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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Planning A Family Wedding + More

Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

Photo Credit: Whenleavesfall via Compfight cc

The thoroughly modern wedding etiquette of the short engagement before a family wedding is not surprisingly a popular trend for discussion. Along with how to properly hold a teacup, there's more to it than you think. 

A Short Engagement is OK

My boyfriend and I are feeling ready to take the next step in our relationship and to get engaged. Woohoo! We are both very excited, but have not announced our plans to anyone in the family yet. We've talked about it and we both feel we would like to have a very simple wedding that is memorable and intimate, but most importantly, devoid of fuss and stress for us and everyone involved. Is it rude to plan a wedding on short notice in order to make sure no one (especially our families) feel obligated to make a bigger deal out of it than we would like it to be? In other words, would it be impolite to start sending announcements and invites for a wedding that could possibly be held in only a few short months? 

~CHW, Providence

Only in Downton Abbey do engagements last two years. Intimate family weddings are the best, because everyone feels really special when part of a small chummy gathering. The more formal the wedding, the longer it takes to plan a wedding, and that includes culling resources. Since you are having a 'family' wedding with close friends and family, there are fewer details. But there is still a lot to do.

Wedding etiquette changes with the times. No longer will your fiancé be expected to have that squeamishly forced chat with your father asking for your hand in marriage.  Announcing the good news to your parents should be an intimate moment between you, your fiancé and your parents, or his parents, over brunch, cocktails or Sunday night supper. Make them feel special by not letting them hear about your engagement from anybody else. Neither do you have to have an engagement ring. If you're not wearing an engagement ring, nobody will ask to see it or ask about it.

The first order of business is to make up a budget before finding a venue, which often determines the date of the wedding.

For a destination wedding, you would plan further out, because you would be booking a block of rooms at a resort and guests would have to buy airline tickets in advance and use vacation time from work.

Even for a local or 'at home' wedding, you may have to pick a date that works better for the restaurant or the person officiating at the wedding.

Once you've secured the venue for the wedding, if it is not your home, you can send out a save-the-date card, which not only announces your engagement, but asks guests to reserve that date to attend your wedding. The save-the-date card guest list becomes the core of your wedding invitation list. It helps you to correct addresses and contact information -- especially when the envelope or email to a college roommate is undeliverable.

You wouldn't send anyone a save-the-date card who won't be invited to your wedding. If you get an STD, you assume you're invited and plan your schedule according. If the date doesn't work for a would-be-guest, they'll let you know.

In the meantime, you should line up commitments from essential guests: your bridal party, those who will be standing up for you, and other close friends and family. You make to sure that they don't already have prior commitments for the date you have picked. If your best friend and her husband have booked the trip-of-a-lifetime to Thailand and have paid a non-refundable deposit, you may wish to change your wedding date -- before sending out the save-the-date and putting the deposit down on the wedding facility.

A small engagement party, held as soon as you can find someone to host it for you, would be an easy quick way to find out from friends and family about any huge commitment any of them may have in the near future. For instance if the best man has already committed to being a groomsmen in another wedding or your matron-of-honor is having a baby around that time. An engagement party can be a simple brunch, a cocktail party with a bite to eat, or anything in between. Planning two wedding dates at the start would make it easier should you find you need to switch to another date to include your nearest and dearest.

During this small gathering you and your fiancé can find out what elements and information people may volunteer. Such as a person who will give a discount on the flowers -- a caterer, makeup artist, photographer, DJ. Cull a bunch of ideas from your friends and family -- and don't be timid about asking for help. You'll find people will be thrilled for you and will want to contribute any way they can to be part of your circle of intimates.

Start an excel spreadsheet for your invitation list to keep pertinent details in one place that is easy to update. Set up a wedding website as a source for family and friends to brief guests on the particulars of your wedding. For instance, where to find your bridal registry, as well as the venue, date, time, and dress code for your wonderful wedding.

~Didi

Proper Way to Drink From A Teacup

I'm going to attend a formal tea at the Four Seasons in Boston and I want to know how to hold a teacup properly. Also, where do I put the spoon and do I stick my pinky out or keep it in? Please help. 

~Cassandra, Cambridge, MA

To learn how to hold a teacup properly, nobody does it better than the British etiquette expert William Hanson. Watch his YouTube video 'How to hold a teacup and stir your tea properly' where Mr. Hanson demonstrates how to hold the teacup properly, how to stir your tea, where to place your spoon, and where your eyes should be fixed while sipping your tea, and why you should not stick out your pinky. 

~Didi

Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location. 

 

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