Special Ways to Keep Your Wedding Guests Happy

When planning a wedding, it is easy to get swept up in making sure everything is perfect for the couple tying the knot. But there are some simple ways you can make sure you keep your wedding guests happy on your big day.

They don’t cost a lot, and won’t add hours of extra planning on your part, but these 10 simple ideas will keep your wedding guests happy.

Give plenty of notice
Weddings are a big deal and if you are having a destination wedding, or inviting guests from interstate or overseas, they will need a lot of notice of your impending nuptials so they can make the necessary arrangements to ensure they can attend.

Traditionally, invitations go out three months before a wedding, but you might like to extend that out further by sending out Save the Date cards or magnets.

This will give guests plenty of time to know when your big day is, without putting the pressure on you to have all of the details locked in.

Set up a website
More and more couples are setting up wedding websites because it’s an easy way to keep all of your guests up to date on the latest arrangements for your wedding.

Easy Weddings has an easy-to-use wedding website tool, where you can list travel details, maps, contact details and other information to keep your guests informed all the way through your planning, right up to the big day.

Location, location
If you are planning an outdoor wedding in the summer or spring, it’s nice to look for a location that provides some shade for your guests.

If your ideal location doesn’t offer that, consider hiring a gazebo or marquee for them to sit or stand under, or provide parasols for guests to provide some relief from the sun.

Beating the heat
If the temperatures are on their way up around your wedding date, plan ahead by arranging portable fans, extra shade and/or bottles of water for your guests.

If you are having an outdoor wedding, perhaps even provide a large pump bottle of sunscreen towards the back of the ceremony or reception set-up and get your celebrant or MC to inform guests that it is available – you don’t want your guests to get sunburn!

This will help them to enjoy your big day without worrying about melting in the process.

Warming it up

Similarly, if you plan to host an outdoor affair in the autumn or winter, when temperatures drop, you can consider offering a basket with shawls or blankets for guests who might feel the cold a little more than others, and umbrellas in case of a downpour.

These can be especially handy for elderly guests or children, who will be appreciative of the extra thought you have put into it.

You could also plan for a coffee, tea and hot chocolate station to be available for people to warm up their hands and bodies while waiting.

This bites
If you are planning a ceremony near a waterway or on dusk, consider providing mosquito repellent or burning citronella candles to combat pesky blood suckers from feasting on your guests.

The wheels on the bus
If your ceremony and reception are at a different location, consider booking a bus or other transport service to get your guests from A to B.

This doesn’t mean you have to provide stretch limos for everyone. Look at local bus companies who might offer charter services and if you wish to decorate them to match your wedding, you can go for it, but guests will just be grateful you have given them one less thing to think about.

Remember if you take guests away from their cars, also charter a service to take them back to their vehicles at the end of the reception.

For when nature calls
It might be the furthest thing from your mind, but it pays to take notice of the bathroom situation if you are thinking of a more natural location.

If your guests have to walk for more than a few hundred meters to get to a single-stall toilet, you may want to consider bringing in temporary bathrooms.

You don’t have to go for the building site bright yellow option, there are classier styles available.

Show the way
If you are not providing transport for your guests, share as much information as you can to help them get to your venue and then back to their hotels safely.

This can be done by creating a personalised Easy Weddings website, or you can add the details on a map with the invitations.

Getting home
Sometimes guests can have way too much fun and perhaps drink one too many vinos during the reception.

Find out in advance which taxi companies operate in the area around the reception and collect their number or even business cards and have them readily accessible to guests at the reception so they can call a taxi and get back home or to their accommodation safely.

Survive Wedding Week

There is just seven more sleeps until your big day and while you may be finding it hard to sleep, we want to make sure it is because you are super-excited and not because you are super-stressed.

Here are some tips you can use to help you to survive wedding week:

Refer to your to do list
Because you are an organised person, you would have some semblance of a checklist going to keep track of everything.

Revisit this, or if you haven’t managed to jot everything down yet, create one here (it’s never too late!)

This will help you to see if there are any glaringly obvious things you may have forgotten to do, such as confirm the time your caterer needs to begin serving meals.

If you haven’t already got time off, you may need to consider taking a few days, or even the week off depending on how much you have left to do.

Finalise your wedding itinerary
You may have been building a broad picture over the past few months, but now is the time to nail things down. Do not plan everything down to the last minute, as unexpected things can and do come up, so some flexibility will give you peace of mind.

If you don’t have a planner, you can get tips from your photographer or other vendors because they’ve probably done this umpteen times and can give you some ideas of how long to allocate for each portion of your ceremony and reception.

If you do this at the beginning of your final week, you will have time to give copies to all of your vendors as well as family and the bridal party so they know where they need to be and when.

Try on your dress

Sneak away from you partner for an hour to try on your wedding dress to make sure it fits perfectly and doesn’t need any last-minute alterations.

There have been some cases where brides have simply picked up their dress and left it in the bag until the day of their wedding only to find pins still in it – don’t let that be you!

Break in your shoes
The worst part of being in heels all day long is being in brand new heels all day long.

Start wearing your beautiful wedding shoes around the house and give your feet extra breathing space by wearing a thick pair of socks and aiming a hair dryer at the tighter spots.

It i always a good idea to pack an extra pair of shoes you can slip into while having your photos taken or for after the first dance – there’s nothing worse than trying to look happy and poised while your feet are hurting. You want your wedding shoes to look amazing, but you don’t have to wear them all day. You can even wear flats or go barefoot if you want to!

Drop off items where they are needed
If you are doing a lot of DIY, make sure you drop off items like your sign-in book, candles, menus, table numbers etc off to the venues where they need to be.

If your bridal party are helping, organise a date in advance for you all to meet and set up the room, but if you are lucky enough to have helpers, place the items into boxes or containers with specific instructions for them to follow so there is no confusion about what goes where.

Also give your venue coordinator a list of things that needs to be returned after your celebration so nothing gets thrown out by accident.

Rehearsal dinner
If you are going to have a rehearsal dinner, it is a good idea not to have it the night before your wedding. Try getting everyone together two or three nights before instead.

Don’t be afraid to delegate
No matter how hands-on of a bride you want to be, it is impossible for you to be in more than one place at a time and when it comes to your final seven days, a lot will need to be finalised.

Tap into your wonderful bridal party, other close friends and family members and see who is willing to run an errand for you. If you spread the love across many people, no one will be burnt out before your wedding.

It can be a good idea to designate a “second in command” who knows just as much about the wedding as you do. It could be your maid of honor or your mother, but their job is to field some of the questions in the final week so you are not being bombarded from all directions. It also helps to put their contact details on your wedding website so that no one bothers you on your big day.

Make final payments
With your to do list, you will know who needs to be paid and when. A lot of this will be happening in the final week before the big day, so to avoid missing any important payments to vendors, you should consider paying them before the due date or setting up an automatic electronic transfer payment, so then it’s done and you are ready to go.

Try to make time for out of town guests
They may have traveled a fair way to see you, so if you are planning to be whisked away immediately after the wedding on a honeymoon, you might want to schedule in a fun activity or two to share with the guests you may not have connected with for a while.

This might be a good opportunity to introduce them to other guests so that they have some contacts on the day of the wedding.

Take care of yourself

Eat healthy, get rest – no matter how pumped you are starting to get – and make sure you don’t overdo it.

Get away from the hustle and bustle of preparations to go for a run, take a yoga class, read a book or another decompressing activity that you enjoy.

You could indulge in a pampering session with your wedding VIPs, your fiance or even solo and get a relaxing massage, a spray tan or your nails done.

History would dictate it is best to get spray tans and hair treatments done earlier in the week to allow time for corrections if needed. You do not want to have tan coming off on your stunning white dress or any hair mishaps.

Remember why you are celebrating
With all of the time, effort and possibly even tears, you have put into this wedding, try not to let it all get to you on the home stretch.

Remember why you are doing all of this and how the most important thing is that you will be married to the love of your life at the end of this week.

Reach out to your support networks if you feel snowed under and make sure you soak up and enjoy every last minute of this week before you start the next chapter of your relationship and your life.

Information About Alternatives to Walking Down the Aisle

What’s great about weddings now is that there are no hard and fast rules as to what you should and shouldn’t do – and walking down the aisle is no exception. Here are some aisle alternatives that you’ll love.

Giving away
Choosing someone to walk you down the aisle can be an emotionally-charged decision, especially if a parent has died, you were raised by someone other than your parents or you simply don’t have a relationship with your parents.

Similarly, if your parents were divorced and re-married when you were young, you might find yourself with a choice of two potential ‘fathers’ hoping to be chosen.

It is important to remember that at the end of the day, you will be married to the one you love and once the day is over, it will no longer seem so relevant who walked you to get there.

That said, if you want to consider other alternatives to the traditional father give-away, you could ask your mum, grandparent, sibling, best friend or even take your pet with you.

To open up your horizons, you can start to think about the ritual as being a person of support rather than someone who is giving you away.

Take your love instead
If you choose to forego the third party accompaniment, a lot of couples are also choosing to walk down the aisle together, arm in arm, to signify that they are starting this new journey together as equals.

Alternatives to this include walking down the aisle one after the other, or meeting your partner halfway down the aisle and walking the remainder together.

But if the very thought of walking down any sort of aisle give you the chills, there are alternatives for that as well.

Change the shape
Circle ceremonies are becoming more and more popular.

Here, there ceremony is designed with seating in a circle or spiral, so you and your partner can walk through the spiral to get to the center, where you will be married.

It’s one of the aisle alternatives that has become popular because this way, all guests find it easier to see the ceremony and it creates a more intimate setting.

Alternatively, you can have guests gather in a circle and leave two spots for you and your partner, which you will fill when the ceremony starts.

It really creates a community feel for your wedding, but won’t work too well if you are expecting hundreds of guests.

Backstage
Another aisle alternative is to keep the ceremony space closed off and out of view of guests so you, your partner, and wedding party can be at the front of the ceremony space.

When the guests enter the room, they become the ones to walk down the aisle to join you and your partner.

Bridal party walk
In the spirit of togetherness, why not get everyone to make the walk together?

You can start a line close to the ceremony space and walk in together, with the wedding party at the front.

The guests can either then take seats or gather in a group around the couple.

There are plenty of options and creative ways that you can do away with the aisle walk if you don’t feel like it’s something that suits your personality or the style of wedding you wish to have.

Ultimate Fairytale Wedding at Disneyland Paris

If watching the various Disney princesses marry their true loves in royal style has made you swoon for years, you now have the chance to create your very own fairy tale wedding at Disneyland in Paris.

The city of love, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and the love of your life – what more could you need to start your happily ever after?

Maybe a horse-drawn Cinderella-style carriage!

And now, this is all possible for couples seeking a destination wedding with a sprinkling of magic.

Disneyland Paris boasts a wedding planner to coordinate everything from the theme to the location within the grounds and any extras you wish to have for your big day. The idea is, that you just show up and enjoy the day.

Couples have the choice of designing a bespoke ceremony and reception, or there are a range of Romantic Wedding Collections packages available. For 32 000€ (almost $44,000), couples can have a 1920’s-inspired Newport Bay Club celebration with “beautiful nautical settings”.

Or for 44 000€ (just over $60,000), there is the option of a Disneyland Hotel wedding package features Disney-themed tables and a Victorian-inspired backdrop.

But for the ultimate Disney fan or those who have dreamed about a royal wedding, the ultimate happily-ever-after package allows you to be married right next to the Sleeping Beauty Castle for 55 000€ (around $75,500).

You can have your own horse-drawn glass carriage for the full Cinderella experience. Image: Disneyland.
You can have your own horse-drawn glass carriage for the full Cinderella experience. Image: Disneyland.

If the setting is not enough of a wow factor for couples, they can also add customised decorations, appearances by their favourite Disney characters and private performances by the renowned Disney entertainers.

The company that wrote the book on romanticism are also promoting their seven themed resorts as the ideal honeymoon destination as they are within close proximity to Disneyland and allow newlyweds to experience the best of French dining and shopping.

So, if your dream wedding is to transform into a princess for a day, with your own castle to boot, better start saving!

Should You Know The Best Decisions Made When Planning Wedding

When people ask me what my wedding day was like, usually, my first response is ‘awesome.’ I don’t really know how else to describe it, because it was just that, awesome.

Although there are things I maybe would have done differently, (such as not leaving my wedding planning till the last minute), there are lots of decisions I’m glad I made. From a newlywed’s perspective, here are the best decisions I made when planning my wedding.

Hiring a photographer and videographer
My husband and I mutually agree that the best decision we made when planning our wedding was to hire a photographer and videographer. When we received our wedding photos and video, it was so wonderful to see all the special moments we missed on the day.

Seeing our reception from our guests’ perspective was amazing, and watching our guests mingle during cocktail hour was great too, as we were hidden away in the bridal suite! But the best part, for me, is being able watch the footage from our ceremony. Seeing my husbands’ face as I’m just about to walk down the aisle still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it!

Choosing different styles of bridesmaids’ dresses
My bridesmaids are some of my nearest and dearest so, naturally, I wanted them to look their best. I chose four ladies to be my bridesmaids, all of which have different body shapes, so I knew pretty much straight after I’d appointed my bridal party that my bridesmaids’ dresses were all going to have to be slightly different.

I chose to have my bridesmaids’ dresses made rather than purchasing off the rack, which meant that we had a little more freedom in designing a gown for each girl. Each of my bridesmaids wore a flattering A-line style floor-length gown, however each dress featured different sleeves and necklines.

Having catering in the morning
This may sound crazy, I know. But, when you have four hungry bridesmaids, one mother-of-the-bride, one token Aunt, a working bee of make-up artists, hairdressers, photographers, and videographers, and, twenty family members turn up to see you off, some pre-prepared food can come in handy.

Having a catering company arrive early in the morning, (around 7:30 am,) and setting up a table full of food, certainly took a load off everyone’s back and ensured that we were all well fed. After all, a ‘hangry’ bride, is not a happy bride.

Choosing decorations we loved
Whilst I would have loved to fill the entire reception from floor to ceiling with fresh flowers, and I’ve been to a few weddings that have been decorated as such, ultimately, this look was little out of our budget. However, we were still able to achieve a similar aesthetic by choosing the right decorations that suited our needs.

While we didn’t opt to have chair covers and added little decoration to our guest tables, we did arrange to have a silk flower-wall propped behind our bridal table, and, it was breathtaking.

It became the token ‘selfie-wall’ for our guests, it served as a beautiful backdrop for our professional photos and all-important speeches, and so many of our family and friends commented on how lovely it looked.

Including all the formalities
While an element of this could be put to ‘FOMO,’ (fear-of-missing-out,) my hubby and I decided we would indulge in every formality we could get our newly-married hands on. We cut our cake, we danced our first dance, we had speeches, tossed the bouquet and garter and we even had a grand entrance complete with dancers and loud music.

Even though modern weddings are all about doing what you want and many couples don’t do all the formalities, for us, it was all about doing all the traditional stuff, and we feel that including formalities added great memories to our wedding day!

Creating a list of people to have photos with
Our wedding photographer suggested we create a list of all the people we wanted to have photos with and what order we’d like to have the photos taken, so, we sent a text out the week before our wedding telling our loved-ones the running order for our family photos on the day.

My husband and I had a formal church ceremony and we both have rather large extended families, so planning our post-ceremony family photos running sheet saved us thirty-minutes of fussing on our special day and allowed us extra time to have our bridal party photos taken at another location.

Choosing to do things our way on the night
Everyone told us, “the day goes so fast, so make the most of it!” So that’s exactly what we did.

Before my husband and I stepped into the reception venue, we decided that we would do whatever we wanted to do once inside. If we felt like dancing all night that’s what we were going to do. If we chose to spend the evening going to each table and greeting every individual guest then that is what we would do.

All About Wedding Planning

Congratulations on your engagement!

Be sure to soak in the excitement and the enjoyment of being a fiancé for as long as you feel comfortable before you launch into wedding planning.

When you are ready to start making a move, here are some helpful tips to help guide you through the initial steps.

Talk to your partner
Have a conversation about what you and your partner consider to be important. Do you wish to have a huge, grand affair or something small and intimate – possibly even to elope?

Do you want to be married in a church, at the beach, in the back yard or in an exotic destination?

This conversation will be the foundation for everything else. It will be one of your first conquests as an engaged couple.

Set your date
Have a few dates in mind in case you don’t get your first choice. Remember it is often cheaper to have a wedding on a weekday and weekends can book up quickly in popular venues.

Start a scrapbook or mood board
Whenever you see something you like, add it to the collection. It could be a hair style, a dream dress, centerpiece inspiration or simply a colour swatch.

It will help you to visualise what you would like your day to look like and can also be an easy way to eliminate ideas along the way to refine your searches later on.

You can look through our Real Weddings section for some inspiration.

Start scouting locations
Do you want the ceremony and reception to be at the same place or somewhere different? Refer to your mood board or scrapbook to see what sort of influences you’d like.

A beachy wedding, somewhere in the forest or a modern and chic venue. The options are limitless, so choose what works for the both of you.

Once you have found the perfect location, you can lock in your wedding date and will often be required to pay an initial deposit to secure this date.

Choose and book a celebrant
They may seem purely functionary, but the celebrant is the person doing the majority of the talking and really sets the mood of your ceremony so it’s important to choose someone you can connect with and not just the one offering the best price.

Make time to meet with them face to face and you can almost treat it like a coffee date, to see if there’s any ‘spark’ there. If there’s not, move on to someone else.

Once you find ‘the one’ snap them up by paying the deposit to lock them in.

Set a budget
This one can get tricky, but it’s important to set a limit that is within your means. It may mean you might not get the lavish, extravagant event you had dreamed of since you were a child, but it’s better to make some cut-backs than to start your married life with a huge debt.

You might find some relatives will be happy to pitch in to lighten the load. Make sure everyone fully understands what is being offered and if they have any expectations, then you can weigh it up.

An example of this might be parents who may wish to pay for half of the wedding, but want a say in some of the guests who are invited.

The free Easy Weddings Budget Calculator can help you with this.

Capturing the day
If you choose to have a photographer or videographer, start looking around for professionals with a portfolio that suits the style you like, as well as price range that fits within your budget.

You can search for photographers and videographers in our wedding directory, and you can make enquiries straight away.

Like your celebrant, it’s a good idea to meet with them to see if you can spend an entire day together – because you will.

Often photographers will be there long before the first guest arrives and won’t leave your side until the last guest leaves, so it’s essential that you get on with them.

Once you select a theme that fits you, you can look at options for buying or hiring decorations. Image The Event Styler
Once you select a theme that fits you, you can look at options for buying or hiring decorations. Image: The Event Styler

Think about a bridal party
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and pages boys. Do you have the lot, just some, or none at all?

If you have an unconventional family make-up, you might also like to start thinking early on about who you might like to walk you down the aisle, if anyone at all.

Start a guest list
This will be an organic document that will change many times during your planning process, so don’t be too quick to lock it in.

Factors like venue capacity, ability to travel and simply even the strength of relationships will come into play. You might want to invite every aunty, uncle and cousin to join in your big day, but things like your budget could impact on that.

Write everyone down at first using the free Easy Weddings Guest List and then you can work with your partner to refine it closer to the time to send out invitations.

Select a theme
A theme could be a colour, a style or an era – you are only limited by your imagination. Once you have a theme in mind, it will make it easier to decide between different options going forward.

Don’t stress if it doesn’t come to you right away, it might take seeing something while shopping around for a location or ‘the’ dress for inspiration to strike.

Start thinking about your dress
Go into wedding dress shopping with an open mind. You might absolutely love a photo of a dress in a magazine only to try it on and not feel comfortable in it. Give every style a try, you could be surprised which cut flatters and gives you that wow factor.

It can be an exhausting process, so only shop for as long as you are enjoying it and if you have to, break it up over a few trips to make sure it doesn’t become a chore.

If you have your wedding party lined up, you can start shopping around for outfits that will match your colours and theme.

What’s next?
To help you through more steps closer to your wedding day, sign up for the free Easy Weddings To Do list.

The comprehensive list will make sure you are on track and won’t miss a thing. It also provides handy links to the Easy Weddings Supplier Planner, Guest List and Seating Planner, so you can keep all of your information in one handy spot and can access it any time of the day or night.

This is just the very beginning, so it is important to remember the reasons why you are getting married.

Try not to get too caught up in the small details. At the end of the day, this is simply a party to celebrate your love for one another and for people to join you as you dedicate yourselves to each other.

Some Mistakes Your Guests Might Make And How to Handle

Even if you have never been to a wedding before planning your own big day, you quickly learn the ins and outs of wedding etiquette. Unfortunately, some of your guests may not be as brushed up on the subject and faux pas, both intentional and unintentional, can happen.

We have pulled together a list of some of most common major mistakes wedding guests might make and give some advice on how to calmly deal with them.

Wedding crashers
If you are marrying at a venue that hosts multiple parties in one night, there is a small potential for cheeky wedding wanderers.

Not all of these stories have the happy ending of the movie Wedding Crashers, some can just be a royal pain, especially when they start helping themselves to your food and drinks.

If you notice a few unfamiliar faces in the crowd and your partner has confirmed it’s not their great uncle Charlie twice removed, you can discreetly ask for the site manager or other attendant to escort them out and ensure they get to the right function.

Not listing food allergies
If you are providing catering or a sit-down dinner as part of your wedding, make sure you prompt guests to let you know if they have any allergies or dietary requirements.

Guests have often forgotten about this, only to complain they are allergic to fish when a salmon dish is placed in front of them at the reception.

Make a note of it somewhere on your invitation or RSVP card so they can let you know well ahead of time.

Wearing white or black
While some brides don’t care about what their guests wear, others have been looking forward to being the stand-out in the gorgeous white gown for ages.

Traditionally guests should never wear white because it is, after all, the bride’s colour.

Black is also traditionally off the table, because it’s associated with funerals.

As a rule, you should just avoid both of those colours, unless they are the base colour for a print on a very non bride-like garment.

Broadcasting the wedding on social media
With every moment of people’s lives being posted on social media for the world to see, it’s no doubt guests will want to tweet, Facebook or Instagram about your wedding.

You may even want to make a note on your wedding website to encourage guests to refrain from posting public comments about the wedding, as they may unknowingly offend others who you were not able to invite.

You could also consider creating a private facebook event where people can post to their heart’s content and ask questions about the big day.

Also, to keep guests off their phones during the big day – particularly the ceremony – you could ask your celebrant to remind them there are professionals who are there to capture the moment, so there is no need for them to be snapping on their mobiles.

Constant calling
When guests are travelling from out of town to attend your wedding, they may unwittingly start treating you like their personal travel agent and bombard you with questions on everything from where to rent a car, to where to stay and what attractions or locations they should visit while they are in town.

You can prevent this by creating a wedding website, where you can include links to nearby hotels, entertainment options and also driving directions.

If there are some technophobes among your guests, you can consider giving them some time over the phone, or printing out some of the material on your website to send to them via snail mail.

Showing up late
Sometimes no matter how hard someone tries, they always end up being late.

But this is really unacceptable for a wedding, where the only person given a green card for lateness is the bride.

If you have friends or family who are notorious for being less than punctual, allow yourself a buffer by saying the ceremony begins at 5.30pm and then planning to make your entrance 15 minutes after that.

For those who are really pushing the envelope and have turned up as the bridal music cues, have someone stationed at the back of the ceremony to help latecomers quickly and quietly find a seat.

Not Sending RSVPs
The number of guests at your wedding is a critical part of planning elements from ceremony seating, table plans, catering and bomboniere, but some guests may fail to see the importance of a punctual response to your invitation.

Seeing the RSVP cards with the invitation (if this is the road you choose to take) may even make them think it’s a novelty rather than a necessity.

To deal with potentially late RSVPs, it’s a good idea to set their due date a week or two before the moment when vendors will need definite numbers.

You might also want to consider putting your mobile number on it as a quick and easy way for people to RSVP. It is much easier to type out a text than to write on the card, find an envelope and head to the post office to buy a stamp and send it back.

You could also place the RSVP a couple of weeks out from when you actually mail them, so guests will feel compelled to reply right away.

On the due date, you can send an email out a private email to the stragglers giving them a new deadline of about 48 hours. Keep the tone nice, but firm, and if they fail to meet that deadline, pick up the phone and give them a call to lock in a definite answer.

Sending RSVPs… with a plus one
This guest has returned their RSVP in time, but have taken it upon themselves to invite a new love or to bring a child along as well.

While you’d love to them to come, it puts everyone in an awkward position, especially if you don’t know this plus-one from a bar of soap.

If your venue or finances don’t allow you to stretch the guest list out by one more person, this is best handled the old-fashioned way. Pick up the phone and call them to explain the circumstances.

All you have to do is politely explain the need for a strict guest list and most guests will understand.

To avoid this from happening, make sure you address the invitation accurately. Instead of the “Jones Family”, write “Sally Jones”, and let your parents, the wedding party and other close relatives and friends know about the tight guest list so they can let others know if anyone asks.

RSVPing – then not showing
It is the height of rudeness to RSVP “Yes” and then simply not turn up. But it does happen.

If you unexpectedly can’t make a wedding, protocol is generally to call the hosts right away to apologize profusely and explain your circumstances. And of course, be sure to send a wedding gift.

This is the ideal situation as the couple will have time to plan ahead.

But if it’s your wedding day and you realise that you have no-shows, let your caterer or wedding coordinator know ASAP and they may be able to re-jig seating plans or simply remove a chair and setting to avoid any embarrassing gaps.

You can contact the ghost guest after the wedding to see, first of all, if they are alright and then to express your disappointment that they didn’t bother to turn up if they weren’t dealing with an illness or emergency.

Giving unexpected toasts
Toasts can be emotionally moving and allow some of your nearest and dearest to share unique memories they have made with you and/or your new spouse.

But those you would like to give toasts are often planned in advance so they have time to prepare something they think will communicate the right message to the newlyweds.

The same can’t be said for someone who decides, on the spur of the moment (perhaps with a few too many drinks under the belt) that they would also like to say a few words.

Many a cringe-worthy toast has been off-the-cuff and you don’t want this to happen to you.

The solution is simple, let your DJ or MC know who is going to be giving toasts on the day and don’t allow them to hand the mic over to anyone else.

If the worst happens and the guest manages to get hold of the mic, gesture to the DJ to carefully start the next song or cut power to the mic.

Buying a non-registry gift
Some guests feel that buying a present from the registry is impersonal.

They might then go out to buy you something that is a little more… original, shall we say.

While this can lead to a pleasant surprise for you, it can also leave you with a gift you will never use. To avoid this, be sure to list your registry and wishing well options on your wedding website and invitations.

But should you receive an interesting gift from Aunty Janice and Uncle Chris, there is only one way to deal with it. Thank them with a heartfelt card expressing your gratitude for them taking a more personalised approach to their gift.

After all, while gifts have come to be expected at weddings, they are most definitely not a requirement of attendance.

Drinking Too Much
It can happen to anyone. Mix a jovial atmosphere with an open bar and suddenly a guest has gone from having the time of their lives to a blubbering mess.

While you can’t limit the number of drinks each guest consumes, you can grant the bartender permission to cut off anyone that’s had one too many.

You can also make sure there is plenty of water on the tables and enough food to help soak up the alcohol.

If you are at any stage worried about the safety of your guest or think they might try to drive home, get someone to call a taxi for them and make sure they get into it.

The Price Of Engagement Ring

How much should I spend on an engagement ring? It’s the wedding world’s equivalent to ‘how long is a piece of string?’ Why? Because, well, there is no single answer, certainly no answer that is 100% correct, 100% of the time.

Tradition dictates that a man should spend about three-months’ salary on an engagement ring but that is a very old-fashioned standard because:
– it isn’t only men who propose these days
– three-months’ salary is no longer realistic or fair, in some circumstances and
– the three-month figure was invented as a marketing tactic by a diamond company.

So, what’s the real answer? How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
Well, the answer is anything you want and anything you can afford.

Let’s face it, your engagement isn’t about how much your ring costs, it’s about your love for one another, but, of course, most people want to propose with the nicest ring they can afford and if you can afford to drop three-months’ wage on a wedding ring, go for it!

But if you cannot, do not put yourself in any financial distress because of a tradition that was invented with the sole purpose of increasing the cost of engagement rings.

Engagement rings are a token of your affection and should be something your partner will love and something that suits their style. Your fiance to be isn’t going to want you to get into debt to buy the biggest, baddest ring on the market, so take your time and save and, if you can’t or don’t want to save, buy what you can afford to buy.

There’s no point forking out $20K on a ring she or he hates and, similarly, there’s no point buying the cheapest ring you can find, just because you think ‘it will do’. You need to find out what sort of ring he or she will like, and wear, and then weigh up what you can afford to spend and then find something in that budget that fits the description.

Perhaps you won’t even be buying a ring. Perhaps, you’ll be passing on your mother’s engagement ring or some other family heirloom, which is, in fact, priceless. What you spend on an engagement ring really is entirely up to you and your bank balance!

So, now that we’ve got the mythology out of the way, how about a few facts?

According to our annual wedding survey, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,300. Now, that may be three-months’ salary for the person making the proposal, or it may be one week’s! Who knows? That’s just the average cost of an engagement ring in Australia, which means a lot of people spend a lot less and a lot of people spend a lot more, but most people spend around that on their engagement ring.

Of course, the price will also be affected by what your beloved actually wants.
Some women and men don’t want the biggest, brightest diamond in the shop and many don’t actually want a diamond. There are plenty of other gems out there that are just as dazzling.

Not everyone likes to own or wear jewellery and, as such, we’ve heard of couples ditching the engagement ring and going for an engagement watch, engagement tattoo and,
even, engagement pets that they can love together.

Many couples have decided to forgo the engagement ring altogether and put the money they were going to spend on an engagement ring into a house deposit or a travel
fund.

The thing about tradition is that it is just what most people do and have done, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Yes, three-months’ wage is the ‘tradition’ but if you can’t afford to spend three months’ wage on an engagement ring, don’t! If you can and want to, then by all means, do so.

It really is up to you what you do spend or don’t spend on an engagement ring. So, happy ring shopping!

Dress Code On The Wedding

Received a wedding invitation and don’t quite understand the dress code? Perhaps you’re planning your wedding and aren’t entirely sure what to write on your invitations? Here’s our dress code dictionary, aimed at helping you decode the dress code.

Why should I include a dress code on my wedding invitation?
Including a dress code on your wedding invitations is a handy way to enhance the tone, theme or mood you want on your big day because your guests will dress according to your wedding’s overall style nicely. It also helps guests decide what to wear by providing guidance as to how formal – or informal – your wedding is going to be.

Just remember, however, while these dress codes provide guidance as to what each style of dress means, that definition looks to the past and is shaped according to what the dress codes used to mean.

Most modern couples – and their guests – are far more relaxed when it comes to dress codes, even at weddings, so don’t expect them to stick strictly to these guidelines because, for example, you can’t honestly, in this day and age, demand a male guest wears a dark-coloured pocket square because you’re holding a wedding with a cocktail dress wedding!

what does jacket and tie mean
Guests at Georgia and Stephen’s big day will know exactly what to wear! Image: Alannah Rose Invitations | Stationery

What are the various dress codes and what do they mean?
Smart casual

smart casual attire for a wedding
The smart casual dress code is the least formal, although, chinos and casual trousers are preferred over jeans.

A smart casual dress code is suitable if you’re holding a relatively informal wedding.

But what is smart casual? The Oxford Dictionary defines smart casual as ‘ neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style,” so this option provides guests with a very wide scope of clothing choices because it’s all about being smart, without being overly dressy – or overly casual.

Smart casual for women encompasses anything from a neatly tailored blazer and a button-down shirt, to a crisp sundress, as does a pair of smart trousers or a lovely skirt. A classic pair of dress pants or a little black dress, too, would suffice nicely.

Just be sure to add a little flair, if you can, either through some fun accessories or, in the case of, say, a blazer, go for a patterned or satin jacket, so that you don’t wander too far into the realm of business casual wear.

When it comes to smart casual for men, go for casual trousers such as chinos or suit pants. In summer, you could even wear shorts. That’s just plain casual. They can accompany their trousers with a long-sleeved shirt, and an optional jacket and tie. If you must wear denim, go for the stylish, dark blue, tailored type.

If you’re thinking about what shoes go with your smart casual outfit, male or female, you should definitely ditch the runners! Think loafers and brogues and boat shoes – and think shoe polish. Worn-out shoes are, well, a little too casual!

If ever in doubt, opt for the smart part of smart casual, rather than casual!

Cocktail

An example of cocktail attire for men and women. Image: Jessa Kae
Cocktail attire for men does not require a tie, however one can be worn. Cocktail attire for women requires a dressy cocktail length dress. Image: Jessa Kae

A cocktail dress code will, most likely, be applicable if you’re attending a semi-formal wedding.

Cocktail attire isn’t overtly formal and can, therefore, still be a little fun, but is clearly a step above smart casual.

Traditionally, cocktail attire for women was restricted to dresses that were knee-length, however, nowadays any length shorter than an evening dress may be considered cocktail dress appropriate.

Moreover, women nowadays can wear garments such as a chic pantsuit or top and skirt to a cocktail event.

For men wondering what to wear to an event requiring cocktail attire, you’re, generally, required to wear a suit, preferably a dark one in navy or charcoal, accompanied by a white or muted colour shirt and, of course, a tie, perhaps even a pocket square.

If the wedding you’re attending is in the afternoon, you can be a little freer with the colours and patterns of your shirt, tie and pocket square, however, if the wedding is an evening cocktail event, the rule about dark colours and muted tones definitely applies.

Jacket and tie

Tom Ford and Elaine Irwin wearing correct jacket and tie attire. Image: Tom Ford via Facebook
Tom Ford and Elaine Irwin wearing correct jacket and tie attire. Elaine is wearing a pantsuit which is a contemporary option instead of a traditional cocktail dress. Image: Tom Ford via Facebook

A jacket and tie dress code is applicable to a semi-formal wedding.

Jacket and tie is a fairly modern form of dress code which has arisen from the ambiguous world of dress code’s transitioning from traditional to contemporary contexts. The jacket and tie dress code is more formal than cocktail and is very similar to lounge suit as it requires men to wear a suit jacket with a tie, (whereas cocktail infers a tie is optional).

Women may wear a cocktail dress that is shorter than floor-length, a pantsuit or dressy separates to a jacket and tie event.

When it comes to men, the dress code implies the obvious, and therefore a jacket and tie is required. A suit, or a smart blazer and chinos are appropriate too.

Lounge suit

what is lounge suit attire?
Lounge suit attire requires a suit with a waistcoat, and a smart daytime dress for women.

A lounge suit dress code is suitable for a semi-formal day time wedding.

But what does lounge suit mean? Lounge suit is the traditional English way of describing a suit and the loung suit dress code is directed more towards men rather than women.

Men are expected to wear a classic suit, waistcoat, smart shirt and tie, and women are required to wear a dress that is suitable for the daytime. The lounge suit is a contemporary option for those who would prefer to avoid a more traditional form of dress, such as the morning suit.

Morning suit

Morning suit attire Image Brett Harkness Photography
A groom displays correct morning suit attire. Image: Brett Harkness Photography
Morning suit attire for women requires a formal daytime dress and hat.
Morning suit attire for women requires a formal daytime dress and hat.

Morning suits tend to be more directed towards male members of the bridal party rather than the guests, however very formal daytime weddings may require a morning suit dress code. For example a Royal wedding would require such attire; despite what British Prime Minister David Cameron may think, (Mr Cameron famously snubbed morning suit attire and instead opted for a lounge suit at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding).

Men should wear a tailcoat, waistcoat and striped trousers, and women should wear a very formal daytime dress with a hat. Morning suit should only be the dress code for weddings beginning before 4:30pm.

Formal

what does a formal dress code mean
The young man wears a tuxedo and the young woman wears a floor-length formal dress.

The formal dress code is located somewhere between cocktail and black tie. For the ladies this dress code requires a short or long formal dress, a pantsuit, or dressy separates, and for men a dark suit, white shirt and conservative tie is appropriate. Men can opt to wear a tuxedo if they wish, as the formal dress code is really another way to describe black tie optional.

Black tie optional

black tie optional wedding attire
Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx dressed in black tie attire, which is fine if the dress code stipulates black tie optional. Image: Golden Globes via Facebook

Black tie optional means that guests are encouraged to wear attire that suits a black tie dress code, but do not have to. Men should wear a dark suit with a shirt and tie if they don’t wish to wear a tuxedo. Women may wear a floor-length gown, or a knee-length cocktail dress, a pant suit or dressy separates.

Black tie

George and Amal Clooney wear black tie attire to the Golden Globes. Image: Golden Globes via Facebook
George and Amal Clooney wear black tie attire to the Golden Globes. Image: Golden Globes via Facebook

Many people wonder what black tie really means, as there are many variations such as black tie optional and creative black tie, (creative black tie is simply black tie with the allowance of splashes of colour and unique accessories).

Black tie is the second most formal dress code and is typically reserved for evening weddings. Despite what its title may suggest, black tie does not mean you must wear black, although traditionally men should wear a black tuxedo and a bow tie. Black tie appropriate attire for women can be an evening gown of any colour.

White tie

Tom Ford White Tie attire
Dressed to the nines: designer Tom Ford in traditional white tie attire at the 2014 Met Ball. Image: Tom Ford via Facebook
white tie attire for women
Olivia Wilde wears a gown that befits the white tie dress code. Her decolletage is exposed, although Olivia has opted to give the gloves and tiara a miss. Image: Golden Globes via Facebook

White tie, also known as full evening dress, is the most formal dress code and is suited to an evening wedding beginning after 6pm. Men should wear patent shoes, trousers with a stripe of satin on either side, a double breasted evening tailcoat with a white shirt, a white waistcoat and white bow tie.

Traditionally, white tie attire for women stipulates that a ball gown which exposes decolletage must be worn. Evening length gloves are also required depending on the event, and tiaras may be worn by married women only. In a modern context, white tie for women requires a ball gown.

Clothing optional

This is the most least used of all the dress codes and is reserved for nudist weddings, and as the name would suggest guests have the friendly option of not wearing clothes at all! Suffice to say a photo example probably isn’t necessary…

Can I be less specific about the dress code?
You don’t have to stipulate a dress code if you would prefer not to, and this just means that your guests can wear whatever they see fit to your wedding. If you want to soften a specific dress code you can make it voluntary, for example by writing ‘black tie optional’. This lets your guests know that black tie would be appropriate, but something equally smart would be acceptable.

What do I do if people ignore the dress code?
Ultimately it is up to your guests what they wear, and having invited them to your wedding, you are unlikely to send them home just because they chose to wear something inappropriate.

The only exception is if your venue has a very strict dress code. If the venue requires jackets and ties for men, ask your father or the best man to gather a couple of spares in various sizes in case male guests turn up in their shirt sleeves. If the venue does have a very specific policy it’s fine to state that on your invitation.

Should Know By Bridesmaids

Being offered a place on a friend or sibling’s bridal party is such a great honour and at the outset, seems like a lot of fun. But while helping to plan a wedding can be an adventure, every adventure has bumps along the way – here are some tips to help you avoid being one of them.

DO – Plan a fabulous bachelorette party
Bridesmaids are expected to help the maid of honor in planning and paying for the bachelorette party.

This can be held anywhere from three to six weeks out, right up until the weekend before the big day.

Make sure you plan something that is fun and will suit the personality of the bride.

DON’T – Accept the role unless you are completely invested
Being a bridesmaid can mean several months of helping your friends or sibling through what can be a very stressful time.

There might be tears, there will be many triumphs, but when you say yes, you are agreeing to be there through all of it.

You might be expected to help out with dress shopping, fittings, invitation making or posting and other projects depending on how much DIY the bride is planning to do.

DO – Expect to fork out some cash
Bring a bridesmaid often doesn’t come cheap.

On top of traditionally pooling funds with the other bridesmaids to fund the bachelorette party, you might also have to cover the cost of your dress, and/or hair and make up and maybe even a night or two of accommodation to be on hand to help the bride before her big day.

If you live interstate or overseas, you will have to add flights into the mix as well.

DON’T – Argue about dresses
The bride might have a very clear picture in her mind of what she would like you to wear and although it might not be something you would usually pick for yourself, you need to grin and bear it – especially if she is footing the bill.

Almost the only time you can object to a dress is if you are being expected to pay and simply cannot afford to buy the dress if the bride has chosen something ultra-expensive. In this case, simply politely ask if she would consider a less costly option.

Remember that at the end of the day, the wedding is supposed to be about the bride and what she wants – not your personal style preferences.
DO – Understand your duties
Different brides have different expectations.

It pays to understand early on what the bride would like you to help with and make a note of the dates you’ll need to be available.

It’s also a good idea to find out if the bride will want you to take an active role in assisting with planning, or simply to help out when she gets too busy to do things herself.

DON’T – Dramatically change your look
Thinking about dying your hair or getting a tattoo in a prominent place on your body?

Wait until after the wedding is over.

Even if the bride okays your new look, there is a chance she might just be agreeing with you so she’s not holding you back.

It wouldn’t hurt to wait another few months.

DO – Provide emotional support
Because there is so much excitement and anticipation surrounding a wedding, it can become an emotional roller coaster ride for all involved – especially the bride.

She might have moments of stress, great elation and possibly even cold feet – all of it rolled into a few short months.

It is important for her to know that she has you by her side to be a shoulder to lean on and someone she can vent to in order to alleviate the burden.

DON’T – Go overboard with advice
If she asks you along, go with the bride to help her pick out the perfect dress, flowers and decorations for the ceremony and reception, but don’t offer unsolicited advice, especially if it contradicts the style or items that the bride has chosen.

Not only will this be upsetting for her, but it has the potential to cause tension between you in the lead up to the wedding.

Find the right balance and you will all have a memorable time leading up to a day you will be proud to have been a part of.