As the lead singer in a New York City wedding band for over a decade, I have learned a thing or two about what makes—and what breaks—a bomb wedding reception. When a bride and groom hire my band, it is quite literally my job to make the most important night of your life an absolute blast and keep your friends and family reminiscing about it for years to come, and that is something I take very seriously.
While I CAN control the quality of music being played, many things are out of my control that can mess up the party vibes, but after enough time seeing the same things, I’m here to tell you to do and what not do to ensure your wedding doesn’t suck.
1. Make Sure The Dance Floor Is Near The Bar
When choosing a venue, this is key. How far is the dance floor from the source of alcohol? Think of the bar as the “kitchen” of your wedding venue. When you’re throwing a house party, people tend to congregate in the kitchen, so the same logic applies at your wedding. One night my band and I did a wedding where the bar was in a completely different room. People were waiting for their drinks at the bar and stayed there. They couldn’t even see the band, let alone hear the music, and the dance floor was essentially empty the entire time. Not everyone will cut a rug on the dance floor, but even if they don’t, they are at least congregating around the dance floor and part of the party. When you separate the bar and the dance floor, you are essentially ruining the opportunity to throw a banging dance party by dividing your guests.
2. Rethink Having A Dessert Buffet And Opt For Passed Desserts
Ahh, the dreaded dessert buffet. As a wedding singer, this is a massive nail in the metaphorical coffin of your dance party. There is nothing worse than having a jam-packed dance floor, only for the dessert bar to cause a mass exodus and completely ruin the last bit of your reception. Everyone lines up (usually in another room) to eat dessert and might be too full to return to the dance floor. The party ends, and instead of going out with a bang, your big night ends with many people sitting around in a food coma. Womp, womp.
Instead, opt for dessert hors d’oeuvres like mini cupcakes or ice cream cones that can be passed on the dance floor to keep your party intact. Don’t leave that dance floor… deserted. Muahaha.
3. Don’t Stop The Party To Cut The Cake
For the love of God, please do not stop the party to cut the cake. Once the alcohol starts to hit and you have the energy right where you want it on the dance floor, there is no greater buzzkill than stopping the music so everyone can watch you cut a piece of cake. People go off to the bathroom, sit down to rest, and the dance floor is now empty. Perhaps make an announcement for Grandma who would like to witness the special moment, but it’s simply not worth killing the vibe of the party.
4. Don’t Try To Dictate The Playlist And Let The Band Read The Crowd
I’ve dealt with plenty of bridezillas who essentially handed us a curated setlist, and they NEVER work. An experienced wedding band or DJ knows what they’re doing, and it’s best to let them do it. Some songs you love may be great for vibing out in the car but simply don’t work on a dance floor. Also, we know how to read a crowd to figure out what kind of music is bringing the energy for your guests in particular.
I have also been in a situation where the bride requested some disco music for the older crowd. We played a disco song, and tumbleweed started rolling through the dance floor. When we switched back to 90s hip-hop, the crowd was back in action. We will undoubtedly honor any specific requests you have, but keeping the dance floor pumping is our first priority and should be yours too. If oldies music isn’t quite doing it for anyone, have it played during dinner and let us decide what works for the prime party hours.
5. Don’t Have Too Many Speeches, And Make Sure They Are Under 4 Minutes
In my 10 years as a wedding singer, I have seen many speeches. NOTHING kills a buzz like a speech that goes on too long or too many speeches. You may think your MOH getting on the mic to tell everyone about how much fun you had at the sorority house, along with every fucking inside joke, is cute, but the truth is, no one cares. Have her write you a letter and keep the speeches short and sweet. The Gettysburg address was under two minutes. Don’t waste precious party time on boring speeches.
I have bad news. If you already feel like at any given moment, there is some semblance of wedding content in your field of vision… it’s about to get much worse. You’re probably well aware of this if you’re planning a wedding and have already dealt with vendors as panic-stricken as Kris Jenner must have been after Kim Kardashian’s first public sighting with Pete Davidson, but experts are forecasting that 2022 is probably going to be “the biggest year in the wedding industry.” Your social calendar is about to be as packed as the front of your refrigerator is with save the dates and “we changed the date!” cards.
According to Brides, the average length of an engagement is between 12 and 18 months… but obviously, that’s not the case when you have to move your wedding due to a global pandemic, or can’t find a venue in your budget that can accommodate a date within a year of your engagement because we’re living in the middle of the most chaotic time for weddings. Although a longer engagement gives you more time to save up for the big day (and finally craft the perfect answer to unsolicited wedding advice), it’s also kind of the perfect storm for anyone who’s a little indecisive or hoping to have a really unique wedding. If you only have a year to get your shit together, you probably don’t have time to replan the elements that you’ve seen on someone else’s Instagram just so it doesn’t look like you’re having the same wedding as everyone else. But if you have two years or more… it can easily start to get messy. When you’re working with a longer engagement, there’s a very real struggle between wanting to jump on wedding planning so you can really utilize that time well and holding off in case trends change, you get bored of the choices you’ve made, or you happen to see some girl from high school post sweetheart table decor that looks exactly like what you wanted, and now you have to start the whole thing from scratch.
It’s kind of like how if you find yourself with some extra time to get ready before going out, you should get TF out of the bathroom as soon as you’re finished with your makeup. You know if you stay in there too long, you’re going to end up with winged eyeliner fit for an Amy Winehouse Halloween costume. With unlimited access to more wedding inspo than anyone could ever need and a timeline long enough to plan an Olympic opening ceremony, it’s easy to go overboard. So how do you plan a wedding with a long lead time without spending tens of thousands of dollars on stuff that will likely be deemed cheugy by the time you walk down the aisle? Step away from the toxic bridal Facebook groups you’re addicted to, because I tapped some experts for some actually helpful advice.
Know Which Traditional Planning Advice To Ditch
The internet is full of traditional wedding planning timelines and advice that has been used for decades, but there’s really no reason to get hung up on that if it just straight up does not work for you. For example, typical etiquette suggests sending out your save the dates six to eight months ahead of your ceremony, but it might help to get them out sooner. Jen Campbell, the Editor and Creative Director of Green Wedding Shoes, says it’s now best to send them out as soon as you can. “With so many weddings happening in 2022 (over 2.5 million weddings are expected next year!), you want to make sure your guests will be able to say yes to your date.”
Grill Your Vendors
JK, JK. Be nice to your vendors! But before you set anything in stone, make sure you’re really aware of what you’re signing up for, and ask important questions upfront. “I definitely recommend finding out the cancelation policy,” says Campbell. “This is one big thing we all learned in 2020… make sure you understand the contract!”
Beyond cancelation, it’s also helpful to know what your vendors will have planned for the day of. “At this point, we have so many more protocols in place to safely gather. Plus, finding available wedding dates, venues, and vendors is significantly harder to come by, so once you’ve locked in your wedding date and venue, do your best to keep it!” explains Julie Lindenman Jervis of Julie Lindenman Events. (Yup, the creative genius behind the gorgeous nuptials of Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula from Summer House.) “Ask vendors what COVID clauses are in their contract and what their cancelation policies are. Read your contracts thoroughly! In terms of food and beverage, ask what health protocols are being followed during live events for your guests. The safer everyone feels, the bigger the party!”
Take A Little Break
I don’t know who needs to hear this… but you don’t have to be doing something wedding-related at every waking moment in the time leading up to your wedding. (It’s me. I, a girl who is still trying to lock down a venue but can’t stop scrolling through bridal gowns, need to hear this.)
“If planning with a longer lead time, lock in all of your important vendors early, and then take a breather if needed,” says Lindenman Jervis. “Planning straight for two years is a lot, that’s why one-year engagements were the norm for so long!”
If you’re feeling antsy and just can’t wait to get married, you can also tie the knot before the big day. “I’ve also heard from lots of couples that eloping or getting married beforehand eased a lot of their stress and worry. If that’s your style, head to city hall and make it official before throwing a party! It might relieve some pressure and remind you why you’re doing this to begin with.”
Add A Little Spice To Trends You Love
Here’s the thing: if it’s all over Pinterest… it’s probably already overdone. Sorry about it. “If you still love that trend, still go for it! It’s your day, so you should have a day you love. But try to put your own spin on the trend so it feels like the two of you, and like something your guests haven’t seen before,” suggests Campbell. So no, you don’t have to let go of your neon sign obsession just because every wedding on your timeline has had one. Maybe instead of lighting up your new last name, you can switch it up with a saying or lyrics that are special to you.
“If you still love that trend, who cares?! It’s your day and you should plan a wedding you both love!” Campbell continues. “I always recommend finding inspiration on social media, but make sure your wedding speaks to the both of you. If you love giant dried palms, and that is the trend now, go for it! It’s your day.”
Have A Few Seating Options Ready To Go
Ah, the dreaded guest list. With venue capacities, guests getting invited to literally millions of weddings, and the COVID uncertainty of it all… it’s probably a good idea to gear up for the mess that will be creating a seating plan.
“Couples seem to revisit their guest list more than usual now. We’re still dealing with so many unknowns, so it’s much harder to predict response rates before those RSVPs roll in,” says Lindenman Jervis. “As a result, seating can be more challenging. Plan for your ideal scenario and have a few back ups ready with your planner.”
Say Yes (And Then No Thank You) To The Dress
If you’ve spoken to any brides who have seemingly been planning since Vine was still around, you probably know that something that happens when you’ve been working on your wedding for the gestational period of an elephant is that you may start to get tired of your dress. There’s so much pressure to know that the gown you’ve chosen is *the one*, but according to Campbell, it’s not that deep.
“If you aren’t truly loving your dress, I would recommend getting a new one,” she says. “You can sell the dress you didn’t wear on a resale site and hopefully get most of the money back. You should LOVE what you wear for your wedding day.”
If reselling isn’t something you’d like to take on (if you’ve ever gone through the fresh hell of selling something on Poshmark, I see you and I hear you), there are other options. “Can you alter it to make it something you love? I also love the trend of a second reception dress,” added Campbell.
Whatever happens, try to remember that the point of wedding planning is to… plan a wedding. Not to outdo every wedding that has gone down in the history of the world. Obviously, it’s never great to feel lame, but if you still go hard for middle parts and skinny jeans, you can probably live with the knowledge that your wedding was full of stuff you love (even if it wasn’t totally innovative).
Image: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash
I think the strangest thing about being in your early twenties, beyond the Sunday Scaries and unexplainable joint pain, is the number of weddings you get invited to. I’m not sure why I’m surprised—I’m a woman in my early twenties that went to a private college in the South—but I am absolutely perplexed by the fact that people my age are partaking in a very permanent and, depending on how you look at it, divine, institution. Maybe it’s because the internet algorithms know this about me and have a sick sense of humor, but I’ve somehow wound up deep in the trenches of WeddingTok. Although unexpected, I’m absolutely fascinated by the delicate minutiae of toxic mother-in-law management, appetizer tastings, bridal party elections, and reckoning with the aggressively patriarchal origins of some of the most beloved wedding traditions.
After making myself at home on WeddingTok, I’ve found that a bride will forget very little, but one thing that seems to get hardly any attention is the importance of the wedding favor. It’s the final bow, the last thing your guests will remember—yet the trendiest favors are the ones that nobody, and I mean nobody, actually wants. The older I get, the less patience and bandwidth I have for junk, and I think I speak for everyone when I say yes, a koozie with you and your spouse’s face on it is indeed junk.
Don’t get me wrong, your wedding is all about you, a celebration of the magnificent feat you’ve pulled off in finding someone that doesn’t absolutely repulse you. Which is why I’ll push through the small talk at cocktail hour, the cheesy bridesmaid speeches, even the inevitable runthrough of the Cupid Shuffle that gives me flashbacks to field day in middle school P.E. But the party favor is the one thing that is about me, the guest, what I will like, what will remind me of your joyful wedded bliss—but more importantly, that I can also enjoy objectively long after the night is over.
As a child of divorce who’s never been in a serious relationship and corrects men’s grammar on dating apps for sport, it’s fairly obvious I am the last person that should be sharing my opinion on anything wedding or marriage related, which is why I asked wedding planner extraordinaire-turned-dating-TikToker Chelsey Lance about the worst of the worst she’s seen when it comes to wedding favors, and what is proven to be a hit among your guests.
Before she made a name for herself on TikTok sharing hilariously candid dating stories from the dispatches of being a single twentysomething in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chelsey ran an award winning wedding and design firm that she launched at the age of 25. From a 60s retro fête to a tarot themed wedding where the bride wore all black, Chelsey’s seen it all, and she’s sharing some of her expertise so that you don’t have to see any abandoned favors on venue tabletops.
“You would think this functional favor would be a hit, but I think they are usually a miss,” Lance says. Because a bottle opener is really only something each couple or family needs one of, lots of them end up left behind on the tables. However, they still have potential when executed properly. “This could be a cool thing to add into a welcome package, alongside a bottled, refreshing drink that needs an opener,” she offers.
You probably saw this idea and immediately thought about all the pun potential, like how you two are the perfect match or that you found the light of your life. However, it may not be as big of a hit as you think. “Most of the custom matchbook options are made out of flimsy cardboard, and couples almost always over-order. I will never have to buy matches again due to the hundreds of leftover matchbooks that I’ve been gifted from clients!”
“Ok, so this is the pumpkin spice latte of favors,” Lance says. She admits that when people first started giving these out in 2012, “they were amazing,” adding, “I filled up an entire drawer in my kitchen with them!”
If you’ve already ordered your custom koozies, don’t freak. “I think having a small amount of koozies at the bar, for those that want them, is a great touch,” Lance says, adding, “But having it serve as the overall favor isn’t personally not my favorite—it just isn’t very exciting.” I think I speak for the masses on this one—even though I love a good White Claw as much as the next girl, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough cold drinks in my days on this Earth to justify the amount of koozies I’ve been sent home with after a wedding—or any party, for that matter. If you really want them to be enjoyed in earnest, sprinkle them around and let the select few who want them take them home.
When it comes to the favors your guests will never forget, Lance says opting for anything edible and individually wrapped is best. “Most of my clients chose stunning custom cookies with royal icing. We would take design elements from their invitation suite or table linens and get that drawn onto cookies. By incorporating other visual elements from the wedding, it shows a very high level of detail, and it’s always highly regarded by the guests who notice.”
Although I can in no way empathize with the bridal experience, let me serve as a sort of focus group. Your wedding is all about you and your spouse, sure. But, there’s at least just a little bit of ego involved—I know every bride wants to throw a party that their guests will never forget. So let the last moment your guests are left with be a good one and opt for something edible, cute, and easily stuffed in a purse or clutch for later. And I beg you, if you’re going to choose something your guests take home, don’t put your initials or, even worse, your faces on it… unless you want to see it on the shelf at your local Goodwill six months later.
Image: Vladimir Tsarkov /Stocksy.com
When the entire world shut down back in March, I’ll be honest, my fiancé and I were not concerned at all about our September wedding being affected. We were exactly six months out from our wedding day when quarantine began. I was much more hopeful back then, convinced that my fiancé and I would really get to spend quality time together, finalize some wedding plans, and then all this would be over just in time for our outdoor wedding in Connecticut.
Fast forward two months later, and not only does March feel like it was 100 years ago, but my fiancé and I have made the tough decision to postpone our wedding to June 2021. After hours of discussion, it became clear that this was the right thing to do for us, and now that it’s done, I actually feel relieved. Here’s why postponing my wedding doesn’t feel like the end of the world like I thought it would.
I Don’t Wake Up Filled With Anxiety
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Well, at least not wedding-related anxiety. When we began our quarantining, I remember saying to my fiancé, “thank God our wedding is in September! It’ll be back to normal by then.” HA, I was so young and naive back then. As time went on and stay-at-home orders lengthened, we realized that this wasn’t something that would go away overnight. When we began to understand how much of a crisis this really was, I began lying awake at night wondering if this would, in fact, impact our wedding. As the weeks went on and we had to cancel our engagement party, my fiancé postponed his bachelor party, and we moved the date of our joint shower, the lead-up to our wedding was becoming more about whether or not it would even happen versus celebrating the fact that it WAS happening. We both hated that what was supposed to be one of the most exciting times in our relationship had been hijacked by anxiety. Since making the decision to postpone, it feels like we’ve taken back control of our day. Now, we can plan confidently, without question and really soak in this (once again) exciting time.
We Were Able To Get A 2021 Date
When we started talking with my parents about the possibility of postponing, I was very adamant about waiting until July to make the decision. I was worried making this decision in early May was jumping the gun. I kept wondering, “What if things get better by July?” However, my mom was very adamant that we needed to make a decision soon in order to secure a new date. And, as always, my mom was right. When we started calling our vendors to see what kind of availability they had for summer 2021, it was already slim pickings. In addition to all the March, April, and May couples rescheduling, there were couples who’d gotten engaged before and during the pandemic who’d already booked their vendors. We were luckily able to secure the last available June 2021 date that any of my vendors had. Had we waited until July to make the call, we would’ve been sh*t out of luck and would’ve had to wait another two years to get married. And trust me, after two months working, living, eating and breathing in the same one-bedroom apartment, I’m unsure if we would’ve made it to the altar (JK, love you!).
Vendors Are Being Super Understanding
Another reason I was hesitant to pull the band-aid off and postpone was the headache I thought it would be to reschedule all of our vendors. Since we’re getting married outside, we have a different vendor for everything. From catering to rentals to planners, etc., we had to find a date that worked for 10+ vendors and we were unsure what kind of financial hit it would take on our budget. Would they make us pay another deposit to secure a new date? Would we still have to fork over the money based on our original financial timeline?
Thankfully, right now, vendors are being super accommodating and basically doubling as therapists. From the pep talk I got from our stationery vendor to the reassurance of my hair and makeup artist that this was the right move, everyone has been so kind and considerate. We were able to move everything from one date to the other without extra payment or hassle. They simply updated our contracts and sent them back to us. They’ve made this process so much easier than I expected, and it makes me even more excited to work with them next year.
People Have Stopped Asking Us What Our Plan Is
“What are you doing about your wedding?” was the new “So when are you getting engaged?” The wave of anger and frustration that came over me when people would ask me that question was reminiscent of when I would be asked about when we were getting engaged. Since I couldn’t necessarily snap back with, “whenever we damn well please” in this instance, I was forced to utter “I don’t know” with a fake smile in an effort to mask the anxiety I was constantly feeling. Now that we’ve set a new date, I don’t get antsy phone calls from family members or friends wondering what they should do about their plane tickets or hotel reservations. That in itself is reason enough to just bite the bullet and reschedule, IMO.
We Wanted To Have The Wedding We’ve Always Wanted
I know some couples have decided to get married on their original date with a limited number of guests and then plan to have a larger celebration later, and I am all for that. However, for my fiancé and I, we want it all at once. When my parents told us we could keep our original date, but we’d likely have to make some concessions, like getting rid of our raw bar or seating people six feet apart, this picture of what our wedding would look like started to change, and we didn’t want that. We want all of our family and friends on a crowded dance floor, mask-free, without worrying that they’ll get sick if they attend. We didn’t want our older guests having to decide between their health and our day, and that was ultimately what pushed us over the edge. We wanted the day we’d always dreamed of to come to fruition, without any limitations.
It’s Helped Us Put Things In Perspective
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Okay, don’t roll your eyes just yet. One thing that was hard for me to wrap my mind around was the fact that on September 12, our original date, we weren’t going to be getting married. I had this date in my mind for so long that I couldn’t move past the idea that it was no longer ours. I said this to my fiancé, to which he replied, “It’s not about the date, it’s about the day.” He talked about how when he pictured our wedding day, it wasn’t about it being on September 12. It was about having it exactly the way we pictured it, whether that’s four months from now or nine or 100.
It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this place of being happy with our new plan. I never expected this—but since when is life predictable? If you’re considering changing your date, I’d encourage you to do it and get some control back in your life. Yes, it sucks, but I promise you’ll feel much better after you make the decision—which I highly recommend chasing with a bottle of champagne to ease the pain.
Images: Shutterstock; betchesbrides / Instagram
Ever since I got engaged nine months ago, I’ve noticed a strange trend. I mean besides the constant “It’s raining on my wedding day” nightmares that keep me up at night and the ever-present fear that by the time I’m hitched I’ll have less than $10 in my bank account. I’m talking about the constant messaging telling me I need to start “shredding” or “shedding for the wedding”. Every day I see a new article about pre-wedding juice cleanses and wedding diet plans, and I’ve pretty much had it. The idea that women need to hit a certain weight or look a certain way on their wedding day in order for it to be “the best day ever” is an outdated concept rooted in sexism. Here’s why I’m 100% OVER shedding for the wedding, and why you should be too.
It Feels Like Society’s Beauty Expectations Of Women, On Steroids
Women have been held to unrealistic beauty expectations since the beginning of time, but since getting engaged, I’ve found that this expectation of having the perfect body (whatever that means) is on a whole other level. Whenever my friends got engaged they would all say, “My wedding diet starts now”. They were literally getting engaged one day and counting calories the next. I didn’t quite understand their reaction, but now, I totally get it. I’m constantly inundated with wedding content about workout regiments, foods to avoid and skincare routines (apparently I’m months behind on this). It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re engaged, if you’re a human woman who goes online, you’re no stranger to the expectations society has for us. The only difference is that when you’ve got a ring on your finger, there’s an impending deadline to achieve the aforementioned perfect body, and it’s your wedding date.
It Feels Like A Prerequisite For Getting Married
Look, I understand wanting to look and feel your best on your wedding day, I know I do, but that means different things to different people. You may have a goal weight you’ve been trying to hit and the wedding day is a good motivator, or you may feel perfectly comfortable in your own body and not feel the need to do anything (more power to you). But whatever your situation is, losing weight shouldn’t feel like a prerequisite to getting married. Content about what you should and shouldn’t be eating before your wedding and articles that claim the hardest part of wedding planning is your fitness routine (has this person ever made a seating chart?) might make you question if something’s wrong with you if you’re not dieting or amping up your workout (myself included). If you find yourself thinking like that, try to block out all the social media noise and focus on doing what makes YOU feel like your best self. I know it’s easier said than done, but maybe unfollow the #weddingworkout hashtag for a while. Don’t worry, you can still get a marriage license even if you’re not going to bridal boot camp.
Designers Are Becoming More Size-Inclusive
You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to drop weight in order to fit in a wedding dress. Cookie cutter dresses are a thing of the past, and bridal designers today are making wedding dresses for all body types and sizes, not just the stick-thin models who debut them on the runway. Supermodel Ashley Graham recently teamed up with Pronovias to launch her own size-inclusive collection, while Fame and Partners launched a capsule collection for the modern woman with David’s Bridal and new wedding dress company Floravere has gowns up to size 26, ensuring women of all sizes they’ll be able to find something that makes them feel like a million bucks. If you’re worried you’ll have to lose weight to find a gown that fits you, you can kick that fear to the curb, because it’s become much easier in recent years to find the perfect gown, no matter your body type.
Grooms Are Held To Different Standards
After being inundated with ideas of ways to change the way my body looks in time for my wedding, I asked my fiancé if he noticed anything similar. He hadn’t. I can’t say I’m surprised that there’s not this insane pressure on men to look a certain way for their wedding day, but it was disappointing to hear nonetheless. I wanted to see if there was any content out there aimed at the groom’s physical appearance on the wedding day. Come to find out, there is, but it’s scarce. I found a list of things grooms should do leading up to the wedding, and the only appearance-related tip was for them to get a haircut. And on their 12-month checklist? Apparently all they need to do is whiten their teeth. No gyms advertising groom boot camp or weight loss tips for men before they go tux shopping. Sure, not all men care as much about their appearance as Tom Sandoval, but why are only the brides being told they need to shed for the wedding in order to “look our best”? I’m exhausted just thinking about all of the things I’m supposed to be doing to my body to get it “wedding ready”, meanwhile my fiancé’s downing fried chicken and playing video games not worrying about what the f*ck he’ll look like six months from now. Ugh, to be a man.
It’s Time To End The Madness
Look, I’m not saying that dieting and exercising before your wedding day is a negative thing, but I’m tired of reading articles that imply feeling your best on your wedding day means you have to be working out and dieting beforehand. Shouldn’t you feel your best on your wedding day because you’re marrying the love of your life? Or because you’re about to attend the best party of all time? Why is weight loss so intrinsically tied to how we feel about ourselves, and why is that link only reserved for women? Your physical appearance might be a part of your wedding day journey, but it shouldn’t hijack what the day is really all about. So, let’s shatter the notion that those surface-level things are in any way the key to having a happy and joyful wedding day. It’s time to say f*ck it and halt to a stop on our never-ending journey towards unattainable beauty standards. The best way to get “wedding day ready” is to be 100% you.
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Images: Jason Briscoe / Unsplash
The topic of wedding gifts, specifically whether or not a wedding guest must give one, is touchy. While it’s by no means mandatory to gift the happy couple, most consider it the right thing to do. It’s a gesture of goodwill and a lovely way to express your support of the newlyweds. That said, it’s highly likely that not every guest at a wedding will oblige. In fact, it’s been estimated that between 7 and 10% of guests at a wedding fail to give a gift. If, like me, you’re: a) petty AF and/or b) someone whose love language is receiving gifts, you may be wondering WTF is wrong with these people how to handle this situation. Fortunately for you, I’ve been through this and have some advice on the matter. To be clear, you should not accost every person on your invite list who failed to get you something off the registry, or make a passive-aggressive Facebook status derailing “how selfish people can be these days”. What you should do is take into account the particular circumstances, your relationship to the person, and act (or don’t act) accordingly.
1. The No-Show
Let me be clear. By “no-show,” I don’t mean someone that RSVPed “yes” and then failed to show up to the wedding at the eleventh hour. Barring a true emergency, that person should be ashamed and should absolutely send a gift to make up for the added stress and expense their last-minute ghosting caused. Instead, I’m talking about the person that RSVPed “no” from the get-go. While it’s certainly the classy move for such a guest to send a gift, it’s definitely not required.
How To Handle: This one is understandable, especially if the guest in question isn’t a close friend or family member. You may feel disappointed if the guest is someone near and dear to your heart, but there’s not much you can do or say without looking tacky. Make peace with the fact that this is perfectly acceptable and move on.
2. The Flaky Friend
We all have that one friend who is all over the place. They flit from event to event, and can barely remember to brush their hair, let alone put together a wedding gift. It’s inevitable that this friend is going to neglect to send a gift, even after a reasonable amount of time has passed.
How To Handle: What is a “reasonable amount of time,” you ask? Tradition has it that guests have up to one year to send a gift. But seeing as how we live in the age of next-day delivery and most of us can barely remember what we ate for lunch yesterday, this seems a bit antiquated. A couple of months appears to be the new norm. If at least that much time has passed, you consider this person a good friend, and are fairly sure it was an oversight, it might be worth having an honest conversation. But it’s important to make it about your feelings and emphasize that the nature of the gift is of no importance. For example: “I consider you a good friend and it hurt me that you didn’t even acknowledge the wedding with a card.” A true friend will immediately own the gaffe and make things right.
3. The Reciprocator
This should go without saying, but if you attended someone’s wedding and did not get them a gift, then you have no right to complain if they return the favor and arrive at your wedding empty-handed. While technically, two wrongs don’t make a right, your petty self should respect the game and do better next time.
How To Handle: Zip it, acknowledge your hypocrisy, and fix your life start practicing the Golden Rule.
4. The One Who’s Gone The Extra Mile (Literally or Figuratively)
It’s no secret that weddings aren’t cheap, especially when you consider all the other related events such as an engagement party, bachelor/bachelorette, or a bridal shower. For those guests who aren’t flush with cash, these costs can build up quickly, and adding a wedding gift on top of everything else might understandably be more than some guests can handle financially. It’s also important to consider the guests who have expended considerable time and money traveling to the wedding and other events, especially when these events are more than a brief car or train ride away. This is especially true for the members of your bridal party.
How To Handle: The best approach here is to be grateful for everything this guest has contributed up until the wedding. Whether it’s the bridesmaid who has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on celebrating you multiple times leading up to the wedding (and buying a bridesmaid dress she can never totally wear again), or the friend who flew in from a different continent to be there for your big day, try to channel your inner Elsa and let it go. If you really can’t help yourself, you can try sending a subtle hint in the thank you note by thanking this guest for their presence and see if they pick up on the signal. If they don’t, move on.
5. The Borderline Invite
This is by far the most frustrating one of the bunch. There’s always going to be at least one guest you’re hesitant about, who you ultimately decide to invite, whether it’s a colleague you’re lukewarm on, a distant high school friend you lost touch with, or some other rando. In my experience, these are often the people that treat the open bar like it’s their last night on Earth and/or end up half-dressed on the dance floor busting moves that even a dad would find uncool. This would be fine, except for the fact that these same people are the ones that conveniently forget to bring or send a gift, leaving you wondering why you invited them at all.
How To Handle: If you can’t avoid inviting this person and they do end up disappointing you, cut your losses and try to distance yourself where possible. When you do see them, be polite, but there’s no need to dredge up the subject with someone you didn’t care much about to begin with.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t care at all about wedding gifts, you’re a unicorn and I commend you for your magnanimous spirit. For those not so blessed, it’s perfectly normal to feel slighted and a little offended, but it’s important to consider the specific circumstances and remember that it’s the gesture that matters (not how much money your guest dropped on the gift). And for those who want to drag me in the comments for having a strong opinion about this, to you I say:
Images: @oceanswide / Unsplash; Tenor (1); Giphy (5)
When it comes to 2020 weddings, there are no rules. As a fellow bride-to-be, I’ve realized there are a lot of wedding traditions I’m not into. While you may feel guilty about not doing everything your mom did at her wedding, just think, there were probably some traditions her mother did that she boycotted (it’s a vicious cycle, you see?). For example, my grandma told me it used to be tradition that the bride changed out of her dress at the end of the night and put on a suit to go off on her honeymoon. Sounds miz, right? I’m assuming all I’ll want to do is change into sweats and PTFO. My mom sure as hell didn’t do that, and I bet yours didn’t either, so don’t feel guilty about skipping one of these seven wedding traditions that should prob be retired any way.
Gender-Specific Wedding Parties
Look, it’s 2020. Gender fluid, gender neutral, whatever you want to call it, we can all agree that the gender lines are blurring, and therefore, there’s no reason to be a stickler about your best friend from college standing on the groom’s “side” because of the gender he was assigned at birth. Mix it up and go half boys and half girls, have your brother stand on your side, etc. Nobody’s going to be sitting at the ceremony whispering, “oh my God I can’t believe she has a GUY standing on HER side,” and if they do, they’re a f*cking idiot and shouldn’t be invited in the first place. Plus, women’s pantsuits are so in right now, so if you’re a woman in the groom’s wedding party, just channel your inner Ariana Madix circa Tom and Katie’s wedding and own that sh*t.
Your Parents Giving You Away
This may have been a thing back in the 1800s when literal 14-year-olds got married because they were going to die by age 30, but now that you’re a grown-ass adult, there’s no need for mommy or daddy to “give you away”. The whole idea of them handing off ownership to your spouse is pretty objectifying, IMO. Not to mention, not every person has a great relationship with their parents, and this wedding tradition can just put extra pressure on an already tense dynamic. If you want to skip this one but still compromise, you can have them walk in front of you, or at the beginning of the procession with the groom’s family if they’re salty about you walking solo.
Advice for wedding dress style: wear whatever the fuck you want
— betchesbrides (@betchesbrides) November 10, 2019
IDK who invented the idea that couples need to give each other gifts before the wedding ceremony, but isn’t like, your marriage enough of a gift? Yes, I know that sounds cheesy, but when it comes to saving money, I will use all the cliches I can to get me out of buying a really expensive watch for my fiancé (sorry, babe!). Writing a personal note should be gift enough, since you prob just spent your life savings on this massive party. I am officially launching my campaign to end pre-wedding gift exchanges between couples. WHO’S WITH ME?! I’ll take this all the way to Congress if I have to.
Wearing a Veil
I know this is one I’ll catch a lot of heat for, and I’m ready for it. When I discovered the historical meaning behind why brides wear veils, I was appalled. Basically, wearing a veil was intended to keep the groom from seeing the bride until she got up to the altar so he wouldn’t see her and run for the hills. Wow, that is so thoughtful of the inventors of the veil to hide the bride’s face until it’s too late in case the groom didn’t like her looks. A more modern-day reason to pass on a veil is the cost. Do you really want to spend $800 on a piece of tulle? I’m sure most of you reading this think I’m a veil-hater and are probably still going to wear one, but I’m just here to tell you that if you’re on the fence and the notion of “tradition” is preventing you from doing you, I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly okay if you don’t wear one.
Late night wedding ceremony and reception, brunch menu, open bar.
GIRL. Lemme write this down for future purposes.
— jaya. (@jayacancook) December 30, 2018
I’d venture to guess that the majority of weddings take place at night (mine will be), but if you’re not into the idea of a nighttime party, why not start it earlier in the day? My cousin is having a brunch reception that goes all day and I’m not going to lie, I am STOKED. The idea of eating brunch food, getting wasted, and being in bed by 7pm sounds like heaven on earth. Is that an over exaggeration? Probably, but let’s face it, I can’t stay up all night anymore and so the idea of getting the party started early, and ending it early, sounds lovely. Plus, all-you-can-eat brunch food? Hmm, maybe I should change my start time to 11am.
The only thing worse than being seated at the singles’ table is the dreaded bouquet and garter toss. As if a guy literally crawling up his wife’s dress in front of his entire family isn’t mortifying enough, think of all the single guests at your wedding you’ll humiliate when you toss a bunch of flowers at their faces. Also, someone could get SERIOUSLY injured. At my friend’s wedding last year she hiked the football bouquet like an NFL Pro-Bowler and almost took out half of her single guests. I mean, respect, but drunk people don’t have the best reflexes, so that could have been a massacre.
I'm not getting married but I might schedule some wedding cake tastings just for fun
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) February 3, 2020
My fiancé doesn’t like frosting (I know, he’s literally a serial killer) and I don’t want an icing-free cake at our wedding, so we’re not having one at all. We’re doing a donut wall instead because I’m #basicandproud, and that way people can bring their dessert on the dance floor. We also realized that at the last four weddings we’ve gone to, we didn’t eat the cake. It’s my personal goal to make sure every guest feels sickly full at the end of the night and they can’t get there with a small slice of cake, so bring on the dessert bar! If you want a cake just for the photo opp, your caterer might be able to whip up something small so you can at least have the picture.
The new wedding rules are that there are no rules, so don’t be afraid to do you. As long as you have good booze and awesome music, everyone will have a good time.
Images: IVASH Studio / Shutterstock; betchesluvthis, betchesbrides, jayacancook / Twitter
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The best part about getting married (other than the whole “finding someone to stand by your side during the good times and bad for the rest of your life” thing), is that for once, FINALLY, everything is all about you. Sure, in your head it usually is, but now? Now it’s for real. Estranged friends come crawling out of the woodwork clamoring for an invitation to the wedding. Acquaintances who are trying to make their calligraphy businesses take off DM you about place cards. Family members comment on how prominent your collarbones are. It’s the stuff of dreams.
And then it happens. The phenomenon that occurs when a bride is of moderate popularity and child-bearing age: One of your 4-12 bridesmaids has the AUDACITY to get pregnant.
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Whether she had been trying to get pregnant for years or this was a total accident miracle baby, you’re now faced with the fact that NOT ONLY is one of your besties jeopardizing all of your plans, but now she’s, dare I say, upstaging you? Before you throw her out of your wedding and wish ill upon her unborn child, take a deep breath and do your best not to jeopardize your entire friendship over something as small as bringing another human life into the world. If you want to ensure your friendship lasts beyond the second trimester, heed our advice and remember: Pregnant friends now make for great babysitters if you pop out a few of your own in the future. So if you do have a pregnant bridesmaid, here’s what NOT to do.
Don’t: Make Her Feel Like Sh*t
The most impressive thing my body has ever done is digest 14 breadsticks while hungover at the Olive Garden. Your friend is growing a human inside of her. Rumor has it, that sh*t takes work. Odds are, she’s already feeling bad. Between the morning sickness, backaches, and nightmares about having to take care of another human for the rest of her life (I’m just spitballing here), she’s already dealing with a lot. While it’s a bummer that she’s not going to be tossing back tequila in Cancun with you at your bachelorette party or partaking in some ceremonial puff-puff-pass after getting back to your Airbnb, do your best to love her in this stage. Take a million ‘grammable party bump pics and utilize your other friends for their overzealous alcoholic tendencies. Her ability to down Fireball like a fish may be gone for now, but her spirit is always with you. RIP.
Don’t: Expect The Same Level Of Commitment
Being a bridesmaid is like working two 9-5 shifts in a row and not getting paid
— betchesbrides (@betchesbrides) September 30, 2019
Before she started growing a person inside of her, there was a good chance your friend would have been right by your side (physically and mentally) every step of the way. Dress shopping, mother-in-law bitching, wine nights to stuff invitations that turn into party nights to complain about how your fiancé doesn’t seem to care which linens you pick—she was your go-to. Now? She’s going to the doctor twice a week (disclaimer: I have no idea how often pregnant people go to the doctor, but this feels like a solid guess), sitting with her legs elevated 24/7, and insisting she needs to go home by 9pm.
Instead of expecting her to perform at the same caliber as she would have been if she hadn’t
forgotten to use a condom gotten knocked up, use her condition to your advantage. Ask your other, less pregnant bridesmaids to do the heavy lifting and hide out with Preggers in the other room, catching up and whispering curse words to her fetus. Bow out of the extended small talk at your shower to “make sure your pregnant friend is okay,” while really just talking sh*t together in the bathroom. It might not be what either of you had originally pictured, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to suck total ass, either. It could be worse. I mean, YOU could be the one who’s pregnant, so praise be for that not being the case, amiright?
Don’t: Be Unwilling To Change Your Plans
Turns out, having a baby wreaks havoc on not only your lifestyle but your body too—who knew? Between swollen ankles, an exhausted body that is literally growing another body inside of it, and the fact that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol for the longest period of time since you were like, 16, it’s a f*cking lot. What, I imagine, would make it harder, would be to have one of your besties be unwilling to accommodate you in order to be a part of her special celebrations. Sure, it’s a drag that a bachelorette party during your friend’s third trimester might not work or that a trip to somewhere with Zika might be out. But, as you’ll quickly learn with wedding planning, things tend to not go as planned. You can either embrace it or you can be a total bitch and try to fight it. The first option causes less stress-induced breakouts.
What is comes down to is this: If she’s one of your day ones, and you can’t imagine not having her at as many things as possible, talk with her and be willing to alter plans and compromise together. Unless she’s a total see you next Tuesday, she’ll understand that some things you can’t change, but can compromise on others. At the end of the day, what matters more: having her with you or having the dream events you envisioned in your head? Bonus question: If she’s not there, wouldn’t it mess up your dream anyway?
Don’t: Compare Her Now To What Could Have Been
Before she got knocked up, there’s a good chance she would have been right by your side, throwing up tequila at your bachelorette party or getting drunk with you after your bridal shower and laughing at all of the weird gifts you got from distant relatives (thanks for the fertility herbs, Aunt Jenna). Now? She’s in bed by 10pm at your bach party, if she even went at all, and she left as soon as the gifts were opened at your shower because a wave of nausea hit her. It’s easy to judge and compare her to what your friendship was like before, but ready for some hard truth? Sh*t’s not the same anymore. Not for either of you.
You’re getting married and she’s about to push a human out of her vagina. Instead of dragging your feet and complaining about how you pictured it all to go, try to remember that if everything stayed the same you would still be crying at the club (yes, the club. You’d still be going to CLUBS) about some loser who didn’t text you back instead of getting ready to walk down the aisle. Embrace the changes and do your best to celebrate both of you, as annoying as it might seem in the moment.
Don’t: Make This Time All About You
Remember at the beginning when I said this time was all about you? Joke’s on all of us, because one of your besties failed to practice the ol’ pull and pray. Now, as all of your college friends rush to see your ring, they’re also elbowing their way to your friend to get a bump picture for the ‘Gram. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it’s unfair. No, you can’t be a total bitch about it. While in a dream world everyone’s special moments would fall at different times so you could all have your own undivided attention, it tends not to happen that way. It’s the curse of having lots of friends. Sorry, you’re like, really popular.
The key? To ensure everyone has times that are all about them (showers, food tastings, baby registry shopping, etc.) and to focus on their milestones. While your wedding might not be the year-long “all about you” celebration you always pictured (which is obnoxious anyway), it’s better than losing a friendship over a baby that could, potentially, hold your finger with its entire hand someday and cause your ovaries to explode from sheer cuteness.
Don’t: Bend Over Backwards 110%
Sure, she’s a goddess, a gift from heaven, and a glowing, gorgeous example of femininity. But, while her pregnancy announcement is big, your news is too. Compromising so she can be at the shower, understanding if she can’t stay over in your hotel room the night before the wedding, and accepting that standing at the altar for an extended period of time might be too much, are one thing. Her making this time ONLY about her is another. While brides can become bridezillas, moms-to-be can become future-momzillas. If you’re compromising, so should she.
Just like a marriage isn’t a one-way street, neither is friendship, especially when you’re both experiencing exciting, scary, and life-changing moments. You need to be there for each other by listening to the venting, not undermining each other’s fears, and cherishing these special moments without undercutting the other. It’s just as important that she’s on board to compromising because while this time isn’t all about you, it’s (shockingly) not all about her, either.
Don’t: Forget Why She’s In Your Wedding In The First Place
Unless you got wasted and accidentally asked her to be in your bridal party (been there, done that), odds are she’s a pretty important person in your life. Whether she’s knocked up or not, she’s been there for you through tears, triumphs, and most likely lots of bitching about the person you’re going to marry that she PROMISED to take to the grave.
So, as you’re adding “find a breast pumping room” onto your venue to-do list and changing your bachelorette party date to a time when she won’t look and feel like a total beluga whale, remember that this friendship is about more than just a bachelorette party, a picture-perfect wedding, and bridesmaids in dresses that make them look bangin’ but still slightly less hot than you. It’s about being there for each other through the highs and the lows, the wedding planning meltdowns and the post-birth vagina stitches.
At the end of it all, friendship means never having to say, “I’m sorry I was a total bitch to you when milk was seeping out of your nipples at my wedding,” or something like that.
Images: pyrozhenka / Shutterstock.com; betchesbrides / Twitter; Giphy; boredpanda