Monday, June 1, 2009

Wedding Planning Guide: Q & A (Part III)

Q. Do men in the wedding party wear dinner jackets (tuxedos) at all formal weddings?
A. No. Tuxedos are worn only for semiformal and some informal evening weddings. See the chart for a list of appropriate clothing for the groom and his attendants.

Q. My fiance is in the military, Should he wear his uniform for our wedding?
A. If it is important to him and you approve, he certainly may wear his uniform.

Q. I have a three-year-old son, May I wear a white wedding gown at my forthcoming marriage?
A. No, nor should you wear a veil or orange blossoms or a dress with a train. Off-whites, whites with color in trim or accessories or pastels are very appropriate, however, and you may wear a long dress, if your wedding is formal or elaborate.

Q. What expenses do the bride and her family pay?
A. The traditional division of expenses is listed here. Actual expenses paid by each family may be different depending on financial circumstances, ethnic or regional variations and any agreement the two families reach regarding expenses. The traditional expenses paid by the bride and her family are:

  • The invitations and announcements
  • The bride's wedding dress and accessories
  • The service of a bridal consultant, if desired
  • Floral decorations for the church and the reception
  • Bouquets for the bridesmaids
  • Bouquet for the bride (unless local custom is that it is provided by the groom)
  • Corsages for the bride's mother and grandmothers, unless, the groom is providing them
  • Boutonniere for the bride's father
  • Music for the church and the reception
  • The church sexton's fee
  • Transportation for the bridal party to the church and then to the reception, if rented limousines are used
  • All the expenses of the reception
  • Bride's presents to her attendants
  • Bride's present to her groom, if she wishes to give him one
  • Groom's wedding ring
  • Hotel accommodations for bride's attendants if they cannot stay with friends, neighbors or relatives
  • Travel expenses and lodging for the clergyman if he has been invited by the bride's family and must travel a distance to perform the ceremony
  • Formal wedding photographs and candid pictures
  • Awnings, a tent for an outdoor reception and ribbons and a carpet for the church aisle, if not provided by the church
  • The services of a traffic policeman, if necessary

Q. What expenses do a groom and his family have?
A. As explained in the previous question, this is the traditional division of expenses. It is subject to modification by agreement between both families, financial circumstances and ethnic or regional variations. The traditional expenses paid by the groom and his family are:

  • Bride's engagement and wedding rings
  • Groom's present to his bride, if he wishes to give her one
  • Gifts for the best man and the ushers
  • Hotel accommodations for the groom's attendants if they can't stay with friends, neighbors or relatives
  • Ties, gloves and boutonni√®res for the best man and ushers
  • The groom's and his father's boutonni√®res The clergyman's fee or donation The marriage license
  • Transportation for the groom and his best man to the church
  • Expenses of the honeymoon
  • The rehearsal dinner
  • The bride's bouquet in areas where it is the custom
  • The bride's going-away corsage
  • Corsages for immediate members -of both families, unless the bride has included them in her florist's order
  • Bachelor dinner, if he wishes to give one
  • Groom's parents pay their own transportation and lodging expenses
  • Travel expenses and hotel- accommodations for the clergyman if he has been invited by the groom's family and must travel a distance to perform the ceremony

Q. How much should the clergyman's fee be?
A. The amount varies according to the size and the formality of the ceremony. It may range from $20 for a small, private wedding to from $100 to $300 for an elaborate one. If the fee is paid by check, it is made out to the clergyman unless he or she has informed you it should be made out to the church instead..If the clergyman has traveled a distance to perform the ceremony, both traveling and lodging expenses are paid for by the family at whose request the trip was made.

Q. What expenses do the bridesmaids have?
  • Their own dresses and accessories
  • Transportation to and from the city or town where the wedding takes place
  • A contribution to a gift from all the bridesmaids to the bride
  • A wedding gift to the bride and groom
  • Participation in a shower and/or luncheon for the bride

Q. What expenses do the groom's attendants have?
  • Rental of wedding attire
  • Transportation to and from city or town where wedding takes place
  • Contribution to a gift from all the groom's attendants to the groom
  • A wedding gift to the bride and groom
  • Participation in the expenses of the bachelor dinner, if given by the ushers

Q. Who pays for the lodging expenses for family or friends when they come from out of town?
A. They pay their own expenses, although either set of parents fnay arrange lodging with other friends or relatives, or secure hotel accommodations, as a courtesy. If the bride's and groom's families wish, they also may offer to pay the expenses of out-of-town guests, but it is neither expected nor required.

Q. Does the groom's family ever pay any of the costs of the reception?
A. Yes. In certain localities and among some ethnic groups it is customary for the groom's family to share in the expenses of the reception. When this is an accepted and traditional practice it is perfectly correct. Furthermore, in general, the.groom's family is more and more often sharing, in some or "all of the expenses with the bride's family. It is no longer considered an insult for the groom's family to offer to share, simply out of thoughtfulness or to allow a bigger reception than the bride's family alone can afford. It is critical, however, that the offer come from the groom's family and not be a request or suggestion on the part of the bride's family, and that the groom's family abide by the bride's parents' wishes and not insist if there is any resentment.

When the groom's family assumes a fair share of the costs, they become co-hosts with the bride's parents. Therefore, the wedding invitations should be issued in their names, too.

Q. What expenses should we budget for when planning a wedding?
A. First, list the categories of expenses you will be incurring and then obtain estimates from the vendors, services, etc., you plan to use so you have a realistic picture of the dollars and cents involved. The following chart shows the basic expense categories for both a large, formal wedding and a small, at-home wedding. No amounts are given here for the large wedding, as these costs change rapidly and vary widely in different parts of the United States. If you will have to lodge your attendants at a hotel, or provide a thank-you gift to a friend, relative or neighbor who will house your guests, be sure to include it as a category, as well as such things as shoes, gifts to your attendants and extra entertainment costs for out-of-town guests.

For a Simple Wedding at Home

InvitationsHandwritten notes or telephone calls$10
FoodSandwiches, snacks$100
BeveragesPunch (with or without liquor) $25-$50
Flowers Fresh from garden or 2 vases for "altar" $30
CakeBaked by Aunt Doris$0
PhotographsTaken by Uncle John$0
Caterer Friends and relatives $0
Hall rentalNone$0
Music CD or records (rented) $20
Wedding dressBorrowed from best friend or favorite "old" dress$0
Clergy feeSmall donation or gift if ceremony performed by friend $25
Sexton's feeNone$0

Although some of these items may seem incidental, the costs add up quickly and it is wise to prepare as comprehensive a budget as possible.

Q. Who decides on the number of guests?
A. This is determined by whoever is hosting the wedding reception (usually the bride and her family), based, of course, on the number of guests who will fit comfortably in the planned accommodations.

Q. How is the total number of invitations divided between the bride's family and the groom's?
A. Usually they are divided in half, especially if both families are of roughly equal size and if they live in the same community. If they do not, the groom's mother will have an idea of how many of the groom's family and friends will travel to the wedding and gives this information to the bride's mother. If this number is less than the number allotted to the groom's family, the bride's mother is free to issue this number of extra invitations.

Q. The groom's mother wishes to invite more than the number of places allotted to the groom's family. How do we handle this situation?
A. The size of a wedding reception is determined by choice and by financial necessity, or both, and the groom's mother should make every effort to stay within the number of places allocated to her. Your mother should be frank, if asked to increase the size, and explain that the planned size is what you can afford. If the groom's mother feels she must invite more than her allocated number, she and her husband should suggest that they pay a share of the expenses sufficient to cover the additional costs. If this is not satisfactory or if you and your parents do not want to alter your plans, she can plan a reception for you and your groom after your honeymoon, inviting the friends who could not be included at the wedding.

Q. What determines the formality of the wedding?
A. The elements of whether a wedding is formal, semiformal or informal have traditional patterns. The chart in the following posts provides a list of your options. Many of the items are interchangeable and may be adapted to fit your situation.

Q. After deciding the date and site of the wedding, are there any rules about choosing the hour of the ceremony?
A. No, there really aren't any rules, although certain customs, climates and personal preferences are "rules of thumb." For example, Catholic weddings that include a nuptial mass were traditionally held at noon or earlier to accommodate those who fast before mass. Although this is no longer necessary, many Catholic weddings are still held at that hour. In the South, summer weddings are often held in the evening since the days are so warm. In the East, formal Protestant weddings most often are held at four or five o'clock in the afternoon. Whatever time you choose, it is best to plan the reception immediately following the wedding so that your out-of-town guests are not left wondering what to do or where to go!




Bride's dress

Long white gown, train,

Long white gown, veil

White or pastel cocktail

veil optional


dress or suit or

afternoon dress

(sometimes, very

simple long gown)

Bridesmaids' dresses

Long or according to
Long or
according to

Same type of dress as

current style

current style

worn by bride

Dress of groom and his

Cutaway or tailcoat

Sack coat or tuxedo

Dark blazer or jacket


Bride's attendants

Maid or matron of

Maid or matron of

Maid or matron of

honor, 4-10

honor, 2-6

honor, 1 or 2 children

bridesmaids, flower

bridesmaids, flower


girl, ring bearer

girl, ring bearer



Groom's attendants

Best man; 1 usher for

Best man; 1 usher for

Best man; 1 usher if

every 50 guests, or
every 50 guests, or

necessary to seat

same number as

same number as




Location of ceremony

Church, synagogue or

Church, synagogue,

Chapel, rectory, justice

large home or garden

chapel hotel, club,

of the peace, home,

home, garden


Location of reception

Club, hotel, garden or

Club, restaurant, hotel,

Church parlor, home,

large home

garden, home


Number of guests

200 or more

75 to 200

75 or under

Provider of service at

Caterer at home, or club

Caterer at home, or club

Caterer, friends and


or hotel facilities

or hotel facilities

relatives or restaurant


Sit-down or semibuffet

Buffet (bridal party and

Stand-up buffet or 1

(tables provided for

parents may have

table for all guests;

bridal party, parents

tables); cocktail buffet

may be a meal or

and guests); hot meal

food, sandwiches, cold

snacks and wedding

served; wedding cake

cuts, snacks, wedding'.




Champagne; whiskey

Champagne or punch for

Champagne or punch

and soft drinks

toasts; whiskey and

for toasts; tea, coffee


soft drinks (optional)

or soft drinks in


Q. What matters should be discussed with the clergyman when we first meet with him?
A. There are several points to cover, depending on your religion. A general checklist includes the following:
  • The service itself—whether it will be traditional and/or whether you wish to write your own vows or include special passages
  • Whether he or you should contact the sexton or organist about music, a visiting soloist or musician, etc.
  • Your preferred date and time of the wedding, and a time for the rehearsal
  • What kind of counseling he will have with you
  • What, if any, papers or documents he may need from you
  • Whether photographs may be taken in the church either before or after the service
  • Whether candles may be used
  • The clergyman's recommendations on the number of guests the church or synagogue will hold
  • Whether you or he should discuss such things as canopies, carpets, dressing facilities, candles, etc. with the sexton, and what the charge will be for the use of these items
  • Whether there are dress restrictions for the wedding party
  • Whether the congregation will remain seated or stand during the procession and the service
  • Whether decorations are permitted, and, if so, when you or your florist can have access to decorate

Q. May a relative who is a member of the clergy perform my wedding?
A. Yes, as long as your clergyman is willing. If he or she is, you and your fiance should talk with both clergymen, or communicate by telephone or letter, as well as check as to whether the visiting clergyman wishes to make a preliminary visit to become acquainted with the church or synagogue.

Q. May a couple who have been living together for some time have a church wedding and a reception?
A. Yes, if your clergyman is willing to perform the ceremony.

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