Ask Team Practical: Friendors, Greeting, Photoshoots, & Feeding People

Today Alyssa is handling a grab bag of wedding etiquette questions. She’s tackling handling friendors (hint: they’re friends, not vendors), and doing your level best to greet guests.  She’s also discussing one of my personal wedding planning pet peeves: Feeding people on time (for goodness sake), and the importance of being really present at your wedding (because no, it’s totally not a photoshoot).
Wedding Menu

We’ve delegated a majority of our wedding responsibilities to family and friends. I am thrilled to have help from our loved ones, but also a little nervous about bestowing so much responsibility on non-professionals. My biggest concern is executing my reception decor vision with a few friends as my set-up crew. It goes like this. When Friend A got married last year, Friend B was her DIY decor coordinator. She was in charge of interpreting the bride’s written directions and putting everything together, so I asked her to do the same for me. (We have a venue coordinator for the basic stuff, we need someone to help with the centerpieces and DIY details I’ve poured so much OCD into.) I recently found out that the first wedding Friend B coordinated turned out to be super stressful for all involved, and that she had left a bunch of things undone and frazzled the bride. What do I do? How do I prepare (logistically, and mentally) to avoid a stressful and disappointing experience with this?

~Cross-Country Control Freak

Yay for you having so many people that you love being able to pitch in! That really is a blessing, so thank your deity of choice (and your friends and and family for being such nice people). In regards to Friend B, it’s important to remember that they are your friend, not a professional. It’s not fair to not-hire someone and then expect them to behave as if you did-hire them. Of course your friends want the best for you and will do the job to the best of their ability. That said, if you decide you need things just so, it’s time to think about shelling out the money for it. Peace of mind definitely has a price.

But before you run out and hire someone, may I suggest that this is a good chance for you to start letting go of stuff that you can’t control? Because here is the truth: all of the details you poured your time and effort into might not end up perfect, no matter what you do. Hell, it might be your fault; how many grad posts have we seen that say, “And then I forgot XYZ” with the next sentence is almost always being, “And it didn’t matter.” You want to formulate a good plan that will leave you as relaxed as possible on your wedding day…. but in the end? The decorations are not what really matter. As the very wise Anna said, “Perfect weddings don’t existbrides who say their weddings were perfect are women who made the conscious decision not to give a shit. I have read so many blogs where brides stated that their enjoyment of their wedding was hampered by the mistakes. I’m a pretty neurotic lady, so I know that I could have been one of those brides myself, but I consciously decided to turn the perfectionist part of my brain off and have an awesome time. It’s your choice too.” So if you don’t want to be a frazzled bride, make a choice to let it go… and make that choice now (though by all means, ask some less spazzy friends to help or hire someone if that’s going to give you peace of mind).

But mostly? Keep remembering how lucky you are to have various people to help, even if the help doesn’t turn out perfectly. And make sure you write them amazing thank you notes.

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My husband and I had a lovely wedding and were wholly in the moment all day. I tried to make the rounds to the tables before and after the pictures with the photographer, but after the second round of pictures I felt like I looked around and a lot of people had left. I made a point to say hello to my family and my husband’s closest family as well as our out of town guests but I worry that I did not get to greet and thank all the tables for coming. About an hour before the end of the reception I noticed that lots of people had left and I felt very sad, although I was grateful that our closest friends and family were there to boogie with us and throw flower petals on us as we left (which was awesome!). But weeks later I was talking with my mother-in-law and she gave us “feedback” on the wedding and how we didn’t get to greet everyone and she noticed how we didn’t come to her table. I am worried that the next family event will be awkward and that people will judge us. How do I handle this and stop beating myself up? And for those planning a wedding, how should they handle greeting guests while still enjoying the day and time with their new spouse?

~Worried About What People Think And I Hate That I Do That in DC

Honey, replace that “DC” with a “TX” and your sign-off could be written by me.  And because I feel for you, know that I mean it when I say, “Let it go.”

I’m sure your mother-in-law meant well with her feedback, but does she expect you to do better at your next wedding? At this point, all that is necessary is an acknowledgment of your minor faux pas.  If you know to whom she’s referring, make an effort to talk to this person at the next family event.  “Oh, hi Aunt Lou!  I haven’t seen you since the wedding; I am so sorry that I didn’t get a chance to talk to you there, there were so many people we missed and we feel terrible about it.  How are you doing?”  There.  You acknowledged and apologized.  Anything beyond that is asking for too much.  If they wanted to see you that bad, they needed to make an effort at the wedding to at least say goodbye.  They also need to remember that this is a wedding and you might be a teeny bit distracted.

For those still planning, try to remember that while you are the happy couple, you are still the host of this shindig. Do a receiving line if it makes sense for you, or try to visit every table.  Delegate someone to remind you to visit with people especially those are older or who’ve made a long trek.  At every wedding there are folks who will want to monopolize your time, so having a friend to give you a gentle “Go talk to Mee-Maw,” reminder can help you break away and be a gracious host. And remember, the wedding is a awesome party, and the pictures are just a way to remember that party. So if you can find a way to do formal pictures before the ceremony, after the party is over, or the next day, you’ll have far more time to party with the people who came to celebrate with you (and they’ll appreciate that!)

And for guests; if you want to talk to the couple and haven’t had a chance to, go talk to them. Trust me, if they invited you, they want to talk to you. If you try to and are blown off or ignored, then you can be all offended and wave your fan and mutter, “Well, I never.” But not till then.

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My fiancee and I have a disagreement about our photos after the ceremony and before our reception.  Our venue is a gorgeous garden with a lot of great opportunities for shots, so she would like to stage some photos with our immediate family using props, bringing in a chaise, etc.  I think this could possibly be a nightmare to organize and people like my 80-year-old grandmother won’t understand what we are doing.  The photographer assures us she can get it done, but it will take “a little longer” than normal family shots. Help?

– To Chaise or not to Chaise

First off, I would like to caution that while working in wedding blogging, I have developed a deep hatred for the “furniture in a field” photos.  I just want to shake the photo and scream, “Stop pretending you found that couch in the meadow!!! You did not find it there, you brought it there!!  Why would you lay on a random couch you found in a meadow?!?”  But that’s a personal problem I might need to work out on my own with the help of a professional.

That aside, this IS a nightmare idea.  While it sounds beautiful, it is something that you both need to schedule at another time with your photographer.  It’s amazing that she’s being so accommodating, but spending “a little longer” directly after your ceremony posing at your amazing venue is not time well-spent.  Let your partner know that because you adore her, you want to spend your wedding day with her and your families and friends.  Family photos are beautiful because they show the generations present at your wedding, not because of props. (Besides, if I handed my grandmother a mustache on a stick to use in a picture at my wedding, she would have hit me with it.)

That aside, your wedding is not a photoshoot.  This goes for people who aren’t doing anything as elaborate as this reader and her fiancee.  Take the family shots because you will adore them later, but then stop taking pictures and let people eat for goodness sake.   A good photographer will make the shots after the ceremony short, quick and painless as possible so that you can stop spending your time recording your wedding and start spending it actually being there. Don’t increase the time away from the party with extra shots, no matter how pretty.  Schedule those before the ceremony or after the reception. Or give yourselves a gift and schedule a whole shoot where you can focus on getting those artsy amazing shots. But be present at your wedding, you’ll be much more grateful for that later.

And did we mention to feed people in a timely fashion, even if you’re off in a chaise lounge in a field, or god knows what? Because seriously, you get hitched, and then you feed people the food and/or booze. It’s that simple.

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What say you, Team Practical?  How did you handle friendors?  What are you tips for greeting guests (and getting over the guilt if you didn’t)?  How did you handle post-ceremony pictures?

Photo: Lauren McGlynn Photography

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  We’re not kidding.  It brings us joy.  What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?

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