Feeding the Guests

May 9th, 2016
catering buffet

Serving a buffet might mean some savings on catering. Photo courtesy of christytylerphotography.com.

One of the biggest expenses of your wedding (or any large party, really) is feeding your guests.  After you’ve asked your friends and family to travel and spend their day with you, you probably feel obligated to make sure they are well fed–and rightly so.  But that’s a big expense.  What do you do if you just can’t afford to feed everyone you want to invite?  You have several options (as well as several things that I can’t recommend).

You can invite fewer guests.  This may not be the easiest way to solve the problem, but it is the most direct.  After all, you have family obligations and friends you can’t leave out.  But one way to solve the food budget problem is to invite fewer people.  Sometimes, it is necessary to take an axe to the guest list.

You can find less expensive ways to feed your guests.  At a certain level of service, it is hard to cut costs, but one way is to have an early wedding.  Breakfast and lunch are generally less expensive than dinner.  Depending on your caterer, you might find that a buffet costs less than a plated meal.  Likewise, depending on your caterer, a buffet of heavy appetizers might give you some savings over a full meal.  And, of course, if you don’t have to serve sirloin and wild-caught salmon, you can have a good meal that doesn’t break the bank.

This next recommendation is a tough sell sometimes, but another way to cut costs drastically is not to serve alcohol.  The bar tab adds a lot to catering costs.  You might find this easier if you’re having a morning or early afternoon event, but I’ve been at plenty of dry weddings, and there’s nothing wrong with them.

I do not recommend cutting costs on service.  If you have a restaurant deliver pans of food, it is certainly inexpensive, but you will still have to find people to do all the invisible work: setting up chairs for the ceremony, moving those chairs for the reception, setting the tables, setting up the buffet, keeping water glasses filled, clearing tables, packing up rental dishes, cleaning the venue, and generally keeping your guests happy.  It generally works out better to have a full-service caterer to take care of those things and so many others.

Finally, please do not ask your guests to chip in for their meal.  You are the host of the party.  If you have invited people to be your guests, please treat them as your guests, and not as paying customers.

What’s Another Word for “Bridal”?

December 15th, 2014
There's nothing "bridal" about this wedding.   Photo courtesy of Artisan Events, Inc.

There's nothing "bridal" about this wedding. Photo courtesy of Artisan Events, Inc.

There are a lot of ways the word “bridal” is used at weddings.  There is the “bridal party” and there is “bridal seclusion” and probably a lot of other bridal things.  What if it’s the same-sex wedding of two men?  The word doesn’t seem to make any sense, since there is no bride.

Is there another word that works as well?  Well, we can say “wedding party” instead of “bridal party.”  What if the pair have decided not to see each other until the processional?  Is that “pre-nuptial seclusion”?  I hope someone comes up with a good word before I do my next same-sex wedding!

Throwing Things at the Guests

September 16th, 2013
This garter was not seen by the guests at the wedding at all.  Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

This garter was not seen by the guests at the wedding at all. Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

I’ve noticed a trend at weddings lately, and it’s something that is not done, rather than any other kind of innovation.  More and more of the couples I have worked with have done without the traditions of the bouquet toss and the garter toss.  I’m not sure if this is just my clients, or if the phenomenon is more widespread.

There could be several reasons for this trend:

It could just be a fluke.  That’s what I thought at first when it was only two or three couples in a row.

It could be that couples who want to work with me are already thinking about doing things non-traditionally.  Maybe the bouquet toss is still popular outside of my little niche.

It may be that as wedding planning becomes more elastic, it becomes easier to dispense with things that have no resonance for individuals.  Or as people marry later, they want more sophistication in their celebrations.

The bouquet toss becomes less attractive when more of the bride’s female friends are already married.  I’ve seen DJs cajoling women onto the floor to catch the bouquet when there were very few single women present.

The garter ritual has gotten a bad reputation, not only because it can be done in a way that may be offensive to some sensibilities, but because its unsavory history is beginning to be known.  (Apparently, in the Middle Ages, it was customary for the local men to rip clothing off a newly married bride to “loosen her up.”  Brides began carrying extra garters to throw to them in hopes of escaping.)

None of this is to say that these traditions can’t be done any more.  I’m sure there are many weddings every year where the bride tosses the bouquet and where the garter is tossed to all the single men present.  But I have noticed that many people are rethinking these traditions and deciding for themselves whether or not they want them at their wedding.


August 19th, 2013
Expect to have to remind people to respond to your invitation.

Expect to have to remind people to respond to your invitation.

The typical modern wedding invitation not only says, “RSVP” or “The favor of a reply is requested,” but it also contains a pre-printed reply card and a postage-paid envelope.  Despite the ease of replying, many of those honored with a wedding invitation never reply.

According to Miss Manners, there ought to be no need to request a reply, much less enclose a card.  Anyone receiving an invitation is supposed to know to reply with a hand-written note in the style of the invitation.

As anyone who has sent out invitations knows, though, the immediate reply is the exception rather than the rule.  The unfortunate fact is that after sending out invitations, it will be necessary to follow up with your guests.  There will be some who don’t reply, either with an acceptance or with regrets.  There are those who don’t reply “because of course I will be there” and there are those who don’t reply “because I can’t make it, anyway.”  Unfortunately, you never know which of those is the case.

Expect to call or e-mail your guests starting about three weeks before your wedding.  You will need to know how many are coming so you can tell your caterer, so be polite, be persistent, and try not to think about what Miss Manners would say.