While the wedding is of course all about the couple and their dream coming true, it’s important to also ensure that guests are considered to make your day enjoyable for everyone. It may be impossible to please or wow everyone, consider these 8 top guest complaints to avoid on your big day. Weather Related Complaints One of the top fears brides face when it comes to their big day is fear of rain…
- Weather Related Complaints
- Food Related Complaints:
- Complaints That Day Was Too Long:
- Complaints On The Wedding Location:
- Complaints On Entertainment
- Complaints On Day Starting Late:
- Complaints Of Not Seeing The Couple
- Complaints Of A Cash Bar:
Photography: Lauren Fisher
At the start of your journey, begin to consider who you will ask to be a part of your wedding party!
Traditionally, it is recommended to have at least 1 member on each side per 50 guests. Many modern couples are creating their own rules in terms of how many members to have in their wedding party.
Before you begin asking potential wedding party members to take on a role in your day, first consider the responsibilities included:
- The Bridal Party: The Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, Bridesmaids, Junior Bridesmaids
- The Groomsmen: The Best Man, The Groomsmen, Junior Groomsmen
- The Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
- The Parents: Of The Bride and Groom
- The Ushers: Typically one for every 50 guests
The Bride & Groom:
- Set and determine the budget
- Determine the wedding style and vision
- Select the wedding date
- Select the wedding venue
- Determine the wedding vendors
- Determine the wedding decor
- Determine the wedding attire
- Create the wedding registry
- Determine the honeymoon destination
- Select the designated number of wedding guests
- Select the wedding party
- Host the engagement party
- Select a designated number distributed by the couple towards the guest list
- Determine the financial percentage to contribute
- Walk down the processional and recessional.
The Maid of Honor / Matron of Honor / Best Man:
- Coordinate wedding activities such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party
- Attend fittings
- Assists bride and groom with errands and tasks
- Helps on the day of with attire, holding the bouquet, signing the license, toasting
- Point person for the rest of the wedding party
Bridesmaids / Groomsmen:
- Assists maid of honor and bride with wedding tasks
- Helps to plan the wedding shower and bachelorette party
- Pays for own wedding day attire
- Pays for lodging, transportation, and beauty
- Walks in processional and recessional. The Maid and Matron of Honor typically walk down after all bridesmaids have made it to the alter, and the Best Man after all groomsmen have made it to the alter
- Keeps the wedding party festive
- Keeps bride and groom calm
Junior Bridesmaid / Groomsmen:
- Typically between the ages of 9-13, may also be up to age 16
- Does not attend bachelorette or bachelor party
- Not financially responsible for same tasks as bridesmaids and groomsmen
- Parents pay for wedding day attire
The Flower Girl / Ring Bearer:
- Typically age 3 and up to age 8 but can vary.
- The Flower Girl walks down the processional just before the bride and after the bridesmaids
- The Ring Bearer walks down the processional typically just after or along with the flower girls
- Parents pay for wedding day attire
Photography: Neil Boyd
How To Choose Your Wedding Party:
Now that you know the roles of the wedding party, consider these questions to consider when selecting:
- How Long You’ve Been Friends:
The first question that you should consider when selecting your wedding party is the length of time that you have been friends. You may decide to set rules such as friends that have been in your life for at least 2 years or that you are confident will still be in your life 5, 10, even 15 years down the line. If you are not confident that your relationship will be the same a few years down the line, consider if there are other roles they can take on such as hosts.
- How Supportive They Are of Your Union:
Are you likely to call the possible wedding party member for support or even to spend time at gatherings with family and friends? Consider how likely the wedding party member will be in terms of supporting not only your wedding planning but your relationship well after the big day.
- Are They Wedding Party Material?
What can they assist with? How supportive would they be in terms of lending a hand? Are they likely to be a team player and bring a good time or potential drama? Consider if being a part of the big day is possible due their current situation. If changing careers, expecting, finishing a degree, in between work or even planning their own big day, consider if they are likely to handle the responsibility. Before counting out, be sure to discuss first as they may make a point to take part regardless of their own obligations.
- How Will They Mesh?
If wedding party members don’t know each other, consider having a small gathering prior to inviting your party to make note of how the potential members interact. While they may forge a friendship during the process, consider if any members have a history of conflict or drama before extending an invite.
- What Is The Relation?
Work with your fiance to consider any rules to follow when selecting members. You may decide to stick with family members only or split between family and friends. You may notice that you’ve mutually considered inviting wedding party members that hold similar relationships, such as primarily family or a mix of family and closest friends, making it easier to set clear rules.
- Would Not Inviting Cause Tension?
Determine if not being able to ask everyone within a large group of friends would create tension. You may find that attempting to include everyone you would like to have in your wedding party results in exceeding your goal wedding party size. Avoid by considering if there are any other roles they can play such as serving as an usher, host, or even giving a special reading during the ceremony.
- Has It Been A Solid Friendship?
Unfortunately, rocky friendships can happen to the best of us. If you have a potential wedding party member that has been an up and down friendship, consider how you see the friendship years to come. If you aren’t confident things will remain solid for the long haul, consider asking to host or finding another role for the day.
- How Many Wedding Party Members Can You Afford To Invite?
Wedding party members are responsible for their own expenses, such as for their attire, airfare, and lodging. While the wedding party covers most of their own expenses, the couple will still take on costs for the wedding party such as flowers, transportation to the venue and even gifts for playing a role in their day. For budget-conscious weddings, consider keeping small wedding party of 1-3 members on each side. For formal weddings with a more flexible budget, consider having 6-10 members on each side.
If there is one thing you don’t get after your big day, it’s a do-over. While we stand by the belief that as long as you ended your day married to your dream guy then it was an absolutely perfect day, we understand the hope that it will be everything you imagined that it would be.
Take advantage of learning the top 20 regrets past brides wish they could do over as you plan your big day:
- Bride Regret: Not hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator:
Brides wished there was a professional on hand to take charge when unexpected issues arise as well as to properly plan and execute their vision.
HOW TO AVOID:
A popular and risky alternative to hiring a pro to delegate the day is to hand off to a friend or family member. While this certainly can be an excellent choice if that family or friend has experience in planning large-scale events, consider the potential that an emergency occurs that requires the fast thinking of a trained professional. Think back to the financial investment made towards your big day. The last thing you want is to not have full confidence your day will be executed to perfection. While a hiccup or two can occur with even the most seasoned wedding professional, they will know how to quickly resolve due to their wealth of experience. If a full on wedding planner is out of budget then consider a day of coordinator to take on key details such as your wedding timeline and day of execution at a fraction of the cost of a full planner.
- Bride Regret: Letting others input influence decisions over their own:
Brides regretted attempting to make everyone else happy and putting what they really wanted aside to please everyone else. In the end, they looked back and felt aspects of the day didn’t fit their style or vision.
HOW TO AVOID:
A trick to hold onto what matters most while incorporating the suggestions and advice of others is to keep your list of wedding must-haves secret and only ask for input from details at the bottom of your list. If you aren’t too excited about selecting the cake, ask if a family member that is insistent on providing input if they can join you for cake tasting to help you narrow down your dream cake. They don’t have to know that cakes are on the bottom of your list of wedding details and will be happy to have their opinion count. If they attempt to inject their input on any items from the top of your must-have list, explain that you would like to make the final decision. Mention that there are a few details on your list that you are most excited about selecting but you certainly have a lot of other details their help could be utilized for.
- Bride Regret: A DJ that didn’t fit their crowd:
Brides regretted not working with a DJ that could keep guests entertained with music that fit the crowd, as well as hiring a DJ with a style that simply wasn’t the best fit.
HOW TO AVOID:
Be sure to ask the DJ for audio from past weddings. Provide your DJ with a playlist of song choices that you think paints the picture for the style of music your guests will enjoy. Ask if they have a playlist or audio from a past wedding that featured similar music to ensure their style of mixing will fit your crowd.
- Bride Regret: Skimming on decor:
Brides regretted skimming on decor, especially if left with minimal or skimpy centerpieces that were underwhelming.
HOW TO AVOID:
Prior to your wedding day, have your florist provide a mock table layout to ensure that you are satisfied with the outcome in order to edit as needed. If your florist is unable to recreate, ask to see a portfolio of past work to ensure that you can point out arrangements that fit your style and budget.
- Bride Regret: Skimming on food:
Brides regretted having sub-par food choices or a lack food available.
HOW TO AVOID:
Ask if the same chef used during menu tastings will also be the chef catering your wedding day. Bring along someone else for tastings to get a second opinion on food choices and seasonings. If your budget is tight and you are concerned with the amount of food you can supply, ask your caterer if changing your serving style or menu options can possibly increase the amount of food available without increasing in price.
- Bride Regret: Their gown:
Brides looked back and wished that they went with another gown option, or one that better fit their personality.
HOW TO AVOID:
Be sure to take lots of captures in your gown before saying yes to the dress. Ask if you can sleep on it to ensure that you are completely happy with your choice if not 100% certain your gown is the one.
- Bride Regret: Not hiring a more qualified photographer:
This is across the board the #1 bridal regret. Brides regretted not investing in a more experienced photographer due to poor quality images or having key moments missed.
HOW TO AVOID:
Consider that of all the wedding details that you will invest in, your photos will be the one lasting memory. Avoid skimming by remembering that your photos will last a lifetime! If photographers that you would love to work with are out of budget, reach out to ask if they could recommend photographers with a similar style that are starting out. Mention that you would love to work with them but they are unfortunately out of budget. They may even suggest ways that bring their rate down such as cutting a photo-book and prints from your packaging.
- Bride Regret: Forgetting the meaning of the day:
Brides regretted being so focused on planning that they forgot to simply enjoy the process and the fact they are marrying the love of their life!
HOW TO AVOID:
Make a point to spend time attending wedding shows for a little pre-wedding fun! Be sure to have regular date nights with your fiancé for non-wedding related time together to enjoy time together that isn’t related to planning.
- Bride Regret: Too much distance between the ceremony and reception:
Brides regretted not booking the ceremony and reception spaces together due to the time required to commute between spaces.
HOW TO AVOID:
Seek one stop shop venue spaces where the ceremony and reception spaces are shared! If you are unable to find shared spaces, attempt to seek ceremony and venue spaces within a short distance of one another.
- Bride Regret: Lack of personality incorporated into the day:
Brides regretted that their day lacked features that represented the bride and groom’s personality and style.
HOW TO AVOID:
Avoid the urge to recreate ideas seen at other weddings by adding your own spin. Incorporate favorite colors, flowers and even favorite things to do as a couple to add your own take on wedding ideas. Use ideas as inspiration only and avoid full recreation without making any changes.
- Bride Regret: Inviting guests out of guilt:
Brides regretted inviting guests out of guilt, especially if the guest was a no show, did not actively participate in the wedding day or have not spoken to the couple post wedding. Brides wished that they instead focused on inviting close friends and family only.
HOW TO AVOID:
Create and stick with rules when it comes to inviting guests. Start with guests that you can’t imagine not having at your big day. Ask yourself when inviting guests if you are likely to have the same relationship in 2 years? 3 years? 5 years? If you aren’t so certain, consider holding off on the invite until you are confident in your decision to include in your day.
- Bride Regret: Not planning to go over budget:
Brides regretted either not having a budget, or not planning to exceed their budget. They found that having a cushion could have prevented them from a last minute scramble to accumulate funds for extra expenses.
HOW TO AVOID:
Set a cushion to your wedding budget for the event of an emergency. A safe cushion is to set aside an additional 5% to your budget. For instance, if your budget is $20,000, we recommend that you budget for an additional $1,000 for any emergencies or unexpected purchases.
- Bride Regret: Members of their wedding party:
Brides regretted choosing wedding party members for the wrong reasons. Looking back, they would have had smaller parties or only longtime friends and family.
HOW TO AVOID:
Before inviting to take part in the wedding, consider if you would still present the opportunity in one year, three years or even 5 years. If you are not fully confident they would still make the cut, consider if there are others roles they can take on.
- Bride Regret: Not locking in the venue first:
Brides regretted not booking the venue first after realizing that top choices were booked well in advance or how many important details couldn’t be finalized until the venue was selected.
HOW TO AVOID:
Make searching for the venue the first wedding task that you research and lock in. Your venue will determine your wedding date, guest count size, and account for almost half of your wedding budget. Focus on the venue space first before moving onto additional tasks on your wedding checklist.
- Bride Regret: Not properly scheduling the day of:
Brides regretted not having a schedule for the wedding day or a designating a point person to handle emergencies.
HOW TO AVOID:
Your wedding day is one of the largest events, if not the largest event, that you will plan. Unless you have experience in event planning or wedding planning, enlist the help of a professional, trusted family member or friend with experience to successfully execute your day. Be sure to also consider emergencies to plan for backups based on the location of your day. For instance, if your wedding will take part outdoors, be sure to have a backup plan in place in the event of inclement weather.
- Bride Regret: Not having a save the date announcement:
Brides regretted not giving advance notice of their wedding prior to the formal invitation to ensure that guests schedules were free in advance.
HOW TO AVOID:
Be sure to provide a save the date to guests at least 6-8 months prior to the big day if having a destination wedding or 4-6 months in advance if having a local wedding to ensure the day is reserved.
- Bride Regret: Hiring a friend to avoid going with a professional:
Brides regretted hiring a friend with little experience in weddings over a wedding professional. Learned the hard way that professional skills do not fully translate to the demands of a wedding.
HOW TO AVOID:
There is nothing wrong with giving a friend starting out in the wedding industry a chance for your day, but we strongly advise against simply seeking to hire a friend to avoid having to pay for the work of a professional if they have little background in weddings. Just because a friend is familiar with using a camera or has set decorated a few birthday parties in the past does not mean they are the right choice to take on a full-scale event like a wedding. One of the many benefits of hiring a wedding professional is that they are familiar with understanding what to avoid, prepare for and prevent to execute in a way that a non-wedding professional may be unfamiliar with.
- Bride Regret: Their hair or makeup:
Brides regretted trying out a new look on their wedding day that they didn’t test out in advance or going with a trendy style opposed to a look that stands the test of time.
HOW TO AVOID:
If you are known to frequently change up your look or try new styles, going with a fun look for your wedding would be true to what guests would expect and even look forward to. If you are naturally more classic, traditional or have a signature style, your wedding may not be the time to veer towards a new look. We recommend going with a natural, timeless look or style that stands the test of time. Adding small touches that are current trends may not be as regrettable as an incredibly trendy look that may look dated soon after your wedding. Be sure to have a trial to test out your make-up and hair to ensure that you are happy with the outcome and have plenty of time to change if needed.
- Bride Regret: Hiring the most expensive vendor:
Regretted assuming that cost translates to the value of work.
HOW TO AVOID:
Expensive doesn’t always translate to the best of the best. Be sure to spend time reading reviews and viewing past work of vendors before locking them in. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendor
- Bride Regret: Not reading their vendor contracts:
Brides regretted not taking the time to review their vendor contracts before signing.
HOW TO AVOID:
Before signing any contract, take the time to review. Make note of any questions that you have or portions of the contract that are unclear. Avoid unexpected fees by reviewing your contract for any additional fees, potential fines or service charges.
With so many decisions to make, we have created the ultimate tool for planning brides to use as their weapon to avoid mistakes that brides commonly make. We have taken the time to break down every planning step from engagement to the big day with advice on decisions that you will make. Available for a limited time, grab your copy of our 130+ page e-book, Getting Started: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide today!
Q. Help! How do I get my guests to send in their RSVP invites?
A. One of the biggest planning hurdles our brides experience during our Wediquette Wednesday feature is collecting guest RSVP confirmations. Consider the following tips to solve this common concern!
If you HAVEN’T sent your invitations, follow these steps:
Make It Easy To RSVP: Make sure that the methods to RSVP are clear and specific on the invitation. Avoid confusion by making each step clear so that guests know exactly how to provide their RSVP confirmations or declines. Instead of stating RSVP, write out “Please respond by (specific date)”. This helps ensure guests that are not familiar with RSVP understand that there is a response required to their invitation.
Confirm Contact Information: Make sure that the contact information that you have for your guests is the most update to date information, and also their preferred. They may ask that you send to a specific address, or follow up at a specific phone number or email address. This will be incredibly important if you need to contact for follow up on their RSVP. Be sure to clarify if any apartment numbers are needed as well.
- Clarify Importance Of Timely RSVP: Ensure that confirmation is crucial by providing a reason for their timely RSVP. Note specific reasons, such as RSVP requests are required for catering confirmations, to emphasize the importance of receive confirmations. This may help guests understand that their response is crucial to the decisions of your day.
- Set Your RSVP Date Before You Need It: Buy time by scheduling your RSVP date sooner than you need it. While most caterers need a final head count at least 1-2 weeks before the big day, the last thing you want is to spend the final stretch of your planning journey chasing RSVP reply’s. We recommend that you set your RSVP date 3-4 weeks before the big day. This means that you will have to send your invitations out in time to allow guests to receive and reply. Be sure to have invitations in the mail at least 8 weeks before the big day, setting RSVP requests 2-3 weeks before the big day. Aim to set 3 weeks before to allow time to track any late reply’s. For destination weddings, allow even more time to RSVP. Ask guests to confirm 2 months before the big day and mail invitations out 4-5 months before the big day.
- Allow Multiple Ways To RSVP: Make it easy for guests to RSVP. Note if they can provide their confirmation by mail, email, phone or even text. Be sure to make all methods clear to ensure that guests have no problem with confirming. If you allow confirmations by email, set up an email account strictly for RSVP’s so that they are not overlooked.
- Make RSVP Cards Ready To Go: Supply guests with pre-stamped RSVP cards so that guests only have to select their accept or decline. Fill in the names of invited guests, the return address and provide adequate postage to save time for guests so that they only have to drop in the mail after checking off their reply.
- Stay Organized: Have a system to keep track of your RSVP’s. We recommend that you mark each RSVP with a number that corresponds to the invited guest. Note the number assigned so that if your RSVP card comes back without a name, you can match it to the number! Check out these invisible marking pens for under $5 to discretely mark each card! Be sure to also keep track of each RSVP on a spreadsheet, noting if they are a decline or confirmation. Note how the guest confirmed as well, such as by card, phone or email.
- Bring It Up!: Feel free to mention to invited guests before the RSVP date that you hope to have them and how they can provide their reply. Reach out by phone or note when you speak to provide an additional mention of your RSVP needs.
If you HAVE sent your invites and are struggling to get guests to send in their RSVP invites:
- Send Reminders: Don’t hesitate to send reminders to guests that have missed the RSVP date. Reach out to any guests that you have not received responses from to see if their card is in the mail. Attempt to receive by phone or ask if they could send by a specific date. Make sure to note why their response is important and that you hope to have them on the big day! Allow a few days to check back with guests that you leave messages with or that did not follow through with RSVP extensions. If possible, rear in your fiance, family or maid of honor to also contact the guest for their response.
Q. When should I send out my wedding invitations?
A. It’s important to know when you should send out all of your wedding invitations to ensure that guests have more than enough time to accept their invitation or provide their regrets. Consider these recommendations for each wedding invitation sent during your planning journey:
- The Engagement Party:
Guests to your engagement party should be guests that are guaranteed invites to your wedding. We recommend that you wait to send engagement party invites once your wedding budget has been created to ensure that an engagement party is in budget. Host your engagement party within 3-4 months of your big day. To ensure that invitations arrive to guests in time, send out no later than 4 weeks before the engagement party. This means that your budget should be complete 1-2 months after the big day.
- Save The Dates:
Save the dates are crucial to ensure guests have set aside your wedding date in advance. They are especially important if having a destination wedding or wedding around a holiday. For domestic weddings, send save the dates 6-8 months before the wedding day. For destination weddings, send 8-10 months before the wedding.
- The Bridal Shower:
Your bridal shower invites should also receive wedding invitations. Bridal shower attendees do not have to be every female invited to your wedding. Invitees are typically the brides closest family and friends. Close female family and friends of the groom are optional. We recommend that bridal shower invitations are sent 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding.
- Thank You Cards:
Thank you cards should be sent to all guests that attend your wedding, guests that provide a gift and even those that lend a hand. Gifts may be received throughout your journey, so make a point to send thank you notes no later than 3 months from receiving the gift if possible or before the wedding date. For gifts received during the engagement party or bridal shower, send a thank you note 2-3 weeks after the event. Send thank you cards for all wedding attendees no later than 3 months after the big day. All guests that attend the wedding should receive a thank you card, even if they did not supply a gift. For those that lent a hand during your planning journey or even on the big day, send a thank you card no later than 3 months after the wedding. For gifts received after the wedding, send thank you cards within 2-3 weeks after the big day.
- The Wedding Invitation:
After creating your guest list, begin collecting guest addresses and contact information. Be sure to obtain contact information, such as phone and email, in case you need to personally contact for late RSVP confirmations or declines. For domestic weddings, send invitations 6-8 weeks before the big day. For destination weddings, send out invitations at least 3 months before the big day to give guests plenty of time.
- The Bachelorette & Bachelor Party:
Bachelorette and bachelor party invites should also be invited to the wedding. Invites can be close friends of the bride for the bachelorette party and of the groom for the bachelor party. If the groom has sisters, they should be invited as well. The same goes for if the bride has brothers. Bachelorette and bachelor parties are typically held a few days before the big day or even a few weeks before. Invitations should be sent at least 1 month in advance.
- The Rehearsal Dinner:
The rehearsal dinner is attended by the wedding party, close family to the bride and groom, the wedding planner, officiant and out of town guests. The rehearsal dinner is usually held the night before the wedding. We recommend that you send invitations 5-6 weeks before the rehearsal dinner.
Q. Who gets a plus one to my wedding?
A. The plus one debate can be a bit controversial and tricky. Some brides will stand by all guests should get a plus one while others will set rules allowing only married or engaged guests receiving. The traditional, expected rule to follow is to invite the spouse or fiance of all invited guests. Traditionally, you may also invite guests that live with their significant others or are in long term relationships.
Use our cheat sheet to consider plus ones by considering 3 categories:
Guaranteed Plus Ones, Preferred Plus Ones and If Our Budget Allows Plus One’s
Guaranteed Plus One Invite:
These are guests that traditionally and per etiquette are guaranteed to receive plus ones:
- Married Guests: Married guests should always receive a plus one for their spouse. Inviting kids is optional, especially based on their age and if you prefer to have an adults only wedding.
- Engaged Guests: Engaged guests should always receive a plus one invitation for their soon to be spouse.
Preferred Plus One Guests:
These are the guests that receive plus ones to the couples discretion and based on budget. These guests should receive top priority for plus ones if your budget allows:
- Wedding Party Members: Wedding party members should get first dibs to receiving a plus one if your budget allows. For married and engaged wedding party members, their spouses and fiances should always receive an invitation.
- Immediate Family: Immediate family should receive first dibs on plus ones along with the wedding party. Immediate family, such as siblings, aunts, uncles and first cousins should receive plus ones if your budget allows.
- Guests In Long Term Relationships/Live With Significant Other: Guests in long term relationships or that live with their significant other should receive a plus one invite if your budget allows. Typically, these are guests where the name of the significant other comes to mind when considering who they would be likely to invite.
- Destination Weddings: Your guests may not like the idea of traveling alone. Attempt to extend a plus one to all guests for destination weddings if your budget allows.
If Our Budget Allows Plus One:
Once you have factored in plus ones for guaranteed and preferred plus ones, begin to consider the following guests:
- Single Guests: Single guests can be tricky as they may not feel comfortable attending alone or have a date they would like to accompany. If your budget allows, always extend an invite to single guests as their relatonship status may change during your planning journey and they simply may prefer to attend with someone else. If your budget does not allow, keep a consistent rule where all single guests either receive a plus one or do not receive a plus one. If an exception is made for one single guest, make the same extension for all single guests.
- Guests Dating or In New Relationships: Considering plus ones for guests that are dating can be tricky and feel like a guessing game. Play it safe by simply reaching out to all single, non-married guests to inquire if they would have a plus one invite. If they do not have a specific name in mind, extend a plus one if your budget allows. If they have a name in mind, extend a plus one based on consistent rules. For instance, you may set a rule that only guests in relationships can invite a plus one and not guests that will simply only invite a guest. To avoid the stress of attempting to determine where someones relationship status will be by the time of your big day, set a clear rule such as all guests receive a plus one regardless of relationship status or only guaranteed/preferred guests.
- Always remain consistent: If one wedding party member gets a plus one to invite a friend, allow all wedding party members to have a plus one. If one immediate family member is provided a plus one, extend to all. Ensure that instead of exceptions, that you provide consistent rules.
- Even if you haven’t met spouse or fiance, they should still be considered a plus on to your invited guests.
Ready to take on planning like a pro? Grab a copy of our 130 page ebook today to walk through over 100 steps of the planning journey from just engaged to heading down the aisle! Click the image below for more!
Chances are that prior to getting engaged, you may not have thought much about anything wedding related…or you may have created a Pinterest album overflowing with wedding inspiration years before getting engaged. While most people are familiar with wedding terms like wedding cake and bridesmaid, they may not be as familiar with terms such as day of coordinator or food and beverage fee.
If you are familiar with these terms, congratulations! You may already have a solid understanding of what to expect during your planning journey, which is awesome! If these terms are new to you, get ready to learn even more important wedding terms that will leave you sounding like the pros!
Knowing important wedding terms will let vendors know that you have done your research and have realistic expectations of what goes into planning a wedding. The more you know, the more likely you are to make savvy decisions that can save you time and money!
Photography: Kristin La Voie
The segment of your wedding day where you will exchange vows and officially become one in front of family and friends!
On average, most couples spend between $500-$600 on ceremony related expenses such as ceremony decor, accessories, and the wedding license.
CEREMONY TERMS DEFINED:
Where the couple, wedding party, and officiant stand during the ceremony.
The order that the wedding party walks down the aisle at the start of the wedding ceremony.
The order that the wedding party walks down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.
The couple’s commitment to one another as husband and wife.
The person that will lead the wedding ceremony to legally pronounce the couple husband and wife. The officiant can range from a minister, civil officiant, and even ordained friend or family member.
THE WEDDING PARTY:
No, not an actual party but the cast of the day including parents, the bridal party, groomsmen and even flower girl.
WEDDING PARTY TERMS DEFINED:
- The Maid of Honor:
Your right hand and trusted woman, typically your dearest friend that assists in organizing the bridal shower, bachelorette party and providing support to the bride through the planning journey and day of.
- The Best Man:
The groom’s right-hand man that shares the same role as the maid of honor. May also hold the ring for the groom at the wedding ceremony and tip vendors after the wedding reception.
- The Matron of Honor:
Holds the same role as the maid of honor but is married.
Close family and/or friends that help the bride with tasks during the planning journey such as hosting some wedding activities, offering support, standing by the bride’s side during the ceremony and keeping guests entertained during the reception. Bridesmaids can be married or single.
Holds the same responsibilities as the bridesmaids for the groom. May also take on the role of ushers at the ceremony.
- The Flower Girl/ Ring Bearer:
Youngest members of the wedding party (often range from toddlers to 10 years old). The ring bearer holds the responsibility of carrying the grooms “ring” on a pillow (always a false ring) while the flower girl tosses flowers down the aisle.
The cast with the role of executing your day. Vendors include catering, cake designer, florist, gown designer, seamstress, venue, rentals, photographer, videographer, hair, makeup, wedding planner, stationery designer, DJ, and transportation.
VENDOR TERMS DEFINED:
- Wedding Planner
Assists in a variety of roles such as bringing the couples theme life and assisting in creating their budget. Works with the couple throughout the journey up to the actual day of. Full-service wedding planners typically start at $2,000 up to $10,000+.
- Day of Coordinator
Despite the name, the day of coordinators role starts typically two to three months before the actual wedding day. The day of coordinator locks in the final details with vendors and executes the day of timeline to perfection. Day of coordinators typically starts at $600 up to $2,000+.
Delivers ceremony statements and officially marries the couple. Officiant may be religious or ordained to preside over the ceremony. Officiant fees typically start at $200+.
The location that will host your ceremony and reception. The ceremony and reception may take place at the same location or may require traveling from one destination to the next. Venue spaces may include a banquet hall, country club, estate, home, hotel or even outdoor location such as a beach. Ceremony venue spaces typically start at $400+ while reception venue spaces typically start at $2,000 for just the venue space.
If the ceremony and reception do not share locations, transportation is required to shuttle the wedding party from the ceremony to reception. Transportation may also include a specialty vehicle, limo, party bus or even trolley. Transportation typically accounts for $400+ for of the average wedding budget.
While the bride and groom are the stars of the show, entertainment often lends a personalized touch ranging from ceremony music, cocktail hour music, reception music, a band, DJ, and even photo booth. Traditional wedding entertainment typically starts at $600+.
- The Photographer
Our personal favorite, the photographer captures the special moments of the day for memories that last a lifetime. Photography includes the photographer and videographer. Wedding photographers typically start at $1,200-$7,000+ while videographers start at $1,000-$5,000+.
PHOTOGRAPHY TERMS DEFINED:
- The Engagement Shoot
Series of captures taken by a photographer of the couple typically based around a theme or in a picturesque or sentimental location. The engagement shoot is usually scheduled after the couple’s engagement and may be used for save the date invitations and engagement announcements. Engagement shoots typically start at $200-$500+.
- Photography Style
The style of the photographers work. The look, feel and aesthetic of photos such as posed images or journalistic images.
- First Look
Viewing of the bride and groom before walking down the aisle. Often beneficial to mutually overcome jitters before walking down the aisle and to take pre-wedding photos.
- Shot List
List of captures the couple would like the photographer to capture during the day of.
The party following the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. Also known as the longest and most costly portion of the wedding day events. The wedding reception amounts for the largest percent of wedding-related expenses as the average couple spends $13,000 on reception related expenses including the venue site, food and beverage, cake, bar and rentals.
RECEPTION TERMS DEFINED:
- Food and Beverage Minimum
A specific minimum dollar amount that certain venues require must be spent on food and beverages to utilize the venue space. Often found when booking with hotels.
- Cocktail Hour
Typically at least one hour of downtime between the ceremony and reception. Often reserved for the wedding party to take pictures as guests mingle while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
- Late Night Menu
Post meal options at the reception, often offered after the main meal has been served and well into the dancing segment of the night. Considered a fun way to entertain guests and to keep them fueled through the night. May include fun food stations such as taco bars.
- Signature Drink
Specialized cocktails, often created by the couple with personalized names and liquor combinations related to their wedding theme. May accompany or substitute full bar.
- Open Bar
Time allocated that alcohol is provided by the couple at no cost to guests.
- Liquor Classes:
Classifications of liquor served. There are typically three types of liquor served: well/house, call/name and premium/top-shelf. Well liquors are typically the most affordable, often off-brand liquors such as Gordon’s. Call liquors are generally mid-ranged liquors such as Skyy. Premium liquors are referred to as top shelf and often the most expensive, such as Patron.
- Cash Bar
The bar that may require guests to purchase their own drinks after an allocated open bar ends or for the full length of the reception.
- Seating Chart
Assigned arrangement of guests tables and or seating at the reception.
A sampling of potential menu options while creating the wedding menu.
- Sweets Table
Dessert table at wedding reception typically given as a wedding favor for guest. May include sweets such as cake, popcorn, candy or even ice cream.
Includes wedding day attire for not only the bride but the groom and wedding party members. The average couple’s wedding attire budget starts at $2,000+ including the gown, tux, veil, accessories, hair, and makeup.
WEDDING ATTIRE TERMS DEFINED:
- The Wedding Dress
While the bride and groom are the stars of the day, the wedding gown is a close runner up. The average wedding gown starts at $800 up to $10,000+. The gown is often the #1 the bride is able to show her personality on her day through the selection of her gown of choice.
- The Tux
The suit worn by the groom on the wedding day. May be rented, purchased or even custom made. The starting price of a tux starts at $130 up to $500+.
- Bridesmaids Dresses
The dresses worn by the bridesmaids that can be matching or unique to each girl. The bridesmaid’s dresses are often an additional way for the bride to show her personalized style by the style selected for the bridesmaids. On average, most bridesmaids are responsible for their wedding attire. Bridesmaids gowns typically start at $150+.
- Wedding Veil
Traditionally the veil is a tulle material covering the bride’s face as they walk down the aisle and lifted after being pronounced husband and wife. For modern brides, the veil can be found lifted the entire ceremony or skipped altogether.
- Gown Silhouettes
Style and flow of wedding gown including a-line, ball gown, mermaid, sheath and trumpet.
- Emergency Kit
An assorted stash of items in case of an emergency on the day of ranging from pain medicine to sewing needs.
The couples gift to guests and the wedding party. The average couple spends $800+ including guest favors, wedding party gifts, out of town guest welcome kits, gifts for parents and vendor tips.
WEDDING FAVOR TERMS DEFINED:
- Wedding Party Gifts:
Gifts to show appreciation to wedding party members (including parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers) for taking part in the day.
- Guest Favors:
Gifts to show appreciation to guests for attending the day.
- Out Of Town Welcome Kits
Gifts that are given to out of town guests for making the trip to attend the wedding day. May include a wedding day itinerary, trinkets, and sweets.
- Vendor Tips
Tips that are given to vendors to thank for service. Tips may already be including in overall booking fees as service fees. Tips may be provided in the form of cash, physical gifts or even providing a positive review on the vendor’s website.
Decoration throughout the ceremony and reception space ranging from floral arrangements to table numbers. Wedding decor, including floral arrangements, bouquets, ceremony, and reception decor amounts for an average of $2,500+ of the wedding budget.
WEDDING DECOR TERMS DEFINED:
Arrangements, usually created using flowers or candles and placed at reception tables as decor. Arrangements can be mixed sizes, styles and heights or the same.
Typical created using flowers or candles to decorate venue spaces. Can be used to decorate ceremony aisles or on tables such as the cake and guest book table.
THE WEDDING DATE:
The big day! The day your wedding and official exchange of vows will take place.
WEDDING DATE TERMS DEFINED:
- Average Number Of Weddings A Year:
On average, there are 2 million weddings a year in the US and 40 million worldwide. Knowing how many weddings overall keeps in perspective that you don’t have time to hesitate in locking in your top choices as you are not the only one planning your big day!
- Average Weddings A Week
On average, there are 44,230 weddings a week. Wedding dates fill quickly, don’t hesitate in locking in your venue and vendors!
- Peak Season
The wedding months that are most in demand, and often command the highest rates. For most locations, off-peak season months range from January-March while peak season months are generally June-October.
- Off Peak Season
The wedding months least in demand and often that available at discounted rates.
THE WEDDING STATIONARY SET:
Includes wedding save the dates, invitations, programs, menu cards and even table numbers. Stationary amounts to an average of $1,400+ of the average wedding budget.
WEDDING STATIONARY SET TERMS DEFINED:
- Wedding Stationery Set
The set of paper goods including the wedding invitation, RSVP cards, escort cards, menu cards, directions, programs, save the date invitations and thank you cards. The average cost of a full invitation set starts at $400+.
- Save The Date:
The coming soon announcement sent to the main guest list to tentatively save the wedding date. Typically informal in style and either mailed or available electronically. Save the date invitations are typically mailed to guests 4-6 months before the wedding day and 6-8 months before if a destination wedding or hosted on a holiday.
- Wedding Invitation:
The formal invitation set to guests invited to the wedding ceremony and reception. Includes the hosts of the wedding, couples name, location, time and if additional guests are included.
- RSVP Card:
A separate care included within the wedding invitation that guests must return to confirm to the couple if they will be attending the wedding. RSVP cards are typically provided with a specified deadline to return to the couple, such as 3 weeks before the wedding day.
- Wedding Invitation Inserts
Miscellaneous insert cards that include information traditionally not included on the formal invitation with special notes to guests. May include registry information, maps, directions or special requests.
- Wedding Program:
The program provided to guests during the wedding ceremony that guides through the schedule for the ceremony. May be helpful to explain cultural segments of the ceremony and to introduce guests to the wedding party.
- Escort Cards
Cards typically placed just outside of the wedding reception used to escort guests to their designated wedding table. May include the guest’s name and table number.
- Place Cards
Cards used when guests have assigned seating at their reception tables. Place cards are typically placed prior to guests entering the reception and waiting at the guests designated seat to ensure they know where they will sit. May include guests name and pre-selected menu options.
- Menu Cards
Provides guests with the reception menu. Can be individual menu cards placed at guest tables or one menu placed where visible to guests.
- Wedding Website
Personalized web page to share wedding details, activities, wedding party details, engagement details and even how the couple met. Often includes engagement shoot captures and important information on wedding related topics for guests.
The guests invited to celebrate and share in your nuptials.
WEDDING GUEST TERMS DEFINED:
- Guest Lists:
The guests invited to take part in the wedding ceremony and reception. The average wedding guest size for most weddings include 130-160 guests.
- Plus One
The allowance of guests to bring a friend or date to wedding day events. Plus one invites are generally optional for single, non-married guests that are not in serious or long-term relationships. Guests that are married, in long-term relationships or engaged should have a plus one.
- Adults Only
The preference of the couple to host a wedding day specifically for adult guests, or for guests over a specific age only.
THE WEDDING BUDGET:
A hot topic that will be determined by the finances available to bring the wedding day to life. The amount allocated towards paying for the wedding and all wedding related expenses. The average couple spends $26,000-$35,000 (excludes the honeymoon) on wedding related expenses. This average varies based on location, guest count and formality of the day.
WEDDING BUDGET TERMS DEFINED:
The amount set by vendors to make payments towards their services. Deposit amounts and dates will be determined by the vendor.
- Service Fees:
The amount included in a vendor or venues fees that often covers tips and gratuity. Can be a fixed amount or negotiable per vendor.
- Hidden Fees:
Charges that can be in addition to the overall cost to book a vendor, or that can be determined by various factors. Hidden fees may include the cost of missing payments, running behind time booked on the wedding day or selecting out of season choices.
- Wedding Insurance
Protection in case of an emergency, cancellation or unforeseen circumstances.
THE ENGAGEMENT PERIOD:
The length of time between the proposal and the wedding day. The period of time spent planning the wedding day.
ENGAGEMENT PERIOD TERMS DEFINED:
- Average Age of Bride and Groom
Bride-27 / Groom- 29. Don’t let this lead you to put pressure on saying I Do! When you say I Do will vary for each couple.
- Most Popular Months:
The average wedding falls in the months of June, May, September. Be aware of the most popular months as often the first to book!
List of items, typically household items, that the couple provides guests to purchase as a gift through a registry at selected retailers. May range from requests for cash or even donating to foundations in couples name.
WEDDING REGISTRY TERMS DEFINED:
- Gift Registry:
An array of items selected by the couple as suggested items. May include home goods, kitchenware or even cash or contributions towards the honeymoon.
WEDDING ACTIVITES :
The events during the planning journey including the engagement party, the bridal shower and the bachelor/bachelorette party. The average couple spends $5,000+ on their honeymoon, often an additional expense not counted in their overall wedding related costs. This is important to know to ensure that you do not forget to budget in your honeymoon! Many wedding activities, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party are hosted by family, friends or wedding party members.
WEDDING ACTIVITIES TERMS DEFINED:
The time following the wedding for the couple to celebrate their new status. May range from a stay locally at a hotel or resort or an away trip.
Most Popular Places For Honeymoon
Hawaii, Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Virgin Islands
- Bridal Shower
A gathering of friends and family of the bride to be to “shower” with gifts, fun activities, and love. The bridal shower can be hosted by family, friends, or the wedding party. Who hosts may vary based on budget and cultural traditions.
- Bachelorette / Bachelor Party
Often hosted by the maid of honor/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen as two separate events to send the couple individually. Typically a fun evening or entire weekend filled with activities meant to be the last “party” as single individuals.
Typically the day before the wedding designated as a time set aside to practice the ceremony processional, recessional and standing arrangements. Often at the ceremony venue site and includes the wedding party, planner, officiant and ceremony entertainment.
- Rehearsal Dinner
Often follows the ceremony rehearsal, the couple hosts a dinner as a personal, intimate thanks for wedding attendants, close family and out of town guests.
The order of tasks to guide the couple through the wedding day process and to-do tasks.
WEDDING TIMELINE TERMS DEFINED:
- Day Of Timeline
Schedule for the day of when vendors will arrive, set up, take down and perform events of the day as well as the time of all wedding day events from getting ready to cleaning up.
THE WEDDING STYLE:
Personalized touches and details that tie personal ideas and looks to the wedding.
- Popular Wedding Styles
The most popular wedding styles are romantic, simplistic, fun with personalized touches, elegant and traditional. Formal, traditional weddings are also increasingly less popular than the trend of modern, personalized and unique wedding themes. This is important to know to consider if your vendors are familiar with your preferred wedding vision and style to execute!
- Popular Colors
The most popular wedding colors are blue, purple, pink, and warm or vibrant tones. This is important to know as incorporating popular colors may result in your day resembling many other weddings you’ve seen without standing out. Consider hue variations to personalize!
THE ENGAGEMENT RING:
The ring worn to signify the person is engaged and to be married. The average wedding ring amounts for $6,000+ of the budget.
ENGAGEMENT RING TERMS DEFINED:
- Engagement Ring Cuts
Shape of the engagement ring stone.
- Most Popular Ring Styles
Round, Halo, Solitaire
Cut, clarity, carat and color which makes engagement ring diamond valuable.
Degree of an engagement rings flawlessness (including blemishes or scratches invisible to the human eye)
Color scale from white to yellow of an engagement ring. Colorless are most expensive with yellow most affordable.
Diamonds weight divided by 100 points with one being the weight of a paper clip. Cut, clarity and color most affect the cost of carats of the same size.
- Cuts Of Rings
Round, princess, oval, marquise, emerald, cushion, asscher, radiant, pear and rose.
- Ring Setting / Mounts
Holds ring in place with a band including prongs (the more prongs the more secure the diamond), bezels, cluster, tension, illusion, channel, bar, pave.
- Halo Cut
Setting that encircles the center gemstone to draw attention to the center ring stone.
If you’ve made it through this list, you should feel much more confident in how to sound like a wedding pro! Now that you know essential terms to sound like a pro, it’s time to take it a step further by learning how to plan like a pro! If you thought this guide was easy to understand, just wait until you take on our e-book, Getting Started: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide, for an insanely easy way to quickly learn the tips and secrets used by the pros! Save big and cut planning stress as you walk through everything you need to know to plan with ease! Click the graphic below to grab your copy today!
We are so excited to launch our first e-book, Getting Started: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide!
When it comes to taking on wedding to do tasks, we hear “I’m so overwhelmed with so many to do tasks” and “I don’t know where to even begin” all of the time from planning brides and understand how incredibly stressful and overwhelming planning a wedding can be.
On average, planning a wedding requires a minimum of 500 hours to take on the hundreds of decisions from creating the guest list, selecting vendors, determining the budget, saying yes to the dress, selecting wedding decor and so much more.
Finding assistance in planning can be stressful in itself but is crucial to stay on budget, on schedule, to minimize stress and to know what steps to follow as you plan from engaged to the big day. Most wedding timeline guides aimed to provide a checklist of steps to fulfill while planning are simply one-page bullet points filled with dozens of to do tasks that do not actually walk through each step of the process. Wedding planning books often take on detailed topics within a single chapter that simply doesn’t spend the necessary time to truly detail how to take on tough topics. For the most comprehensive assistance, brides find that hiring a full-service wedding planner on average starts at $2,000 and a simple consultation for assistance averages at $40-$60 an hour, which may be out of budget.
We are solving this common and stressful problem through our first e-book, Getting Started: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide, to help remove the stress often accompanied with wedding planning so that you can spend more time enjoying your journey!
Our in-depth 130 page book walks you through each planning task starting with the engagement to the actual wedding day so that you feel like you are sitting down with a wedding planner but for a fraction of the price! As your own personal wedding planners, we walk through over 100 essential steps and expert tips you must know for every little step along the way. We explain when tasks should get crossed off the calendar, expensive mistakes to avoid, what to consider for each decision, secrets to save, stay organized and cross off tasks like a pro!
Jump in where you are in the process or start from the beginning for wedding planning that makes sense! We even share how to easily adjust to meet your planning length so whether you are planning for 6 months or 24 months, our guide works for you!
Click the link below to grab a copy while in stock!
Get caught up on past posts by searching our hot topics below! From planning tips, savvy ways to save, etiquette advice and where to find looks that don’t break the bank, check our our past posts!
Recently engaged? Start here with important steps you need to know before you begin wedding planning!
Wedding Planning Tips To Plan Like A Pro:
Sound like a pro with these expert approved, savvy wedding planning tips!
Wedding Planning Timeline Tips:
Cross each wedding planning task off step by step with our timeline planning advice!
The Wedding Budget:
Wedding budget woes are solved with our wedding budget hacks!
Advice For Working With Wedding Vendors:
Work with wedding vendors with ease by following our guide of questions and advice to consider while working with the pros!
Take on top etiquette questions with ease by following our Wediquette advice!
The Guest List:
Walk with us through helpful tips to consider while taking on your wedding guest list!
All About Wedding Party Members:
From the bridesmaids to the groomsmen, everything to consider when it comes to your wedding party members!
Shop The Look:
Our secret gems and must know places to find wedding trends you love for every budget!
Guest Blogger Series:
Our Guest Wedding Bloggers share their planning journey every step of the way! From saying yes to the dress to remaining organized, get ideas and more from our real brides!
- Guest Blogger Wedding Attire Advice:
- Guest Blogger Wedding Party Advice:
- Guest Blogger Wedding Vendor Advice:
- Guest Blogger Wedding Planning Task Advice:
- Guest Blogger Wedding Details Advice:
- Guest Blogger Wedding Activities Advice:
- Guest Blogger Destination Wedding Advice:
- Guest Blogger Life After The Wedding Advice:
Wedding budgets can get blown pretty easily and fast! Make it a point to stick to your guns and I promise you can stay within your budget pretty well. Some of the ways I stayed within that budget was to shop around and check out all my options. I hit the wedding budget jackpot when I looked into… ETSY!! I used Etsy for everything, from my wedding invitation design, to my jewelry, to our cake topper, to wedding gifts, my veil, and even a personalized keepsake we had everyone sign at the wedding. Etsy is that magical place where anything you could possibly want, is there. Did I mention affordable and budget friendly?
I found this incredible designer on ETSY who put together my Invitation, RSVP and Thank you cards all for under $25 dollars. It was only the print file (which most only do), but the quality and effort she put into it was well worth it. She was helpful, quick and so sweet whenever I had questions, concerns, or corrections to be made. I wanted something different than the normal invitations you see on most websites, and these turned out to be perfect and everything I could dream of. You are able to customize which was also a huge plus.
I then had everything printed at my local Staples. HUGE money saver! I spent about $125 dollars for all 250 invitations, RSVPs and Thank You cards and Envelopes!! That is a huge amount of savings compared to the average amount people spend on invitations, which can run around $600- $800, sometimes not including postage.
I was able to find gifts for my flower girl, Mother of the Bride and Groom, all of my bridesmaids’ robes, and a gift for my Groom! I love how you can get anything custom made and get your items fairly quick and the quality of course was great on everything I got. Read reviews as well, it is important to shop around.
My favorite gift I was able to customize, which of course depends on everyone’s likes and needs, was a watch for my husband that I had engraved on the inside. It was perfect for him and he loved it so much he wore it on our wedding day. It’s a special touch you can give to anyone involved in your big day. The possibilities are endless, in the most amazing way!
Jewelry, veils, garters oh my!!!This can be an unexpected cost that you don’t realize when you are for the extras when wedding dress shopping!
I think I was most surprised and shocked while looking for wedding dresses, was the fact that belts, sashes and veils were in the hundreds of dollar range. I remember looking at a belt that went perfectly with my dress, I tried it on and I fell in love with it, but that’s when I saw the price tag of $800! That was half the cost of my dress! I was determined to shop around and see what I could find, here came ETSY again to save the day. I was fortunate to be able to find two belts for $40 each, pretty good steal. I knew if I did not like either one I could try and resell them and if I had to hang onto it that would be fine because I would still be saving money for two over the $800 amazing belt.
The same goes with the veils, I found one that was the same designer as my dress, but I was not in love with it. I wanted something simple and at a price I could justify spending the money. I again found a beautiful, simple veil for only $45. Don’t get me wrong I was a bit nervous about buying the veil and belt without seeing it in person, but the veil ending up being amazing and worked extremely well for my budget and wedding day.
Bottom line is try ETSY. It may be an obsession, but hey it’s a healthy one