Weddings can put the lucky couple – and their guests – in some uncomfortable situations.
Calgary’s Global News Morning spoke with The Civility CEO Sue Jacques to get answers to some awkward wedding-related questions.
Is it OK for me to plan a destination wedding?
Destination weddings are a popular choice among many couples, but bring with them a set of unique dynamics which must be considered.
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“A couple who is planning a destination wedding needs to be very understanding that there are people who are going to have to say no,” Jacques said.
“A lot of people have difficulties determining whether or not they can actually attend a destination wedding,” Jacques explained. “Even if it looks like they might be able to afford it, we have to keep in mind that maybe they can’t.”
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Jacques recommends the bridal couple work out a budget before inviting their wedding party or guests.
In addition, Jacques said her rule of thumb is to keep bachelor and bachelorette parties simple if planning to get hitched abroad.
Lastly, ask yourself if your friends and family will be comfortable.
“It’s not uncommon these days for families to be split and remarried. You have to think about, does your mom really want to spend her vacation with your dad, her former husband? How are those dynamics all going to work?”
How do I turn down an invitation to a destination wedding?
“My bottom line is if you can’t go, say no,” Jacques said. “Say it right away, say it clearly.”
“It’s not only about money, sometimes it’s about time.”
“The person who needs to decline the invitation doesn’t necessarily need to provide an explanation or justify it.”
I was asked to be the best man/maid of honour in a destination wedding – how do I decide if I should say yes?
Here are the questions you should ask yourself:
How much is too much stress?
How much is too much money?
How much is too much time?
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Do I bring a gift to a destination wedding?
“The rule of thumb is, if you’re going to a destination wedding you’re putting all that expense into it, you don’t necessarily to bring a gift,” Jacques said. “If you do feel obligated, or you’d like to supply a gift, it would probably be something a little more moderate than if it was a wedding at home.”
My mom/dad/significant other said I have to invite someone I don’t want to. Do I?
“A guilt-vatation is that invitation that you feel that you must send,” Jacques explained. “Either your parents have said you must ask aunty so-and-so to attend even though you may not have seen her for 20 years, or you may feel really obligated to invite someone because they invited [you] to their wedding.”
So do your folks and friends have a right to dictate your guest list?
“Whoever is paying for the wedding is usually the person with the ultimate decision,” Jacques said.
As such, if mom and dad are helping out, you’ll have to have a discussion with them about who you want in attendance and who you don’t.
“Otherwise, if you’re paying for your own wedding, you get to decide who’s going to be there.”
Is it tacky to ask for money instead of presents?
“That’s a really personal question,” Jacques said. “A lot of people now have everything they need – the physical things that they need – they’ve lived together or they are combining households and they don’t need little things.”
“Is it tacky? I don’t know… it’s really an individual decision.”
“Don’t feel obligated that you have to pay a certain amount,” Jacques said.
She recommends couples make it clear how much money they’re hoping for, and what it will go towards.
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Is it OK to make my guests pay for their booze?
Jacques suggested most people she has spoken with feel that if they’re invited to a wedding, the drinks ought to be free.
“If you are going to have a cash bar make it very clear on the RSVP or on the wedding website, because people don’t carry cash anymore,” Jacques said.
She also suggested if you’re having an open bar, you must also make sure alternative transportation is available to guests who may be over served.
Is it OK to have a kid-free wedding?
“It’s your wedding, so it’s your choice – but be prepared for the fallout,” Jacques warned.
On your invitations, you can specify it’s an “adult occasion.”
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How do I choose my ‘RSVP by’ date?
“It depends on when the venue needs to know,” Jacques said. “Pay attention to when the venue needs to know and then back it up by a couple of weeks.”
“If it’s a destination wedding those invitations have to go out way earlier.”
How soon after the wedding do thank you cards need to be sent?
“Send them as soon as you possibly can,” Jacques said.
WATCH: Etiquette expert Sue Jacques joins Global Calgary with details on how important it is to be clear when sending or responding to a wedding invitation