun!) for outside, and had the buffet set up in the dining room. People also sat and ate/visited in the family room and on the back porch.

      Foodwise: my mom and I (and several of her friends) made and/or brought food. We also did a huge costco run the day before and did fruit and veggie platters and meat and cheese trays. We set up everything the night before, so just needed to grab the next tray or bowl to refill stuff – though we did hire a friend to “run” the kitchen.

      It was awesome.

  • Ali

    I love this idea, I need a lot of advice!!! I am getting married in May 2014, and I guess thus far am having kind of 2 major issues that advice on either or both would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I’ve booked the church and reception sites, and the only way that they both worked together is having the ceremony at noon followed by the reception at 1pm. The ceremony is Catholic, but will not be a full mass, will just be the wedding ceremony (which I have never myself attended, so I really don’t know how long it’s going to be). Is this enough time, or will I be a crazy rushing mess?? I don’t mind getting to the reception a little bit late, I just want my guests to be able to get there and enjoy, and also get my money’s worth from the venue since I paid for it to start at 1.

    2. While I’m on the subject, can someone convince my fiance that having an afternoon wedding is still going to be an amazing party? I’m fine with it, but he doesn’t believe me all the time.

    3. My parents are paying for the wedding. Like, the whole thing. Which I told them I didn’t want, but they are truly insistent and would “feel too guilty” letting us pay ourselves. Which is very nice of them. Like, very. However. My mom is crazy controlling of the guest list. She literally could care less about the colors, location, flowers, etc (typical mom stuff). She is just very concerned with the number of people invited and attending, and it’s causing a problem with my fiance. (Like, we are going to do wedding things this weekend and my fiance wants to stay at a hotel instead of at my parents’). Did anyone go through this?? Please help!!

    • 1. The non-mass Catholic weddings I’ve been to have been about a half an hour, so it sounds like it will be fine. Things always take longer though: you’ll start late, you’ll do pictures and a receiving line, etc. Better to be slightly late to the venue you’ve already started paying for than to have a significant gap b/n ceremony and reception and guests have to kill time.

      2. bar + music + fancy dress = good time, regardless of the time of day. Done.

      3. This one is tricky b/c they are paying for it. Is she not allowing your fiance to invite the people he wants to invite, because that is not okay. Or is it that she is stacking the list with all of her friends to the point your fiance is feeling like it is not even about you two anymore? Also not okay, but harder to argue with b/c of the money.

      If it is about control, the only thing you can do is take it back and pay for it yourself. It will be messy but weddings are in part about separating yourselves from your family of origin. Good luck!

    • Is your mom trying to limit the number of guests? Or trying to add people? Because those two actions might hint at entirely different motivations and somewhat different approaches to the solution.

      • Ali

        Thanks for the input!! See my reply to the comment below for a more detailed explanation of the situation. (oh hey, that rhymed!)

    • Would you be able to get more specific about your mom and the guest list, and why it’s driving your fiance crazy? Is she sacrificing people whom you’d like to invite for people she thinks ought to be invited? Because even if they are paying for the whole wedding, I feel like it’s etiquette to split the guest list into thirds. Or, you can always put your foot down and kindly but firmly tell her YOU would feel guilty allowing them to pay for everything, and could insist on paying enough to allow your guest list to represent.

      I’m getting married at 11:30 in the morning, and I can’t wait. Talk about taking advantage of some of the most beautiful natural daylight :) Also, see the various posts on Meg’s brunch wedding. It might help to show him some of the Wordless Weddings that take place during the day, and how beautiful and joyful they are, as well :)

      • Ali

        Thanks everyone for your help!!

        The issue with my mom is she wants to limit the list to 150 invites, and then do a second round of invites when people decline. And also split the list into 3rds (50 my fam, 50 his fam, 50 friends) Which is fine, except my fiance has a very large family, and would have to cut people out of it, while my family would be able to invite our entire family plus some family friends (within our 50). My fiance and his family have offered to pay for any overages that occur due to his entire family being invited (immediate fam, not even extended), but my mom does not think that’s fair for them to be “over-represented.” So it’s not really a money issue, but kind of a control issue. And I can totally see both sides of the issue, so I’m kind of stuck in the middle here.

        • Eek. That’s not cool at all. It’s your fiance’s wedding, not hers. She really does not get to exclude people who are meaningful to him. I’m sure others will chime in, but I’d say take back control, either financially or with a long, hard, heart-to-heart about what are/are not acceptable strings attached to her financial involvement.

          This is not a United Nations council where everything has to be equal. There is no way to plan for each family to be equal (unless your relatives start baby-making, stat.), each family is what it is, and she needs to know that funding the wedding means accepting his family for who (and how many) they are. Good luck!

        • Yeah your fiancé definitely needs to be able to invite his family. Instead of dividing things neatly into thirds it might make more sense to say something like “ok, all aunts/uncles/first cousins are invited, but we don’t have the space to invite 2nd cousins from either side”. Families aren’t neatly dividable.

          This is a situation of needing to have your fiancé’s back. These people are important to him, and marrying him is going to make them your family too. They need to be there.

          • Samantha

            Agreed. Much better to use relationships as indicators of who makes the cut – immediate family, aunts/uncles/first cousins – than numbers, while still being open minded for any special cases, i.e.: family friend who is really like an aunt, etc. Also we do not have 50 friends, just sayin’, do you? You can’t cut out important family members and then invite only semi-important friends, ya know? Not saying that you are at all or that you don’t have 50 dear friends, maybe you do! It’s not about being “over represented” – it’s just how big is family is. Unfortunately I think the only thing you can do is have a hard heart to heart with your mom. Or like those above have said – if you are paying for it yourselves then you get to make all the rules . . . Good Luck!

        • Um. What does “over-represented” even mean? I mean, obviously I KNOW what it means, but seriously? I agree with SarahE completely – not cool, period. In fact, I couldn’t have put it better than she did when she said, “I’d say take back control, either financially or with a long, hard, heart-to-heart about what are/are not acceptable strings attached to her financial involvement.”

          You could also point out that YOUR/HER family is going to be WAY over-represented, proportionately, you know? If 100% of your family gets to show up, how is it fair if only 25% of his gets to show? That might help put this into perspective a bit for her. Your fiance should definitely not be punished for having a larger family, especially when his family is offering to pay the difference. It’s their wedding too! :)

        • Jessamarie

          This happened in the reverse at my wedding, and to a huge extreme. We had about 250 people there. I’d say 150 were my family and family friends, 70 were our friends, and 30 were his family and family friends. The only place the imbalance would have been especially visible would have been at the ceremony, but we were very clear to our ushers and in a sign at the door, that there was no “brides side or groom’s side” of the church. I know that my husband’s family never felt left out, and there were so many people there that didn’t know each other, that really only my husband and I knew who everyone was and who they were closer to.
          Also, as other people have said, you will have no control over who will actually be able to attend. Setting these quotas is setting your mom up for frustration and setting your new combined family up for fights (if one of your mom’s 50 RSVP’s no does your fiance get to invite his favorite cousin now, or does the replacement invite have to come from your mom’s list?).

        • Laura C

          This is an issue we are right in the middle of — my fiance has a huge extended family, while I have barely any family. So as we try to get our guest list down, what’s “fair”? It’s not really fair for 70% of the guests to be his, but it’s also not really fair if we set some number of invitations for each side and I get to invite every single person I can think of while he’s cutting out first cousins. We had to conclude there’s no such thing as fair and work on a compromise. I made some cuts, he’s making proportionally as many cuts, it’s a bigger wedding than I’d like and a smaller one than he would, more of the people will be on his side but not quite as skewed as it would be if we’d just each gotten to invite everyone.

          And of course it’s key that we got to decide that between us, and that he’s being an advocate of that way of doing things with his mom, who is really freaked out that some family members who aren’t invited will be mad at her.

          • Ali

            It’s really nice to hear that I’m not the only one in this spot! Thank you for sharing :]

        • Andi

          I think it helps to remember that after you say “I Do,” his family is your family too! I’ve been lucky to meet (and like) many of the members of my fiance’s HUGE extended family, and he likes all 6 people in my tiny family.

          I don’t know if this is something you’re dealing with, but we’ve come up for a compromise on who gets corsages/boutonnieres. I want my only aunt and uncle to get them, but we can’t give them to all 14 sets of aunts and uncles on his side – so his god-parents (who are among the aunts and uncles) will get them.

        • I’m going to chime in on the other side–I think what she wants is fair, especially if you are otherwise entirely comfortable with her paying.

          I have a lot less aunts and uncles then my husband, and a lot more close friends. We split our head count in half, because we both felt that was fair. It was hard, sometimes, having people each of us could not invite, but it worked out.

          Maybe he can invite some of his family as part of the 50 friends?

          Also, define immediate family, does he have more than 50 aunts and uncle, parents and grandparents? Can he cut off at cousins that don’t live at home? Or something?

          Or if it really is make or break for him that more than 50 family members be invited, then I think you need to see how you feel/what you can afford about paying for the wedding yourself, because if your mother is paying then you can’t really put your foot down.

          On the flip side, having a smaller amount of aunts and uncles by blood didn’t really make a difference, because since I have a smaller family there are friends who have been there my whole life, been there when my mom was sick, been who we spent holidays with. They count at least as much to me.

    • Emily

      One thing I wish I had known when I was putting together my (~50 person) wedding guest list is that not 100% of the people you invite will come. I know this sounds obvious, but because it was such a small list (and the people on it were all either family or close close friends) I wanted to make sure there would be room in the budget for everyone on the list to come, and so I planned the whole thing as though absolutely everyone would be attending. This might be different if people don’t have to travel to your wedding, but if they do, not everyone on the list will actually be able to make it, which might give you a little wiggle room with the numbers.

    • Laura

      Agreed, more specifics about exactly the nature of your mom’s concerns are needed to give more specific advice, but I can say this from my personal experience with Parent vs. Guest List:

      My dad actually was seriously freaking out right after Brian and I got engaged because he thought that, if we weren’t having the wedding (that he was paying for) in my hometown (which we’re not), none of his friends would come, leaving him/”our side” underrepresented (we don’t have whole ton of extended family members, but the groom does).

      This issue was, it turns out, a figment of his imagination. Ever since we started planning and he started telling his cronies about the location, date, etc., they’ve been overwhelmingly supportive and have made it very clear that they want to be there.

      So, of course, it is *impossible* to know who from your guest list will come to your wedding – you may end up being totally disappointed, but you may end up being totally amazingly surprised. But, if you want to get a better feel for who might actually come, or even try to encourage certain guests to attend, there is nothing wrong with A) personally telling them, like with your voice not a piece of paper, that you are super excited about hopefully having them there at the wedding – this will make them feel special and get them excited, too; B) getting verbal (albeit non-binding) pre-RSVPs. This way you and your mom can base your guest list predictions on actual information instead of rampant speculation.

      Is this advice at all relevant to your guest list woes??

    • Alicia

      Our morning/afternoon wedding was awesome! The reception ended at 5pm. The parents in attendance seemed to appreciate having an easier time bringing a sitter, the out-of-town people had enough energy the next day to tour DC or make more flights back home. A wedding earlier in the day was a great choice for us.

    • Jessica

      In terms of timing – I’m Catholic but I’ve only been to a couple of Catholic weddings w/o a Mass, I’m guessing 30-45 minutes is about right.
      If possible, I would put the ceremony time at 11:45 on the invitations. I think one of the wedding scheduling posts had an “invite start time” and a “actual start time” because you never want to start while Grandma is stuck in traffic or something.
      Also, I think it would be worth talking to the officiant and letting him know your time frame. Depending on the priest/deacon, just telling him that your reception has to start at 1 might be all the information he needs…or you might have to be more explicit and diplomatically explain that while you appreciate the spiritual guidance he can offer in his homily, you’d appreciate it being relatively brief. :) Better an awkward conversation in advance then be sitting there dying of impatience during a 20-minute homily!!

    • Sometimes, it’s totally ok to get a hotel instead of crashing with parents. It costs money, but it might be worth it in terms of mental sanity (for both of you). Having a safe, quiet, non wedding-crazy space might be critical. If he’s an introvert, this goes double

  • Brenda

    I have a very practical question: I know there some other London readers here (I’ve seen your wordless weddings!). We just got our DIY invites designed, and I’ve realised I have no idea where or how to print them. I don’t really have access to a good printer or the desire to do it myself, but I’m concerned if I take them to any random print shop I’ll end up with crappy paper. All my internet research is turning up places that do bulk printing for companies, which doesn’t seem like what I need.

    Does anyone in London have any suggestions for places that will do a great job for not a ton of money?

    • kc

      Not in London, but the vast (VAST) majority of printing places will be happy to have you print on your own paper, as long as it’s paper that’s meant to be printed on by normal printers (generally: no embedded pressed flowers and ragged edges). If you call around a couple local places for prices (“so, if I have you print 50 pages in [black and white/color] on [cardstock/paper] I bring in myself, from a print-ready file in PDF format, what would be the total cost?”), it should become readily evident which places do this (along with what your best deal is likely to be…).

      You can also ask them what papers they have in stock and for what prices, if you do not want to find your own paper.

      (obviously, though, people in London who have printed their own invitations: chime in!)

      • Brenda

        Thanks! I was looking into where I could get good paper and have found some places, but I wasn’t sure if that was a thing that print shops did or if they’d laugh at me if I asked about bringing my own paper. Don’t know why I’m constantly feeling like I’m asking favours of my vendors when I’m the one paying them, but that’s a whole other issue :)

        • kc

          Print shops definitely do this. If you call the one (or possibly two) that are run by cranky we-only-do-this-our-way-and-you-must-pay-with-chickens-or-goats sorts of people, call another one or two. (and seriously, getting pricing is good – there’s a wide range of fees)

    • LondonSarah

      Now here is a question that I actually can answer! It depends what you mean by ‘nice’ paper. I had ours done by Hobs on Bowling Green Lane, EC1 on their 300gsm smooth paper, but this was a modern look, which complemented the design. If you’re after something with some texture then go and talk to the printer first and find out how heavy they can go and most of them will put your paper through their machines if it’s something like cartridge or watercolour paper.

      The things I learned (doing this and 5 years at architecture school):
      – The maximum weight of paper that most printers can put through photocopier-type machines is 300gsm.
      – This was a little lighterweight than I’d have ideally liked, but I wasn’t prepared to pay extra for 400gsm as it requires a different printing process (offset or litho I think, which has minimum quantities and is more expensive).
      – Inkjet is a better quality. If you are really fussy then buy coated matt inkjet paper and print your own (or indeed ask a printer to, but their injet printers are set up for A1 and A0 printing so this won’t necessarily be efficient), but remember that you can’t write on coated inkjet paper as it will screw up the pen you try to use.
      – I had 50 invites printed, which were A5 double sided, full colour (well, I mean the design was blue, grey and black, but that counts as full colour), and set them up on A3 pages, which were printed and then chopped down to A5 by the printer (I think I probably put light crop marks on the pdf but I don’t think that’s actually necessary, they know what size A5 is), and paid I think £40 for the lot.
      – The print quality at Hobs was better than either ABC Mediashore in Clerkenwell (who are our office printers) or Online Repro in Islington (who we used to use for work).
      – All of these places are set up for printing for companies, but all of them will take orders from someone walking in off the street (all of the above print for a lot of the architecture and design students – don’t go in at the end of term or you’ll be in a massive queue behind stressed people will huge sheets of tracing paper!), but will probably want you to pay cash.
      – Go and ask them to print you a test copy, if you don’t like it you don’t have to get the rest done there. They will also give you a sheet of their heaviest weight paper (matt/satin/gloss) to look at/take away if you ask.

      I hope that helps! Good luck with it.

    • JES

      I have a follow-up question to this. Anyone not do inside/outside envelopes? I’m only doing one envelope for my invites and I have surprisingly strong feelings against addressing my invites to “Mr. & Mrs. John Doe.” Would you do “Mr. & Mrs. Doe” or “John & Jane Doe?”

      • Elena

        We just did one envelope on our invites, and we addressed them as Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe. Because I would not have been able to handle the Mr. and Mrs. John Doe thing either. Shudder. I get so angry when mail comes addressed to my husband and I that way (and that’s only partially because neither of us changed our last names when we married).

        • JES

          Thanks Elena!! I’m glad to know that I’m not the only person thinking about this seemingly small, but important to me, detail :)

      • We just used one external envelope and varied how we addressed them based on age and relationship. Most friends got “John and Jane Smith,” older or more traditional couples got “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and families got “The Smith Family.” Worked okay for us.

      • Hypothetical Sarah

        Like Elena, we addressed our envelopes as “Mr. & Mrs. John and Jane Doe”. I had a bunch of lady-friends who had just finished med school; I really enjoyed writing “Dr. and Mr. Jane and John Doe” on theirs.

        For escort cards at the wedding, we dropped the titles altogether and used “Jane and John Doe”.

        • Sara

          You’re not alone. It took me about a week to come up with a system so that I could be consistent. I love formality, but was not going down the “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” route.

          We will be addressing invitations (with only one envelope) to Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe. I have a few Dr. and Mr. as well and am following Emily Post’s rule that the higher ranking title always goes first, no matter the gender. I also loved someone’s solution for married friends who are both women: The Mesdames Doe.

  • Kelly

    I am getting married in less than five months, almost all of the preparations are made, but we still don’t have an officiant. AKA, the one thing that really matters about the wedding – ACTUALLY GETTING MARRIED – still isn’t solved. And I’m starting to freak out about it.

    At first, I didn’t even want to actually get married at our actual wedding. For me, the wedding was about community and commitment, and we could worry about the legal stuff separately. My fiance was down, but our mothers not so much. They were insistent that it wasn’t a wedding without the formal announcement at the end of the ceremony, and would not budge. So we’re getting married on the day of, fine, we can do it our way…

    Except so far, we can’t. I have not found a solution I like! I really thought we could do a self-binding marriage, but not legal in NY, and it’s far too late to change the location. Have a friend get ordained? Sure! Except that none of those options feel right. Our closest people are in our wedding party, and we want them to be – standing beside us, not actually performing the ceremony. We want nothing religious at all, so that’s out, and while we know a couple people who are justices of the peace, they are our parents friends, and it becomes very difficult to involve them with out “favoring one side over the other” and a whole other host of issues that are sort of lurking in the background. We have looked into hiring someone, but it’s often out of our price range and frankly, I’m hesitant to include a stranger in this most intimate of moments.

    My new boss is a wedding officiant, and I like her a lot and feel like she could be an okay option, but it does seem a bit strange to ask a colleague whom I’ve known for just a few months to fill the role.

    Thoughts or suggestions? Help!

    • MG

      We had a similar issue – we have a friend who we want to marry us, but he cannot legally do it. We considered having a Justice of the Peace step in at the end to say the legally binding stuff, but that didn’t feel right to us. Ultimately, we’ve decided to do a City Hall civil ceremony with immediate family and wedding party on the day before the “community” wedding. (I share your feelings – I feel like I’m going to feel Married when we say vows in front of our community, not when I sign papers at City Hall.) Is an earlier, separate event a possibility for the moms? Whip out the license at the end of your wedding?

      If not, I think your new boss could be a great neutral choice. From your post, it sounds like she’s the person you’re gravitating toward as opposed to your friends and parents’ friends. I think if you explain your situation (you’d like a trusted acquaintance to perform your wedding ceremony), she’ll understand and you won’t appear to be stepping over the line. I mean, she didn’t hide the fact that she’s a wedding officiant, did she? I think she’d be flattered.

      Good luck!

      • rys

        I agree — your boss sounds like a reasonable, safe, neutral choice. And if this is something she does for other people, then presumably she’s a professional about it and it won’t matter how long you’ve known her.

        Another option — and this may sounds nuts — could be a military/VA/hospital chaplain. They’re ordained and thus have the power to wed people but most of them officiate at enough weddings that aren’t their religion that they’re able and willing to do non-religious ceremonies.

    • C

      You mentioned justices of the peace but were concerned you would be favoring a side of the fmaily. One suggestion is that, at least in my state, most counties post online the judges in that county who perform ceremonies…maybe give those a call (or call your local county courthouse to inquire if they keep such a list?) I don’t know if that would be price prohibitive. You said you had looked at hiring someone, so I apologize if that means you’ve already pursued this avenue…

      • Kelly

        That’s smart – I had never thought of that! Especially since we’re getting married outside our own county, we live in NYC so looking for people based outside the city always helps with price!

        You are all so wonderfully thoughtful, btw. Thanks! :o)

    • steph

      My gut reaction to the new boss option is–possible yikes. We ended up lucky enough to have a family friend officiate (childhood friend of my father-in-law, former priest, has presided over secular weddings as well). We didn’t have the apparent territory/favoring issues that you’re dealing with, sorry that you are having such trouble finding someone neutral! Here were the things I appreciated most about our experience, not actually in rank order:

      1. I didn’t know him ahead of time but we did what felt like premarital counseling-lite; some short conversations about “why marriage” and values, etc. that led into our approach to the ceremony. Think this could be potentially really awkward with your new boss, depending on your relationship with her now and the relationship you hope to have with her in the future. These conversations were super personal for us. And useful.

      2. He had justifications for the various components of the ceremony, which gave us an outline of components to consider including, and made it way easier to think about what language we wanted to use in each component.

      3. He did all the leg work on the logistics, making sure California would recognize him as an officiant, dealing with the County Clerk’s office and marriage license, etc.

      4. He gave us the family friend rate, i.e., my father-in-law covered his hotel (and maybe his travel? not part of those conversations so not sure) and he didn’t charge us for his time/services.

      If you can find someone affordable, I would encourage you to consider the “stranger” option–as long as you spend a little time talking with them ahead of time about who you guys are and why you are getting married and what you want your ceremony to look like, they won’t feel like a stranger at your wedding. And there is something nice (I thought) about having someone with some experience standing there so they don’t get flustered by the hugeness of what you’re doing or by the crowd or by public speaking.

    • Celia

      Are you or your fiance close to any of your friends’ parents? My best friend’s father acted as our officiant, and it was really wonderful. We also considered a couple of friends who were a bit older and had served in “mentor” capacities for one or both of us. Are there activities that you and your fiance participate in together, and is there someone from one of those activities that you’d be comfortable asking? I’m thinking along the lines of a coach, a choir conductor, or a leader of a volunteer organization. Good luck! (Also, try not to stress about the timing–our original officiant plans fell through and we asked our friend’s father about a month before the wedding, and everything was perfect!)

    • Emily

      I would vote to go w/ a justice of the peace that’s a friend of one of your parents’ then try to balance that perhaps with something special in your ceremony from the other person’s side. If the justice of the peace is your family’s friend, have your partner’s family do a special reading/community support statement etc. I have a judge doing our wedding and he’s a friend of the family – it really never occurred to me that it favored my family over my fiance’s – really I think people will know someone has to do the ceremony for you!

      OR – price it out. How much is getting a judge to do your ceremony? Maybe the price of hiring evens out the stress of this.

    • Laura

      Ack, we’re having the same exact problem, except our wedding is in 15 months, not 5. I totally wish we could do a self-binding marriage, too, but it’s not legal in DC. I really think the best thing would be to do a legal ceremony at the courthouse (like maybe the day before) and then just stand up there together and say vows with no officiant on the actual “wedding day.” But this is not OK with our family, and that matters to us. Blargh. And, annoyingly, our families (and random acquaintances, believe it or not) keep suggesting all sorts of suboptimal officiants (a part-time rabbi we’ve never met who lives 2 states away, my dad’s colleague who’s good at public speaking, my friend from college who they think is funny, etc. etc.). Rar, this needs to be *our* decision, since it’s a very personal one. So we’re probably just going to hire a retired judge or something, but rarrrr. Rarrrrrr. End of rant.

      • Kelly

        yes! Everyone seems to think we should just pick someone and offer a million suggestions, none of which feel right! Sigh. You will find the right thing – you have plenty of time. :o)

      • Laura C

        I went to a DC wedding where someone presided over the vows, but then in the newspaper announcement of the wedding it turned out that, someone else, one of the groomsmen, was the official officiant. So I have no idea how exactly that worked, but apparently someone who’s standing up there and does a reading but isn’t involved with the vows can be the person? Or maybe he’d officiated over a private ceremony and then this was the public one?

    • Kara E

      In NY, I’m pretty sure having a friend ordained isn’t legal either (I had some friends run into problems).

      • Depends on if you’re getting married in NY state (ordained friend is ok) vs. NY city (ordained friend must first register with the city as an officient).
        Check out health.ny.gov for the complete rules/regs.

        • Hypothetical Sarah

          If you’re using an ordained friend on Long Island, double check the regs. As recently as a few years ago, I know it wasn’t legal. I’m not sure if things have changed since then.

    • Erin

      What exactly does NY require your official officiant to do? Could conduct most of the ceremony yourselves, as a sort of ‘fake’ self-binding, and have the officiant do only what’s legally required (I’m guessing pronouncing you and signing things?)

      Or perhaps have different friends do different parts. One to give a little speech, one to do a reading, one to help you exchange vows.

      We think of the officiant as the person running everything, but I think that is more custom than legal requirement.

      • tess

        I am in a similar boat with feeling ambivalent about officiants. We were planning on asking a friend to do it (which wouldn’t require any ordaining as you can self-officiate in our state) but now I’m getting shy about it. The friend introduced us, and we adore him, but he lives in another state now and we aren’t in too regular contact and I am feeling this awkwardness about asking him to do it. It just feels like it might be more of an imposition and big task than I originally had thought, especially as I think through planning the totally non-religious and self-written ceremony with someone remotely who hasn’t done it before. Any one been on the other end of that, with friends asking you to officiate? Or asked a friend you’re not in too regular contact with?

    • Alexis

      We actually used a Justice of the Peace who we didn’t know much about until we “met” over the phone and then again in person. He ended up being really great and worth it for us because he was super flexible and supportive regarding the ceremony materials and he strongly encouraged us to write our own vows. But, I understand your concerns about the cost of hiring such a person as our guy charged a $500 service fee… Not cheap. If you’re not already at the breaking point for needing to make this decision, I recommend doing some more research and possibly interviewing a couple available officiants based near your wedding location. You might find someone you connect with AND can afford :)

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      At first, I didn’t even want to actually get married at our actual wedding.

      Taking a step back, what were you and your fiance picturing for your wedding before the mothers got involved? Were you planning to have a ceremony or just an awesome party? What did that ceremony look like?

      We eloped before our “real” wedding (which I super highly recommend! Is that an option for you?). Only a few people knew about our elopement; everyone else assumes that we signed papers at our wedding. Have you checked the list of APW wedding officiants? Maybe one of them works for you?

  • I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to ask this community for advice!

    My wedding is less than a month away, and I’m dealing with some dress drama. I ordered my dress from a small-time designer that mostly sells them online. I went in person to the showroom to try things on, and settled on a cute little number. There weren’t any tears or a big feeling about it being THE DRESS. But I liked it, and couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror.

    Fast forward to three weeks ago, when the dress arrived in the mail. But it wasn’t the right dress. The top was all wrong. Since then, I’ve been going back and forth with their lousy customer service…they are remaking the dress, and are very vague about the timeline. I’ve had to dig and beg for updates from them. I finally wrote an strongly-worded email asking for some distinct answers.

    The dress should be coming this week, but I feel sad about how the experience of finding and getting it hasn’t been the Magical Experience that I wanted it to be. Part of me doesn’t want to wear the dress because of all of the baggage of the frustrating process that went along with it. But it cost a pretty penny. And I have less than 28 days til the wedding.

    To me, the dress isn’t the most important part of the big day. But it’s the thing that all of my friends and co-workers keep asking me about, so I’m constantly reminded of how annoying this process has been! Any words of advice/perspective out there?

    • Moe

      Don’t let my story scare you.

      My dress arrived 24 hours before my ceremony. It was over 3 weeks late. The worry and stress over the dress gave me sleepless nights, made me cranky and I broke out in hives all across my chest.

      When the dress arrived I was on my way to buy a replacement dress with money I borrowed. I almost had two wedding dresses!

      The dress was just okay. It was what I ordered for the most part, it fit but was about 8 inches too long and I didn’t have time to get it altered. I walked down the aisle with the extra material gathered in my hands.

      It didn’t make one bit of difference. Everyone thought I looked beautiful. My husband thought I was beautiful. The pictures I’ve seen so far are beautiful. The day in it’s entirity was beautiful.

      The hype surrounding a wedding dress is just that, hype.

    • kc

      Potentially not possible, but… can you recast this in your head as an Adventure, or Story, instead of solely a Super Frustrating Thing? If you can laugh about it (or even just say “see, *this* is what I’m willing to go through to get married!”), you may have won, and the dress may be the representation of your cumulative efforts and how even things that totally don’t go according to plan can work together in your marriage.

      Or, y’know, depending on finances, you could just buy a different dress. :-)

      • YES to attempting to “recast” the situation. Try thinking about it from the perspective of the day after the wedding–assume it will turn out fine (it will!), how will you tell this story?

        I had one majorly frustrating snafu with my own planning, and managed not to strangle anyone or throw myself in a lake by genuinely laughing at myself/the situation. Like “hahaha wow. This is completely ridiculous. Who would have thought, right??” Yeah, I still had to make calls and juggle schedules and do the nitty gritty, but approaching it with a certain wryness as opposed to bitterness helped a lot.

    • Dress drama sucks, I hear you. (Ours included three states and reality tv, so I am somewhat of an expert.)

      I think there is so much anxiety tangled up with those Magical Experiences. Like, if it’s not the MOST SPECIAL THING EVER, am I doing it wrong? (Hint: you’re doing it right. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing it right.) Also, YMMV but personally, I realized I was displacing a lot of my anxieties about the wedding in general onto the logistical mess of getting the gown. It’s easier in some ways to concentrate on a physical object than the emotional enormity of what you’re about to do. So yeah, it’s frustrating to get crappy customer service, but don’t let that experience ruin the dress for you. I promise when you’re about to get married to the person you love, you won’t care about frustrating dress people. They can’t ruin this for you, b/c it’s going to be marvelous. Go be gorgeous.

      • Thanks for helping me put this in perspective, gang! It’s amazing how cathartic it is to simply share the story wih folks who really get it. You’re right – I need to reframe this as a Story, remember that the marrying my sweetie par is the Magical Experience, and go be gorgeous.

    • I am in the middle of my own dress drama with my own wedding less than a month away, and I’d like to offer up what I did as an option for you to consider: chuck that dress if you don’t want to wear it anymore and get a new one.

      Would it be possible for you to get a refund – or demand one – since they messed up so much? If so, you could just go to a department store and find something ready-to-wear that does make you feel happy and excited.

      My original dress also arrived not the same as what I’d tried on – it was a vague cousin of the dress I thought I was getting, but it was all wrong. I found out I could get credit and pick a new dress (I got mine at a big bridal store), I did that and felt much better about the whole thing.

      Also, none of the dress picking (either time) was a Magical Experience for me either. I like my new dress, and I think I look good in it, but I didn’t have a major emotional experience over it. I think that’s totally fine! It is, after all, a dress – which is a thing – and what really matters is the person you are marrying and the love you guys share. Which it sounds like you know.

  • KB

    Hooray wedding advice!! Ok, any advice on how to writing a ceremony??? We’re having our’s in a Presbyterian Church, but the minister is really chill and flexible about texts, readings, songs – which is kind of making it even more difficult because of the options! I think I know what readings we like, but I’m having trouble filling the rest of the ceremony. The issues are these:

    1) I love the idea of a unity candle or wine box rite or something – but whenever I’ve seen these in other weddings, they end up being REALLY awkward. Like, the couple lights the unity candle, which takes 10 seconds, but they have Ave Maria playing in the background, which goes on for like 5 minutes, so everyone just ends up standing there giggling nervously. Any suggestions for short interludes here? Or something to make it more visually interesting?

    2) Speaking of songs, I also don’t want any soloists, but I still want singing. Any suggestions for songs all of the guests can sing? Preferably more religious/hymn (we’re having pop songs as prelude, pro/recessional, but I’m trying for more balance for the ceremony itself since we’re in a church) – I was thinking something like “On Eagle’s Wings,” sounds pop-like but it’s a hymn, you know?

    3) Has anyone had a Presbyterian wedding service? How long does it usually last? I’m used to full Catholic masses that go on for over an hour – ideally, I would like the ceremony to be 30-45 minutes. However, the minister’s homily is SUPER short – any ideas on lovely or creative ways to extend the time without it feeling like it’s dragging on forever? (sidenote – I know some people will say to just let the ceremony go on organically, even if it’s 15 minutes, but that’s not my style, I want it to feel substantial and not “Whoa, that was fast!”)

    • Sarah

      A friend of mine and her now-husband had different important people from their lives line up on either side (I think it was childhood friend, high school friend, college friend, grandparents, parents–something like that) and pass/light small candles until it wound up at them and then they lit the unity candle together. I liked the idea that you bring in more of your community to show who has shaped you, and I think it’d take more time. Also–who says you need to have music on when you light anything if you don’t want.

    • Tall Kate

      1) I’m always a fan of the sand ceremony. Another one I’ve seen just on APW is a water ceremony, where water is poured over people’s hands as some kind of unity symbol. Also, working with your musician to crop down whatever musical interlude you have during this time should take care of the lag time between end of ceremony and end of song, especially if they’re not in the rafters playing organ.

      2) As a Catholic in upbringing I’m not sure if this is Presbyterian, but “Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet” is a very easy and lovely song. Plus the whole “illuminating the path in life” thing ties into marriage/weddings pretty well.

      3) Readings are a GREAT way to “plump up” the service. Also, have you thought about a ring passing ceremony? That’s where you pass your wedding rings to everyone in the crowd before they get to you. It’s Quaker in origin, but I’ve seen it in all kinds of services!

      • I LOVE the idea of a ring passing ceremony.

        Y’all, the more I hear about Quaker traditions (usually here), the more I think about seriously becoming a Quaker.

        • Here to say we did a ring-warming/passing during a reading and then our vows and everyone LOVED it. I recommend this if you want to emphasize a communal spirit during your ceremony.

          As for writing, I did a lot of googling of people’s ceremonies (mostly on individuals’ wedding blogs, and the APW and Offbeat Bride resources), borrowed a few books that didn’t help very much, sent my partner things that resonated, then we sat down with all the stuff and pared it down until we had a ceremony.

          Writing your own ceremony seems really daunting in theory but in practice I found it to be a lot of fun and a nice affirmation of why we were actually getting married.

          • Becca

            I think I reported you on accident – definitely didn’t mean to! But while I have you here, could you give me a sense of how long a ring-warming might take? We will have close to 200 people, so it might not work out, but I love the idea!

    • Hannah

      I am getting married in October, and I’ll share with you what we are doing.

      For our unity ceremony, my fiance and I are singing/playing a song together. Music is a huge part of what brought us together, and my fiance is a professional musician, so this fits into our interests and skill sets. We are also doing a ring warming ceremony toward the beginning.

      There will be lots of music in our ceremony, but we are only doing one “everyone sings” song, which is “Down To The River To Pray” from “O Brother Where Art Thou?”.

    • 1) My fiance and I are doing a stone blessing ceremony. Everyone will take a stone when they arrive at the wedding ceremony, and hold them in their hands. Our officiant will prompt them to make a silent wish or blessing for our marriage, and then we’ll gather the stones together and put them in to a glass bowl while my brother plays a song. I think the timing will work well because there’s the gathering of the stones, and then putting them in the container. We picked this type of ceremony because in our relationship we want to maintain our individual identities and our identity as a couple. And we felt the unity was more “2 become 1” than what resonates with us. This way, we’ll have a beautiful bowl of smooth stones representing all of our friends & family and their support for our marriage. Just an idea!

    • Moe

      I have a different take on this. Do what you want because it’s meaningful and significant to you and your partner. The ceremony is a aknowleding that two people are committing their lives to one another. It is not a show that needs to be filled with content to entertain an audience.

      My ceremony was 25-30 minutes in length. We had one reading. The pastor said a few words about marriage but he crafted something that incorporated how we met and our history together. It was funny and so unique to the two of us. It was awesome.

      The pastor who married us met with us a month in advance and explained that he doesn’t like long ceremonies because (and I thought this was so beautiful) that when two people are joined together there is something so beautiful and significant in that moment that is intense and intimate. He prefers it only last for a few moments and then it should end. To drag it out too long takes the spark out of it.

      • KB

        Thanks Moe – like I said, I knew that some people would say that we should just let the time chips fall where they may. I should have rephrased because by “filling up” I didn’t mean that I wanted something that would just entertain people. Our minister actually doesn’t know us at all so I’m trying to think of things to add that will give it that personal touch. I appreciate all of the suggestions for things to incorporate that make it substantial and – I should have said – meaningful. Going for length AND substance here!!

        Tall Kate – I think more and more I’m leaning towards the ring passing ceremony. Aside from being worried that someone will drop them (guess I could always put them in a velvet bag or something?), I’m worried that it’ll take forever – but that actually might be a nice thing to incorporate during a song or something. But I also love Sarah’s idea about passing the light – I’d have to see if the church would let us do that, but I could imagine it being very poingnant and beautiful.

        • Moe

          Ahh I see! Ask your offciant if you can meet to have a pre-planning talk. It might help the both of you, even if it’s just a chat over coffee. It might alleviate some of that stranger awkwardness. Also, there’s a whole open thread on vows. It’s somewhere on APW, sorry I can’t find the link.

          The whole idea of our ceremony was bringing our collective communitites together so I added a group declaration where the offciant asked our guests to stand and say “We Will!” if they agreed to support us in our marriage. Some of our guests shouted “Si se puede” (Spanish for Yes We Can) instead. :)

          • KB

            OOH, I like that, the collective declaration – I was actually trying to think of other ways to work around the traditional “Who gives this woman…” thing, that’s lovely.

          • we did something similar to that declaration with our families/closest friends – had them come up and give their blessing/support. i think the words we used were “willingly and without reservation” – first asked of us, and then of our family.

            almost all of our ceremony (including that) was crafted from google searches – i just looked up ceremonies and copied text i liked. we scrapped some, kept some, rewrote some. it seemed really disorganized and we definitely didn’t know what we were doing, but crafting it together that way made for a perfect ceremony (in my mind).

          • LondonSarah

            This was a standard part of the Church of England ceremony that we had (or maybe an optional part that our vicar offered) – first our parents were asked if they supported us in our marriage, and then the whole congregation. You may be able to google for the exact text.

          • Rebecca

            We did the collective declaration thing too, and it was my favorite part. We stole the question off the APW vows open thread- “The Celebrant then addresses the congregation, saying
            Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?
            People We will.”

            I can probably find our whole ceremony text if it would be helpful- we went the short and sweet route- few words from the officiant, community affirmation, vows, ring text, married, done.

    • Kara E

      We designed our own (Methodist) ceremony, which followed the standard liturgy with some readings/prayers etc. from other traditions. Pretty similar to the Presby service. It was probably 25-30 minutes and felt “substantial.” 2 scripture readings, one responsive reading (the psalm), 2 hymns with meaning to both of us (including Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring). No soloists, but an awesome organist who played amazing processional and recessional music. I have what my minister-friend referred to as the Chinese menu guide to wedding ceremony planning (pick one from column a, one from column b). If you’re interested in this and think your celebrant would be ok with some self-design, I’m happy to share what we used for planning purposes: kaysa1 [at ] hotmail

    • We did a “wine and chocolate” unity ceremony. Basically we had a family member come up and give a little spiel- we both took a bite of the chocolate to represent the sweet parts of life, and then we each took a sip of red wine to represent the bitter parts. It was nice because we didn’t have to go awkwardly stand with our backs to everyone or have music that is too long, and also we managed to include booze and chocolate into our ceremony!

      • Kris

        that has to be the most awesome idea I’ve ever heard! Too bad we already got married, I just told him I may otherwise have found a way to include this. :)

      • Anon

        Would you be able to give us more detail on the spiel? We love this idea and are getting married at a winery!

        • Ya it was awesome! You can google it and find a couple of examples (can’t remember exactly where I found it) but this is the basic script we used:

          There will come in your life days of great sweetness, and days of bitter sorrow. There will be celebrations, and there will be tears. There will be triumphs, and there will be tragedies. Life holds indescribable happiness in store for you both – and unavoidable pain, as well. And so to symbolize your acceptance of this reality, today you will share the bitter and the sweet, just as you will share them in the years to come. Both of you will now share this bitter, dark chocolate. Taste in it the dark days which will rock your marriage and test its strength. It represents disappointment, illness, grief. Know that these hard times will come, and with them, the opportunity to deepen your bond as husband and wife

    • Erin

      1. Unity candle – I was in the same boat. I love the idea, hate the waiting. I wasn’t going to do it at all, but my brother, who was our officiant, talked me into it. He said ‘the unity candle is actually a time for you and R to catch your breath in the middle of the ceremony and spend some time together.’ He was right.

      So. We put together a slide show that played while we stood there. We had our little break and lovely symbolism, they had something to watch, and it was set to a song that makes me a little sniffly. I think it worked out well.

      3. My experience with weddings outside of Catholic masses is that they last how long you want them to, but usually about 30 minutes. The flex time is typically in readings and your officiant’s speech. Some talk forever. Some don’t talk at all. Your officiant should be flexible according to what you want.

      If you want to flesh it out, readings are a good way. I totally get you on not wanting to feel like you blinked and it was over.

    • eulalia

      I am Presbyterian born and raised, and I don’t think you should have any problem finding lots of lovely hymns to sing. There is a Presbyterian Hymnal that the church should have. Some of my favorites are “For the beauty of the Earth” (it was the song that was sung in the movie of Little Women-wedding scene), Morning Has Broken (also a pop version by Cat Stevens), Amazing Grace, Lord of the Dance (Simple Gifts), Ode to Joy, and many others. The church should have an organist or music director that you can talk to (and hopefully they offer for you to have them play at the wedding). The nice thing about many of these hymns are that they were written so that people could memorize them easily, which means that they are relatively easy to sing along to for those guests that are unfamiliar with the music. Seriously, find Morning has broken on youtube – so beautiful. There are also some more modern hymns in a supplemental hymnal that speak a more contemporary language, talking about things like being inclusive of everyone, etc.

      I think Presbyterian services last a minimum of about 20 minutes, but could go longer depending on what you want to add. I have no idea if you feel close to Celtic traditions (Presbyterian is the US version of Church of Scotland), but handfasting or quaitch cup could be nice.

      Let me know if you need anything else specifically Presbyterian… I am planning a Presbyterian ceremony for next year! Congrats!

  • Jessica

    I have an unexpected invited-himself guest.

    Here’s background: My Fiance and I are having a really small wedding–just us, my parents, and his parents/siblings. That’s it. We’ve been having some communication issues with the priest who is marrying us, so I wrote to the priest who married my parents/baptized me/that I’ve been in contact with a bit over the years to ask his advice. Turns out he has moved quite close to where we are, and, after giving me advice, asked if he could come to our wedding.

    If we were having a larger gathering (even 15+ people), this would be no problem. But it’s so small that it just feels like another person to worry about…he won’t be bringing a date, so he won’t have anyone to talk to. Also, everyone else is sort of processing in…what will he do? Those are small details, I know, but it just seems awkward.

    Another thing to consider is that our sets of parents haven’t met yet…they’ll be meeting for the first time a few days before the wedding. That’s stressful enough without worrying about another personality to deal with (so to speak). I’m also worried about his parents being upset that my “side” has a family friend there and they don’t.

    So here are the options:
    1. Invite him to the ceremony (and probably to our informal lunch at the church beforehand), but not to the reception (we’re having dinner at a restaurant that has a private room that only seats 8 people–so our “seating chart” would become kinda awkward as well). Also I’m worried enough about conversation flow without one more person in the mix (again, something that wouldn’t be an issue if there were more people) especially because our families will be so new to each other.

    2. Invite him to the ceremony and the reception despite above awkwardness.

    3. Tell him that I’d love him to be there, but explain the intimacy of the gathering and the personality issues (families just meeting, his family not thrilled with the small wedding, his family has been kinda judgey of me, etc).

    4. ??

    Any help appreciated!

    • I don’t think you even have to explain your reasoning, unless you feel it’s necessary. Yes, it’s really awkward to have to tell people no, they can’t come (especially if you’d love for them to be there under different circumstances), but I think if your replied saying no, as it will be a family-only event, he’d completely understand.

      • Jessica

        Thank you so much for your help!

        I’m glad you (and others) think that it’s okay if I say no! I was feeling like I couldn’t.

    • Brenda

      I would think that if he’s an understanding guy, and it sounds like he is if you’ve kept in touch with him and feel comfortable going to him for advice, that he would understand that you’re only having immediate family at the wedding. You don’t even have to go into the personality issues, just say that you really appreciate him wanting to come and his advice, but you’ve decided to only have your immediate family at the wedding for various reasons.

      Maybe if you’re planning on having a reception-style party later for more people he can come to that, or maybe your parents could have him over to lunch with the two of you later to catch up and see photos?

      • Aubry

        Sorry! I accidentally reported you! I was trying to get my silly mobile device to stop grabbing bits of text. Can we get a confirmation window for that meg?

    • I vote three. But stop at the intimacy of the gathering in your explanation. That’s enough.

      • KE

        Agreed. I think most people, upon hearing, “Oh, I am so touched that you would be interested in attending, but actually we’re keeping it tiny– just siblings and parents,” would 100% get it. I would be mortified if I showed up to a wedding and was the only non-relative.

    • Jessica

      Just curious, would you want him to perform the ceremony and / or take on a role in the ceremony?

      • Jessica

        I would LOVE that, but he’s recently retired and I don’t think he’s willing to–if he was willing, I think he would have hinted at that or, since he’s more bold than I would have thought inviting himself, said so outright.

        He recently moved quite close to where we are–before he was a pretty long flight away as opposed to a rather short drive–so though we considered it, it didn’t seem feasible (cost of plane ticket + hotel, etc). We didn’t learn he had moved so close until about 2 weeks ago (it’s a little over 1 month until the wedding itself).

        • Jessica

          Ah, ok. Makes sense. Good luck — best wishes for you & your future hubby’s special day!

          • Emilie

            I wonder if it may be a blessing for him to crash. Sometimes priest-y types can be very helpful at restoring peace in tense family situations simply by being present.

            You totally don’t HAVE to let him come, but it sounds like his attendance could be helpful that day.

    • Kara E

      I’d start with the first half of option 3 and just explain that you’re planning this to be family only. More information than that isn’t really necessary.

    • A polite, but firm “no” is appropriate here. If you’d like to add a reason, just explain that in order to keep things fair/even/undramatic etc, you and your fiance decided to limit the guest list to immediate family. Having a “rule” may not make the excluded parties happy, but at least it’s a concrete reason.

      At least that’s what I told myself about my immediate-family only wedding!

  • Tall Kate

    I’m getting married this Saturday (YAAAAAAAY/I’M SO READY TO BE MARRIED AND NOT PLANNING A F**KING WEDDING ANYMORE), and everything logistically is good to go. My concern is with one of my guests.
    He’s coming to the wedding, and has just gone through a rough breakup with another friend of ours who is attending the wedding. He’s not in great shape mentally right now, and has been lashing out at my fiance and me because we aren’t available to see him every day right now. Both P, my fiance, and me work and are planning a long-distance wedding. I’m not a very confrontational person, but could use some Midwest-friendly tips on how to talk with him about this. Also some comforting words that it’s okay to be concerned about this, or a kick in the pants if it isn’t. Love this community! Yay APW!

    • Moe

      First of all, you are going to be so happy and tired when this is over!!! Yay!!!!

      I had two brothers who are feuding (court battle, not speaking, money owed, families split down the middle taking sides, big stuff going on). I was nervous about them being in the same room and how everyone would mix together since everyone took sides.

      There was no drama, yay! BUT in preparation of something possibly going down, I talked to my Day-Of Coordinator about all of it. I told her she had the freedom to deal with as she saw fit. I trusted her to handle it, that’s what she was paid for.

      There was a plan set in place to handle it all, luckily it wasn’t needed. Perhaps your friend needs someone to keep him company, keep an eye on him, cut off his alcohol if necessary. You do not need to babysit him, he is not your responsibilty on your wedding day.

      • Tall Kate

        Thank you for the reassurance! I’m going to talk to a few friends to handle this, and maybe the bartender to also keep an eye on him.

    • KB

      Ohhh, I feel your pain – it is NOTHING but awkward when your friend breaks up with another friend, but when circumstances beyond your control force your absence and they take it out on you? Ugh. It is TOTALLY okay to be concerned about this because, first, he’s your friend, and second, it’s generating a lot of negative energy during what SHOULD be a happy time. One suggestion – is he part of a circle of friends of your’s? Is there a way that you can get one of those people to take point on this for this week? Have that person call him to check up on him, be his phone buddy, take him out to dinner/the bar, hang with him during the reception. Basically, redirect his attention away from you guys as caretakers. Even if it’s one of your bridal party members, it could be their “emergency duty” as an attendant.

      If that doesn’t work, I think you may just have to let go – and come to grips with the fact that you can’t be there with him and he’ll be pissed at you for it, but you are in the right. He’s an adult and it’s your wedding, you should not have to sacrifice your very limited time during this once-in-a-lifetime period when he’s lashing out at you like that. Hopefully, one day, he’ll realize what a jack@#$ he was, but that will be a while from now. You can express your concern and compassion without having him take control of your and your fiance’s life – and he will have to just deal with that.

      • Tall Kate

        Thank you so much! I’ve had moments of fantasizing about saying things like “You are not the most important person in the world right now!” and the like to him, but having some empathy from people is much more calming than picking a fight with him would be I’m guessing. :)

        • KB

          Totally – it can be so hard being empathetic sometimes because you feel his pain but you’re also like, “Hey, why can’t YOU feel MY pain and realize that I’m a little BUSY right now???” It’s not that you don’t care or need to minimize his trauma – I’m sure that, if it were a random Tuesday or, hell, even Christmas or something like that, you’d be there for him. But, this is YOUR moment and right now, and you, literally, do not have the time to give to him. And, while he is entitled to his feelings about the matter, he does NOT have the right to demand that you give him that time. It’s hard (and kind of sad but necessary) to say, but part of growing up is realizing that the world keeps spinning when you’re down and your friends and family aren’t just YOUR friends and family – they’re their own people. Many hugs to you, at any rate!

  • Also Ali

    I have been thinking about writing into the advice column for this, but it didn’t seem… big enough?

    I am pre-engaged, and it’s driving me a little insane. My guy likes to take his time and make his decisions slowly (omg, SO slowly!). I love him. I am positive he loves me. I know we will get married someday. He says he wants to marry me.

    But the waiting. Dear god, it is killing me. For one thing, I am starting to feel like I will literally be the Last Person Ever to get engaged. To the point that no one will even care any more. I just found out that another person I know is engaged. I should be happy for them, but it’s hard.

    Also, we had talked about getting engaged before, but he was just randomly talking about maybe some time and I thought it was more concrete than that. And I got really hurt and felt (still feel sometimes) very very stupid about it.

    The pre-engaged articles on this webpage have meant SO much to me. But still, sometimes, I feel like the waiting is crushing my soul. And it is so upsetting. I’m having a tiny ugly cry right now.

    If you had to linger in the pre-engaged state, how did you cope?

    • Ellen

      I was pre-engaged for a long time- we were long distance and I didn’t see a way that we would get engaged while living apart, and then after moving in together, he apparently decided that a year was a good amount of time to see how we dealt with each other on a more frequent basis. He did not pass along that memo and the subsequent 15 months of waiting were pure torture. We were together 4 1/2 years before he proposed and by the time we get married we will have been together 6+ years.

      I think the thing that kept me okay with it was knowing that:
      1) I love him,
      2) he loves me, and
      3) we will be married someday.

      We had gotten to the point where we talked pretty openly and regularly about our future wedding, buying a house, kids, etc. and having that comfort of knowing that was the direction we were moving in, albeit slowly, was the big thing that kept me from ugly-crying on a regular basis.

    • Tall Kate

      I so feel you, lady. P and I were in pre-engaged for like…1 and a half years? Suuuucked. I remember when one of my best friends from college got engaged and I knew my frustration/angst had gotten out of control, because all I felt was jealousy even if I wasn’t a fan of her fiance.
      So what did I do? I sat my now-fiance down and asked some questions like where he’s at, what he thinks about me proposing, etc. P is an anxious guy, and he said he just was having a hard time logistically putting together a proposal even if we both want to get married, are a good match, etc. etc (he needed to get a family diamond for a ring to propose with, he felt, even if I didn’t care, other stuff). So, as is the ever-present advice here, TALK WITH HIM. See where he’s really at. He may be in a similar place P was, he may genuinely not feel ready to get married, or it could be a million other scenarios. You need to figure out which one it is by asking him.
      By the way, how did I cope? When I got too frustrated, I just proposed to P. And he said yes, and then said it was a relief not to have to plan a proposal now. :)

    • I was pre-engaged for four years (our 7th dating anniversary is 4 days before our wedding). I coped by reminding myself that though we were not married, we were picking each other, every day. I had some vent-sessions with friends. I had a small period of time where I thought we’d never get married and I did cry about that. However, our conversations indicated long-term partnership, so I realized later some of my panic was just that: panic. We talked a lot about our future together, even if it was “someday” terms and very vague, which was helpful.

      I do want to say that I believe that being happy for someone who is engaged wh ile you are pre-engaged IS hard. And it’s okay to have that feeling!

    • There are some great Ask Team Practical posts that deal with this, so after perusing those archives, I’m going with Tall Kate: TALK TO HIM.

      This is a huge life decision, and you both need to be on the same page. So tell him how frustrated you are and tell him what you need (concrete action steps!). And determine what the best course is for both of you. And the first action step does NOT need to be “buy ring.” It could be (like it was for me) “set up savings account.” Or, start a change jar towards ring/wedding stuff, and everytime it fills, make another decision. Or your next action step could be “Please read x,y,z APW articles and we shall discuss them Saturday afternoon over beer on a deck somewhere”

      You can certainly find the sweet spot between slow-decision-making and actionable items! Best of luck!

    • amy

      I am in this exact spot. We went and bought a ring a month ago and now we’re waiting for him to feel ready. It’s terribly antagonizing. Somedays, I’m so patient and understanding. I want nothing more than for him to feel good about the decision.

      Other days, I am antsy and pushy and impatient. Talking to him leaves him frustrated and feeling shame that he’s not ready. How can I engage him in conversation about this when he feels bad for not feeling ready? I’ve explained that’s not my intent.

      Ugh. frustration.

      • Also Ali

        I’m in the same place as you with the conversation. It’s hard to bring it up when I know it’s making him feel bad. But _I_ feel bad because of the limbo.

    • ZOO

      I totally feel you. I dealt with being pre-engaged a couple ways:

      1) Talking about it with him. I let him know I was pretty much ready, and asked why he wasn’t. This wasn’t easy, and ended with us both crying in the hallway at 1 AM with him wailing about how he couldn’t afford piano lessons for our hypothetical children on his current pay. BUT we got through it and it helped me understand that when I mentioned wanting to get married soon, he felt like a failure for not being ready.

      2) I found a little zen. I reminded myself that we would be married for much longer than we’d be unmarried, and those days were numbered. So I decided to enjoy “living in sin” for what it was, not just as a pit stop on the way to marriage.

      3) I proposed to him. This is definitely NOT right for all situations, but for mine it was good. After our finances improved a bit, I casually asked if he cared if he were the one to propose, and when he said he didn’t I promptly bought rings and proposed a couple months later. This may not be the right answer for you, but if it is, do it!

      I hope that helps. Hang in there.

    • Rachel

      You don’t mention what he’s waiting for, exactly, but getting to the heart of that helped me the most. And also figuring out why I DIDN’T want to wait helped a lot. I felt a lot of pressure to just accept his “I’m not ready” feelings as more valid than my “I’m ready” feelings but eventually I realized…no, we both had different timelines in our minds and we should talk about why we had those timelines and if they are based in reality or based in fear, assumptions, or cultural BS that needs to go. Figuring out what we both wanted and why was really helpful in figuring out the WHEN.

      • Also Ali

        Thank you for all the replies. It’s so helpful to talk to other people who have been or are in the same situation.

        We’re working on our communication. When we reached the point where I thought we were so close to being actually engaged and he finally admitted that he wasn’t ready– it was hard and so painful. I think I’m still working thru that hurt.

        It’s confusing to me on the one hand that he is taking so much time because he’s said in the past that marriage is not a big deal to him (I always let him know it is a big deal to me), so it feels odd that he wouldn’t be ready if it’s just an outdated social institution, yada yada.

        On the other hand, my guy takes a long time to decide anything. And we are both very conflict adverse, so these multiple what is the deal conversations are just a nightmare. I also relate to feeling like his feelings are more relevant than mine because he wants to wait.

        The ring is picked out and the last conversation we had ended with– when I give you a ring, then you’ll know I’m ready. Also, sometimes I feel like maybe it would be better to wait to get engaged so I have some distance from the hurt of the near miss earlier this year.

        I don’t know. It’s hard to think about.

        • Meghan

          First – EXACTLY to Sonarisa’s advice! I don’t think I could’ve written it better myself.

          I was pre-engaged for years; my fiance and I will have been dating for 7 years when we tie the knot this October! I went to some deep, dark mental places during that time, and I know it’s the hardest thing in the world sometimes not to lay down that ultimatum, to keep being patient and understanding and to watch (seemingly) everyone around you get engaged and married while you sit around waiting. But there IS a light at the end of the tunnel! Eventually, he will get there.

          In the meantime, my best advice is to:

          1) Talk about it! This can be hard as it’s easy to fall back into “Why aren’t you ready yet? Let’s do this already!” but if you can stay out of that, it really helps to talk about your someday-marriage and wedding. You guys have already answered the biggest question: yes, you want to marry each other. So talk about it, and have fun with it! It’s ridiculous to think that a pre-engaged person is somehow ‘crazy’ for wanting to talk about their future wedding and marriage. It’s a HUGE deal and can be a lot of fun! As an added bonus, I think talking about it in a low-pressue way really helped my fiance understand why it was so important to me and visualize all the wonderful stuff that goes with the commitment. Granted, it didn’t make him move any FASTER, but it was fun and took some of the loneliness out of the pre-engaged state while prepping us for the wedding planning journey we’re on now.

          2) Enjoy your life as it is right now. I’m echoing Zoo’s good advice above, and while this was one of the hardest things for me to do, it was so helpful at getting me back into a healthy place mentally and emotionally. As Zoo said, your ‘married’ days will way outnumber your ‘unmarried’ days – so be here now! Pursue career goals, take up hobbies, and don’t wait to get a dog or take a vacation. You don’t need to be married to do these things, and living your life right now will help get your mind off where it’s going in the future.

          Best of luck Also Ali! You will get there.

        • Marina

          On the “waiting feelings are more relevant than ready feelings”–I didn’t have this with pre-engagement but I did with pre-babies. What ended up working for me was both of us acknowledging that both of our feelings were important. That meant we weren’t going to do anything until he was ready, but also it meant I could talk about my feelings whenever I needed to. I had to be able to say, “This is hard for me to wait and here’s what I’m thinking about today” and he had to not get defensive or feel like me expressing my feelings was pressuring him.

          So like other people have said… talk about it. Tell him it’s hard for you, and you don’t want to pressure him to do anything you don’t want to do, but you want to be able to talk about what’s going on for you.

    • Rebekah

      You’re strong.

      First of all, you realize that you both want to be married to each other. Take solace in this as often as you can.

      Second, do what the other wise ladies are suggesting. Talk to him. Let him know when you’re having a harder day (e.g. when your friendquaintance gets engaged after 7 months of dating or everyone you know from high school has a baby or you’re jealous of a celebrity and can’t figure out why). Let him know why it’s hard, if you can pinpoint it. I would have saved myself a lot of waiting grief if I had just talked with my fellow at first and found out when he thought he’d like to get married (Hint: end of medical school) instead of guessing he’d feel like I did and want to get married as soon as I moved out to be near him.

      It’s been 5+ years total for us and basically 5 years since I knew he was the one for me, but we’re still a year away from a wedding and months from engaged. To have a time table set and to be looking into jewelry options have really helped me calm down.

      A good friend of mine has struggled similarly, but because her fellow’s parents were going through a divorce and it really shook his confidence in being able to be a husband. She’s had to be patient and supportive while he’s worked through that (because like I say to everyone who asks me WHEN?, You can’t marry someone who doesn’t want to be married), but it’s another set of things to wade through.

      As I like to say, “Lord, give me patience now!” :)

    • I understand. It doesn’t help to hear it all the time, but being pre-engaged kind of sucks. I was pre-engaged for over 1 year- as in we decided we were getting married, but he didn’t want to tell anyone until after we made it “official.” And he refused to make it official for …. over a year.

      It was a tough year. Over the course of 15 months, his brother met, proposed to, and married his now wife. We went to two other weddings- and people continuously asked me why we hadn’t gotten engaged yet (we had been dating for 3 years) but no one asked him.

      How did I cope?
      -A lot of talking- the idea that you can’t bring up engagement before being engaged was one of the most frustrating things for me, so I got rid of it as quickly as possible. I felt ridiculous and needy every time I brought it up, but in the long run it helped us work on communication.
      -Quite a lot of crying- I went through bouts of depression during this period. He loved me, and I knew he loved me, but I couldn’t reconcile that with his lack of action. He wasn’t able to tell me why he wanted to wait, which was also an issue. So I cried, and it helped a bit. The first time he saw me cry was 9 months in, and if nothing else it made him realize how much commitment meant to me.
      -Figure out what you need- To me, his lack of proposal was an issue because it made me feel like he didn’t want to publicly commit to me. I’ve had friends who needed a solid commitment so they could plan their futures. Figure out what you need, why you want a proposal, and talk about it.
      – Find others who understand. Being pre-engaged was the reason I started hanging out at APW. It was a community that actually acknowledged the pre-engaged, and the frustrations of that state. It’s empowering to know that you aren’t the only one going through this.

      And you’re not alone. And it gets better. Promise :)

    • LondonSarah

      Ha! Yes. Just hang in there. I knew my now husband was getting around to proposing but he takes f o r e v e r to makes some decisions and I didn’t want to hassle him so just tried to ignore the issue as best I could (though I may have been heard to whisper ‘maybe this is the year we get engaged then?’ in his ear at New Year). Have enough conversations about it that you can be sure he will do it and then just have faith that he will, and then you’ll stop seeing potential proposals at every turn…

    • Maria

      I dyed my hair blue. Seriously.

      We had conversations, we knew what we were waiting for, we had a slightly definite timeline, and I was still pretty antsy. So I decided to do something that would make me *not* want him to propose within that timeline, and that would be fun to boot. I have very short hair and figured permanent dye would grow out in 3-4 months (turned out to be more like 6, but close), and also figured if I really needed to I could re-dye it. Ended up still having some faded pink ends in my hair when he did propose 5 months later, and it was back to brown when we got married (which was what I wanted, though the blue was really fun).

      Also, for us, we had spent so long dating and having pre-engagement counseling and everything that by the time we got engaged there wasn’t anything left to work out before getting married – so we decided on a 3-month engagement and it was wonderful!

    • Rebecca

      I have no useful advice, but I promise to be excited and thrilled for you when you get engaged. No matter when it finally happens.

      • Also Ali

        Thank you so much everyone.

        I talked to my boyfriend about it last night, and I feel better today. I think I may have figured out what my panic about being engaged is.

        My guy has a chronic and pretty serious health issue. It’s under control with meds, but every time he ends up in the hospital for an issue or even just a test, I panic. Fully panic. Because when he’s in the hospital, I want (I need) to be his WIFE, not his girlfriend.

        His tests are all fine, but I can’t stop the full on complete panic and terror I feel when he’s in the hospital. I know if we were already married, I wouldn’t be any less worried about him, but I can’t help but feel like I would feel slightly better than I do now.

  • Rachel

    This is such a great idea! Thanks, APW, for being so incredibly awesome. I’m two years out of college, and my fiancé and I have moved twice since I graduated (to a different country and back). In addition to making it harder to maintain friendships, all this moving has meant that we now live nowhere near either of our sets of parents or any of the four members of our wedding party. The wedding is going to be in his hometown in January 2014 – his grandparents can’t travel, so we’re bringing the wedding to them. We’re long-distance planning in more ways than one, and it’s really starting to get to me! Any general advice about how to stay sane when you’re not on-site would be super helpful, but my main struggle right now is with how to make everyone feel included in the planning when no one is in the same place. My man of honor is in a different time zone from me, my bridesmaid is across the Atlantic, and I honestly don’t know if the three of us will be in the same place at the same time before the night of the rehearsal. (Luckily, this also makes any sort of shower a near-impossibility.) Does anyone else have experience with a situation like this? How did you make it work?

    • Shiri

      My situation wasn’t as severe, but I was planning from a bit of a distance and my people were all over (sister in France, bridesmaid in Australia, dad all the way in another borough in NYC, his family in Chicago, etc). I realize in retrospect I didn’t have a lot of things that we all did together, but that everyone had something they were involved in in some way. If you can have something you always talk to your man of honor about, something your bridesmaid can do from a distance (edit your wedding website or look over your registry, if you’re doing those), etc. Most importantly, I tried to make sure that we told all the parents (or all the involved parents, really) about each big decision we were making, or at least that we’d made it.

      Really, communication was the most important part of it. To make sure you’re keeping people in the loop as they need or want to be. And if you have someone in his hometown who can be your go-to person for the things that have to happen onsite, that’s really helpful and was key for me.

    • kc

      Email can help a lot. (with keeping them up to date with the contents of your head, letting them get to know each other if they don’t already, etc.)

      I’m not sure what kind of involvement you’d like, but you could potentially do a Facebook group or Pinterest board for the three of you to keep them up to date on the “details”, with pictures and “I’m deciding between these three styles” sorts of questions and the ceremony layout as you get it sorted and that sort of stuff.

      But… personally, I’d go with prolific three-way email, possibly with occasional three-way Skype or Hangout or whatever if timezones ever align?

      (you could also snail-mail them both something symbolic/funny to wear to the rehearsal so they “match”? [or can at least recognize each other] Team Bridesmaids!)

      • My husband and I planned our wedding in his hometown (Honolulu) because of lots of elderly family that couldn’t travel. Our saving grace was a Facebook group and frequent Skype/Google Hangouts. Modern technology is fantastic. It was great to have a running forum to post ideas and chat with each other– and it even allowed both of our moms to be in on the planning. So, making use of the wonderful Internets is highly recommended.

    • GCDC

      I was in a similar situation. We planned the wedding in my husband’s home town because his parents can’t travel. We lived four states away, my parents are in the middle of the country, my friends are on the opposite coast, and much of his family is in another country. Here is my advice: Google docs. Lots of them. It helped so much with our parents, to keep them in the loop with our planning. We made Google docs for timelines, guest list, budget, hotel bookings, literally everything.

      As for the people you don’t want that involved in planning, we used a lot of group email chains to give updates and ask questions. Also, my closest friends came to the wedding two days before, so we got some time to discuss and just be together before things got really crazy. I found that really helpful as well.

    • Mallory

      We did something similar – we got married in the midwest (near where my parents are), hubster’s fam is on the East coast and we’re currently in CA. We found it helpful to request help with specific tasks from specific people. This allowed us to control who was involved in what and also ensured that everyone who wanted to be involved was. With my bmaids, none of whom live near me, communicating expectations was key. They wanted to help, but it wasn’t practical, so what I articulated was a need for emotional support. When I felt on the edge of a breakdown (or was already ugly crying), I’d call one of them up, or gchat at work, or whatever I needed. They also stepped up the random texts of, “hey, how are you? Thinking of you,” which was often all I needed to feel loved and supported in the moment. Looking back, I’m really happy we did the long-distance planning, because it allowed us to focus on our lives first and foremost and then we’d have short, intense trips home for action-packed wedding weekends. We found it helpful to front-load the planning for those weekends (all vendor appts scheduled in advance, itineraries of the weekend printed before we boarded the plan, and a major second on the google docs suggestion!). Good luck!!!

    • Sam

      This is very similar to my situation. My maid of honor is in Boston, my bridesman in L.A. one bridesmaid in Kansas City, one in Chicago, and one in Milwaukee. The wedding is in St. Louis and my fiancé and I live about 2 hours from there. My fiancé’s parents live outside of Chicago and my mom lives in Kansas City. Needless to say, planning has been difficult and very few things have actually involved our family or bridal party. I have tried my best to remedy this by sending wedding update emails. I explain (to the best of my ability) details of the wedding and progress we have made thus far. The emails definitely don’t replace their full involvement but at least everyone knows what is going on. It also allows for me to keep everyone on the same page and saves me time by updating everyone at once. I also make sure I take a lot of pictures and send them to my mom and future mother in law for the little things that others may not be that interested in.

      The other thing I have used a lot of is freeconferencecall.com for bridesmaid(man) updates. Sometimes an email just does not suffice.

      Good luck!!!

    • Sarah

      Ohhh yes. I was living in the UK, my fiance was bouncing around Asia for work, our wedding was near my hometown in NY, and none of my bridesmaids lived in the same time zone as me or each other.

      My suggestion: if his family is willing to help, let them. My parents acted as our “boots on the ground”, previewing venues and vendors. My MIL wanted to help make welcome bags for the OOT’ers, so I handed over control of that completely. I used Google Docs to keep everything organized — timelines, photos, etc. For bridesmaids dresses, I wasn’t picky — I told them to find something they liked that was short and purple (unexpectedly complicated. they insisted I must have something specific in mind…).

      Do your man of honor and bridesmaid want to feel more included in planning?

    • Rachel

      Thank you all so much! And yes, technology is a godsend in situations like this. It’s so reassuring just to know that other people have made it work!

  • Anna

    So, I’m recently engaged, and my future hubby and I are struggling with the most basic question of all: Where do we have this shin dig? We currently live in Chicago and LOVE it. Ideally I would want my wedding to take place in the city where we live. However, my entire family lives about 6 hours south of Chicago (drivable, although several elderly relatives would be unable to attend. But to be fair, unless I have the wedding in my hometown they probably won’t be able to attend anyway). His entire family is from New York state (not quite so drivable). While my family is very very small, his family is HUGE (as in, 50 close family members including aunts uncles and first cousins). I know he will want to include his entire family.

    It feels selfish to ask a majority of our guests to fly to Chicago and pay for hotel rooms. I considered having the wedding in my hometown, which would be significantly cheaper. However, the nearest airport is 3 hours away. It seems like organizing travel would be a nightmare. That leaves me with planning the wedding in his home town. While doable, I’m afraid that my control over the wedding planning process would end up entirely relinquished to his mother and sister. While they would be super helpful, I’m afraid that my voice would be lost in the shuffle because I’m the one planning from afar.

    Anyone out there with a similar dilemma? How did you solve it? How did you decide where to have your wedding?

    • Sarah

      We had a similar issue. Do we have a wedding in the bay area where we live (most expensive place in the world yay!) and all of our family members have to fly? Do we have the wedding in either of our home states (rural Kentucky or rural Missouri) and some of our family has to drive and others have to fly (not as much) and drive?

      Ultimately, we decided that we wanted to do it where we live because we wanted to do a lot DIY or DIT and it just seemed like more and more of a hassle to have to figure out the long-distance planning thing.

      I don’t think it’s selfish to ask people to pay for hotel rooms–no matter where you host the wedding SOMEONE is paying for a hotel room. It’s more a question of do you want to ask his family to pay for a hotel room or yours?

    • Jessica

      We have the same issue, where to have this shin-dig. Here are the options:

      1) DC, where we met (expensive, and where his family & most of our friends are, so half the guest list)
      2) Midwestern hometown (where I’m currently completing my graduate work, convenient for about 1/3 of the guest list, very affordable, NOT close to an airport, more like a 2 – 3 hour drive, but cheap hotels, etc.)
      3) Chicago, where neither of us have lived but it’s close to an airport for our traveling East Coast friends
      4) Other???

      How have others handled this? Any thoughts?

    • MG

      Had a similar dilemma- my hometown is Richmond, VA, new home is in Toronto, Canada. (Met my fiance at grad school in Chicago – woop! Love that city!) My extended family lives in Michigan, and his extended family is all over Canada.

      Ultimately, we decided to have our wedding in Toronto. It was important to us to be married in the place that we call home, and important to me to not do long-distance planning, as you’ve noted. Another plus for Toronto is that it’s a big city with lots of travel and accommodation options – our guests can fly, train, drive, and stay at a hotel, B&B, airbnb, with local friends, etc. (One way that my extended family is saving money is by renting an airbnb house that sleeps 10+ people and staying together.)

      I think Meg puts it best here: http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/01/you-guys/
      Have your wedding in Chicago! It’s not selfish. Your friends and family will figure it out. This has been a pleasant surprise for us – we assumed that a lot of folks wouldn’t be able to make it, but people are making it work. Lots of friends and family have told us that they’re staying a few extra days and turning this into a vacation for themselves. We’re so excited to share the city that we love, and give people a glimpse into our lives here.

      And seriously– Chicago. Chicago! Chicago is the best.

      Good luck!

    • JEM
    • Jess

      My situation wasn’t exactly the same, but we did have location logistical issues with our families being on opposite coasts and friends scattered throughout the country. In the end we had our smallish-wedding in CA, where we, my family, and a good chunk of our friends live. We will also be having a reception this summer on the East coast to accomodate all the family and friends we couldn’t invite, or who couldn’t travel (with a guest list longer than that of our wedding). His parents are paying for that, and his mom has full reign in planning it. It’s been a good compromise, because my mother-in-law can invite all of the people she wanted to include in the wedding, and gets to plan an event, but we were able to still have a wedding that was true to us.

      • Hannah Smith

        We also did an engagement party where my mother-in-law was completely in charge. That way she got to do something with all of her friends. No matter where you decide, I would recommend doing a party (before or after) at the other locations. We also asked for wine to pour at the wedding (the party was near wine country) instead of gifts so people were able to feel a bit more involved even though they couldn’t be there.

    • Audrey

      This is where we “selfishly” decided that we would do what was easiest for us. His family lives in the area (San Francisco Bay Area) and my family is centered in the Midwest. But we had it where we live, because that meant we could taste catering and eat cake and visit venues ourselves easily, over a reasonable period of time!

      What I did do was make sure of a few things:
      – Since there were a lot of out of town guests who would probably have to rent cars, we considered this in our logistics and made sure the venue was easy to get to from the hotel and had the ceremony and reception at the same location (even though that meant the venue was 45 minutes from our house rather than 15).
      – I did my best to relay the message to the out of town relatives that their presence was all the gift we needed (this only sort of worked).

      On the other hand, we also got really lucky that a lot of my family decided to treat this as vacation / visit the West Coast time. For the record, we got 0 flack from relatives about holding our wedding where we lived.

    • Laura

      Ooh ooh maybe I can help here!

      We live in northern CA where we have a pretty broad network of friends, but I’m from a small town in upstate NY, he’s from the Jersey Shore, my extended family (for whom flying would be prohibitively costly) lives in western PA, and his extended family lives kind of all over the place. What to do what to do?

      Here were the things we weighed before ultimately settling on a destination:
      1) Maximizing the likelihood that friends+family can attend. This means a place that is driving distance for as many family members as possible (so not CA), but also has a good airport and public transit system for the west coasters (so not my hometown).
      2) My parents are very generously paying for the wedding, more or less, so they needed to be OK with our location decision (and, in a way that made me a little uncomfortable but ultimately made sense, they said they would feel weird if it was in the groom’s hometown).
      3) Having access to good resources, like actually having a good choice of venues, florists, hair people, etc. (so not rural PA).
      4) A place that is familiar and/or meaningful to us as a couple. Ding ding ding ding!

      So we ended up choosing the city where we met, DC, which meets all of those requirements! Of course, everyone and their uncle had an opinion on the matter, but, after we found our really awesome venue and generally communicated our excitement to people, they started to get more and more on board. And also, there is a premium on having our wedding in a place like DC, what with all its resources and attractions and general awesomeness – stuff just seems to be 20-50% more expensive, so it’s taken a bit of effort on my part to set and stick to a budget. But, we have a venue and a photographer (APW sponsor!!!) and almost a florist and I totally know where I’m getting my hair done, so, with 15 months to go, so far so good.

      As last note, I think that, if DC hadn’t been the obvious best choice (i.e. if we hadn’t met there), we would have picked some other relatively-centrally-located place, like the Hudson Valley, or, I don’t know, Chicago. Some place less personally connected to us but that fit all the other bullet points.

      • Laura

        Oh, and, for the record, I sympathize with people who say it’s important to them to have their wedding in the place they call home, and it certainly would have been easier to plan a wedding down the street than across the country. But. Not that we are worried so much about the wedding being an imposition, but we acknowledged that, logistically, it is easier to fly the two of us to the DC area than it is to ship practically everyone we know over here. Plus, CA is no more affordable than DC. Plus, we’re probably moving away from CA a couple months after the wedding anyway (TBD). Plus, the whole thing with my family not really being able to make a trip that requires flying. So, pros, cons, blah blah, CA just wasn’t the right choice. C’est la vie.

    • We had a similar dilemma. In short, my husband is Japanese, from Hawaii, and his entire (huge) extended family lives on Oahu. My family is much smaller, and much more mobile, so we decided to have our wedding on Oahu (and most of my family made it and didn’t complain despite the pricy plane tickets). HOWEVER, we absolutely love our friends and community in Tucson where we live now. This is where we met, where the community that is going to see us through thick and thin in our marriage lives. So, we decided to have a big-ass shin-dig a month after our wedding in Oahu back in Tucson. Thanks to family and friends pitching in, we were able to do the wedding and the party for not too much expense (under 9K for both).

      That being said, I think there’s a few things to keep in mind:
      1) The people who really love you will do their darn-dest to come to your wedding.
      2) Long distance wedding planning is tough. No one will blame you for doing it where you live now. Plus, Chicago.
      3) It’s not being selfish. Everyone has different motivations for picking their location. We chose Oahu in part for cultural reasons– we wanted to be able to celebrate my husband’s culture (and Oahu feels completely different than the mainland Southwest). That being said, I did relinquish a lot of control to my MIL in planning, and there were times when it didn’t feel like MY day. All in all, I’m okay with that (I hate event planning). But I was really glad that we had something in Tucson later that was very “us.”

      In the end, talk it over with your FH, decide what’s most important to you, and stand by it. The people you love will make it work.

    • Brenda

      If a significant number of people are going to have to travel if you do it in either hometown, it might make everything a bit easier to do it where you live now. It’s “neutral” ground and neither family will think they’re being stiffed because they’re the only ones who have to travel (unless they’re both upset, in which case, I’m sorry).

      We live in London and are having the wedding here. My grandmother is traveling to Europe for the first time ever to come, and she’s beyond excited. His (also huge) family also have to mostly do significant travel (from continental Europe and the North of England). Having it where you currently live is not selfish and it’s not a destination wedding. You can find ways to make it easier on people who would have a hard time. Many of them may look at it as an adventure and a chance to go somewhere new (I’ve never been to a wedding in the place I was living at the time, I’ve traveled pretty far to every single wedding I’ve been to!)

      Your families can also have a party for you in your hometowns for elderly relatives and family friends who can’t come if they want to, or you can make a trip to visit the grandparents soon after the wedding so they get to see you.

      • Sam

        Have you looked at express? My fiance owns a few suits from there and they are modern and slim cut. He also loves the J. Crew suits so it sounds like he has a similar fashion sense as you and your fiance. Good luck!

    • Emmers

      When I’ve been a guest at people’s weddings in big cities (Philly, Chicago, etc), I’ve been totally cool with paying for a hotel room. For one wedding I wanted to be there on Friday, but couldn’t afford to stay in the city both nights, so I compromised and stayed at a cheaper hotel in the suburbs for one night, and in the city for the wedding night.

      Basically, your guests will figure it out, wherever you decide to get married. If they want to come, they’ll make it work.

      Also, a plus for a big city is that typically flights there are cheaper than to a small town, and a lot of times there’s public transportation to the hotel (or taxis), so not rental car is needed. For a small town, hotels may be cheaper but flights more expensive (plus cost of rental car).

      Whatever you do, your guests will figure it out!

      PS, Chicago is one of my fav places in the entire world, so I understand wanting to have it there!

    • Do what will be easy and fun for you to plan! People will come. They are grown ass adults and will figure it out. Also I live in St. Louis and got married in southern Illinois and if that is of any help to you, email me at emmalouklues at gmail dot com to chat!

    • Jillian

      I’m getting married in less than two months in Chicago, where my fiance and I live. (mini freak out!) We chose Chicago because we had both recently started new jobs and just didn’t have the time or energy to plan a wedding away from our home.

      100% of both our families are travelling to be here, most from a five hour drive away, though quite a few are further. We haven’t heard a single complaint about our choice of location- people are really excited and making a vacation of it. Unless you know your family or his doesn’t have the means to travel & stay in a hotel, don’t sweat it. People like vacations!

  • J

    My wedding is approaching and we’re still searching for my fiance’s suit. Any suggestions on where to find affordable (less than $400), modern, slim-cut suits? So far this is the favorite (http://www.jcrew.com/mens_feature/TheLudlowShop/PRDOVR~11707/11707.jsp) but it’s a bit out of our price range. Or does renting suits ever work?

    • Kristin

      JCrew is having a 25% off sale right now – maybe that will help tip it into your budget?

    • Laura

      I got married a couple weeks ago and my husband got a slim Bar III suit at Macy’s. We went to the store and their salespeople were super-helpful, but the suits are, of course, available online and they have a lot of sales.


      • Rebecca

        We picked a less slim/ more traditional suit at Macy’s, but we caught a 25% of menswear sale and because they offer suiting separates rather than full suits, we were able to mix and match so that he only needed minimal hemming instead of extensive jacket alterations. I think it came in just over $400…

        Definitely look for suiting separates if your guy doesn’t fall into the “norm” for top to bottom proportions- we saved a bunch of money in alterations and the whole thing just looks nicer because it fit from the get go.

      • Hannah Smith

        Check out Indochino. They have 2 piece suits for $379.

    • My husband got his suit at Joseph A Banks. Not sure about their fits, but it looks like they’re having a pretty big sale: http://www.josbank.com/menswear/shop/Home_11001_10050

      I’m not sure about rental options, but I’m guessing your fiance wouldn’t be able to get any kind of alterations done if he rented. Unless he found THE PERFECT suit that didn’t need any alternations, that would be a big problem.

      • Carly

        We also did JAB- during one of their insane 70% off sales, or something like that. They do have some great, modern options.

      • We also did JAB, for my husband and his groomsmen and our Dads. I think we ended up getting buy one get one free or something crazy like that. The bottom line is that bulk can really get you a deal at places like that.

    • Lindsay

      My husband bought a really nice suit at Macy’s that fit him perfectly….they hemmed the pants and shortened the sleeves for free. Not the highest quality suit, but it did the job because he looked amazing…and he was comfortable, which he swears he never would have been if he had just rented a suit.

    • Renting suits rarely works all that well. The beauty of a suit is that it is a highly tailored garment, so you really want to avoid the ill-fitting rental suits/tuxes, imo. Plus, your partner will need a suit again, so why not spend the money on something you can hold onto.

      My s.o. got his suit at Nordstrom Rack. It’s a $900 suit and he only paid $300 for it. Is there a Nordstrom Rack anywhere near you? They really do have a great suit selection at most locations.

      Men’s Warehouse doesn’t always get the best rap, but they have a wide variety and good prices.

      I know my mom took my dad, uncle, and brother to Macy’s and helped them all pick out their suits. There’s no way anyone spent over $400, and if my mom had anything to do with it, the suits are modern and stylish.

      Banana Republic has a tendency to be less expensive than J Crew, but has a similar vibe, imo.

      Also, do you have any outlets near you? I’d try hitting up a JCrew, Banana Republic, ExpressMen, etc. outlet for suits, too.

      I’d really urge you to give yourself enough time to have the suit tailored. At the very least, the pants will have to be hemmed, and so you’ll likely need a week for alterations.

      Good luck!

    • J

      Thanks everyone! Great recommendations, we’ve definitely got some shopping ahead of us.

    • Kelly

      My fiance also got his at Joseph A. Banks – he was in dire need of a nice black suit, and then one for the wedding as well (in navy). So we jumped on a fantastic sale they were having on suits (they’re always having some sort of great sale)…buy two suits for half the price of one. They tried to suck us into also buying all the “accessories” of course, but we resisted and searched out other sales later on for that stuff (eventually at Men’s Warehouse). Hope that helps!

      • Cynth

        Banana Republic on a 40% off day! Plus open the credit card and get that extra %…

    • kmclevel

      We got my husband’s suit at Express because he likes how slim they are cut. Got one similar to this: http://www.express.com/clothing/Suit+Shop/Glen+Plaid+Producer+Suit/ens/cat700008

      For about $360 for jacket, vest, and pants. They have sales and $xx off $xxx coupons out all of the time so we combined a few together to reach the final price. Banana Republic outlets also carry their suiting and are VERY reasonably priced– we got our groomsmen’s suits from there for ~$160 for jack and pants.

      I’m really glad we purchased the suit instead of renting for $200 because my husband has already worn it 3-4 times since our September wedding!

    • Mallory

      1. That’s a damn fine suit! Love the look he’s going for!
      2. My husband got his at Men’s Warehouse during a buy one get one free sale. His brother was in town, so they each got a suit for the wedding and split the cost.
      3. My husband was also recently in a wedding where they bought suits from H&M. They were slim fitting and inexpensive.

      • Kelly

        Ditto! My fiance and all the groomsmen did Men’s Wearhouse during a bogo sale, and each ended up spending about $200 total. They look snazzy and no one needs to know they were cheap! Plus, huge selection.

    • My husband and all his groomsmen ended up getting their suits at Target…I swear. They looked awesome and were 150 bucks! Also found some good ones at Kohls!

    • My husband bought a tan suit at Joseph A Bank, but then rented a white vest and tie. I’m not sure if that was from JAB or if he went to a tux rental place for it. He looked great, but I was mostly relieved that he was dressed! He waited until three weeks before the wedding to even start shopping.

    • My husband got a slim-cut, more European-style black suit (pants and jacket), plus white shirt and red tie from Zara for about $350 in 2009. He has worn it multiple times since, so it was a good investment for us. And he was happy with the cut of the suit.

    • Louise

      Have you looked at express? Not sure about pricing, might be a bit more, but I completely forgot to look there, and its where we found my husband’s suit 3 weeks before the wedding (pre wedding weightloss makes for some last minute shopping). So, I like to mention it.

    • Jillian

      Nordstrom Rack! Got my fiance’s designer $1000 suit for under $500, tons of great suit options.

  • EHRMAHGAWD, questions? I have them!! I have so many! SO MANY! But I can probably limit to the two most pressing?

    1) Caterers. HOW THE HELL do people find caterers who aren’t . . . meh. Meh, you know? You know. Meh. I mean, everything I’ve seen so far has been just standard ol’ rubber chicken fare. Where do you find catering that will actually be tasty and fun? (OH, I should mention that I’m getting married in a super lovely, but about half an hour from any actual town, area. I probably should have thought about that before I fell for the place.) Is good catering something I should just give up caring about? What kind of questions should I be asking? Does anyone have any tips on how to get delicious catering from regular caterers? (Top Four Wedding Goals: We get married, We feel like us during the day, The food is amazing, the dance party is epic.)

    2) This is a big one! So, I’m not really an introvert by nature BUT I feel very uncomfortable about “asking for things.” Things, in this case, could mean attention, support, critique, etc. I feel constantly like I shouldn’t “bother” people I love (except my fiance, which is one of many reasons I am marrying him – I never have to be anyone but me with him). So, I think in general, people don’t really offer their help/emotional support/attention/whatever to me, because I never ask, you know? The thing is, another friend of mine is engaged right now, and they’ve already had two engagement parties, and her bachelorette weekend (weekend!) is in the works and I am super, super, SUPER excited for her . . . but I sort of wish someone wanted to do all that for me? Or I sort of wish I felt confident in asking for someone to do even 30% of all that for me? How do I get over feeling resentful/figure out how to ask for attention, and should I even ask for attention at all?

    • Vanessa

      Hi Erin!

      I can’t speak to #2, but the Caterer question – I hear ya! We got around it by finding a venue that allowed us to have our favorite Gourmet Food Truck provide the food. Best decision ever.

      • Food Trucks would be awesome, but I don’t think they’ll come to our out-of-the-way venue.

      • Samantha

        We are also going with a Food Truck. We had the WORST time with catering until that decision. Super expensive, super boring. The Food Truck people do catering, besides just pulling up the truck – which would be awesome if we were doing an outdoor shin-ding. You never know if they will come. They may have other catering options besides just having the truck and if you are going to get someone to come out there why not them? Ours is coming from 40 miles away! Also having our wedding in a tiny little town.

        • Samantha

          40 minutes – 27 miles sorry.

    • Sadly can’t offer much advice for #1, but as a wedding guest, I wouldn’t freak out too much about the food being amazing (unless you guys are super into food and cooking). As a guest, I only care about it being pretty good. I’m there to celebrate with friends, not to have a four-star meal.

      For #2 I am SO guilty of not asking for help/support as well. I didn’t do a lot of that for my wedding planning and that’s my one regret. I know it sucks, but you might have to be more honest about your needs and wishes. It doesn’t make you a bridezilla. People might assume that you’re generally so together, you don’t need help.

      Also, do you have a bridal party or maid of honor? If so, it might be good to talk to them about bachelorette parties/other bridal events. But from your post, I kind of wonder if you’ve decided against the bridal party and don’t have a designated person/team to work out bridal events stuff for you. If that’s the case, maybe talk to a close friend about planning something for you and a few others good friends. (I’ve been on the side of good friends taking part in an event like that and it was great.) Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to bring this stuff up. Most people assume that if you don’t mention it, you don’t want/need it.

      • Thanks for this. You’re right! They probably think that I’m doing to plan whatever myself, while I’m all, “why isn’t anyone plaaaaaanning anything?”

        I do have a maid of honor, but it’s my nine year old daughter. :) So her plans would probably be, like, going to a Taylor Swift concert.

        • I’m so charmed by your nine-year-old daughter as your maid of honor that the Taylor Swift concert is sounding super cute, too. ;)

          In that case, I say totally talk with a close friend or two and throw something together with a group–a day at the beach, a cooking class, rock climbing, etc. I’m sure they’ll be so excited to spend time with you and celebrate your upcoming wedding.

    • Emmy

      1. Skip the “regular caterers.” We really like good food. Really, really. Food is the second thing on our wedding priorities list (after friends/families). We couldn’t afford the kind of catering company who makes traditional wedding food but really well, so we went with a local butcher shop that does pig roasts. I found them by putting our wedding location in Google maps and searching nearby for pig roasts. Their food is sooo tasty. And cheap!

      2. Ask. I know it’s hard. Trust me. I am also an introvert and hatehatehate accepting favors from people. But I have learned from my wedding planning that my close friends do love me and they truly want to help. (It also helps that they know me and ignore my profuse apologies and just generally help me ask for things I need.) Make a small, reasonable request. Did that go well? If so, then maybe try making another one!

      I’m looking at this wedding planning thing as an opportunity to learn new life skills, like working together with my fiancé, communicating my needs, and graciously accepting the generosity of others. Is it easy? HELLS NO. But it’ll serve me in good stead for the future. Good luck, lady!

    • 1) We’re having our wedding at a restaurant that we’ve been to before and we know has aahhh-mazing food. We went with this plan, in large part because good food was really important to us and we were very underwhelmed by the catering options we came across. (Bonus: the restaurant is better food, and less expensive!) If you’re still looking for a venue too, maybe look into having it at a fav restaurant? Or see if your fav restaurants also do catering?

      2) I’m similar to you when it comes to asking people for help. I think one thing that helps me is that I kind of just put it all out there. I think I’ve literally said: “It makes me really uncomfortable to ask for things, and I feel like a bridezilla bringing any of this up, omg I’m such a wierdo, but I’d really love to have a nice bachlorette party. Could you help me with that? omgi’msorryi’maskingtoomuch.” And you know what? The damn party was already in the works. But also we could talk/laugh about all my *feelings,* which was very helpful in its own way.

      • Seconded on looking into your favorite restaurant. Even if that’s not an option (they don’t cater or are too expensive), the chef/owner may know people who do cater wil delicious food. I know the really great, local restaurants in my area have owners/chefs who would happily dole out rec’s for their colleagues or friends.

        • rys

          Yes! The best wedding food I’ve ever had was catered by a restaurant — and the wedding was deep in the Redwoods and the restaurant made the drive. I don’t know the costs, but it’s certainly possible for restaurants to cater. They did it family style which I think made it easier for the restaurant to bring the food without needing to plate it and whatnot.

          • Oh man, you would not BELIEVE the push back I’ve had from caterers about family style (which is what I want, cause, friendly and fun, right?). “That’s so much more work!” Um, really? More work than plating for 150 people???

    • 1-Try looking for restaurants that do catering, rather than just strict catering services. Many restaurants do offer catering options and the food is the same quality you’d get if you ate there.

      2-Ask if you need help or want specific things. People can’t read your mind. Communication is key. Don’t feel bad saying ‘Hey, A, would you be able to do X for me?’ Just don’t DEMAND things from people and be understanding if the person you ask has other stuff going on, and you’ll be good. After all, these are your friends and family, not your vassals.

      • Kelly

        Restaurants that do catering – YES! We’re having our favorite BBQ place cater, so definitely look into that for an option outside of those “blah” catering companies. Also I’m pretty sure it ends up being cheaper this way…at least, ours was much cheaper than the 2-3 catering-only places we compared.

    • MG

      1) Presuming your venue has done weddings before, can you ask your contact at the venue for a list of caterers who have worked at that venue before? This might at least help narrow things down to caterers who are familiar with the venue.

      My fiance asked the owner of his favourite lunch spot if, by chance, he did catering, and the owner was thrilled! Turns out he had done some catering before, but wanted to do more. He was happy to work with us on a menu and is easily giving us the most bang for our buck. I think it’s always worth a shot to ask your favourite restaurants if they do catering! My fiance and I felt the same way about the menus from the pros – meh. Tough out there!

      2) I feel you! It’s not in my nature to ask for things. Friends and family members who have gone through weddings seem to keep saying the same thing – they really appreciated DIRECTIONS, not just delegation. When I think that it will actually be helpful for others, and that it will make them happy to know how to make me happy – it makes it a little easier to speak up. I think the fact that you’re this concerned shows that nobody is going to mistake you for a bridezilla.

      Sometimes I share APW posts with my sister – like the recent one about wedding showers. I emailed the link and said, “This sounds so cool!” and mentioned a few particulars that I liked. I do the same thing with images of flowers, decorations, etc. Sometimes expressing your preferences through someone else’s words or images can be helpful!

    • kc

      Catering: have you looked at international options? Saucy Indian food, especially, tends to do well with being held at temp. for periods of time (which is part of where the rubber chicken comes in), plus (this may or may not be an issue for you) does well with vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free options, *and* there are low-spicy-heat options (you just may want to mark things well). Plus, often cheaper.

      Asking: people don’t know unless you ask, and they may either be planning surprise things *or* thinking that they’re doing you a favor to not intrude/de-introvert you. So think about your people – friend who likes to plan parties? Might be a good person to ask re: parties (although maybe check in with close family members/wedding party people first to avoid doubling up or offense, since there are varying “traditions” regarding who is “supposed to” do what – maybe “I was thinking it would be really nice to have a shower/bachelorette party/thing that looks like this” and if they don’t eagerly jump on it, then maybe indicate that you’ll be asking someone else to organize but wanted to see if they’d be interested in coming or in their input or something?). Friend who hates parties, but loves shoes? Might be a good person to haul with you shoe-shopping (or whatever). Be okay with people saying no; don’t put all your eggs in one basket (for lo, people have things going on in life sometimes and do not actually have time); but do ask!

      • Laura C

        Exactly this. We’ve decided on a venue that’s lovely but has an in-house caterer, which I wasn’t thrilled about — I really, really wanted to avoid the lump of chicken, lump of steak, lump of overcooked salmon model of wedding food and I felt like being locked into one caterer made that more difficult. So we started thinking creatively about stuff to ask for that would both work as buffet food and that would break the wedding-food feel. Our menu isn’t 100% set yet, but things we’ve been talking about include Indian, a mashed potato bar (with enough toppings that it really feels like a meal), a taco bar…

    • Kira

      If you have a photographer, ask your photographer about catering! They probably eat at tons of weddings and will know not only how the food is but also whether the staff is on time, professional, etc.

      • I do have a photographer! And it’s the wonderful Elissa R, who I found here!! (I still get excited about that)

        BUUUUTT, the problem is, we’re having the wedding in a small town about 45 minutes north of Houston and NO ONE seems to want to travel all the way there. It’s like a dead zone or something, IDK.

        • Kira

          Oh, blarg! I had so much trouble finding a caterer. I’m in a small-ish town, and it seemed for a long time like none of the available options both (a) had their shit together and (b) could cook well, which are both, you know, important. It was so stressful! For a long time the leading candidate was someone who, when I asked what kind of cheese was in their cheese-and-crackers appetizers, replied “assorted.” But we found someone great eventually and are having the family-style feast kept hoping for. I hope it works out for you, too!

        • Wait, you’re around Houston? I’m currently living about 45 minutes to an hour southeast of Houston.So are you getting married in the Woodlands area?

          Have you considered ordering party trays and then transporting the food yourselves? If you can manage this, it’s pretty easy to set up steno burners and whatnot and it gives you SO. MUCH. CHOICE.

          • Huntsville! Even the Woodlands people won’t touch us!

            Also, HEY, I live southwest of Houston in Sugar Land. WE ARE CLOSE.

        • Rebecca

          For completely unhelpful reasons I am utterly convinced the answer to your catering problem is tamales. This is almost certainly not true.

          In other probably not helpful suggestions, have you tried looking for caterers based out of College Station? The map tells me it’s nearly equidistant, and sometimes, for whatever reason, people based out of smaller cities are more willing to travel.

          • Ooh! I’ll look into that!

            And the answer to my food problems are almost ALWAYS tamales.

        • I can’t reply below so I’m replying here, but it looks like Huntsville has a bunch of restaurants that will do catering. I have no idea what kinds of food you want or what your price range is but here are some ideas:




          • Ha, thank you. I meant Huntsville, TX. (But I was SUPER impressed with your google-fu, because I was all “WAIT HOW DO THESE EXIST?)

    • Beth

      1) Can I just say I hear ya on the catering thing? How has no one come up with a way to make this easier? It is absurd. While our location was not an issue (except for the fact that our venue has no kitchen….so, kind of an issue), finding someone whose food was good who we didn’t feel was ripping us off was very very hard (how can one caterer charge $2k more for rentals/tip than another whose food costs the same??). It took us over a month of solid looking, way too many phone/in person meetings, and one uninspired tasting before we made a decision.

      What will we be having? Paella! I’m only ever-so-slightly nervous because we haven’t tasted their stuff, but they have good reviews and after meeting with them they have inspired the most confidence out of all our vendors. The bonus is that it is extremely portable, requires minimal setup, will be served hot and fresh, and cost literally half of what even the next cheapest caterer we talked to was going to charge.

      I was slightly nervous that people would think it was weird to have paella, but so far every single person has expressed excitement about it. Plus, we have some friends with gluten allergies who will be able to eat it. Score.

      So maybe think about things like that? Things that are easily portable or work more easily for serving large groups while being cooked onsite (BBQ, paella, things like that). That would help cut down on the ever-so-popular rubbery chicken w/ one of three toppings options, I think. :\

      2) I have the same problem with asking for help. Even when people have offered, I just don’t know what tasks to give them that would make me feel comfortable/not guilty. Still working that out, but I think when it comes down to the wire, I may HAVE to ask, and that’s a bit scary.

    • Hannah Smith

      As for caterers, have you tried talking to restaurants that cater? We’re doing Mediterranean food from the tastiest place in town. It was much cheaper for way better food. Our venue is about an hour from the city we live and where the restaurant is. They actually make the food offsite and transport it in heated vans. There was a $150 delivery fee, but even with this the whole bill was still cheaper than a traditional caterer.

  • Kaitlin

    Hi, everyone. I’ve been following the website for a couple of months as I navigated the pre-engagement terrain. As of yesterday, I am officially engaged and beyond thrilled to marry my wonderful partner.

    My question has to do with family dynamics. Basically, my family situation is a hot mess of drama, estrangements, and financial difficulties made more complicated by the 600 miles separating my family from where my fiance and I live and where we will be having the wedding. My mom has raised me and my brother for the past twenty years as a single mom, and money has always been tight. My fiance and I have already discussed the budget, and we are comfortable paying for the wedding ourselves. However, my mom wants to contribute financially, which I know she really can’t because of recent medical issues and general financial problems. I think the problem is that my mom feels very far away, she won’t be here to participate in most of the wedding planning (which is actually a good thing in my opinion because my mom and I have completely opposite ideas on everything, our relationship is tense as is, and it would just end in hurt feelings all around), and she feels that paying for the wedding is her responsibility so she already feels bad that she can’t pay for it all. I am very much against having my mother help us out because I know that anything she gives us should be used to pay her medical bills or other debt.

    So I have a few questions. How have people dealt with family members who want to help out financially but really can’t? What are some other ways my mom can contribute without paying or being local (unlikely she will be traveling here too often because of money)? These are only some of the issues we’re facing (a Catholic American marrying an Indian American Jain, intercultural and interfaith situations, family estrangements, etc) but I hope this is easy enough to resolve!

    • Can you give your mom tasks that she can help with, but aren’t of a financial nature? Like, maybe asking her to help you do flowers or make decorations? Designing paper goods? Addressing envelopes? Going to tastings with you to help pick cakes/catering? It will make her feel helpful/useful/involved without the financial drain.

    • Remy

      Maybe you can convince your mother that her financial contribution will be getting herself (and your brother?) out to the wedding. You might even pull out the “I don’t want any stress to affect your health” card. If she wants to feel included, consider updating her regularly about decision you have ALREADY MADE. That way she doesn’t get much opportunity to have her tastes clash with yours, but she feels included in the process. (May depend on her personality — my own mother was dying to help with lots of things, and I let her take over some stuff I didn’t care about, and really appreciated all her help. But I gave her the warning at the very beginning that I might not use any/all of her suggestions in the end, and she should be okay with that if she wanted to make suggestions.)

    • kc

      I’m wondering if there’s some sort of decoration she can make from far away (tissue paper pom-poms, bunting, whatever, if she’s crafty) that could be part of the ceremony or reception, or some sort of part of your outfit or ceremony or something she can provide that would not be financially draining but would be personally meaningful (garter? bouquet? guest book? your shoes? If she knits, a shawl or scarf to wear at your reception?) I don’t know what your wedding will be looking like, but if there’s something Clearly Significant that she can have done/purchased (even if it’s kind of WIC, like a pair of champagne glasses for the bride and groom or a cake server), maybe that would be good?

      Obviously, “we’re so happy you’ll be there, that’s more important than money to us” sorts of things are good too. But if she remains obdurate, trying to find something that will be meaningful to her [but inherently cost-capped] that she can do/provide might be a good out.

    • I think that assigning a non-financial task could be great. For our wedding, my mom managed the RSVPs (She’s pretty good with spreadsheets). All the RSVPs got sent to her house and she marked them down and stayed on top of that. The other thing she did was help make sure that family members and other guests found places to stay- we sent her a list of local hotels and such and she tracked down all of our out-of-towners and made sure they had accommodations. So, maybe think of some tasks like that?

      • Erin

        Also, way way thumbs up for not having to take care of the fiddly tasks yourself. Something like managing RSVPs can actually take a lot of mental energy.

        It is worth a lot to have someone take that off your shoulders if they can.

    • Brenda

      I have no advice, just congratulations!

    • Marina

      Asking people for advice (only on things I wanted advice on!) or to organize things worked pretty well for me. People feel honored and respected that you want their opinions. It can be as simple as “Which of these two shades of purple is better?” or as complex as “Can you price out different local hotels and provide the information to guests and make sure everyone has a place to stay?” Anything you don’t care about or don’t want to deal with or particularly suits that person’s interests or skills is fair game.

    • My parents wanted to help financially so we let them in small, reasonable ways, like a family shopping trip for flower girl dresses, which they could afford and created a fun bonding experience. (I wouldn’t have even paid for them for my cousins but my mom loved doing so, felt helpful and got a day with extended family.) So if they insist on helping, find an affordable task that they will remember.

  • Charis

    Hoping some of you can help me out with a rather big problem I have!
    We’ve only just got re-engaged (that’s a whole other story…) and I’m having some budget concerns.
    We’re putting together a budget that’s looking something like £3500 GBP (around $5400) and I’m struggling with feeling guilty spending that kind of money on one day.
    That kind of money will get us a simple wedding where we get fancy clothes and maybe some nice decorations in a fairly average venue and to feed our friends and family, and would probably be quite nice. We aren’t exactly badly off as we both work full time but we’re only 24 and 25 years old and we’ve never paid that kind of money for anything before. We’re funding it ourselves with no help from our families.
    I sometimes start to feel like if someone handed me the money and said “do what you want with it” I’d find it hard to put it towards a wedding rather than going travelling or putting down a deposit on a house.
    How can I justify this to myself? I’m not sure I’d be happy with a wedding any smaller than we’re already planning but I’m struggling to justify spending that kind of cash! Did anyone else have similar concerns? Thanks! xxx

    • Emmy

      Honestly, I rationalized it by amortizing it over the next 20 years. Yes, it’s just one day, but it’s a celebration of your whole new life together! :) I can rationalize anything.

      But seriously, I looked very hard at our budget. Is there anything I could cut and still be pretty happy with our wedding? No. Can we afford this? Yes. I mean, we definitely have other stuff we’re saving money for, or that might be “more worthwhile,” but I have come to terms with the amount of money we’re spending. Largely because we’re getting a day that is very true to us, that reflects our life and our priorities.

    • Kelly

      I had the same issue, but initially on a smaller scale with my dress…was going for something in the $200-range, but unexpectedly fell for a $1000 dress! I agonized over that for a month before finally being convinced by my mother that this will be the one time I should splurge on the things I really want to and to not feel guilty about it. On a larger scale, her words and other’s experiences have helped convince me it will 100% be worth the money and time spent throwing this, the BEST day of our lives, which will only happen once. I mean, when else will 200 people we love and care for all be in the same place celebrating us?!? Totally worth it.

    • Darcy

      I will attempt to answer your question without sounding like a sappy credit card commercial. When deciding on where/how to have our wedding we sat down and made our list of priorities. Top of our list was to gather our friends and family from across the country so we could get the love and support of our community. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of standing there on our wedding day being carried away by a tidal wave of love from that community.

      Yes, the money would have come in handy for a down payment or to help with a cross country move but it is true that there are things you just can’t put a price tag on. So decide what you really want and why, plan accordingly and then at some point decide to say “f*ck it” and own your decisions.

      • Charis

        Thank you for all your replies, I’m so glad I asked, that’s some great advice. As cheesey as it sounds, maybe if I think of it more as ‘a lifetime of memories’ instead of just one day it’ll help me a bit more.
        My partner has none of the qualms I do so I think we are doing the right thing, as big as it seems now I suppose it’s not too much in the grand scheme of things!
        I guess with us being so young we still have plenty of time to save for a house and travelling too, sometimes (like many people) I feel a bit pressured to ‘have it all’ and put unnecessary stress on myself. Thanks again! x

    • Rebekah

      A lot of talk recently has been about throwing parties after your wedding, which of course is a reminder that your wedding is a great big party. Parties cost! But maybe if you can see it for that aspect of the celebration you’ll have an easier time with the budget concerns.

      That’s not to say I don’t hear you, though. “It’s only money” my in-laws say. “Yes, but it’s a lot of money,” I say. “You only get married once,” I hear. “Yes, but wouldn’t that money be better spent eradicating malaria than on my centerpieces?” my guilt trigger replies. It’s a balance you have to discuss with your fiance, and you’ll decide what’s best for you.

      Sorry, that’s not much advice. I actually just wanted to ask you to write a post about your re-engagement!

      • Erin

        I agree. I found things easier if I thought of them in terms of throwing a party (which is where most of the money went) instead of a wedding.

        And it was an awesome party.

    • Caroline

      I really struggled with this for a while especially since we are about the same age, and thanks to my generous parents our budget is quite a lot more. Our budget in comparison to our little tiny tiny combined annual salaries is particularly appalling (let’s just say the wedding budget is about as much as we made in the richest year we’ve ever had).

      What I’ve realized that made me comfortable with it are the following:
      a) The wedding is not just about us. The whole family only rarely gets the chance to come together, and the wedding is an event that will be a family milestone and memory forever. It will be our memory of starting our married lives, but will also be a memory for all our families. There is something about weddings that are part of how a family marks time. At the last family wedding, my little cousin was barely toddling and he wasn’t so sure about walking down the aisle as the ring bearer. It was one of the last times I saw my uncle (by marriage)’s mother. There are so many memories from that wedding. At our wedding, those cousins who got married will have a little boy who will likely be toddling, and the one who was the ring bearer at their wedding will be a boy instead of a baby, nearly 6 years old. There is this hype of “It’s your day!” which then makes it feel selfish to have “our day” but really, it’s a mini-family reunion, and a barn building of our lives-a chance for everyone we love to come together to launch us on our married lives with love, and a chance for our community to gather.

      b) Having established that it is, for us, valuable to have a wedding with all our loved ones there, it costs a certain amount. There are more expensive and less expensive ways to have a wedding, but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with spending the money to feed your family nice food, serve them nice drink, and have a fancy party. Weddings are one of the biggest parties people ever throw (in terms of number of guests) which make it expensive. If we just wanted to take our guest list out to lunch at, say, the nice burger place near our house (not that they would fit, as the place has 4 tables), it would cost nearly $1000. The size factor just makes things expensive.

      c)The money is there and those spending it are happy to spend it. Our parents are comfortably able to spend the amount of money they are giving us, and are happy to help us start our lives with a wedding for the family. We are comfortable with the amount we ourselves are spending. Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, I’ve never in my life spent so much money on any one thing. But everyone is comfortably able to spend the amount they are spending, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with launching your married lives with a beautiful celebration of community.

      d)having established the value of having a wedding for us, and the ability to pay for it, this is how much it costs to have the wedding we want and our families want us to have. It will be a joyous celebration we will remember our whole lives, and they will remember their whole lives, and this is how much it costs to have the wedding we all want. (That makes it sound like we are all in perfect harmony on what that is, but the general outline and budget, we have come to agreement on).

      e) Most of the time, that is enough. It also helps sometimes, in the whole “weddings are expensive and if we want to have a wedding, it costs money” bit to remember that we are still spending less than the average wedding in our area. Which feels appropriate given we are young and haven’t started out yet really.

  • Rebekah

    I don’t have a problem.

    I just want to say that last week’s posts really lifted a burden I didn’t know I was carrying and granted me some clarity. Between the post about being yourself as an individual who is also part of a marriage, Liz’s ATP post where she says that you won’t ever know your partner all the way, and that’s okay and normal and even healthy, and then a comment Maddie made in her interview transcript (about Meg and David and then about her and Michael), I was thumped over the head with the reality that a marriage is just two individual people who decide to go it together and work hard every day to be loving and a team but are only ever themselves.

    I didn’t know I needed to hear that, but I did.

    I was unknowingly worrying about the HOW of navigating my future marriage when I didn’t feel like it was going to be anything comparable to our courtship and how on earth was I ever going to prepare for it when these posts stopped me cold. We’ll do it, and we’ll be fine, because getting married doesn’t mean we’ll have to be brand new people.

    So APW, I love you. Thank you.

  • Amy

    I have a question! Can I invite some good college girlfriends to my shower, but not my bachelorette? They are all being invited to the wedding, but the bachelorette is my 4 bridesmaids, 2 area close friends, and 3 close friends from college. I just thought adding the other college girlfriends to the bachelorette would make it too many people (and this introvert wanted a more intimate bachelorette), but I would love to include them in some sort of wedding-preparing-tradition. Will they ask about the bachelorette if they are at the shower? Is that awkward? Ack!

    • Kelly

      I just had a similar situation – I don’t have bridesmaids but I have about 16 friends in my “wedding brigade” (thanks, APW!), and I wanted my bachelorette party to be a fun, low-key wine-tasting weekend with those girls. Four couldn’t make it due to new babies or other factors, but it turned out that 12 was the perfect number for taking up the wine bars for an hour at each place and finding a good table in a restaurant for dinner after. Any more than that, and I think I would have gone insane! I have yet to be asked by some of my other friends who weren’t there why they weren’t invited, but if they do I’m prepared to respond nicely that I wanted to keep it small with just a few girls who had been helping me plan all these months. Plus the wine shuttle only had 12 seats. :)

      After my evening shower (which was before the wine trip), we ended up cabbing it to a local bar and having a blast for a couple of hours…so it was kinda like a bachelorette to those not going on the trip later. Maybe you could do something like that?

    • Lauren

      There are tons of people I’d invite to a shower but not a bachelorette (Mom, great aunt Sally, close friend that just barely didn’t make the cut for whatever reason.) As long as there is no gloating by those who are invited to both, I’d say you’re fine.

      • Amy

        You guys are awesome. Thanks for the reassurance. It will be a different month, so I think that too will give the two events some distance. And the suggestion of drinks afterwards is brilliant.

  • Annie

    Is it weird that the rehearsal dinner is by far my biggest headache? We’re getting married just outside of my fiance’s home town (which is where we currently live), which means that nearly all of my guests (who I love and wish I could see so much more of!) are out of towners, coming from the other coast. His family has generously offered to foot the bill for the rehearsal dinner, but while it’s important to me to include all of the out-of-town guests so that I have a chance to see them for more than the whirlwind of the wedding, his mom is clearly thinking a more traditional parents and wedding party only type of thing. Plus, while we can’t get a real financial number out of them, I’m pretty sure the budget is limited, so I don’t want to impose a party they can’t afford on them. What’s a girl to do?

    • What if you planned just a meet-up time at your favorite bar after dinner for all out-of-towners? That way everyone knows that you’ll be there and would love to see them, but it doesn’t put strain on the dinner. Then you can tell your future MIL that you’re planning to spend time with out-of-towners post dinner, in case they have any family/friends they’d like to invite there, too. When you clue her in, then you can make plans (like an earlier dinner, or skipping dessert or what-have-you) that will allow for socializing after dinner elsewhere.

      • Kelly

        This is EXACTLY what we’re doing – picnic-style rehearsal dinner for immediate family, then reserved a big room at the local sports bar for after.

    • Hmm. We also flew in to where we grew up for the wedding. I have to say, I really liked having just the family and bridal party at the rehearsal dinner. For me it was a chance to eat good food and relax with with our VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE without having a hoard of over-enthusiastic relatives accosting us. My husband is an introvert and I’m an ambivert, though, so you might feel differently and deal with ALL THE PEOPLE differently.

      Could you maybe do a small rehearsal dinner, and then meet everyone else for drinks after?

    • THANK YOU. My fiance is British, so he doesn’t understand Rehearsal Dinners, which is fine, but when I started thinking about it – family, wedding party and out of town guests? That’s like SIXTY PERCENT of the people coming! What the heck are we supposed to do? I mean, I’m not making someone fly across an ocean and not feed them every chance I get, you know? But also, HOW and WHY and HOW?

      • Brenda

        I just want to second you on the British husband not understanding the rehearsal dinner. Mine was also very confused by save the dates.

      • Kara E

        We just did immediate family + wedding party for the rehearsal dinner – even though I would have loved to invite everyone. Otherwise it was going to be 90% of our wedding guests. We did invite all those people to an informal brunch on the following Sunday and everyone “youngish” to a happy hour thing on Thursday. It worked out and people understood the lack of invites weren’t personal!

      • My husband is Spanish and didn’t understand them either. But he did understand feeding out-of-town guests as much as possible. We did a night-before dinner only for out of town guests (it wasn’t really a “rehearsal” of anything), low-key, Spanish tapas at a local bar. For us too, it was about half the guest list (which was only 40 people total, so…). But most people said it was the most fun they had the whole trip. It was relaxed, and since everyone was coming from the States, everything was in English and no one had to worry about language, etc. I made a point to introduce every single guest so people could get to talking. For us it worked out brilliantly because the guests that were not from out of town didn’t really want to be committed to an extra dinner besides the actual wedding, and the out-of-towners didn’t have anything better to do and just wanted to hang out with us. It was tons of fun and it turned out that after the groom and I went to bed the party continued on into the wee hours. Yay!

    • Meghan

      Not weird at all – it’s mine too! We have a similar issue – the wedding is in the Pacific Northwest, lots of family flying in from the East and Southeast. Fiance’s mom (who is footing the bill) understandably doesn’t want to host EVERYBODY from out of town, particularly fiance’s dad’s fam (as they divorced over a decade ago and it was NOT amiable). Our solution: we’re doing the rehearsal dinner the week before! It’ll be a small, intimate affair with wedding party + parents + grandparents and that’ll be it. The only hitch is that we’re going to be missing one bridesmaid and one groomsman as they’re both coming in from out of town. For that, we’re planning to either do the rehearsal and tape it for them, do another rehearsal (sans dinner) the night before when they’re actually here, or do both those things.

      It’s not the ideal traditional situation, which is something my dear, sweet (and I do say that without a trace of irony, she’s great!) future mother-in-law is worried about on our behalves. However, I think it’s the best solution for our situation.

    • Mackenzie

      The rehearsal dinner was the cause of a LOT of headaches and some tears — our issue was navigating what we wanted: a casual, friendly get-together with all the out of town guests vs what my mom was envisioning (something much fancier…and pricier). We would have had a backyard bbq or picnic as suggested above, but our wedding was in the winter (i.e. snow!). At first we had found a local bar/restaurant who would allow us to use their back room for free – the idea was to circulate the bar food munchies and let everyone mingle, without making everyone have to dress up fancy two days in a row. My mom scoped out the place and found it too trashy, and was “afraid of the seedy locals” (sigh). She tried to mitigate this by going behind our backs to book the hotel most people were staying at and offering to pay for everything (much more expensive, would have formal seating and a full sit down buffet thing). This didn’t really fly with us, so we found an alternative and stuck with our guns — we found this really cool local brewery which had an event room, and then ordered pizza, pop and wine (with beer for purchase) for everyone. We kept costs down with ordering pizza and pop in bulk, renting the cheapest tables/chairs we could find, and covering tables with butcher paper and throwing crayons on them (which everyone really enjoyed!). In the end everyone loved it and it cost an amount that was way more comfortable for us, and for our guests. Plus, free brewery tour included:)

  • ZOO

    Ok, here’s my question:

    What do you do between the end of the reception and the start of the honeymoon? Our reception ends at 5 PM, so at some point we’ll need to eat something, and we’re planning to spend the night in a hotel room in town before we leave the next day. But…. how? In my car? In his car? With a friend driving? With one of us driving? Should we invite our families to dinner? Should we tell them to buzz off so we can have sex? What the hell do you do with that time?

    Not a huge deal, obviously, and I’m sure we’ll figure it out. But what did y’all do, and how? It’s one of the few things I’m really having trouble wrapping my head around.

    • We were married in my home state, but not where we lived, and we left our reception around 9 and our flight out to our honeymoon wasn’t until the next morning. We’d borrowed my dad’s car for the previous two days, and he let us take it to our hotel and to the airport the next morning. The plan was to just take the extra set of keys, text Dad to tell him where the car was parked, and go back off the grid. He’d pick up the car after my uncle returned his rental car before his flight. We did all that and still managed to run into my dad at the airport on our way in, which was a little awkward for the “morning after”, but not too bad. We probably could have avoided him if we really wanted to.

      One of the best parts of our honeymoon, including the first night, was not telling a soul where we were going once we left the reception, besides the airport. No one knew our first night hotel or honeymoon destination until we got back, though we’d left sealed just in case envelopes with our itinerary with our parents.

      I bet you could do the same thing – take one of your cars and disappear. Make an exit that’s appropriate to you (our guests waved sparklers as the snow fell and we ran to the car – magic) and then go away. Get some food for goodness sake, maybe at the hotel and get carry out or order room service for extra privacy, and enjoy your first night as a married couple!

    • Emily

      I think after the wedding you are DONE with obligation. Know that you’ll likely be tired and you very well may want one on one time. So, book a hotel room, get some awesome take out and get busy! (In my opinion). You just planned and hosted a wedding – no one will blame you to want alone time after that, if that’s what you want.

      • Rebecca

        If ever there is a night for room service, this is it! We made an early night of it, and judging by the stories we got after the event, everyone managed to have a good time/ get into an appropriate amount of trouble without us. And we got to actually unwind/ spend time together for the first time that whole weekend without having anything else we needed to be getting done (if you don’t arrange your reception music or rewrite your vows the day of your wedding you may have more down time- we did, and didn’t).

        Heck, you could even rent a car from the airport the day before and drop it off at the airport the day of your flight. Thus removing interaction with anyone but the rental car people…

    • Remy

      You may be completely exhausted, or feel like getting it on, or even not done socializing. We chose to have dinner alone (after an afternoon wedding) and then went to a B&B in the neighborhood to avoid all the WEDDINGMESS in our apartment. Best decision by far was to book that place for two nights (before and after the wedding), and it was both nicer and less expensive than a hotel. The next day, we hosted coffee hour at church so we could celebrate with those folks and a few local friends, and then we took Monday off to deal with some post-party logistics (returning tuxes, dropping off borrowed chairs, straightening up the friends’ apartment we borrowed to get ready in at the venue, distributing leftovers, getting reacquainted with the cats). We didn’t leacve for the honeymoon until Tuesday (so, hey, a break AND cheap flight).

      Consider how you’re getting to the hotel after the wedding — do you need both cars the day of the wedding? Can someone in the family or the wedding party take one or both cars back to your place (assuming your wedding is in the same area as your usual parking spot)? Do you need to borrow a car to get to the hotel, or would a cab work? Maybe someone local can drop you off at the airport in exchange for some other favor. It might be less stressful to have the hotel call a cab or shuttle for an appropriate time before your flight, to avoid the airport parking hassle.

    • kc

      For us: Rest and gloat and order take-out and snuggle/nap. (and schedule Official Beginning of Sexy Times for a definite time later or the next day so that you’re on the same page regarding expectations, so there’s not a continual I’m-too-tired-and-overstimulated/my-brain-is-still-adjusting fending-off operation going on.)

      Having a favorite movie or book or game picked out/on hand might also be good. You could also both spend a half hour or something freewriting about the day/wedding/reception (but if person X writes about the colors and shapes and person Y writes about the feelings and people, don’t get in a fight, please; both are useful!) or talking and telling each other about the getting-ready process or what you felt when or whatever. (if this is the sort of thing you would naturally do; obviously, if this sounds like pulling teeth, don’t set up weird expectations?)

      Who knows how tired/wired you’ll be? If you both end up really wanting to party later, you can call up your crew and see who’s game (or if there’s something already happening somewhere that you can join).

      If people know what car you’re taking, it may be “decorated”. This will make any car feel something like a getaway car, whatever its humble origins. If you Officially Leave the reception, people will usually naturally buzz off and do their own thing – you are gone. :-) Unless you *really* want to spend extra time with your families at this time (for instance, if this is the only time you’ll get to see them due to travel?), I’d skip dinner with them, but that’s me. :-)

    • Emily

      Question!! My half-sister, M, is 15 and we decided not to include her in the wedding party. She’s young – we aren’t super close and I think I would spend the day of the wedding worrying about her feeling comfortable around my crazy friends. My dad agreed this was a good decision, with the understanding that we’d like her involved in some way in the wedding.

      I originally thought she could do a reading, but when working on the ceremony that felt more and more not great. She’s so young, I don’t know that I want her to be speaking about the definition of marriage – and this feeling is complicated more by the fact that my dad had an affair, divorced my mom and married M’s mom and they had M. Not M’s fault! But..it has strained my relationship with my dad and his family.

      Is asking her to hand out programs a lame job? Any other ideas on how to include a 15 year old who is not a bridesmaid?

      • kc

        If you know her well enough to think about her unique talents and abilities and whether she might be good at something in particular (like wrangling people for photos or hanging decorations or making sure that people get introduced to each other or being places your main photographer isn’t and snagging those photos or announcing things), then that would be great. Some 15 year olds are older than others. The main sort of generic “jobs” I can think of are wedding-dependent (not all weddings have all these, nor do they need to!) but here they are:
        Handing out programs
        Being an usher
        Getting as many people as possible to sign the guest book
        Hovering over the gift table (often at least the card basket/box gets hauled around or locked up so that any cash/gift cards don’t get stolen during the ceremony, depending on venue)
        Helping out specific relatives who need a hand sometimes (like grandma with her cane)
        Handing out favors or table assignments
        (any of which could possibly be done paired up with an older relative or family friend she knows and likes, if such a person exists, or you could also let her bring a friend to hang out with [preferably responsible if the job is responsible-ish – odds are that her parents have a sense of this?])

        Making sure she has a corsage or something similarly wedding-crew-marking-ish, and/or is dressed in “the colors” if applicable, might go a certain distance towards making her feel included.

        Depending on how set your ceremony is, it might also be possible to have a reading that is not definition-of-marriage-y or something similar, or she could start or end a ring-warming or bring up the supplies for a sand ceremony or light candles before the ceremony.

        Hope that helps – good luck with figuring out how to honor her, and I think it’s awesome that you *are* trying to figure out how to honor her. :-)

        • Kara E

          Making sure she has a corsage or something similarly wedding-crew-marking-ish, and/or is dressed in “the colors” if applicable, might go a certain distance towards making her feel included.

          This is HUGE (that is, assuming other people have similar markers) And whatever you have her do (if it’s program hander-out with another friend, or usher, or whatever), put her name in the program if you’re doing one. It will go such a long way to making her feel included – and at 15, that’s a big honking deal.

          • Emily

            Kara – GREAT call and I didn’t think of that. Thanks!

          • medea

            Great advice! You know your half sister better than any of us, so you’d be the best one to tell if she’s comfortable having something to do or not. As a not quite sociable teen, I wouldn’t have enjoyed having a job that required me talking to a bunch of strangers. So perhaps talk with her and see what she’d like to do? Offer her options that are involved and others that are more mellow and allow her to decide what she’d be up for.

        • Emily

          Thanks so much for your reply!

    • Alicia

      Um, is there a reason you can’t take a taxi? Or a shuttle from the hotel?

      Also, I think after the reception it is totally acceptable to say you are going to relax after such an emotional day.

    • Marina

      After the reception, we packed for the honeymoon. I DON’T recommend it. Get all your packing done a week before the wedding, seriously, we were idiots.

      Besides that, though… we changed clothes at the reception, I drove us home because I always drive, we opened a couple gifts cause opening presents is awesome… then we looked at each other, and drove to the house my family was renting for the afterparty. Stayed up til 2am playing “never have I ever” with my family, oh my goodness, the things I know about my aunt now… :D It was super awesome, and not at all what I thought I would have wanted.

      Talk about it, think about what you usually want to do after a big party, and maybe leave a couple options open just in case you change your mind.

    • Rebekah

      Here’s what I’d do with the time, in no particular order.

      Hanky panky.
      Room service.

      I might try to meet up with a few guests for dinner/drinks later that night too.

    • Audrey

      To be fair, my wedding ended at the more “standard” time of 10-11 PM, but when are you leaving the next day? We were staying in the hotel with all the relatives and I generally let people know that we’d be at breakfast at 10:30 or 11 AM or whatever and that people who wanted to come by and chat were welcome. It worked out because it was super casual and didn’t make us feel obligated or whatever. We left in my car: I had stayed in the hotel the night before and had a car, he carpooled with his parents to go to the wedding.

      We also weren’t leaving for the honeymoon until the next day, though.

    • We also had a brunch/afternoon reception and afterwards we were TIRED. The reception was in my hometown, but we were staying at a hotel rather than with my parents (one of our best moves, mental health-wise). So we got back to the hotel, changed, and opened a present or two. Neither of us had really eaten anything at the party, so we went down to the hotel lobby and ended up just hanging out with some friends who were staying at the same place, watching some football game and eating bar food. It was great because it was low key and we didn’t have to talk if we didn’t want to. We left for our honeymoon the next day.

  • I know there is a link for this somewhere… but I can’t find it!

    A friend that used to be close, but whom I haven’t spoken to since last summer (both busy) has a serious girlfriend now. He got invited to our wedding (in July). No plus one stated. He just rsvp’d saying that both he AND her would be delighted to come. I wouldn’t even know he had a gf if not for crackbook or mutual friends.

    I don’t know whether to be firm + assertive (which is something I’m working on HUGELY) or just extend the invite. It’s a tiny (well, 70 and under) wedding on Saturna Island (off coast of BC) and I would love for people I know and love to celebrate with us. She could be lovely though. It’s just we haven’t met her.

    I have a bread headache.

    • KE

      Personally, I have some verrrry strong feelings about uninvited plus-ones. But that’s neither here nor there. :)

      Which route you want to take depends on what feels right for your wedding. One important thing: if you want to let him know that his girlfriend won’t be able to attend, you need to tell him asap before they book a hotel room and flights. I hear you on working on being firm and assertive; it’s an ongoing challenge. This is the sort of dilemma that needs to be addressed quickly, even though it’s uncomfortable. And I’d recommend doing it by phone so that he can hear in your tone that you’re not upset, you’re excited to see him, but this is not negotiable.

    • We were very firm in who did and didn’t get plus ones. From our point of view, it was our wedding, and we wanted to celebrate with our community. It was a really personal, intimate event, so we weren’t comfortable having strangers there. Our stipulations for plus ones were that the people who got another invite had been dating their person long enough for us to have met and spent time with them.

      That system’s not always the best indication of relationship longevity (one close friend started “officially” dating his girlfriend 3 weeks before the wedding, and never asked for a plus one. They are still together. Another close friend had been dating her boyfriend for years, they came to the wedding together, and they broke up 2 months later.) But it mattered a lot to us that the people who were there were all people we knew.

    • I would say if they’re serious, invite her. My wedding was about the same size, and some of our friends brought significant others we didn’t know (and some of them weren’t even super serious). They didn’t feel out of place. If you can afford to feed her, why not?

    • Marina

      So I totally had this situation. I talked with my friend and said I was concerned that her girlfriend wouldn’t know anyone there, and that my friend wouldn’t feel free to socialize but instead would be focused on making sure her girlfriend felt comfortable with all these strangers.

      My friend said she was grateful for my concern but she really wanted to bring her girlfriend and she thought it would be just fine.

      And it was just fine–her girlfriend was a very nice person and perfectly comfortable with a large group of people she’d never met before and it was all very nice.

      And then like two weeks later my friend broke up with her girlfriend and told me I was right, and not only should she probably not have brought her, but seeing her in the context of all these other friends made my friend realize that the relationship just wasn’t right.

      So… I really don’t know what the moral of the story is. Maybe that either way it will be fine? I think it’d be perfectly fine for you to say, “I’d love to meet your girlfriend some other time but we’re only having people we already know at our wedding,” and also perfectly fine for the girlfriend to come.

    • Audrey

      We didn’t do +1s – but we were also already inviting more people than the venue could hold! Pretty much if we didn’t know about the person in time to give them a personal invitation I told people “no” and felt kind of bad about it – and then we ended up within 5 people of the reception’s max and I was really happy I didn’t add +1s.

      If you can hold her space wise and afford to have him bring her, I would add her IF that doesn’t open a new can of worms where there are N other guests that would also like a +1. Pretty much: if you don’t mind, and it’ll be easier for you to just let her come at the end of the day, do it — but be warned that other people might now assume +1s are ok!

      Side note:
      I was invited to a wedding of this size when I had only been dating my guy for 8 months-ish (we’re married now, 8 years later) and I was really touched and happy to be there and it was really great to spend time with his friends I was getting to know. (Although I do think I got an official invite since my guy was pretty close friends with them, and now that I think about it I had met them once.)

    • I say talk it through with the friend, and see what he says about the relationship.

      My policy was no plus ones, but if your significant other is, well significant, then s/he’s invited. We had RSVP-ing through a website so you actually could not respond for someone we did not invite (we had a whole separate headache about that….one person who could not accept that her kids were not invited.)

      A few people asked about dates, and we explained the policy of no dates or plus ones, but if there is someone in your life…We ended up having 2 or 3 significant others we had not met, but all were fairly serious, and one guy decided on his own that the girl should not be on the invite (and ended up being broken up before the wedding.)

      If the couple were engaged, you would invite her, right? So if you have not spoken to in almost a year, you can ask him directly, explaining there are no plus one or dates, just people allowed to bring partners, and see what he says? And if she ends up being fantastic and in your lives forever, you will be glad she was

  • APW Lurker

    Alright this has been nagging me for so long so I will throw it out there. Getting married this August in Eastern Washington State, planning from Houston. Ceremony and reception are at the same site and the ceremony starts at 6:00pm. I’m really really stressing about greeting all of our guests! I just sent the invitations out this morning and we are expected between 100-150. I was thinking I would walk to each table during dinner and talk and thank all of them but I’m afraid I won’t be able to get to everyone. We can’t do a receiving line because it will be way too hot for everyone but I just don’t want to miss anyone. Thoughts?

    Also, I’m really just curious what is the one thing you registered for that you are so happy that you got? Again, just curious, we are building ours now.

    • We had a receiving line, so I can’t help much there, but we love our Whirlypop stove top popcorn maker and our (root) beer mugs, which we keep in freezer until we pour cold soda or root bear floats into them. Also, a new crockpot.

      • NB

        I am obsessed with our Whirlypop. It is no exaggeration to say that we continued our Netflix account in order to have more occasions to eat popcorn (well, that and Arrested Development comes out on May 26 OMGGETHERERIGHTNOW)

        Seriously. That thing rocks my socks. It is what a cornballer wants to be when it grows up.

    • Lydia

      At every wedding I’ve been to, generally about the size of yours, the bride and groom have said hi to me. Usually they go to every table during dinner. Usually I don’t get to speak to them besides that. It’s pretty simple.

      And in all likelihood, if you miss saying hello to someone who wants to say hello to you, they will find you themselves. I mean, you’re the bride. It’s not like you’ll get lost in the crowd.

      Just don’t worry :) There are plenty of other things that you will worry about.

      • Shiri

        This makes me feel better! I felt terrible once I realized I had forgot to go around. I think I tried and was waylaid halfway through. I also ended up spending the entire cocktail hour hugging people, which may happen to you, too.

    • Shiri

      I don’t have a great answer for your first one (because, somehow, I forgot to do this during my wedding!) but, on the registry question: a good lamp, offset spatula, good vacuum (I almost think my husband got married just for this), Cuisinart, and small suitcases.

    • Our two big registry things that we love are (1) matching plates and (2) a cast iron skillet. Serious, get a skillet.

      On the meeting people, I think you’ll be fine going around at dinner. We had about 250 people at our wedding and we managed to make it to all the tables. Also, if you don’t rush away at the end, anyone you missed will have a chance to come find you. Or if you do an “Exit Announcement,” you can get people to line up and say goodbye as you leave (we didn’t do this at our wedding, but we have some friends who did and it seemed to work well)

    • KE

      My favorite registry items we received– Calphalon makes non-stick, dishwasher-safe pans that have been a game changer. All our pans were cheap or hand-me-downs. I avoided using them because food would get stuck on the dishwasher-safe ones and I hated handwashing the non-stick ones. Now we cook more and clean up is simple. They’re expensive, but Macy’s regularly has them at 50% off so my parents’ friends were able to get us some.

      • Our two favorite things from our registry: 1. A poster from etsy with New York state painted on it and “I’m so glad we both showed up here.” 2. Our rice cooker. (We cook really often, and a good rice cooker is SO convenient.

    • I think in one of the timeline posts that Elizabeth did, she suggested a receiving line between cocktails and dinner. This is, of course, if you’re having a cocktail hour, and if there’s a way to corral guests before they take their seat. Some bridal party members might be able to help herd people towards the line, and guests will wait in line more patiently if they already have a drink in hand.

      Or, if you’re having a buffet, a friend of mine stood near the buffet line and greeted everybody there. Everyone is guaranteed to go through the buffet, and the line naturally moves slowly and gives you time to talk to everyone.

    • Lindsay

      During our cocktail hour, we went around to all the tables to chat with everyone…my husband and I loved it because we still got to drink the much-need gin and tonics immediately after the wedding and then eat dinner uninterrupted AND the guests didn’t have to stand in line, bored, waiting to talk to us but instead got to chat with each other while boozing and eating soft pretzels. Total win all around.

    • Our favorite registry item we recieved is probably our knife set, followed closely by our calphalon pots, le creuset dutch oven, cast iron skillet and an electric griddle.

      We like to cook, can you tell?

    • Audrey

      We did the standard “go to every table” bit for our 145 person wedding, if I remember correctly (it’s kind of a blur). We had a buffet dinner and the wedding party + us ate first.

      Edit: Actually, I totally take it back, I think we didn’t do it and I was kind of sorry. But people made sure to come talk to us and we did come around after dinner to say hi to people.

    • Caroline

      I’ve seen some people who served their cake which seemed like a great way to greet people. Everyone came through the get a slice of cake and said a quick hello then.

    • NB

      We wandered around to tables and said hi—I *think* I said hello to most people, but I have not yet received word that anyone hates me for not saying hi. We were also on the dance floor all.night.long, which made it easier, in a way: if you want to come say hi, come find us!

      Finally, we had a ton of out-of-towners, so we did a welcome BBQ at a local park in lieu of a rehearsal dinner (burgers by Costco, grilling by inebriated groomsmen, sides by awesome family and friends), which alleviated a lot of my stressed-I-won’t-thank-them vibes. We saw, we hugged, ‘s all good.

      (For what it’s worth, we had about 115 actually show to the wedding. They were all invited to the BBQ, which was an informal hey-come-on-by email invite a few weeks before. I’d say something around 40 actually came to the BBQ. We had leftover burgers for daaays).

    • My favorite registry items so far have been high thread count sheets and Pyrex bowls and pans with lids. (I have bought Pyrex sets for so many brides. WHY didn’t I ever just get myself a set?) And I love my Dyson. My husband’s favorites are the wok, knives, and Ninja blender/food processor.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Any chance you could have a casual gathering the day before? For ours, we invited all of the OOT’ers to a low-key buffet dinner. I got to chat with a lot of them then, which took the pressure off meeting/greeting many of them the next day. If you did something like drinks at a bar, it wouldn’t need to be expensive.

      Even without that, though, I stopped by most of the tables to chat and people definitely sought us out. (If you go to tables during dinner, make sure you still get to eat!)

    • THIS! Oh, how I stressed about this exact issue! We had 150 guests and I was just distraught about greeting everyone. I desperately wanted alone time after the ceremony (and during the cocktail reception) and thought it would take forever. I did NOT want to keep my guests waiting for their drinks (i.e., I did not want to wait for mine.
      Instead we had our cocktails (ALONE) in a hidden corner, and then greeted our guests as they came into dinner. For our setup, this worked really well – people had to find their place cards, which naturally started the line (and gave people something to do as they lined up). It still took a long time, but people already had a drink or tow in them and were excited to get to dinner, so they kept moving.

      for 148 guests, it took us a little over 30 minutes to greet everyone. I’m glad we did it, because I remember those moments with each guest pretty clearly. For me, it made our wedding feel a little smaller, since it was an organized way of greeting and thanking everyone who came.

    • We had a two part wedding extravaganza, with the private ceremony on one coast and the reception on the other. So we obviously didn’t have a receiving line. However, we did greet every. single. person. as they came in the reception venue’s doors. Obviously, this won’t work if you’re planning a big presentation of the bride and groom or if due to time constraints you won’t be able to get to the reception before most people. But I really liked being able to at least say hi to everyone, hug, and make any introductions (my relatives my husband didn’t know and vice versa)

      I also tried to walk around during brunch, but I didn’t get to every table before group photos pulled me away. On the other hand, doing group pictures (family, high school friends, college friends, etc.) did get me more time with people.

      oh, and favorite registry items? I love having a full, matching dish set and a roomba (iRobot vacuum). We “just” got everyday dishes, that are pretty, but that are also dishwasher/microwave/oven safe and didn’t bother with formal ones that are never dishwasher safe. Plus, you know, we’re not formal people. And our roomba helps keep us healthier (we have dogs) and saner (we both HATE vacuuming)

    • elizabeth

      i have always, always hated the idea of bride & groom walking around to greet each table; it felt so forced every time i experienced it as a guest. also, i wanted to enjoy the damn party, and when i feel beholden to do certain things, i can’t enjoy myself. so we nixed that approach. instead, the spouse and i greeted everyone as they arrived, thanked them for coming, hugged and all of that. it was the PERFECT way to start off the event, and i was already giddy at seeing all these lovely people who were so excited for me; it made the ceremony that much more energetic. the people i missed (because they arrived late) i was able to catch up with leisurely during the ceremony. it relieved so much pressure and made it authentic to me and the spouse.

      also, best registry item: awesome set of amazing knives. love them and use them every.single.day.

  • Lydia

    This isn’t such a huge issue, since my plan at the moment is “ignore it!,” but I want to know whether or not I’m being ridiculous.

    Our wedding is in a few short weeks (May 18). Back in June, in the early stages of planning our wedding, we decided that this would be a kid-free wedding. Initially it had to do with costs (inviting kids would have doubled our guest list), and then we decided that we really didn’t want children there. We love kids, but they can be loud and rambunctious. A friend of mine actually told me she would rather have an excuse for a night without her two-year-old. I think the defining moment was when my cousin’s two children knocked over a piano bench with a pile of books on it at my grandma’s birthday celebration and my aunt leaned over to me and said, “That could have been your cake…better not invite the kids.”

    So we didn’t. When we sent out Save the Dates in November, the only names on them were the names of the adults invited. When we sent out invitations, same thing. My mother was concerned that no one would “get it,” so I added this simple phrase to our wedding website (to which people have to go to RSVP): “Please keep in mind that this is an adult event.”

    My mother was still concerned about it, so we decided that if anyone should need a babysitter (such as out-of-town guests), we would have one at my parent’s house.

    One guest was clever enough to ask: “Can we bring , or is this an adults-only party?” I responded, “This is an adults-only event, but we are considering getting a babysitter to stay with kids at my parents’ house. Is that something you’d be interested in?” To which he replied, “No thanks! Can’t wait to see you.”

    So I thought our precautions were sound.

    Apparently I was wrong. My first-cousins just don’t seem to get it. One of them added her son’s name to the RSVP. So when my dad was at a family gathering with them (I couldn’t make it), he made the announcement about the babysitter if anyone’s interested. Apparently they were all SHOCKED that their kids weren’t invited! And one of them actually mad about it.

    I mean, I get it. They’re all coming from a few hours away, and for some reason chose a motel an hour away from my parent’s house. It’s not the most convenient thing. But, isn’t that the way it is when you have kids? Things just aren’t convenient? I don’t have kids yet, so I don’t know.

    Am I being rude, not wanting kids at my wedding? Asking a breastfeeding mother (which I only found out was an issue AFTER this issue arose–she’s the one who’s mad) to leave her baby with a sitter and some pumped milk? Is it REALLY that big of a deal?

    As the RSVPs are coming in, it seems like we will have fewer guests than we thought. Should we change our kid policy?

    • Kira

      You’re totally within your rights to have a no-kids wedding. Stay firm or give in–whichever feels like it will be best for you and your fiance. Also, there is a traditional exception for babes-in-arms who will still be breastfeeding. By which I don’t mean to invoke ancient etiquette in a threatening manner, just to say that you will totally be going by the book if you don’t invite toddlers/school-aged kids but do allow the one small baby.

      • Lydia

        :) Thank you!

        And that does make sense about babies. I mean, it’s not like we have to inform the caterer that there will be a baby. Or like it’s going to knock over the cake. Now I just feel lame for not saying “Babies are fine! Bring your baby!” Hopefully she will understand.

      • Jessica

        I never heard of the babes-in-arms exception before; I wonder how many people know about it? My husband’s step brother is getting married next fall, a month and a half after my due date. I know it’s an adult only wedding, and I’m already stressing out about it, because it’s out of town and I don’t think I’ll be comfortable enough by then to leave my baby with a sitter (that I’ll probably never have met before…) for the evening. Maybe I’ll do some gentle investigation to see if adults only applies to 6 week olds as well. But I don’t want to stress the couple out by inviting my kid to their wedding…

        • Amy

          The babes in arms thing is very very common. Plenty of babies won’t take bottles at that age, and really, 6 week olds pretty much just sleep through everything.

        • I don’t think it’s horribly rude to just bring your infant along. Your baby won’t take a seat or a plate of food, and if you’re one of those moms who magically makes a sling out of a piece of fabric (I don’t know these things, not having any tiny humans), then the baby is practically invisible and more like an extra appendage than another person (I’m sorry if that sounds horrible).

    • KE

      No, you’re not being rude, and no, you shouldn’t change your kid policy. It sounds like you took measures to spread the word ahead of time, and it was smart of your dad to reinforce the message in person.

      Weddings with kids can be wonderful, but it’s a different vibe and adds another layer of considerations. Being a good host doesn’t mean letting your guests dictate the terms of their attendance.

    • rys

      You’re not being rude by not wanting kids at your wedding, and it’s not unreasonable to expect your guests to have interpreted their names only as their names only (plus all the other ‘adults only’ statements). I’ve been to weddings where only tiny babies were allowed, and I think other guests get that. But I’ve also been to weddings with new parents who left their babies at home — sometimes parents came in shifts (local wedding) and sometimes they just had a sitter of some sort. The question to ask might be: would you rather give in and let cousin + baby attend the wedding (and possibly feel resentful of her not getting it) or would you prefer to let her simmer and possibly not not show up? Basically: your preferences or her emotions — which matter more to you?

      • Samantha

        I will just say though if you give in to one you might have to give in to all or risk a stink when they see other kids at your wedding . . .

        We are doing no kids – it is what it is. Done.

    • Rachel

      I don’t think it’s rude to not want kids at your wedding! It’s a common enough thing and I’m surprised people get so upset about it. But I would honestly be a little miffed if I had made plans to not bring a kid (or a +1 or whoever) according to the invite/website, and then found out later I could have brought them because you changed your mind about it. I would feel like I “followed the rules” for lack of a better term and then people were jerks about it so you changed the rules for them. I know that’s kind of petty but it can be frustrating to respect someone’s boundaries and wishes and then see them not stick to their guns when others make a fuss. So I would say that changing the kid policy might make some guests happy…but it could be sort of a turn-off (for lack of a better term) to the people who made arrangements for a sitter or didn’t plan to come for that reason. Sometimes I think it’s good to just stick to a plan to save on further confusion or frustration, but it really depends on what you think would be best for your guests!

      • Lydia

        Do you think allowing the one cousin to bring her infant would be okay? We’ve only specifically told the one person that he couldn’t bring his (older) kids. After reading Kira’s comment, I was thinking maybe I’d tell anyone with an infant that if they need to bring the baby, they can.

        • Catherine B

          Personally, I think people will understand if you make an exception for a breastfed (or, bottle fed… ) baby…

          • kc

            I think generally people with kids logically should understand the mobile-vs-not-mobile kids distinction (since, unless they adopted older kids, they had infants at some time who presumably had to be fed, etc., and group babysitting older kids is waaay different from infant babysitting). (but yes, do mention this as an exception to all those who have infants, or they may end up successfully wrangling complicated babysitting arrangements and then be frustrated)

        • I think it is fine to allow an infant. We allowed only our niece, who was 18 months at the time. My sister in law dropped her with a sitter (which my Mom and I arranged for) after dinner and came back to enjoy the party. I asked her afterwards, and she said that it worked great and she loved it.
          One thing that did seem to help was that we hunted down reliable sitters for people from out of town. I think it’s a little unfair to ask someone with kids to travel to your wedding and then not help them find a good, trustworthy sitter in your town of choice. It’s also pretty easy to do if your family happens to have a church or other community network to utilize. People really really appreciated this when we offered to do it.

      • Totally with you, Rachel. But, if I saw a 6 week old in a carrier (or carseat or whatever) all night, I’d know that baby was the exception because s/he’s at a super dependent stage… completely reasonable.
        In fact, H is not invited to two wedding next month. If I see another toddler at either event, I’ll be pretty miffed. But an infant? I’d actually be relieved to find that my friends are not anti-baby extremists.

        • And I should add – I *AM* looking forward to a baby-free night (and had an awesome time at an H-free wedding last month).

    • Marina

      If I’d needed to leave my infant with a sitter for more than 3 hours I would have needed to either pump in the bathroom or gotten reeeeeally uncomfortable. (Physically, I mean. In my boobs.) It got easier after about 6 months, so it might depend on the age of the baby.

      I think it’s perfectly fine to say that it’s an adult only event, but be aware that may make it more difficult for the cousin to come and she may choose not to come. But that’s her choice. She’s an adult.

      That said, I think it’d also be fine to make a young babies exception. Your reasons for not wanting kids seem to be mostly rowdy-ness, not noisy-ness, and an infant is certainly unlikely to knock over the cake. I think people would understand that babes in arms are ok and toddlers are not.

    • Cynth

      Our friend group went through this- some couples chose to have weddings that were “kids free” and there were hurt feelings. We decided early on to invite all the kids- it was a very easy venue for kids, and in the end, only one parent decided to bring their kids. Everyone one else wanted time off. Our conclusions is that 1. people just like the choice and 2. This is one you can’t win, no matter what you decide. 3. As in all things wedding- people will get over it.

      We are all adults, we can make decisions to provide for ourselves and our kids. It sounds like you did everything you could to communicate your wishes up front, and in the end- just like if you are inviting people to your home, your wishes are what matter. I’ve seen adults show up with unexpected kids at dinner parties too- and that’s just rude. Kids don’t just “come with” to all events. For something like a breast feeding mother, she should have spoken to you one on one- I can understand her concerns, but then she should request an exception- I’ve seen friends get a sitter for a wedding ceremony or funeral, and then bring them to the reception. No loud fussing, mom gets a little time off, but the young one isn’t out of sight too long (and isn’t capable of knocking over a cake yet) And they don’t count as another guest!

      As for changing your policy since your numbers are low, it seems to me this is more about the type of event you want to have, and has nothing to do with numbers- do you want soda and kid friendly food options- or more sophisticated adult time? Are you happy to have the kids run circles around the dance floor, or will that annoy you? Decide what event you want and stick with it! (And btw its ok to make exceptions to any rule. You get that power!)

  • C

    I would appreciate advice from any afternoon-wedding havers : What did you / will you do in the evening after the wedding? If you hosted an after-event–particularly one that followed an afternoon ceremony – what worked well or did not work well? Would also love to hear from anyone who has been a wedding guest in this situation as to what you have enjoyed as a guest.

    We are having a fall afternoon wedding and reception at a downtown city location We are serving a full lunch and open bar. We have a definite end time on the venue – about 4:30. What should we do from there?

    Some considerations:
    – We estimate somewhere btw 10-30 would attend an after-event, depending on timing, location, cost, etc. Mostly friends (we’ll do family events other days)
    – We are paying for everything ourselves, so we would like to keep the budget for this component under a few hundred (we will have already paid for a pre-wedding dinner, and the whole point of an afternoon wedding was to save money)
    – We live about 20 minutes away from the wedding site (accessible by public transit from the vedding venue). we’ll be staying at our home the night of our wedding. Some of our friends will stay at our house, a few may be in hotels, and some live between 30-50 minutes away

    Some options we are considering:
    – having a romantic dinner on our own, then meeting up with anyone who is interested for a late night drink (concern: fewer people would come out)
    – inviting everyone straight back to our house, having drinks there, and eventually serving a dinner later that evening (concern: amount of prep stress, and potentially, cost)
    – immediately proceed to a hotel bar for no host drinks (concern: finding a good one nearby, the cheesy factor, and what do we do when dinner time rolls around)

    Looking forward to hearing perspectives!

    • We had an afternoon wedding and didn’t plan anything afterward. We just cocooned up by ourselves afterward and it was wonderful. Honestly, I would not have been able to host anything afterwards. Being an introvert meant the wedding itself was more than enough people time. I was told afterward that all our friends went out for drinks together and had quite a grand time anyways.

      I personally would recommend your first option. I think it’s really special to spend some time alone after you get married- just enjoying each other.

      Otherwise, do you have a favorite restaurant or bar where you could go hang out for a while? I wouldn’t stress too much about planning it all out. Weddings are great, fun, happy occasions that put people in a good mood. They’ll find a way to have a good time.

    • Alicia

      Ours families were both from out of town. Everyone went back to the hotel pool and had drinks. People are adults, they can entertain themselves by catching up with people they haven’t seen in a while.

    • Katie

      Honestly, we had a late morning/early afternoon wedding and small reception, and while we did a big dinner out with our families afterward (my grandfather wanted to and did pay for the dinner) I wouldn’t do it again. It was lovely and everyone had a good time, but my husband & I were exhausted and really just wanted to be together at that point. In retrospect, I would have cut off the reception at about 4:00 and gone off on our own – romantic dinner just the two of us or room service at the hotel!

  • Kelly

    I keep having this same issue pop up and I just can’t seem to find a good solution yet…a bit of background: we are not having bridesmaids or groomsmen. I have 2 nieces (7 & 13) and 3 nephews (11, 13 & 15) that as of yet haven’t asked to be involved in any way but my mom keeps insisting that they be included. We’re not having readings or songs during the ceremony. I initially thought of making the boys ushers and the girls attendants (junior b’maids, I guess), but one of the reasons we decided against a wedding party was the simplicity of just the two of us walking in. Then I thought, maybe one niece can hold my bouquet during the ceremony and the other can straighten out my dress…the boys could get people to sign the guestbook or something? Then mom jokingly suggested they all hold a large banner for us to run through as we enter the reception, like some football teams do. We’re both big football fans so I’m at the point where I’m seriously considering this “joke” of an idea – Help!! :) Oh and have I mentioned my wedding is less than 4 weeks away??

    What ways did some of you involve your teen/tween relatives in the ceremony or reception?

    • Why add more complication to your life a month before your wedding? Just because your mom thinks you should ask them to do something does not mean you have to. Also, just because you DON’T ask them to do something does not mean you don’t love them.

      Ex: “Mom, I love little Bobby and Sally, etc, and it’s great you’d like to include them, but we decided against a wedding party for a reason, so we don’t want a miniature wedding party, either, especially when we have so many other things to get done before the big day. By the way, [insert question about other important task to change the subject here]”

      • Kelly

        Yeah…I know you’re right – and so true about adding more stress this close to the wedding! Totally not necessary. Thanks for making the logical voice in my head louder than the “please-everyone” voice :)

    • Rebekah

      (I love your mom’s reception entry idea. Yay American football!)

    • Marina

      My 12 and 10 year old cousins carried our ketubah up the aisle, and passed out noisemakers for our parade after the ceremony. ;) So… maybe don’t toss out the banner idea. :)

      And also it is TOTALLY FINE not to involve them in any way. TOTALLY FINE.

    • ZOO

      Our standard reply has been, “Do you REALLY think they would enjoy that? Or do you just want to see your grandkids in tiny suits?” If your nieces and nephews haven’t asked to be involved, they probably aren’t expecting to be (and any shy ones are probably grateful). My advice is to just smile and tell anyone who asks to think of the children. No, really, THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

      • Kelly

        Ha, that is awesome – I am DEFINITELY using that line with my mom the next time she brings it us…”Think of the children, Mother.”

        Thank you all for your advice and suggestions!!

        • Jessica

          Maybe make sure there’s a time when you get pictures with just you, your husband, and your nieces/nephews? It’s a little thing but I had a friend who had asked me to be a bridesmaid, but then called off her wedding. When she got married (to a different guy) haha, she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid again. I understood that this wedding had a different vibe than the one she had planned previously, but I was still a little hurt…but I was very happy when she had the official photographer take a picture of the two of us. It confirmed for me that she felt it was important that I was there, and made me feel more included.
          Anyway, all that to say that pictures can be important ways of including people too. So maybe just discussing an “official picture” would make your mom feel better about it?

  • Um I don’t have any questions but I just want to chime in to say that I am bookmarking this entire thing because I GOT ENGAGED THIS WEEKEND (yaaaay). Both his parents and my parents are out of the country for a few weeks (on separate trips, they just both happened to leave the same day) so I’m not going to be doing any serious planning until then. However, I will likely scroll through this entire conversation multiple times over the next few months. I’m thinking Summer 2014 wedding, likely in my hometown (it will be a destination wedding for many of the guests regardless of where it is held because of the way the world works today with everyone living all over the place, but I am fortunate to be from a BEAUTIFUL beach town in Florida so hopefully people won’t mind!) but otherwise…everything is up in the air! So fun! Very excited and glad I now have this thread from which to pull ideas!

    • lauren


    • CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!

    • kc


    • PhillyBride

      CONGRATS! Beach wedding sounds amazingggggg


    • Caroline


    • Congrats!!

    • Celina

      Congrats! I’m from Florida too and also having a beach wedding next summer- twinsies! Which town are you from/having your wedding.

    • Congrats! And can I say yay Florida APW reader? I seriously didn’t think there were any. At least none down in south Florida where I am.

  • lauren

    Oh hey y’all. I have two questions that I need to get figured out this week. Perfect timing!

    1) My fiance’s mom offered to host us a wedding shower for which we are super grateful. However, the proposed date is in less than a month (EEK) and I haven’t heard anything from her in a while about it. How to gently kick her in the pants and/or transfer responsibility to another person but still have her feel included?

    2) We believe with a certain amount of sureness that his mom and her husband will not be invited to the rehearsal dinner, hosted by his dad and step-mom. We find this horribly rude and tacky. How to gently tell people that we will pay for the rehearsal dinner ourselves if it is too difficult for one parent to pay for the ex’s meal and spend time in their company?


    • kc

      On 1, you may be able to inquire about what time and location, or something similar, and get a sense of where things are at?

      On 2, I think saying directly that it’s important to you that all your immediate family be at the rehearsal dinner and hashing it out from there might work? You could potentially arrange seating such that they’re not proximate, or invite extra buffer relatives (aunts/uncles?), or pay for it yourself and let them decide whether to come or not. There’s always the possibility that one set will not attend or will go on strike or whatever, but it seems like people often behave unusually well for weddings (provided they’re not super drunk; that is the one time I’ve seen Ugly Catfight City). Or you could do dinner with one pair and then all go off and have dessert with the other pair, but that seems unnecessarily complicated.

      • Lauren

        Thanks for the advice! I am at my wits end emailing, calling, texting with no response – so I’m thinking I might need someone more reliable in charge, but still have her take a role in the designing/food making or something.

        And for 2, fiance and I are going to have A Talk with the offended parties and tell them exactly what you said. We are getting a little tired of having to do double events because people won’t behave, so maybe if they see how annoyed we are it will sink in.

        • We had a bunch of ex-husbands/wives/parents/etc. at our wedding, and, though restraining orders had been involved at one time, everyone behaved themselves.

          Our rehearsal dinner only involved one long table, so I was kind of nervous how that would work out. But it was set up in a kind of V or L shape, which was actually very helpful. Luckily, each group seated themselves at one extreme of the V, and we were in the middle. Nobody had to talk to anybody they didn’t want to!

        • Marina

          If you’ve been trying to get in touch with her for a while and she won’t respond, maybe try an email and voicemail both saying, “Hey, I’ve been trying to check in with you about the shower and haven’t heard from you, so I’m assuming it’s not something you’re able to do right now. I’m going to go ahead and ask [person x] to host, but if there’s anything you’d like to participate in please let me know!”

        • kc

          Ack. MIA people are hard, and extra hard when they’re relatives (or otherwise people you will be dealing with for a Long Time).

          Do you know any of her current life experiences? If so, that may give you an out of “I know you’re super busy with work/travel/? right now, so to take this weight off your shoulders, I’ve arranged with Person Y to do most of the arranging of the shower – if you want to help him/her out in any way, please let me know and I can put you in contact”?

          The other thing to consider is that she may be wanting to do something “surprise”-y, which would be another potential but weird reason to avoid contact – do you know anyone who would be in on it if so?

          But first, check with fiance, who may have ideas on contact and/or what “normal” is and/or who might work well with her on a shower and/or what might be going on.

    • Moe

      addressing issue #2 here”

      my husband’s parents are divorced over 20 years. both have moved on married new people and have new kids with the new spouses. everyone in the situation is so cool about it all except for my husband’s dad. he didn’t want to go to the shower. he didn’t want to go to rehearsal. he complained he felt uncomfortbale.

      finally his new wife and new daughter told him to get over it, because he was being unfair and inconsiderate to us as we are trying to build a new family. (those two ladies rock)

      at rehearsal the dad had a little tantrum over who should get to sit where. he wanted a front row seat. his ex-wife was so gracious and classy about the whole thing. (another lady who rocks)

      finally we (husband and I) called him the night before the wedding because we had nothing better to do. *sarcasm* to explain that ceremony seating would be assigned and that he would be seated whereever his card was placed.

      I doubt this will be the last time his dad will be petty, same for yours. I’ve told my husband repeatedly that I will not cater to this type of behavior. I suggest finding another way to have a rehearsal dinner if he can not include everyone who should be there.

    • This obviously depends heavily on your family and unique situation, but my husbands parents are divorced (a pretty ugly one). We included his mother and her husband in a shower that my family threw for us and his Dad generously threw our rehearsal dinner (which was actually a large party for out of town guests). We did not include his Mom in this event, because frankly, we did not want the stress, and felt like she had been included in other things. We were up-front with both parties about our decisions and the reasoning behind them, and they were very understanding and even thankful that we kept things separate.
      Do what works for you, but do consider some alternative options. Divorce can be really nasty (especially around weddings) and protecting your experience is really the number one priority.

  • PhillyBride

    Hi All!

    Something that has been nagging at me all weekend; alcohol at our wedding reception

    We’re having a awesome summer wedding in July! Complete with BBQ foods and red white and blue. Everything has been relatively painless until we can to the question of whether or not we would have alcohol. Neither of our parents drink alcohol but to his siblings and most of our friends a good glass of beer is a no brainer at a wedding. The problem starts with my brother who is grappling with a major addition problem with drinking. It’s tearing his family apart in the worst sort of way and I’m afraid having it at our wedding will add an un welcome level of stress to a day we want to be filled with as little stress as possible (yeah right haha) I’m afraid not having adult beverages will insult some our guests or they will think we’re cheap (I know I shouldn’t care but..) and I also don’t want to announce my brothers problem to the world. Suggestions? Help? Stories of successfully dry night time weddings?

    • You can do a dry wedding without a problem. If people can’t have fun without a drink, that says more about them than it does about your wedding.

      An alternate option, if you do want to offer booze but don’t want to draw attention to your brother not drinking, is to have champagne and cider for toasting, but not have freely available alcohol.

    • KE

      Maybe instead of alcohol you could serve some festive non-alcoholic mixed drinks? You can do great things with juices, fresh herbs, seltzer and simple syrup, maybe throwing berries or citrus slices in. People who think of weddings as drunk party time will be a little disappointed, but upscale non-alcoholic drinks will curb the perception that you’re being cheap. (I hear you on “I shouldn’t care but…”.)

      • Mocktails are a wonderful idea! Italian/French sodas, milkshakes, virgin fancy frozen drinks, or an espresso bar would all be really good options for this.

        • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

          Shrubs (aka drinking vinegars) are my signature fancy drink mixer, largely because they’re fun for both my alcohol-loving and alcohol-hating friends. (For best results come up with a name–ie. Dark Horse for my strawberry-balsamic shrub–to use instead of introducing it as vinegar.) The vinegar gives it a tartness that you don’t get with soda, making it feel like a grown-up drink.

    • AnotherHeather

      I went to a wedding like you are planning a few years ago (there was a pig roast, yum!). It was alcohol free and absolutely lovely. Some people might not like it, but really, it’s only a few hours, they can deal.

    • Kara E

      I’ve been to plenty of awesome dry wedding receptions. Plenty. And you know? They look pretty much exactly like the non-dry ones.* If you don’t want alcohol (in part for your brother), don’t have alcohol. It’s ok. Punch, seltzer-based drinks, and lots and lots of iced tea sound like they’d fit right into your BBQ and red white and blue theme!

      I think it will actually be easier/easiest if you don’t make a big deal about the lack of alcohol. We did have alcohol, but just wine and beer and while one person apparently did bitch about the lack of hard alcohol, it’s someone who I’m pretty sure has a problem with it already (and was looking for a way to get drunk faster/hide it).

      *Except that you don’t have to worry about (a) who is driving home who shouldn’t, and (b) who will be too hungover the next day to do whatever they were supposed to do.

    • kc

      A) you don’t have to specify who has been hurt by alcohol (just “one of our guests”) if people inquire.
      B) you can have fancy-ish drinks that are non-alcoholic. Virgin cocktails or agua fresca or sparkling cidery things. Actually, a variety of agua fresca options and some “fancy” sodas might be a good option for a BBQ?
      C) I get that it’s hard to let go of people thinking you might be cheaping out, but seriously, even if you were? Not Their Business. And you’re not being cheap. You’re helping and honoring a branch of your family who is having a really tough time. Ideally, people are at your wedding to support you as you take this step into marriage, not for free beer?
      D) all sorts of people are non-alcoholic for all sorts of reasons (religious, medical, addiction, just don’t like it, pregnant, etc.). It should not have to be a big deal.

    • Moe

      This was a huge issue during our planning. I wanted alcohol. I know a lot of friends and family were looking forward to alcohol. My husband and a few people in his family were worried about the alcohol being a problem. There was a relative in recovery. A few husbands who drink more than their wives would like them too. Then my father-in-law who has religious hang-ups about alcohol.

      The compromise we reached was sangria, diluted with some fruit and fruit juices. It was really affordable, (another huge issue, we didn’t have money to buy the alcohol I would have really wanted)

      Want to know what happened? At the reception there was all sorts of alcohol floating around that we didn’t provide. The next day during cleanup I discovered a trash can filled with empty 40-ounce bottles of beer. My guests were tailgating at my reception and managed to take care of themselves.

      If I had it to do differently again I would have provided all the alcohol so that my bartender could limit the amount and rate of consumption.

      (I had champagne when I got back to my hotel room. :))

      • Emmers

        When I’ve gone to dry weddings and wanted to drink, I’ve rocked a flask:)

        • Moe

          My sister had TWO and sent her son to the car to refill them when needed. I think she was my tequila supplier.

    • I went to a dry wedding a few years ago that was pure AWESOME. The venue was a classic car museum, and basically the insurance needed if alcohol was involved was far far too costly. Which I didn’t actually learn until later… we all just figured these cars are too nice to drink around. Anyway, those in the know pre-partied (most did not), and all had a great time. It was one helluva dance party, no booze needed.

      • Reading the comments above… maybe more people had flasks at this wedding than I thought…

    • Caroline

      I think that as long as you have plenty of fun interesting drinks, most people won’t even notice. Some will, but they probably won’t say anything. I think serve something fun and yummy (draft rootbeer? mocktails? local craft sodas? italian sodas? some sort of themed juices that go with your meal?) and it will be fine. It’s true there are usually a few people who have a problem with a party without alcohol, but most people who enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at a party are fine without one. It’s really only the folks who have addiction issues anyways who can’t handle a party without alcohol, and you don’t need to cater to those people.

      I think just don’t make a big deal out of it. Treat it as something that’s so obvious it isn’t worth mentioning. I wouldn’t say “Oh, and we’re having a dry wedding” unless someone specifically asks “Are you serving alcohol?”. No need to mention why you aren’t serving alcohol, just that you decided not to.

    • NB

      I was at a really, really awesome dry nighttime wedding. They did great mocktails, had fantastic food, and had a crossword out during the cocktail hour, which was awesome.

      Also, they did this for the toasts: http://www.mariellehayes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/cjblog28.jpg . Milkshakes. I die. It was awesome.

    • PhillyBride

      You guys are wonderful! These are all such great ideas and I feel so much mre secure in the choice I already knew was right for the fiancé and I. We love my brother and want to affirm his sober recovery! I’m so excited to dream up some awesom mocktails and talk to my caterer about toasting with milkshakes!!

    • A ways back, I was involved in a wedding where the bride & groom had some desire to have alcohol as part of their wedding, but they also wanted to avoid a drunken ruckus (groom’s family had a history of making them). So everyone got a flute with sparkling cider (and a couple raspberries!) and each table had exactly two bottles of wine – one red, one white. And that was it. There was enough so that everyone could have a glass, but not enough so that anyone could get drunk. Some sort of compromise like that might work for you too.

  • Jess

    The topic I’m stuck on: getting married before the wedding.

    My man and I are pretty positive we’re going to get married courthouse style this year, before our planned wedding in 2014. Grad school and a giant family doesn’t make the big party feasible this year, so we’re planning on making it legal ealry. Partially for tax reason(we’d save a significant amount of money, enough to finance a large chunk of the wedding), but mostly because we can’t handle the idea of something happening to one of us and not being the other’s legal next of kin. Which, to me, is the most romantic reason in the world. It’s the practical, tying your life to someone else part that really gets me and the emotions going. :)

    So, we’re 99% sure we’re doing that. But we’re stuck on the details. Do we tell people? Do we tell our family? If we don’t tell them before, do we tell them after? If we don’t tell people before, do we tell them at the wedding? Who should be there? Just us? Immediate family? Will our parents be offended if they’re not told/invited? If we do tell people, how do we make sure our wedding 6 months later still feels special? How do we make the courthouse feel real and special if we can’t tell anyone why we’re grinning like idiots? Do we start wearing our wedding bands then, or save them for the planned wedding? We know there’s reasons to choose or not choose each of the options, so I’m currently looking at it as which option will I regret least? Which is pretty backwards. Haha.

    Anyway, I’d love to hear from someone who has done this before. Currently no one but my partner and my best friend who will be officiating at the planned wedding know about our thoughts on this. I actually have my courthouse wedding dress, and picked it out with my mom, who just assumed I was non traditional enough to want to wear a cocktail dress as a wedding dress (she wasn’t wrong. I’ll probably end up doing that too). I kind of feel bad having more information than those around me.

    I know it will work out. I’m not really that worried. But I’d love some thoughts on making sure everyone, us as the couple, and our friends and family, feel loved, special, supported, and included.

    • Emily

      I had almost this exact situation (except in our case it was immigration issues that sparked the earlier courthouse wedding). My parents and sisters came to the courthouse with us (even though we wanted it to be lowkey so it didn’t “detract” from the “real” wedding the following summer)- they really wanted to be there. I struggled a lot with having the second wedding be “real”, but I ended up telling everyone (since it was even more awkward trying to not say anything). As it turned out, no one really said anything or thought it was in anyway odd. We sent out save the dates and wedding invitations to everyone for this summer, and everyone is acting just like its a normal wedding (which it is- dress, caterer, photographer, dogs in matching ties- minus the fact we are technically married). I say, just embrace both opportunities!! Low key/personal courthouse day (we just went out to a nice restaurant afterwards which was awesome) and then a big party later with all the trimmings. Plus- this way you don’t have any stress about “being married” after the second wedding, since you will already be married while planning everything (which I have to say, was pretty nice- I only had to worry about logistic details, not what it would be like to “get married”).

      • Jess

        I read your comment before on my phone, and was just skimming to refresh my memory to write a response. I definitely read “big party later with” as “big party lazer tag.” Hahahaha. We know where my head is at.

        Your weddings both sound amazing! I’m really glad others have done this and liked how everything turned out. :)

    • We did this! Our tax refund was a little over half the cost of the wedding! (A was a student, so…)
      We had a low key courthouse morning; my parents were able to attend, and one of my (4) sisters. A’s friend came out and was his witness, but his mom had to work. We waited in line, got married, and each made it to work/school by midday. The real (to us) wedding was the next year, but only two months later. To us, the church wedding with all our friends and family was the “real” event, but it was nice to think, whenever last minute wedding planning would get crazy – well, we’re already married, so whatever! And it did feel special, even though it wasn’t “the real thing” for us… legality can indeed be romantic.
      We weren’t secretive about our legal wedding, but we weren’t shouting it from the rooftops either. (We actually had a big dinner with close friends that night, but it was coincidental.) Two years later, I’m not sure my grandparents know that we had two weddings. We wore our bands for that day, I think, and then went back to engagement ring for me, no ring for him.
      When I think back, I had wanted the courthouse day to be a bit more romantic, with maybe brunch/lunch after and a cupcake at least, but we ended up having to push it up a month and go to a much less pretty location. Oh well.
      Now we have two anniversaries to celebrate, which is fun!

      • Jess

        (As an aside about taxes. Awesome that your refund was half! I think we’re looking at just over a quarter to a third in our projections. My accountant ran some numbers for me that look pretty awesome. She’s been super helpful with followup questions too. I’m a freelancer and my partner is a small business owner/freelancer as well, so taxes were already crazy. Plus, our big wedding is a month after tax time. Would love to not have to pay out a giant wad of cash again this year.)

        Your weddings sound lovely too. I think I like the idea of immediate family and not being super secretive, but not making a big deal about it.

        Good point about brunch though! Maybe I’ll look into going to the restaurant that I would have loved to have had my wedding at, but is just far too small for my fiance’s large family. Oh, best of all worlds!

    • We never made specific decisions about whether to tell or not and ended up basically not broadcasting it, but telling our parents and close friends and then not lying to anybody who asked. (It’s pretty common in the military for people to get married before the wedding, so it wasn’t weird that people would ask us if we had.) We didn’t have wedding bands before the legal ceremony, so I just continued wearing my engagement ring and he continued to not wear a ring. The strange part for me was that I changed my name right away so I wouldn’t have to go through the process of changing it with the military after the wedding, since I’ve heard it’s a nightmare process. So I think I felt very married during the six months between ceremonies because a big thing had changed for me and he didn’t feel any different because nothing really changed for him. It did put us in sort of a strange limbo of not being sure what to call each other. When I was on base for doctor appointments and that kind of thing, I had to say husband since I’m a dependent spouse in those situations, but socially, fiance was more appropriate. It’s nice to just have one label for him now! I worried that people coming to our wedding would feel like it was a sham because we were already married, but nobody who knew cared at all. They were happy to get to see us exchange vows and then celebrate with us afterward.

      • Jess

        Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I’m a bit worried about the “sham-ness” too, but I’m glad to hear that your friends and family responded well to it. That’s really very reassuring. :)

    • ellie

      We got married for immigration reasons, with plans to have a celebration later. We only said the standard legally required vows and didn’t exchange rings, so that the readings and rings would still be new for the bigger celebration. But, to make the legal ceremony more special, we eloped to another city, hired a photographer, and celebrated afterwards with a fancy dinner. A witness videoed the super-short ceremony for us so we could show our families later. Initially, we thought we’d keep it a secret, but it was hard not to tell people about our awesome elopement, so we gave up on the secrecy. It probably would’ve been easier to keep the secret if we had already planned the bigger wedding.

      Here’s where my own question comes in. I promised my mother (on the other side of the world) that we’d have an event she could be at, but with various other issues (my husband’s family not being able to travel, my brother getting married, too many other commitments to plan a big event, etc), it’s now a year and a half later and we still haven’t had the big celebration, and now I feel like it’s too late.

      It would be in my home country, because my mother is the one who really cares, and my husband’s family would probably not be able to be there (they probably wouldn’t if it were in our current country, either). We’re also not very social people, so it’s hard to imagine (m)any friends travelling that far, especially when everyone knows we’ve been married a while. It would probably end up being just my hometown friends and family. I also think I’d feel silly wearing a proper wedding dress and making a big deal out of it, but I’d also kind of like to, and I know my mother would love it. Is it still worth doing?

      • I say yes. It would give your mom the celebration she wants and give you an opportunity/excuse to see a lot of people back home. If you want to wear a wedding dress, do it. Or if you just want to buy a pretty new dress, do that. We had a separate reception for my dad’s family a while after the wedding and I felt a little silly wearing my wedding dress for it, but it made my aunts and cousins happy to get to see me in it. Even though it’s been a while, I’m sure people would still be happy to celebrate your marriage and meet your husband if they haven’t already gotten to do so.

      • elizabeth

        we didn’t have our big celebration for my family until 3 years after the first one (because it took that long for the spouse to be able to come back to my home country). there’s never a too late.

    • Sarah

      We did this!

      We had immigration issues after we’d been engaged for a year, and having a marriage license was by far the easiest way to solve them. We spent 17 months “secret married” (publicly still “just engaged”) until our wedding.

      Questions about family were the hardest ones for me. We eloped halfway around the world from them. While we told our immediate families beforehand and asked them to keep our secret, we didn’t invite them. There was no way that all of our parents could be there, so we decided to have none of them. It also kept our elopement and wedding as entirely distinct experiences. It broke my heart, thought, to tell my father that he couldn’t come. He was willing to drop everything and get on a plane just to be there… he even asked if he “just happen to be in the right place at the right time” for it. His parents were thrilled; my parents and siblings, while happy for us, were hurt for a while. I’m glad we had photos and the script of the ceremony to share with them.

      Aside from our immediate families, we kept our elopement a secret. It gave me time to grow into the words “wife” and “married”. It gave our marriage time to grow before the pressures of the world crept in. And, I’ll admit, I worried about the effect of “… but they’re already married” comments on our wedding. For us, eloping covered the legal side. The wedding married religiously and socially, before our friends and family. We didn’t wear rings until after our wedding, but I did get a necklace with our hebrew elopement vows engraved on it.

      Now, nearly a year after our wedding, we’re not actively telling people about our elopement, but we’re no longer hiding it. (Mostly, we look at each other in confusion when people ask how long we’ve been married, and then feel a need to explain that we have two answers. After our first wedding anniversary, I think we’ll switch over to using our elopement date as the beginning of our marriage)

    • Megan

      I am secretly married! We got engaged in August of 2011, planning for a Fall 2013 wedding. In May of 2012 we got legally married for the purpose of having Pete on my (much better) health insurance. Not the most romantic of reasons, but it made lots of sense.

      Accordingly, our secret marriage wasn’t super romantic. In PA you can apply for a self-uniting marriage license which essentially allows you to marry yourselves. We went to the county clerk’s office to get the certificate and filled it out together while sitting on our couch that evening. We had his Dad and sister sign as witnesses.

      We have only told Pete’s side of the family. He works for a family business, so they were aware of the health insurance situation. Other than that, he’s had a hard time keeping our secret marriage secret. Most of the people he works with know about it. I’ve kept a tighter lid on things.

      I’m not sure if we’ll tell my family or not. Our wedding day is in October and that feels very much like our real wedding. Celebrating our love with our community and publicly vowing to love and support one another is the key to me feeling “married”, so for now, I still call him my fiance most of the time.

      All I can say is congrats and try not to sweat it. As for regrets, you’re marrying the man you love and he’s good enough to marry twice. What’s to regret?

      • Jess

        See, health insurance and getting married just the two of you on a couch seems super romantic to me. :) Then again, you’re talking to someone who is 1/2 of a couple that just decided to be engaged, sans proposal, while sitting at a bar with a group of coworkers falling over each other drunk on the other side of the room. I frequently find myself telling people that *of course* its romantic. It was when we decided to officially start the process of becoming each other’s family.

        Your marriage sounds awesome, and I hope your wedding this fall is just as amazing! And thanks for taking the time to write back to me.

  • Coastal Creature

    I’ve been a reader for so long and I’m so very close to being engaged (ring shopping!) that I finally decided to start participating. Why did I think I couldn’t participate until I was engaged? I have no idea.

    Anyway, short and simple question. What the heck do you do when your wonderful and amazing partner in life is interested in all of the WIC craziness??? He wants a giant cake, he wants a beautiful venue, he wants a fully catered event, he wants the Whole. Freakin’. Shebang.

    Maybe he doesn’t realize the cost? Somehow he’s under the impression we’re going to pay for this thing all by ourselves. He also doesn’t want anything to be cheap or for others to think we were being cheap in any way. I know where he gets this from, his family, but my comments and reactions to his WIC-ness hasn’t really resulted in anything.


    Perhaps this will all get solved when we really put our heads together and start planning, but the engagement is the first stop on that train ride.

    • You’re describing my husband! He wanted a big, fancy party with all of the relatives and all the nice things. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and dance and eat cake.

      I think talk about how much you’re willing to spend on the event, and put together a few budgets. See where you can cut corners and if you can meet someplace in the middle. For my husband and I, we eventually found a place we were both somewhat comfortable with, but it took a lot of looking.

    • Moe

      My friend had this “problem”. Her guy wanted a sparkly glamourous party. She did a little homework and put together a sample budget for such an affair so that he could see the dollar figures associated with the cost for that size event for 200+ people.

      They are now planning a small destination wedding in Hawaii. :)

    • kc

      Putting together a tentative wedding budget might help him connect-the-dots between WIC and All The Money. If he is fine with spending All The Money and you aren’t, or if he wants things WIC and you want a paddle-boats-on-the-lake wedding with a picnic on the grass afterward, then you have different wedding discussion problems.

      But odds are that the first thing is to make concrete how much money you’re talking about. I know I had planned to put “real” silverware on our registry… until I realized that the cheapest place settings I found remotely attractive [a lot of that stuff: expensive but UGLY] were over $60 each, and I wanted a lot of place settings, for Thanksgivings and dinner parties and stuff – and oh, I did *not* want to even own several hundred dollars worth of silverware! (can you imagine the guilt upon losing a spoon?) So we decided that stainless steel was great for us and we found a pattern that would work with both fancy dinners and would dress down for casual, and that was reasonably priced (read: cheaper for a box full of something like 8 place settings than “real” silverware was per place setting) and we are super happy with it. And no polishing!

      Sometimes, getting that gut-punch-to-the-stomach “wait, wedding cake costs *how much* per slice?” is really, really helpful for thinning down “the works” into “the toppings we actually really really want”.

      I would also note that sometimes one can avoid being viewed as “taking the cheap option” if you go somewhat perpendicular to normal expectations, since no one quite knows how to price them. :-)

    • Doing preliminary numbers is definitely a great idea. I would follow that up with emailing him some of your favorite APW posts, and talk about stuff one thing at a time. Rather than throwing all of his ideas out the window, he can read something, think about it, then you can talk later- What’s really important at the wedding- to show that we’re not cheap, or to celebrate and have fun? What does having a huge, tiered cake mean to you? Because to me, it’s just dessert, and as long as it tastes good, I’d rather not break the bank for CAKE.

      Just tackle things one at a time. Plus, coming up with “wedding mission statement” and list of important things you agree on will really help in further, more detailed discussions, too.

    • Marina

      It will TOTALLY be solved when you start planning. My guy just plain hadn’t thought about weddings before planning his own. He was baffled at the idea of needing to reserve things a year in advance, and at how much things cost, just because it hadn’t occurred to him. And why would it?

      Once you’re planning, you can ask him to be the one researching prices. Decide together on a budget amount, then you research what you imagine a wedding to look like and he researches what he imagines a wedding to look like. Who knows, he may find some spectacular deals. Or he may decide to go smaller scale. But it’s MUCH easier to do when you’re trying to plan for a concrete event, rather than thinking about something in the indefinite future.

    • Carrie

      I don’t have much advice to share, but I wanted to let you know you are not alone! My partner and I recently got engaged and it has already proven difficult trying to balance his WIC expectations and our small budget. We are definitely paying for the wedding ourselves and our preliminary guest list is fairly big (150-175 people). I have a big extended family, and I can’t imagine getting married without any of them there. He has fewer relatives, but is an extremely social guy and considers a large chunk of his friends to be family. So, we pretty much decided we are not cutting the guest list and will find other ways to stick to our budget.

      What he doesn’t yet realize is that we can’t have a $30 per-person sit-down meal, a fancy venue, a designer dress, a huge cake, or any other WIC-ness for that many people while staying in our modest budget. Increasing the budget isn’t really an option for us (poor grad students), but every time I suggest a cheaper option (BBQ at a community center! Sunday lunch reception! No open bar!) he turns up his nose. I am hoping he will come back down to earth after we start seriously looking at venues/caterers/etc. and he sees how expensive it all is.

      Until then, my suggestion for you is to sit down and set a preliminary budget and guest count with him now (or soon after you get engaged). My guess is your partner really doesn’t realize how much things will cost (mine doesn’t) and will actually want to set a fairly reasonable budget. Then, as you start to really plan, you can remind him of how much his WIC requests will eat up your budget. When my partner makes a suggestion that I think is too expensive, I do the math and let him know it would probably take up x% of our agreed-upon budget. That is usually enough to get him to consider other options, although he is still not sold on most of my ideas :)

      I’ve found it’s also really important to start talking to him about why he wants those things and what is most important to him, so you can find cheaper substitutes that are agreeable to both of you. Does he want gorgeous pictures afterwards? Maybe you can find a beautiful garden to take pictures in for free. Does he want amazing food or a great party? Maybe you can find a restaurant to cater more cheaply or find a venue that will let you supply your own alcohol. Is he just managing expectations from others? Maybe you will need to sit down with family/loved ones to have a frank discussion about what you can afford.

      • Rebecca

        I think even the Olive Garden calc can help (i.e. how much would it cost to feed all these people dinner and drinks at Olive Garden/ whatever baseline you like). Numbers get big fast when you multiply them by 150+.

        • Coastal Creature

          This is amazing! Thank you! And I love the comment on making our choices “perpendicular to normal” – how great! You’re all right, of course. Showing him a real budget with real numbers will probably jump start his sense of “oh crap that’s a lot of money”. Thanks everyone!

          • kc

            Photos of “alternative” wedding options (to show “here, these still look like weddings, yes? And the people, they seem not to be sad, right?”) might also help? Sometimes it’s hard to imagine something you’ve never been to or have never seen done successfully – you’ve got a head start with APW and other media, whereas it sounds like he’s only had WIC input, so it may be quite an adjustment.

            Best wishes as you navigate this together!

  • Caroline

    I know there were a lot of other folks at the APWHowTo on Pinterest who were also stressed about how to do tables for a cocktail wedding. I’m here to say, it will be fine. We had a huge birthday party for my stepdad that was kind of a testing out my mom’s house for the wedding. It ran from 2:30-6, with passed food, stations and a buffet, all fork or finger food. We had about 100 guests at any given time (150 total in open house style), 7 round tables seating 6-8 people each, and some benches and couches with coffee tables in the living room and on the patio. There was probably seats for about 2/3 of everyone who were there most of the time and not that much at it’s most crowded moments. It worked really well, because the food was casual (ie, there were passed apps and a pizza station and a cheese station and a charcuterie station all the party, then more dinner-y food was brought out for an hour or so, but there wasn’t a “this is dinnertime now” moment really. There were toasts, and a “now is cake time moment”, and other than lacking a good mc who could be loud and say “okay, toasts and happy birthday now!”, the setup worked great. I think also having mixed seating helped. We had 6 seater and 8 seater tables (and maybe a few 4?) and various benches and couches. (Some of the benches were definite rented). If we just had one type of table it would have been awkward but this way it encouraged mingling. Putting the food in lots of spots also helped.

    Seating was what I was most worried about for our at home Sunday lunch wedding, and now I’m not worried. I wanted to offer that to others that it will work just fine.

    • Meghan

      Caroline!! OMG OMG!! Thank you!!

      I am delighted to read that the seating you used worked out for your stepdad’s party because it sounds EXACTLY like what we’re doing for our wedding at my parents’ home in October and I have been so worried about it. My fiance and I styled our reception after a night at a favorite bar or pub – heavy hors d’oeuvres in fun stations with varied seating – a few 8-person rounds, several high bistro tables w/ matching high chairs and some benches. We’re inviting a little over 100 people and expecting 80-90 to attend. It’ll run from about 5:30-10:30 and we are doing pie and dancing as well. The problem is, we have never been to a reception like this and neither have my parents, so we’ve all been a little nervous as to how it will go!

      Thank you so much for posting and setting my mind at ease. Sending your comment to my fiance now!

      • Your reception sounds awesome and I bet it will be splendid!

      • Caroline

        Megan, I’m glad I could help. I was so nervous about doing it that way until my stepdad’s party, because like you, I’ve never been to a reception like that. Since there were so many questions about how to do a cocktail reception setup on the pinterest thread, I thought maybe others would be as nervous as I was. Now I know it will be awesome and won’t be an issue. Your reception sounds like it will be great. I hope you enjoy it.

      • JEM

        I absolutely LOVE this style event.

      • We did this exact thing at our reception (heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, high bistros, and rounds, with 85 people in attendance) at our favorite art museum. It was SO much fun. People mixed and mingled a lot, we got people to dance, and overall, we had a fantastic time (and so did our friends and family). I think you will have a wonderful time.

    • Carrie

      Umm can someone explain this APWHowTo on Pinterest thing? I am fairly new to APW and very new to Pinterest, but that sounds like it could be amazingly useful!

      • Caroline

        In January, they set up a APWHowTo board (one of APracticalWedding ‘s boards)to solicit suggestions for APW Lazy Girl How To posts. They’ve picked what they’re doing for the year, so I’m not sure how active they are, although there was a certain amount of useful crosschat in the comments, and has been a little bit after they picked them.

        • Carrie

          Thanks! I will have to look that up.

  • May

    Ok, I’m a little ashamed of what I’m about to say, but here goes. I am going to be the biggest member of my bridal party and it makes me so, so sad. I know it’s silly to think so superficially but I just can’t help it. I am not exactly big but all of my bridesmaids are small and whippet thin. I feel like I’m going to look like a great white snow beast on the day next to them. I am trying to lose weight by exercising as much as possible, but my job is so demanding and I am stressed enough. I feel caught in a no-win situation and it just makes me want to cry, out of sadness and frustration. Has anyone else been through this?? Did you end up feeling beautiful on the day?

    • Cynth

      How would you feel if your partner showed up at the wedding looking totally different than the person you fell in love with? We all have body issues (at least every woman I know!) no matter what our sizes. Here’s the thing to remember- you are getting married to someone who I’m sure loves you just the way you are. You know what makes someone super beautiful? Being Happy. Give yourself a break. We all try to be superwomen when planning weddings. Eat healthy, get some sleep and know that the people who love you will only see the happiness radiating off of you.

      On my wedding day I chose to just not look in a full length mirror. I had chosen my dress, my jewelry etc., so what was the point? If I was unhappy there was nothing I could do about it at that point. In the end I didn’t focus on feeling beautiful, not that I felt otherwise, but what I did feel was incredibly loved. And that is a far better feeling.

      • May

        “How would you feel if your partner showed up at the wedding looking totally different than the person you fell in love with?”

        Boom. Talk about a lightbulb moment. I would feel confused and a little upset. I’ve literally never thought about it this way!

    • I was the biggest member of my wedding party. Weight has always been hard for me. This is something that I struggle with often–not just before my wedding, but always. My younger sister and maid of honor is traditionally gorgeous as well as being thin, and has worked as a model for Abercrombie & Fitch. I am currently 60 pounds overweight.

      On my wedding day I was beautiful. I felt beautiful. I look at pictures from that day and I see that I am beautiful. That I wasn’t just beautiful at my wedding, but that I am a beautiful person always (inside, yes, of course, but I am talking superficial EXTERNAL beauty, here, people. I have it).

      I can’t promise you that your experience will be the same, but I can honestly say that my weight and appearance made me sick prior to my wedding, and that my wedding has helped heal that for me.

      I am losing weight, because while I have never been waif thin, 60 pounds over is not normal for me, and not where I am comfortable. But I don’t feel ugly and ashamed anymore.

    • Moe

      Fellow fat girl here! way up at the beginning of this thread in the first comments you’ll see a link to my photos. I was a size 18 bride. My MOH has been a tiny size size 4 since we were teenagers and the rest of my girls are small too.

      I rocked red lipstick, leopard shoes and cardigan and the bling-iest necklace I could find. I danced, I ate cake and even sang.

      Give yourself permission to be less than perfect AND be beautiful on your wedding day.

      Now that it’s all over, the husband and I are going to work on excersing and eating healthier. The pressure of the wedding is gone and now we can just be a team.

    • Kara E

      Totally with Cynth on this. Be healthy and give yourself a break. Eat stuff that makes you feel good and take a walk.

      I’ve had body image issues since I hit puberty and wedding dress shopping made me feel 13 again. It was awful. BUT, I found a lovely seamstress (a private one) who made the dress I found look lovely. I’m 5’9″ and was about 190 for my wedding – I tried to lose weight beforehand and just couldn’t and hated it, especially being around my size 4 mom (who has her own body image issues) and skinny bridesmaids).* And you know? I looked radiant. Yes, there are some pictures that I hate (the dress sagged in the back by the end of the night because I took the detachable straps off) and there’s some stuff that was just taken at a bad angle, giving me a lovely double chin, but I looked like ME. Happy, happy, gorgeous, natural -me-. And the happiness did something amazing that showed up even in the pictures. And my (smaller, skinnier) husband thought I was gorgeous too, but he’s never understood my body image issues.

      *I’m now 7.5 months pregnant and 220 right now, which is a WHOLE ‘nother body image issue.

    • kc

      You don’t have to match or compete with your bridesmaids. I poked through my memories, and a friend of mine did have bridesmaids who were substantially skinnier than she was, and you know what? She looked stunning (she also felt stunning, according to her, and while I did not ask her husband, he certainly appeared to think so as well!). Her bridesmaids? All looked like, hey, a fleet of bridesmaids. No competition/comparison/etc. You don’t have to color coordinate hair or skin color; you don’t have to be weight-and-height coordinated, either!

      I would note that getting a dress that fits properly is a boon for all brides (yay, more flattering, and yay, less twitching and adjusting), but otherwise, seriously, you will be gorgeous because of love and happy and stuff, and people will not be thinking, as they watch you and your future spouse exchanging rings, with your bridesmaids lined up behind you, “oh, man, she should have lost more weight for the wedding”. At least, if anyone does, that basically defines “people whose opinion you should not care about”.

      Healthy: good. Looking like yourself: good. Whippet thin if you are not made to be whippet thin? Will only give you health problems and make you feel awkward.

    • May

      Damn it guys, now I’m crying happy and relieved tears. You all sound so happy and chilled. I’m going to remember this on our wedding day. You will be my ghosts of invisible support, in the most non- spooky way possible. Thank you!

    • YetAnotherMegan

      I’m still in the planning phase, but I definitely feel you about worrying about the dress and pictures. I’m currently at my heaviest and have been working out moderately and eating healthily. However, I bought my dress already (over a year before the wedding), so I’m trying to stay within a size or two to keep alterations manageable. I did, however, carefully select a flattering dress shape that I felt good in. Sure, I don’t look like a size 2 or even a size 12, but putting in on and looking in the mirror feels like a fancy and exciting me.

      This may sound bad (I’m not sure if I’m saying it right), but it has also helped me to keep in mind that when I’ve seen less than flattering pictures of a bride, its not because of her body, but a bad camera angle or bad dress fit is generally to blame.

      • kc

        Bad camera angles are responsible for so much in the world. It is insane. Even inanimate objects suffer.

        (dress fit is also important, as are expression and posture and lighting; but camera angles and framing are *so ludicrously much* of what makes photos flattering or unflattering. And with digital, they can take lots and lots of photos, and the ones with bad camera angles can die forever…)

    • Erin

      I was the biggest member of my wedding party. My two bridesmaids are adorable little stick thin things, and people ask me if I feed my husband.

      I felt /gorgeous/ on my wedding day. I had a dress I knew I looked great in (let me give a shout out right now to lace-up corsets, which are forgiving, smooth things out, give you GREAT cleavage, and shape you nice), my hair was fantastic, and my photographer was great with the angles.

      And I. Had. Fun. I had a ton of fun. People are coming to see YOU get married. They know what you look like. They aren’t judging Wedding You. They’re just seeing you, deliriously happy.

      So be deliriously happy. Remember that on your wedding day, you’re surrounded by people who love you. The end.

    • KE

      To both your questions– yes and yes. I was the biggest member of the bridal party by 3 sizes (and they’re all taller). “Whippet thin” is the perfection way to describe my bridesmaids. So it’s not like I was dramatically larger than them, but I felt like it…. until the actual wedding. I felt like I was glowing the whole day, just radiating happiness and beauty. (Cheesy, but accurate.)

      Three practical things helped:

      1. I loved my dress, and it was altered to fit me absolutely perfectly. I wore foundation garments that smoothed everything out without feeling restrictive.

      2. I went from no exercise to working out 2-4 times/week for the year before the wedding. Overall, this was good– it helped with stress, I felt more confident/powerful, I gained a lot of muscle tone, I went down a size. But it meant that I spent a lot of time thinking about my body and focusing on what could be improved. The month before the wedding, I told myself no more negative body thoughts. Anytime I started to think, Blergh, I wish I didn’t carry weight in my arms, I stopped myself and said, No, I am beautiful, this is the body my fiance fell in love with, and nothing can stop me from being a gorgeous bride. It worked.

      3. I was very straightforward with my photographer ahead of time about what angles and poses I thought were unflattering. The example I gave is having me drape my arms around my husbands shoulders. It might look cute, but all I’m going to see when I look at the photograph is my arms (irrational as that may be). I felt much more confident in photos knowing that my photographer was sensitive to my insecurities.

      So: No negative body talk/thoughts, get your dress altered perfectly, be honest with your photographer about any worries, and remember, every bride is beautiful. It’s not a cliche, it’s fact.

  • Caitrin

    Any advice for a girl three weeks away from her day and in need of a major attitude adjustment? I have spent the last year telling anyone who would listen that we are having a big wedding because that is what my fiance wants. That if it were totally up to me we would have gone to City Hall and had a backyard BBQ months ago. But here I am, on the brink of actually doing this. Because I love him, and didn’t want my anxieties to take away from what he wanted/needed, but man I can’t seem to “own it”. Last thing I want is to be at the wedding looking around and thinking I didn’t want this. And there are many parts of the day that are “mine”, lots of nontraditional details, near the beach, an amazing dress that makes me feel like a sexy lace covered rockstar. I just feel like I need to change my own narrative in order to enjoy a day that we both have put a lot of time and thought into, to ignore the final cost and guest count and enjoy all our family and friends. Anyone go through a similar thought process??

    • NTB

      I was SO BURNED OUT AND BITTER about a month before my wedding. I resented almost everything I had chosen because I felt like I had chosen it because someone else wanted it. It was difficult to sort out what I truly wanted in the shadow of what in-laws, parents, cousins, and siblings wanted my wedding to look like.

      What I learned was that my wedding day was not a perfect day. There were things that I would have done differently. But no day in our lives is perfect. Thinking this way made me feel a little better. Also, my mom got sick a few years ago, and I tried to remind myself that, although she drives me a little nuts sometimes, this was my chance to create a truly memorable time with her and enjoy a very special milestone in my life. I wish I had paid less attention to the ‘things’ before my wedding (not that you are, I am just saying this was my focus.) I wish had spent less time on Ebay looking for designer veils and more time shopping at JoAnn fabrics with my mom even though I didn’t want homemade bridesmaids dresses. Did I want an open bar? Hell no, and I HATED looking at the price tag for something I didn’t want.

      …but oh, the fun my family and friends had. how they raved about the fun conversations and delicious cake, and the chair that my uncle danced on and broke the legs off of. Yeah. That’s what mattered. (Looking back 8 months afterwards, I don’t even remember what some things cost me. I just remember certain moments in the day. Sounds cheesy, but it is true.) …as long as you can savor what you love about your day…as long as you can hold on to ‘the good…’ that will be your narrative; you will create it and it will be yours and it will be wonderful.

      EVERYTHING gets done, and the stuff that might slip through the cracks….it might not be important after all. Let it go. Let it flow.

      Congratulations, and best wishes for a happy wedding and marriage <3

    • kc

      The wedding is just a wedding. The marriage is the important part.

      There was a lot I just plain didn’t care about with our wedding, and very few things that I specifically didn’t like, so I wasn’t in your shoes, *but* I can say that, probably, you’re unlikely to look around, when surrounded by people who love you on your wedding day, and say “I didn’t want this”. Focus on the good; skim over the bad or the meh (wait, you mean that no one took home the centerpieces? But we wanted people to take home the centerpieces! – but these are things you can’t fix at this point, and they don’t actually matter), and slurp up the love of all those who do come and all the fun of the details that you do like and all the romance and commitment and relationship and mess and compromise and joy of getting married to the one you love.

      I guess: once decisions have been made, look at the people and the memories and alllll the good, not the price tags or the missing or the bad. And laugh at as many things-that-go-awry as you possibly can (they’re kind of one of the best parts).

      • Caitrin

        Thanks! Even just writing that comment made me reevaluate my attitude, after re-reading it I was like “There is no way you will look around and say you didn’t want this, you are marrying your favorite person in the whole world!”

    • R

      I was ready, the day of our wedding, to skip the whole thing and just go hiking. We’d already done the legal bits, and I was just tired of talking to people and dealing with people and the whole thing. It is perhaps a narrow thing that I put on my dress and didn’t just turn up in jeans…

      Turns out that the actual wedding bit, with the ceremony and the vows and our community affirmation, followed by dinner and cake and everyone telling me how nice everything was and how nice I looked was actually pretty excellent. And seeing how much it meant to everyone else actually helped it mean more for me too.

      And then, the next day, when our venue offered to let me look at the invoice then or to mail it to me to deal with in 30 days, I told them to just mail it and didn’t even think about looking at it.

    • I had a breakdown in the week before my wedding (due in part to getting stranded in an unfamiliar city without transportation) where I just felt like I was some stage prop for this day that was really all about my husband’s family. We had a huge wedding (that terrified my introvert-self) and most of the guests in attendance were people I had never met.

      But like KC said, a wedding is just a wedding. Our families had such a wonderful time (and told us so). We felt incredibly loved. Was it my dream wedding? Probably not. But is it worth it being married now? Hell yeah! And do we have good memories of the day? Yes. So keep that in mind. It will be worth it. Weddings are a community event, and I bet you will feel loved by your community on your wedding day, whether feels completely “you” or not.

  • NTB

    As a longtime reader of APW, I am so appreciative of its existence and all of the women who make up this community. Getting married last year was pretty much a huge shock to my system, and I leaned a lot on APW to find answers to questions that no one else seemed to understand.

    I still lean on this community to find answers to some of the questions that I face as a married woman. I am not at all sure what I would do without APW.

    I submitted a question to APW weeks before my wedding because I was scared that marriage would drastically change the relationships that I have with my friends. The one piece of advice I can give to anyone getting married soon is to try not to isolate after you get married. Sure, you need your space as a new married couple, but you WILL need your community—friends, family, neighbors, anyone who will listen—after you get married. You will need them for support. Continue to foster those relationships because they are vital to the survival of your marriage and your sanity as a human.

    That is all.

  • Caroline

    Ok, I was just talking with my mom about dresses. I have something super specific in mind (ankle or mid-calf length, twirly as can be, structured, drop waist, modest, maybe a little lace-y, and I really haven’t found anything like it. So few dresses are ankle length and most that are are too heavy to twirl.), and was complaining about how I can’t seem to find dressmakers in the Bay Area. I thought hey, the open thread was today, maybe I can ask. Does anyone know of a good dressmaker in the SF Bay Area for a custom wedding dress?

    (or any stores that carry ankle length dresses/dresses that are light enough to twirl if hemmed to ankle or calf length. Everywhere I’ve been has had none or very few.)

    • Rebecca

      Maybe try Nordstroms? I bought my very Marilyn-Monroe style chiffon halter dress there (last October, unfortunately) and it is mid-calf length and very twirly.

      Ann Taylor looks like they might have a few that would twirl properly- the fabrics look light enough and the skirts have good volume- you’d still have to hem, but maybe a starting point?

      • I tried on a silk chiffon dress from Ann Taylor that I’m betting would have been twirly if it had been shorter. Probably the same would go for silk chiffon from J Crew. I can’t say for sure since they were all about a foot too long on me when I tried them on and I ended up going with a different fabric for the one I bought.

    • Megan

      You could also check out Etsy to have a custom dress made for the wedding, to your awesome-sounding specifications.

    • kc

      No dressmaker recommendations, *but* I would note that dresses with skirts large enough to twirl (the circumference of the bottom hem is big, rather than small) but that aren’t twirling satisfactorily can be weighted slightly at the hem (lots of options for this, but stitching on a pre-strung line of beads on the inside of the hem is a pretty user-friendly option) for more twirling out. Obviously, this weighting will also affect things like length and drape, and you’ll want to weight it according to the overall fabric weight (heavy-duty fabric: thicker weights; chiffon: judiciously placed seed beads), but I just wanted to note that there are twirlification options in some cases where the skirt is large enough but it’s just not doing what you want it to do.

      You can potentially get a sense of this while trying on by pinning heavy safety pins at intervals on the inside of the hem, depending on the fabric (just don’t poke through the outer fabric)

      If you find a dress or pattern that is perfect in all other ways but does not have a big enough skirt circumference, depending on the design you may be able to inset wedges of fabric (godets) between the panels of the skirt. These can either match or contrast with the main body fabric.

      Hope the hunt goes splendidly!

      • Caroline

        Will it make even heavy satin twirl? There was one dress I liked a lot, but I’m worried it’s too wavy to twirl. It does have a big hemline (note the dress currently has a train that would get chopped, so I wasn’t able to test it’s twirling abilities at all.)
        Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll keep it in mind.

        • kc

          Yes, it will (thanks, physics), as long as the fabric/dress isn’t *so* stiff that it actually can’t move. But the key is weighting it appropriately, and if the satin is super-duper-crazy-heavy, that may not be possible without basically becoming a nunchuk-dress that’ll knock down small children if they get in the way of its twirl… but often heavy satin will twirl on its own, if you start twirling slowly and then speed up. Weighting helps, though, esp. with lighter or stiffer fabrics. (think trying to spin around a circle holding a piece of yarn; the yarn just wraps around you or kind of does nothing. Tie something to the end of that piece of yarn, and it holds out from you when you spin – okay, and then wraps around you when you stop spinning, but you get the idea. Heavier rope spins out from you on its own, since it has its own weight, but can be “assisted” by tying something at the end.)

          Any way of bustling the train and then checking the twirl? You should be able to get a sense of whether the front of the dress can twirl even with the back bustled. I’d also note that, hello physics again, momentum means that you may need to “get a twirl going” (start turning around, then twirl slowly, then faster) so that the dress twirls out rather than only wrapping around you. It takes longer for a long dress to build momentum.

          I’d also note that twirling in the wind sometimes doesn’t work, so outdoor twirl efforts may be thwarted.

          (can you tell my dress was twirly by design? Ha!)

    • LILY

      I don’t know of any dressmakers, but here is a link to a gorgeous dress that is perfect for twirling!: http://www.davidsbridal.com/Product_Cap-Sleeve-Wedding-Dress-with-Illusion-Neckline-CMK513_Bridal-Gowns-Shop-By-Designer-Oleg-Cassini

      Good luck!

      • Caroline

        Thanks! I’m going to see if the David’s bridal near here has that one to try.

    • Do either of these fit the bill?


      I would echo the weighting recommendations as well as searching a bit on Etsy. There are some talented people who can make amazing dresses.

      (Case in point: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Graceloveslace?section_id=11880592)

    • KRW

      Have you checked out Shadows in San Anselmo (in central Marin)? They have a great collection of vintage dresses and bridesmaid-dresses-in-white. I got my high-neck tea-length dress there – and there were lots of options for modest and not-floor-length dresses! I don’t recall them having any really heavy dresses either. Good luck!

  • LMC

    First time posting here–but I’ve been a follower of APW since before I got engaged, and I figured, why not? Here’s my dilemma: our wedding ceremony is at 11 AM, and we have a post-ceremony lunch planned at a restaurant near the church. It’s an awesome place, with a big open second floor space, lots of light, and great food.

    My fiance and I aren’t big on dancing, just has never been us, and we planned the wedding with this in mind. There IS going to be a smaller after -party at a campground with a lodge-type space later that evening, and there will be music there, but we’re orienting that part towards the bridal party/our main friends, and are hoping to keep it much smaller than the ceremony/reception.

    The main reception, where all our family/parent’s friends/etc… will be is not going to center around toasts/dancing/any of these things. It’ll just be food, and the people we love.

    My family is more than ok with this. In fact, my mother would have been ok with us eloping. So the more low-key the better. But his family seems to be very worried that there will be “nothing to do” at the reception. I’ve relied on APW’s mentality of, your wedding is not a show, to help me get through my own feelings of inadequacy here, but if anybody has any advice/thoughts on how to work through this with my future mother-in-law I’d greatly appreciate it.

    My fiance has suggested having a photo booth or games or some such activity that wouldn’t distract from the day, but that could help his family feel involved. Thoughts?

    • Quinners

      Games and a photo booth sound good. What do you normally do at parties? What do his family members normally do at parties? Some of those activities may work.

      Personally, I’m an anxious introvert who doesn’t dance, virtually never drinks, and has a mother who would definitely criticize and humiliate me if given a chance to give a toast. I was kind of dreading my own reception…and then we deliberately chose a wedding date that coincides with a fireworks display and we hired a magician to entertain for awhile. And now I think we’re going to be fine. As long as you have some kind of icebreaking activity, I think you’ll be all right.

    • You could lean toward some more time-consuming participatory things, like having people be able to craft their own page of a guest book or create a card for you with well wishes or something like that, so they have something to do but it is wedding related, not just a random game (nothing wrong with games!). Is there anything you want to crowdsource from your people? A video confessional where they can share a memory, a book of favorite quotes, a scrap of fabric they can decorate to make a quilt later? Just brainstorming!

    • Rebekah

      Somebody a few weeks ago mentioned that they had Jenga as table centerpieces. My SO likes puzzles (the brain kind, not the literal kind), so I’m putting together some fun sheets of brain teasers (e.g. 2 C in a P, 2 P in a Q, 4 Q in a G and they have to guess that it’s 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon) and a page of personal trivia so they have to mingle to find out who is the ordained minister (his uncle) or who released a jazz cd, or who rafted the Colorado River, etc. I love Apples to Apples, too.

    • We did a brunch reception with ZERO wedding “stuff” – dancing, introduction of married couple, bouquet toss, first dance, etc. But, we had games and good people. And by games, I mean old school ones leftover from my childhood- checkers, dominoes, chinese checkers, etc. There was some very intense Jenga action.

      I also made a crossword puzzle and placed it and a sharpened pencil at every place setting. I used this website: http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/CrissCrossSetupForm.asp and made the questions about me, my husband, and us together. People seemed to have a good time with it, and it also seemed to encourage conversation at the tables. The kids all got a coloring book and crayons to help occupy them.

    • LMC

      Grateful for these wonderful suggestions! And relieved to feel a little less alone in all this! Thanks guys!

  • Livvy

    could really do with some kind but honest thoughts here:

    I’m in an international long distance relationship and i’m not ready to get married yet. But, because of immigration stuff if we want to be together in the US then we need to get married in the next 4 months. (He needs to be in the US for his work).

    I’m not ready yet as we have some trust issues that are unresolved.
    If we were in the same country we both agree we could work through these issues and work towards an awesome life together. BUT I would have to marry him to be able to stay in the country (and work) within the next 4 months. I feel like marrying on paper for immigration issues and when I’m not ready to make that commitment in front of our friends and family is taking the mickey out of marriage. Removing the sanctity and specialness of a lifetime commitment.

    And yet, if we don’t then our relationship is over. The other ways for me to be in the country have all but been ruled out unless I do an MBA and whilst we could afford that, $80k is a lot of money as an alternative.

    He is a good man, who loves me, and will make a great husband and father. . He is taking steps to work through his stuff and our stuff – counselling, and so on.

    oh man, how do I know what to do? Where to start? Anyone else been in this scenario? Sometimes it feels like love is not always enough.

    • Caroline

      Kind but honest: I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It sounds really hard. I don’t think you should marry him right now. Marriage, even or especially legal marriage is a big deal, with a lot of new rights and responsibilities. (Umm, if that came out as that not yet legally recognized same sex marriages are not a big deal, that is not what I meant, just that getting legally married is a pretty serious legal contract, one hopefully all couples getting married will have access to.) You don’t say what kind of trust issues you are having or what that means, but if you don’t trust him, you shouldn’t marry him. Nowhere is trust more important than in a marriage. It sounds like you aren’t ready to marry him, and you should listen to yourself. Maybe you can hack a long distance relationship and maybe it means it’s over but you got to listen to your still quiet voice. To me, it seems like you are saying “no, not right now”. Immigration is not worth marrying before you are ready. I think marrying before you are ready can only lead to issues.

    • jules

      I experienced something similar. My advice? To follow your gut, and get married when you want to. If it turned out that getting married did not help with the paperwork and you couldn’t stay anyway… would you regret it?

      A few years ago I was in a long term relationship when I decided to move back to my country. My then boyfriend asked if we could get married so that he could join me. I said no, for many of the same reasons you are expressing; I didn’t feel ready, and didn’t want to marry him just so that we could continue our relationship. So we decided to try long distance for 6 months. I visited his country and before the end of the trip decided to cool things off while the future became clearer: I couldn’t afford to fly back and forth and neither could he.
      Three months later, he managed to save up money for travel and arranged appointments and travel to a different city to get the visa so that he could visit me, out of his own initiative. Sadly, the visa was denied. And that’s when I proposed to him.

      The situation was the same as when he had proposed and the conditions much the same: we needed legal paperwork so that we could make things work out and be together. The difference was that this time I felt ready for the commitment and realized that he was also in it for the long run.

      In the end, getting married did not serve any alternate purposes except to make us legally wed, since he was denied a visa even after we were married.

      So I moved to his country and a year later we ended up living in a different country new to both of us. Had we gotten married just for the legal issues, it would’ve been so much more disappointing when the visa didn’t come through, but because our goal had become to be a team, I let go of the plans we’d made and we drafted a new plan. And we are living it and loving it.

    • Mackenzie

      I’m so sorry you’re at such a difficult crossroads, and I hope whatever decision you make, you are able to make with confidence and inner peace!

      I can only share the two times I have seen people marry for “green card” reasons, in order to save/further a relationship though they weren’t necessarily marriage ready.

      #1 – a good friend married her boyfriend from a foreign land about a year into their relationship, so that he could stay in the country. They did not have any kind of wedding, and actually still lived apart after their marriage for a while since they were working in different cities (of the same country). They went through their ups and downs, even took breaks at times, but in the end, they moved into a house they bought together (3-4 years later) and he proposed and they’re have a wedding later this year! So in their case, the first marriage was out of necessity, but the second upcoming is the true declaration of their lifelong commitment. They chose to not let the first “take the mickey” out of the second (though I’m sure it really raised the stakes in their arguments and separations) — one of the ways they did this was by still calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend and keeping the marriage semi-under-wraps. Just one way that it can all work out in the end, and the specialness of the eventual wedding is not at all tarnished in my opinion.

      #2 – a colleague married someone from the states (she is Canadian) so they could be together, but they each are working in their respective countries still and really REALLY struggled with the immigration process, which was taking years to sort out, and it was difficult to even visit each other in the meantime. The distance (emotional/geographical) eventually wore them down and they’re getting a divorce. The lesson I took away from this was that marriage is not an automatic solution – and make sure you look into all the ins and outs (though it sounds like you have already), to ensure you really can live in the same country after marriage!

      Hope this helps

  • Caroline

    I just want to say how much I have loved all the open threads lately. I hope Open Thread Fridays are here is stay, and that they remain a big part of APW. The last few weeks have been awesome with all the open threads.

  • Katy

    My parents are helping Himself and I out with the costs of the wedding – which is going to be summer next year. I’m really grateful for this but would like to spend money in a thoughtful and economic way, minimising waste as much as possible – rather than just throwing money around because it’s what the WIC expects of us. I’d also like to involve my Mum in the planning as her mother wasn’t really involved at all with her wedding planning and I don’t want to exclude my Mum.

    The problem is that my Mum is having a major case of keeping up with the Joneses (or, I suspect, keeping up with our wealthy next door neighbours, whose daughter’s wedding was a couple of years ago – my parents were invited.) Everytime I show my mother something I like (be it bridesmaids dresses, centrepieces and so on) I get the disapproving silence. Obviously since she and Dad are paying I’d like them to approve of my choices here but at the same time it’s really beginning to feel like Mum isn’t going to approve of anything but her own choices.

    I don’t want to end up row-ing with my Mum over a wedding but at the same time I would quite like to feel like it was a celebration that reflected Himself and I and who we are, rather than the cookie cutter wedding she thinks would be appropriate. I mean seriously, where is the law that says that the mother of the bride’s dress should be the same colour as the bridesmaids? Ditto the one that says she must wear something new (rather than wearing the dress she wore and loved to my cousin’s wedding a few years back.) Apparently people will say things – but who the hell are these people and why are we inviting them to the wedding if they’re just going to be judgemental bitches? And nobody is going to match in the photos as all the guys who are likely to be in posed photos will be in wildly different tartans – including Himself’s Dad who is going to be a column of brown tartan, including cap with feathers and socks!

    Please help!

    • kc

      The way I heard that “law” was that the dresses of the family should not *clash* with dresses of the wedding party (which, with photos of family-and-wedding-party, okay, kind of makes sense, but you’ve got tartan going on, so… yeah. “Going with” any of the tartan colors should be fine.).

      I have no idea how the theoretical people would know or notice that it was not a 100% new dress. (but: she may want to buy a new dress; this is okay; my mom really enjoyed buying a new dress without guilt)

      I think sometimes having options presented as “this is our favorite, and this is what we’re really excited about in it!” instead of “and this is our favorite option because it’s cheapest” can both give *her* something to repeat to those who might pick at things and can also reframe things for her? (but you may already be doing this) It might also help if you can borrow options from weddings (friends or family) on your guy’s side – it’s a legitimate alternate tradition, see? Wouldn’t want his family to feel left out! If you’ve succeeded at having tartans, there are probably other ways of making this wedding different enough that it’s not being classified as a reduced/worse version of the Joneses but is its own, very special thing.

      • Katy

        Scottish reader here hence all the tartan ;-) Himself and I are the first two in our respective families to get married. The new dress thing was really because Mum was hating 99% of the ‘this is a mother of the bride outfit’ options and kept saying how much she liked what she wore to my cousin’s wedding. I was all ‘well wear it again, you looked great, you were comfortable. What’s the problem’

        I guess I just wanted to keep things low key and simple. Large weddings with lots of things you must do stress me out hugely even as a guest.

  • Amanda

    My dilemma is with choosing our venue. Its turning out to be much more a difficult decision than I thought. Here is the situation:

    We live in DC and are planning our wedding in CT. Both of our families live there and it seemed the most centrally located as far as our other guests (DC, CT, NYC and Boston) Both of our extended families are traveling from the midwest so they’re traveling no matter where it is.

    We have narrowed it down to two places with a split decision on them. Fiance likes the country club that is 25 minutes from the church, 10 minutes from the hotel and the least expensive option. My family who is paying for half the wedding likes the downtown ballroom that is 15 minutes from the church, attached to the hotel and is $15 more a person.

    I’m part of the problem, I like both places and can’t seem to decide. Since there are quite a few who will be traveling to the wedding do you pick the ballroom for convenience? Or do you pick the place your fiance likes better?

    • Can you talk to both side and see what, aside from cost and convenience, draws them to that choice? Ask them to sell you on the venue independent of where it is and/or how much it costs. That might help clarify things for you.

  • Rebecca

    I know that this topic has been addressed here before, but I can’t seem to find it today. My fiance and I got our engagement proofs back last week, and we are not thrilled. First of all, they were almost a week late. Normally I wouldn’t care about that detail, but I have gone through losing a venue and a caterer due to bankruptcy, so I am VERY skittish when vendors start not meeting expectations.

    We were asked to pick 12 images out of the 49 proofs we were given, and we were able to do this, but only after a few days of really coming to peace with the pictures. The ones we like are nice, and there are even a couple that I think are great, but I am not thrilled. WE are not thrilled. I know that part of it is my body issues, but I honestly think that many of the photos were just plain unflattering. As in, he shot from an angle below us so that our double chins seem to be very prominent in an otherwise nice photo.

    It’s hard for me to tell if I am just being bratty about this, but I am starting to feel sick thinking about how our wedding photos might turn out. We have signed a contract for the wedding photography as well as a bridal shoot, and we have paid half of the fees, so I feel stuck. I know that I should talk to him about this, but I DREAD confrontation (I will probably cry). My awesome fiance has offered to talk to the photographer, which is probably what will happen. Oh, and I grew up with journalist parents who are also photographers, just not the wedding type.

    So, how do we talk to this guy about what we don’t want and what we do want? I know that is very broad, but I would appreciate any advice.

    • I don’t have any good advice right now, but I want to offer a virtual hug. That sounds super stressful.

    • kmclevel

      We were not happy with our first set of engagement photos either. My husband was squinting in all of the pictures and we were under trees with a lot of shadows cast over us. We talked to our photographer and she agreed that many were not composed very well. We went back out free of charge to a new shadier location and the photos were excellent!
      Whether your photographer is willing to go out again for free, I would recommend being honest and having that talk. You may continue to be disappointed in the first set up until the wedding and have the mistakes repeated again!
      Engagement pictures are not only a change to get awesome non-wedding professional photos but to get to know your vendor and find out what works for you as a couple!

      ETA: Not a “shadier” location, (lol) but a arboretum with more shaded areas.

      • Rebecca

        Ha! Shadier location. Thanks for the encouragement. We both know we need to let him know how we feel. I don’t know if we would even have time for a reshoot, but the gesture would be nice, for sure. I’m glad that you were able to work things out. I feel like we probably can as well. After all, I did like his portfolio. Our plan is to work on an email together tonight to make sure that our concerns are heard.

    • Beth

      Ugh, I know the pain of not wanting to be confrontational with wedding vendors. I’m dealing with that with my seamstress right now (well, “dealing” is a strong word as I have yet to actually talk to her, but…you know.)

      So, I worked at a wedding photography company for 5 years, 4 of which were spent working behind the scenes with a large # of photographers and very closely with our customer service team. We had unhappy clients now and then and while they never wanted to confront the photographer directly, they felt fine laying into the CS folks. What I learned is…photographers are professionals and if they are a good professional, they will know how to take criticism and smooth worries to make sure you get what you want. They want to produce images you love just as much as you want to love your images! The other thing I want to say is that engagement sessions and weddings are two completely different beasts that produce very different results and are handled in very different ways. One is a one-on-one (well, two-on-one) portrait session that doesn’t have much going on and requires a lot of directing (not all photographers are good at directing) and one is a busy event with tons going on and many more candid moments of joy to capture.

      Now, there are better and worse ways to approach this but my recommendation is to talk to your photographer and let him know about your concerns before completely giving up on him. I would phrase this similarly to, “I know that the wedding is going to be very different from our engagement session, but we have a couple concerns we’d like to discuss to make sure we’re on the same page for the wedding day.” Then go through the pictures with him (one by one if you need to) and talk about what you like and what you don’t like in each picture. Whether it’s “we realized that we’re not a big fan of low angles because it gives us double chins…can we avoid that at the wedding?” or specifically discussing the types of posed images that you want so that when the day comes, you all know exactly what to expect – it will help. You could have examples of other pictures that you’ve seen and liked to help point the way if you are having trouble putting it into words. And if nothing else, it will tell you how willing he is to work with you and make it work. If he doesn’t respond in a way that builds your confidence or if it still seems like he’s just not getting it, then you may need to think more carefully about cutting him loose.

      But seriously, the majority of photographers I work with (and while I’m no longer in the wedding industry, I still work with photographers) are very open to finding a way to give you want you want, as long as you talk to them in a respectful manner and aren’t just like, “I hate your work and am only keeping you as my photographer because I can’t get a refund” (we had a bride say this to one of our very best and nicest photographers and it made me sad – she was incredibly professional and took much less offense than I would have.) then they should be open to suggestions.

      OH. The other thing I want to say is that you will never love or even like all your pictures. It is just not possible for every picture to be frame-worthy. So keep that in mind and keep in mind that in reality you will probably be framing, what, maybe….two wedding pictures? And might be using….50(?) in your album, if you have one. Your photographer will be taking hundreds throughout the day (we had photographers averaging 100/hr), so even if you only like 25% of the pictures, like with your engagement session, that is still lots and lots!

      Ultimately, you need to do what feels right, but talk to him first (or have your fiance do it). You may feel better!!

      • Rebecca

        Thank you, this is great advice. I know deep down that he probably wants to do what he can to make us happy. Also, I hope I would never be so rude as to tell someone that I hated their work, even if I was disappointed with paying for something I didn’t like. I know you weren’t suggesting that I would; I just felt the need to put that out there. My fiance and I are working on an email tonight so that we can (hopefully) be on the same page with the photographer. I actually had him read the APW responses to get some ideas! Thank you for reminding me about how different the engagement session and actual wedding day are. It’s so easy to forget these details in the midst of all the planning. This is why the APW community is so awesome. I wish I had landed here a year ago.

        • Beth

          Yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to make it seem like I thought you would be rude. If anything, I think those of us who are confrontation averse end up being maybe a little too nice about these sorts of things. :\

          Good luck, I hope you are able to work everything out with him and feel more confident in your decision!

        • Maddie

          I just want to weigh in as a wedding photographer as well and tell you that it is absolutely 100% OK to bring these concerns to your photographer. My literal nightmare is giving a client photos they don’t love. If I thought a client kept quiet about hating their engagement photos and then they ended up hating their wedding photos, I’d be devastated.

          If your photographer is a professional, and your email is worded kindly, they should understand. If they get defensive, it’s also OK to have a conversation about whether or not you guys are a good match. If that ends up being the case, look over your contract carefully. See what you’re guaranteed. It definitely stings to hear that someone didn’t like your work, but there’s nothing worse than going into an event feeling like you’re going to fail. So being honest, even if it’s hard, is going to be better for everyone in the long run.

          Hugs though, because I know this can be hard.

  • Lindsay B.

    We’re about to send out invites to our 120-person wedding. Sounds like a lot, but it’s been really tight – I have a huge immediate family and it was made clear to me that I was expected to include all the cousins even if I don’t talk to them. We’re paying, but parents are helping a little bit, so I conceded that issue. My issue now is plus ones – basically, if you’re engaged/married/in a long-term relationship with someone we know, then both halves of the couple are invited! However, I was asked yesterday by a friend if he could have a plus one for his girlfriend of two months. I didn’t even KNOW he had someone – I last saw him in February and he seemed pretty committed to the single lifestyle. I explained our circumstances, but he continued to make me feel guilty. I’m not bending on the plus ones – we don’t have the room or the money – really, I’m just asking how I can feel better about it. I think I’m still shocked he tried to make me feel bad about it – talk about not being tactful :/

    • eulalia

      I am even further out in my wedding planning, so I am not sure exactly what advice I would have. I have gone single to several weddings (including where I didn’t know anyone except the bride) and would never have dreamed of asking to bring someone that wasn’t explicitly invited! I really don’t know how people can do that!
      I haven’t even sent out save the dates yet, but have been told I am being “singlist” for not inviting +1s (just a date, not even someone that is in a relationship!). I have also been lectured for over two hours by my parents because I mentioned I might not invite a +1 for my brother (he is not even dating anyone at the moment!). Needless to say, this has been very stressful for me already!
      I guess I would say as lovingly as possible, that you would really like him to come to the wedding, but if he wouldn’t be comfortable coming solo, then you know he will be sending love from afar. I know it is horrible to have to do, but to me it is better than seeing some random person that I don’t know and feeling angry on the big day. Good luck!

    • C

      As long as you are being consistent in your plus one policy, I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about. I think it was fine for him to request whether a plus one could be included, but once you answered his question and explained, that should have been the end of it. I think that he should be ashamed of himself for pushing it any further, and you should be proud of yourself for staying calm, reasonable, and sticking to your guns.

      We have a slightly smaller guest list, and we have already talked about how we are not inviting unnamed “plus ones” – our policy is similar for yours. For all of our guests, either we know you because you are our (1) family, (2) friend, or because you are the (3) spouse / fiancee / live-in partner / long term relationship of (1) or (2). We have received a little push back about this so far (my fiance’s sibling wants to bring a date for the sake of bringing a date, not even someone that is a gf / bf), but so far, I’m prepared to stay firm. For us, it’s in part about the money and venue capacity, but it’s also in part about wanting to be around people we love (or at least know) on our wedding day.

  • While Lydia is trying to politely hold firm on an adults-only wedding, I am trying to figure out the logistics of including kids.

    Quite a few of our family and friends have kids (or will be next summer), including both of our sisters. Our venue is a children’s museum, so it seems natural to have all the kids be invited and included. We have even been thinking about hiring a couple of babysitters to mind the smaller kids in the 5 and under play area on the first floor of the museum.

    However…when the wedding timelines post went up, it suddenly hit me that we are having an evening wedding. We don’t even get the museum until it closes at 5, and the ceremony probably won’t start until around 6:30. It is the first day of summer, so that is helpful, but with a 6-11 time frame, that is awfully late for young kids.

    I certainly don’t want to insist that anyone bring their kids if they would rather have a night away, but I want to facilitate having them along, particularly for those who will be traveling cross country. One thought was to have a “quiet” area with rest pads, but again, it is really going to get way beyond bedtime.

    I’m checking in with some of the parents and asking “what would work best for you?” since they are the ones with kids, but I would really love some brainstorming. The ages will range from infants to pre-schoolers to grade-schoolers.

    Thanks, y’all!

  • Erin

    This is a random and really, really specific question but here goes. I’m freaking out a little bit. My wedding is less than a month away and my last period was late so I’m now slated to get it the day-of. I’d all but wrapped my head around it until I had the worst cramps of my life during my last period. I’m very, very worried about the day of my wedding. I talked to my gyno and she said I could go on birth control in order to skip the period, but I also struggle with bipolar disorder. I literally have no idea what to do (risk mood issues or risk having cramps so bad that I can’t walk down the aisle?). I don’t even need advice from someone who’s gone through this (it’s pretty unique, I know) but if you have had even ONE of the issues (mood disorder or period on your wedding day) I’d love to hear how you made it through. On top of everything else I’m planning, this just seems unfathomable to me at this time. And yes, I am aware that this post is seeped in anxious pre-wedding-jitters but that’s why I’m here I suppose! Thanks, everyone.

    • I don’t recommend starting or switching birth control that soon before your wedding. Mood issues aside, if you take one that doesn’t work well for you you could end up with worse periods or end up spotting for a month.

      I personally get terrible cramps and find that ibuprofen and caffeine help a lot. And there’s always the possibility that your period will be late (again) and you won’t have to deal with it.

      • You could get some of those adhesive heating pads made to fit inside your underwear (depending on how slinky your dress is). I’ve used them before, and they were magical.

        • These are thing that exist?! Why do I not know about them? I need them for my everyday life.

          • Yep! If I remember correctly, they’re with other pain relievers at the pharmacy. They’re pretty great :)

    • eulalia

      Could you ask for something stronger than OTC pain meds? Just enough for a day? You probably couldn’t drink, but that sounds far more preferable than dreaded cramps. I get severe cramps as well, and it is something I have been worried about. I don’t want to go on the pill either, for other reasons, but I am really worried. One thing is that if you don’t usually get cramps that bad, you probably won’t for your wedding. I find that I sometimes have a really bad period, but that I won’t have another really bad one for at least a cycle or two. Good luck!

    • kc

      Yes to the ibuprofen, asking about stronger pain meds just for the day of, and sneaky heating pads. These all help sooo much (esp. if you start the ibuprofen the day before your period), and having them on hand as options will also help with stress. Staying well-hydrated and electrolyted (no, that’s not a word, but you hopefully know what I mean; keep up with the potassium and salt and sugar and stuff) can also help reduce cramps of the period variety, not just of the jogging-leg-cramp variety.

      I’d also note that if your last period was late, this one has really, really good odds of being late, too, if you have stress-affected delayed periods?

      The third, kind of here-have-a-horrible-month option that I can think of would be to take birth control (ask your psychiatrist what works for other bipolar patients!) and if the kind you take doesn’t work with your bipolar, go off it after a week or two, which will maybe force your period slightly early (and almost certainly lighter). (depending on when exactly your wedding is, obviously) If whatever birth control you take does work fine with bipolar and you keep taking it to delay your period past your wedding, you may still have some spotting whenever your period “wants” to show up, so wear a liner on the day of just in case, but generally with spotting the cramps are not nearly as bad, if they exist at all, and a little ibuprofen will kill them off.

      And, if all else fails, dig through the APW archives for the photos of the wedding where a bride was throwing up most of the day. Still a great wedding, according to her and to others. It’ll be okay, even if you have to sit through the ceremony. :-)

    • BT

      Oh man, I am having this very same worry myself. Normally my periods are on a very regular schedule, so I even counted it out and thought I’d picked a wedding date that would be smack dab in the middle. And then my body decided, hey, nope, I’m going to make it show up a few days earlier than normal for the next few months! So now there is a very good chance that it will be starting a day or two before my wedding…timing it so that I’ll probably have my worst cramps on the day-of. Awesome. :

      I don’t have any good tips besides what others have said. Ibuprofen seems to help me, also tea and heating pads. But mostly pain killers.

    • A Person in Healthcare

      Premedicate your period to decrease cramps and flow!! This is straight from the OB/GYN’s mouth: take ibuprofen ON A REGULAR BASIS (as in at least every 6 hours) for the 2-3 days BEFORE the start of your period – it will thin out your endometrial lining and hopefully help control the cramps as well. If you had more time, OCP could be a good option but I agree that unless you know from past experience that a particular OCP works well for you and won’t give you spotting or mood changes, I’d suggest avoiding it.

      For non-pharm treatments of any PMS symptoms — calcium, and vitamin B6 both help!

    • Stayce

      Yes to ibuprofin! I found aspirin worked for me as well. Also: try to get regular exercise in those 2-3 days, ideally something with a lot of stretching like yoga, and, oddly enough, stay hydrated.

  • Maria

    My question has to do with a quickly shrinking guestlist.
    When we started planning our semi-destination wedding, and sent out the save the dates, we got an overwhelming amount of positive responses from people who were ‘definitely going to be there!’. We chose a venue that has a required minimum number of adults, which we were very comfortable with – we were actually more concerned about too many people showing up.
    Now, less than three months out from our wedding, the negative RSVPs are flowing it. It is obvious that we won’t meet the minimum number of adults, and we’ve already extended the invitation to several friends who we thought we wouldn’t have room for. Some of them have happily accepted, thankfully. But still.

    What would you guys do? Continue inviting more peripheral friends and colleagues (the collection of guests is already quite eclectic), or be happy that you get to have a more intimate wedding and just bite the bullet, i.e. pay for the empty seats at the table?

    • Kira

      The same thing is happening to me! Well, minus the required minimum. My wedding is just a couple weeks away, and lots of friends and relatives who have sworn up and down that they’d come are now unable to make it. We have invited a few more people about whom we’d been on the fence before, but not too many. We decided that we didn’t want to have any awkward conversations with people we didn’t know well, so we are embracing the intimacy of it all. It’s disappointing, though. My sympathies!

  • nikki

    Not sure if anyone is reviewing this anymore, but I wanted some practical advice.

    I’m recently engaged (!!) and my fiancé and I really want a low-budget DIT wedding. This would include catering it ourselves, decorating it ourselves, DJ ourselves, etc. We’re trying to cut expensive vendors as much as possible while still inviting 100 or so family and friends.

    So my question is, are we crazy? We’re giving ourselves a year to plan it but it will likely take place 3 hours away from where we live (to be closer to our families). I’m also currently getting my PhD, which comes with a lot of fluctuating stress.

    Are there some corners that just shouldn’t be cut? Thanks for any advice! And I’m so glad there’s a place for feminist marriages!!