weddiquette

All of your wedding etiquette questions answered – no matter how awkard.

My wedding is in a month and gifts from our registry are trickling in. I’m so excited every time I open a package and am keeping up with my “thank-you” notes. But – and this is a big but – I received the most hideous wedding gift (I won’t describe it here, just in case), of the statuette variety. Do I have to put this in my home? Can I get rid of it?

Shannon Krantz
New Orleans


Registries are for your guests’ convenience, not all-or-nothing prospects. The rule I was taught was that no matter how horrible, you must keep your wedding gifts for at least one year after your wedding. That way, if you know the person who sent you the gift is coming over, you can display the gift you don’t like and make that person feel special – then you can quietly and covertly get rid of it.

When I was growing up, I was constantly reminded that “pretty is as pretty does.” When should a girl feel prettier than during her wedding? So, even though you don’t like the gift, think once or twice before using the statuette as a white elephant gift or putting it up on eBay – both places where the person who gifted it to you might find out.

I was recently invited to the intimate wedding of an old friend. We were very close in high school, but have grown apart since. I am also one of the only guests that’s allowed to bring a plus-one. I know that I should order something special off their registry, but I just can’t afford much right now. Am I required to send something expensive even though we’re not close anymore? Is there any way out of this? Help!

Kelly Rotourio
Metairie


This is a sticky situation. While you should never spend more money on a wedding gift than you can afford, your history with your friend is leaving you feeling guilty about what you can send. There are some options: First Can you talk to your friend about the situation? If a phone call has you sweating, perhaps send an e-mail explaining that you would like to give them something they truly want and ask if there’s a special store for which you can send them a gift card. Another choice is to send a note with the gift you can afford saying that a special gift will be on its way to them after the wedding. However, if you choose this option you have to remember to send that other gift – trust me, they’ll remember. Or, do what you can and trust that your friend will understand. You have been invited to their wedding to share in the memory of the day and the start of their new life together – not so they can amass gifts. The final word? Let your affection for your friend be your guide.

A dear friend of mine is getting married for the second time and in lieu of gifts, she and her fiancé have asked us to donate to a charity they support. I appreciate their want to help other people, but I’ve been waiting for their wedding to give them a present that I know is perfect for them! Can I still give them my gift or am I only allowed the donation?

Leslie Creshna
New Orleans


Charity donations are a growing trend for weddings; especially for brides who’ve been cohabitating or already have many things that would usually be found on a registry list such as a blender or place settings. However, if you’ve found the “perfect gift” I’m sure your friends would love to receive it. If you can, a small donation to their chosen charity would be politic, and wouldn’t your gift mean even more if you brought it to them personally? If you can do that, make sure to find a time that’s convenient for them, not just for you, and be gracious if they seem a little distant – they’re most likely more stressed and worried about their wedding than about charity donations from guests.

I’m getting married in a church that doesn’t allow pictures to be taken during the ceremony but I want images of my bridal party, parents and myself walking down the aisle. Do I have any options?

Sierra Lupo
Algiers


Of course you have options! First step: Ask the wedding coordinator, officiant or whoever you’ve been dealing with at the church if you’re allowed to take simulated shots before or after the ceremony or on another day when the church is available. If you are, chat with your photographer about how much it would cost and when he or she thinks it would be best.

If you decide to take your photos between your ceremony and reception, make sure to have everything arranged to take the least amount of time possible – you don’t want your guests growing bored waiting for you to arrive! If you are staging the photos before the wedding, make certain they’ll be completed at least one hour before the ceremony starts. Your pictures should never be taken while your guests are arriving and being seated.

Prepare a list of the pictures you want re-created and discuss it with your photographer, the person you’re coordinating with at the church and with your bridal party. Some possible options include: you and your father walking up the aisle; your flower girl, ring bearer, maid of honor and bridesmaids walking up the aisle; your groom and best man catching their first glimpse of you; the exchange of rings and/or vows; your entire wedding party standing together; your “first kiss” as a married couple; and you and your groom walking back down the aisle.

Are there options to tossing my bouquet? I only have a few single friends attending my wedding and I remember how embarrassed I was to step out on that dance floor when I was single. There’s also the opposite fear, that my crazy cousin – 35, single and desperate – will rip someone’s dress, pull someone’s hair or blacken my fiancé’s sister’s eye in her attempt to snag the “luck of the bouquet.” Do I have to throw my bouquet? If I do, does it have to be mine?

Also, if I can save mine, how can I keep it forever?

Caroline Keefer
New Orleans


You don’t want to toss a bouquet? You don’t have to! The bouquet toss originated from a medieval Europe tradition: A bride during that time didn’t expect to wear her wedding dress again or even save it. Since brides were considered good luck, her dress was also considered good luck and a sort of fertility charm for other women – single women would chase the bride and rip pieces from her dress, leaving her in tatters (which, when she met her groom in that get-up may be the origin of the fertility part). As wedding dresses grew more expensive, the tradition of keeping the dress, either as a memento or to pass along to a daughter, brides began throwing other things, such as a garter. The wedding bouquet, the flowers of which symbolize fertility, is particularly suited to tossing and is safer than the garter, which some might consider gauche.

As weddings become more personalized, options for your reception are expanding as well. Other ideas include giving it to your family matriarch or to your mother, or, if a dear relative or friend has passed, honor her by placing your bouquet on her grave. A growing alternative to the bouquet toss is the “Couple Dance.” Ask every married couple to join you and your husband on the dance floor. Have your emcee or band director tell them that as years are announced (10, 15, 20), the couples that have been married shorter than those years should sit down. The last couple standing should be the ones who have been married the longest. Honor them by gifting them with your bouquet as a symbol of their commitment.

There are also many options for saving your bouquet. When talking to your florist, ask about having an identical bouquet, a smaller bouquet or a silk replica made for throwing. When drying your bouquet, you can hang it upside down and leave it to dry out (best for flowers with tight petals), use silica gel as a drying agent or press your favorite flowers. Pressed or dried bouquets look perfect in a shadow box!
 

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