Here are answers to 10 problems every bride has to deal with:
1. Picky eaters
Q: How do I accommodate all the vegans, diabetics, Kosher-keepers, people with food allergies or who are on Atkins or South Beach diets, and the just-don’t-like-exotic-food types?
A: It’s impossible to foresee every wedding guest’s dietary needs and preferences. Your best bet is to choose one or two basic meat entrees and one meat-free entree, which will make vegetarians, dieters and picky eaters alike happy. Or consider having a buffet- or family-style meal that includes a variety of foods that will please everyone’s palate, and let guests choose what they would like to and are able to eat. And remember that most people with specific food requirements don’t expect special treatment when they attend a wedding.
2. Invitation equality
Q: If I went to someone’s wedding, am I obligated to invite them to mine?
A: It’s your party — if you don’t want them there, don’t feel guilted into sending an invite. Simply explain that your wedding is going to be very small, and with two families to accommodate, it’s impossible to invite everyone you want to. This might be a difficult conversation, but if they like and respect you enough to have invited you to their wedding, they should understand where you’re coming from.
3. Tradition trade-off
Q: My parents want us to have a traditional wedding, but we definitely don’t. What should we do?
A: It’s your wedding, and you should do it the way you want — but keep in mind that it’s a big day for your parents, too. Take their opinions into consideration, especially if they’re paying for — or helping to pay for — the wedding. If you’re set on a city hall wedding and dinner, maybe you can do that and then have a church ceremony and reception with the works the next day. Or maybe you’re willing to nix the judge and have a minister marry you, as long as you get the intimate reception. Sit down together and try to decide what’s most important to everyone, then come up with a game plan that everyone can live with.
4. Budgeting bridesmaids
Q: A couple of my bridesmaids have complained about how expensive their dresses and other costs are adding up to be. How should I deal?
A: Be considerate. It’s likely that your maids will only wear this dress for a few hours, so don’t make them hock their car to be a part of your wedding. Choose a dress that’s reasonably priced — have them tell you what reasonable is — or work together with your party to find a dress that’s within both their style and budget. Brides aren’t required to pay for the dresses, but if you want to spring for something pricey, consider adding it on to your own budget or paying for half. Try to mitigate expenses elsewhere, too — if they’re buying the dresses, don’t make them also buy jewelry and shoes.
5. Giftless guests
Q: Should we send thank-you cards to guests who came to our wedding but didn’t give us cards or gifts?
A: All attendees deserve a handwritten thank-you — regardless of whether they gave you a gift. Now before you roll your eyes and ignore this advice, remember: Guests may have taken time off from work to be there. Keep it simple and say something like, “Thanks for coming! It meant so much that you could be there to celebrate with us.” Try to include something personal, too, like how you loved their dance moves or the joke they told in the receiving line. Just resist the temptation to throw in a “P.S.: We’re registered at Macy’s.”
6. RSVP radio silence
Q: If some guests don’t RSVP, should we call them to find out if they’ll come? Or can we assume that they’re not coming?
A: As far as final head count goes, you should never assume. Call to see if they’re coming. You never know — maybe they think they sent the response card, but it may be hiding under a pile of mail. If calling is a problem, assume that they’re coming and make sure there’s enough food and seats for them. It’s better to have extra grub and room than it is to have neglected guests wondering where to sit.
7. Planning for no-shows
Q: I’ve heard that typically 10 — if not 20 — percent of guests won’t actually show up. Should I budget for the cost of how many people I think will actually show up, instead of the cost of my entire wedding guest list?
A: No. This is a case where you should definitely err on the side of caution. While it’s true that chances are slim every last guest who RSVPs “yes” will definitely be able to make it to your wedding, it will be a huge headache for you to scrounge up seats and plates if more guests than you planned for show up. The solution? Cut down your guest list to a size your budget can manage, and until every last RSVP card has come in (and every last phone call to track down those errant replies has gone out), assume that they’re all going to be there.
8. Registry rules
Q: What’s the politest way to let people know where we’ve registered?
A: Word of mouth is the best way to loop everyone in on your registry. Make sure your wedding party and parents know so they can clue in guests who ask. It’s OK to include the link to your wedding Web page in your invites. And conveniently enough, that’s where you can post info such as your registries. And remember that if people ask you where you’re registered — or even what you would like as a gift — it’s OK for you to tell them the names of the stores. By and large, you shouldn’t worry about it too much. People will ask and let others know.
9. Plus-one problems
Q: We’re on a tight budget. Is it OK to invite single guests but not give them plus-ones?
A: Deal with this problem on a case-by-case basis. If you have unmarried friends and relatives in long-term relationships, consider inviting their partners. (Even though they’re not married, they’re committed.) Then, invite your truly single friends and relatives without dates, rather than crossing them off your wedding guest list altogether. If anyone complains, simply explain your dilemma: It was important that they be there, but that you couldn’t afford to invite dates. Then, carefully consider where to seat them at the wedding; they may not want to get stuck at a table full of couples.
10. Hungry vendors
Q: My wedding photographer told me that she and her assistant expect meals during the wedding reception. Am I supposed to pay for their wedding meals, plus meals for other vendors, like the wedding band I hired?
A: It’s nice to feed your wedding professionals if they’re going to be working a four- to six-hour ceremony and reception. But if your photographer expects a meal, she should include that in her contract. Also remember that your caterer will make more food than is needed, “just in case,” so there will likely be plenty for your wedding professionals to munch on. Or arrange for your caterer to put together a quick platter for the photographer, musicians and others — simple sandwiches will do.