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Wedding etiquette 

Modern-day advice with wedding planner Patricia Pardy.

Q Who should you traditionally give gifts to?

A Traditionally gifts from the bride and groom are given to their attendants on both sides of their bridal party to commemorate the day. Typically, a piece of jewellery is given to the bridal party—perhaps something they can wear on the wedding day. The maid/matron of honour may be a more elaborate one. The gifts given from the groom to the groomsmen may be a small personal item such as a pen, wallet, money clip, et cetera. Sometimes the bride and groom will present a gift to their respective parents as a thank you for all that they have done. Some may give them a personal wedding album with selected photos of their family and friends from the wedding day. While not tradition, a bride and groom have even been known to give each other a small gift on the wedding day such as an engraved watch, jewellery or a special keepsake book.

Q How do you return a gift you don’t like?

A When receiving a gift you don’t like you must consider two things: Is the gift from someone close to you? Will they expect to see it in your home the next time they visit? If yes, then you may want to consider holding on to that gift—no matter how much you dislike it—as it may hurt or offend that person.  If the gift is from someone you do not see often, then exchange it but there is no need to tell them. Simply write them a note thanking them for the gift. However, you may want to consider what you will say should they happen to visit on that rare occasion or simply ask about the gift.

Keep in mind that gifts from your family should not be exchanged (unless they tell you to do so), and you shouldn’t or toss or give away a gift that was personally made for you.

Q How do you decide to cut the guest list when numbers get too high?

A Cutting the guest list is one of the hardest tasks of wedding planning but definitely a necessity when you are exceeding your budget. Reducing your guest list will be the biggest cost saving overall as you reduce the number of meals, drinks, flowers, linens and favours when you scale back the numbers.

Take a second and third look over your guest list and then create three lists: must invite, like to invite and would be nice to invite.

Must invite: Those you really want to attend your continued continued wedding day and it would not be the same without them in attendance (such as parents, grandparents, close aunts and uncles, cousins and best friends).

Like to invite: Distant relatives such as aunts, uncles and cousins who you have not seen in years and you are not personally close with. Or perhaps friends and coworkers that you see on a fairly regular, social basis but are not considered to be “the best of buddies/friends.”

Would be nice to invite: Relatives that you may have never met before but feel would be nice to invite and bring your families together for this special occasion. School and university friends you were once close with but really have lost touch with over the years. Co-workers who you see on a daily basis but do not socialize with outside of work.

Take another look over your master guest list and categorize them into one of the three columns. You will undoubtedly cut some names from your list. Send invitations to those on the “must invite” list and then move to the “like to invite” list if the budget permits. You may even sneak some names off of the third list if some other guests on the first or second lists have replied early on that they cannot attend. Just be sure to invite guests at least one month ahead of the wedding date---you do not want your guests on list three to feel that they were not on list one!

Q How can you be specific with vendors (photographers, caterers, DJs, et cetera) about what you want without looking like a bridezilla?

A When meeting with your vendors understand that they do this for a living. If you have chosen a professional with a good reputation, they will be able to offer you tips and suggestions on how to make your day a special, hassle-free one. Take their advice into consideration, especially when they have stories/experiences to back up what they are saying.

Before hiring any vendor, sit down with your prospective vendor, talk “with” them and share your vision. Bring along photos or magazine cut-outs of what you are looking to capture on your special day. Those who are considered wedding professionals will respect your ideas and may even be able to help take them to a new level. If the vendor looks to be uncomfortable with your vision and ideas, then ask them! You must then decide if your vision is too far out there and needs refining/tweaking, or if you should look for someone else who will turn your vision into reality.

Ask your potential vendor how many consultation appointments they typically will have with you between now and the wedding day, as well as their policy on replying to emails and phone calls. If all meets with your approval, then sign on board. However, do respect your vendor’s time, especially if they are in their “busy season.” Respect that certain vendors will not be able to devote as much time to your wedding happening next year as the one coming up next month. But rest assured: closer to your wedding date, you will be their top priority and have their attention.

Patricia Pardy is the owner of It’s Your Event, a Halifax event- planning company. She has over 15 years experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.


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