If you’ve been an invited wedding guest before, you know the drill: You receive the invitation and your response card, along with a due date indicating when you must let the bride and groom know whether or not you’ll be in attendance. Sounds simple enough, right? But when you’re on the other end of things—the bride and groom awaiting dozens of RSVPs—you realize things become a bit more complicated. You’re at the mercy of your invited guests, and when people don’t respond by the designated date, you’re essentially required to track them down.
Should a couple anticipate the inevitable—that their guests won’t respond in time—and reach out to them before the due date to get an answer? The answer, according to wedding experts, is a resounding “no.” In fact, the pros agree that trying to track down invited ahead of the “RSVP by” date you’ve outlined on your invitations is seen as a rude. “With invites, it’s important to stay organized and calm throughout the entire process,” says Sabrina Zeile of Weddings By Sabrina. “I think couples are often eager to cut their guest count due to costs per person, but the response due date should be at least three weeks before your wedding, which gives guests enough time to decide if they can attend.” By reaching out for an answer before then, your guests may not have a chance to make travel arrangements, request time off work, or determine if it’s in their budget to attend.
If you fear that stress over the bottom line is what would force you to track down RSVPs early, the best thing you can do is only invite the number of guests you can afford to host. Kimberly Lehman of Love, Laughter & Elegance says that most brides and grooms anticipate a certain number of invited guests will decline the invitation, but that’s risky business—if they don’t, you’re on the hook financially for the group. She recommends creating an “A list” and “B list.” “For every person on the ‘A’ list of invitees who declines, an invitation could be sent to a guest on the ‘B’ list,” she explains. In order to do this successfully, you’ll need to set an early RSVP date and have two sets of invitations (one with an early RSVP date and another with a later one) printed.
If you’ve already sent your invitations and realize that the RSVP deadline you listed is too late, you have a few options, explains Lindsey Nickel, wedding planner and owner of Lovely Day Events. “The couple could send a quick and polite text to each guests, if there are not a ton or she could send a paperless post invite to the guests and request them to RSVP sooner via that link.” No matter what you’d do, you should apologize for asking for their response early, explain why you’ve reached out ahead of the RSVP date, and express understanding if they need more time to finalize their plans.
As in all situations, the couple should handle themselves with as much grace, tact, and patience as possible adds Lehman. “The last thing a couple wants to do is to become stressed out over the guest count.” Keep calm and remember that once the due date has passed, you have full permission to start tracking those RSVPs!
One of the first big decisions you’ll have to make after putting that shiny new ringon your finger is choosing where you want to have your wedding. For many couples, the choice is simple, but for others it can involve a long, drawn-out decision-making process that can months. If you’re not tying the knot in your hometown, your partner’s hometown, or the city you both call home, you’re likely having a destination wedding. Although they’re not for everyone, a destination wedding can provide a sense of excitement (it’s basically a vacation where all of your favorite people are invited) and relief (your second cousins once removed likely won’t make it to Aruba).
To help you decide if you’re the type of couple who should tie the knot away from home, wedding planners took us through the questions they ask clients who are considering a far-flung celebraiton.
Kimberly Lehman, wedding and event planner at Love, Laughter & Elegance in Massillon, Ohio, points out that, by definition, a destination wedding is one that takes place at least 100 miles away from where you currently live. That’s about the distance between New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. You don’t have to feel any pressure to have your nuptials in a tourist attraction, though they are popular choices for couples planning destination weddings. “You could get married at a somewhat local bed and breakfast or a charming winery,” adds Lehman. “The most important thing is to consider a destination that appeals to your personalities, dreams, and interests.”
Who do you want to be there?
Destination weddings are usually smaller than a hometown wedding would be, as guests have to travel farther for the event. If you’re okay with this, great! If you’re in a situation where you feel obligated to invite several relatives or family friends but don’t really care if they show up, then even better. But it is important to remember that some of your close relatives and friends might not be able to physically travel or afford a plane ticket and hotel stay. Before you book anything, make a list of guests you want by your side, and then see if that core group of people can make it.
Can you afford a wedding planner?
Having a wedding planner is extremely helpful in ensuring your destination eventgoes smoothly. “Hiring someone that has the expertise and experience will greatly help when making decisions on quality and trusted vendors,” says Cristen Faherty, wedding and event planner at Cristen & Co Event Coordination & Design in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “This person could either be a destination planner in your area or a local planner in your destination. Which ever you choose, you have to be willing to give up a little control and trust their recommendations.” Remember, you likely won’t have the luxury of meeting face-to-face with the majority of your vendors, so an on-site planner can represent you from afar.
How flexible are you when it comes to dress code?
Enforcing a black-tie dress code—a tux for men and a formal gown for women—is tough when you’re asking loved ones to pack their wedding attire in a suitcase and travel to what might be a totally different climate. That’s not to say it’s not allowed, but you should be comfortable with the fact that some of your guests might not follow suit (literally). If you’re okay with bare feet and flip flops on the dance floor (or sand), then go for it.
Are you willing to host more than one event?
When all of your wedding guests are traveling far and wide to be there for your big day, they expect that you’ll be hosting more than the ceremony and reception. Many destinations include welcome parties and daytime activities, like scuba diving or horseback riding, for their guests to enjoy more face time with the bride and groom.
Any wedding planner or person who’s walked down the aisle can attest to the fact that there’s no such thing as a wedding going perfectly as planned. There will be bumps in the road to planning and executing your big day. And, while many of the obstacles that may arise can be overcome, others may be completely out of your control, for example postponing a wedding due to weather.
Most winter brides, especially those located in northern regions, are aware that their designated wedding date comes with the chance of snow, but those getting married during the three other seasons usually don’t have the slightest concern over anything more than rain preventing their wedding bells from ringing.
As we’ve come to realize, however, especially in recent years, natural disasters are happening more and more frequently. For this reason, it’s important for brides and grooms, as well as their families and friends, to be prepared for the unimaginable—and uncontrollable.
“It’s important to have a backup plan year round,” says Emily Sullivan of Emily Sullivan Events in New Orleans, Louisiana. “You could be contending with any kind of weather on your big day—it really varies depending on the region and situation, so it’s wise to have these conversations about the possibility of postponing a wedding with your wedding planner or coordinator prior to your wedding date.”
While having a plan B, C and even D early on is helpful, not all brides and grooms will—or can—be completely prepared. So if you get to the point in your wedding where postponing your wedding is imminent, here are expert strategies for how to handle the situation.
Step One: Ask for help
Even the most precise, organized and by-the-book wedding has its share of missing components. This means you likely won’t be able to handle all the tiny to-dos yourself. And this is especially true when dealing with something as catastrophic as a natural disaster. “If you are also personally affected with the crisis of a weather-related scenario (like we had here in Texas recently where bride’s home and her wedding venues were under water), you’ll need to enlist supportive help,” explains Cheryl Bailey of Yellow Umbrella Events in Austin, Texas. “Ideally, get the help of someone who’s not in the same situation as you, like your wedding planner or a friend or family member outside of the affected area, who can help you make decisions and start emailing and making calls.”
“The sooner a couple gets in touch with their venue, the more options they will have surrounding the cancellation and hopefully not lose out on their deposits,” says Wendy Collins of Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Remember that your venue is at the very center of your big day, as it will virtually house all of the rest of your vendors, like your DJ or band, florist, officiant, etc. Bailey suggests working out a plan with your venue in regards to how you should move forward when it comes to postponing your wedding. For example, moving your wedding to the night before or the next day. If this option isn’t available to you, Bailey recommends choosing an entirely new wedding date and time. “It’s important to try and secure this new date immediately, as other weddings will likely be in the same situation as you and the next available dates may fill up quickly.”
Step Three: Contact the rest of your vendors
Once you’ve established a plan of attack, and have a new wedding date secured, email all of your vendors and make them aware of the situation. “It’s easiest to email the entire group of vendors at once with a blanket statement about what is happening and then all vendors can be in the loop,” says Bailey. “Most vendors are very understanding when it comes to a weather-related situation that’s out of your control and will be very accommodating if you need to reschedule, as long as they have your new date available.” Do remember, however, that some of them may be booked on your new date, so you may lose your security deposit. “If you should need to book new vendors, such as a DJ or a photographer, your wedding planner can help you find the right ones quickly through their extensive network,” adds Kimberly Lehman of Love, Laughter & Elegance in Massillon, Ohio.
This one will likely be the most time-consuming, since you’ll likely have to reach out to certain friends or relatives via telephone as opposed to easier methods like email or social media. Bailey suggests starting by including as many guests as you have emails for on one email with information regarding the cancellation of your wedding and including information for a contact person they can reach out to in case they need further assistance.” Don’t hesitate to use your social media network, too. “Social media is your friend when postponing a wedding” she says. “You can always post on Facebook to let guests know what’s happening, or even start a private Facebook group where you add all of your guests, and even vendors, with the details of the cancellation and the reschedule date and details.” And be sure to update your wedding websitewith any updated information.
Step Five: Take a deep breath
By this point, overwhelmed doesn’t come close to describe how you and your partner are feeling. But, Bailey points out that the most important thing is that you and your guests are safe and out of harm’s way. “Stop, breathe deeply and calmly and focus on yourself and your partner and the fact that you are both together and able to handle this situation as a couple,” she says. Hold hands, hug, cry, laugh, pray—whatever you need to do to get by until you finally get to say say “I do!”
(Disclaimer: Pictures are not my work, just inspiration. )
I love, love, love the movie “Funny Face”, with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire! It was the perfect combination of story, song, dance, and fashion! The fact that the majority of the story took place in Paris, France, just adds to the charm of the movie. The scenery was amazing. I highly recommend that you view it sometime!
This is my take on a wedding inspired by this iconic cinematic masterpiece. I would love to create this for a couple, or even a styled photo shoot. If anyone would like to work on this with me, please feel free to send me a message!
We are giving away a FREE Day of Coordination Package to one Lucky Couple! May be applied to any wedding in 2017 or 2018. All you need to do to enter, is send us a brief essay of 300 words max., of why you should be chosen. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contest is limited to weddings in Ohio, and immediate surrounding states. Entries must be in by midnight, April 1st, 2017. Winners will be announced by April 3rd, 2017. Those who are not selected as the winner of the Free Package, are still eligible for an offer of a discounted price on above stated package, or any other services that we offer. Good Luck!
Educating yourself about a wedding planner (or consultant or coordinator), and what they do, is quickly becoming a required part of planning a wedding. Many couples these days are planning long distance affairs, or have demanding work schedules that do not allow for endless meetings with vendors and locations for their wedding. Often, couples have to make decisions quickly, and without as many choices of locations, materials, or referrals of vendors as they would really like. This is where the knowledge and practical experience of a wedding planner becomes invaluable.
Perhaps you have already heard or read some reasons why it is beneficial to hire a coordinator. It’s true that we wear many hats in this industry. We must be able to take on a wide variety of duties in order to serve the needs of our clients. We are able to recommend vendors and service providers that we have worked with before. We also help a client stay within their budget, often saving them money, and may advise them on wedding etiquette questions. We can help clients shop for their wedding attire, as well as that of their wedding party. We generally coordinate all of the client’s plans. Of course, the biggest service we provide is to keep your rehearsal, wedding day and reception on track. But I believe the most valuable service we provide is that of stress relief. We are there to lift the burden from the clients’ shoulders, whether it is just making sure that the vendors have all arrived on time and are setting up the party to specifications, to calming any last minute nerves and offering words of encouragement. We take care of any details that our clients wish, from just a sounding board when they are starting to plan, to searching out the best deals on locations, vendors, and materials. We are the people that pick up the ball and run with it, to paraphrase a sports metaphor. Our only job is to make sure our clients are completely happy, and that the event goes off flawlessly!
Even the most organized person will not wish to deal with lots of details on what is the most special day of their lives. They may only want to go with the flow, and enjoy the day with family and friends. That is where a wedding coordinator comes in. We do the worrying for you!