5 Wedding Etiquette QuestionsWords by Elaine Hilbelink
Photos courtesy of Sanaz Photography
When one approaches their wedding, a myriad of situations could occur that cause you to ponder, “What is the right thing to do?” A few couples have answered five wedding etiquette questions and shared some of the challenges they have encountered as they try to avoid etiquette “landmines.”
1. My best friend was planning her wedding last year when her venue suddenly went out of business. The venue refused to give them their deposit back. How can I protect myself from this happening with one of my vendors?
The best way to protect yourself from ‘fly by night’ establishments is to do your homework prior to signing any contracts. Check online reviews, better business ratings and referrals from people who have used the venue or vendor. Steer clear of businesses that are not substantiated by a positive reputation. Make sure your contract includes verbiage about deposit reimbursement in the event of the venue closing its doors or not being able to host your event.
2. I entered into the wedding planning process with the goal of remaining as stress-free as possible. While I know some things are outside of my control, there is a member of my bridal party who has been difficult from the start. She is causing me and the other bridal party members an immense amount of stress at every turn. Under what circumstances is it okay to “fire” a member of my bridal party and how do I break the news to her?
Without knowing the specific issues that have arisen with this difficult bridal party member, I would initially try to have a one-on-one conversation in person with her. Perhaps you might begin by questioning her about what her concerns are. Maybe you can figure out why she is being difficult. If she is not willing to work within the parameters and hopes you have for your event, or is unhappy with your wedding plans, you might ask her if she would prefer to “pull out.” Make sure you have this discussion either face-to-face or over the phone with her, as text and email can often create misunderstandings due to it being difficult to fully understand someone’s tone of voice.
3. I am in the process of planning my destination wedding and I am really unsatisfied with one of my chosen vendors. They have been unresponsive to my emails and I am seriously considering hiring someone else. I feel like I should warn other couples about this company. When is it appropriate to leave a negative vendor review online?
If you have been dealing with a vendor that has been unresponsive to emails, it would definitely be appropriate to find another business that you can work with. Leaving an online review would be appropriate. However, before you take action, try to get the vendor on the phone or over email to communicate your frustrations and to let them know your planned next steps, so they aren’t caught off-guard. This also gives them the opportunity to make things right.
4. One of the reasons my fiancé and I chose a destination wedding was to keep the guest list at a bare minimum. He has a large, extended family and it is not within our means to invite everyone. Do we have to invite all of our family or can we pick and choose? For example, can we invite some aunts and uncles and not others?
When you consider your wedding guest list, it is important to be fair or you will definitely run the risk of hurt feelings within the respective families. If you invite some aunts and uncles, you should invite them all. The same would go for other categories of relatives...cousins, nieces and nephews, etc.. The best way to keep the numbers down for the actual destination wedding is to host an “at home reception” for all of the relatives who weren’t invited or couldn’t attend the actual wedding. There are many options for this type of event that can be less expensive. You can make it as casual or as formal as you would like. You might choose a theme linked to where you hosted your destination wedding. Including a video from the ceremony, cuisine from your wedding destination and displaying pictures from your destination wedding are all ways to recreate the event at home. An at-home reception can also provide an opportunity for your parents to host and invite their friends and the family who could not be included in the wedding. It’s also a fun excuse to get to wear your wedding attire again!
5. Is tipping my wedding vendors mandatory? Who is it customary to tip and how much? Should it be a flat amount or percentage based?
Weddings can be costly events to host and gratuities are an added expense you’ll want to make sure you consider. It’s also important to make sure you’re giving gratuities that are customary. Some general gratuity guidelines to follow are:
• Before you tip, check your contracts. Many venues and caterers outline what the gratuities are in the contract and as a line item in your final bill. Generally, business owners are not tipped.
• For some vendors, it is optional to tip...reference our “cheat sheet” below for further explanation.
• If a house of worship is used, donations are accepted, as well as $50-$100 for the officiant.
• “Thank you” notes and positive online reviews are very appreciated by vendors and for all of those individuals who helped your wedding be a success...whether or not you tipped.
• If you are planning an international destination wedding, it is very important to check the protocol in the country that you will be visiting. Tipping customs definitely vary from country to country.
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