Etiquette: Guest intentions

Weddings aren’t just exciting for the happy couple, but their loved ones too. Wedding planner Chez Rideout discusses keeping your friends and family happy on your big day.

Etiquette: Guest intentions
Steph Photography Inc. |

If I'm having a seated dinner, do you recommend having a seating plan or allowing a free-for-all?

I always recommend a seating plan to ensure your family and close friends are seated at the best seats close to the head table. Without one, there can be a mad rush for the good seats, potentially leaving your family at the worst seats in the venue. A seating plan is definitely more work for the couple, but they can make it a little easier on themselves by assigning guests to a table and then allowing them to choose where they sit. This would eliminate the need for name cards. Most guests prefer being told at least which table to sit at as opposed to a free for all.

This is usually one of the most difficult tasks couples face as, unfortunately, their guests don't always fit neatly into groups of eight or 10. The goal would be to ensure that people are seated with others that they already know or people who the couple thinks they would get along with. So placing family with family and work colleagues together would only make sense. There will however always be a group of people who don't know anyone else. This is where putting guests together based on certain age groups and similar interests, works the best.

While it's really nice to have lots of help from loved ones, how can I politely ask friends and family for space if they're overbearing when it comes to wedding plans?

As I plan, I am often called upon to diplomatically let friends and family know that although their help and ideas are appreciated, the couple would like to do things a little differently. I think for couples, the best way is to be honest and clear with their ideas and vision for their wedding right from the start.It is also sensible to let close family members and friends know what you are planning as you go along so they are not surprised at the last minute if you have made certain decisions that they are not in agreement with. If they are kept informed throughout the process they are more likely to see that your decisions have been carefully thought through and will be more likely to accept them and not try to change your mind.

What's the etiquette surrounding plus-ones? If you know your friend is single, do you still have to give them the option of bringing a date?

If a guest has been dating someone for over six months it is correct to invite their significant other. The couple should ensure they find out the name of the boyfriend or girlfriend and invite them by name in the invitation. Although it is very gracious to allow all single guests to bring a guest, many times budget restrictions do not allow for this. Couples could approach this decision one of two ways: firstly they could address each single friend on a case-by-case basis or they could make a decision one way or the other and stick with it for all their single friends. If they choose to allow single friends to bring guests, it is always correct to ask who the friend would like to bring and then include that person's name on the invitation.

Chez Rideout
Chez, from The Halifax Wedding Planner, has been involved in the planning and execution of weddings and special events since 1998. As a certified wedding coordinator through the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, she loves working with newly engaged couples to create their uniquely perfect wedding. The Halifax Wedding Planner offers full service planning, day of coordination and decor and design packages.

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