Ask the Experts...
The following is a compilation of various questions we've been asked throughout the years from brides. If you have a question of your own, please e-mail us at: diane@TheBerkshireWeddingExpo.com . All e-mail addresses and names will remain anonymous on the web site and will not be shared with others.
Question: How many "tries" should I give a business I've been calling to book with before I call someone else?
- Depending on the particular circumstances, if the initial phone call has not been called back within 4 days, you should try calling the business again and leave another message. If after 3 days you still haven't heard, we recommend that you move on.
Question: The jeweler for our wedding rings was absolutely amazing! How do we express our "thanks" to them?
Based on our own experience, we really appreciate it when couples send a thank you letter, card and pictures! The best way to say thank you is tell other people! If you write a stellar letter to the vendor highlighting specifics that you liked about them, those vendors will be able to put it out for other potential clients to see!
Question: What is the tipping etiquette for a wedding? Do we tip all the vendors whom we've received a service from?
You are NOT required to tip anyone on your wedding day! Our rule of thumb is to only tip when you have received EXCEPTIONAL service! Vendors that COULD be tipped are: catering managers (they work for hourly wages), deejays (only if they work for someone else), cake makers (if they have exceeded your expectations) and finally the limo drivers!
Basically, you have hired these people to do their jobs! You shouldn't have to feel as though you owe them extra when you have already paid them a substantial amount!
Question: If my inlaws are contributing money toward our reception, do I have to include their names on the invitations?
Proper etiquette says that if either side is contributing monetarily to your wedding, you will need to add them to your invitations in some capacity. Your invitation dealer should be well-versed and able to offer you insight and advice as to how you should handle this delicate wording. There are several options available to help you avoid a food fight at Thanksgiving for years to come!
Question: Should a ceremony officiant charge me when all I have asked for is advice and we never signed a contract?
Answer : No, you are not obligated to pay anyone who has offered you advice. Those situations are considered consultations and you don't have to pay someone unless you have signed a contract and a fee is discussed and agreed upon.
Question: I just got engaged! Where do I start?
Answer : Congratulations on your engagement! There are four major components to planning your wedding that you will need to decide on very shortly after setting the date: ceremony location/officiant, reception facility (if not in same place as the ceremony), a deejay and a photographer.
Those four major planning details are to be done first so that you secure the most important facets of your wedding. Those professionals are going to be working for just you on your wedding day. Where a florist can handle 11-12 weddings in a week, a photographer will only book themselves for you for that day! The same applies for your deejay! Afterall, the deejay is the Master of Ceremonies- do you want to run the risk of waiting last minute and having to ask Uncle Vito to dust off his records? Making those four decisions first will really clear your head and help you to utilize your energy for other fun stuff like color palettes, invitations, food tasting, etc.!
Question: What do I do if some of my guests haven't sent in their responses for our wedding by the due date?
Answer : Typically, your invitation respond date is 2 weeks (we recommend 3 weeks) before your wedding. Your caterer will need to know as early as 10 days before your wedding what the final count will be. During that time, you will need to call all the guests who haven't responded and ask them if they are coming (this may be out of your comfort zone but why did you put a return stamp on the respond envelope if you didn't expect some sort of response?).
By being abrupt (not rude) with the guests who haven't responded, you will at least be able to get an answer (some guests don't understand proper etiquette that even if they're not coming- they still need to tell someone!). By not being forward, those unheard-from guests could just show up unannounced at your wedding.
We have heard some people recommend that you leave some empty tables in the back of the room for the guests who haven't responded and who may just show up. That's great but you will still need to pay for that food! What if the guests DON'T show up?
Question: Can I get married by a Catholic priest outside of the church?
- Answer : In order for one to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, one must be married inside the walls of the Catholic Church.
Question: Do I have to have a father / daughter dance? I do not have a relationship with my father and I do not feel comfortable dancing with him.
- Answer : You do not have to dance with your father if you do not want to. Those special dances are designed to honor one's special family members or significant people in one's life. If you don't have a relationship with your father, you can forego that part of the reception formalities.
Question: We want to have a greenback Jack and Jill but my maid of honor and my fiance's best man are throwing it. How do we tell them what we want?
- Answer : First of all, your maid of honor and best man have been selected for a reason. Chances are, they know you pretty well and can accept opinions and ideas from you. The Jack and Jill is their opportunity to throw you a great party! Maybe you should invite the both of them to dinner with you and your fiance. Tell them how excited you are for the two of them to throw you a Jack and Jill. Casually mention to them that you don't need extra "stuff" (blenders, toasters, matching curtain sets, etc.) and that money would be more helpful to help render the costs of the ever-growing wedding budget. Not saying anything at all could make you inevitably bitter toward the situation if you DO get four electric mixers or fryers!
Question: I don't know who I should choose as my maid of honor! My sister and I have never been really close and we are very different! I am afraid she may plan things that aren't what I'd like. However, I have a friend whom I have "hung out" with since kindergarten and we have very similar tastes. What should I do?
- Answer : This is a very sticky situation! You'd be better off having them both stand up for you! Involve them in different aspects of planning and chat with the them about why you chose them to be your maids of honor. They both have their endearing qualities and they should both understand that it would be awkward for you to exclude either of them on your important day!
Question: I heard that the mothers are supposed to wear certain colors. Is this true?
- Answer : "Traditionally" (using the term loosely), the mother-of-the-bride wears lighter colors (mauve, taupe, celedon, etc.) while the mother-of-the-groom wears darker colors (plum, burgundy, navy, etc.) HOWEVER, if you have a preference, speak up before they purchase their dresses. After all, you don't want the mothers to get a dress that would clash with your decor. They'd probably appreciate some insight from you! Why don't you take the mothers shopping? It could be a lot of fun and a great bonding experience! Good luck!
Question: My fiance and I already have a child together. Can I still wear white?
- Answer : Wedding dresses today mean so much more than the classic "purity". They now represent hope and new beginnings. You can wear whatever color you want. A lot of designers feel the same way as they have already implemented different colors into their designs (red sashes, yellow flower details, etc.) Be brave! Try them all on! If white is what suits you best... Go for it!
Question: There are so many types of flowers. How do I choose?
- Answer : Flowers are a preferred choice. What types of flowers do you like (large blooms, fragrant blossoms, petite and fragile buds, etc. ) ? Sometimes it can be daunting trying to figure out which flowers will go with each other, colors and shades, quantity... We could go on and on! Our best advice is to research different types of flowers. Start multiple lists and the process should go a bit smoother. One list should be flowers you absolutely love, one list for the "like" pile, and of course... one list for the flowers you like the least. Make sure you print out pictures. The more you are prepared when you meet with your selected florist, the easier it will be for them to design your wedding flowers and "capture your vision".
Once you have made lists and gathered pictures of your beloved flowers, take them to a local florist. Be sure you select a florist that will reflect your taste. Florists are all very different and they all have their own style and flair! Your lists and pictures will help the florist design the perfect arrangements for you!
Question: My fiance and I hate cake. Do we have to have it at our wedding?
- Answer : You are not alone! We have had a lot of couples proclaim their dislike of cake! Couples are starting to think outside of the cake mold and are trying different things they actually like. For instance, one couple likes apple pie. Since their wedding was in October, they had pies for every table each on its own pedestal! It served as a centerpiece and a dessert that everyone could serve themselves! As for the bride and groom, they decided to stick with "tradition" (we use that term loosely) and they got a very small cake (one tier) and they cut it for picture purposes. However, at their sweetheart table they had an apple pie waiting for them. Another idea is cheesecake or individual cupcakes at each table. We've even seen weddings have cannolis and Italian cookies because the bride's grandmother was Italian and their wedding theme was "A Taste of Italy". Be creative! You are not bound by any wedding laws to have certain rituals or "traditions".
Question : How do I keep my guest list from getting out of hand?
- Answer : This is a great question! First you need to assess who will be paying for the wedding. If the parents are involved financially this technically puts the ball in their corner as to how many people are invited (do they want to pay for an extra plate for your ex-roommate from college who was only there for two semesters? ) There are the obvious people you have to invite (immediate family, special co-workers, close friends, etc...). However, our rule of thumb is if the person or people in question have not been to your house in the last year and a half you DO NOT have to invite them! As well, determine if your wedding is going to include children. An "adult reception" could lower your guest count numbers by up to 10 or 15 people! If the two of you are paying the majority of the bill, you have the ability to cut corners wherever you see fit. When you and your beau start your guest list, ask your parents to help you put together the names and addresses of those people they think should be invited. In that situation, explain to both sets of parents that you can only afford so much and that some people could be cut. As well, the both of you need to reach an agreement to potential guests as well ( you may not like your man's friend who can belch the alphabet backwards but he is still a friend! ) Communication and compromise is what will get you through that arduous task! Don't be afraid to speak up!
Question: What can I get my bridesmaids as a gift for being in my wedding?
- Answer: Ah, yes! This is an oldie but a goody! The "traditional" ( using that term loosely again ) gift is the jewelry that they will wear the day of the wedding. You could also stay along the "safe" path and pay for their hair to be done or for their shoes. If you want to personalize their gifts, you could get them tote bags with their initials embroidered on them and fill them with things they like or things they are involved in. Does anyone go to the gym? Get her a nice workout outfit and weights. How about movies? Instead of a tote, make a basket with a gift certificate for a couple of movie rentals, a box of popcorn, some chocolate and maybe a bottle of wine. The point is, be as creative as you want. You are not obligated to get your bridesmaids the same gift just because they are serving the same purpose for you (or even because they are wearing the same dress) . You asked each of them to be in your wedding for different reasons. Your "thank you gift" to them doesn't have to be the same size, shape or even the same cost as long as you give from the heart!
Question: When is it too late to send "Save-the-Date" cards?
- Answer : We do not recommend sending Save-the-Date cards after the six month deadline before your wedding. At that point, things start to pick up a bit (bridal shower, bachelorette / bachelor parties, Jack and Jills, etc.) You are better off sending them closer to 9 months before the wedding so people know you are getting married without too much time ( or not enough ) before the wedding.
Question: What is the difference between "seal and send" invitations and regular wedding invitations?
- Answer : There are some major differences! "Seal and send" invitations are exactly that. The entire invitation, reception card, and response card are all on one piece of paper. It folds up and is sealed with either a clear seal or a featured one that is also available. The response card is a perforated-edge post card that gets torn off and mailed back to the the bride. In regular invitations, all of the components are separate and compiled together in an inner envelope and then put into a larger mailing envelope. What is the biggest difference? There are two: (1) time (2) money. Stuffing, stamping, addressing, and mailing envelopes takes up way more time than folding one piece of paper and sealing it. As well, financially, "seal and send" invitations cost WAY less. With "traditional invitations, one has to purchase separate invites, separate response cards, and separate reception cards. Also, toss in the postage (one for the outside of the mailing envelope and one for the response card envelope) and you are looking at around 85 cents per invitation. If you have a square invitation, expect to pay more! With "seal and sends", only one regular postage stamp is necessary on the outside of the invitation and the response card only needs a postcard stamp. That only totals to around 70 cents per invitation!
We have discovered that there are two types of brides when it comes down to invitations. Bride number one looks at her invitations as an avenue to convey to guests what kind of "mood" and "tone" her wedding reception will have. Bride number two looks at her invitation as a piece of paper that will be thrown out when the date for the wedding is written on the calendar after the guest receives it. Invitations are a personal preference. If you have your heart set on the frilly and lacy ones, GO FOR IT! However, if you feel that you're only sending invitations because you have to, then there are alternatives that are economically friendly to your wallet!