Wedding Question: RSVP by Email?

One of my college friends is getting married in the Virgin Islands this summer. She sent out a Save the Date and I already know I wont be able to make it. Is it inappropriate for me to email her and let her know now that I wont be able to make it? I say email rather than phone call because we mostly stay in touch via email and pretty much never talk on the phone. 

photo from The Wedding Lens!

Interesting question! Well, there are two aspects to this question. First, there’s the idea that no invitation has been sent. Second, there’s the email communication question. Let’s take ’em one at a time….

It sounds like you’re reasonably close with this person, but not close enough that you would drop everything to be at her wedding in the Virgin Islands. (To be fair, I tend to think that most people who get married a long distance away (have a destination wedding, if you will) don’t really want or expect everyone they invite to be there. So don’t feel bad if you can’t make it. It’s a long way away and they can’t expect everyone to be able to travel so far.)

Ok, so no invitation was sent yet. It’s a little odd to send an RSVP when you haven’t been invited yet. On the other hand, I’m sure that your friends would appreciate knowing as early as possible that you can’t make it (and that they might be able to invite someone else in your stead…. not that anyone can replace you!) I think it boils down to how close you are and your relationship with your friend. You know her better than I do. If you think she’d appreciate knowing now, go for it.

As for email communication, I also firmly believe that you and your friend are FRIENDS. Etiquette aside, you are friends who communicate via email. So yes, go ahead and email her. Better to let her know via email than not at all, right?

In sum: Go ahead and let your friend know that you can’t make it via email, even though they haven’t sent out an invite yet. I’m certain some of my readers will disagree…. comment below! I’m curious to see what you all have to say.

Good luck!

~ Natasha

How to Handle the Guest List

Ok, so you have 200 slots and about 500 people you wish you could invite. There are people who you are obligated to invite (oh family) and there are some of those obligatory invites who you’re sure won’t be able to come. Like you’re PRETTY sure that Uncle Billy won’t be able to make it because he hasn’t traveled beyond the grocery store in the past 5 years. But what if he CAN make it? What if he decides to make the trip? How on earth will that work with numbers on the guest list?!

Photo of Guest Seating Decor from The Wedding Lens

First: Breathe. Remember that your wedding day is about a celebrating your relationship with your friends and family.

Second: Start listing. List everyone. All 300 people. Everyone you might possibly want to invite or wish you could invite — even though there’s the possibility that you won’t be able to in the grand scheme of things.

Third: Of those people on the list, make a separate list of the absolutely 100% non-negotiable people who you WANT to be at your wedding to celebrate. This includes: Your best friend, your second best friend, and your college roommates. This does not include: Your parents’ friends who you feel obligated to invite. Got it?

Fouth: Check the numbers. Say now you have 150 of the 200 people you can invite. That leaves you 80 people left to invite. Huh? 80? But Natasha, you say, 200 – 150 = 50! Ah yes. BUT statistically a guest list of 200 people or LESS, there will be 15-20% of folks who do not come. With a guest list of 200 people or MORE, 20-25% won’t come.

Now, I have to forwarn. Not everyone is going to RSVP in a timely manner and some of those 15-20% or 20-25% won’t drop out til the last minute. But I assure you that you can safely invite 15% more than your highest number and you will be a-okay.

So this gives you a little more room to play with. You’ll have 80 people you can fill in with obligatory invites — be it your Uncle or your parents friends who have known you since you were born — and (gasp) anyone else you can/want to invite.

Fifth: If you are just stuck with those extra 80 people and how to handle them. I really recommend using a ranking system. That sounds awful, of course, to rank your friends and family. But it will make you feel better. ‘Cause if Uncle Billy really doesn’t come, then maybe you CAN invite your old buddy who you haven’t seen in five years. Maybe.

If you use a tier/ranking system, use an EARLY RSVP date so you have time to fill in the people who say no and you can (with tact) follow up with those you have not heard from so you can fill in their spots. And if you do the tiers, DO NOT print the RSVP deadline on the invitation. Do not. Otherwise either you have to print a whole new set for the new invitees OR you look like… someone who totally forgot to invite the guest until the last minute. Nice.

Here are some tips on how to cut down the guest list and how to handle the guest list when you’re not paying for the wedding (in other words — when other people are adding to YOUR guest list) and more guidance on wedding invitations (including how to tell people they can’t bring a date and/or their kids)

And here, my friends, is how to address these invitations!

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, just email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com and I’ll help ya out. 🙂

Good luck!

~ Natasha

Five Tips for an Even Better Wedding Reception!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Your wedding reception will be a great reflection of you & your partner’s style, musical tastes, and (most importantly) love for each other. But there are some tips that will make your reception even better — regardless of your personal style!

  1. If there’s time between the ceremony and the reception, give your guests something to do. I dont mean that you have to rent out a space for them, but suggest a place for them to go — a coffee shop, a bar, a museum, just something. I one time ended up sitting in a Quiznos for three hours because I was from out of town and didn’t know what else to do or where else to go.
  2. Let your guests know what’s going on — have a program and/or have the DJ/Band/Emcee explain what is happening when. People don’t like to feel out of the loop! Just letting them know that they’ll be eating their meals before the speeches will make people relax and enjoy themselves a bit more — except for maybe the speech-giver.
  3. You won’t be able to create a seating chart that makes everyone happy, but if at all possible, seat people who know each other together — even if one of ’em is single. Singles hate singles tables. It’s awkward! But if the person knows just one other person, try putting them together. It will put everyone at ease.
  4. If you’re not providing transportation for your guests have cab numbers readily available. People drink & they have to get home — make it easy on them!
  5. Take breaths,  enjoy every moment, and HAVE FUN! Your happiness makes everyone else happy. I promise.

There are LOTS of things that you can do to make your reception even better, but these are just a few things that I’ve taken note of over the years. As much as you want this day to be perfect to you, don’t forget that your guests are there for you and don’t want to be forgotten, taken for granted, or left out of the loop. They are there to share in the joy and happiness of the day! So let them! 🙂

Happy wedding!

~ Natasha

How To Pick a DJ

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

So let’s say that you’ve read my blog on “all about wedding music” and decided that you really do want a DJ at your wedding reception. That’s great! A DJ can provide a variety of music and usually is a bit less expensive than hiring a band. Remember, whoever you hire, you need to tip ’em, so more band members = more tips. (That said, bands are more eco-friendly… so I’m not pushing one or the other!)

When selecting a DJ, you should still follow all the guidelines on hiring any vendor: talk to people, check out reviews, find out price, ask them questions, and check references. (Incidentally, if ANY vendor does not answer the phone or return your call or email within 24 hours, ditch ’em. It demonstrates how unprofessional they may be — not to mention irresponsible… which is something you shouldn’t have to worry about among everything else!)

 That said, DJs are a special breed because sometimes you might not realize all the questions you should be asking! Here are some questions to ask:

  • Will you personally be the DJ at the wedding reception? Or do you have someone else who you will send?
  • How many weddings have you DJ’d?
  • Have you DJ’d at the venue before? What did you like or not like about it?
  • Will you also act as an Emcee for the reception? (In other words, introduce the couple, the speeches, & make any other announcements)
  • Do you have a wireless microphone (or any microphone) that can be used for the speeches?
  • Do you also provide dinner music?
  • What kind of music do you play? (Be sure to ask about specific bands, types of music, songs, etc to make sure the DJ has it! It might be helpful to ask to see a song list, if he/she has one)
  • How many songs are in your library? Are you open to purchasing/obtaining any additional songs or music?
  • What format is your music in? (ie records or mp3s)
  • How much time before the reception do you need to arrive to set up your equipment? Do you need any specific equipment to be at the venue already? (A tablecloth for a DJ table? A DJ table itself?)
  • Do you have backup equipment?
  • Do you use special lighting effects? Can you?
  • What do you usually wear as a wedding DJ? (You want to be sure that the DJ doesn’t show up in jeans and a t-shirt if you don’t want him or her to!)
  • What is the fee? Does it include tax and gratuity? Do you require a deposit? Are there any additional charges?
  • Will you need a meal during the time you’ll be DJing? How many breaks will you need?
  • Ask to see the terms of the contract to make sure everything is as you agreed!

Obviously some of these questions are more detailed — but they should all be asked before you sign the final agreement. There’s nothing worse than committing to a vendor who isn’t the one that’s right for you!

Got other tips?

~ Natasha

Roundup: All Things About Wedding Invitations!

Recently I have had a few posts about how to write invitations and how to address them. It occurs to me that over all this time, we have LOTS of information on wedding invitations. And here, my dear friends, is the roundup:

When to Send Save-the-Dates and Invitations

Green Wedding Tips: Invitations!

What Goes Inside a Wedding Invitation

How to Word Your Wedding Invitation

Invitations & Bringing a Date to the Wedding

How to Tell Guests That There’s No Plus One

How to Tell Guests That Kids Can’t Come

Do you have to invite someone because you were invited?

How to Address Your Wedding Invitations!

Did I miss anything? Need to know more about wedding invitations? Let me know! Email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com.

Happy inviting!

~ Natasha

How to Address Wedding Invitations

A reader recently asked me about how to address his wedding invitations. He and his fiance are not formal by nature, so while I would have said “just address it any old way” I thought it might call for a blog post!

photo from The Wedding Lens

When you’re starting to write out your invitations, there is an “etiquette” of sorts to addressing the envelopes. Obviously, address the invitation to who you want to come! That means, if someone’s kid isn’t invited, don’t put the kid’s name on the invitation!

Now, there’s an outer envelope that’s more formal than an inner envelope. The chart below should help clarify what I mean. The tradition is to handwrite the envelopes, despite what you would think! Nowadays, I would recommend using a printer; it’s faster and easier to handle.

The general rule is to address by alphabetical order when there are no titles involved and there are different last names. For children, list them in the order of oldest to youngest.

You can write “and Guest” on the inner envelope to invite your single friends who can bring a date of his or her choice.

For relatives, the outer envelope should be formal, but the inside envelope should be what you call them. For example, write “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” on the outer envelope and “Uncle John and Aunt Jenny” on the inner envelope.

  Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
Single Man Mr. Michael Smith Mr. Smith
Single Woman Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Divorced Woman, using married name Mrs. Jennifer Smith Mrs. Smith
Divorced Woman, using Maiden name Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Married Couple Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, Wife with Maiden Name Mr. Michael Smith and Mrs. Jennifer Johnson Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson
Married Couple, Wife is a Doctor with Maiden Name Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Wife has a title, Same last name The Honorable Jennifer Smith and Mr. Michael Smith Judge and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Husband is a Doctor Dr. Michael and Mrs. Smith Dr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with Same last name The Doctors Smith OR Drs. Michael and Jennifer Smith The Doctors Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with different last names Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Dr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Dr. Smith
Gay Married Couple with same last name The Messrs. John and David Smith The Messrs. Smith
Gay Married Couple with different last names Mr. John Smith and Mr. David Johnson Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with same last name The Mesdames Jennifer and Judy Johnson The Mesdames Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with different last names Mrs. Jennifer Johnson and Mrs. Judy Smith Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Smith
Unmarried couple who lives together Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith Miss/Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Unmarried couple who doesn’t live together Ms. Johnson (closest friend of the two) Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Family with Children Mr. and Mrs. John Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Walter, Winifred, and Wendy

For people with titles, here’s another chart:

     
Elected officials (Governor, Mayor, Senator, Etc.) The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith  ORGovernor/Senator/Mayor Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Smith The Honorable and Mr. SmithGovernor/Senator/Mayor and Mr. Smith
Judge The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr.  John Smith Judge Johnson and Mr. Smith
Priest Father John Smith Father Smith
Rabbi Rabbi and Mrs. John Smithkowitz Rabbi and Mrs. Smithkowitz

That should about cover it. Have somone I haven’t covered? Just ask!

~ Natasha

Planning to Get Married in Vegas?

AS I mentioned last week, a friend of The Wedding Lens is planning to get married AND in Las Vegas! Not because they’re getting married quickly, but because the couple has family the Vegas and wants to be close to the family. So the question is — if you’re not trying to get in to a quick Elvis wedding, what do you need to do to get married in Las Vegas?

Wedding Ceremony (not necessarily in Vegas!) photo from The Wedding Lens!

First, there are lots of convention centers and hotels, of course. But there are tons of churches and restaurants too — that are OFF the strip! Check out some of the romantic wedding locations that are just off the strip and provide beautiful scenery. There are also a whole slew of “Off the Beaten Path” suggestions to look at that might give some good ideas.

Second, know the legal requirements: Once you get your venue, get a marriage license! Appear together at the Marriage License Bureau (201 Clark Avenue, (702) 671-0600). You can download a marriage license application from the web and learn more about the legal requirements at http://www.accessclarkcounty.com/depts/clerk/pages/marriage_information.aspx.

Third, keep in mind a few things:
  • If you get married in the summer, remember that it’s hot. Don’t just remember this because your guests will want to be indoors and air-conditioned, remember this because your cake will melt. Seriously.
  • Book early. Many people want to hitched in Vegas, so places fill up quick — especially if you want to get married on the strip. Yes, even by Elvis.
  • Make sure caterers are allowed at your venue OR that you like the food that the venue serves. That’s always true, but sometimes it’s harder to find venues that allow outside catering. Just make sure.

For everything else, it’s about the same: find the florist, the other vendors, you know… plan your wedding and be sure you keep in mind our tips for the day of your wedding & for staying calm!

Got more questions? Just ask!  Email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha