From invitations to flowers and bridesmaids’ frocks to wishing wells, the path to your dream day can be paved with confusing and overwhelming decisions. We get it; weddings can throw up questions which are a little awkward to ask. And when you’re caught in decision fatigue, you just want someone to give you the bottom line. Right? Allow us to provide all the answers you’re looking for . . .
#1 When should we send out our invitations?
The general rule of thumb is between six to eight weeks before the wedding. This will give your guests plenty of time to check the date with their schedules and reply. If you’re sending out save-the-date notices (which are especially recommended if you’re planning a destination wedding), get them in the mail four to six months before.
#2 When should we send out invitations for overseas guests?
Again, save-the-date notices are your friends! There are loads of online programmes to help you design a pretty and practical notice in no time at all. If sending these is the difference between a loved one being there on your big day or missing out, you’d be mad not to include this step. But even if you don’t send a save-the-date notice, let overseas guests know as soon as you’ve locked in a date and venue, so they have as much time as possible to organise flights, accommodation and time off work.
When it comes to the physical invitations, send them to your overseas guests at the same time as your local guests, and consider giving them a heads-up via a phone call, email or Skype session.
#3 How far before the wedding should the RSVP date be set?
Give yourself a safe buffer period and set it for about one month before the wedding. If guests can’t attend, this will allow you to change seating plans without freaking out the week before the big day. Your nerves – and skin – will thank you for it. Not to mention the wedding coordinator at your reception venue, who will want to finalise floorplans and menus.
#4 What should I say to any guests who have missed our RSVP date?
A day or two after the RSVP date, call the guests who haven’t responded for a friendly catch-up. Ask how they are, what’s happening in their lives and say something along the lines of, “We’re getting really excited about the wedding, do you think you might be able to attend?”
If you end up playing phone tag, leave a message in your second call and say, “While we hope you can attend, if we don’t hear from you by [insert date] we’ll assume you’re busy and can’t make it.” Keep your tone polite and understanding, but don’t let them walk all over you. You really don’t need to be all about that drama right now.
#5 Who pays for the dresses?
Ah, this would have to be one of the most commonly asked questions in the wedding world. Bridesmaids are generally expected to pay for their own wedding-day outfit, but if it’s within your budget, go ahead and treat them! (The same goes for groomsmen.) While bridesmaids generally cover the costs of their own shoes (after you’ve advised them on an ideal colour and/or style), things like hair and makeup are usually paid for by the bride.
#6 What’s the best way to talk costs with my bridesmaids?
Yes, it’s awkward, but make sure you let your bridesmaids know up front what costs you’ll be covering, and what you’re hoping they’ll pay for.
Have the chat early and, if possible, in person (or over the phone – just don’t do it via text or email as this should be a free-flowing conversation, not a one-sided directive). Be careful of your tone and be sure to say something like, “I’d absolutely love for you to be involved, but I completely understand if now’s not the best time for you,” and tell them how much it will mean to you if they attend, either as a guest or a bridesmaid. Don’t let them feel pressured and don’t take it personally if they decline. Again, the same applies for groomsmen.
#7 One of my bridesmaids really doesn’t like her dress. What do I do?
The idea that bridesmaids always end up in a hideous creation in order to make the bride stand out is so outdated, but sometimes a dress simply won’t be flattering.
If anyone’s unhappy, openly discuss exactly what they’d like changed. Perhaps consider an on-trend mismatched look – different dresses can still look cohesive in tonal colours. For details like sleeves, hemlines or necklines, ask a good tailor how they could transform them into something your girlfriends (and you) will love.
#8 Can we play whatever music we want at the ceremony?
It really does depend on the venue – definitely check if you’re getting married in a place of worship. Bonus tip: read into the lyrics of your chosen song. For example, you might want to look into the translation of ‘Despacito’ if you’re considering it for the recessional. While it’s a catchy tune, let’s just say it’s not exactly church-appropriate!
#9 What’s the general order of events for a simple ceremony?
It should run a little something like this: procession (walking down the aisle), words of welcome from the officiant, readings from a song, poem or prayer (if you’re having one), the exchanging of vows, the kiss, final blessings and then the recessional (walking back up the aisle). Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, you’re married!
#10 Can our officiant refer to me by my nickname?
For the official vows, you do have to use your given name at least once – but you can add shortened names or nicknames as well if it makes you feel more comfortable.
For example, you could say something like, “I, Isabella, ‘Bella’, take you, Joshua, ‘Josh’, to be my lawfully wedded husband”. For the rest of the ceremony, nicknames or shortened names are fine, but you’ll have to include your full given name on any legal documents.
#11 I’ve always dreamed of having peonies in my bouquet, but they won’t be in season. What now?
Bring this up with your florist and they’ll be able to suggest a fabulous alternative. With certain flowers, there are plenty of variations and similar-looking options with the same sort of shape and aesthetic that you just might love even more. Keep calm and ask questions – there’s no need to move the whole wedding date!
#12 Who takes care of installing flowers and floral decorations at the ceremony and reception?
Your florist will most likely take on the job of putting up any elaborate creations they’ve crafted for you, such as hanging installations, but make sure you confirm this with them – and check to see if it will involve an additional cost.
Other floral decorations (think posies for the tables or aisles) are generally overseen by the wedding coordinator or venue when they’re delivered. If you remember one thing, let it be this: do not DIY this step on the morning of the wedding. There are much better ways to spend that time than racing around, trying to fasten bunches of baby’s breath to seats. And always, always trust the professionals when it comes to putting up hanging installations.
#13 We can’t afford an open bar – what’s a good alternative?
Limit what’s on offer to just the absolute favourites, like one particular label of beer and wine, and just a couple of types of spirits (vodka and whiskey are popular choices). Or, consider serving a theme-inspired cocktail (tropical celebration? Hello, mojitos!) and make the rest available for purchase.
#14 Do we really need to serve Champagne?
It’s your wedding, serve what you like! But if you do want to indulge in this classic tipple while saving on the budget, just serve a glass during toasts – or think about alternatives such as Prosecco or a local sparkling wine.
GIFTS AND GUESTS
#15 How can we tactfully ask guests for money as gifts?
Make your wishes clear in your invites – whether it’s on the actual invitation or on a separate card attached. Avoid cheesy rhymes, make it sound sincere, and stress (politely) that their gift to you is optional. A favourite option of ours is, “Your company is the greatest gift of all, but if you would like to honour us with a gift there will be a wishing well at our reception. Your donations and well wishes will be gratefully received.”
#16 When is it appropriate to open wedding gifts?
If you receive gifts before the big day it’s totally fine to open them – it’ll give you a head start on writing your thank you notes (which we absolutely recommend you do). If you’re given gifts at the wedding, save these for the next day or for when you get back from your honeymoon and recruit some help to get them transported to your residence or accommodation. Whenever you open them, aim to send out a short and sweet thank you note within a few days.
#17 There’s a time limit at our reception. How do we (nicely) kick out our guests?
Unless you’re celebrating at a private property, there will more than likely be a set time you’ll need to leave the venue. Make this time clear on your invitations and inform your DJ or band so they can help wind things down.
AFTER THE WEDDING
#18 How do I change my name after we’re married?
In Australia, if you want to change your name it will usually be done when applying for a standard marriage certificate.
You’ll need to inform various government agencies, banks and utility suppliers afterwards, and the process for each will be different. Generally you’ll have to complete a change request form, send an official email or letter, or visit an office in person and for each they’ll need to see your marriage certificate.
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