Wedding Planning ~ Wedding Etiquette ~ Wedding planning guide ~ Wedding reception planning e
California Wedding Planning
HOME Brought to you by:  Occasions Photography
Wedding Etiquette & Planning Advice

Wedding Etiquette & Planning Advice.

Through the years, we've been asked many wedding planning and etiquette questions...
We have been fortunate enough to be able to help many wedding planners with some tough situations; Well at least we've tried. Read some wedding Etiquette questions and answers below.


I am in a bit of a predicament. I am starting to receive RSVPs to my wedding
and it appears that despite following the etiquette books I am in a no win
situation. My fiancÚ and I decided not to invite children, due mostly to
space limitations but cost as well i.e. there would be over 45 children.
However, adults who were addressed on the inner envelope are putting their
children's names on the RSVPs. Obviously, the children were not invited.
Before the invitations went out, I made certain to spread the word (orally)
that children were not invited. This did not take completely. I have
reserved a room where the wedding and reception are to take place along
baby-sitters. Am I to wait till the day of the wedding and let the director
tell the parents where the children are to be dropped off? Or should someone
let them know before the wedding? I am afraid if someone goes to such
lengths to include their child on the RSVP that they may go all out and buy
their child some insanely expensive outfit for the event. Also, as the
wedding and reception are in the same place, a historic inn, we are having a
dinner and reception...will the parents be willing to leave their children
with sitters for ~4-5 hours?

Thank you for your question. My! you are in quite a predicament, and unfortunately a very common one. When it comes to wedding guests, especially those who are married with children, many of them tend to forget what planning a wedding is like. It's not only stressful, but also expensive, and when a couple invests their time and money into such a special event, it should be played out by their rules.

Sorry, but there really is little you can do, other than as you suggested prior to the wedding date make it "clear as glass" where the children may be "dropped off", to spend their time during YOUR WEDDING. Some will not like it, and that's just the way it is, and may not attend, or may attend with their children in spite. People are funny when it comes to their "mini me's". Do by all means let those who RSVP'd with children know your plans and wishes for their children. Make sure you try to be clear, but friendly as to the space limitations of the facility. Some parents will not have trouble leaving their children at the care facility for the amount of time you suggested 4-5 hours, especially if they know that you carefully hand picked the care giver, and they trust your judgment. Perhaps you can reassure these parents of your choice and the safety issues. If the caregiver's facility is not far away from the reception, that will make the parents feel better. Some parents will simply not go for it.

I always hate to hear such stories from brides as it is supposed to be your most special day. Do what you can to make your wishes known and clear, and then go with it. I wish you all the very best on your special day.

Who pays for the wedding announcements in the newspaper?

Thank you for your question. Typically if the bride and groom are not footing the bill themselves, then the bride's parents pay for any press announcements. Best wishes to you.

>We thought we would cut costs on the reception by having a dessert and
>beverage reception only. It's actually quite costly, though. I'm nervous that
>the guests will be disappointed that we are not serving a full course meal.
>We've included "informal dessert reception" on the invitation (which starts
>about 7:15 in the evening). Do you think this is enough warning or will the
>guest resent not being fed especially if they've bought us a costly gift?


Thank you for your question. It is perfectly fine and acceptable to do things the way you are planning to them, especially since you have made things clear in your invitations. The only problem I see is the time that you are planning the reception. In most cases, when a full dinner is not being served either a sit-down or buffet, the time of day is usually earlier than your time of 7:15 pm. Typically a reception that does not involve a sit-down, or buffet style meal would, and should be scheduled during what would most likely be "cocktail hours" which are mostly between the hours of 4pm to no later than 7pm. Usually guests will expect a dinner type setting during the hours of 6 to 8pm. Dessert receptions can be scheduled as late as 9 to 10:30pm. It's all about timing. You are doing the right thing in properly describing your reception on your invitations. Your guests should have no questions, and will know to eat a meal prior to arriving.

As far as your guests being disappointed, you shouldn't let this trouble you much. You are including in your invitations what type of reception you are planning. Your guests will show up knowing what to expect and therefore should not be disappointed. If you are concerned and would like some ideas on how you can add a little extra for your guests to munch on see some suggestions below.

If you do not have a problem with "alcoholic beverages" being served, but do not want added expenses, you can always check with your chosen facility about a "portable bar" availability. If they offer this service, you don't have to pay for the drinks. If your guests desire something, they simply go to the bar and pay for it themselves. Perhaps since this is a "dessert reception", you could inquire with the facility about having the "portable bar" stocked with some "dessert wines".

Some rather inexpensive snacks for the guests that could be displayed on a special table, or on each guest table are as follows:

Snack crackers or chips w/dips
crunchy raw vegetables and fruits w/dips
served ice cream
Serve coffee, tea
I'm sure your guests will be delighted. It sounds as if you are a very special bride and you care very much about your guests. Too many brides forget that they are inviting people who are supposed to be their closest and most dear relatives and friends. Don't worry about disappointing these special people. The day is about the beginning of the most beautiful journey in life two people can take together. Don't let the thought of others being disappointed in something material infringe upon the beauty, and real purpose of your special day.

Best of Wishes,

Hi, I got married in August (almost nine months ago) and because of extenuating circumstances, I am just now writing my thank you cards for the gifts we received. My mother thinks I should send them , but I feel it has been too long. Your advice would be very helpful. Thank you


Thank you for your question. Your mother is correct. Regardless of the circumstances, and time frame that has passed you should send the thank you cards out. Wedding guests expect thank you cards almost as much as couples expect gifts from their guests. With your thank you cards you do not have to include an explanation for the delay, but should include an apology for the delay. In doing so, you may mend some hurt feelings that may already exist, or prevent them from coming into existence. I wish you all the best in your marriage and life.

My daughter is getting married in Oct. Her guest list consists of 190 people.
Her father and I would love to throw her a beautiful reception, but truth of
the matter is we are limited on the budget. My question is: Would it be
appropriate if we just do a reception with Hors D' oeuvres and liquor? She is
getting married in the same place as the reception. If it is appropriate, how
would we word it on the invite?
Thanks for your help.

Thank you for your question. It will be perfectly appropriate to have the reception consist of Hors D' oeuvres, and alcoholic beverages. This would be referred to as a "Cocktail Reception" on your invitations. Cocktail receptions are most appropriate between the hours of 4 and 7 pm. Any later than that your guests will expect more of a "Full Dinner Reception", and any sooner, your guests simply may not be hungry or in the mood for the menu, or alcoholic beverages available. It is important that the time of day for such a reception is not scheduled around a "meal time" such as lunch, or dinner. Most people who are planning a "Cocktail Reception" have their wedding ceremony during the mid-day, and allow time for a break period in between the ceremony time and the reception start time. For example you could put into the invititations that the ceremony is scheduled for 12pm in the afternoon, and include that after a short break period you are cordially invited to a "Cocktail Reception" at 5pm at the following address, , , , " This will allow time after the ceremony for pictures, and for everyone to "unwind", rest, transport flower arrangements to the reception (if applicable), and eat something before going to the reception if desired. You will also save money if you do not have an "open bar" so to speak, but simply have a bar available but beverages must be purchased by the individual. You could ask the bar attendant ahead of time to offer Champagne, or wine by the glass in addition to beers, mixed drinks etc. As for the Hors D' oeuvres you can save money by staying away from anything "seafood", and stick to things such as vegetables with dips, sliced deli type meats with either crackers, or small slices of breads (example rye bread), cheeses, jello type deserts, fruits, pastry type sweets, etc. You could serve small bite size BBQ chicken pieces, or have a huge pot of shredded beef and tortillas on the side available. That way your guests can get creative and make tiny cracker or bread sandwiches, or a filled tortilla. Don't forget bowls with things such as mayo, mustard, ketchup etc. as well on the serving table.

Below are some Menu addition ideas that are fairly inexpensive to add to the menu. For an event no longer than 2 hours you should have at least 6 menu items for your guests. For an event 4 hours long or more, serve at least 9 different menu items.

Be sure to include either toothpicks, or forks, spoons etc. according to the menu items you select. Make it easy for your guests to eat the selections.

You can include these items in addition to your main items as an "extra" snack item. This will allow your guests to feel as if there is plenty to eat, and satisfy their cravings.

For a "Mexican food" theme, be sure to add tortilla chips and salsa on the serving table. Chips and salsa are a great "fill food", and keep the guests' hands occupied.

For an "oriental food" theme, be sure to add finger food "bite size" orange chicken that can be eaten easily with a toothpick.

I hope this helps you. Best of wishes in your wedding planning.