Friday, July 8, 2011

Etiquette is Still in Fashion

Very few traditions are set in stone today when it comes to planning a wedding, particularly on the West Coast. However, as the modern family becomes more complicated, and we rely more on technology, email, and social networking, and less and less on face-to-face contact, it's important that we remember that being polite and respectful never goes out of style.

There are a few things that brides and grooms should still be sensitive to as they plan their nuptuals.

These are age-old rules of etiquette that should be maintained.

1. You Should Not Advertise Your Gift Registries In Your Invitation

In the old days, friends and family would contact the bride's family to inquire about where she was registered. These days, our wedding guest lists have become more diverse, and a large majority of the guests may not know the couple's parents.

Enter the wedding website. Not only does a wedding website allow guests access to all wedding event information, the website may also tell stories of how the couple met, detail who is involved, AND show all gift registry information.

It is still considered socially unacceptable to put your registry information in the invitation. It shouts: "GIVE ME GIFTS!"

2. Do Not Skimp On Food

Wedding reception budgets often equate to down payments on homes. Even small weddings are expensive as all the vendors are hired and expectations to host out-of-town guests run high.

However, as a good host, you should NEVER skimp on the food and beverage budget. Always error on the side of too much food. If there are leftovers, ask your venue their policy on remaining food. Most will box up what is safe to eat and give it to you. If you cannot consume the leftoevers, ask about area shelters who could use the food to feed those less fortunate.

There is an organization in the east county of Portland called Sno Cap that specifically provides this service. Volunteers will come pick up the food at your event site and give it to participating shelters.

We have all seen brides who invite 300 people, spend $5k on a dress, register for very expensive gifts, and then serve cake and coffee at the reception. I urge you to rethink this strategy. While the purpose of the event is to share your commitment with friends and family, it is unfair to ask guests to come from far and wide and not show them your appreciation by feeding them.

3. Be Aware of Sensitive Family Dynamics

Let's face it, the modern-day family is hardly like The Cosby Show. There may be parents, step-parents, biological mothers, adopted mothers, etc. etc.

There are certain roles that are expected of family members in weddings but ALWAYS be conscious of people's feelings and challenge yourself to find ways to be all-inclusive. There is a diplomatic way to make people feel important and involved while letting them know this is your wedding and you make the final decisions.

4. Travel Required for an "Adult Only" Wedding

As the hosts, it is your right to choose if you would like children to attend your wedding and reception.  However, expect your guest list to decrease substantially if you are asking families to travel a long way and their kids aren't invited.

It is some times cost-prohibitive for parents to afford childcare for days, and purchase airfare and hotel accomodations.  Some parents don't feel comfortable leaving their kids at all.

A solution to this dilemma is hiring an event childcare service to watch the kids the day/evening of the wedding.  This is an added expense to you but it will enable more of your guests to come and will show that you are a gracious host that understands the needs of parents and families.

5.  Register For Gifts That Reflect The Budgets Of Your Guests

A good rule of thumb when registering for wedding gifts is to include a wide range of items at varying price points. 

Keep in mind who your guest list consists of and what their realistic gift budgets might be.  If you are a young couple starting out, and a large percentage of your guests are also just out of college, starting their first "real jobs", it probably isn't appropriate for you to register for solely high dollar items.

Do you entertain people who are used to eating off of $500 per place setting china?  Make sure your gift list reflects your lifestyle or your lifestyle in the next ten years.

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