Wedding Planning Tips Please

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by hearts and roses, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    We are over a year away from difficult child & E's wedding (August 24th, 2013) but the ball is rolling, wheels are in motion and we're gathering information, making lists, and checking out vendors. Since so many of you have been through weddings (your own or adult child's), I would appreciate some ideas. I will tell you what has been decided so far and give you some questions that have come up and I would love to hear your thoughts!

    difficult child and E are being married at a small local park on top of a hill in a stone pavillion. It is about 45 minutes from our home and the reception is about 30 minutes in the reverse direction. Parking is very limited and difficult child wants to limit which guests will be at the ceremony. E's immediate family is HUGE, my immediate family is HUGE and exh's immediate family is HUGE. Who does she invite to this and who does she eliminate?? Just families alone is about 75 people and she just doesn't think that will be doable. Plus, we would have to rent seating, etc., for the ceremony as well as the reception which is being held at E's parent's home....If we limit the guests for the ceremony we may be able to avoid rental equipment and just decorate. The ceremony will only take about 30 minutes.

    The reception is at E's parent's home. We will rent a tent, dance floor, tables, chairs, etc. It will be catered, easy child is making the wedding cake, etc. Since it's at his mom's home, I need to work with her and I know she will be very accomodating, but how do I work with her without coming across as a control freak. difficult child has a vision of what she wants and it coincides with my ideas pretty much (some tweaking here and there). I don't want to offend her, so how should I and when should I approach her about coming over and looking at her yard to choose placement of the tent, band, etc? What if her suggestions are not what we want? And, since they are offering up their home and land to the reception, is it fair for the kids to expect his parents to contribute financially for anything? Traditionally, doesn't the groom/groom's family pay for the flowers and booze? or something? Also, I have to connect with exh at some point to see what he will be able to contribute - because it better be something substantial if he expects to play the role of proud papa (as I'm sure he does, ugh).

    And speaking of costs: Don't the bride and groom attendants pay for their own dresses, etc.?

    difficult child wants her dad to walk her down the cobble path up on the hill. I suggested both exh and H walk her together, she doesn't like that idea so she wants ME to walk her instead. Star suggested that we three (exh, h and me) stand near the altar and difficult child and E walk down together, she kisses us each in kind and we sit down, they get married. I like this idea a lot. Another option would be for difficult child to just walk down alone. She and E have lived together for two years, so it's not like anyone is really "giving her away", Know what I mean?? What are your thoughts on this. If exh gets to walk her down the isle, as if he contributed one iota to her upbringing, I will explode into tiny bits - I'm not even kidding, my head will blow off my shoulders. So, don't even suggest that I get over it. Thanks.

    This wedding is being classified as Non-Traditional/Traditional. There are some traditional things taking place, some not so traditional things. As I posted in an earlier thread, we bought difficult child's gown - gorgeous - and she will wear the veil my mom made me for when I married her dad (exh) - also gorgeous. Her maid of honor (easy child) and bridesmaid (cousin) will wear red, it's a lovely deep apple red. That was going to be my color dress, but now I feel funny going with that color - I don't want to seem like I am in the wedding party when clearly I am not. The other option I've thought of is like a champagne or gold colored dress. If it is a day/afternoon wedding, in August, can I go knee length or as mother of the bride do I have to go full length? I don't want to show my knees anymore. Also, does E's mother need to confer with me about her dress color? I hate all the stupid rules I've been reading about in the etiquette and planning books, but some do make sense. on the other hand, I don't want to come off as either too rigid or to relaxed.

    The list of guests: Do we have to allow single people to bring a date and if so, is there an age cutoff? difficult child & E have tons of adult cousins with SO's that we've met at family functions. I feel they should be included. However, what about the younger cousins - the teens or lets say under 21 crowd with an SO? Are they allowed to bring a guest? And what about co-workers. If I invite one, do I have to invite all - my office is only 6 people, but I'm not especially close with all of them, only at work. Right now the list is around 111 people (that includes guests for single people over 21).

    easy child and I were talking about a bridal shower and when the time comes we'd like to have one at our home or in a nearby restaurant, perhaps a brunch or something like that. I like the old fashioned traditional women only bridal showers and easy child is okay with that as well. Their cousin is from exh's side and I'm sure she'd be on board with this as well. However, cousin's mother is a pita and I KNOW she will try to circumvent the entire thing by offering to throw a bridal shower for exh's side of the family. On the one hand, I just say 'whatever' but on the other hand, that's rude to me. We all get along fine and why can't she just get with the program, Know what I mean?? So, if she comes up with any crazy ideas to separate events leading up to the wedding, how do we handle that? difficult child said to let her do what she wants, that she doesn't care and doesn't want there to be any strife between the families. But this aunt is very pushy and needs to be shut down. I think easy child is up for that totally - but what do you think??

    We want a nice garden wedding with lots of flowers, good food, fun music and nice weather. And I think it will be great, but I need some mother of the bride wisdom from those who have gone before me! Thanks in advance!

    So, bring it on - let me hear your ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc. Thanks!!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well, maybe I can help with the "easy" stuff...
    You have more options than that - and I'd suggest taking one of the "other" options... like "tea length" or "cocktail length" (I can never remember which is which - but one is just above the ankle, and the other is mid-calf). Both are elegant, and not out of place in the context of formal gowns and such...

    Oh, ya. That's a tough one. Ours would have been lop-sided (one of us has a huge extended family, the other has none!), so we had to get radical... and limit it to: grand-parents, parents, siblings (and their spouse or fiance), and 4 close friends, two of which were in the wedding party. Total of 30.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Jumping in with a few ideas in no particular order:

    A champagne or gold-coloured dress sounds lovely. You should check with the Groom's mother as to what she plans to wear, just so that you don't clash with each other. You don't have to coordinate, unless you want to. As for the length of your dress, it should be suitable to the formality of the occasion. It's easier to gauge formality by what the Groom is wearing, since there are fewer options in men's clothing. Here's a quick primer:

    If the Groom wears a suit, then a cocktail-length dress (just below the knee) is fine.
    If the Groom wears a dinner suit (tuxedo), then a tea-length dress (mid-calf length) is suitable.
    If the Groom is wearing a morning suit (grey coat with tails, pinstripe trousers) or white tie (black coat with tails, for evening weddings) then a full-length gown is expected.

    Sounds like you'll be fine with a mid-length dress. I like a dress-and-lightweight-jacket combination, because you can convert your outfit from day to evening without having to change dresses.

    How comfortable are you with E's mother? Since it's at her house she probably would like some input as to the structure of the event. If you deliver the information as "This is what difficult child would like", and perhaps enlist E's help in talking to his mother, you won't come across as controlling.

    Bridal Shower:
    I would let it go. If the auntie wants to host a separate event, let her. Just don't get roped into planning any of it or doing any of the work for it. It's not your party, after all.

    Groom's family contribution:
    Traditionally the bride's family covers the cost of the wedding. Of course, that tradition dates back to the days when a blushing bride of 17 or 18 was being married from her parents' house. It has become much more common for the groom's family to contribute where possible. Often, they cover the cost of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner afterward. With older couples, they often cover as much of the costs as possible themselves, since they're already independent. This might be something where you talk to difficult child about your budget, E talks to his parents about their budget, and you figure out what's possible when you know the total dollar amount available.

    Attendant clothes:
    Yes, the attendants are supposed to cover the cost of their clothing. This assumes that the Bride and Groom haven't chosen something outrageously expensive for them to wear.

    Guest list:
    Maybe you can limit the numbers based on closeness of relation. So, brothers and sisters of parents and their children, but not cousins of parents unless you're close and they're close to difficult child. As for work acquaintances, I don't think it's necessary to invite them, especially if you don't socialize with them outside of work otherwise. People who are in established relationships should be invited together, but if you're concerned about numbers, then singles should be invited as singles rather than being able to invite guests. If you run the risk of offending family members by excluding them from the ceremony it might be worth choosing a different venue that can accommodate a larger number of people.

    Just my top-of-the-head thoughts. Cherry pick whatever makes sense.

    This is so exciting.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    OK, Jo... I actually have a LOT of answers. So let's see here.

    Who to invite: Immediate family for sure; grandparents; aunts, uncles and immediate cousins. If they have limited space, they address the invitation as such:

    Mr. and Mrs. Jason Sudeikis and family (says - Uncle, Aunt, their kids - that's IT) (inside: Uncle Jason, Aunt Betty, Archie and Veronica)
    Mr. Leonard Nimoy (says - Uncle - inside envelope is "Uncle Leo and guest"... his flavor o' the month)
    Ms. Helen Hunt (says - AUNT ONLY) (inside: Aunt Helen)
    Mr. Robert Pattinson and Miss Kristen Stewart (you know they're serious, better invite 'em both) (inside: Rob & Kris)

    When you start to get to teens and their SOs... Not for something with limited space. The teenagers/college agers will get over themselves. SOMEONE will bring an extra person anyway. You can also say no kids and someone will bring a kid.

    Coworkers: only those you are close to. No blanket invitations.

    Your dress: Do not wear white. Do not wear black. Do not wear apple red. Do not clash or stand out (chartreuse is probably a bad idea). Champagne colored is good - otherwise, find something that suits you. August? Lightweight and short sleeved. E's mom doesn't have to coordinate her clothing with you or difficult child, though it is polite to do so (when I married XH, his mom and sister showed up in black - and white which looked horrid; when I married husband, his niece showed up in a fuchsia sweatsuit). Length? I'd say mid-calf or just below the knee.

    I suggest instead of having an entourage walk her down the aisle - that easy child and cousin do! They're going to walk down first, right? So - how about with? And you and your H, and xh, can be waiting at the end. (XH + I: both my parents. husband + I: the kids and husband & I all together - ONE UNIT - and we came in from one side!) And... I am not going to suggest you let xh walk her down the aisle and get over it. What I am going to say is... Really, it's difficult child's choice. All you can do is offer support and your $0.02.

    Groom's parents should pay for rehearsal dinner, tuxes for groom and his boys and father of the groom. IF they want to pay fo booze, they can. But the bride's parents are REALLY on the hook for weddings traditionally.

    Let cousin's mother offer to throw a shower, and let difficult child accept or decline - and then don't worry about it. Honey, it's difficult child getting married... If this woman can't get with the program, let her be on a different channel.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    We ignored many of the traditional rules. I would say go with what you, difficult child and E, and his mom are comfortable with. I left out your H and E's dad because normally dads don't say much about weddings. if there is a tradition that difficult child hates, skip it.

    I freaked my maid of honor out by telling her to wear what she liked and looked good in - no specific color or style, just 'a dress would be nice but if you have a pants outfit you like that is okay". I didn't really care what she wore and wasn't wearing a traditional white dress anyway (pink and green tulip patterned skirt and top, for reception wore the top and companion print shorts - outfit made by my mom, of course, lol!)

    How formal does she want the reception to be? I have seen backyard receptions that were very formal, and that were very informal. mine was informal. husband agreed to wear a suit jacket to the wedding if he could wear shorts and a tie dyed shirt to the reception. His jerk of a best friend was best man and agreed to leave his dog at home for the ceremony if he could bring him to the reception. I didn't like the badly mannered golden retriever but agreed because husband adored the idiot dog (he was the stupidest dog in the world, totally incapable of learning anything, and they thought his awful manners were cute).

    go and look at the tent BEFORE you buy everything for the reception!!! the only tents available to rent in our town at the time of my wedding were BRIGHT YELLOW. So instead of the colors we planned, we went with primary colors. the ones we had planned looked awful with the tent. We found a bunch of cheap beach balls in red, blue and yellow and hung them with balloons, we covered the tables wtih long sheets of white paper and put crayons and markers out. Instead of a sign-in book we had a piece of white canvas that i hemmed into a tablecloth. I put sharpies on the table and everyone signed it. At every birthday party and holiday party and special event I put the tablecloth out and people sign it. at the time of my wedding people thought it was weird and even "awful" but by the time of Wiz' second birthday we had a lot of friends and relatives doing the same thing. If you want it to be fancier, have them use washable markers and embroider each signature before the cloth is washed. it s a labor of love because it can take a long time to embroider them all.

    Talk with the groom's mom about placement of things and what they are willing/able to do and what they really don't want to do. Be polite but honest. if there is something that difficult child really wants taht the groom's mom doesn't, that is difficult child's job to negotiate, not yours. Remember that it is difficult child's wedding to arrange. You are there to HELP, but not to do it. Of course you should talk with E's mom, but if she is adamantly opposed to something that difficult child and E want, then you should stay out of it.

    As for who pays for what? difficult child and E need to figure most of that out and tell you. You and need to tell difficult child NOW what/how much you are willing to pay and stick to that. in your case i would talk to your exH and let him know how much you are expecting him to pay if he wants the proud papa role, but be SURE that difficult child will support you if he calls and cries to her. He will probably want some control over how the money is spent,so be prepared for those strings. negotiate them now, and put any agreement into writing, and get the $ from him before commitments are made to spend that money.

    For centerpieces, consider making them. one of my cousin's had a very formal wedding (years ago) and they had amazing looking centerpieces. my aunt made them and the bride's mom was shocked when she learned that they were tuna cans covered in fabric and ribbon with fancy glass lamp tops on them and silk flowers arranged around them. the guests all speculated on how much they cost (about $5 each, nowhere near what people thought) and clamored to take them home. they were truly beautiful. I was 11 or 12 and remember all the fancy looking ladies speculating how much they cost and asking where they bought them. i thought it was funny because I helped put them together the day before, but was sworn to secrecy. I even had two ladies offer me $ to tell them where they got them and how much they cost. I told my uncle and aunt and they topped the offer, so i made about $30 for keeping my mouth shut - which is why I remember it so well, lol. Yes, I DO have a funny family and this was the time of conspicuous consumption.

    If difficult child doesn't have a book with the deadlines of when to do/arrange/schedule what, it would be a good thing to have. there are a LOT of things you can do to keep costs way down, and I recommend them. having as little booze as possible is a huge way to cut costs. I have a super easy punch recipe that you can add champagne to if desired, but it is great with-o it. It also goes with ANY color you want - you mix 1 can frozen juice concentrate with 1 2liter bottle of sprite/7up (the store brand is fine). If you want pink punch then use strawberry or raspberry or cherry, if you want yellow then use peach and/or white grape and if you want purple then use purple grape juice. You can add sherbet if you want, or champagne, but it is fine with-o them.

    The mportant thing is that it is what the bride and groom want. You can pick which traditions are important to you, just be sure to communicate clearly with everyone.

    this will sound strange, but is a HUGe help with communication. Go to the office supply area of walmart and get some 3 part order pads, the kind for waitresses. When you are talking to difficult child and the groom's mom, write what you decide or need or want on those. each of you gets a copy and then you each know exactly what was said/decided/arranged and who is supposed to do it. It makes a HUGE impact on reducing confusion and upset caused by miscommunication and forgetfulness. i know it soundds strange and you could just email, but this is something you can see and touch.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Susie, those are great ideas.

    One thing I just remembered. When speaking with florists, caterers and others, try your best not to mention that it's for a wedding. Dress down a bit as well (same principle as when you're buying a car). Some vendors have a separate "wedding" price list that is considerably more expensive than their "party/event" price list. Not all, but some.
  7. jal

    jal Member


    Sorry Jo:)
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Just checking in before going to bed. Thank you for the great ideas and opinions...much appreciated! I'll have to jot some down tomorrow.

    Keep 'em comin'!!!
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It is difficult children day. Period. Let her make the decisions and go with them. It will be as perfect as she wants it to be. Whatever perfect is for her. Sounds like she is pretty laid back about it and you should go with that. Just MHO.

    I recently married and I made sure it was my way, without being a bridezilla of course! LOL! I was laid back, too. I was lucky as everyone was good with what I wanted. Made it easy. Nobody protested anything. I am grateful to look back and realize I enjoyed every minute of it.

    I love the idea of a gold dress! My aunt wore one to mine and it was stunning - it was just below the knees, but as mother of the bride, I would go full length. often do we get to wear those? Take advantage!
  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Just to be clear, we are adhering to what difficult child wants - it is her and E's day afterall, and if it's a good match, it will be their only wedding, lol.

    difficult child is forging ahead with plans and planning, which is great, but she doesn't fully understand it all. She's learning and she's enlisted my help, which I am happy to do with her...sort of as a guide in a sense, but she makes the final decision.

    I am guessing in time, I will care less and less about the stupid pushy aunt from LI. Not so sure about her dad walking her alone up the cobblestone path. I just can't seem to get past it. Maybe I should call my therapist and have a chat or 10 with her about my resentment issues surrounding exh. Grrrr.

    I'm going to get them to go up the ceremony site this weekend and maybe take a snapshot of his mom's yard. We've got the list of guests mostly complete, so we can look at that again and see who is missing and who can be cut. I think they need a reality check on the costs involved. Especially since they do not have any money and it's more likely that we will be funding a majority of this shindig. If I recall, Witz went through some discussions about costs for her daughter's wedding not long ago.

    Thanks again!
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    H&R - the "who walks the bride" thing? It's her decision, of course. Not sure you can even suggest stuff. But... I've seen: a line of significant male relatives, spaced up the aisle... in this case, the bride started with her (much older) brother, and was handed off to an uncle, her step-dad, and then her dad. It was a shared walk - because they had all been significantly involved in "getting her here". I copped out - NOBODY walked me.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jo...let me tell you how my dad handled the wedding of my step sister.

    It was the only wedding he got to have considering he didnt attend my wedding to my first husband because it was at a justice of the No walking me down an isle there!

    At my step sisters wedding which was wonderful by the way, her father played the piano for the music of Here Comes the Bride and my dad walked her down the isle in his tux. I sat in the pews and cried. LOL. When the bride reached the first pews in the church, her father came down from where he was sitting at the piano and my dad handed her over to her father who then handed her over to her new husband. It was a very touching moment really.

    In your daughters case, maybe her father could walk her part way and then your current husband could walk her the rest of the way. Or her father start off walking her and then they meet up and walk her together. After all, they were the two most important men in her life until she met her husband. Okay...Im being hopelessly romantic. LOL
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    That would be my first choice, Janet. I would love love love for both her dads to walk her up the cobblestone path. But she thinks that's weird! Grrr, of course with most families being step and blended, this is becoming the norm. We still have time I guess. Maybe in time, she will come round to the idea. I love the piano playing dad, so cool.