Wedding Etiquette Forum

whole bunch of etiquette questions

i got engaged on new years day this year and am getting married Sept 20, 2014.  Most of the "big stuff" is done at this point and I've been browsing the etiquette boards and having some issues searching finding answers to some of my questions.  

what is the appropriate way to let guests know about attire?  our ceremony will be on the beach and the reception is tented on grass so i want to make sure people are comfortable.  i know you aren't supposed to "demand" certain attire - is putting the information about the ceremony being on the beach and the reception on the grass enough?  honestly i really don't care what people wear but don't want people to feel over dressed.  sidenote - i was at a black tie wedding last night and there was one lady wearing black pants and a pink blazer and more than 50% of the girls were wearing short non-fancy dresses.  i found it very odd

tables - we're using 60" round tables.  one place we looked at rentals had 10 people per table and another place gave us a diagram with 8 people.  we likely will have some space issues but i wanted to make sure 10 isn't too many?

guest list - this is really the main thing that is stressing me out.  we're getting married in cape cod which is 5.5 - 6 hours from philly (where we live and 90% of my fiance's family and friends are from).  most of my family lives in the boston area (1.5 hours away).  our reception is tented and we want the cocktail hour in front of the tent if at all possible for the view.  we are trying to get the largest tent possible to make sure we have room to accommodate our ever growing list.  given that it is "semi-destination" i'm thinking we will have a higher % of regrets but honestly everyone we've talked to about the wedding is super pumped about it and a lot are trying to make vacations out of it.  i've personally cut my list down a lot (including not inviting people i've been invited to's weddings that i'm not close with anymore), my fiance's list is also trimmed.  both of us have large families and completely different groups of friends.  my parents are paying for a lot of the wedding so my thought is they can basically invite who they feel is appropriate - there is only one friend/couple on their list that i'm not close with.  i'm still waiting for my fiance's parents list.  based on the way our list is right now we can "squeeze" everyone in (230) if we do 10 people per table.  my guess is that we will end up closer to around 175.  i know there are 29384 factors that come into play and its different for every wedding.  however this # is based on only those currently in relationships and no children.  we are not giving single guests +1s (every single guest will know someone else there).  my plan was to send save the dates (probably in january) addressed to the single guests (only) and if they are in a relationship by the time we send out invitations we will add their name.  is this okay?  i've heard horror stories of guests adding other people to RVSP cards.  has anyone every printed different RSVP cards for those in relationships (2 lines)  vs. single (1 line)?  Or actually handwriting names on the RSVP cards as to not cause any confusion?  should i be offering any babysitting services?

transportation - the place i'm getting married is a "resort" aka motel with about 40 rooms on site.  there is also another motel .3 miles away (that has a 1 night minimum) i think there are about 40 rooms there.  i believe there is enough room at both of these hotels to accommodate those who do not live in the town.  there is also another hotel .5 miles away.  these are the 3 options we are including on our website and are all very affordable (like 100 bucks a night).  would it be okay not to provide transportation to the guests?  there is plenty of parking where we are getting married and if people do not want to drive they can walk (5-10 mins) - not on a major road.  is this okay?

food - we're doing buffet with a pasta, fish and beef along with a few sides so we are not having a food choice on the response card.  i know at least one guest (who probably wont come) has celiacs and one guest is vegan (although i think now he eats fish) and another has crazy weird diet restrictions.  i'm going to make sure we have at least 1 of the hor d'oeuvres be vegetarian and gf.  should i also leave a spot for guests to include dietary restrictions?  should i put something on the wedding website?  or if someone has issues will they likely reach out to us?  i'm not sure if we are having menus or if there will be labels at the buffet - should i include V, GF etc. on the food label?

i'm trying to make sure i follow proper etiquette as much as possible, thanks :)  i know there was something else i wanted to ask about but i can't remember 

Re: whole bunch of etiquette questions

  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited June 2013
    Gosh, you asked so many questions! Attire: Just let the guests know the wedding scenario and they will figure it out. ..... Tables: 8 or 10 is ok. Just make sure you have seating for 100% acceptance. ..... STD: Your plan for just the friend's name is fine. It's the invitation you need the SO's name for. .....Transportation: You have plenty of parking and plenty of accommodations nearby that I think you need not concern yourself with this. One less detail! ..... Food: Sounds like you have it covered. I wouldn't ask on your RSVP card for any specific requests, but do put it on your website that you want to accommodate all dietary needs.
  • Like you said, you don't get to dictate attire. Let your family and friends know it is on the beach and they will figure out what to wear.

    For the guest list, make sure you count for 100% attendance. Also, remember that a STD= invite, so only send them to guests you are sure you will be inviting. If you are on the fence about some people, don't send a STD and give yourself the flexibility of having to cut them if it comes down to it. It is fine not to give truly single guests a plus-one, but make sure you leave some wiggle room if they do get into a relationship by the time invites go out. Appropriately addressing the invites and RSVP cards will help eliminate written in guests and it will also make it easier to explain if someone does write in an extra guest that the invite was only for those it addressed. 

    I'm not 100% sure on your transportation question, but I don't think you are required to provide them transportation from the hotel to the venue.

    As for the food restrictions, it would be nice to include something on the RSVP card or website where people can contact you if needed, especially since you are taking their restrictions into consideration. And I would try and make note of the special designations on the food label so those looking for it will be able to find it.

  • Word of caution about 10 people at a 60 inch round table: it will be a VERY tight fit for your guests, especially if you're having chargers, dessert plates, bread baskets and what not placed on your tables. It can be done but people might be rubbing elbows. 

    I thought 10 people on a 60 inch would be fine until my caterer showed me a picture of how close the place settings are. I recommend you either go up to a 66 inch table with 10 people or try to at least bump it down to 8-9 people on the 60 inch. 
  • Attire:  You can include photos of the venue on your website and let people know by word of mouth what the setup will be.  You can also indicate on the invitation by putting "beach front" or whatever's appropriate with the location and/or on the reception card something like "Please join us after the beach ceremony for a reception on the lawn" to get the message out there.
    60" rounds are for 8 people; 72" rounds are for 10.  you *could* put 10 at 60"; but your guests will not be very comfortable.  (That's only 18" of circumferential space per person; which is the width of the average person with NO wiggle room)
    Plan for 100% attendance.  It's fine to not give +1s to truly single guests, but leave a little wiggle room for people to get into relationships, JIC (and no kids is fine also).  STDs can be sent to single guests; that's totally fine.  
    For RSVPs: you'll probably end up with SOMEONE who tries to add people; just accept that and be prepared to call them up and say "sorry, but no".  You can pre-fill out RSVPs with specific names; you can do one line vs two; you can put "2 seats have been reserved" etc. Someone will still cross out what you put and add people.  So do what works for you and then call any outliers.  No need to offer babysitting services. 
    Not your job to get people to the ceremony. As long as there's sufficient parking you're fine. 
    Food:  I put a dietary restrictions line on my RSVPs.  I presume people with dietary restrictions would either reach out or plan to work around your menu, but it certainly doesn't hurt to give them an avenue of communication.  I would put labels on the food so people know what's safe.
  • thank you so much!   the table size information was very helpful!  i always assumed 10 / table and already started to buy centerpiece stuff based on a lower # of tables so i'm very very glad i asked!  sounds like the goal should be 8 per table but if we *can* squeeze worst case scenario.   i think as it stands now if everyone RSVPed yes we would have all tables with 9 (instead of 8).  since it is a tent we are okay from a capacity standpoint if every single person came.  we should have some wiggle room for those who may be in a relationship by then.  Going through the list there are at least 20 people I would be beyond shocked if they came.  but again you never know!  we definitely aren't doing a b list so everyone will get a save the date.

    for the attire - i'll put something on the website and possibly on the invitation about it being a beach ceremony and tented reception.  we plan on doing a flip flop basket so if someone does end up wearing heels that sink into the grass.  if people have other questions they can ask us directly - people have already started asking me questions like "do i need to wear a tie?"  lol its over a year away!

    food - i think i'll figure this out as it gets a little closer.  if a rsvp card does not indicate a food choice what do vegetarians typically do?  i've been at a few seated dinners with 1 meal that had meat.  either way we will have enough options for all of the major dietary restrictions people may have.  i'll talk to the caterer since they've done a ton of weddings to see what the norm is since i'm sure this comes up at almost every wedding

    i've already told some people there won't be any kids as it has come up in conversation and my mom has told some of my aunts as well.  i have absolutely no problem calling up and telling anyone on "my side" that kids are not invited.  we really haven't been to any weddings where kids were invited (of friends) and don't have any nieces or nephews so hopefully minimal problems.  the 1 or 2 line thing seems to be easier - i know i've been invited just myself to weddings and was confused with a second line (is my bf invited too?).

    every wedding i've been to has either had transportation or the reception was at the hotel.  my friends are all pretty big drinkers i wouldn't want anyone to feel like driving was their only option.  i don't think a .5 mile walk is far but just wanted other opinions as well.

  • edited June 2013
    #1 - attire
    You indicate attire by the tone/formality of your invitations. If you pick a heavy cardstock, script font and emboss it, it's fancier. Don't list anything about attire on your invitations/website/anywhere. 

    You can let people know your location, the average temperature/weather of that time of year and that it will be outside on the grass (via word of mouth or website). People can put two and two together and realize they might want a sweater and don't want to wear heels that will sink into the grass. Make no direct references to attire at all. Anywhere.

    #2 – table size

    60" round can fit 8 (MAX). You cannot fit 10 people at a 60" table. The chairs won't fit. If you want 10/table, you need 6 footers.

    #3 – guest list

    a)      You have to let your single guests bring their SOs. Think of it like this, what if your FI was invited to a wedding in December (you weren’t engaged then) WITHOUT a plus one? Technically you two are not married, so… sorry, your FI is going stag to that wedding. But he knows people so no big deal, right? Wrong. Lesson here is you cannot predict who will get married, engaged, into a relationship, how "serious" their relationship is, etc. between now and Sept 20, 2014. So you should invite plus ones. You do not need to do plus ones for kids under 18 though, so that should save you some space.

    b)      Speaking of kids – maybe limit your guest count by excluding children. We did that and cut our guest like by over 50 people. No one has thrown a fit so far. You do not need to offer babysitting services. People are responsible for making arrangements for their own children if the children will not be attending.

    c)       Yes – you can address the STD to just the single guest (without a plus one). No one is RSVPing to your STDs so it's non-applicable.

    d)      We thought about printing people's names on the RSVP cards so they were 100% crystal clear that their kids weren't invited, but it wasn't worth it. Way too much effort for not that much value. Don't handwrite. DO number them, though, in case people's handwriting sucks and you can't figure out who the RSVP is for. You check the tiny number on the back of the card and pat yourself on the back for being awesome. You can say on the RSVP "2 seats have been reserved in your honor. Name(s)___________" but it's kind of overkill.

    #4 – transportation

    It's fine not to provide transportation. Guests are responsible for getting themselves to and from your wedding/reception. If you decide to provide it, it's a perk and optional.

    #5 – food

    Your caterer is the expert – you don't need to be. Let them know if you have a huge amount of vegetarians or other large amounts of people (not 1 out of 230) with dietary restrictions. Other than that, caterers know how much and what the average person likes to eat and will help you with quantities of same. You don't need to put anything about this on your wedding website. It's fine to ask your caterer to indicate which foods are vegetarian and which are GF. 


  • a)      You have to let your single guests bring their SOs. Think of it like this, what if your FI was invited to a wedding in December (you weren’t engaged then) WITHOUT a plus one? Technically you two are not married, so… sorry, your FI is going stag to that wedding. But he knows people so no big deal, right? Wrong. Lesson here is you cannot predict who will get married, engaged, into a relationship, how "serious" their relationship is, etc. between now and Sept 20, 2014. So you should invite plus ones. You do not need to do plus ones for kids under 18 though, so that should save you some space.

    This is mis-leading.  Singles, by definition, don't have SOs.  If they have a SO they are not single, they are in a relationship (and I'm in the camp that anyone they call their boyfriend or girlfriend is a SO). Think FB relationship status vs. what you'd fill out on a legal form.

    Truly single guests who do not have someone they call their BF/GF do NOT need a plus one.  When you are inviting a guest's SO they are not a "plus one" b/c they should be invited by name. You do still need to leave wiggle room, but you don't have to give every guest a date.

  • Do a website for your guests, you will find it very helpful to address a lot of these issues.

    For attire, under the ceremony section you can put, on there beach ceremony, this way women will know exactley what type of shoes to wear (that would be biggest issue if I were a guest) and under reception section you can put that the reception will be be outdoors in a grassy area under a tent. This will help people dress accordingly for the weather & event. Like other pp said, maybe on website post what temps typcially are for that time of year.

    Tables - I go for 8 at a table if you can swing it. This way everyone isn't sitting elbow to elbow, making a little more comfortable for everyone.

    Guest List - Figure out budget and how many people you can invite based on budget. You may have to go to both parents and say, based on the budget that we working with, we can only invite this many people, we used xx% for or friends. You will need to make some cuts to your list for us to stay in the budget. Just because they are paying, goesn't mean they get an unlimited guest lists, unless they are providing you with unlimited funds. Don't invite more people then you can afford to host, it will backfire on you if you do.

    Babysitting services - I don't think you need to do this. Nice but not necessary, especially since everyone will be staying in all different place. If you want to hire someone to occupy the kids onsite, like someone who can go play games with the kids off to the side so the adults can relax & play, that would be very nice, but again, not needed.

    Transportation - Based on the details you provided, I don't think you need to provide transporation for your guests.

    Food - we did family style so we didn't ask preferences, but I did put in a smaller font at the bottom of the reply card **if you have any special dietary needs, please let us know and we will do our best to accomodate**  I figured they could contact us or write it on the RSVP card. Luckily with my venue I was able to order special meals for individuals at no extra cost. They gave me options that would fall in my per person price option to pick from. I worked with my guests to figure out what I could get them and what they would like.  One of my BM is a vegetarian and one of my nieces is on a restricted diet. I gave venue their table locations & their special plates were delivered to them.

    You sound like you already have control on the situation and just want to make sure your guests have a good time. I think you will have an amazing wedding.


  • we're already not inviting any children.  it's more of a space issue than a budget issue (my fiance and i are paying for "extras" along with other things).  we'll have to re-visit the combined list once we look at a tent layout.  anyone in a relationship will get an invite with their SO - truly single guests will not.  all of my single guests are part of a group so they can carpool and will know other people there.  trust me i've been invited to weddings while living with my (bf) at the time and dating over a year without a date and its really annoying.  i'll skip mentioning anything about attire and let guest interpret for themselves from the website.   
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