Have you heard the term Bridezilla? That's the bride who becomes such a monster when she's planning her wedding that no one wants to be around her. If you mind your manners as you begin to plan your wedding, no one will be secretly whispering, “She's such a Bridezilla” behind your back.
Location, Location, Location
Decorum may dictate that the bride has first dibs on where she wants to hold her wedding, but that doesn't mean that you should automatically turn into a diva, demanding this and that about your wedding location. Sure, it's your prerogative to choose the chapel and the hall, but if you want to get along with everybody during the planning stages and to maintain their respect in the process, you need to keep an open mind. That means no hissy fits when you start discussing guest lists with your parents or menus with your fiance.
Making a Guest List and Checking It Twice
One of the first things that you, your future spouse and your respective families need to discuss is your guest list. Keep in mind that each side should strive to invite 50 percent of the guests. So have everyone sit down and make their lists. Cross out any duplicates, and then compare the lists to see how the numbers add up. If the lists turn out to be more like 70 percent and 30 percent, see how you can even things up. Should you make your overall guest list smaller, and therefore cut from some of the 70 percent? Or should you expand your list overall—that is, if your budget can handle it?
Assume that 10 percent of your guests will R.S.V.P. that they can't attend. That's pretty much a constant with any event. Keeping this number in mind will help you plan for what kind of space you need to reserve for your ceremony and reception. Remember: you can always take away seats if not as many people show up but you can't always add seating in a too-small space.
If you want some flexibility with your guest list, designate some guests on the “A” list and others on the “B” list. You can then plan to send your invitations out in two waves. When people from the “A” list send their regrets, you can invite those from the “B” list in their place. If you decide to have an “A” and a “B” list of potential guests, plan your R.S.V.P. dates accordingly. Send out invitations to “A” guests super early so that as people begin declining, you can send invitations to “B” guests and still have plenty of time before the R.S.V.P date
There's nothing ruder than receiving a wedding invitation that arrives with an R.S.V.P. date that's either already passed or is in a day or two. This tips the guest off to the fact that they were not on the “A” list and their inclusion on the guest list was an afterthought.
Keeping the peace is especially important when planning a wedding. If you find yourselves at a guest list crossroads, defer to the person or persons footing the bill for the affair. Traditionally that has been the bride's family meaning that they usually had the last say on who got invited or if it was OK to tip the guest-list scales in their favor. These days many couples plan and pay for their own weddings, meaning that the bride and groom should have final say. However, in the name of family harmony, it's always a good idea to be generous with your parents and your guest list, especially if you've got room and the budget to extend an invitation to the people they want to include. (You can always suggest that your parents pick up the tab for their extra invited guests, especially if you have a limited budget of your own money to spend.)
To make guests lives easier, an engaged couple usually does one of two things with their wedding invitations: they include an R.S.V.P.-by date, and they send a separate R.S.V.P. card with its own self-addressed stamped envelope.
It is advisable not only for guests to reply in a timely manner but also for the bride and groom (or whomever is hosting the wedding) not to feel shy about following up with a guest who is tardy in replying. You should have no qualms about calling someone who has missed the R.S.V.P. date to see if that person is coming to the wedding.
The initials R.S.V.P. stand for respondez s'il vous plait, which is French for “respond, if you please.” It is the height of rudeness for an invited guest not to respond to an invitation—either to accept or to decline. Unfortunately, too few people these days understand the importance of R.S.V.P.ing
Who Pays for the Wedding?
If you want to stick with the traditional straight and narrow when it comes to footing the wedding bill, then the bride's family should pay for and host the wedding and reception, and the groom's family should pay for and host the rehearsal dinner.
Before you get your heart set on having a free-ride wedding, with your parents picking up all the tabs, sit down and talk these things out with them. You may discover that the real world of finances prevents your parents from providing you with the seed money for your wedding. The two of you may have to pay for your own wedding. The good news is today's etiquette doesn't assign any strict rules to who pays for a wedding. So whichever financial route you decide to follow, you can rest assured that you're going to be behaving properly.