I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately of the “do I HAVE to XYZ?” And my answer is almost always a resounding “no, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do”. Here are a few that come up over and over again.
1. Guest Book. You do not have to have a guest book. Most certainly not the traditional white book with attached pen and an attendant to make sure that people sign it. This question is a whole post unto itself…but what are you going to do with that afterward? Are you going to take it out and look at it, EVER? No, the answer is no, you are not. If you can think of something that you don’t mind sitting around your house after your wedding, then go for it otherwise, you don’t have to have it.
2. Plus 1. Here is my rule about the plus one on invitations. If your guest has been in a serious relationship for an extended period of time they get a plus one. I don’t know how long that might be, you decide, but you know if it seems serious to you or not. Some friends might seem really serious after 3 months, some friends might not seem that serious after 6 months. It is going to be on a per person basis. Otherwise, sorry they have to fly solo. Even if they call you and have met the person of their dreams and want to bring them (and yes, they will call you and ask you). In which case your answer should be “I’m really sorry, we are paying per plate and there are people I would really have liked to have invited and didn’t get to, I’m sure you understand”. My only exception to this rule is if your guest is not going to know anyone else at your wedding. Then definitely give them a plus one so they have someone they know to talk to and can enjoy themselves.
3. Invite List. This is almost always a bone of contention. My mom wants to invite her coworkers, my fiance’s dad wants to invite his entire extended family. My advice is to control your list. You and your fiance make the list of who you would like to invite then divvy up the remaining spots to your parents. I understand this can be touchy because possibly one side is paying and feels they should get to invite whomever they please or should get more people. If you feels strongly about who is at your wedding and who isn’t, then I suggest you really prioritize how important it really is to you so that you know how firmly (and respectfully) you need to stand your ground. Remember, despite who may be paying, this day is supposed to be a celebration of your love, not a networking event or a reunion of your parents old friends. Who do you want there to celebrate with you?
4. Kids. You should feel free to have a kids free wedding. But you should know a few things first. You must put it on your invitation that it is an adult only reception. If you have a website, please put it there as well. You are still going to get phone calls asking for exceptions. You are probably going to need to make some exceptions. People who are still nursing should probably be allowed to bring their kids. They aren’t going to be running around causing a disruption, they are going to sleep in the corner, so let that one slide. Otherwise, like the guest list and the plus ones, stand your ground. Provide a babysitter on site, or offer babysitter options. Care.come is a fantastic resource for event babysitters. And if your adult only reception includes your nieces and nephews that is ok too and you needn’t feel badly about that.
5. Bridal Party. The bridal party drama starts way before any of us are even engaged. What will I do, if I have so and so then I have to have so and so and then I will have a huge party. Or my mom things I have to have my cousin or my mother in law things I should have my sister in law. There are always going to be a million people who are going to have a million opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do. Have a bridal party, don’t have a bridal party, have one person, have 10, it is up to you and your fiance. You don’t need to cave to pressure. You should have the people standing next to you who have supported you through this relationship and who you hope will continue to do so through your marriage. Not so and so because you were in their wedding or because your mom said so.
Bottom line is that marriage is going to call for you to do a good deal of standing up for yourself and your relationship. Be that with your parents or your in laws or friends. You are going to need to set boundaries and hope that people meet your expectations of standing by them. So you might as well start practicing now because guess what, they are not going to get it right on the first try and you are going to have to remind them a few times.