Monday, May 20, 2013

Mind Your Manners: the ultimate etiquette guide for the modern bride

From pre-nuptial agreements to online gift registries, from personalised vows to preparing your guest list, traditional wedding protocol has been modernised. Here’s an ultimate etiquette guide for the modern bride.

Finding Mr Right is one thing. In fact, if truth be told, it’s probably the easy part. But organising the wedding? Now there’s a serious challenge.

Getting married is a lot easier said than done – shrieking “yes!!” to his bended knee proposal can set a girl on a path towards a whole lot of wedding planning induced stress; not that you’re really thinking about such trivialities when your vision is blinded by the sparkly Tiffany stone adorning your finger.

Things are changing quickly in the wedding world and it’s difficult to keep up.You might know a little or a lot about how weddings are being done in 2013, so here’s a starting guide to some of the things you will need to know about “goin’ to the chapel”.

Milque Photography & Films
Everyone has a differing opinion on the pre-nuptial agreement, but this is clearly a modern trend gaining a lot of steam, with celebrities leading the way. By all reports, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta- Jones have one, as do Ben Afflleck and Jennifer Garner. Donald Trump swears by his – all three of them.

It’s already come in handy for the failed unions of Britney Spears/Kevin Federline, Heather Locklear/Richie Sambora and Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey. But for the rest of us without such fortunes to protect the question must be asked: is the pre-nup the beginning of the end of romance?
“Writing one may not sound very romantic, but it is very smart,” says MSN Money columnistTerry Savage.“The best and most sensible agreements are completed when both parties are very much in love, not when they’re considering divorce.

“Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the wealthy. Forget the stereotype – even young couples who have already embarked on careers could benefit from a legal agreement about the financial consequences of divorce.”

Wedding of Steph and Mitch | Milque Photography & Films
Nobody wants to leave anyone out of their wedding, but before you set about preparing your 500-strong guest list, ask yourself this: could there be anything worse than having a room full of strangers staring disinterestedly into their Champagne glasses as you and your husband enjoy your first waltz together?

All experts agree, when it comes to weddings, you need to be selective, even harsh. If you’re on any kind of tighter budget, then things need to be trimmed even further.

Wedding planner Emily Bedard offers the following advice on who should make your final guest list.

  1. Divide evenly. Compose the guest list by allotting one-third to the bride’s parents, one-third to the groom’s parents, and one-third to the bride and groom (or another division as you see fit).  Cut co-workers. This is a tough one but is very necessary if you are trying to cut the list.The only exceptions may be co-workers who are also very close friends.
  2. Don’t return the favour. Cut any guests who are on your list simply because they invited you to their wedding.You need to remember everyone’s circumstances are different, you can’t assume the same criteria.
  3. Trim out-of-touch friends. If it takes a week or more research to find their contact information, consider cutting them. Also, if you haven’t been in touch with them for over a year or more then you should consider trimming them from the guest list.
  4. M ake it adults only. While not for everyone, an adults-only event is a quick and clear way to cut down on numbers.The cut-off age is up to you – most couples choose 16 or 18-years-old.
  5. On the touchy issue of family members, etiquette expert Ceri Marsh offers this:“You may not be close [to certain family members] now, but think about how you’ll feel five years from now. Invite them all.”

Jess Marks Photography
Always wanted to be the one who sends out the correction email to work colleagues: “From now on, you may refer to me as Mrs Jane Somebody instead of Miss Jane Nobody”?

Or are you happy enough with your own name?

Taking the surname of your partner has changed from being the status quo to being a highly subjective and personal matter.

Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. Whether you keep, change or hyphenate, there’s no right or wrong answer.The only rule is to discuss it with your husband-to- be before you make a decision – especially if you’re thinking about not taking his name.

Wedding of Paulina and Hilton | Casey Jane Photography
While traditional vows are still popular, personalised vows are on the rise. But they do come with a warning.

“With time and discussion most couples write amazing and relevant wedding vows, but it’s not as easy as you think,” says wedding expert Wanda Lam.
“However, I do encourage most couples to write their own vows, as this makes your wedding day even more special.

“Some couples choose to write one set of vows that they both say, while others choose to write their vows individually. In the latter case it is best to talk about what you would like to say to make sure you’re both on the same page,” Lam says.

Lam recommends having the Minister or Celebrant read over both sets of vows to check that they are similar in style and content.While you may have prepared a thesis-worthy manuscript to your groom, he may have only jotted down a short missive, which would seem a little odd as you’re exchanging vows.

We all know how tacky they can sound if they’re not right, so if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Milque Photography & Films
When deciding on the best option for your gift registry – from department store to online boutique – a few simple do’s and don’ts will help considerably. Here are the ones you absolutely need to know:
  1. There is no special formula for determining the amount a guest should spend on a gift.
  2. Whether $100 or $1,000 is spent on a gift, the bride and groom should accept it graciously and appreciate the thought. 
  3. D on’t feel bad about being super specific about gift requests. By referring to a gift registry, the gift giver knows they are giving the happy couple something they want.
  4. Wishing wells are the most polite way to ask for cash gifts. Provide small envelopes to your guests so they can make their donations anonymously.
  5. Honeymoon registries are appropriate.
Sterling Studios
This is perhaps one of the more difficult issues to resolve when planning a wedding. While you’re tearing your hair out trying to choose your maid of honour between two sisters and three best friends, your partner may have already promised to make at least five of his friends the best man.
According to Diane Forben from BridalGuide. com, while it’s completely up to you how many people you want to have in your bridal party, do be mindful that the larger the bridal party the higher the costs.

“There are no set rules, but aim to have as few as possible. Being in the bridal party brings on a lot of expense, so don’t underestimate the costs. Remember, even if a good friend is not in the bridal party, they will still be at the wedding.”

Naturally, you don’t want to disappoint anyone, but it is best to remain prudent – you’ll find most couples these days opt to keep the numbers in the bridal party fairly low.

As for who you choose, Forben says, “the advice I give my clients is not to succumb to pressure from others, and to only choose those who you truly want.”

A great way of getting around leaving people out is to give honoured roles to important guests. For example, someone can take charge of the guest book, or perform a song or do a reading during the ceremony, which will make them feel involved in your special day.

As seen in the brand spanking new issue of Queensland Brides: Winter 2013. Look for this article on Page 159!
Words by Emma Krieger

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