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Let's brush up on our wedding manners...shall we?

Should I Use a Wedding Planner?Using a Wedding Planner Can Help With Stressful Details

There are so many details to look after in the planning of a wedding, that the protocol and etiquette surrounding these grand affairs can be complex. A wedding is one of the most important events in one’s life. It can also be and usually is one of the most stressful events in one’s life even if it is well organized.

In this column I will address some of the elements involved in a traditional marriage ceremony where the bride and groom are marrying for the first time.

Every detail revolving around any wedding exists to achieve one goal – the happiness and joy of the bride and groom on their wedding day.

The grander and more formal a wedding, the more people are required for the planning and execution and the more time is needed. Simpler informal weddings can be hastily arranged if need be and usually the bride and groom can handle the arrangements themselves. But even in these simpler affairs there needs to be someone to stand up for the bride and someone to stand up for the groom, usually referred to as maid of honor and best man. These are the two witnesses required by law for a wedding. It is often their responsibility to see to it that all of the details are worked out well in advance and that various tasks are assigned or handled so that the bride and groom can have a care free and really fun time.

One of the first elements that needs to be sorted out is the finances. This will dictate the size and scope of the wedding and reception. Because many people are marrying later in life, the couple may well pay for their own wedding. Even when one or both of the families are able to contribute to the wedding expenses, today simpler weddings are often times preferred. The days of white tails and elaborate sit down dinners are part of the past, generally. The enormous cost of putting on a large wedding is today often transferred to a down payment on a house or towards paying off a student loan or other debt. Those decisions are what will help to give the parameters for this once in a lifetime event.

Once the number of guests has been determined, then the size of the wedding party can be decided. In the case of a church wedding, the groomsmen act as ushers. Escorting and seating guests and being present for anything unexpected. Likewise, there are more details to look after for the bridesmaids such as flowers, bouquets, procedures in the church, dressing the bride and making sure the flower girls are happy and well rehearsed. 

No matter what the size of the wedding, it is a good idea to have someone to consult with outside of the immediate family to make sure all the bases have been covered. I sat down a few weeks ago with a bride to be who had a very detailed list of things she needed to do. She had done a really thorough job actually. However, when we started to go through how the day of the wedding would unfold, hour by hour, new tasks began to emerge. Questions such as who would be toasting the bride and groom, when and where the wedding cake would be cut, how many bottles of champagne needed to be ordered, and the list went on. So a fresh set of eyes can be very helpful. There are professional wedding planners who are real life savers.

One of the most expensive parts of a wedding can be the flowers. We hosted a wedding here at the Windsor House several years ago and the flowers were one of the most costly elements, (costing even more than the food). Mind you, the boutonnieres, bouquet and arrangements were fantastic, but the price of fresh flowers today can be astronomical. I am not suggesting that artificial flowers are an option, because, really they are not. But the more lead time you have, the better selection will be available to you. Working with a good local flower shop is always the best choice and a guarantee of quality of the floral material is only possible that way. Call the local florist and ask what sort of lead time is needed for what you are planning. There are lavish weddings which require placing such orders a year in advance. And there are other weddings where the bride knows she wants local wild flowers – which can be so elegant. The choices are endless really. The main thing is to make sure that these details are well planned and properly executed.

I’ve just barely scratched the surface in dealing with this vast subject. I will construct further columns on weddings as the questions come in. Handling wedding invitations and announcements, reception venues, receiving lines and so on are just a few of the many interesting elements of a wedding which when handled with correct etiquette and protocol make an event work seamlessly.

Meet Stage of Life's Etiquette Coach

Meet Jay Remer - etiquette expert on StageofLife.comOur Etiquette Expert

Why Jay?  It's simple...Jay knows etiquette. 

For years Jay has planned and managed royal, corporate, political and social events and parties, some of them for up to 500 people.  As a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, he offers workshops on business, social and dining etiquette, as well as international protocol for a variety of audiences.  From teenage students to corporate clients, Jay teaches everything from the basics of a handshake to the subtleties of developing a business relationship during a networking dinner.  His course on self-esteem in youth, in particular, has been encouraged by Dr. Piet Forni, founder of the Civility institute at Johns Hopkins University.  Originally from Delaware, Jay now lives in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada  where he has written a weekly etiquette column in the National Post and is a current columnist in New Brunswick’s Telegraph Journal.  He is a Social Etiquette and Good Manners expert on and has answered over 1,000 questions from people around the world...and we post his content here on Stage of Life.  

You can read more about Jay on his website,

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