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Wedding Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on etiquette and other aspects of getting married? Of course! Let us help with the "Wedding Planning Frequently Asked Questions" area below.

The Wedding Invitation and Announcement

Q. When should the wedding invitations be ordered?
A. Wedding invitations should be ordered when the details of the ceremony and reception have been confirmed. Information such as the wedding date, time and place of your service and reception, as well as an accurate guest list count are needed when placing your invitation order. Note you will save yourself a bit of stress if you order invitations at least three months before the wedding.
Q. When should wedding invitations be mailed?
A. Invitations should be mailed approximately four to eight weeks before the ceremony.
Q. Are any special arrangements made for out-of-town guests?
A. It's a good idea to send a "save-the-date card" to your out-of-town guests. The card is usually sent four to six months before the wedding. This is the first news your guests have of the wedding. It typically includes information about the wedding and any special accommodations which you have for them.
Q. What are considered traditional wedding invitations?
A. Traditional wedding invitations are white, ivory or ecru with or without a panel. Traditional invitations may be thermographed (raised printing) or engraved. Thermographed invitations are less expensive and imitate the look of engraving.
Q. What are considered contemporary wedding invitations?
A. Contemporary invitations are those that offer a variety of different themes, designs, folds, trends, and beautiful colors.
Q. May guests be invited to a reception and not the wedding itself?
A. Yes, if the wedding service is attended only by relatives and close friends.
Q. Are wedding announcements ever sent to anyone who has been invited to the ceremony or reception?
A. No. Wedding announcements are only sent to those people who were not invited to the ceremony or reception.
Q. Are wedding invitations envelopes addressed formally
A. Yes. Abbreviations should not be used except for Mr., Mrs., Jr. or Dr.
Q. Is it correct to use "and family" when addressing the invitations envelopes?
A. No. Separate invitations should be sent to each adult family member living in the same home, whenever possible. For small children, address the outer envelope to their parents and write their first names on the inner envelopes under their parent's names.
Q. What is the purpose of the tissue included with my wedding invitation order?
A. In the past, tissues were used to guard against ink smears. Today's printing methods insure that the ink is dry before the invitations leave the printing plant, so the tissues are no longer necessary. However, many continue to use the tissue as part of their wedding ensemble for aesthetic reasons and for the sake of tradition.
Q. How should the wedding invitation be inserted into the envelopes?
A. The invitation is folded and put in the inner envelope (the smaller envelope) with the folded edge down and the front of the invitation facing the back of the envelope. The envelope is then placed in the envelope with the front of the inner envelope facing the back of the outer envelope.
Q. When should the announcements be mailed?
A. Announcements should be mailed a day or two after the wedding.

The Thank You Note

Q. Is it necessary to send a thank you to someone I have thanked in person?
A. It is considered socially correct to always send a written thank you note even if you have thanked someone in person.
Q. When should the thank you notes be mailed?
A. A written thank you note should be sent as soon as possible after receiving the gift. Normally this is within two to three weeks of receipt.
Q. Is there a tactful way to thank someone for a monetary gift?
A. When writing a thank you note for money it is not necessary or advisable to mention the amount. Instead, refer to it as "your generous gift," or something similar. It is also tasteful to mention how you plan to use the money.

The Wedding Ceremony

Q. How many ushers and bridesmaids are needed?
A. It depends on the size of the wedding. Normally, there should be one usher for every 50 guests. The average wedding party for formal or semi-formal is four to six bridesmaids and ushers. A bride does not need as many bridesmaids as ushers.
Q. In a formal wedding, which side is usually reserved for the bride's family and friends?
A. The bride's parents are seated on the left side of the aisle and the groom's parents sit on the right side. (In some synagogues this is reversed).
Q. What if the church has two center aisles?
A. Choose one aisle and proceed with the wedding as if it were the only one available, or use the right aisle for the processional and the left for the recessional.
Q. Does the groom always kiss the bride at the altar?
A. The person performing the wedding will rule on it, according to church practice.
Q. Is there a recessional at a home wedding?
A. It is not necessary. The married couple may turn around after the ceremony and receive best wishes from the guests.
Q. Who gives the officiant his or her fee?
A. The groom pays, but the best man gives it to the officiant in a plain white envelope before or after the ceremony.
Q. Where does the wedding party stand in the receiving line?
A. The receiving line is in the back of the church after the ceremony. The order may vary, but usually the bride's mother and father are first, followed by the bride, groom and bridesmaids. The groom's mother and father may be included. The ushers and best man do not stand in the receiving line.

The Wedding Reception

Q. At the bride and groom's table, where does the bride sit?
A. The bride is seated at the groom's right.
Q. With divorced parents, who attends the reception?
A. Both may attend if agreeable by all, or separate receptions may be given.
Q. Who reads the congratulatory messages aloud?
A. The best man reads any congratulatory messages that are received.
Q. Who proposes the first toast?
A. The best man proposes the first toast to the bride and groom.
Q. Who cuts the first piece of cake?
A. The bride, with the groom's right hand over hers, cuts the first piece of cake. The couple breaks the slice and eats it together. A friend or waiter then finishes serving the cake.
Q. What happens if other couples start dancing before the bride and groom at the reception?
A. When the newlyweds appear, everyone should stop dancing. Then the bride and groom waltz once around the floor solo.
Q. Is the groom obligated to dance with someone besides his bride?
A. Yes, the groom is obligated to dance with his mother, mother-in-law, and the maid of honor.

(C) Damon Hart-Davis/DHD Photo Gallery, 2003
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