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Etiquette

NER: Making it about my guests

Hi Ladies!

I'm recently engaged, but had been perfectly happy with a common law commitment.  FI's priorities changed, so now we are wedding planning, but I've just never put any thought into what my wedding might look like, so I'm playing around with a few ideas and would like to bounce one off you.  This isn't exactly etiquette related (I think that's what "NER" means, but I apologize if I'm wrong), but in reading the boards I am confident that this is the place to post for informed/experienced, honest insight.

I've seen a common theme in these boards about the importance of hosting guests properly. Considering that, and my aversion to a more tradtional ceremony where the bride is a focal point - I'm thinking about having a guest-centric wedding.  Whatever our budget, most of the money would be applied to a great venue, food, music - basically the things that guests most directly experience.  This would mean not really caring about my dress, centerpieces, qualifications of the officiant (a friend with a legal, online certification is fine), etc.

My question:  Could this approach look half-hearted to guests, thereby undercutting my intent to spoil them and make them feel like an important part of the wedding.  For example, if I wear a non-tradtional dress, might they feel like they may as well have attended a backyard bbq?

Happy to elaborate if need be, and I truly appreciate any insight you have to offer!

Re: NER: Making it about my guests

  • I think that this approach would be well received by guests.  My fiance spent the majority of our budget on the venue and the caterer.  Very little went into decorations, our clothes, etc.  I feel weird being the center of attention even when everyone tells me it is "my day" I also want to make sure my guests will enjoy themselves and ensure they will have a good time. 
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  • I don't think it would, you'd still be getting married.

    Maybe check out OffbeatBride.com. They feature all kinds of unusual weddings, from various colored dresses to full-out zombie or Star Trek themed weddings.
  • I think every bride and groom should be good hosts, and kudos to you for putting your guests first.

    I don't think having a more casual or plain dress would make guests think your wedding was any less real, or extravagant, or fun, or anything.  I don't think they'd care, as long as you're happy in it.

    I don't have any problem with what you're suggesting at all, except I found the officiant comment a little strange.

    In the grand scheme of wedding costs, officiants usually don't cost much.  It's important to get someone who accurately reflects you as a couple and your beliefs, whether he's religious, secular, professional or just a friend.  I just don't think you need to "skimp" so to speak on your officiant.  Not that there's anything wrong with having a friend officiate (as long as it's not a burden to that friend), but I happen to think that the ceremony should first and foremost reflect and satisfy the bride and groom.  I think your guests would want you to be happy with your ceremony too.  So choose the kind of ceremony you really want.  Let the reception be the big thank you event for your guests.

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  • @monkey, I hear you.  I'm not looking to save money on an officiant, but do understand your confusion.  I come from a Catholic family and FI is secular.  However, I think that both families understand that we are not committed to a religion.  But I guess, their feelings regarding a secular ceremony would be separate from the basis of my question. I'm conflating some issues there.  

    Ultimately, I just want for our budgetary allocations to properly reflect how important FI and I see our guests to our shared future.  

    And thank you to all pp's for your input!

  • I think there's great ways to not spend a lot of money on extras and still have a beautiful wedding.  I spent less than $500 on my centerpieces (18 of them) - there's a picture in my bio - granted we had the slate tiles leftover from a home improvement project and I borrowwed the rocks from my aunt or it might have been a little more.  I got my dress at the "running of the brides" sale at Filene's Basement for $500 and I loved it.  Probably 90% of our budget was spent on the venue/food and DJ.  Our guests had a great time and after 2 years are still talking about our wedding.

    Check out the budget brides board for some great ideas on doing the fine touches for not a lot of $$ and some fun DIY touches that can make it feel very personal without breaking the bank.  There's a few people around here that have had non-traditional dresses as well.  I've seen some short (tea length - don't go hoochie on us :)) and ice blue dresses that were beautiful.  Many times you can get bridesmaids dresses in white or light colors that are beautiful and a fraction of the cost of a "bridal" gown depending on what suits your taste and wishes.



  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    The majority of our budget is dedicated the reception because we want our guests to have a good time, particularly because many of them are coming out of town.

    When I go to a wedding, I always remember what the reception was like, so we're putting most of our focus on the food, alcohol, and space (as in, not too crowded with plenty of seating). All of the other details are just that... details.

  • EK2013EK2013 member
    100 Comments 5 Love Its First Anniversary
    In Response to NER: Making it about my guests:
    Hi Ladies! I'm recently engaged, but had been perfectly happy with a common law commitment.  FI's priorities changed, so now we are wedding planning, but I've just never put any thought into what my wedding might look like, so I'm playing around with a few ideas and would like to bounce one off you.  This isn't exactly etiquette related (I think that's what "NER" means, but I apologize if I'm wrong), but in reading the boards I am confident that this is the place to post for informed/experienced, honest insight. I've seen a common theme in these boards about the importance of hosting guests properly. Considering that, and my aversion to a more tradtional ceremony where the bride is a focal point - I'm thinking about having a guest-centric wedding.  Whatever our budget, most of the money would be applied to a great venue, food, music - basically the things that guests most directly experience.  This would mean not really caring about my dress, centerpieces, qualifications of the officiant (a friend with a legal, online certification is fine), etc. My question:  Could this approach look half-hearted to guests, thereby undercutting my intent to spoil them and make them feel like an important part of the wedding.  For example, if I wear a non-tradtional dress, might they feel like they may as well have attended a backyard bbq? Happy to elaborate if need be, and I truly appreciate any insight you have to offer!
    Posted by JennGinDC

    I'm not sure what your budget is, but I did some of the things you're considering.

    Your guests will want to see a nice, heartfelt ceremony, but they won't care about decor or how much it costs. (I found The Wedding Ceremony Planner very helpful when my DH, officiant, and I were planning the ceremony together.) Guests will want to see you look comfortable and happy, so just don't make any choices that would involve you feeling uncomfortable and you'll be set!
  • It was also important to me to be a good hostess.  I know your question was budgetary, but I wanted to share some things (most pretty inexpensive) we did that received positive comments from guests:
    --Detailed ceremony program.  We had a Catholic wedding, and at least 2/3 of our guests were not Catholic, so we included when to stand/sit/kneel, wordings for prayers, explanations for the rituals, etc.  This could contain very different information for you, such as a comment on why music you choose is special to you, mini bios of the wedding party, or even a short blessing you'd like all your guests to read in unison so they're actually part of the ceremony rather than only observers.
    --Adequate sound system at ceremony.  Since we were in a church, this was not an issue, but a huge pet peeve of mine has been not being able to hear the vows well, especially at outdoor weddings.  I sat through one where traffic noise drowned out everything after the welcome.
    --Providing written directions from the ceremony to reception, if they're not at the same site.  Not everyone has a GPS.
    --Providing activities for the time after the ceremony when you're taking photos, if food will not be immediately available.  I composed a newlywed crossword with trivia about us to get people talking and sharing stories, though that's too campy for some people's tastes.  I heard of one couple offering a trolley with a tour of city sites to entertain OOT guests or showing a photo slideshow earlier than usual.  It's boring just to sit around waiting, especially if you don't know other guests.
    --Consider common dietary needs.  We had two meat entrees but offered pasta for a sidedish so that vegetarians wouldn't be stuck with only salad and cake.  While we couldn't offer Kosher, we did avoid options like bacon flavoring the green beens in consideration of Jewish friends.  I went to one wedding with cajun food since the groom was from Louisiana.  That's great, but I literally could only eat cake due to a shellfish allergy.  Listing the ingredients of buffet options is really helpful for people with allergies.
    --Provide a kids' table or even kids' menu if you'll have several young guests.  A friend offered chicken nuggets and mac'n'cheese in case they turned their noses us to her prime rib, but even little PBJ's can work.  I've also seen a room set aside as a playroom/nursery with a paid babysitter and pallets where kids can crash--great so that parents can continue enjoying the reception with peace of mind.
    --Encourage guests to request music (and ensure the DJ has their songs available) by putting a place for music requests on the response cards or your wedding website.
    "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1)
  • Thanks for the feedback ladies, you've all raised some helpful points, and some things I hadn't thought of.  

    I have no idea yet what the budget will be - I was more concerned that the way the money is spent wouldn't confuse guests as I would strategically be putting as much of my budget into things for the guests to really treat them as a thank you for their love and support over the last 10 years we've been together, while deflecting attention from FI and I - neither of us care to be the center of attention. I understand we'll have to suck it up for a a quick ceremony, though.

    Thanks again!
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