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soc.couples.wedding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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Archive-name: lifestage/wedding-faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: every 2 weeks
Last-modified: May 15, 2004
Version: 2.6

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Written by Sonja Kueppers.  Please submit comments via the web form
located at:

http://www.thepurplehouse.net/wedding/comments/

E-mail may be ignored due to the high volume of spam received.

Topics Covered:
0) About this FAQ
   0.1) Where can I find this FAQ?
   0.2) What is the basis of the opinions in this FAQ?
   0.3) Recent Changes
   0.4) About the soc.couples.wedding WWW page
1) soc.couples.wedding
   1.1) What is soc.couples.wedding?
   1.2) Why is there a soc.couples.wedding?
   1.3) Is commercial advertising acceptable in soc.couples.wedding?
   1.4) What are these abbreviations I keep seeing?
2) Recommended Reading
   2.1) For those who want to save money:
   2.2) For those interested in writing their own vows/ceremony:
   2.3) Cultures and Traditions
   2.4) Etiquette
   2.5) More on books by Denise & Alan Fields
3) Engagement
   3.1) Does a woman's ring have to be a diamond?  Does it have to be
         expensive?
   3.2) Should the man pick out the ring by himself, or together with
         his prospective fiancee?
   3.3) What about engagement rings for men?
   3.4) Is it necessary to have a ring in order to propose?
   3.5) Is a ring necessary at all?
4) Attendants
   4.1) When should I choose my attendants?
   4.2) Do my attendants have to be of my own gender?
   4.3) Do I have to choose one attendant to be my honor attendant?
   4.4) How many attendants do I need?
   4.5) Is it necessary to have equal numbers of groomsmen and
         bridesmaids?
   4.6) What roles can people who are not attendants play?
5) Wedding Attire
   5.1) What are my options for an inexpensive wedding dress?
   5.2) All of the dresses this season are way too revealing. Where can
         I find more modest styles?
   5.3) How should the groom and groomsmen be properly dressed at
         various times of day?
   5.4) Should the groom wear something different from the groomsmen?
   5.5) Do the bridesmaids all have to wear the same dress?
6) Wedding Rings
   6.1) Do I have to wear a wedding ring?
   6.2) Do wedding bands need to be matching?
   6.3) Does a wedding band need to be plain?
   6.4) What metals can the ring be made out of?
   6.5) If you have both an engagement and a wedding ring, which goes on
         the outside?
   6.6) What do I do if the wedding ring I like doesn't work with my
         engagement ring?
7) People Issues
   7.1) My mother is driving me crazy.  She wants to control every
         aspect of the wedding.
   7.2) Who should walk me down the aisle, my natural father or my
         stepfather?
   7.3) My parents had a messy divorce, and they both say they won't
         attend the wedding if the other comes.  How can I resolve
         this?
8) Invitations
   8.1) What is the most proper way to have my invitations done?
   8.2) Is it OK to send invitations to someone "and Guest"?
   8.3) If I've invited guests and not invited their children, what do I
         do when they send a response saying their children are coming
         with them?
   8.4) I have been invited to a wedding without my fiance.  Can I get
         my fiance invited, or do I have to go alone?
   8.5) What percentage of the people I invite can be expected to come?
   8.7) Can I use my laser printer to address my invitations?
9) Photography and Video
   9.1) Do I have to hire a professional photographer?
   9.2) Should I have disposable cameras on the tables?
   9.3) Should I have a wedding video made?
   9.4) Should I hire a professional videographer?
10) Service Professionals
   10.1) Do service professionals need to be fed?
11) Showers
   11.1) Who can host a shower?
   11.2) If the people at work give me a shower, do I have to invite
         them to the wedding?
   11.3) Is it OK to include the bride's registry information with the
         shower invitation?
   11.4) What are some possible shower themes?
   11.5) Can I have a co-ed shower?
12) The Rehearsal Dinner
   12.1) What kind of rehearsal dinner is acceptable?
   12.2) Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner?
   12.3) Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?
13) Gifts (advice for the bride and groom)
   13.1) Should I register for gifts?
   13.2) What should I register for?
   13.3) How will people find out about my registry?
   13.4) What do I do with gifts received before the wedding?
14) Gift-Giving
   14.1) Am I required to give the bride and groom a wedding present?
   14.2) Am I required to give a gift at a shower?
   14.3) Am I required to choose a gift from the couple's registry?
   14.4) When should I give the couple my wedding gift?
15) Officiants
   15.1) Who can perform a wedding?
   15.2) Universal Life Church


0) About this FAQ

0.1) Where can I find this FAQ?

In addition to being posted every 2 weeks to the soc.couples.wedding
newsgroup, This FAQ file, along with other wedding-related information,
can be found on the World Wide Web.  The URL for the soc.couples.wedding
home page is:

http://www.thepurplehouse.net/wedding/

It is also available in the standard archive sites for FAQ files, such
as:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/

0.2) What is the basis of the opinions in this FAQ?

The opinions and views expressed in this FAQ are based on my personal
knowledge and experience about wedding planning, which has been shaped
by many sources, including years of reading alt.wedding and soc.couples.
wedding, a lifetime of exposure to Miss Manners' etiquette books (Ok,
not an entire lifetime.  I did not read her first book until I was
nearly 10 years old, because that is when it was first published), input
from other readers of these newsgroups, and an abiding interest in the
subject which has caused me to read anything that came my way on the
subject and to discuss the topic frequently with anyone who was
interested.

When the topic in question is a matter of opinion, I have tried to show
the different sides of the issue, regardless of my personal opinion.

When the topic is a question of what is proper, I have tried to give the
answer which reflects the correct etiquette, based on my reading of
etiquette books and discussions with people whose opinions I value.
Etiquette is a tool to provide solutions to common situations in order
to make people feel comfortable.  It can be viewed as the "generic"
way to do things, when you have no particular reason for doing it
another way.  If you think your guests will be more comfortable with
a different solution, by all means do that.

This FAQ does have a strong bias toward customs in the United States.
This is the culture with which I am personally most familiar.

0.3) Recent Changes

*Version 1.3
   +Added 0.3 - Recent Changes
   +Added 0.4 - About the soc.couples.wedding WWW page
   +Added section 9 on Service Professionals
*Version 1.4
   +converted to HTML format
   +removed complete list of WWW page contents
   +updated sections 6.1 and 7.3
*Version 1.5
   +Added section 1.3 on abbreviations
*Version 1.6
   +Added section 2.4, reference to "far & away weddings"
*Version 1.7
   +Added section 12.3 on how people will find out about registry
   +Modified section 10.4 on shower themes
*Version 1.8
   +Added "f" for "future" to section 1.3
*Version 2.0
   +Added section 6 on wedding rings
   +Added sections 13.4 and 13.5 on gifts
   +Modified section 14.1 on who can perform marriages
*Version 2.1
   +Added section 1.3 on commercial advertising in soc.couples.wedding
*Version 2.3
   +Added section 2.5 on Denise & Alan Fields' web site
* Version 2.4
   + Added section 2.4 on Etiquette books
*Version 2.5
   +Updated info for Denise & Alan Fields
   +Added section 14 on gift-giving
*Version 2.6
   +Removed outdated information
   +Changed contact information
   +Added section 5.2 on modest wedding gowns


0.4) About the soc.couples.wedding WWW page

The soc.couples.wedding WWW page is found at:

http://www.thepurplehouse.net/wedding/

and contains a wide variety of informational files, including
information on buying diamonds and engagement rings, photography and
video, music, popular readings, and lists of gifts for anniversaries.

1) soc.couples.wedding

1.1) What is soc.couples.wedding?

Charter:

This newsgroup is for discussing all aspects of wedding planning, from
engagement through the honeymoon.  Discussions include, but are not
limited to, topics such as:  purchasing engagement/wedding jewelry and
gifts, announcing the engagement, setting a wedding date, hiring
professionals such as caterers and photographers, renting facilities 
such
as churches and halls, planning the ceremony, wedding-related etiquette,
registering for gifts, selecting wedding attire, and dealing with
relationship/family problems associated with wedding planning.

soc.couples.wedding is not limited to discussions of weddings between
one man and one woman.  Same-sex couples and groups of more than 2 
people
who are planning a wedding are also welcome to participate.

Discussions of wedding traditions from around the world are welcomed.

There is an emphasis on politeness and tact when relating to other
newsgroup participants.

The group should not be used for discussions of general relationship or
marriage issues, for which soc.couples is more appropriate.

1.2) Why is there a soc.couples.wedding?

Soc.couples.wedding was created because the wedding-planning newsgroup
alt.wedding was a member of the "alt." hierarchy.  Many news 
administrators
do not carry groups in the "alt." hierarchy, because alt newsgroups can
be created fairly trivially without any kind of voting procedure, so 
there
are many alt newsgroups of dubious merit.  The "soc." hierarchy, on the
other hand, is part of the "big 8" usenet hierarchies, and it is only
possible to create a soc group by engaging in a 2-month-long process
in which the newsgroup is proposed, discussed, and voted on by the
usenet community.  This leads to wider acceptance of a group by news
administrators, so more sites carry soc groups and more people have
access to them.

Ideally, people who are currently using alt.wedding will use
soc.couples.wedding instead, to avoid splitting the discussion of
identical topics between the two newsgroups.

1.3) Is commercial advertising acceptable in soc.couples.wedding?

Commercial advertising has not traditionally been acceptable in Usenet
News.  Usenet News is primarily a forum for discussion and information
exchange, not advertising.

Your best policy, as a commercial advertiser, is to avoid making any
postings that could be construed as advertisements to 
soc.couples.wedding.

The following guidelines illustrate a conservative approach which will
serve you well.  It is drawn from discussions in the newsgroup of what
readers considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  If you step
outside the bounds of these guidelines, you will most likely make quite
a number of readers of soc.couples.wedding very annoyed.  This is not
good for anyone.  Not only does it make the newsgroup less friendly for
everyone by spoiling the atmosphere of discussion and information 
exchange,
but it also makes people feel negative about your business.

You will notice that if you follow these guidelines, you will become a
member of the soc.couples.wedding community by being a regular 
participant
in discussions in the group.  It is true that this is more time 
consuming
than simply posting an occasional advertisement.  However, if people
reading the group get the feeling that they know and trust you, you'll
find that they'll respond more positively to your business than if you
simply did the usenet/internet equivalent of cold-calling them.

Acceptable Behavior:

*Including the name of your company and, if necessary, a description
         of the service provided in your brief signature file (signature
         files should not exceed 4 lines.)
*Answering questions in the newsgroup, so long as your postings do not
         specifically mention your own products and services.  (It's
         perfectly OK, and even encouraged, to draw upon your experiences
         as a professional in answering questions.  What's not OK is to
         appear to be hawking your own products/services.  If you make
         yourself a valuable member of the community by providing helpful
         information, people will have a positive view of you -- and of
         your company.)
*Sending private e-mail to individuals who have specifically asked
         for pointers to people providing the service or product you 
provide.


Unacceptable Behavior:

*Posting explicit advertisements.
*Using a signature file which advertises your product or service.
         (beyond simply giving the name, type of service provided,
         and contact information.)
*Responding to posts in the newsgroup with postings of your own
         stating that you can provide a particular type of service or
         product.
*Sending e-mail offering your product or service to individuals who
         have not specifically requested pointers to people who can
         provide it.


What can be done about people who insist on advertising in
soc.couples.wedding?

*You can write to them, explaining that they have overstepped the
         bounds of acceptable behavior in the newsgroup.  If you have a
         copy of these guidelines, send it to them.
*You can write to their system administrator, explaining the problem.


For everyone: general note on politeness:

It is, of course, in good form for everyone, whether or not they are
a wedding professional, to avoid making blanket statements about an 
entire
industry or way of doing things.  Just as it is inappropriate for a 
caterer
to deride the idea of holding a potluck wedding reception, so it is also
inappropriate for someone who is not planning to have a professional
photographer to insult the entire profession.  It is one thing to 
discuss
specific positive and negative experiences you have had with a 
particular
approach, and quite another to make blanket derogatory remarks.

1.4) What are these abbreviations I keep seeing?

*SO = Significant Other
*MIL = Mother-in-Law
*FIL = Father-in-Law
*MOH = Maid/Matron of Honor
*BM = Bridesmaid or Best Man
*stbmil = Soon-To-Be Mother-in-Law
*fFIL, fMIL = future father-in-law, future mother-in-law


2) Recommended Reading

2.1) For those who want to save money:

"Bridal Bargains", Denise and Alan Fields.  Windsor Peak Press, 1996.
"How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget", Diane Warner.
Writer's Digest Books, 1992.

2.2) For those interested in writing their own vows/ceremony:

"Wedding Vows" by Peg Kehret.  Meriwether, 1989.
"For as Long as we Both Shall Live" by Roger Fritts.  Avon, 1993.
"Weddings from the Heart" by Daphne Rose Kingma.  Conari press, 1991
"With these words...I thee wed", Barbara Eklof.  B. Adams, 1989.
"I Do" Sydney Barbara Metrick.  Celestial Arts, Berkeley, 1992.  ISBN
    0-89087-679-7
"Wedding Readings: Centuries of Writing and Rituals for Love and 
Marriage"
    Eleanor Munro ed.  Viking, 1989.

2.3) Cultures and Traditions

"Jumping the broom: The African-American wedding planner" by Harriette 
Cole.
    H. Holt, 1993.
"The New Jewish Wedding" by Anita Diamant.  Summit Books, 1985.
"The Jewish Book of Why" by Alfred J. Kolatch. J.David Publisher, 1981.

2.4) Etiquette

"Miss Manners On Painfully Proper Weddings" by Judith Martin.  Crown
Publishers, 1995.  ISBN 0-517-70187-1
"Crane's Wedding Blue Book" by Steven L. Feinberg. Simon & Schuster,
1993.  ISBN 0-671-79641-0

2.5) More on books by Denise & Alan Fields

Books by Denise & Alan Fields can be ordered at (800) 888-0385, or via
their web site, which also contains updates to their books:

http://www.windsorpeak.com/

3) Engagement

3.1) Does a woman's ring have to be a diamond?  Does it have to be
       expensive?

No.  Many women prefer colored stones, such as sapphires, rubies,
and emeralds.  Colored stones can be set by themselves or with
diamonds.  Another possibility is to have a diamond or colored
stone solitaire, with a wedding band that fits together with it
(sometimes known as a "wrap") and contains diamonds or colored
stones.

A woman's engagement ring can be as expensive or inexpensive as
is appropriate to the finances and wishes of the couple.  Some couples
elect to have a diamond-like substitute, such as a cubic zirconia.
This is not inappropriate, and there is no reason why this choice
should need to be public knowledge.

3.2) Should the man pick out the ring by himself, or together with his
       prospective fiancee?

A man should endeavor to find out what his prospective fiancee prefers
that he do.  Some women want very much to be surprised with a ring;
others feel very strongly that they wish to select their own ring.

If you would like to surprise your fiancee with a ring, but also want
to take her wishes into account, there are several alternatives
available to you.

*  Go shopping with her casually, to get an idea of what she likes,
    but make the final decision on your own.
*  Make an agreement with the jeweler that you can return the ring
    you chose at full value for another ring if your fiancee wants
    to choose something else.  Your fiancee will probably be hesitant
    to say she would rather have something other than what you
    picked out, so you will want to reassure her that you really
    do want her to pick the ring she likes best.  You may also want
    to take her to the jeweler even if she says she doesn't want to
    go, to make sure she gets to see what the other choices are.  This
    should be done very shortly after the proposal, before she has
    a chance to get overly attached to the ring you gave her.
*  Get an inexpensive ring for the proposal, and explain that it
    is a place holder for a ring you'll select together.


3.3) What about engagement rings for men?

There are a number of options for engagement rings for men.

*  He can wear his wedding ring on his other hand until the
    wedding.  This is traditional in a number of countries;
    for example, in Germany, this is traditional for both men and
    women.

*  He can wear a non-wedding ring on either hand; some couples
    choose a silver band or claddagh ring.

*  He can have a man's ring with a stone, which he might wear
    on his other hand after the wedding if it wouldn't fit
    together with his wedding band.

*  Both the man and the woman can have matching engagement/wedding
    ring sets.


3.4) Is it necessary to have a ring in order to propose?

Only if your prospective fiancee expects you to have one.

If you wish to have one, but cannot afford it, you might select
an inexpensive ring or locket as a token.

3.5) Is a ring necessary at all?

No.  It is not necessary to have an engagement ring in order to be
engaged.  If you choose not to have an engagement ring, you may want
to exchange other engagement gifts or tokens.  Some couples exchange
earrings or necklaces; others exchange gifts that are not jewelry.
Some ideas:

*Putting a down payment on a house as an engagement gift for each other
*Nice furniture, such as a roll-top desk
*a car
*bicycles, skis, or other sports equipment


Obviously, some of these gifts have more "lasting value" than others.
Some people think it's very important that an engagement gift be of
lasting value.  Others don't find this important.

4) Attendants

4.1) When should I choose my attendants?

It is generally not a good idea to select attendants more than a year
before the wedding, because who is close to you will probably change
over time.  It is very difficult to back out of having asked someone
to be your attendant.  It is acceptable to ask several people to attend
you but not choose one of them to be an honor attendant until closer
to the wedding.

4.2) Do my attendants have to be of my own gender?

No.  There is no reason you can't have attendants of either or both
genders.

4.3) Do I have to choose one attendant to be my honor attendant?

No.  If you care for all of the friends you've asked to stand up for
you equally, there is no need to choose.  You can simply divide the
duties among all of them.

4.4) How many attendants do I need?

This is entirely up to you, though you may want to take into account the
traditions in your area.  You can have none, one, six...whatever seems
suitable.  That said, the number of attendants does tend to increase
with the formality and size of the wedding, so that some people will
probably think it a bit silly to have six bridesmaids when there are
only 50 guests in an afternoon garden wedding.

4.5) Is it necessary to have equal numbers of groomsmen and
       bridesmaids?

No.

It is OK to have ushers who are not groomsmen, in that they do not stand
up with the groomsmen and bridesmaids.  This is sometimes a solution
when you need more ushers to direct the guests to their seats, but don't
want to have twice as many groomsmen as bridesmaids.

4.6) What roles can people who are not attendants play?

There are many possibilities for roles for people who are important to
you or want to help, but who you have not selected as attendants for one
reason or another.

* reading or performing musically during the ceremony
* guest book attendant
* responsibility for gift table
* responsibility for disposable cameras
* "wedding-day coordinator" - someone who is familiar with the wedding
   and is empowered to make decisions for you, so the caterer, musicians,
   etc. can go to them rather than needing to talk to you.
* ceremony coordinator - responsible for cueing people - the bride, the
   musicians, etc.


5) Wedding Attire

5.1) What are my options for an inexpensive wedding dress?

You could choose to wear a dress previously worn by someone in your
family such as your mother or grandmother.  You could also wear a
friend's dress.

Another option is to buy a used dress at a consignment shop or through
an advertisement in the newspaper.  In some cities, there are even
consignment shops that specialize in bridal gowns.

Making your own dress, if you are an experienced sewer, can allow you
to have a dress that would have been much more expensive if you'd
bought it commercially, and will probably fit better and be better
made than many commercial gowns.  (Two tips: Use a dress form, and
be sure to make at least the bodice in an inexpensive fabric to check
the fit and construction before making it in the final fabric.)

If your sewing skills aren't up to making the dress yourself, or you
don't have time, hiring someone to sew it for you can still save you
considerable money over buying a commercial dress, and you get the same
advantages of better fit and construction.

Commercial dresses can be purchased less expensively through Discount
Bridal Service; their web site is located at:

http://www.discountbridalservice.com/

Other possibilities are to buy a store sample, or to order at a trunk 
sale.

Finally, you might choose a dress that isn't marketed as a bridal gown.
Many lovely bridesmaids' dresses come in white or ivory, and are
considerably less expensive than bridal dresses.  You might also find
an appropriate dress being sold in ordinary stores.  It is also
possible to wear something that doesn't look like a typical wedding
dress, such as a lacy blouse with a long skirt, perhaps in a strong
color such as royal blue or forest green.

5.2) All of the dresses this season are way too revealing. Where can I
       find more modest styles?

If everything this season seems to be sleeveless or backless, and that's
just not your style, you may want to look at stores catering to more
conservative religious groups, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints.  Gowns meeting the modesty requirements for LDS 
temple
weddings are available in special shops, and through Internet retailers.

5.3) How should the groom and groomsmen be properly dressed at various
       times of day?

For a very formal wedding, men should wear morning suits if it is in
the daytime, and white tie if it is in the evening.  If it is less
formal, men may wear strollers in the daytime and tuxedos in the
evening.  For even less formal weddings, men may wear ordinary suits
at any time of day.  To be technically proper, men should never wear
tuxedos in the daytime or morning dress in the evening.

That said, many people ignore these traditional dress guidelines, and
wear tuxedos in the daytime.

5.4) Should the groom wear something different from the groomsmen?

Not generally, since the type of suit worn by men is dictated by
formality.  Of course, just because the type of suit is usually going
to be the same, doesn't mean that there can't be individual variation
in components of the outfit.

5.5) Do the bridesmaids all have to wear the same dress?

No.  It is perfectly acceptable to have them wear different dresses
in the same fabric, or dresses in coordinating colors.  Some brides
choose to have the bridesmaids each wear a dress in a different
jewel or autumn color, for example.

Bridesmaids should all wear dresses with approximately the same degree
of formality.

6) Wedding Rings

6.1) Do I have to wear a wedding ring?

No, though most women, and many men, prefer to wear one.  There are
two major reasons why people choose not to wear them:

* Moral objection to symbol of "ownership"
* Don't like wearing rings


Obviously, if you've thought it through, and you have decided you don't
want to wear a wedding ring because it symbolizes ownership to you, this
is only a problem if your partner disagrees, and wants you to wear one.
In this case, perhaps you could think about the fact that while
traditionally a wedding ring might have been a symbol of ownership,
today most people view them as a sign of commitment instead.   However,
I would never encourage someone to wear a wedding ring if it really gave
them such negative feelings.

If, on the other hand, your objection is that you simply don't like
wearing rings, you might want to try it for a month or two and see if
you still feel the same way.  Many people find that while initially,
the wedding ring feels awkward or uncomfortable, they rapidly become
accustomed to it and like the symbolism thereafter.

If you suspect you may have trouble being comfortable wearing a wedding
ring, you may want to investigate "comfort-fit" wedding bands.  These
rings are curved on the inside (like the typical ring is on the outside)
for a more comfortable fit.

Once you have become accustomed to wearing the wedding band, you may 
well
find that looking at it or fiddling with it gives you a very positive,
happy feeling and directs your thoughts toward your spouse.

6.2) Do wedding bands need to be matching?

Some people prefer matching wedding bands, because the symbolism of
matching rings is very meaningful to them.  They may feel that with
identical rings, there is always some physical bond with their partner,
no matter how far apart they may be physically.

Others choose non-matching bands, because they think it is important for
each person to have a ring that is the most comfortable for them 
personally.
They might want a ring that matched an engagement ring for one person, 
for
example, but which couldn't really be translated successfully into a 
ring
the other could wear.  One person might have a very physical job, which
makes a plain ring the most practical, while the other might have a job
where a fancier ring wouldn't be a problem.

This is a personal decision, with many relevant family and regional
traditions, so there is no one right answer.

6.3) Does a wedding band need to be plain?

Unless you belong to a religion which demands that the ring be plain,
it is fine for the ring to have any design you fancy.  Even if you do
belong to a religion which has requirements for the ring, you may be
able to use a plain ring for the religious ceremony, but wear a 
different
ring for everyday.

However, when selecting a ring, you should carefully consider how you 
plan
to use the ring.  Do you plan to wear it every day?  In that case, take 
its
practical sturdiness and wear characteristics into account.  Do you want
to wear the same ring (or an identical one) for the rest of your life, 
or
is it OK to replace it if you don't like it anymore?  If it's not OK to
replace it, you should consider carefully whether the style you choose
today is one you think you will still like 40 or 50 years from now.

If you do choose a fragile ring, you may want to get a plain one for 
everyday
also, if it is important to you to be able to wear your ring for a wide
range of activities.

Some people prefer a plain ring because they feel that there is a 
symbolic
value in having a simple ring that is only a symbol of their
commitment, and has no ornamental qualities as a piece of jewelry.

6.4) What metals can the ring be made out of?

Most people choose gold for their wedding rings, though platinum is
also used, and some people use silver or other metals.

Gold is used because it is valuable, and does not tarnish, rust, or 
corrode,
yet is fairly easy to work with.  Platinum is more valuable than gold 
and
also does not tarnish, rust, or corrode, but is harder and thus, more
difficult to work.

In the United States, most people use 14K gold, which is chosen because
it has a good combination of gold content and hardness.  14K gold is 
about
60% gold.  18K gold is also popular, and has a deeper color, but is less
hard, so it deforms and scratches more easily.  It is about 75% gold.
Pure gold is 24K gold, and is fairly soft.

6.5) If you have both an engagement and a wedding ring, which goes on
       the outside?

Traditionally, the engagement ring goes on the outside.  The idea is 
that
the wedding ring goes closer to the heart.

Another reason for doing this is that some people never want to take
their wedding ring off, while they may want to remove their engagement
ring for activities where it might become damaged.

During the wedding ceremony, this tradition can cause problems, and 
there
are two main solutions.  The first is to switch the rings after the 
ceremony,
while the other is to remove the engagement ring for the ceremony, 
perhaps
transferring it to the other hand, and then replacing it afterwards.  
The
second is more suitable for people who prefer not to remove their 
wedding
ring.

6.6) What do I do if the wedding ring I like doesn't work with my
       engagement ring?

One easy solution is to wear your engagement ring on another finger 
after
you get married.  You might, for example, wear it on your other hand.

If that doesn't appeal to you, consult a competent jeweler.  They may be
able to cut notches into the wedding ring so that it fits up against the
engagement ring, or perform some other kind of modification to it.

If none of this works, you might have a wedding ring custom made to fit
together with your engagement ring.

7) People Issues

7.1) My mother is driving me crazy.  She wants to control every aspect
       of the wedding.

If your mother is hosting (this often translates to paying for) the
wedding, you aren't really on very firm ground to insist on doing things
your way.  The best you can do is try to convince your mother to do
things your way.  It is sometimes helpful to give your mother complete
"creative control" over some aspects of the wedding.

If, on the other hand, you are hosting the wedding yourselves, then it
is your party and you have every right to tell your mother in a polite
way that you've decided to do things another way.

In this situation, it's important to remember that some mothers have
very firm ideas of how they wanted their daughters to get married,
and they may have looked forward to planning the wedding together with
their daughters for many years.

7.2) Who should walk me down the aisle, my natural father or my
       stepfather?

Whichever you feel closer to is the simple answer, but we all know life
is not so simple.  If you are unable to decide between them, or wish
to honor them both, you could have one of them walk you halfway down the
aisle and the other the rest of the way.  You could also sidestep the
entire issue by having your mother walk you down the aisle.

7.3) My parents had a messy divorce, and they both say they won't
       attend the wedding if the other comes.  How can I resolve this?

Your parents are supposedly grown adults.  They are also your parents.
Parents should not try to force their children into deciding between
them.  Adults should be able to have the minimal contact with each
other that attending the same social function requires, no matter how
much they hate each other.

Caving in to this pressure to choose between them is probably not a good
idea.  Invite them both, and if they are so childish, let them both
not attend.

Of course you can assure them that you will make every effort to make 
sure
they have as little contact with each other as possible.

8) Invitations

8.1) What is the most proper way to have my invitations done?

The two most proper and formal kinds of invitations are hand-written
or engraved invitations, done on paper that is either plain or has a
simple panel.

However, the vast majority of people in the US today no longer remember
or care about this, so you need not feel that you are doing something
horribly improper if you make some other choice.

8.2) Is it OK to send invitations to someone "and Guest"?

It can cause a lot of confusion to use "and Guest".  It is better to
find out whether or not each guest has been dating someone they would
like to bring, and invite that person specifically.  Some people 
apparently
feel obligated to find a guest to bring when they receive an "and Guest"
invitation.  On the other hand, others are glad to receive such an 
invitation.
So, if you don't want to find out whether each of your guests is dating
someone they want to bring, you may want to ask people in your social
circle whether or not they would like to receive an invitation addressed
to themselves "and Guest".

8.3) If I've invited guests and not invited their children, what do I
       do when they send a response saying their children are coming
       with them?

If you don't want children at the wedding, you should call and explain
that you're having an adult wedding and that their children are not
invited.  However, you may want to add that you are providing a baby-
sitting service for the convenience of the guests.

8.4) I have been invited to a wedding without my fiance.  Can I get my
       fiance invited, or do I have to go alone?

It is a social gaffe not to invite both people in a married or engaged
couple.  Therefore, you are right to feel that your fiance should have
been invited with you.  At this point, you need to decide whether you
want to go even without him, or whether you aren't willing to go if
he can't come too.

If you're only willing to go if your fiance can come too, then you could
send back a negative RSVP, with the explanation that you can't possibly
attend without your fiance.  This then puts the ball back in the court
of the hosts -- if they made a mistake in not inviting your fiance,
hopefully they will call or write to tell you that you're both welcome
to come.

If, on the other hand, you want to come either way, you are on shakier
ground.  If you are reasonably close to the hosts/couple being married,
you could call them and ask if your fiance could attend with you.
Otherwise, you might consider dropping in someone's ear the intelligence
that you're having trouble deciding whether or not to come because
your fiance wasn't invited with you.  The someone you select to share
this with should be someone you think will talk to the hosts or the
couple about it, who will hopefully then realize their error and invite
him.

There are people who have such severely limited guest lists that they
are unable to invite spouses and fiances, in which case you are 
hopefully
close enough to them (after all, with such a limited guest list, I'd 
hope
anyone they did invite was close to them!) that you'd be able to talk
to them about it and they'd feel free to explain the situation to you,
rather than feeling pressured to invite your fiance when they couldn't
invite the fiances of other guests.

Miss Manners tells us that couples who are living together are presumed
to be "secretly engaged", and therefore should also be invited together
to social events.

8.5) What percentage of the people I invite can be expected to come?

This varies tremendously.  The best method to use is to assign a
percentage chance that each person you have invited will come.  If
you then add up all the percentages, you will get a pretty good idea
of how many guests you will have.  For example:


Uncle Joe   .5 (50%)
Aunt Susan  .5 (50%)
Mom         1  (100%)
Dad         1  (100%)
Bobby       1  (100%)

Total:      4


So from this list, you would expect 4 guests.  While it might not seem
like it would work very well, it does.

8.7) Can I use my laser printer to address my invitations?

There are two schools of thought on this:

* Absolutely not.  Addressing invitations by machine demonstrates a lack
   of personal attention and interest in whether a guest attends.  This
   is a majority, traditional view.

* Of course.  The post office will have a much easier time delivering 
the
   invitations if I print the addresses.  In fact, while I'm at it, I'll
   consult with them about bar-coding the invitations.  After all, the
   purpose of the outer envelope is to ensure the invitations get there,
   not to look pretty.  This is a minority view.  Persons who adhere to
   this view do generally consider it better to print directly on the
   envelopes, rather than on address labels.  Those who print on labels
   usually use clear labels.  Incidentally, the original purpose of the
   outer envelope was to protect the invitation from the hazards of being
   transported by your footman to the invitees homes.  The invitees'
   butlers would then remove the outer envelope, so that the people being
   invited only ever saw the inner envelope.  Recently, Miss Manners
   seems to have grudgingly agreed with this school of thought.  I read 
an
   article in Family Circle magazine on addressing Christmas cards using
   address labels, and Miss Manners agreed that this was acceptable as
   long as the inside was written by hand.


There are no schools of thought that I know of that consider it
acceptable to laser print the inner envelope.  Everyone seems to agree
that it should properly be hand written.

9) Photography and Video

9.1) Do I have to hire a professional photographer?

This is a personal decision.  There are, of course, pros and cons of
hiring a professional photographer:

Cons:

*  Cost -- It usually costs at least $300 to hire a professional
    photographer to come take pictures at your wedding, and the longer
    you need the photographer for, the more it will cost.  On top of 
this,
    you have the cost of getting prints of the pictures once the wedding
    is over, which will probably cost more than hiring the photographer
    to come take the pictures.  Since the price of photography varies so
    widely depending on where you live, it is impossible to give a
    listing of what you might pay for different services; the amount of
    photography you can get for $800 in a small town might cost $3000 in
    a big city.

*  Accessibility of negatives -- with a professional photographer, you 
will
    usually need to go back to them every time you want additional prints
    of your wedding pictures.  Some photographers will release the
    negatives to you, either for an additional fee or after a certain
    time period.  There are a very few professional photographers who
    will shoot your wedding in 35mm film and let you have the negatives.

*  Knowledge of people -- The professional photographer doesn't know 
your
    family and friends, and so will have trouble identifying who is
    important to you.


Pros:

*  Skill and Experience -- A professional photographer will know how to
    take good pictures in various lighting conditions, have knowledge
    of composition, be able to work with the limitations imposed by
    a church, and know how to stay out of everyone's way.  A professional
    photographer will also know about appropriateness of different kinds
    of film and may have access to better developing and printing
    techniques than the amateur.

*  Likelihood of getting good pictures -- This is related to skill
    and experience.  With a professional photographer, you hire
    someone with a proven track record, whose style you can find out
    about ahead of time by looking at albums from other weddings they
    have done.  Reputable professionals bring backup equipment in
    case their primary equipment fails.

*  Contract -- You have a contract with a professional that specifies
    what will happen if the photographer can't come, how long the
    photographer will stay, etc.  (Be sure the contract specifies
    exactly who is going to come and take pictures, otherwise the
    photographer or studio might send someone other than who you
    thought you were getting.)

*  Not a guest -- A professional photographer is not a guest.  Their
    entire reason for being at your wedding is to take pictures.

*  Lack of hassle -- You can hire a reputable professional, give them
    direction, and pay them to take care of the rest.  You don't
    need to stress about the details, either before, during, or after
    the wedding.


9.2) Should I have disposable cameras on the tables?

Disposable cameras can be a fun way for your guests to amuse
themselves, and you may get some memorable photos out of them.  They
work better with brighter lighting.  This is not a substitute for
hiring a professional photographer or having a friend or relative with
a good camera take pictures.  An alternative to disposable cameras
is to buy regular 35mm film and cheap 35mm cameras for people to take
pictures with at the reception; this will provide better picture
quality.  Some people ask their guests to bring their own cameras and
provide 35mm film for the guests to use.  The problem with this idea
is that many guests prefer to take pictures for their own use, as well
as pictures for the couple to have, and asking them to use their own
cameras to take pictures for you will probably deprive them of the
ability to take pictures for themselves.

You should appoint someone, such as a friend or relative who has asked
if there's anything they can do to help, to collect the cameras at the
end.

9.3) Should I have a wedding video made?

This is again a personal decision.  Some people really enjoy having a
video of their wedding.  Others find it sits on a shelf and collects
dust.  Only you can decide which group you fall into.

People who like video often give the following arguments:

*  It lets you see parts of the wedding you didn't get to see because
    you were too busy with your responsibilities.
*  It captures every nuance of the ceremony, which you may not remember
    yourself because it was such an emotional time.  Many people find
    it very romantic to be able to see and hear themselves saying their
    vows all over again.*
*  It gives people who weren't at the wedding a better feeling that
    they've really experienced it.
*  It can be a wonderful memory of the people who were there.  You
    may live far away from your friends and relatives, and enjoy the
    chance to see them again, moving and talking, on your wedding
    video.  As the years go by, the children will grow up, and
    members of your family may pass away, making the videotape
    even more valuable to you.


People who don't like video often give these arguments:

*  Showing people your wedding video forces them to proceed at the
    pace of the video.  Flipping through a photo album can be done at
    the viewer's own pace, and is more interactive, as you can tell
    stories about the pictures.
*  Video forces every moment to be remembered as it actually happened,
    rather than as you might like to remember it.
*  Video is a high-technology product, requiring special equipment to
    view.  Some people also have philosophical objections to video.


Some people argue that wedding video is a waste because the videotape
will degrade over time.  While this is true, there's no reason to
think that you won't be able to transfer it to a more stable medium
later.  People also argue that 50 years from now, there won't be VCR's,
so you won't be able to watch it.  Again, if it's important to you,
you can always have it transferred to the new medium when VCR's become
obsolete.  So, while you will have to devote a little time to preserving
your video, you can expect that if it matters to you, you'll still have
the recording (though probably no longer on videotape) in 50 years.

The technology for creating printed pictures from video is improving
all the time, making this a possible way to augment the pictures from
your photographer.

9.4) Should I hire a professional videographer?

Obviously, you will get much better results if you hire a competent
professional than if you have Aunt Susan bring her camcorder.  However,
that doesn't mean you necessarily need to hire a professional.  You
should consider:

*  How important the video is to you.
*  Whether or not home video quality is acceptable to you.  This may
    depend partially on what the purpose of the video is.  If it's
    primarily to jog your own memory, amateur quality may be acceptable,
    while if you intend to show it to other people, you may prefer
    professional quality.
*  What budgetary trade-offs you will have to make in order to have
    professional video.


One thing that may help you decide is to watch various wedding videos;
perhaps friends and family have amateur and professional videos you
could watch.  The professional videographer you are considering should
be able to show you some of the videos s/he has done.

Some particular advantages of good professional video are greatly 
improved
sound and lighting, as well as better overall picture quality.  
Competent
professional videographers have better equipment than amateurs, know how
to take advantage of the available light, and have experience coming up
with creative solutions to eliminate intrusiveness.

When evaluating video, in addition to the picture quality, pay careful
attention to the sound, an aspect many people don't pay attention
to until they're disappointed in the sound of their own videos.

You should also know that there are big differences between the style,
philosophy, and ability of different videographers.  If video is 
important
to you, it could be quite worthwhile to speak with several different
videographers and see their sample videos.  If you have particular
concerns, you can probably find a videographer who has experience
working within the constraints you have.

10) Service Professionals

10.1) Do service professionals need to be fed?

If your wedding is taking place over a meal time, and you are feeding 
your
guests, you should make sure there is some arrangement for your service
professionals to eat, also.  That means people like the photographer,
videographer, band, etc.  There are several reasons for this:

* Service professionals are often working before the wedding starts and
   after it ends, which makes the time that they are without food even
   longer than it might seem.
* You will get better service if you make sure the service professionals
   aren't feeling faint with hunger while they work.
* If you don't make provision for them to eat, they might leave your
   reception to go get something to eat -- and might be gone for an
   hour or more.


How should you deal with this?  There are several options.  Some people
have a table among the guests where the service professionals eat as
though they were guests.  Others have the caterer provide a simple meal
for the service professionals that they eat elsewhere.  Another option
is to provide a place for them to eat food they bring with them, and
finally, you could allow them to leave to go get food.  I don't really
recommend the last option, because that's the one where you have the
least amount of control over how long they're gone.

To decide between these options, I recommend you discuss with your
caterer what options they offer, and what the standard procedure is in
your area.  Armed with this information, you should then speak to your
service providers about what they expect and/or prefer.  Then, you'll
be able to write some reasonable language into your contracts with these
people specifying what will be done about meals.  This step is highly
recommended, because having it in writing gives everyone something to
look at to remember what was agreed on, and if something different
ends up happening, it gives you a clear, written leg to stand on if you
want to pursue the matter.  You should, of course, also write what is
decided on into the contract with the caterer.

I think it is reasonable to expect that the caterer will make proper
arrangements with their own staff about meals and breaks, without
your intervention.


11) Showers

11.1) Who can host a shower?

Anyone who isn't the mother or sister of the bride.  Because the point
of a shower is to "shower" the bride with gifts, it is inappropriate for
a very close relative to host it.  The bridesmaids often host a shower.
It is important, when inviting people to a shower, to make sure only to
invite people who are also going to be invited to the wedding.  
Remember,
the purpose of a shower is to give gifts, and it is rude to expect
someone to give a gift if they aren't important enough to be invited to
the wedding.

11.2) If the people at work give me a shower, do I have to invite them
       to the wedding?

No.  A work-related shower can be given by people and have guests who
are not invited to the wedding.  The same would be true of a shower
given by members of a club the bride belongs to and other similar
"special group" showers.

11.3) Is it OK to include the bride's registry information with the
       shower invitation?

Yes, because showers exist for the purpose of giving gifts.  However,
common sense is a good idea here; if you're planning a shower where you
expect people to bring a small gift like a rubber spatula and a recipe
card, you probably don't want to include the registry information!

11.4) What are some possible shower themes?

There are any number of possible shower themes.  Some examples are
a recipe shower, a lingerie shower, a kitchen shower, an "around the
clock" shower (where each guest is told to bring a gift that could
be used at a specific time of day), a bath shower, a hardware
shower, and a stationery shower.

It is not necessary to have a shower theme.

11.5) Can I have a co-ed shower?

Yes.  Some people are finding that it is more congenial to have a
co-ed shower, particularly when the couple have many of the same
friends of both genders.  In this case, one usually invites both the
bride and groom to attend (or plans it as a surprise for both the bride
and groom).

12) The Rehearsal Dinner

12.1) What kind of rehearsal dinner is acceptable?

You can have anything ranging from pizza or a barbeque at someone's
house all the way up to a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant where
everyone gets to choose anything they want from the menu.  Which you
choose depends on your personality and your budget.

12.2) Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner?

Usually only those persons involved in the rehearsal and their spouses
or partners.  Many people are now choosing to invite also those
out-of-town guests who have arrived by that time.

12.3) Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, this is the responsibility of the groom's family.

13) Gifts (advice for the bride and groom)

13.1) Should I register for gifts?

Most couples do register for gifts, if only to let prospective 
gift-givers
know what patterns of china, silver, crystal, and stainless they've
selected.

Registering for gifts allows couples to let people know what kinds of
gifts they would like to receive.  It is also possible to do this in
a less specific way, by telling your parents and members of the wedding
party what your general needs are.  If you use a registry, these are the
same people you will give the registry information to, and they will
tell people when they are asked.

Registering for gifts also allows you to have a better chance of not
receiving duplicate gifts, because a well-run registry will keep track
of what gifts have already been purchased.  You can also call the
store where you have registered when you receive gifts purchased 
elsewhere,
and they will update their lists to reflect that you've received these
items.

However, no one should ever feel obligated to buy something that you 
have
registered for, and if they select a different gift for you, it is not
appropriate to criticize their choice of gift because it was not on your
registry.  There are many reasons why people choose not to use your
registry; some feel that a gift is more personal if they select it
themselves, others have a brilliant gift idea for you and never even
think of consulting the registry, and still others simply never hear
about the registry.

13.2) What should I register for?

You can register for almost anything.  Most people register for
china, silver, crystal, and stainless, because it is traditional
to receive a set of these things as wedding gifts.  However, that
does not mean you must register for these things, though you should
be aware that some prospective gift-givers may be disappointed, because
they wanted to give these things to you and can't do so if you haven't
selected a pattern.

It is a good idea to register for gifts in a variety of price ranges,
so all guests will be able to find something they like and can afford.

Some people are of the school of thought that you should only register
for things you think you will actually receive.  This means you would
figure out how much money each of your guests was likely to spend, and
register for gifts in that approximate total dollar amount.

Other people believe you should register for what you really want, and
expect that you will only receive some of it.

These two schools of thought tend to come into conflict over decisions 
of
whether to register for a less expensive china pattern you like, or a
more expensive one you absolutely adore.  You should make such a 
decision
based on whether you would rather have a few place settings of the one
you adore, or many place settings of the one you like.

If you choose to register in a nontraditional place, such as a home
center or hardware store, or you choose to register only for 
nontraditional
items, you should be aware that some prospective gift-givers will be
dissuaded from buying anything from your registry because they only want
to give gifts of "lasting value", things that are likely to become
heirlooms.

It is possible to register now at your travel agent or at a bank, for
money toward a house or some such.  This is considered tacky by many
people, just as many people consider it tacky to request money as a
gift.  That is not to say you shouldn't do it; merely that you should be
aware of this possible reaction.

13.3) How will people find out about my registry?

People will find out about your registry in one of three ways:

*By asking someone, like your parents or members of the wedding party.
*By receiving a shower invitation, which might include information
         about where you are registered.
*By going to a store or website and checking to see if you are 
registered.


It is generally considered to be inappropriate to mention your registry
in your invitations, because it might imply that you were expecting to
receive gifts from people you invited to your wedding.

I think whether or not it would be OK to mention your registry on a WWW
page you created about your wedding, or a newsletter you mailed to your
guests about the wedding separately from the invitation, is a more
nebulous area.  If I were pressed, I would probably think it was more
acceptable on a WWW page than in a newsletter, because someone has to
explicitly choose to access the information on the WWW page, while if 
you
mail it to them, it's more like you're forcing it on them.

13.4) What do I do with gifts received before the wedding?

Any gifts you receive before the wedding, whether they are engagement or
wedding gifts, should be opened and thank-you notes written.  However, 
you
should bear in mind that if anything should happen so that the wedding
cannot take place, you are responsible for returning the gifts to the
givers.  Therefore, it is a bad idea to use the gifts before the 
wedding,
and you should keep all the original packaging.

Gifts of money should not be spent, but instead set aside, perhaps in 
your
new joint bank account, until after the wedding.  All checks should
definitely be deposited into a bank account, because it is annoying to
the giver when you wait a long time to deposit a check.


14) Gift-Giving

14.1) Am I required to give the bride and groom a wedding present?

No, you are not required to give a gift to a couple who are getting 
married.
The idea is that you give the bride and groom a gift because of your 
genuine
fondness for the couple and desire to present them with a token of your
esteem to celebrate the occasion of their marriage.

People who actually attend the wedding generally do experience this 
outpouring
of enthusiasm and joy, and therefore typically give gifts.

People who decline a wedding invitation but would have liked to attend 
if
they hadn't been out of the country (in the hospital, etc.) also 
generally
experience this, and therefore typically give gifts.

People who decline a wedding invitation because they didn't feel this 
level
of enthusiasm for the event do not generally give gifts.

Under no circumstance should people who are invited to weddings ever 
feel
obligated to give a gift.

14.2) Am I required to give a gift at a shower?

The purpose of a shower is to "shower" the bride with gifts to help her
set up her new household.

Therefore, you are required to give a gift if you attend a shower.  This
gift is generally expected to be of the smallish household variety 
(though
this may vary in different social groups).  The invitation to the shower
will usually give some kind of indication of what sort of gifts are 
expected
(this can range from a spice and a recipe that uses it up to things like
mixing bowls or casual china and the like.

One of the differences between typical shower gifts and typical wedding
gifts is that shower gifts tend to be less "special" or "eternal"--
fine silver is not usually given at showers.

14.3) Am I required to choose a gift from the couple's registry?

No.  The purpose of the registry is to provide information to potential
gift buyers about the couple's taste and preferences.  However, you are
under no obligation to purchase items from the registry when giving the
couple a gift.

Generally, you would want to consult the registry if you would like to
purchase something such as china, silver, or crystal, in which the 
couple
may have selected a favorite pattern.  This would allow you to buy 
something
in the pattern they have chosen.  You might also consult the registry 
if you
do not already have specific ideas about what you'd like to give them,
or you would like to give them something unrelated to the registry but
need to know what colors or styles they might like.

14.4) When should I give the couple my wedding gift?

There are different traditions in different cultures about this.  
However,
it is often best to send the gift by mail to the bride, either before or
after the wedding, rather than bringing it to the reception.  This is 
because
it is much more convenient for the couple if they do not have to worry 
about
cards becoming detached from gifts, transporting the gifts to their 
home,
and so on.  This is particularly important if the couple live far away
from the site of the wedding.

You can give a wedding gift up to 1 year after the wedding.


15) Officiants

15.1) Who can perform a wedding?

This varies from place to place.  In some countries, you must be legally
married by the state before you may be married in your church; in the
US, you can be married in your church without needing a separate legal
wedding.  If you don't want to be married in a church, you can get a
minister to marry you elsewhere, or you can be married by other people
who have legal authority to perform marriages where you live, such as 
judges
or justices of the peace.  In the USA, it is usually possible to get one
of these people to marry you at the location of your choice.  It may 
also
be possible to obtain a marriage certificate that does not need to be
signed by an officiant, or for the person who you want to have marry
you to get a special license to marry you.

Since this varies so enormously from place to place, it is vital that 
you
discuss these issues with the office that deals with these matters 
where you
live.

You may find that the lowest hassle solution is to be legally married at
the courthouse, after which you can have whatever kind of public wedding
you want.

15.2) Universal Life Church

Anyone can become a ULC minister.  Your state may not allow a ULC
minister to perform a wedding, however, because they may require
that a minister performing weddings also fulfill some other 
requirements,
such as having a congregation.  Be sure to check on this.

Becoming a ULC minister is free, though small donations are appreciated.

Further information is available at the ULC web site:

http://www.ulc.org/

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM