How Long Should A Reception Be?

wedding reception

How late should I reception go til, is 8pm too early?

We are getting married at 3pm on a Saturday. The reception hall is about 10 minutes away from the church. We are planning a cocktail hour from 4-5 and dinner at 5.30. Since most vendors do everything in 4 hours increments that means our reception will end at 8pm, is this too early for the night to end? We can’t afford another 4 hours of everything, any suggestions?

Emmanuela Stanislaus, Precious Occasions, Wedding and Event Planner

There isn’t anything that says that you need to end your reception at any specific time. The end time really depends on the type of vibe that you want for your reception. For example, if you want to have more of a party atmosphere, you may want to have the reception end later. If not, then you are okay with the end time that you have set. However, I do recommend that you add an additional hour to the reception site to allow time for all of the formalities like speeches, cutting the cake, garter and bouquet toss, and allowing time for guests to have a good time. While you’re correct that most vendors operate in four hour time blocks, most of them will allow you to add an hour or two to the package that you have booked with them. The vendors that I would suggest you consider adding one hour with would be your venue, photographer, and videographer (if you have one). I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

Emmanuela is correct – there is no set time that you *have* to end your reception. A reception should be as long as it needs to be. LOL.

In my experience, a 6 hour reception is just right with a cocktail hour, band/DJ, bar, dinner, cake, special dances, mingling, and all the other fun stuff. I would suggest contacting your venue representative and ask how long you have the room. Venues in my area will ask what time you’d like to have the event end or they at least give you a final time when everything needs to be out of the room. You know your guests – if you think they are the type to stay and party past 8pm then make sure you have that room for another hour, maybe 2.

This is what you’re looking at: you’ll have an hour for your cocktail hour and you should allow an hour for dinner. That takes you to 6:30. You have an hour-and-a-half for special dances, toasts, cake cutting, more dancing, garter and bouquet toss. Those events really do not take that much time in and of themselves and you could be “done” at 8:00. Does your reception need to be done at 8:00? No. You may want to stay and party for another hour. If you feel that 8:00 is too early to end your night, then contact your vendors and ask to end at 9:00. Getting with a coordinator and creating a wedding day timeline will help. He/she will help you schedule the events of the evening. Then you can see if you really need more time or not.

Like Emmaneula said, you want to have your venue, photographer and videographer on board as long as you need them to be. Go over your vendor contracts and see what you have. Will they allow you to book an extra hour? Probably so. Usually it’s just a base package they have and you can always adjust it. It never hurts to ask!

Best Wishes!


Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Are you sure they are including the cocktail hour in the 4 hours aloted for the reception? Typically we see the cocktail hour and then 4 hours for the reception, meaning your reception would end at 9 PM. I’ve been to all sorts of weddings, beginning and ending at all sorts of times. If you want to continue the party after the reception you can leave and go to another location. Just be sure that you only make mention that you and your groom will be at (location of your choice) after the reception so that guests don’t think you’re inviting, and paying for an “after party”.

Joyce C Smith, MBC, President and owner of Weddings Unlimited, Inc. and Ohio State Coordinator for Association of Bridal Consultants

A five hour wedding day is typical for most guests and you should not feel guilty about the ending time. Plan a spectular get-away that gets the guests up and away from the dance floor and outside. Your emcee can help by making an announcement of the last dance, and encourage the guests to gather outside for a big fanfare for the newly weds.


Brandi Hamerstone,
Owner/Senior Wedding Planner All Events Planned

I’ll have to agree with the previous answers. There is no rule that says how long your reception has to be, so you are fine with doing it, as you have listed. Cocktail “hour” isn’t always in hour in every case either, so some people do change around timing for their day, to fit their needs. I’m sure your guests will be happy with the timing you have planned. As of lately, quite a few of my reception guests start to head out around 9pm anyhow, so some of your guests might even be happy with an early end to their evening! If people want to continue their evening out, they can certain do so at a local restaurant or bar and at that point you aren’t obligated to pay to everyone, unless of course you “invite” everyone out, then you are responsible for the bill (as another poster has mentioned).

To make mention of your 4-hour time allotment for vendors, I’m certain that most will add on an additional hour, if you did want to extend things a bit later, you would just have to review that with each of your vendors. I’ve never had an issue where my clients were required to only work in 4-hour blocks for their vendors. They are out for the night anyhow, so I’m sure they would be more than happy to make any additional money by staying for however long you’d like. However, from your post, that doesn’t seem like the case with your vendors, so we’ll go back to stating that your timing will be fine and you should just enjoy yourself!!

photos via 1

Wording for Wedding Ceremony-Only Invites

Wedding Ceremony

How do we invite guests to our wedding ceremony only?


I am sure that this has been asked a few time before, but I cold not fine an answer, save the one where they didn’t want to be polite, So here goes.

We have a few people that we’d like to invite to our wedding ceremony only for example;

- Fiance has a family friend whom he grew up with and sees occasionally during his travel around town. (I’ve met them once in the 6 years we’ve been together).

- A mutual friend whom has a partner that we are not friends with and there is a chance that she will make him leave early (has previously at other events). But we’d still really like for him to come.

- Sister’s ex and his new partner, seems odd I know, but my fiance went to school with this guy, and they’ve been friends since before my sister was engaged to him. My fiance and I are still very good friends with him, but having him and his partner at the reception as well might cause some issues with seating.

Are there any wording suggestion that you could offer so that we can invite these people without offending them, but remaining polite? Ultimately we would prefer to invite them to both Ceremony and Reception, but budget restraints and other aforementioned reasons make it hard.

I appreciate any help that you might be able to offer.
Thanks in advance,

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Hi Melody -

I so appreciate that you want to be polite!

Unfortunately, it isn’t polite to invite a guest just to the wedding ceremony, which is why you’re having trouble wording the invitations properly. There are some very good reasons for this.

First, just imagine how you’d feel attending a ceremony and then standing outside the church or leaving the venue while the other guests are all excited because they’re going to the party to follow. And, since guests of the wedding are expected to send a gift, it’s not nice to ask them to attend the gift giving portion of your event and then let them leave without entertaining them or providing any refreshments. It’s as if to say they’re good enough to give you a gift, but not important enough to be wined and dined.

Everyone who gets invited to the wedding ceremony also gets invited to the reception. But, you can host a private wedding and invite as many guests to the reception as you wish.

Melody -

Thank-you for your fast reply, kindness and honesty :)

I appreciate the ‘hurt’ that might be felt by guests upon learning that they are only invited to ‘half’ the wedding, I have in fact just been invited to a co-workers wedding with a ceremony invitation only (she has invited the whole office as ceremony only). We have been friends for many years and went to school together. In this instance I am happy that she has invited me and I can share her special day. But due to her financial troubles, I understand why she has done that.

We do not expect our guests, (ceremony only or both) to bring gifts. If guests ask then we might prompt with a suggestion, but no mention of any type/form of gift has been made at this stage.

For our wedding, after the ceremony, but before we head out to photos we will be mingling with all guests and serving (well not personally of course!!) canapés and the bar will be available for drinks.

Kind Regards,

More Invitation Guides:

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. That is one of the golden rules: all wedding guests are invited to the entire reception. It might help to scale back your reception expectations if you want to invite more guests. For example: daytime reception is usually less expensive than one held during the dinner hour.


Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

I’m in total agreement – everyone who gets invited gets invited to the WHOLE sha-bang. As you can see, refining your guest list is like putting a puzzle together – a very political puzzle -that can lead to hurt feelings, broken friendships, and awkward silences. No matter how hard you try, you will end up ticking someone off over something very small. Just remember, people who are easily offended will be offended often. So how do you draw the line on whom to invite or not to invite?

Realistically, the decision is yours. It’s tempting to want to invite all the pals you’ve ever made, but really *think* about why you want to invite them. Will they be there to celebrate your silver anniversary with you someday?

The people you’ve listed in your post have already caused enough doubt that you are questioning what you should do. I have a saying, “When in doubt, leave ‘em out.” It may feel cruel to slash someone off the list and I know it stinks to have to explain to someone why they weren’t invited, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Go across the boards to keep things fair and to prevent DRAMA. And don’t feel like you have to apologize to people you haven’t invited.

Best Wishes!

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy, International Protocol and Corporate & Social Etiquette

I agree with the ladies. There are always extenuating circumstances which can create situations where guests are not always invited to everything – The Royal Wedding, for example. This however is not the case here. Remember to cut your list carefully and thoughtfully, and hope that those excluded understand why. Don’t forget the announcements. Sent out after the event, this lets everyone know you’re married. Today, it is not always possible to invite everyone you know to every milestone in your life. Most importantly here, be sure you are clear on your reasons for not wanting these people at your wedding reception. I’m not convinced the reasons stated are the real bottom-line reasons. Just a hunch! I hope this is the most magical day of your life – well, one of them anyway! Congratulations!!


photos via 1, 2, 3

How Does The Stepmother Of The Bride Dress?

Stepmother of the Bride Attire

What should I wear as the Stepmother of the Bride?

I have searched for advice in the forum(s) and haven’t found an answer in this situation. My husband’s daughter is getting married (very soon!) and he will be ‘giving her away’. It’s an out of state wedding, afternoon church wedding ( with reception four hours later at a different location), and my husband will be wearing a tuxedo. We have been married for many years and I have always felt close with his daughter. I asked her for information regarding dresses (I’m not in the wedding party) and colors but the only information I received was that the bridal party will be wearing black…and the mob is her moh. We have never met the groom’s parent’s, so I don’t know what the mother of the groom will be wearing. I was going to wear a black dress but now I don’t feel it’s appropriate. I am not sure about the proper length either. I do feel a bit slighted in the situation, given the blatant insults, but I want to look (and behave) refined as well as appropriate. Please help me.

Thank you.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Slkkt,

Blatant insults? I must have missed something. I couldn’t find anything in your post about an insult.

Unless a stepmother is being treated as one of the mothers (seated as special), then she is usually treated as a guest, perhaps a special guest, but still a guest. It would be best to find out if you will be seated as special. If so, then you would want to find out how the mother of the groom is dressed and coordinate with her–color, length, and formality.

Although, mothers do not typically dress in the same color as the attendants, black seems to be the one exception. Many brides are now requesting their mothers to dress in black when their bridesmaids are wearing it. But, this would have to be something the bride requests.

Best wishes,

Stepmother of the Bride Attire


Thank you for your quick response! Regarding the insults, which thankfully I’ve moved forward, the invitation wording indicated that the bride’s parents were still together and my husband’s name was wrong. It’s so absurd, it’s funny. I agree that I should dress as a guest. Special? I think I am :) I certainly can’t call them to ask if I will be treated special. We haven’t met the groom’s family yet, so I have no idea what the mog will be wearing. The mob is the bride’s maid of honor and wearing the same black dress as the bridesmaides (not sure of the length or anything other than black). I’ll dress as a guest but can you suggest a proper length, other than a mini skirt (just kidding) ! Thank you, again.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Hum, that is a strange invitation. It is unfortunate that you can’t ask about the MOG’s choice of attire or if you should dress like one of the mothers. But, you probably can’t go wrong with wearing a time appropriate cocktail dress (street length) in any color besides red or black, which is unfortunate because other guests could wear black. It just probably wouldn’t go over well, if the bride and/or her mother thought you were trying to dress like them.

I’m sorry this is so stressful. I hope that the wedding isn’t any more stressful than this.


Although a stepmother is not normally a central figure or VIP when it comes to their stepchildren’s wedding day, it’s important to try and communicate with the wedding party to gauge what would be the appropriate attire for the big day. As to not step on any toes and be respectful to both the MOB and MOG, reach out and simply ask questions!

photos via SMP

What To Wear To An American Wedding?

Wedding Guest Attire

What is the proper guest attire to wear to an American wedding?


I am from Greece originally but I live in Boston for five years now. I am very excited because I got invited to a wedding, the first one in the US. However, my excitement turned into confusion after asking a question – what would be appropriate to wear and hearing different answers. I was advised to go to David’s Bridal for a dress. I bought a dark brown dress with pink halter, sash and wrap. But I am not sure if the quality is cheap (100% polyester) and/or the look is very formal. The wedding is at 1:30 pm in a church and the reception at 4:00 pm in a club. The groom who invited me told me he will wear a tuxedo – not very formal with a tie.

I am really confused if my gown is appropriate. I cannot wear a cocktail dress because I do not have slim knees and legs.

Please, let me know if this would be OK or I need to look for another dress. I do not want to seem unfitted and I want really to have a great time at this wedding.

Thank you very much in advance for your help.

Wedding Guest Attire

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Most questions I receive are from people wanting to know what to wear. So, you are in good company.

The person who told you to go to David’s bridal gave you some incorrect advice. This dress could be a bridesmaid’s dress. So, I would avoid it.

For the afternoon wedding, anything conservative you would wear to a nice restaurant would be appropriate. The little black dress or its equivalent would be fine for the reception. So, you could wear a very nice pant suit in quality material to both events. But, I wouldn’t worry about your legs. People tend to notice a nice personality much more than knees.

Best wishes,


Thank you very much for your reply.

But, since I have bought the dress and David’s Bridal sales are final, could you please let me know where it would be appropriate to wear this dress? I mean is too formal? Or is it a dress that only a bridesmaid can wear?

Also, what is your opinion about the polyester? Is it considered good quality? Or I should look for something better like silk?

Thank you very much again. You saved me from being in a very bad position.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Outside of a wedding atmosphere, it probably wouldn’t appear to be a bridesmaid’s dress because there wouldn’t be that premise.

You could wear this in any other formal situation, such as a holiday party or cruise dinner.

Typically, polyester is viewed as lower quality. However, today some of the garments made with polyester are done so well, that it appears to be made of a high quality material. Actually, I was reading that today’s polyester is supposedly better looking. So, it is the appearance that is most important.

Wedding Attire Guest

photos via SMP

The Right Ring Choice When the Bride Has Metal Allergies?

Wedding Ring Alternatives

I’m allergic to an array of metals, is yellow gold the best option for a wedding ring?

Hi there,

My boyfriend and I are not engaged yet, but we have discussed it and I know it is in the near future. I’ve always had a very strong sensitivity to metals, but was never really that noticeable until I got my ears pierced. I assume that it is an allergy to nickel, or even potentially copper (although I know that copper allergies are significantly more rare). My skin often reacts to minor things: such as necklaces, earrings, watches, belt buckles, buttons on jeans, and so on. What confuses me about the allergy is the fact that for our one year anniversary (we’ve been together three years), he got me a white gold promise ring, which has never caused my any problems (and I rarely have taken it off for the past two years).

I am wondering, considering white gold typically is mixed with nickel alloys, should I tell my boyfriend that yellow gold is the best option? I have a feeling he has it in his mind that white gold is the best option, since it was my preference when we first started dating. Personally, stylistically I trust him to pick out the ring he thinks I will love, and I would never want to take that fun away from him! I guess my question is: if I have an allergy to nickel, why would I not react to white gold, and are my fears justifiable–should I try to stick to yellow gold or platinum, just in case? My boyfriend is not exactly rolling in the money, so the idea of him purchasing a platinum ring worries me.

I hope this makes sense and I apologize for the length!

Wedding RIng Alternatives

Afshin from Apples of Gold Jewelry
Professional Jeweler

Hi, Angelie,

If you have a sensitivity to baser metals such as nickel, you definitely will not want to choose white gold. Depending on how strong your allergy is, you will not be able to wear your ring!

As you know, platinum is the next alternative if you want a white look, but platinum tends to be expensive.

Some things to know about platinum right now: the price of platinum as a precious metal has dropped about 65% in the last year, so you may be able to find deals where you were unable to in the past.

Alternatively, you can also try titanium as a cheaper hypoallergenic alternative.

Finally, if none of the above work for you, then yellow gold is really your best option (and possibly 18k rather than 14k if you are sensitive to copper also).

But I highly recommend staying away from white gold if you really do have an allergy to nickel–as that is the whitening agent used to create white gold.


Thanks for your quick and informative reply! My main confusion stems from the fact that my favourite earrings are white gold and I’ve never reacted to them, but react to anything cheaper than 14 or 18 karat gold, and I also do not react to my promise ring, which is also white gold.

I don’t know if I should post this as another question, or if it ok for me to ask it here since it was brought up in the response…but what are the differences/possible benefits/disadvantages of titanium as compared to the other metals?

Afshin from Apples of Gold Jewelry
Professional Jeweler

Yeah, unfortunately, it’s hard to tell until you actually get the ring and try it on. What you may want to consider is finding out what the return policy is on a ring if you have an allergic reaction. I know with our company for example, we extend our return policy an additional month or so to cover against unknown allergies. But companies will differ.

We wrote an extensive article about hypoallergenic wedding bands that you can check out also, that explains titanium, platinum, etc.


Hope that helps!

Wedding RIng Alternatives

Bachelorette Party Ideas: Tame or Wild?

wild bachelorette party ideas

Should My Bachelorette Party Be Tame or Wild?

These days, bachelorette parties come in many different shapes and sizes. So choosing the right one for your female bridal party can be a bit of a mind boggle. Traditionally, the bachelorette party is a celebratory evening which is organized on behalf of the bride – usually by the Maid of Honor – and includes guests of the bride’s social circle and the bride’s close female family members.

But not all bachelorette shenanigans are suitable for the ranging age groups in your bridal party, so here we have picked a selection of both tame and wild party ideas to give you some party inspiration.

Bachelorette Parties on the Tame Side

If you have parents or elderly relatives to entertain at your bachelorette party, here are some fantastic ideas!

  • Spa Day – a relaxing spa day is perfect as it can appeal to all ages. It also gives you the option to break the celebrations into two parts, with younger attendees joining you for an evening shindig too.
  • Afternoon Tea – if you’re looking for something a little more refined and classy, take the hens out to a wonderful afternoon tea. Choose a special venue and enjoy being served delicious tea and cake to celebrate the day.
  • Shopping and Cocktails – perfect for a girly crowd, shopping followed by cocktails is a great way of enjoying a few drinks during the day.
  • A Walk in the Country – for active family members, walking, hiking or biking is the perfect hen activity. Follow up with late lunch or evening dinner treats.
  • Theatre and Dinner – culture vultures will get to soak up the sophistication at a theatre show. Complement the day evening with a slap up dinner.
wild bachelorette party

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

Bachelorette Parties on the Wild Side

If you’re organizing for a younger crowd, here are some ideas which might tantalize your party taste buds a bit more.

  • Wine Tasting / Beer Tasting – whatever your tipple, there are plenty of alcohol tasting events around the world to satisfy your appetite.
  • Burlesque Dancing / Pole Dancing – need something a little bit more active? Try dance classes with a twist!
  • Paintballing – for adrenaline junkies, there’s nothing more exciting than a team activity such as paintballing. But beware: paintballing is not for the faint hearted!
  • Cocktails and Club Night – do it like the British and celebrate with a night on the town.
  • Stripper or Kiss-o-Gram – spice up a house party by ordering a stripper or a kiss-o-gram service. A fun way to surprise the bride on her last night of freedom.
bachelorette photo

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

For more ideas, or to get help with organizing a superb hen or party, take a look here.

Gift Ideas for the Groom

groom watch

Q: I desperately need some gift ideas for my groom. Any recommendations?

Your wedding day is the most important day of your entire life and so it should truly be a day to remember. Traditionally, the exchange of wedding gifts either from guests to the bride and groom or from the bride and groom to the wedding party members, has been a way of thanking and congratulating as well as having something to remember the day by. The small gesture of a precious pendant to your chief bridesmaid or a classic watch given to the father of the bride, are memories treasured forever.

A gift to your groom may not be a part of tradition but it’s a fantastic way to say thank you for taking time and effort into the proposal and helping you achieve the happiest day of your life.

Alternatively, if you and your husband-to-be don’t want a traditional wedding gift list, you could always ask your wedding party to contribute to something bigger for the both of you.

Here are some great ideas for gifts for the groom…

Wedding Day Jewelry

Just as you would treat your bridesmaids to something sparkly, it’s a nice idea to gift your husband-to-be with something special on the big day too. Whether it’s an understated bracelet or a classic chain, there are so many different jewelry pieces to consider.

If you’re unsure, read this great online guide on choosing the perfect jewelry piece for your man.

groom jewelry ideas

A Classic Designer Watch

Designer watches can make a great gift for someone you care about. Not only are they wonderful gifts which can hold a lot of memories but they can be fantastic investments if you choose a classic or a vintage piece.

A watch can be a great gift for your groom and also a perfect present for the father of the bride or father of the groom. If you are in the market for something extravagant such as a vintage Rolex or a popular high end designer brand such as Patek Phillipe, you can get a great deal by searching for preloved and vintage pieces. Websites such as Market Cross Jewellers are known for top condition used Rolex watches and more.

groom watch wedding

A Gift for the Honeymoon

Sometimes the best gift isn’t something you can wear or touch, but something you can enjoy together.  If your groom isn’t interested in jewelry or watches, try an experience gift – something that can be enjoyed during your honeymoon.

Wow him with an air balloon ride over the Swiss Alps, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, or a chance to swim with dolphins in Dubai. Stuck for ideas? Take a look at Huffington Post’s Top 10 Bucket List Honeymoon Ideas list for some experience gifting inspiration.

How Matchy-Matchy Should the Groom & Groomsmen Really Be?

Groom and Groomsmen Attire Etiquette

If we go with shades of green and my attendant wears one color, does that mean my husband-to-be and his attendant should wear accessories in another shade of green?

I am getting married for the second time next summer. I’ve picked my dress, which is champagne in color. My color theme will include shades of green or green and taupe.

I don’t know which members of the wedding party are supposed to match by color. My groom and I each have one attendant and my son will be walking me down the aisle. If we go with the shades of green and my attendant wears one color, does that mean my husband to be and his attendant should wear accessories in another green shade? What about my son? Does he match the groomsmen or my attendant with his color green?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

The entire wedding party should be color coordinated. So, usually all of the groomsmen and the groom (all of the men in the bridal party including fathers) wear the same attire and coordinating colors. However, the groom can wear a slightly different style or coordinating color. All the greens can be the same, or in the same family, but I’d stay away from using too many different shades. Typically we’ll see 2 colors, three tops if counting a cream or champagne color as you suggested.


Here is some information on choosing shades of green and how to incorporate them into your wedding planning:…r_Wedding_Ideas

I’ve attached a photo of some groomsmen wearing green and pink ties.


Maybe some of our wedding planners or photographers have a photo of a green wedding they can share?
Oh my goodness, another question. My husband to be and best man are wearing black, never even thought about what their colors would do (match or not match), oh what a dilema, please any advice would be appreciated

Groom and Groomsmen Attire Etiquette

Elysa Ross, PalmBeachWeddingExpert.comWedding Beauty Expert, Licensed Aesthetician & Makeup Artist

Today’s wedding designs are more about originality than following protocol. Whatever colors you chose can be used in multiple combinations – provided that they somehow compliment one another.

Stick to coordinating shades in the green and taupe families. Don’t include too many different colors or things will get confusing and overwhelming. Focus on two or three shades within the green and taupe families and include those colors in your bouquets, linens, settings, flowers, etc. (although not necessarily in all of the aforementioned).

Black accents can be used, to tie everything together. However, don’t use much black as it can be too harsh if not used correctly.

Irina Feygin,
IMpeccable iMage, Inc. Image and Beauty and For Princess Bride

I would suggest that your bridal party would coordinate with the same shade of green: the tie and vest of the best man and your son should match (or coordinate) with the color of your maid of honor’s dress. Your fiancee, however, could match his tie and vest to the color of your dress (champagne) with the Boutonierre accented with green to tie the entire color scheme together. It’s a simple solution that will look well in photos! Enjoy the wedding!

Jenna Zielbauer, Wedding Style Consultant and Blogger

Hi there!

First off congrats on your upcoming wedding, how exciting!

I agree with much of what has already been said – most importantly that the best man and your son’s vest/tie should be matching the color of the bridesmaid dress while your husband to be is in the same (or very close) shade as your bridal gown. Black suits are totally fine – maybe you can try wrapping the bridesmaid’s bouquet in a black and white stripe ribbon to tie in the black with her ensemble and add a small black and white ribbon in the men’s boutonnieres. Or you can even add black berries to your bridesmaid bouquet to tie that color in so the entire wedding party is coordinating. Just a couple options : )

Best of luck!

Groom and Groomsmen Attire Etiquette

photos via SMP

Alternatives To The Garter Toss & The Bouquet Toss

Alternative to the Garter and Bouquet Toss

Are there any new or modern traditions as alternative to the garter and bouquet tosses??

My fiance and I are not having a very traditional wedding, we are exchanging vows in Las Vegas. We don’t have very many single friends, so we won’t be doing a traditional garter/bouquet toss at the reception. Are there any new or modern traditions being done these days? I’ve tried to find some ideas and all I have discovered is the “aniversary dance” which seems pretty quaint and some silly Vaudevillian style garter activities.

Thanks – Samantha

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Will there be any small children?

Samantha -

Actually, no children it will be all adults.

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb
Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

At one of my couple’s wedding, they played this game where all the single woman had to pass the salt shaker while music played in the background. When the music stopped, whoever was holding the saltshaker got to keep the bouquet. You could do the same with the garter, the men and the pepper shaker! It was fun and lighthearted to watch.

Blessings and much joy to you!

Rev. Susanna

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb
Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

Sorry, I didn’t read your e-mail carefully. You did say that you don’t have many single friends. So, here is a different suggestion.

Staying with the musical salt shaker theme, you can do it at the reception, at every table, first just for the ladies. Whoever is left holding the salt shaker gets to take home the centerpiece. The man who is left with the pepper shaker has to bring drinks from the bar for every woman at the table! Well, you get the gist…


Rev. Susanna Stefanachi Macomb

Alternatives to Garter and Bouquet Toss

Dawna Smith Custom Photo Book & DVD Services

You could substitute the traditional “money dance” in favor of a FUN auction for the bouquet and garter. If you’re not in need of extra funds, you could donate the funds to your favorite charity and let your guests know prior to the auction. This would be a great opportunity to get your DJ/MC involved and have them coordinate, make up some funny rules, etc.

If you’re not too shy, prior to the auction you might want to chat with your fiancee and ask about “drawing out” the garter scene with some really good accompanying music, which would allow your photographyer/videographer amaple opportunity to capture the moment.

One wedding we attended, the groom orchestrated such a scenario, slowly taking his time and playing the crowd for all he was worth. By the time the groom had removed the garter, the guests had joined in the fun with lots of laughter and good natured teasing.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

This is a terrific idea but if you could come up with a way to do it without using real money I’d like it better. I’m never a big fan of having my guests dip into their pocket for anything right there at the event. Too much pressure to come up with the cash…could prove embarrassing for those who don’t have the money or don’t wish to give.

Just my 2 cents…errrr…well…no money right….?


At my sister’s wedding she gave her bouquet to the couple who had been married the longest. All of the married couples were asked to come to the dance floor. The DJ would then ask people to leave the dance floor by saying..those who were married today, please leave the floor; those who have been marreid less than 5 years please leave the floor; and so on. Then, the last couple standing was asked to say how long they had been married and the wife was given the bouquet. It was very sweet and honored a life time of commitment. I think it would be great for your wedding as you said you don’t have many single friends. Good luck with your wedding.

photos via SMP

Wedding Games To Give Away Centerpieces?

Wedding Reception Centerpieces


Dollar bills used to win centerpieces??

Hi I was wondering about the game where a dollar bill is used to win the centerpiece. Usually the dollar is passed around the table or someone runs around the table with it. Are there any specific rules to the game?

Thanks – Tom

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

I’m not sure if this is the game you’re referring to but you can have the DJ play music while each table passes the dollar around their table and when the music stops the person holding the dollar bill gets to take home the centerpiece.

Another way to give away the centerpiece is to place a sticker under one chair from each table. Obviously the person sitting in the chair with the sticker wins the centerpiece.

One more: Person with the birthday closest to the wedding date wins.

Have fun!

Wedding Reception Centerpieces

Dawna Smith Custom Photo Book & DVD Services

Here are some game suggestions….

First to the Buffet Table

Place a color sticker underneath each of our floral table centerpieces. As the dinner portion of the reception began, the emcee calls out a color. Whichever table had the color sticker that matched the color the emcee announced, the guests sitting at the table were allowed to line up at the buffet table.

Take Home the Table Centerpieces

To determine which guests got to bring home the table centerpieces, emcee asks a question. The guest who answers the question correctly, gets to bring home the table centerpiece. For example, the emcee can ask the question “Who is carrying a picture of their mother-in-law in their wallet?” The first guest to raise their hand and show proof, is the lucky winner!

Musical Money

This game can be played for the table centerpieces at a formal shower, or at a wedding reception. Have your DJ or a shower guest play some music while you tell ONE person at each table to take out a dollar bill. As the music begins, pass the dollar around the table, make the direction of the dollar bill change a few times, and then much like musical chairs, when the music stops, the action stops. Have the person holding the dollar bill stand up, and all those standing must submit to a game of “Simon Says” (this is your chance to make your friends do some really crazy things!). After the people have been put through the ringer, say “Simon Says go back to your table. Simon says give the dollar back to the person who took it out of their wallet, because THEY are the person who wins the centerpiece!!!!” Everyone will get a good laugh at the fact that these people did these silly things and STILL did not get the centerpiece… makes for great photos as well!.

Chicken Dance with Unsuspecting Dance Partners

Count the number of tables at the reception. Place a number under a chair at each table. Make sure that each number has a duplicate number at another table (example two #1′s, two #2′s….). Have the DJ announce to look under the chairs for a number and call the number holders to the dance floor. Pair off the people with the matching numbers and have them dance the chicken dance with their unsuspecting dance partners !!!


This game requires that the entire party pay attention and work together. This enables people to get to know one other. It may sound a little complicated, but in actuality it’s not.

1) the DJ divides the room into two sides/teams. You can label each side Team A and Team B. 2) Each side should have the same number of tables. Each table is labeled and has a corresponding table on the other team. So for example, both Team A and B have Table Pink, Purple, and Blue, etc. 3) Each corresponding table from each team has a card on the table with a question. 4) Everyone sitting at the table appoints someone to be their Table Spokesperson or Leader. The tables work together to answer the question. 5) The DJ calls the representative from Table Pink from both sides. Interviews them and asks them to answer the question. 6) For each correct answer, that team gets a point. The team with the most point wins.

The great thing about this game is that people can get to learn things about the bride and the groom, and it’s a way to get people to participate. You can have a lot of fun with this game.

Have fun!

Wedding Reception Centerpieces

photos via SMP

When To Us, Miss Or Ms. When Addressing Wedding Invitations?

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

This may be a silly question, but what is the difference between Miss and Ms. and when do we use each title when addressing invitations??


Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Titles,

There are no silly questions, just lots of silly people ;) Me included.

This title has a lot to do with region. For most of us, we would use Miss just for little girls or very elderly women who never married. For some, it is used for most unmarried women.

But, Ms. can be used for all unmarried or married women of age to marry–usually over the age of 20. So, it is your choice.

Actually, I use Ms. even though I am married. I love my husband and have a great marriage, but don’t want to be defined by my marital status.

Ms. is usually a safe title if you don’t know a woman’s marital status. Use Miss for those whom you know are unmarried and are formal in nature or from the south. This is also used for young girls.

Best wishes

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

More Invitation Guides:


photos via SMP

Please, Do Not Bring Any Gifts!

Wedding Gift Etiquette

Why is it not OK to tell people you don’t want a gift?

I have gone through several posts and replys and I must admit that I am quite confused/troubled by the advice concerning a “no gifts, please” request. My fiance and I do not wish to receive gifts of any kind in part because many of our guests will be traveling to attend our wedding and incurring those expenses. Also, we’ve both been married before and have a fairly well-established household. It’s not to say we “have everything we need,” but we really just want them to come and enjoy our day. So here’s the thing: we’d like to say in an insert with our invitation that their presence is our gift. The advice we’ve seen says this is a no no because it presumes that a gift is expected. However, even though we neither expect nor desire a gift, EVERYONE presumes that they are supposed to bring something. And, it’s no wonder since, from most of the posts we’ve seen, people get down right angry when their guests don’t give a gift.

So, we really just want people to enjoy the day with us and not send or bring a gift, or give to charity, or anything. It seems to me that “spreading the word” through the rumor mill by telling some family and friends in the hopes that others will get wind of it doesn’t really work. People will do it anyway, some may not get the word, and it’s a bit disingenuous to say the least.

So, if it’s OK to give information about the bridal registry (if that’s not showing you expect a gift, I don’t know what is), why is it not OK to tell people you don’t want a gift because it’s somehow presumptous? Am I missing something?

Wedding Gift Etiquette

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

It is never “OK” to mention the bridal registry in any invitation except for the bridal shower which is a party planned so that the bride receives gifts.

I understand that your position is that it’s never “OK” to mention gifts, but the practical reality is that gifting is expected and people do provide gift registry information with the invitation with great regularity nowadays. Let me pose it this way: if as you advise, you can provide the same information through a website, can the “no gift” request be sent by mail/email separately from the invitation and be “OK”?

other etiquette experts have to say.
Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Just because people do this does not make it right or polite. My original response stands. Let’s see what our

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear No Gifts,

It is refreshing to hear of someone not focused on receiving gifts. But, it is correct that this is not to be mentioned in the invitations. Gift registry information is not to be mentioned either. Yes, as you have noticed, some still do. But, this doesn’t mean that it is correct or polite. It just means that these people are socially inept.

You may include this information on your wedding website. You can also verbally tell others about this when they ask and even write it in an email if asked. But, when you place focus on not wanting gifts, this is also placing a focus on gifts, which is not supposed to be the focus of the day. And, this is not what you want.

I can only inform you of what is socially acceptable. It is not only my opinion. This is written in every etiquette book written. But, it is your choice to follow the advice.

Best wishes,

Wedding Gift Etiquette

photos via SMP


Is it rude to not to invite children to our wedding?

Adult Only Wedding Reception

Is it rude to have an adult-only wedding and reception?

I am planning a 5 pm wedding in May and a 7 pm reception which will last until 11 pm. I live in NC and have been here settled for over 9 years and my husband-to-be is from another country and has been here for 6 years. We are planning the wedding in NC where we live. The majority of the guests will come from out of town. We have decided not to have children in or at the wedding. We want to keep things small and less complicated. I have 11 nieces and nephews and only 3 are over the age of 17. We plan to inform guest that this is an adult wedding and reception and request no children under the age of 17.

Is this rude? I want all the guest to enjoy the ceremony and the festivities. With everyone having to attend to children and worry about traveling with children and accommodations, especially with the time of the event, I fear that may be too much of a demand. Being that my parents will end up taking care of and providing accommodations for my nieces and nephews with the exception of 2.

Am I being rude and inconsiderate? Please help.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Dear No Children:

Please don’t assume to know what will make your guests comfortable in regard to their children since many parents feel more comfortable to have their children with them then to leave them behind with a babysitter. I would invite whomever you like and allow them to make the choice. However, if it is you and your fiance who would rather the kiddies not attend then that is your choice.

If you’d like to make these out of town parents really comfortable, arrange for babysitting either at the home of family or a good friend or at the guests’      hotel. Once again, allowing the parent to decide if they will utilize that option.

Please speak to your mother about all of this since you are concerned that she will be the one handling the out of town guests.

More Invitation Guides:

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear No Children,

And, no you are not rude and inconsiderate. The event you describe sounds adult in nature. Children are usually in bed by 8/8:30.

Please do not write “no children” or “adults only” on your invitations. This is not considered polite. You list only those whom you wish to invite on the outside of the inner envelope. Only those listed are invited.

You can tell family members why you do not want children under the age of 17. Word of mouth works fairly well. Now with all of that said, some will still bring their children. Sorry, but they do.

Best wishes,

Reader/No Children Response:

I spoke with many of my family members and friends with small children and they completely understand. They all said if they had it to do over again they would get the word out of no small children at the ceremony. They also said their kids are usually on the way to bed by then and if they did bring them they would have to leave early and they would not want to do that. So fortunately it looks like it is going to work out. Thanks for the help.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

Thank YOU for coming back and letting us know how it all turned out. Yoour consideration may help another bride relax to know that these problems do have a way of working themselves out.

ENJOY and be happy!

Fellow Bride

I’d consider it rude and wouldn’t come. I also probably wouldn’t talk to the person anymore if they insisted on it.

I am having a very frustrating problem regarding my future sister-in-law. My future sister-in-law was one of my bridesmaids.

She complained about everything; the style of the dress, the shoes, and the seamtress who will be altering the dress.

Recently, she told me that she is pregnant and will be six months pregnant at the time of the wedding. I was very upset and worried because the dress style is mermaid and the order for the dresses have already been placed. So she suggested that she not be in the wedding party and that I ask someone else.

So I did ask another one of my friends to be in the wedding party.

Well, last week my future sister-in-law asks my fiance if children were allowed in at the wedding. He said that no children were allowed in the wedding except those that are in the wedding party. We already had discussed this months ago that her son is not invited to the wedding. He will only be 12 months old at the time of the wedding. Well, her response was that she will not come to the wedding because she cannot find a babysitter.

This has caused me alot of anger. I feel that she is being very selfish. My parents are extremely angry as well. I haven’t discussed my feelings with her yet. I feel that something should be said, however I’m afraid that my temper might get the best of me. HELP!!

Adult Only Wedding Reception

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Please have your fiance talk to your future sister-in-law. It is his sister. It is best for you to keep your distance to keep family peace.


Jill Curtis, Psychotherapist, Author, How to Get Married … Again (A Guide to Second Weddings)

Keep in mind that your sister-in-law is probably disappointed she can’t be in the wedding party – but as she was originally, can you not make an exception for her to bring her baby? Remember, tiffs in the family have a way of lingering on, so try not to let this become a big issue.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom -

With all due respect to Jill…from an etiquette persepctive, unless there are no other children that could be brought along (in that case DO allow your sister-in-law to bring her baby, what harm could that cause?) it’s better to exclude all children than to allow one and have to deal with a lot of other hurt feelings. Do a bit of research and see if there are any other parents who might want to bring their children…you usually know these people.

Emily Bouchard, MSSW, Life Coach, Speaker, and Trainer

I see this as an opportunity to learn a whole new way to approach how you communicate and get your needs expressed in the world. Throughout your married life, you will hit up against differing needs and wants with your husband. Your future sister-in-law is giving you a chance to look at how you approach life when someone is unhappy with what you want, and you get to see how you’re expression of what you want is getting reactions from others.

I recommend Marshall Rosenberg’s work on NonViolent Communication to you. When two people are able to connect heart to heart and truly understand each other’s needs, it is quite easy to determine a solution that works for both sides.

See if you can put aside your hurt, and discover the power that comes when you choose empathy and compassion instead. How possible is it that a newly pregnant woman with a child who isn’t even 12 months is screaming out stress, hormones, and her own needs for security, control, and safety for herself and her family. I cannot even imagine what is going on for her right now.

I wish you both well.

Adult Only Wedding Reception

photos via SMP

When Do You Set The RSVP Date?

Wedding Invitations

Wedding Invitations

How long before the wedding date should the RSVP date be set??

How long before the wedding date should the RSVP date be set? A month before the wedding? Two weeks? Most of the people who are coming live out of town so maybe that factors into it?? Any help would be appreciated.



Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Date,

Absolutely. A date should be included with the letters’ RSVP. It is your choice of what the date should be. Typically it is 2/3 weeks before the wedding. But, I always advise my clients to make that date much tighter. You will always have some who will wait until the very last minute to respond, so the sooner the better. If you have time, it would be best to make the date at least 3 weeks. 4 weeks is not out of the question. You want enough time to tally the numbers for your caterer.


Don’t make the date of your RSVP any later then 2 weeks before or you may find yourself in trouble. Worse comes the worse, if it gets down to the nitty gritty and you haven’t heard from some loved ones,  call up your friends and family and simply ask if they’ll be attending the wedding.

Wedding Invitations

More Invitation Guides:


photos via SMP