10 Questions You Wouldn’t Think To Ask When Touring Wedding Venues But Are A *Must*

“Plan a wedding,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. Like many others, I do not have a single clue what I am doing when it comes to wedding planning. I’ve relied heavily on friends who know the ins and outs, and what I thought would be the most enjoyable part of the process has turned out to be the least. I’m talking venue hunting.

Seeing venues is fun, so I don’t mean to hint otherwise. The problems lie less in what you see, and more in what you don’t. While the limit does not exist for questions you should be asking when touring venues, here are some must-ask queries with answers that may surprise you.

1. Do You Have A Designated Ceremony Area?

If you plan on hosting your ceremony at a different location than your reception, you can skip this question. If you plan on hosting onsite, do a little digging about the venue offerings for a ceremony. For starters, can they host the ceremony? If they can, is there a designated area for the ceremony? I recently toured a venue, and when asking if I could host a ceremony on site the host replied “yes”. I asked to see the ceremonial site and they then pointed to a small patch of makeshift grass between two parking lots. While it took physical restraint to not gasp and/or laugh, it was seriously eye-opening that even the most beautiful venues aren’t always what they seem. The other kicker is the ceremonial fee, which is a self-explanatory fee for hosting your ceremony on site. According to WeddingWire, the average cost in the US is $600, but for big cities like NY and LA, expect something closer to $2,000.

2. Do You Have A Bridal And Groom Suite On Site?

I’ll be the first to say the bride is the *most* important on the wedding day (bridezilla in the making here), but I want my groom to be treated like a king as well. I was shocked to see how many venues only had one wedding suite, which meant only one of us could get ready on site. My fiancé is irrationally laid-back and would get ready in the parking lot if he had to, but not all couples are comfortable with a single-suite venue. While it may seem minor right now, it’s important to think about what getting ready offsite day-of means for the person who chooses to do so (renting a hotel suite, renting a large car or limo for wedding party, etc.).

3. Can I Bring A Hair And Makeup Team To The Bridal Suite?

THIS is a question I can’t believe I had to ask at venues. To me, a bridal suite was an obvious getting ready location for myself and my bridesmaids. However, I quickly learned this is not always the case. Some venues do NOT allow you to physically get ready in the suite. They must arrive with hair and makeup done, with no outside vendors allowed in to help prepare the wedding party. Personally, I am really looking forward to getting ready with my bridesmaids all together in the bridal suite, and then waltzing out the door and into the ceremony, so this was an important ask in my book.

4. What Are The Different Rates?

I semi knew this was a “thing” going into venue touring, but I was honestly shook at how drastic the price differences were between “on” and “off-peak” months, Friday/Saturday/Sunday, and time of day. Most venues break down their pricing first by month, with May, June, August, September, and October being the most popular (and therefore, the most expensive) months. From there, choosing your day of the week also dictates the price, with Saturday being the most expensive. AND FROM THERE, the time of day further influences the pricing. A daylight wedding (typically 12pm to 5pm) is often discounted, whereas an evening wedding tends to be more expensive (typically 6 or 7pm to 12 or 1am). So, be warned that Saturday night wedding at sunset in summer WILL impact your budget more than you want it to (I’m talking double the price of a Sunday daytime wedding in April).

5. Where Do The Extra Fees Go?

Venues with in-house catering will charge a per plate fee which covers the guests’ attendance and dinner/open bar. Venues who allow you to bring outside vendors will often charge a flat venue rate. But one thing common across the board is the added 20-25% “service charge”. What is this, you may ask? No, it’s not to compensate the waitstaff, the bartenders, or the cleanup crew. It actually typically goes towards any collateral damage (broken plates, carpet stains, etc.), and the rest goes into the owners’ pockets. If, on a venue tour, you ask what the fee goes to and you hear “it goes back into venue upkeep”, be aware of what this *really* means. It may bother you, or you may be fine with it. If you ask about the service fee going toward service and you’re told that the waitstaff makes “regular minimum wage” instead of “servers minimum wage”, just note that you will be tipping another 20% on top of your 20% service fee and 8.875% tax fee (and a potential cleaning fee). Just to put this in perspective, if your wedding is $50,000, with the fees, cleaning, and gratuity, you’ll actually be spending about $75,000. I know, I was just as shocked as you are rn!!

6. Do You Require Chair Rentals?

Add this to the list of questions I didn’t know I had to ask. For reasons unknown, I assumed with a wedding venue came chairs and tables and normal seating arrangements. For many venues (especially those with in-house catering) this is true, but not for all. Some venues require chair rentals for the space, and this is what I call annoying. Add it to the category of “fees I never thought I’d have to pay.”

 7. Do You Require Preferred Vendor Use?

If you have specific vendors in mind ahead of time, this question is an important one for you. Most, if not all, venues have a list of preferred vendors—vendors they work with often, trust to work in their space, and recommend to their clients. Choosing these vendors often come with perks such as no plate fee for the vendors working the wedding, no insurance cost, and the obvious (and best) perk, discounts. That being said, some venues require you choose a vendor from their lists (this is especially true for flowers and DJs) and is something to confirm before falling in love with a venue or outside vendor.

8. How Many Hours Are Included In Rental Space?

This question is semi self-explanatory, but an important ask. How many hours are “included” is a polite way of asking can I come in early? Can I stay late? Will there be more fees for those extended hours outside of my actual party? How long is my actual party? Get those answers and avoid those fees!

9. Is Parking Available And Included?

Oh hey there, another fee. Parking on premises isn’t always included, but when it is, you can guarantee it comes with a fee. There are often different “levels” to this parking fee. Typically, couples can choose to play a lot flat fee which allows their guests to park for free, but park themselves. There’s also the option to have the guests pay for parking, which feels really reasonable to some and really jarring to others. But, if you’re feeling fancy, there’s also the option to have a valet service for all guests driving in, and this is where it gets pricy. Worth it? Only you reading this can be the judge of that.

10. Do You Offer A Planner?

While some people choose to go the route of planning their own wedding in full (me), others (people smarter than me) go the route of hiring a planner. Planners have pros and cons—pros being the fact that they know what they are doing, cons being that they often work with specific vendors and venues and may be biased with their recommendations. But, the most ideal situation (in my eyes) is finding a venue you love that assigns you a planner to help handle the rest of the arrangements. This person works specifically for your venue, so they know every single issue you may run into, and therefore are perhaps the most powerful point of contact throughout the entire process. It’s good to know if your venue offers a person to help, how far out they begin helping you, and if they are included in your package.

While there are an infinite amount of obvious questions to be asked, these are the questions you don’t want to forget about. Happy planning!

Images: Abby Savage / Unsplash; GIPHY (10)

This Is How You Word A Wedding Invitation

You’ve got the ring. You’ve got the guy. Now you have to spend the next year (or whatever) of your life planning the perfect wedding day. From the dress to the food to the band, each detail counts, and you’ll want to ensure they’re all perfectly aligned with your vision.

One of the biggest parts (if not THE biggest part) of this vision is making sure your guest show up and know wtf is going on. How does that happen? Your invitations need to be spot-f*cking-on, that’s how. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting married at a courthouse or having a black tie affair at the Met (can you even do that?); your wedding won’t count for sh*t if nobody knows how to get there, what to wear, or wtf is happening at any given time.

We reached out to the experts at Shine Wedding Invitations to give their best advice on wedding invitation wording and general etiquette, so there’s no excuse for you to have anything but an amazing invitation ramping up your big day.

Choose A Style That Fits You (And Your Wedding)

Omg, your wedding—the biggest day of your life. Literally, everything’s been leading up to this. And, even though everyone knows it’s all about you, the wedding should reflect both your and your fiancé’s style. So, how do you select a luxe and classy wedding invite that can encompass your styles AND provide the super important info that your guests, like, need?

Time to ask yourself the tough stuff: are you adventurous? Just hungry? Mean-spirited? Bold? Modern?

“Understanding who you are and what style you would like to encapsulate is essential in choosing the perfect invitation design for your big day,” says Jessica Terrell at Shine. There are tons of fonts, scripts, serifs (those are fonts with the little line thingies underneath the letters) and sans serifs (fonts without those lines). Terrell advises, “When looking at invitation designs, focus on the structure—the body copy is the foundation of your stationery. For those of you who are clean and simple with a modern twist, a thin sans serif will work the best. If you’re more traditional, we highly recommend a serif for its timeless look and feel.”

From there, choose the color, background, and feel of your invites based on your wedding itself. If you’re going for a more Art Deco look and feel, opt for geometric designs. Having your reception at an art gallery? Go for sleek and modern. Wanna get married in a barn? Just skip the whole thing and send invitations in Mason jars, you animal. (Just kidding, not really.) You get the idea.

Get The Wording Right

Once you’ve got your font and overall designed picked out, it’s time to put all those Hooked On Phonics lessons to good use and communicate the actual purpose of said invitation. Most wedding invitation design sites will have the correct “guide” in place to go along with traditional wedding etiquette, so you won’t be shooting in the dark as far as setting up the wording. And thank God, honestly, cause watching some of you try to spell is truly painful.

The Host Line

No, a host line isn’t a creepy phone sex app (brb, I have an idea for a new invention that’s going to make me a millionaire). It’s actually the first line listed on the wedding invitation. Traditionally, it’s meant to announce the parents or family of the bride, since they’re usually the ones paying for the whole thing (thanks Mommy and Daddy—love you). However, the host line can vary based on the couple’s situation, i.e., if the bride’s parents are all, “hey, we’re not paying for jack sh*t” or the groom’s parents are all “here’s $100k and a house, enjoy”. Other host lines may include the groom’s parents, both sets of parents on the bride and groom’s side, neither sets of parents, or other loved ones hosting the event. Here are a few common examples etiquette-approps provided by Shine:

Bride’s Parents Hosting:
Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Bride and Groom Hosting:
The honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage celebration of

Both Sets of Parents Hosting:
Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Jones
along with Mr. and Mrs. John Quincy Adams
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children

Bride’s Divorced Parents Hosting:
Ms. Jennifer (Maiden Name) (Married Name)
Mr. William Arthur Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Obviously, there are tons of different situations since all family dynamics are super special and unique (yay). From divorced parents with remarriages to special parental titles, such as military, medical, or religious, digging around online or dealing with an easy-to-navigate wedding invitation design site will make your life easier. You can find more details and specific wording examples here, at Shine Wording Guide.

The Request Line

Again, this sounds more complicated than it actually is. The request line directly follows the host line with wording that invites your guest to your big, super special party. A few examples include:
Request Line—Option 1:
Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Jones
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Request Line—Option 2:
Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Jones
cordially invite you to attend
the wedding of their daughter

The Bride

Time to move on to you and your almost-hubs. Traditionally, the bride’s name is always presented first, because we’re better and cooler. Really, though, it’s because the father is giving his daughter away to a v nice boy, i.e., she doesn’t have to ask dad for money anymore (extrapolating from my own experience here). It’s proper wedding etiquette to include the first, middle, and last name of the bride unless her parents (of the same last name) are also listed on the invitation. In that case, the bride doesn’t need to include her last name, because space issues.

Bride’s Parents Not Listed:
Together with their families/parents
Poppy Jane Jones
Landon Parker Adams
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage celebration

Bride’s Parents Listed:
Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Poppy Jane
Landon Parker Adams

However, in the case that the groom’s parents are hosting the wedding (which can happen if the bride’s parents are deceased, live in a foreign country, or are just being lame and not part of the wedding), their relation to the groom can be mentioned on the joining line, between the bride and groom’s name:

Groom’s Parents Hosting:
Mr. and Mrs. John Quincy Adams
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of
Poppy Jane Jones
to their son
Landon Parker

The Groom

Because he totally f*cking gets it already, the groom is usually listed under the bride’s name. And, just like the bride’s name, the groom doesn’t need to include his last name if his parents (of the same last name) are also mentioned on the invite.

Date And Time

The day and time are probably the most important parts of your entire invitation. Like, how else will people know when to show up with gifts? The phrasing of the day and time is based on the desired style of the wedding invitation. According to traditional wedding etiquette, spelling out the month, day, year and time is required, so don’t try to get fancy with weirdo number situations, you guys.

Option 1:
Saturday, the second of August
two thousand twenty-one
at three o’clock in the afternoon

Option 2:
Saturday, August second
two thousand twenty-one
half after/past three in the afternoon

Ceremony Location

Obv, you’ll need to solidify where tf guests are going for like, the actual wedding. The invite should include the venue name and location for where the wedding ceremony will take place. Don’t assume people know where literally anything is cause, newsflash, they won’t.


Time for the party line. The info about your reception should be last on your invite and shouldn’t be more than a single line with a few words telling your guests that yes, there will be booze if they sit through your f*cking wedding ceremony. By the way, if the reception is located at the same venue and immediately follows the ceremony, you’d go with Option 1. However, if your reception takes place at a different time and either at the same venue or at another location, you’d go with Option 2.

Option 1:
Reception immediately following

Option 2:
Reception to follow

If you need to give more details about your reception, whether it be the time or the place, a separate small enclosure or stationery piece should be included in your wedding invitation suite. That card can provide all the extra info that your guests would otherwise be tempted to text you about during your actual wedding. Although not traditionally proper, if you want to opt out of the small enclosure, you can list the time and address directly beneath the reception line on the invitation. As each invitation will consist of different wording, the additional reception information will need to remain brief. Does that sparkle with everyone? Good.

Drown Them In Information

OK so not, like literally, but when your guests get their invitations in the mail, you’ll want to ensure they have every bit of information they could possibly need. They know which hotels to stay in. They have directions to the venue in hand. They know that the reception will not include children and will include a 6-hour open bar (maybe not that last bit, but whatever).

There are a lot of details that go into planning a wedding. Whether it be a tricky location for the venue or accommodation block, your guests need to be informed of f*cking everything so they can plan their lives accordingly. Enclosures are a great way to allow your invitation to remain simple and clean. Depending on the type of information and how much of it you have, different sized enclosures are available nine times out of ten (and if you’re using a good wedding invite design site).

The Large Enclosure

Jessica says, “there are two enclosures we typically recommend for brides to include in their wedding invitation suites. For the larger of the two, there are a few different ways it can be utilized. Typically, this enclosure is used for accommodations. However, it can be used for travel details, directions, transportation information, special activities, rehearsal dinner invitations, and much more.” For example, Shine’s large enclosure can hold about 18-20 lines of text:

A block of rooms has been reserved for your convenience at
Big Tree Inn
46 Main Street—Geneseo, New York—(585) 243-5220
Please mention the Grimes-Fox wedding when making reservations
Shuttle transportation to the reception will be available
For additional information, visit our website at

The Small Enclosure

Shine has a small option, too, so don’t worry if you’re not into the idea of sending a small FedEx package to your guests. “In addition to the reception details, if it’s hosted at a different location than the ceremony, this enclosure size is perfect for your wedding website, registry information, a new address, or a small morning-after brunch announcement.” The small enclosure would hold about 8-10 lines of text. For example:

Please join us for
a reception amongst the trees at
The Wadsworth Homestead
4 South Street
Geneseo, New York
Half after/past seven in the evening

Response Cards With Meal Options Vs. Without Meal Options

Hey, get ready for everyone to bitch about your food regardless of how many options you give them! But if you’re planning on a seated meal, the response card helps you and your wedding planner confirm the attendees and figure out exactly how many steaks you’ll need. If you’re having a buffet dinner, you obviously don’t need a meal inquiry card, since your guests, like animals, can let loose on piles of food. Meal inquiry cards are also a great way to figure out exactly how many gluten haters and vegans you need to un-invite.


Kindly reply on or before

the twenty-fourth of November


_____ Accepts

_____ Regrets

Please initial your choice of entree

_____ Chicken

_____ Beef

_____ Vegetarian

List any dietary restrictions below:


And just like that, your guests will know exactly who, what, when, and where, without (hopefully) having to ask you too many questions. You won’t get every RSVP card back (so know that going in), but you will have a super spectacular day with limited confusion if you follow these steps to a communicatory powerhouse of an invite.

Images: Shine Wedding Invitations 

5 Chic Scented Candles For Staying In This Winter 

Ah, scented candles, my go-to hack for so many things. Need to make your apartment seem like it has an “aesthetic,” but get a panic attack at the idea of actually hanging some art, or (shudder) buying new furniture? Candles can fix that. Trying to relax with a bath bomb, but struggling with your bathroom’s flickering prison lighting and the smell of your roommate’s takeout? Candles can fix that too! Chic candles are an essential (AKA effortless) hack for transforming the ambience of pretty much any situation. And since you’ll likely only leave your apartment three or four times until summer comes back to us, there’s no better time to stock up on your fave scented candles. Here are some chic scented candles guaranteed to elevate your hibernation den apartment this winter.


Paddywax makes my favorite scented candle in the world, which is the Salt + Sage candle from their Modern collection. (Close second is Verbena Lemongrass.) It smells like the ocean (without all the gross stuff), and burning anything with sage in it makes me feel spiritually cleansed. Their candles come in four different looks: modern, neutral, earthy, and traditional. So all aesthetic candle needs from old-timey apothecary to modern glam are covered.

Haus Interior

My biggest pet peeve with scented candles is when they smell fake AF and overly sweet (looking at you, Yankee Candle—each and every one of your products smells like it will give me diabetes). That’s not a problem you’ll ever have with Haus candles, where even the most floral or citrusy scents all smell 100% authentic. I’m a huge fan of the Dream Haus candle, which is scented with lavender and thyme, makes my living room smell like a chateau in the south of France, if you’re into that sort of thing. These also make  killer housewarming gifts.

Rue de Marli No. 27

This isn’t so much a candle brand as it is one candle, but it’s a f*cking great candle so I’m including it anyway. Scented with pine, cypress, and red sandalwood, this candle manages to be woodsy, heady, and clean all at once. Within five minutes of lighting one of these, I genuinely feel like my life is more together, and also a tiny bit like Serena Van der Woodsen. It doesn’t hurt that they’re cute AF in a way that can only be described as Parisian-chic. Consider it the classy alternative to that heinous “chat noir” poster you proudly hung in your freshman dorm.


Sadly, no list of chic scented candle brands would be complete without mentioning Diptyque, the Cadillac of scented candles. I say “unfortunately,” because these candles cost more than I care to spend on decorative items, particularly items that I literally take home and set on fire. But exorbitant price aside, they’re known as the best for a reason. These candles make you feel like you’re strolling through Bergdorf’s figuring out which diamond earrings go best with your new clutch. In other words, they scream luxury. That being said, they also scream “I spent $75 on a candle,” which—if your financial situation is anything like mine—is more or less a cry for help. Interpret as you wish!

Betches Get Lit

All right y’all, you knew this was coming. I am an unabashed fan of Betches merchandise (the tees are the perfect crop and the beanies make my knees weak, fight me). If you’re looking for a candle that both elevates the look of your apartment and lets people know that you’re f*cking hilarious, this is the only candle brand for you. If you’re into scented candles but wary of brands that smell like an herb garden exploded or otherwise overly perfume-y, these candles are a good pick for that too. These candles are grapefruit and apple pie-scented (one or the other, not both—ew), and they smell like the real thing: sweet, straightforward, and honestly kind of yummy. 

I hope your January is filled with long nights of Netflix, Seamless, and feeling like a f*cking queen as you bask in the glow of these candles. Working toward a luxurious lifestyle is hard; buying chic scented candles and faking it is not. Up to you!

Images: Shutterstock; Paddywax; Pinterest; Lily CharlestonDiptyque; Betches

The Chicest Jackets To Buy Before Spring Arrives

The recent change in weather has got me hyped AF for an early spring. It has been sunny, in the low 60s, and reminiscent of all things day drinking-related—basically, everything that makes me happier than a 2-for-1 happy hour. Although we’ll probably suffer a few wind chills here and there, the increase in temperature means revealing more skin wearing cuter clothes. But then that brings upon its own set of problems, namely, what kind of jacket do I wear? Finding a trendy lightweight jacket that somehow strikes the perfect balance between keeping you warm and not making you sweat like a grease monkey can be harder than finding a guy who won’t send an unsolicited dick pic. Here are give v chic spring jacket styles to grab now so you’re prepared the second March arrives.

1. ASOS Denim Girlfriend Jacket In Stonewash Blue

I’m way too excited (for both my own good and social life) to be able to step outside in my ~new~ denim jacket and not freeze my ass off. It’s the perf spring jacket for boozy brunches (and other activities you do outside) because you can wear a fugly lame outfit underneath, and still be called really cute by judgey Insta followers.

2. H&M Biker Jacket In Light Gray

Knowing when to shop at H&M is like stepping into Forever 21 for a hot outfit and hoping you just get really, really lucky. It’s hit or miss, but once you find that gem, you’re set until the next time you black out in broad daylight and lose your jacket in coat check. This super basic (but also super cute) faux leather jacket is a much-needed upgrade to your black one you def wear too much.

3. Alpha Industries M-65 Defender Camo Field Jacket

Depending on the context, camouflage doesn’t have to necessarily be tacky, or piss off your patriotic uncle on Facebook. Not only will this jacket make you look like an up-and-coming street style model, but it’s also v durable. It’s both water and wind-and-tear resistant, so you’ll totally get your money’s worth and won’t even feel (that) guilty about yet another online purchase.

4. Tularosa X Revolve Emma Bomber Jacket

Spring = florals and then more fucking florals. SHOCKER. With a casual bomber fit, you’ll look extra festive and rooftop drinking-ready in this bright floral spring jacket. Thanks to me, you’ll def get hit with a shit ton of, “Ohmigod, I love your jacket. Where did you get it?”

5. Michael Kors Hooded Zip-Pocket Anorak

I don’t think there’s a limit for how many windbreakers y0u can own through the months of March and May. They’re obvs really lightweight, cute if you look close enough, and come in a fuckton of colors like black (duh) and this basic bitch blush. This one is stylish, classy, and goes with literally anything in your closet.


Images: Nik MacMillan / Unsplash; ASOS (1); H&M (1); Nordstrom (1); Revolve (1); Macy’s (1)

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