What Do I Do About… ?

It doesn’t take long for newly engaged couples to learn that booking a venue, photographer, DJ, florist, stylist and planner are easy, compared to dealing with all the people who may (or may not) become your wedding guests. Here’s just a sample of some questions couples have asked, along with some common-sense answers.

  • How do I deal with all the dietary restrictions of my guests?

There are people who can‘t eat peanuts, people who have to avoid sugar, people who can’t (or won’t) eat meat or dairy, people who insist on everything being Kosher, and on, and on, and on. The simplest solution is a buffet dinner, with a few special dishes for special cases. The next best solution is a family-style dinner with pass-around dishes. Or consider a choice of two meat-fish-fowl entrees and something meat-free.

  • My parents want to pay. So do my fiancee’s parents. How do I keep the peace?

Start with the non-controversial choices. If one side of the family wants to pay for the venue, and the other side has no objection, that’s one less thing to worry about. Do the same thing with entertainment, flowers, photography/videography, meals, etc. Once it’s all broken out, piece by piece, people tend to be less attached to one thing or another because they realize there are a lot of things to pay for. A bride’s family pays for her gown and bouquets; a groom’s family pays for his tux and accessories. If both sides want to pay for a particular item, split the difference and go halfsies.

  • How do I overcome my parents’ interference in my planning options?

If Mom and Dad are paying for everything, and you need their money for a proper wedding, you’ll probably get a lot of unsolicited advice – traditional vs. contemporary, white gown vs. off-white gown, church ceremony vs. outdoor ceremony, etc. Get clear in your mind the kind of wedding you want, and don’t be afraid to convey to your parents anything that is non-negotiable. One good strategy is to suggest that they may ADD to your plans, but not SUBTRACT from them. If they insist that they make all the decisions, you may have no choice but to get married by a Justice of the Peace. Most parents are reasonable, if you sit down and explain what’s truly important to you.

  • In what cases are wedding invitations transferrable?

If the invitation includes the name of the guest “plus one,” then the guest gets to invite his or her date. If you want to limit the invitation to specific people, be sure each person’s name is on the invitation. That way, you won’t be stuck with a stranger because your friend broke up with someone you like, and decided to invite someone you don’t even know – or worse, someone you don’t like.

  • What do I do about the family “character?”

You know the guy. He can always be counted upon to say something incredibly awkward or offensive at the worst possible moment. Do you really want him at your wedding? Do you have an obligation to invite him? Start by asking your parents and siblings. If there is universal agreement, one way or another, then you have your answer. Otherwise you’ll have to decide whether leaving the black sheep off the guest list will just mean more headaches for you later. You may just have to bite the bullet and send the invitation.

  • How do I budget properly for an uncertain guest list?

We’re told, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of your RSVP’d guests may decide at the last moment that they can’t make it, even though there’s a $75 meal waiting for each of them. The least painful way to address that possibility is to trim your guest list to a manageable number, then order your meals as if everyone will show up. That way, you won’t have to scramble to find food and seating for late arrivals because you underestimated your turnout.

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© Fourth Estate Audio, 2015 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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