wedding etiquette

{ what’s a wedding guest to do…? }

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 | media, trends | No Comments

We are frequently interviewed about all things wedding…here’s one from the perspective of the wedding guest:

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No, I don’t want to go to your expensive wedding
by Melissa Leong | Financial Post | May 7, 2013

When a beautiful wedding invitation arrives in our mailbox, imagine if we could RSVP in the most honest way.

“Dear friend, Thank you so much for wanting me to be a part of your incredible celebration. But I am spending a month’s rent on gifts, a bridesmaid dress and the bachelorette party in Vegas. If you have a third bridal shower, I am going to lose it.”

“Dear cousin, I know you’re getting married at the swankiest venue in the city. But my date and I will not cover our heads at $350 a pop. Please don’t badmouth us to the rest of the family.”

“Dear work colleague, No way. In debt from the last wedding that I attended. But congrats.”

How to survive the wedding season

Attending weddings can be expensive. So here are some tips to help you emerge from the tulle-draped, flower-petal littered and champagne filled celebrations with more of your money in the bank.
Read more here
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We know weddings are expensive. Weddingbells Magazine’s annual survey recently revealed that couples spend an average of $32,358 to get married and go on a honeymoon. But lovebirds aside, it can be expensive for everyone else too. According to new research by American Express, people expect to fork out $539 per wedding this year, including $167 on travel and $108 on gifts. (Close family members spend an average of $179 on gifts and co-workers cough up $66.)

Also, more couples are opting for destination events which raises costs for traveling guests; 24% of all American weddings in 2012 were abroad, up 20% since 2008, says TheKnot.

Statistics Canada’s 2008 data shows that men get married at an average age of 31.1 and women get hitched at 29.1. So for recent graduates with student loans and for people with new careers trying to build wealth, a flurry of weddings invitations couldn’t come at a worse time.

In the past 10 years, Mira M. has attended about 20 weddings and says she’s easily spent $10,000. Last year, the 29-year-old Toronto resident went to six weddings. One bride had two engagement parties, three showers, an out-of-town stagette and an in-town stagette. And the wedding invitation read: “Monetary gifts appreciated.”

“I gave a gift at every single event,” she says. “You start to feel the pressure because the bride starts talking to you about who gave gifts and ‘How much do you think a party like this costs?’”

So how much are you supposed to give?

Well, you don’t have to give anything if you don’t want to.

Big wedding gift, big mistake

These emotional highs can sometimes lead to brash decisions — such as the decision to unconditionally give your newlywed children extraordinary wedding gifts.
Read more here
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“From an etiquette perspective, the most common misconception that I hear is that you’re supposed to spend how much you think they’re spending on your dinner. That’s not the case. [The] wedding is not supposed to be a money-making or break even proposition,” says Lisa Hanslip, owner and senior event designer at The Wedding Planner Inc. She used to write an etiquette column for the Calgary Herald. “You need to take into account how well do you know this person and what your particular circumstances are.”

She has planned several weddings in the last few years where the couple either didn’t want gifts or asked for charitable donations.

“You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy something off the registry. The registry is supposed to make it easier for you, in case you don’t know them that well or you don’t know what they need,” she says. “I’ve had clients complaining about friends’ registries where the cheapest thing is one silver teaspoon that’s $100 and you feel so stupid buying one spoon.”

Buying a silver spoon is the least of our problems if we get the call to join the ranks of the wedding party. (It’s like having the honour of being knighted, except the sword cuts your purse strings.) According to the wedding site TheKnot.com, the average bridesmaid could face a bill for $1,385 when adding all potential costs.

Julianne Taskey, a 31-year-old Toronto resident who works in fundraising has been in six wedding parties; she spends about $1,000 to fulfill her bridal party duties.

“I’m a spender. It’s someone’s special day so how do you put a price tag on it. How do you say, ‘No?’” she says.

Take just one of her events. The cost included more than $400 for a bridesmaid dress, $150 for hair and make-up, $80 for shoes, $50 for a pedicure and manicure. Add to that $150-$300 for a wedding gift, $50 to $100 for shower gifts and $500 for the bachelorette party. “The rooms, the cabs, the drinks, strippers, the bridesmaids tank tops. I probably have four [tank tops],” she says.

Going to people’s weddings could deepen your relationship
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Debauchery isn’t cheap. At bachelor parties, Armando Guedez’s friends call him “the banker.” That’s because the 31-year-old Toronto resident doesn’t drink much.

“They’ll give me the money and my job is to make sure they don’t make stupid decisions with their money,” he says.

He’s been invited to about five weddings in the last few years and the bachelor parties are the costliest part. “I usually budget $500. Drinks could be $150 to $200. The hotel and gas is shared so $50 to $100. Food might be $100. The rest goes to the ladies.”

The price of these man-parties and the $150 gift that Mr. Guedez gives at weddings is worth it, he adds. “Going to people’s weddings could deepen your relationships.”

Michael O’Farrell, a 31-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Gatineau, Que., flew to Las Vegas for his cousin’s bachelor party.

“Without the flight, it was close to $1,000 to $1,500 for three nights,” he says. “You’re a bunch of guys. They say, ‘Why don’t we spend $1,000 on drinks and bottle service?’ Everyone chips in. There’s definitely peer pressure and the guilt trip. In some cases … no one wants to take charge and if you do decide to, you’re loading up your credit card.”

He will also buy a new suit to wear to weddings. Blame Facebook for being a catalogue of our formal wear for everyone to see. (To deal with this, Mira once rented a $2,000 gown for $150 from Toronto company, Rent frock Repeat, to wear to a black-tie wedding.)

I’ve been invited to a Jack and Jill where I wasn’t invited to the wedding. It’s so tacky
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You cannot put a dollar amount to attending a wedding, Mr. O’Farrell says. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for the bride and groom. Getting an invitation is a sign that you’re important in their lives. It’s important for you to be there and you want to share that moment with them … If you get invited, it’s not proper to say ‘No.’”

I’ve said “no,” and not sent a gift (which according to my mom, is the rudest thing in the world). I’ve said “no” to being in someone’s wedding party. I also don’t go to what Winnipeggers call “socials” or Jack and Jill parties where guests pay a cover and buy raffle tickets to help raise money for someone else’s wedding.

“I’ve been invited to a Jack and Jill where I wasn’t invited to the wedding. It’s so tacky,” says Kirsten Ellison, a 28-year-old student at the University of Calgary.

She has three weddings to attend this summer in Ontario and one bachelorette in Las Vegas. She’s been saving and spreading out the costs for the flights, for the “spa-rty” (spa party) ahead of one wedding and the hotels.

“I know of people who’ve taken a second mortgage on their house to have a wedding. It was an extravagant thing and all of the bridesmaids were swept up as well,” she says. “It’s important for the couple to have those who are close to them, family and friends, to be there and be supportive. At the same time, it has spun out of control and gone beyond the celebration of two people getting together.”

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{ put those dancing shoes on… }

Friday, October 19th, 2012 | Q&A | No Comments

Tips on Breaking in your Wedding Heels
From our friends at Weddingful.com:
The heels have been chosen and they’re gorgeous! Now the question is, how do you break in these babies so you can enjoy your wedding day.

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Tip #1: Wear them in: We know you don’t want to scuff your beautiful shoes, but they must be worn in. Wear them at the office (at your desk of course) or wear them around the house. Pop them on for half an hour to an hour a day.

Tip #2: Bend & stretch: We saw this tip on Lauren Conrad’s website The Beauty Department. Stretch and bend the heels upward and downwards (if the shoe permits) a few times. Use a hair dryer and heat the heesl for 2 to 3 minutes and repeat.

Tip #3: Buy the right size: This might sound silly, but lots of women will buy the wrong size of shoe, perhaps it was the last pair on sale or you just couldn’t hunt down your size. We recommend you buy a perfect fitting shoe. If a shoe is too big, you risk tripping and if it’s too small, we guarantee blisters will form.

Tip #4: Sandpaper the sole: If you find the heel slippery, take a piece of sandpaper and rub against the sole.

Tip #5: Have a backup plan: Let’s not lie to ourselves, even if your heels are super comfortable, you will likely be tired by end of day. So pick a pair of pretty crochet TOMS, sparkly flip flops or satin ballet flats for a quick change. These are perfect to switch in throughout the day.

http://blog.weddingful.com/tips-on-breaking

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{ will you marry me? }

Friday, October 5th, 2012 | etiquette | No Comments

Thank you to Peter Post for these great tips for the perfect proposal!
proposal

Countdown to Proposing
Peter Post’s 10 Day Proposing Plan
From the ring and flowers to what to wear and how to ask, Peter gives men the advice they need to get through the big moment.

Day 10: Make a Plan
Decide on the who, what, when, where and why of how you will ask her to marry you. A public place or a private setting? First thing in the morning or late at night? Think about what suits your personalities and relationship. Keep in mind, this is a story she will be telling for the rest of her life and you want her to be proud to tell it. But at the same time, the more complex a plan you concoct, the more difficult to pull off.

Day 9: The Ring
You’ve got two options here: pick the ring you know she’ll love or go with something basic and let her choose the setting and band once she’s said yes. If you go with the latter, remember that this is not an insult to your jewelry selection capabilities. You want to make sure it’s the ring she wants.

Day 8: To Ask or Not to Ask – Permission from Her Dad
Individual circumstances determine whether you should ask permission from her father, either alone or with your intended, or if you should simply announce your plans together. Be respectful of the culture and traditions of your future wife’s family. This will help you decide the most appropriate course of action.

Day 7: Schedule Her In
Don’t forget to make plans with her for the big day. It would be pretty embarrassing to go through all this effort and then have her tell you “I’m not available that night, I have yoga class till 8:30 p.m.”

Day 6: Dress
Figure out what you’re going to wear. Make sure it’s clean and pressed. Shoes polished. Hole-free socks. Get a haircut. Shave. You want to look and feel your best.

Day 5: Flowers
There’s only one choice: red roses. Lots and lots of red roses. And remember, even if you think flowers don’t matter, they do.

Day 4: Food
To cook or go out? Don’t cook. Think about it. You want to focus on her, not on cooking. Make a reservation at the nicest restaurant you can afford. Try not to be a nervous wreck, hopefully you’ll enjoy the meal. If you’re planning to pop the question there, ask the maitre d’ for a quiet table.

Day 3: Wine
This is clearly a champagne occasion. Pop the question early and then order a bottle to celebrate. You can even call ahead and arrange to have the sommelier bring the champagne out once you’ve proposed.

Day 2: Practice
Think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Decide if you’re a down-on-one-knee kind of guy. Visualize what’s going to happen. You’ve established a plan for the dinner, now think about how you’re going to actually pull this off. Make sure you know how to get to where you are going. Remember these could be some of the most important words she hears from you, so make them memorable.

Day 1: Just Do It!
Give yourself time to get ready. Don’t forget the ring. Do plan on having a night the two of you will always remember. Look her in the eye and speak from the heart. Enjoy the moment!

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{ eeek…bridezilla!! }

Friday, September 21st, 2012 | media, Q&A, testimonials | No Comments

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, JUNE 2005, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…”
bridezilla image credit: Alex Eben Meyer (http://www.eben.com)

Q. My best friend is getting married in a few months and I am so happy for her, but in the six months since she got engaged she’s changed into a totally different person. She never wants to discuss anything but the wedding and she’s obsessing about every single detail. Since I announced I’m pregnant she no longer wants me to be her bridesmaid because I won’t look good in the wedding photos. She’s gone completely crazy, is there anything I can do to snap her out of it?

A. Alas, I fear Bridezilla has reared her ugly head:

bridezilla (brId-ZILL-uh) n. A bride-to-be who, while planning her wedding, becomes exceptionally selfish, greedy, and obnoxious.

Bridezillas are a new breed of brides who abuse the idea that weddings are their day to get exactly what they want. They terrorize their bridal party and family members, make greedy demands and break all rules of etiquette. Their sole desire is to be the single most important person on the planet from the time of engagement right up until the last dance at their wedding.

Here are some tell-tale signs that someone you love might be turning into a Bridezilla:

-The bride is incapable of discussing any subject other than her wedding.

-The bride barely eats so she can fit into her dress and then complains that she’s hungry all the time.

-The bride obsessively watches what her bridal party is eating and gasps every time anyone reaches for a cookie.

-The mother-of-the-bride and the maid-of-honour are beginning to feel like medieval footservants.

-The bride chooses couture bridesmaid dresses, even though most of her friends are on a budget. She does not, however, offer to pay.

-When the bride is discussing all the details of her wedding (which she does to every person who crosses her path) you can’t help but picture more “Bride of Frankenstein” than “Princess Bride.”

-The bride is thrilled when her groom is sent away on business (“Finally, he’ll stop interfering in all of my plans…”).

Your friend may have been the sweetest girl you knew before she got engaged, but once a bride falls to the dark side, there’s very little you can do but grin and breathe deeply (slipping the bride a valium couldn’t hurt either). So, take a deep breath and count the days until your friend returns to her normal self. In the meantime…be afraid, be very afraid.

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{ it’s all a matter of perspective }

Friday, September 14th, 2012 | etiquette, media, Q&A, Uncategorized | No Comments

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, JANUARY 2006, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…” { The long road from happy engagement to wedded bliss is paved with potential etiquette faux pas. Wedding planner Lisa Hanslip is here to help you resist your inner Bridezilla along the way. }
wdngszblog
Q. My fiancé and I are planning to get married in about eight months, but we haven’t made many plans yet because we can’t seem to agree on what the wedding should look like. As this is the second marriage for both of us I would like a small intimate event. My fiancé on the other hand comes from a very large family and is expecting a large celebration. Do you have any suggestions how we can plan a wedding that will make everyone happy?

A. A wedding is not just a celebration of the union of two people, but more often than not, it is the joining of two families – which brings with it a veritable treasure trove of opposing traditions and expectations. If the meeting of the in-laws doesn’t tragically mirror a scene from Meet the Fockers consider yourself lucky.

A good compromise in many situations is to split the difference – but I don’t think a medium-sized ceremony and reception will satisfy either side – you’ll still feel like the event was much bigger than you were hoping for (“There were 150 people at my wedding, it was a total zoo!”) – and your fiancé’s family will inevitably deem the moderate guest list too small (“How can we possibly have a proper wedding celebration with only 150 people?!?”).

You might consider having a small intimate ceremony with just your immediate family and closest friends followed by a large celebration later in the day. This way you’ll have the memory of a ceremony that reflected your sensibilities while your fiancé and his family can relish tales of the big bash.

Another option is to have the large wedding your fiancé’s family is hoping for, followed by a small gathering. Try a morning ceremony followed by a raucous afternoon reception – then in the evening you can sit down to an intimate dinner for just immediate family.

Whatever you decide to do – make sure it is a solution that doesn’t leave either of you disgruntled. Focus on what you two need from your day, even if that means ignoring your families. It doesn’t bode well if one of you spends your wedding night on the sofa (because that only leads to a honeymoon spent on the marriage counselor’s couch – and that’s no good for anybody).

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{ murphy’s law vs. bride }

Friday, September 7th, 2012 | etiquette, media, Q&A | No Comments

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…”
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Q. My sister got married last weekend and it seemed like every possible thing that could go wrong, did. The make-up artist showed up really late, the beautiful vintage car she had booked broke down, the Videographer missed the entire processional and shot the whole thing focused on the back of their heads, the hotel misplaced their engraved cake knife, and the bridesmaids’ dresses didn’t arrive until 2 days after the wedding. I’m getting married in the spring and although I wasn’t worried about anything, I’m now terrified about all the things that can go wrong. Is there any way to make sure these things don’t happen at my wedding?

A. Yikes! Your sister is apparently the Murphy’s Law poster-child. It’s difficult to plan a wedding without something going awry along the way (and thankfully equally hard to plan a wedding with everything going wrong). A lot of the mishaps at your sister’s wedding could not have been prevented – but planning for acceptable alternatives can help.

Most contracts are written to protect the vendor not the client, so keep that in mind when you’re reading them over. There is almost always a clause pertaining to the “what ifs…” – think about what contingency would make you happy – and don’t be shy to at least suggest it to them. For example, if the car you booked breaks down or is otherwise unavailable – ask to have it written into your contract that the driver will come fetch you in an ancient Egyptian litter (a la Cleopatra) rather than merely substituting a car of equal value. It is highly unlikely they will actually agree to this, mind you, but the mere thought of it may give your sister some satisfaction.

Before booking any vendor, ask about their background, and don’t choose simply based on price. Discuss potential problems with them at the time – it is a lot less stressful to think about these things prior to your wedding.

To help deal with any hiccups on your big day, have a list of all the vendors involved and contact numbers. Another great way to help alleviate stress: Have an emergency kit so you can tackle any last minute problems like a torn dress (which you caught on the door as you were running in because your limo broke down), too few boutonnieres (because the florist didn’t think you were actually serious about there being 12 groomsmen), a missing ring (because the jeweller didn’t quite finish and you don’t want to have to borrow your cousin’s skull ring), or bad breath (because corn nuts are your favorite comfort food – and it seemed like a good idea this morning ).

So…read over your contracts….then pucker up and enjoy that first kiss (breath mint anyone?)!

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{ $$ who’s paying for this wedding anyway $$ }

Monday, August 13th, 2012 | etiquette, Q&A | No Comments

One of our new clients mentioned that they were really stressed about figuring out who is supposed to pay for what at the wedding. This is a question that clients used to ask me ALL the time – but in the last 5 or 6 years it actually hasn’t come up very often, or only in regards to the rehearsal dinner or one small detail.
A good portion of our clients are paying for the wedding themselves so if their parents contribute any money it’s just a nice bonus, but when an engaged couple is counting on their families to pay for most or all of the wedding it can be a sticky topic for a number of reasons.
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It’s rarely the case that both families have similar financial circumstances, and some families wish to stick to a very traditional division of costs where other families don’t have the slightest idea who is supposed to pay for what. All of these elements can conspire to cause the couple a lot of stress – even just bringing up the subject of the financial obligations can cause even the calmest couple some sleepless nights.
Traditionally, of course, the bride’s family assumed the burden of most wedding costs – probably a vestige of the practice of providing a large dowry to attract a good husband (!!). However, these days only about 25% of weddings are paid for solely by the bride’s parents.
Today, almost 70% of weddings are paid for either by the couple or by some combination of both sets of parents. It’s now VERY common for both families to share the costs equally, or for the bride and groom to pay for all of the expenses themselves.
If you do want financial help from your families to pay for the wedding, you must keep in mind you must be wiling to compromise on some of your wishes for your wedding. Although it can be a difficult subject to broach this subject with your parents – do your best to keep the conversation calm & dignified…it’s amazing how grievances that arise during the engagement can linger far past the actual wedding…whatever happens, whoever pays…just remember these people are going to be your family for the rest of your life so tread lightly!
If age-old tradition is ruling the financial structure of your wedding, here is the TRADITIONAL DIVISION OF COSTS from Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette:
The Bride & Her Family:
• services of a wedding consultant
• invitations, enclosures, announcements
• bride’s wedding gown & accessories
• floral decorations for ceremony & reception
• bridesmaids’ flowers
• bride’s bouquet
• formal wedding photos
• videographer
• music for church & reception
• transportation of bridal party to & from ceremony
• all reception expenses
• bride’s gifts to her attendants
• bride’s gift to groom
• groom’s wedding ring
• ceremony rentals
• cost of soloists
• transportation of bridal party to reception
• accommodations for bride’s attendants
• bridesmaids’ luncheon

The Groom & His Family:
• bride’s engagement ring
• bride’s wedding ring
• gifts for groom’s attendants
• ties for groom’s attendants if not part of rental package
• bride’s bouquet (in regions where this is the custom)
• bride’s going-away corsage
• boutonnieres for groom’s attendants
• corsages for immediate members of both families
• officiant’s fee or church donation
• transportation & lodging expenses for the officiant if required & invited to officiate by groom’s family
• marriage license
• transportation for groom and best man to ceremony
• honeymoon
• all costs of rehearsal dinner
• accommodations for groom’s attendants
• bachelor dinner (if groom wishes to have one)
• transportation and lodging for groom’s immediate family*

Bridesmaids/Honour Attendants:
• purchase of apparel and all accessories
• transportation to and from city where wedding takes place
• a contribution to a gift from bridesmaids to bride
• individual gift to couple (if being in the wedding is not the gift)
• shower/luncheon for bride

Ushers/Groomsmen/Best Man:
• rental/purchase of wedding attire
• transportation to and from city where wedding takes place
• a contribution to a gift from groomsmen to groom
• individual gift to couple (if being in the wedding is not the gift)
• bachelor party for groom

Out-of-town guests:
• transportation to & from wedding
• lodging expenses
• wedding gift

* just as a total aside – it always makes me crazy when I watch “Father of the Bride” and Diane Keaton tells Steve Martin they have to pay for all of the groom’s family to fly in from Denmark…NO!!! No you don’t!! Whether you’re following old traditions or new – or none for that matter – unless you happen to own an airlines…that would be just stupid…but artistic license I guess :)

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{ just an intimate affair…?}

Friday, May 4th, 2012 | etiquette, Q&A | No Comments

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, MAY 2005, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…”

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Q: We chose a very small venue to have our reception and it was very difficult to get our guest list small enough. We all had to cut quite a few people we would love to be there – but it simply won’t accommodate any more people. A few of our friends (and our parents’ friends) are quite offended and upset about not being invited. How should we handle this?

A: When planning a wedding, making the guest list is frequently fraught with problems. The process of cutting down the guest list is, at best, the cause of making some hard choices, and at worst, absolutely agonizing. Most of the time it can be an emotional minefield for everyone:
• Mom, I don’t care if you envisioned my wedding having 400 guests – we only want 35.
• What do you mean you want to invite your ex-girlfriend?
• No Dad, I don’t want all 47 of my first cousins at the wedding.
• You mean I can’t invite 14 people from the office, what will I tell them?

You need to decide what is important – the venue or the number of guests. Have you always dreamed of an intimate wedding or is a huge bash more your style? If you have your heart set on a small wedding you have to be a little ruthless with the guest list.

If you’re having a wedding for 350 people – your friends have a right to be offended by their omission from the guest list – however, if you’ve chosen a venue that only holds 50 people – they should understand the size constraints – that you simply don’t have the option of including everyone. It is perfectly appropriate to host a wedding for just immediate family and a few close friends.

Remember a few things which should help before making the final decisions: Your wedding is not an opportunity for your parents to get payback for all the wedding gifts they’ve given and weddings they’ve attended over the years. It is also decidedly not an occasion for them to fulfill their social obligations (nothing makes a bride feel more special on her wedding day than a room full of her father’s business associates). It is also not appropriate to send invitations to a bunch of people you know will not be able to attend – it looks like a blatant plea for gifts.

In an ideal world, you could have your ideal wedding and everyone you’ve ever met could be invited – but unless heisting a Brinks truck is in your immediate future – your friends and family need to be understanding of the type of wedding you and your fiancé have chosen.

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{ man of honour…or…how to have a guy as your bridesmaid }

Friday, April 27th, 2012 | etiquette, media, Q&A | No Comments

I know I’ve already blogged about having male bridesmaids and honour attendants of the opposite sex – but as it is a topic that comes up time and again with clients I thought it bears repeating. I think my first experience with this was a female “best man” in the mid-nineties sometime. She wore a floor-length strapless black gown and looked just lovely – and not even a little out of place – standing between the groom and the groomsmen.
I feel very strongly that you have the person or persons that mean most to you standing next to you while you get married – regardless of gender. You don’t need to have 4 attendants because your soon-to-be spouse is having 4 attendants. You don’t have to have them all in the same outfit (in fact, please don’t!!) – it’s great to infuse some character into your bridal party. And, you definitely don’t have to have female attendants because you’re the bride, nor male attendants because you’re the groom. We have had lots of “men of honour”s and “best women” over the years and it’s always perfectly appropriate – regardless if you’re having a religious or secular ceremony.

 

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, MARCH 2005, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…”

The long road from happy engagement to wedded bliss is paved with potential etiquette faux pas. Wedding planner Lisa Hanslip is here to help you resist your inner Bridezilla along the way.

Q: I’m having a very hard time choosing a maid of honour. I have a few girlfriends that I’m fairly close to, but my very best friend is a guy. We’ve known each other since junior high – and he’s seen me through everything. Would it be weird to choose him instead of a maid of honour? Should he just dress like the groomsmen? Will I give my grandmother a heart attack?

A: Unconventional, yes! Unexpected, you bet! Acceptable, absolutely!

You want your honour attendant – whether it is a maid of honour, matron of honour or man of honour – to be the person to whom you feel closest. You should choose your best friend, the person you want standing beside you on your big day – not the friend that would look best in the bridesmaid dress.

If you choose a man to be your honour attendant – you may opt to eliminate some of the “typical” duties like hosting your bridal shower, or helping you get into your wedding gown. But the most important part of the job description is being supportive and serving as the legal witness to your marriage.

Choosing your attendants can often be a difficult process – for the bride and the groom. There may be family politics involved. Or, like some, you may have served as a bridesmaid for a dozen of your friends and family members and feel obligated to ask them to stand up for you in return. Well…don’t.

This is your day – and although it is impossible to accommodate everyone’s wishes – you can’t make your choices based on not wanting to offend someone. You can’t make everyone happy – nor can you make everyone your bridesmaid – so just choose those you are currently closest to. You can always assign tasks – like doing a reading or taking care of the guest book – to those you want to feel special and included in your wedding but aren’t in the bridal party.

When you decide on the attire for your attendants, he can wear a suit or tuxedo and coordinate his tie to the other bridesmaids. This scenario also holds true for the groom. It is also perfectly acceptable to have a woman be the best “man.” A best “woman” looks great in a black strapless gown to coordinate with the other groomsmen.

So, feel free to choose your best guy friend or brother to stand up for you at your wedding. Just keep your “man of honour” away from the lavender chiffon and size 11 purple pumps – and your grandmother’s heart should be just fine!

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{ seven brides(maids) for…two groomsmen }

Thursday, April 12th, 2012 | etiquette, Q&A | No Comments

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CALGARY HERALD, SEPTEMBER 2005, IN LISA HANSLIP’S COLUMN “I DO, BUT DON’T…”

The long road from happy engagement to wedded bliss is paved with potential etiquette faux pas. Wedding planner Lisa Hanslip is here to help you resist your inner Bridezilla along the way.

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Q. I’m having trouble choosing my attendants (or support team, as I like to think of them). I originally wanted only a Maid of Honour (my sister) without any other attendants. Unfortunately, my fiancé really wants 3 groomsmen and has already asked two of them. So I now feel stuck. I’ve narrowed it down to 4 people (one is a guy) for two spots. Two are a husband and wife. He and I have been through a lot together and have known each other much longer than his wife and I, but she has become a good friend too (and I was a bridesmaid at their wedding so I feel obliged to include her). The other two are good friends from when I was in school. How does one make this decision? Please help.

A. Choosing attendants seems to fall into two categories: it’s either easy and clear cut – you have three sisters, you have a tight knit group of four that you’ve known since childhood, you have one sister and your fiancé has one brother, etc. – or, more likely, the whole idea of having to choose more than one, but less than 12, bridesmaids is more challenging than an advanced Sudoku puzzle.

Countless brides juggle choosing who they really want vs. who they feel obliged to ask, simplicity vs. having everyone you know in a matching dress at the front of the church with you…it’s rarely easy.

Just because you were a bridesmaid at someone’s wedding, does not mean you have to ask them to be your bridesmaid in return. Some women have had the (un)fortunate experience of being a bridesmaid a dozen or more times – it would be completely impractical to reciprocate. Sometimes it’s a case of – if you ask Sally, Jane will be upset, and vice versa, so you need to ask both or neither.

You could still make your friend’s wife feel included by asking her to be an usher, or do a reading during the ceremony. However, this depends a lot on her personality. You don’t want your wedding to be a cause of strife in their marriage – so if you really want him as an attendant – and you think she’d be completely insulted to be left out – then ask them both and get your other two friends to participate in some other way.

The other option is to avoid the whole mess by doing what you had originally planned – just ask your sister to be your Maid of Honour and leave it at that (don’t worry about it looking slightly lopsided).

When all is said and done, it is your day, and you should have the “support team” you want, not the one you felt obligated to have.

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