19 Problems Every Bride Deals With

We're willing to bet that if you're not already grappling with these wedding-related snags, you will be soon.
  1. Engagement Party Etiquette

    Photo by The Studio Photographers

    Q. Who is supposed to host our engagement party (and can we throw one ourselves)? And is it rude to have more than one?

    A. Anyone can host an engagement party, although traditionally, the bride's parents host the first soiree. But more and more couples are opting to throw their own engagement parties these days, so go for it! Also, you don't have to stop at just one party. If you and your fiance want to have a party for your friends and family, your parents can have a separate one later. The more the merrier!

  2. Sneaky Savings

    Photo by Jen Huang Photography

    Q. What are some ways to trim the budget without sacrificing the things I want?

    A. There are so many ways to cut costs without affecting your overall vision for your wedding. Of course, the fastest way to slash prices is to cut your guest list. This will reduce your catering costs, invitations and even the number of centerpieces and amount of decor you'll need. You can also save a big chunk of change by booking an off-peak season wedding date or by having your wedding on any day of the week but Saturday. Some other sneaky ways to save? Hold your ceremony and reception in one spot -- it will cut travel time for vendors you pay by the hour, along with transportation costs. Choose flowers that are in-season and swap out costly flowers, like peonies, for look-alikes, like garden roses. Offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail instead of a full bar. Serve comfort foods like barbecued chicken, mac and cheese, and corn -- it's trendy and often cheaper. Order a small or two-tiered cake for the cutting and then supplement it with a larger sheet cake (hidden back in the kitchen). And wherever possible, reuse ceremony decor at your reception.

  3. Picky Eaters

    Photo by Damion Hamilton

    Q. How do I accommodate all the vegans, diabetics, Kosher-keepers, people with food allergies or who are on Atkins or South Beach, and the just-don't-like-exotic-food types?

    A. It's impossible to foresee every single wedding guest's dietary needs and preferences. Your best bet is to choose one or two basic meat entrees and one meat-free entree, which will make vegetarians, dieters and picky eaters alike happy. Or consider having a buffet- or family-style meal that includes a variety of foods that will please everyone's palate, and let guests choose what they would like to and are able to eat. And remember that most people with specific food requirements don't expect special treatment when they attend a wedding.

  4. Invitation Equality

    Photo by KT Merry

    Q. If I went to someone's wedding, am I obligated to invite them to mine?

    A. It's your party -- if you don't want them there, don't feel guilted into sending an invite. Simply explain that your wedding is going to be very small, and with two families to accommodate, it's just impossible to invite everyone you want to. This might be a difficult conversation, but if they like and respect you enough to have invited you to their wedding, they should understand where you're coming from.

  5. Footing the Bill

    Photo by Leo Timoshuk Photography

    Q. Both my fiance's parents and my parents have agreed to help us pay for the wedding. Now how do we figure out who foots the bill for what?

    A. In days of yore (okay, as recently as the 1980s), the rules about who pays for what were much more strict. The bride's family took care of the invitations, wedding consultant, gown and accessories, reception (including site, food, flowers, photographer, videographer and music) and transportation. The groom's family paid for the marriage license, officiant, bride's bouquet, boutonnieres, rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. Today, the division of financial duties is far more fluid. Maybe one side feels strongly about the flowers, while the other side feels strongly about the band -- so go ahead and split it up that way. See what's on your agenda; then find ways to make it even.

  6. Tradition Trade-Off

    Photo by Tinywater Photography

    Q. My parents want us to have a traditional wedding, but we definitely don't. What should we do?

    A. It's your wedding, and you should do it the way you want -- but keep in mind that it's a big day for your parents too. Take their opinions into consideration, especially if they're paying for -- or helping to pay for -- the wedding. If you're set on a city hall wedding and dinner, maybe you can do that and then have a church ceremony and reception with the works the next day. Or maybe you're willing to nix the judge and have a minister marry you, as long as you get the intimate reception. Sit down together and try to decide what's most important to everyone, then come up with a game plan that everyone can live with.

  7. Tasteless Toasts

    Photo by Marisa Blair

    Q. At a friend's wedding, someone got ahold of the mic and delivered a drunken, inappropriate and unexpected toast. How can I stop this from happening at my wedding?

    A. Make sure your event planner, day-of coordinator and/or emcee knows specifically who is delivering each wedding toast, in what order. And most important, lend specific instructions to the holder of the microphone (in most instances, your bandleader or DJ) that they are not, under any circumstances, to hand the mic over to any other guest.

  8. Budgeting Bridesmaids

    Photo by Nicole Dixon Photographic

    Q. A couple of my bridesmaids have complained about how expensive their dresses and other costs are adding up to be. How should I deal?

    A. Be considerate. It's likely that your maids will only wear this dress for a few hours, so don't make them hock their car to be a part of your wedding. Choose a dress that's reasonably priced -- have them tell you what reasonable is -- or work together with your party to find a dress that's within both their style and budget. Brides aren't required to pay for the dresses, but if you want to spring for something pricey, consider adding it on to your own budget or paying for half. Try to mitigate expenses elsewhere too -- if they're buying the dresses, don't make them also buy jewelry and shoes.

  9. Inviting the Boss

    Photo by Justin DiMutiis Photography

    Q. I don't plan on inviting my boss or any of my coworkers, and I'm concerned they'll take it personally. Any advice?

    A. You are under no obligation to invite your boss, or anyone for that matter, to your wedding. To avoid any false expectations or hurt feelings, make it known to your coworkers and boss that your wedding is going to be limited to family and close friends only. The fact that no one from work is being invited will help everyone, especially your boss, avoid feeling excluded. It would also probably be smart to keep wedding talk in the workplace to a minimum.

  10. Giftless Guests

    Photo by Cat Mayer Studio

    Q. Should we send thank-you cards to guests who came to our wedding but didn't give us cards or gifts?

    A. All attendees deserve a handwritten thank-you—regardless of whether they gave you a gift. Now before you roll your eyes and ignore this advice, remember: Guests may have taken time off from work to be there. Keep it simple and say something like, "Thanks for coming! It meant so much that you could be there to celebrate with us." Try to include something personal too, like how you loved their dance moves or the joke they told in the receiving line. Just resist the temptation to throw in a "PS: We're registered at Macy's."

  11. RSVP Radio Silence

    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography

    Q. If some guests don't RSVP, should we call them to find out if they'll come? Or can we assume that they're not coming?

    A. As far as final head count goes, you should never assume. Call to see if they're coming. You never know -- maybe they think they sent the response card, but it may be hiding under a pile of mail. If calling is a problem, assume that they're coming and make sure there's enough food and seats for them. It's better to have extra grub and room than it is to have neglected guests wondering where to sit!

  12. The Date Debate

    Photo by Jocelyn Filley Photography

    Q. I invited my friend and her boyfriend (by name on the invite), but they recently broke up. Now she wants to bring someone I don't like. Can I tell her no?

    A. Because you worded the invitation correctly by having her boyfriend's name on the envelope (rather than "and guest"), you have every right to say no. As a rule, invitations are nontransferable when people are invited by name. Try explaining that you're not friendly with the guest and that you'd prefer that the guest list be limited to very good friends and family. If you invited all of your single friends sans dates, let her know she won't be the only one coming solo (in case that's her worry).

  13. Bridal Shower Guest List

    Photo by Savady Photography

    Q. Who should I invite and not invite to my bridal shower? I don't want it to seem like a ploy to get lots of gifts.

    A. You don't have to invite every woman who's invited to your wedding (think of the expense for your bridesmaids if you did!). The guest list should include your closest female pals and relatives (and your fiance's mom, sis and other close female friends and family). As for far-flung guests, sending a shower invite is a nice gesture even if you know they can't attend -- it shows them that they're important to you and that you would've wanted them there.

  14. Registry Rules

    Photo by Archetype Studio

    Q. What's the politest way to let people know where we've registered?

    A. Word of mouth is the best way to loop everyone in on your registry. Make sure your wedding party and parents know so they can clue in guests who ask. It's okay to include the link to your wedding web page in your invites. And conveniently enough, that's where you can post info like your registries. And remember that if people ask you where you're registered -- or even what you would like as a gift -- it's okay for you to tell them the names of the stores. By and large, you shouldn't worry about it too much. People will ask and let others know.

  15. Odd One Out

    Photo by Kathi Littwin

    Q. Let's just say there's a black sheep in my family. Should I feel obligated to invite her to my wedding?

    A. Though you shouldn't feel obligated, you should definitely give it some serious thought. Talk to your parents and any siblings about it and see what they think. If inviting her is going to cause you or your immediate family a lot of grief on your wedding day, then don't. On the other hand, if her presence isn't going to adversely affect you, and her not getting invited might create even more of a problem, then extend an invitation. Remember, just because you invite her doesn't mean she'll come.

  16. Planning for No-Shows

    Photo by Tomoko Photography

    Q. I've heard that typically 10 -- if not 20 -- percent of guests won't actually show up. Should I budget for the cost of how many people I think will actually show up, instead of the cost of my entire wedding guest list?

    A. In a word: No. This is a case where you should definitely err on the side of caution. While it's true that chances are slim every last guest who RSVPs “yes” will definitely be able to make it to your wedding, it will be a huge headache for you to scrounge up seats and plates if more guests than you planned for show up. The solution? Cut down your guest list to a size your budget can manage, and until every last RSVP card has come in (and every last phone call to track down those errant replies has gone out), assume that they're all going to be there.

  17. Plus-One Problems

    Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

    Q. We're on a tight budget. Is it okay to invite single guests but not give them plus-ones?

    A. Deal with this problem on a case-by-case basis. If you have unmarried friends and relatives in long-term relationships, consider inviting their partners. (Even though they're not married, they're committed.) Then, invite your more single friends and relatives without dates, rather than crossing them off your wedding guest list altogether. If anyone complains, simply explain your dilemma: It was important that they be there, but that you couldn't afford to invite dates. Then, carefully consider where to seat them at the wedding; they may not want to get stuck at a table full of couples.

  18. Hungry Vendors

    Photo by Beautiful Day Photography

    Q. My wedding photographer told me that she and her assistant expect meals during the wedding reception. Am I supposed to pay for their wedding meals, plus meals for other vendors, like the wedding band I hired?

    A. It's nice to feed your wedding professionals if they're going to be working a four- to six-hour ceremony and reception. But if your photographer expects a meal, she should include that in her contract. Also remember that your caterer will make more food than is needed, "just in case," so there will likely be plenty for your wedding professionals to munch on. Or arrange for your caterer to put together a quick platter for the photographer, musicians and others -- simple sandwiches will do.

  19. No Kids Allowed

    Photo by Beautiful Day Photography

    Q. Is it okay to have an adults-only (18 and up) guest list? If so, how do we spread the news?

    A. It's completely legitimate to want an adults-only reception, especially for an evening affair. And most parents of young children will jump at the chance for a night out without the kids. Even so, this is a sensitive topic, and putting "adult reception" on your invites is a little too in-your-face, so take a more subtle tack. First, tell your parents, wedding party and other close relatives and friends, so they can spread the word if any guests ask them. Second, the people whose names are on your invitations are the only people invited to the wedding ("Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" means just the couple; "The Doe Family" means little Suzie can come too). Most guests will take note of this and RSVP for just themselves. If they RSVP for kids too, call them and explain that because of "budget constraints" (always the best excuse, even if it's not true), you decided to invite only adults. Try to understand that some may be genuinely surprised or hurt, and be understanding, but don't give in -- if you say yes once, the requests will start pouring in.

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