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  • Callie Riesling

Modern "Wed-etiquette"



WEDDING ETIQUETTE FOR 2019, 2020 & BEYOND


Are you attending or hosting a 2019 wedding, a 2020 wedding or pretty much any wedding in the future? Well there are some new rules in wedding etiquette for wedding couples, families, bridal party and wedding guests. Over the last 10 years and 250+ weddings, we've seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly at weddings. For the most part, things go well, but there are just some things we are SHOCKED to see at weddings. We also polled our Instagram followers and asked a few other couples for their input on what should be updated in the wedding etiquette world. We hope you enjoy. Remember, some of this is subjective and may not matter to some couples or guests. The photos used below are good examples of what to do! No shaming wedding guests or couples here! ;) BUT I do lace a little bit of it with snarky humor.. so laugh!


And we totally won't judge you for not knowing some of this before!


1. RSVP and other attendance issues.

This is pretty much the number one thing you can do to make sure that everyone hates you is to mess with the guest list. I mean kind of joking about the hating part, but people will definently be upset. So I'll to my best to explain why... Weddings are EXPENSIVE. So let's say you don't RSVP and then you show up... most caterers and rental companies will charge the couple for you AND THEN they will add a fee on top to punish them for you. OR let's say you RSVP and then you NO SHOW! *We polled our instagram fam and found out that it's pretty average to have 10 no-shows a wedding. (Those are people who CONFIRMED guys.)* So let's find out how much that would cost our average couple. So let's say the wedding was 80 guests and 10 no - showed. (Yes, we know this can be cheaper or more expensive, this is just a guess-timate at the average.) Rentals:

  • Tableware + Flatware - $9 per setting x 10 = $90

  • Chair (ceremony and reception - yes, usually you need both) - $8 per x 10 = $80

  • Wasted Table Rental (yes 10 guests = an entire table) - $12

  • Table Linens (cloth + napkins, no extras) - $14 + ($1 x 10) = $24

Floral:

  • One centerpiece from extra table - $50 (+$12 for candles, table number + escort cards)

Food: Here's the pricing from one of our FAVORITE and most common caterer's Buffalo Gals for their BBQ Tri-tip dinner with sides:

*50-99 Guests: 20.00/pp - our example wedding size* $20 per x 10 = $200 We haven't even included cocktail hour, cake/dessert or open bar and we've already spent $456 on 10 people who said they were coming and didn't show up.


Obviously if there is an actual EMERGENCY or you are actually sick, don't show up and try to let the couple know ASAP. If you RSVP early and change your mind later, you can always let them know and most of the time the caterers, rentals and others will let them adjust their final numbers prior to the wedding. But seriously, DON'T NO SHOW! Finally, the last attendance annoyance... DON'T bring EXTRA people! Chances are with the prices you saw above, the bride and groom had to be VERY choosey about who they invited and frankly, they probably couldn't invite some people they really wanted to come. So showing up with an extra guest who wasn't invited just cost them $40 plus the extra fees that the vendors tack on for unexpected guests. Not to mention they probably wouldn't have it arranged to just randomly have an extra chair at your table... people spend a lot of time on seating charts people. So don't invite someone to someone else's wedding without asking! Bottom line: RSVP, SHOW UP and DON'T BRING EXTRA PEOPLE or you will cost the couple a lot of money and weddings are already expensive as it is!

2. Elopements and Travel Expectations

Guests: Honor the Bride + Groom's wishes - Couple's be realistic about your expectations.


For the most part, this stuff goes without saying, but if the couple wants to elope in Switzerland, let them elope in Switzerland (and don't give them grief). BUT Couples, if you choose to get married in Greece, DON'T EXPECT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO COME! Elopements: Some people just want to elope. Some couples cannot afford to have a huge wedding. Some couples would rather spend that money elsewhere. Some couples want to have an intimate memory rather than a huge production. Some couples want to go somewhere that they know their guests won't be able to. Some couples want to hike up to an alpine lake at in the dark to get married in the Alpenglow. Some couples are just elopement people. It's not bad. Actually it's really good that they are doing something that they truly enjoy, instead of something society says they need (some couples do dream of having a big wedding for their entire life too, it's just personal preference). Just be happy for them and ask how you can participate. Don't make their marriage about you.


Travel to Weddings: Approx 40% of our instagram fam said that more than 30% of their guests traveled more than 60 miles for their wedding. People live all over the place for a million reasons. You meet friends at college or in the military, people move away, couples have different hometowns, couples want to get married in the place that they live, not the place that they grew up. And that doesn't even include destination weddings.

  • Guests: Don't get mad at the couple for getting married somewhere you don't want them to get married. Just be realistic about what you CAN do and be honest with them. If they are rude past that point, you did the right thing. And if you do decide to go, don't complain about it.

  • Couples: Don't expect out of town guests to make it. It's not that they don't love you, they just can't and you need to respect that. If there is someone that you really, really want to make it, talk to them when you are making plans before they are final and adjust accordingly. Sometimes it can be money, time off work, health or personal issues. Just let it go and move on. This pressure is part of the reason people bicker at weddings and RSVP's turn into no-shows. I struggled with this at my own wedding. It wasn't that I expected it or was mad when people couldn't come... it was actually the opposite. It was that people THOUGHT that was what we thought. They thought we expected them to. They thought we would be upset. They thought we were unrealistic. But honestly, I needed to express that I was okay with whatever they could do.


3. Overbearing 'Planners' and Traditional Expectations


One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is having all the voices in the background. More than 60% of our Instagram fam said their families were more overbearing during the planning process than on the wedding day itself. Now 9/10 this is NOT a couple being ungrateful. The couples I work with are not dramatic or definitely do not fit the 'bridezilla' persona... but I often hear that they are completely overwhelmed by everyone inserting their opinions and expectations into their wedding day. I absolutely come from a family with opinions and expectations, so that is NOT at all a bad thing. But generally the opinions and expectations that were given to me during my wedding process were HELPFUL, CONSTRUCTIVE and TRUE TO US AS A COUPLE. The expectations we tried to follow were definently not the societal norm of 'you need to get married here', ' you need to wear this', etc... our expectations were about being good people, gracious hosts and considerate to our guests. That's it.

And at times when a family member disagreed with me, they simply asked me WHY I wanted something and were satisfied with my answer. For example, my Nana asked me why I didn't want to get married in a church (instead of a ceremony overlooking the ocean)... my response was I didn't want to get married in something man-made, I wanted to get married where I could see what my Creator blessed me with. She totally understood when I put it that way and LOVED seeing the dolphins in the background of our ceremony.

So family - when you are helping plan a wedding... remember it's not YOUR wedding. Keep your suggestions helpful, constructive and true to the couple. DO NOT pressure the couple to impress someone for you. Do not expect them to invite people that they don't know or have a relationship with. OBLIGATION is spoiling weddings. It should be about celebrating a marriage, not impressing your boss or your friends by inviting them to your son or daughter's reception... because like I said earlier in the extra guest part, they probably had to cut their guest list to accommodate budgetary concerns or venue size. Obviously some of this changes based on who is funding the wedding, but for the most part.. just try to keep your motives pure and really just don't stress out the bride and groom (or the parents! - I've seen some grandparents, aunts and uncles stress out the bride or groom more than ANYONE.)

And remember, there are a lot of things that are just not worth ruining relationships over.


4. Bridal Party Issues


There are so many issues that surround the bridal party itself... because

1. choosing favorites causes drama

2. all the stuff adds up

3. no one wants to spend the day with a fussy bridesmaid or plastered groomsmen So here's the new Bridal Party 101:

FOR COUPLES

  • Choose carefully - Don't just pick people to have people stand with you.

  • Bridal Party can be different - Why can't the groom have his sister stand up with him? Or a bride have a 'man of honor'? Don't be afraid to mix it up with some groomsmaids or bridesmen... it's not a big deal.

  • YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A BRIDAL PARTY! - Seriously, people struggle with this. They really think that they HAVE to have people stand up there with them. But this really does save a lot of headache. No one gets their feelings hurt, no one has to spend a bunch of money to stand with you and really it just makes things simpler and drama free. This DOESN'T mean that you can't have your favorite ladies get ready with you in the morning, but they don't have to match and you don't have to go back to the Myspace 'Top 8' friends awkwardness of putting your friends and siblings in order of importance. Someone always gets their feelings hurt.

  • Keep the bridal party costs LOW. Yes, we all want that $300 BHLDN bridesmaid dress, but if you choose a super expensive dress (try to pick one that won't need alterations), maybe let them do their own hair and makeup and don't require the matching shoes. (just pick a color and style! - ex: Nude Pumps) And if you want matching jewelry or shawls, consider doing it as their bridesmaid gifts. Thankfully there isn't a huge range for the guys with rentals... but when girls accept your 'bridesmaid proposal' they usually don't know if it's going to cost them $100 or $600. Also try to figure out their apparel with plenty of time so they can get the money together and everything else!

FOR BRIDAL PARTY

  • Don't read into everything - It can be very stressful for a bride or groom to pick the order you stand in. Sometimes it has to do with heights or what partner you will have from the opposite party when you walk back down.

  • Family usually comes first - not always, but don't be offended when your BFF picks her sister. And when it comes to multiple siblings... don't get your feelings hurt about which order you are standing in.

  • Don't complain - Seriously. You were chosen as one of their favorite people. It's not your day, it's theirs and while I am no proponent of bride/groom zillas... I also have seen some REALLY crabby bridal party members throwing tantrums. Just get it together and do your job. Prior to the wedding, if they are being crazy unreasonable, try and talk it out and if that doesn't work... walk away. But if it's on the wedding day, just put it aside and do your job. You can work it out (or not) later. If it's something like weather or something going wrong... I guarantee you the couple is 10x's more stressed out than you, so don't make it worse by complaining about having to be cold or hot or rained on or whatever else!

  • Don't get too drunk before the wedding - THIS IS SUCH A HUGE PROBLEM. Bridesmaids AND groomsmen need to stop getting trashed before the ceremony. A drink or two is fine, but I've seen some REALLY drunk people at 10am in the getting ready room. Not cool guys. But getting drunk at the reception... that's fine, just keep it to a respectable level and make sure you are still helping the couple.

  • Don't try to get the bride and groom trashed before the ceremony - Yes, a few mimosas or beers help calm the nerves before they walk down the aisle. But don't push it... actually don't push them at all. Some people don't want to drink before and it's super awkward when they have to keep telling people no. Just let it be their call.

  • Try to be helpful - I'm not saying that you need to do spreadsheets with a responsibilities list. But I am saying - make sure the couple looks good and feels good and go above and beyond to help them if they need it. Offer help and during cocktail hour, if you can... try to bring the couple a drink and some snacks from the party.

  • Be responsible - You would think it would be the opposite, but bridal parties aren't always the most dependable people. Be there for your couples people! Guys, check and make sure you have socks and ties, in fact, check your rental bag WHEN YOU PICK IT UP! Girls, make sure you think to bring other shoes if you want them and clean up after yourselves in the getting ready room. And BE ON TIME.


5. DRESS APPROPRIATELY


One of the things that never ceases to amaze wedding vendors is the way that guests dress. Here are the basic guidelines when dressing for a wedding.

  1. Don't Wear White - While many brides don't care these days, nearly half of our Instagram voters chose wearing white as the worst fashion faux pas at a wedding. It takes away from the couple. Just don't.

  2. Don't Dress like you are Going to the Club - the other half of our Instagram audience voted for this. Personally I feel like this is the most inappropriate. Maybe it's because I am usually the only sober person in the room, but boy have I seen some VERY short dresses. I also know another photographer who couldn't use half of the photos from the Mother/Son Dance because the mother's dress was SO short, you could see her brightly colored underwear hanging out in the images. Even if you aren't as important as a the mother of the groom, make sure you leave with your dignity. Sure, it might look great early on in the day, but once you start drinking and dancing, things can go downhill fast. Fingertip length is probably a good reference for a minimum length, but remember there will be a lot of sitting and then dancing - so the shorter it is, the more you will be pulling it down all day. And the more revealing it is, the more you are taking away the attention from the bride and groom.

  3. Dress for the Weather - Yes, we know that you want everything to match... but I am CONSTANTLY seeing people complaining at weddings that they are too cold. Especially at mountain weddings here in Colorado. And not just complaining, but complaining to or around the bride and groom. Dress appropriately. Bring a sweater or coat for later on in the evening.

  4. Don't Cheapen the Event - Again, this comes back to the whole 'weddings cost a lot of money' thing. Look at the invitation for ideas on how formal it will be. AND if you are still wondering, ask a family member, bridal party member or the couple themselves how formal the event is. And as much as you don't want to go overboard, DON'T GO 'UNDERBOARD'. Please leave the tennis shoes and jeans at home unless specified.

  5. Think about the Venue and the Photos - Dress appropriately for the venue, consider the ground you will be walking on when picking shoes - Stiletto heels are a nightmare on grass and choose something easy to empty out if you are going to be in sand. And please consider the photos. NEON is not a good idea. If you will be in family photos, try not to be the brightest or the busiest one in the photo. I am a fan of color, but consider the palette of the wedding especially if you will be in photos.



6. PHOTO ETIQUETTE


  1. PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY - ESPECIALLY if it is an unplugged wedding. FYI, the photographer WILL have photos of you disregarding the couple's wishes and the couple WILL be mad. If it's not an unplugged wedding, you can still take photos... but PLEASE DO NOT LEAN INTO THE AISLE or STAND... and if you do, don't do it very long or at important moments like the first kiss or when the bride walks down the aisle. Even as a wedding photographer, I did not have an unplugged ceremony and was very grateful for the additional photos and such that I got from family's cellphone photos, but be respectful if they do have an unplugged ceremony and if they don't still keep your behavior low key.

  2. DON'T FOLLOW AROUND THE PHOTOGRAPHER ALL DAY WITH YOUR OWN CAMERA/PHONE - Yeah, I know I am probably making this a little bit about me, but this is an extremely challenging thing for not only the photographer but the couple themselves. ESPECIALLY when doing family photos. It is really hard to keep all eyes on the PAID photographer when there are multiple cameras to look at. The additional flashes firing can seriously mess up the lighting in the images and can render them useless. Photographers are also ALWAYS on a tight schedule and we simply don't have time to compete for their clients' (and family members') attention or wait until the extra flashes are done firing. It is also usually very intrusive for the couple. As a photographer, many people are shy about having their photos taken and a lack of privacy can make a couple feel VERY awkward and can completely ruin the authentic moments between a newly married couple. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ARE A BUDDING PHOTOGRAPHER OR A GOOD FAMILY FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER. It's rude to bring professional equipment and follow the photographer around and shoot over their shoulder. And it's actually in MOST photographer's contracts that you can't so do your couple a favor and just leave your gear at home. If you would like to gain experience in the industry, you need to work as an assistant and second shooter for a photographer and no that doesn't mean asking the photographer the day of.

  3. DO NOT and I REPEAT DO NOT go set all your junk at your seat before everyone is seated for the reception. The vendors will hate you for it and more than likely, so will the couple. The photographer will need to run into the reception AFTER the florists, planners and caterers finish setting up and with things like lighting candles and such, most things are not ready until the last minute. If you go put your purse or your coat on your chair, it takes away from all of the time, effort and money that the couple poured into their reception and now they won't even have photos of it. Just don't. It's rude. (Also, I will add - just don't go into the reception room/area until cocktail hour is over and the vendors/hosts are ready for you!)



7. RULES FOR GUESTS BEFORE THE CEREMONY

  1. Stay out of the bride's room UNLESS you were invited. Seriously the amount of people who barge in when the bride is getting dressed or IS dressed before walking down the aisle is obnoxious. I understand that you all think you are special, but if they didn't invite you... they probably want you to either be part of the big reveal OR they simply don't have room. (Those rooms get crowded and hot!) Just stay out and don't be all dramatic about it. And no "I'm just peeking in to say hi" excuses.

  2. DON'T text/call the bride, groom or parents for directions on the day if the wedding. We are all glad you are coming and we want you to make it on time... but these people have more than enough to do the day of the wedding.

  3. Don't go posting pictures of the bride or groom before they get married. - I can't believe I even have to say this, but yes. It does happen.

  4. DO NOT SHOW UP EARLY - I would say 30 min early max. The couple (together or separately depending on if they did a first look) may be out taking photos. The wedding vendors who are hosting- florists, planners, etc may not be ready for you which will make them rush to finish up.

  5. DON'T Be Late Either - And if you are for whatever reason, stay out of the way. I've seen one too many people run in at the wrong time and walk right in front of the bride coming down the aisle or running right in front of the first kiss. If you are late - stick to the outer seats and for goodness sake, stay out of the AISLE!


8. RULES FOR THE RECEPTION

  1. DON'T GET TRASHED - Yes, getting drunk at weddings is pretty normal. But please no puking, fighting, bringin up ex's crying, stumbling or falling due to the insane amount of alcohol you drank. And seriously, keep your emotions in check. Don't pass out or get kicked out either.

  2. DON'T TAKE THE MIC TO SPEAK UNLESS YOU WERE ASKED! I cannot stress this enough. If you want to give a speech, talk to the couple before. Most importantly, this throws off the schedule which is not good for the couple or the vendors. But it also typically ends up being embarrassing for all parties involved... because impulse speeches are usually drunk speeches.

  3. Stick to the gift registry, cash or gift cards - unless you are a grandparent, parent or significant family member & you are giving them something very special. Otherwise, stick to the things they NEED. And yes, they will probably figure out that you re-gifted that casserole set.

  4. Pay attention and DON'T talk through important moments - Please turn and watch the dances. They will see all the people who didn't pay attention in the background of their photos. And PLEASE don't sit and talk loudly, just pause your conversation and turn your gaze to the couple please.

  5. DON'T MONOPOLIZE THE COUPLE - You aren't the only guest who flew in, had to pay for a gift or whatever makes you think you are entitled to all of the couple's attention. It is VERY hard to talk with everyone. For instance my parents were so busy entertaining at their wedding, they didn't even eat dinner. I had only had a few bites and I know this is very common for couples. Let them eat their meal before you ask for a photo, because once they are up... they probably won't be able to sit back down again AND their food will probably be cleared by the time they do get a chance to. Weddings are exhausting and stressful, so don't make it about you! Say your hellos and well wishes - but don't monopolize them! Receptions typically last 5-6 hours and the events take up at least an hour. Consider a wedding of 150 guests and 4 hours to talk to everyone.... even if they talked to guests for 4 hours straight and did not dance or use the restroom or anything else, they would only have 6.5 minutes per guest. Make it easier by spending time with them while they dance or talking to them in larger groups of people. But really, just remember that there just isn't enough time in the day.

  6. This isn't Tinder - Don't obnoxiously try to hook up with someone... and if you do hit it off with someone leave the freaking wedding before you get together. It's not cute.

  7. Don't rearrange the seating chart to sit with friends. Seriously a lot of time and effort and thought went into it. Sit where you are assigned and make some new friends... then talk to the others later!



8. PARTICIPATE AND HAVE FUN!


Please... laugh, cry, clap, watch and DANCE. Even if you aren't good in crowds or are more introverted, please at least give the events your full attention and try to have some fun! The couple didn't throw this party for nothing! They want everyone to enjoy it!


9. HOW TO WORK WITH + TREAT VENDORS


I am a little nervous about adding this part because I don't want to seem self serving with this blog. I promise the intention here is not to tell people to tip me or make my life easier. But this is one of the least discussed parts of etiquette and one of the things that will be most helpful for couples. So fingers crossed I don't piss all of you off ;)


1. Don't 'GHOST' Vendors - Ghosting is when you inquire about wedding services and then you just fall off the face of the earth. If you cannot afford them or decided to go with someone else, please just let them know. They will spend time following up and may even consider you an 'open lead' and will wait on booking another couple while they wait for your response since you inquired first. You can seriously just copy and paste this - Hello so and so, Thank you for your time and thoughtful response. We have decided to go in a

different direction on our wedding day, but will contact you if anything changes. Sincerely, Me.

2. Trust their judgement - If you hired them, I hope you hired them based on merit, experience and style (not just based on price) or this may not go well for you. But when you hire an experienced wedding pro, they generally know what they are talking about. Absolutely speak up if you don't like something, but trust is extremely important on your wedding day. Especially with the creative vendors like florists, planners and photographers. Vendors like florists, bakers and planners will probably appreciate some 'vision' and story boards, but sending your photographer a list of pinterest requests to recreate someone else's work will probably give them the feeling that you don't trust them or think they don't know how to do their job. You wouldn't give a chef a recipe... so give them creative license. And trust their experience if they are anticipating a problem and bringing it up to you... ask for a few suggestions or a plan b and trust their solutions.


3. Setting them up for failure - I know this is a pretty broad statement, but mostly I mean that you need to communicate your style and your concerns. Most vendors really do try to read your mind and make EVERYTHING perfect. But there are things that we just might not pick up on or know. If you want a specific kind of flower in your bouquet, the florist won't just KNOW it. Allow for creative license of course, but if you have your heart set on something, make sure they know your heart is set on it. Also if something is frustrating you... talk to them (and preferably before the wedding day). It may be an issue of expectations that they are unaware of, a personality conflict or simply something they don't realize is important to you.


4. Being Unreasonable with Time or Budget - This is something I hear from ALL kinds of vendors, in all kinds of price ranges, in all kinds of styles, in places all over the world.


TIME - This is something that has continuously gotten harder and harder for people to understand. We live in this world of fast food, Amazon same day delivery, 24 hour customer service, call centers and convenience. The wedding industry is mostly different. Most of your wedding vendors will probably be small business owners. (Florists, Photographers, Videographers, Planners, Coordinators, Bakers, DJ's) This means that the owners will probably be the ones working all of the weddings, answering all of the emails, meeting with all of their couples and taking all of the phone calls. They wear the hats of social media managers, marketing directors, accountants, office managers, web designers and more on top of their 'job description' of what they do on your actual wedding day. They pour their hearts and souls into every wedding and they do A LOT OF THEM. So lets talk about expectations... They probably don't have a staff or much of one. Usually an assistant or two and that's typically on the day of the wedding not for all of the behind the scenes stuff before hand. They are out of the office A LOT. Don't expect them to take your call or answer emails on the weekends as they are typically doing someone else's wedding. For photographers, being out of the office can be even more frequent with engagement sessions and such. And for wedding planners and coordinators, they typically have meetings, venue walk throughs and rehearsals to do. Just be understanding if they are a bit busy and don't think that they don't care. If you don't hear back within a few days, follow up and if it becomes an issue, BRING IT UP. But please don't be unreasonable. It's shocking how quickly people assume the worst when you are working another couple's event or are out of the office spending time with family members. Emailing them, then calling them, texting them, facebooking them in a row doesn't help. You wouldn't believe how many people expect you to text them back within minutes or they start sending you question marks. Be understanding of work time, out of office time and family/personal time for your vendors. It's not a 9-5 job for sure, but it's not also reasonable to want them to be around 24/7. Also be understanding of their time on the wedding day. If the schedule is running behind for reasons beyond their control, Don't expect them to stay late. They might, but don't expect it. Try to stick to timelines and allow them extra time to do their job so they can do more!

BUDGET - This one goes a few different ways.

  1. Don't undervalue your vendors. I see this a lot in bridal magazines - ask for a discount! 'It doesn't hurt to ask!' - NO, I hate to break it to you, but this is a big red flag for vendors. It does often hurt to ask. Vendors are priced a certain way for a reason. As a wedding photographer - here is my explanation: "My pricing reflects my experience, expertise, time and cost of doing business (taxes, software, equipment and so much more). Please also keep in mind that our duties go beyond the actual day of the event itself with email correspondence, culling, editing and delivery. Along with all of that, there are precautions we take for your event with contracts, backup equipment, backup storage and more." These things all take time and investment... as it does with ANY vendor. It also gives your vendor the idea that you do not value their service... which is a big red flag and may actually cause the vendor to turn you down because they think you are not a good fit for their business. So just don't.

  2. Don't expect Peonies at the price of filler flowers - Like I said before, vendors are constantly doing their best to please you. But they can only work so much magic. If you are set on a certain type of flower for a bouquet or a certain size for your cake, ask your vendor for suggestions to cut costs in other areas like cheaper centerpiece ideas, or a fake layer in your cake. But you will have to cut somewhere... they can't take it out of their hourly wage and cost of doing business to boost your budget.

  3. Give your vendors REAL numbers for budget. Saying things like 'reasonable' or 'not an arm and a leg' doesn't help anyone. We aren't going to budget shame you, we just need to know what we are working with. If you aren't sure yet, try to give a range and if you really have no idea, tell them that. But like I said earlier. We can't read your mind.

  4. Don't get in over your head. - Be realistic about what you can afford and communicate it. This goes back to 1. and 3. don't devalue their product, but communicate what you can really do. If you can't afford them, you can't afford them. It's better for both of you to know that ahead of time.

5. Feed Your People -

This one shocks a lot of people, but yes... you should feed your vendors (planner, photographer, videographer, DJ). And do them a favor (if it's not in their contract) and do a 'hot meal' because vendor meals are usually old sandwiches and stale chips. It is in most experienced vendors' contracts... but usually the way I explain it is, they can't leave for a lunch break. They are hosting your event so that you don't have to, so they can't leave and run down the road for some fast food. They need fuel! Also a good recommendation (that is a requirement in some contracts) is to feed your photo/video team at the same time that the bride and groom eat. That way, they can go shovel down their food in a quiet spot (not at guest tables) and be ready when you are finished so they can cover dances, toasts and more. Before this was in my contract, we were always the last to eat and I would always take my 3rd bite right as the toasts were starting and would have to run out of the room.


6. Pay Attention To Contracts and Please Pay On Time -

Pay attention to Contracts and please don't change them without asking - Contracts are there to protect the couple and the photographer, please pay attention to the payment schedule, the specific clauses like conduct clauses, exclusivity clauses and more. If there is something that bothers you about the contract, please bring it up and ask for changes, but be realistic about what a vendor will be willing to change or add. Like I said, contracts are in place to protect both parties and chances are, if it's mentioned in there it's because a vendor has already had a bad experience with it. So just be realistic and sensitive to the clauses you are wanting to change. And discuss them with the vendor before you just start making changes.


Pay On Time - This one is so hard for me to confront because everyone always feels bad if it's late or they forget. And it makes it a little awkward for vendors to have to bring it up... because well, most of us aren't in it for the money, but we do need the money because bills and stuff. If you do forget or are a little late, just let your vendor know that you are sorry and it's on the way.


7. Tipping/Vendor Gifts - This one is super uncomfortable to talk about. To be clear, I rarely am tipped and it is NEVER expected. But I do want to clear up a few things... in some etiquette blogs, it says that you should NOT tip a small business owner and only 'hourly' workers. I encourage you to show appreciation anyone who went above and beyond for you. This can be in the form of a tip, a gift, AN AWESOME review (seriously the best thing someone can do), a card, an email, a text or a call. Again, this is NOT a requirement or an expectation or even common... but small business owners are generally the people who are going to go above and beyond for you. They are the ones who will do things that are SO far from their job description just to make sure you are happy and don't have to worry about a thing. There is no tipping suggestion or percentage that you need to do for an 'owner-vendor' but I guarantee you, they will be SO grateful. If they did great work, let them know. If they made a difference, thank them. It doesn't have to be of any monetary value for them to be grateful. Just let them know they are loved.


8. Kindness - Again, this is one of the ones that shocks me that I have to say this, but you don't have to yell at someone to get your point across. I think the wedding planners/coordinators get the brunt of this... then probably photographers because they are there in the most high stress situations. I've seen A LOT of wedding planners in tears behind the scenes. I've had a few couples or even guests that have gotten to me! Kindness gets you the furthest. Just be a considerate human. That's all. *THIS GOES FOR GUESTS TOO! I have seen more guests be jerks to vendors when they have no business doing so. I've been screamed at by guests that literally have no idea what is going on or why I am doing what I am doing or that I am on the same page as my couple. If you are a guest, don't go be a vigilante and yell at some vendor for something. And if something is wrong and it does need to be addressed, talk to the couple first and ASK them if they would like you to handle it. And again, screaming isn't going to help. Cussing out the wedding planner because you are hungry isn't cool at all and you will look like a fool. Kindness goes much further.

10. ATTITUDES MATTER


KEEP YOUR NEGATIVITY AT HOME - DO NOT give the couple (or family members) bad news, DO NOT complain, BE CHEERFUL! I will also add that staying positive EVEN when things go wrong is HUGE. You need to lift the couple up when things go wrong. This is especially important when it comes to weather. Yes, they need to know what is going on, but unless you are directly involved in the wedding day plan of action - don't bring it up. Trust me, everyone knows it's raining.... and their wedding day team is already on it. If anything, offer help moving chairs, lending umbrellas etc... but keep the stress to a minimum and go along with what the couple wants.



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