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…

Blessings,

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….?

Samantha,

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 !!!

Teams

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

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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.

Sorry.

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.

Thanks!!

Sarah

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

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What To Write On A Wedding Gift Envelope?

Wedding Gift Wrapping

Wedding Gift Wrapping

What should I write on the newlyweds’ gift envelope?

I’m attending two close friends’ wedding soon. They expect gifts at the reception. I have a nice store-bought card to attach to the gift, and the envelope it came with is blank (with proportions obviously intended to be sent in the mail). Should I write anything on the front of the envelope? What? I have a pretty script handwriting and some skill with desktop publishing, so it seems a shame that the envelope stay blank.

Thanks!

-Dienne

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

Gifts are to be sent to the home of the bride before the wedding for many reasons. Cards can be separated from gifts or the present could be lost or taken from the reception location. If there are many gifts the couple will have to ask someone to be in charge of them or they’ll have to worry about that themselves. Plus, it’s a pain for the couple to have to pack all of the gifts and transport them, especially if they are going to honeymoon directly after the reception.

I would strongly advise you to mail the gift to your friend before the wedding. If you must bring a gift to the reception there is no etiquette for addressing the outside of the card. Writing the name of the couple would probably be a good idea especially if the reception is at a venue with more than one wedding taking place.

Wedding Gift Wrapping

Dienna/Reader

Can’t say I’ve ever heard of sending gifts to the bride’s home (unless you’re unable to attend) before I started combing this forum for answers to other questions. That’s why I simply said “they’re expecting gifts at the reception” and hoped you’d graciously pass over the lecture which I’ve now read many times.

I can see the point with the transportation issue, but there are a variety of reasons that’s just not the case in all the small-town midwest weddings I’ve been to. Gift etiquette gets completely overshadowed by the importance of attending. I’ve never seen less than a small buffet table used as a place to drop gifts at receptions, and I’ve never heard of needing someone to “watch” the gifts as if they would be stolen. Even when the amount or size of gifts is too much, there are always multiple offers to help with transporting them–even the most distant relatives take care of each other. There may also be a factor of most relatives having to make at least a road trip to be able to attend. They’re already paying for the trip directly, why expect them pay for a trip indirectly through the packaging and shipping of a gift? I’ve only been to one wedding where the couple took off to their honeymoon direcly after the reception, and they planned (that means they EXPECTED) to pay for a friend to haul their gifts home for them. In fact a number of their friends loaded the vehicle he brought and then with the payment he took them out for drinks the next night. And it all seemed very natural–no griping about improper gift etiquette. They’re GIFTS. There aren’t a whole lot of ways to go wrong giving a gift!

In the case of the wedding I’m going to shortly, both of these friends just graduated from college last weekend, and have this week to move out of their college-town apartment to their new home four hours away before their wedding next weekend in a town that’s a half hour from the college town and three and half hours from their new home. They did this because it’s a fair meeting point between their two sets of parents and also a lot easier for their friends to attend. Plus it’s a beautiful location. ;) Their new home is also a good five-hour drive from her parents’ home and a four-hour drive from his parents’ home. Even if sending gifts to the bride’s home before the wedding was a common tradition, where would you have them sent in this case? Ship to the bride’s parents who’ll have to ship them again? This isn’t uncommon around here, where May weddings outnumber June weddings because that’s when school’s out.

There’s probably more, but that’s all I’ve got off the top of my head for why gifts are expected at the reception.

Thanks for letting me know about the card envelope.

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

I’m sorry you interpreted my message as a lecture but when asked for etiquette advise we must give you an answer based on etiquette. I simply stated what is generally expected and the reasons for it. Note that just because someone, or even everyone, does something this doesn’t make it right. You can find this in any etiquette book. But surely there are no etiquette police and you can proceed in any way you choose.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I completely agree. And, since you have been combing this site, you have probably come across many posts from couples wondering how to deal with gifts that were brought to the reception with no cards attached (the cards were displaced). And, then there are the many couples who know that certain people gave them gifts, but there were none from them at the reception (meaning that someone took the gifts or they were lost). The major dilemma for these couples is how to thank the generous guests when they don’t know what the people have given them. This happens everyday. Etiquette makes sense.

Wedding Gift Table

 

photos via SMPe

Guests Changing Outfits Between Ceremony And Reception?

guest wedding attire

guest attire at weddings

Is is appropriate for guests to change outfits between the ceremony & reception?

 

We’ve been invited to a Catholic Church wedding at 2pm followed by a reception at 6pm. The invitation says “black tie suggested.” Aside from the inconvenience of this protracted delay between the two events, I have no interest in sitting around in a formal for 3 hours waiting for the reception. Is it appropriate to change outfits? If so, what should we wear to the ceremony and reception?

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
Author, The Etiquette Book, A Complete Guide To Modern Manners

Ah, the wedding wardrobe changes… Hence the major advantages to having a reception which immediately follows the ceremony. Alas, especially with church ceremonies, this is not always possible. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for you to attend the ceremony dressed appropriately (and respectfully!) for church, then relax in the afternoon, and change into your formal attire for the evening’s celebration. While many guests will opt for the single outfit, you certainly do have the option to change.

For church, women may wear suits, daytime dresses or fancy pants with matching tops. Men may wear suits, slacks with button down shirts & tie, pressed khakis with a blazer. The evening’s event is easy for the men as the invitation suggests black tie. If the man does not own and does not wish to rent a tuxedo, then a formal suit and tie will do. For the women, you may want to speak with the hosts to see if women will be wearing ballgowns or tea-length formal dresses.

guest wedding attire

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

I agree with Jodi. To my way of thinking this is an example of a poorly thought out wedding. Not everyone will necessarily expect that a costume change is expected and will show up in black tie at the church. This is not appropriate for a 2 pm wedding. A long gap between the ceremony and the reception is unavoidable sometimes, but then the black tie request seems unfair in my book. I’m not one for putting undo responsibilities on one’s guests. In this case, I personally would do exactly as Jodi suggests; change if possible, if not be comfortable in a suit, etc. The main thing is have fun and look your best.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I feel so unneeded :) Great advice, as always. And, I do agree that it really is unfair to guests when host schedule these events hours apart.

Mannersmith’s attire examples are perfect.

guest wedding attire

all photos via Style Me Pretty

What To Wear For 25th Anniversary Vow Renewal Dress

Vow Renewal Attire

Vow Renewal Attire

Help! What do I wear to my 25th anniversary vow renewal celebration?

Advice please for my renewal dress. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer with a renewal in our church at noon, then reception following at a restaurant. Just not sure what to wear. Our 3 daughters will attend with me. I was thinking a dressier sundress for me, and sundresses for our adult and teenage girls. Is this too casual being held in our church?

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

Congratulations on your silver anniversary!
Although the vow renewal is usually not a formal event, a sundress may be a little too casual, especially for church. If you have a bolero jacket to go over the dress then perhaps. Here is a page about dresses for wedding vow renewal ceremonies that might help you choose.

More Vow Renewal Resources

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Congratulations! And, thank you for having the proper focus on what this ceremony is supposed to be–not a wedding, but a reaffirmation of a marriage. This is refreshing :)

I agree that the dresses might be a bit casual. But, you are going in the right direction. Great advice, by the way. Some sort of cover-up is perfect.

And, please remember that if you are inviting guests to a restaurant for your party, you are expected to pay for them. I imagine you know this, but I have to fold this in for those who don’t.

Vow Renewal Attire

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How To Word Invitations For A Surprise Wedding

how to word wedding invitations

How to word wedding invitations

Everyone thinks we are getting married overseas, how do we word our invites so everyone is surprised?

We were planning to elope overseas and then host a reception when we returned, unfortunately, the venue we wanted was booked for any reasonable time afterward, so we booked it for the weekend before we leave to our destination. Here’s the thing though, everyone thinks we are getting married overseas, but we figured it would be a nice surprise to get married at the reception with everyone in attendance. I was planning to word the reception invitation saying something like “so and so are thrilled to announce their upcoming wedding, please join us for a pre-wedding celebration at venue…” and then after the cocktail hour we will make a thank you toast to all the guests and then surprise them with the actual wedding ceremony. I have found advice on eloping and reception wording but nothing quite fits this scenario. Any advice is welcome, thank you!

Darlene Taylor, PBC, TaylorMade Weddings

My first thought right out of the box is: Why change the wording at all? What were you doing before your plans changed? If everyone thinks you’re getting married overseas and then attending a reception in your honor, why not leave it that way? I mean – unless your “elopement” was to be WAY before the reception date. It will make everything more of a surprise for your guests when you actually break out with the wedding ceremony! I’m sure the etiquette experts may get me for this, but in order to pull off a surprise, you gotta fib a little….

Here’s an example invitation wording I like (and adapted for you) that you could use that won’t *really* be lying but would still follow your original “plan.” I love surprises!!!

We’ve been keeping it quiet
like little mice –
a private wedding
we thought would be nice.
We’re excited about marriage –
as happy as can be!
Please celebrate with us
at our big party!
DATE
TIME
LOCATION

BRIDE
and
GROOM

Thank you so much for the quick reply! So, are you saying we should just word it as a regular wedding reception? Would that possibly confuse/tip off people into thinking that there is a wedding? I’ve seen replies from others that don’t like the use of the term “wedding celebration” but that particular phrase seems to make sense to me. We’re not really the type of couple that would use a rhyming invitation, our invitation designs are a clean modern look so maybe clear simple wording is best? Thanks again so much!

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

I’m not sure there is really any etiquette for how to word invitations to this event since it’s so nontraditional.

I’d send a wedding reception invitation, worded the typical way such as:

The pleasure of your company

is requested at the

wedding reception for

Anne Marie Smith
and
Mr. Frank E. Jones

Date

Time

Place

RSVP

The guests will think you’re getting married sometime before the reception though, since a reception is what is planned after a wedding. I’m not sure what to call a celebration of a wedding that hasn’t taken place yet., other than a bridal shower or engagement party. Would you be okay with allowing guests to think you will already be married when they arrive at the reception? That would mean that they’ll know (or think they know) they haven’t been invited to the wedding. Then, of course, you’d surprise them when they arrived.

I suppose you’d have to decide if the surprise factor is worth it. If it were me, I’d just plan the wedding and reception, invite the guests and then go away to your destination for the honeymoon. Seems less messy.

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
Author, The Etiquette Book, A Complete Guide To Modern Manners

I like both of these suggestions. Another concept to consider is to just invite your guest to a regular cocktail party and then surprise them with the wedding. “Please join us for cocktails and conversation (or cocktails and dancing) on Saturday June 16th, 7:00 in the evening, 22 Broadway Lane…”

I wish you all the best no matter what you choose.

Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

Well, you have to admit, this is going to be confusing no matter how you look at it because you are trying to pull off a surprise.

What you have is a couple of choices: Have a surprise wedding in a reception style atmosphere (all in one location) OR forego the surprise and have a traditional wedding in another location such as a church or private garden with the reception to follow. You could also use the same venue for your ceremony AND reception. Make sure the staff has experience to flip the room before you move ahead with that plan. Once you decide what you want to do, then you can figure out how to word your invitations because then you’ll know what you’re inviting them to. Bottom line, at this point, is that you’re inviting your guests to a *wedding*…surprise or not.

Some things to think about: If you go the surprise route, you may not get guests “dressed up” for the reception that you’re wanting to have. If you want the reception, you’re going to have to use that word somewhere in your invitation and that will tip of “wedding” which will compromise the surprise. Then you have to consider what Donna said, “Is the surprise factor really worth it?” In my experience, the phrases “wedding celebration” or “marriage celebration” suggests that a wedding has already taken place and guests are coming to a casual party rather than a wedding reception. It’s a less formal atmosphere than what you get at a wedding reception.

I’ve read about many couples surprising guests with a wedding at their supposed “engagement party.” This is an easier route since guests are thinking they are coming to an engagement party, which they are , and then they get the surprise. This is usually very informal and very intimate which makes it easier to pull off. Unless you have some huge event you can tie this “party” around, like a holiday or a milestone birthday, you are going to have one tough time trying to keep it a secret from your guests. You need a cover in order to pull off a surprise wedding.

how to word wedding invitations

all photos via Style Me Pretty

What Song Should I Walk Down the Aisle To At My Vow Renewal?

Vow Renewal

For our vow renewal, would it be “off” for us to walk down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride?”

I am planning to have a small renewal of vows ceremony for our 10th wedding anniversary. There will be no entourage, but I was thinking of our family walking down the aisle: my 9-year old son, bringing our new rings, then my 6-year old daughter as a little flower girl, then me alongside my husband.

I am thinking of a short song for our march down the aisle. I loved the Here Comes the Bride Jonathan Cain version instrumental, but I am thinking, since it is not really a “wedding”, would it be “off” if we walk down the aisle to that song? Also, since it’s technically not “here comes the bride” but “here comes the family?”

More Vow Renewal Resources

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

Congratulations on your anniversary.

I’d steer clear of that song because, as you’ve pointed out, you’re not a bride.

I’d suggest a song that is meaningful (perhaps your original wedding song, the one you danced to as new husband and wife). Here is a list of songs for a vow renewal that you might find helpful. We’ve also had a question and answer previous on this topic called Songs for Wedding Vow Renewals and 25th anniversary vow renewal songs over at I Do Take Two!

Please note that the 10th wedding anniversary isn’t viewed as a milestone so plan the renewal appropriately.

Enjoy!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

What’s truly important for any wedding, second marriage or vow renewal is that it’s special to you. Go with your gut, be creative and don’t be afraid of what people will think whether it’s your walk down the aisle or your first dance! Explore different options and have fun planning!

Vow Renewal

photos via Style Me Pretty

Wedding Rehearsal And Rehearsal Dinner Attire: What’s Appropriate To Wear ?

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

As a bridesmaid, what is appropriate for me to wear to the rehearsal dinner?

I will be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding this month and I want to make sure my outfit for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner is appropriate. The bride specifically said that it is a semi-formal dinner at a nice restaurant and that she is planning on wearing a little white dress. She asked that the bridesmaids dress up nicely as well but she did not have time to get into specifics. I bought a short-sleeve dress that is around knee length. It is white with small red flowers all over and a red tie at the waist. I have 2 inch red heels to match. I’ve never met any of the other bridesmaids so I can’t ask them what they plan on wearing. My question is: Is it okay to wear a red and white dress to the rehearsal? I have heard that you should never wear red or white to a wedding ceremony but I’m not sure what is acceptable for a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I bought the dress because it is comfortable, flattering and pretty but I don’t want to offend anyone. Please help!

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

Hmmm, a semi-formal rehearsal dinner? These dinners are usually casual. From what you’ve described as the bride’s attire, this is not semi-formal. I’d go by what the bride is wearing plus you can visit the restaurant’s website to see what sort of attire is required. That should give you a good idea about what to wear.

The reason you’ve read to avoid red is to keep from distracting attention from the bride on her wedding day. This rule can also be attributed to the rehearsal dinner, but as long as you’re not dressing more formally or in a style that would detract from the bride (like wearing the same color or the same dress) then I think you’re fine. The outfit style and color combo you’ve described sounds really cute.

Gena Conti, Owner, Designer, Milliner at Gena Conti Millinery

I think your outfit is very cute, but my personal feeling is that the (mainly) white with small red flowers fabric is too close to the bride’s white dress for the rehearsal dinner. You are a wonderful BRIDESMAID to be so considerate of your friend, the BRIDE, to ask these style and etiquette questions— No wonder she chose you!

I’d go with something more subtle… and try to tie in the shoes… Black with white accents; trim with red belt, sash, ribbon, necklace … many shades of blue are also great with red (I LOVE teal & red, yellow & red …)

Hope this helps.
Have a good time!

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

I respectfully disagree. I don’t think the white background will detract from the bride, but if you have something else to wear that isn’t white, go for it. The little black dress is always a great default. Feel free to upload other choices.

More Rehearsal Dinner Posts:

Ann Guise, Wedding Veil Designer at Silk Wedding Veils

These rehearsal dinners are very popular in the US. We don’t tend to have them over here in the UK, but I bet it won’t be long! I think your outfit is lovely – and you feel comfortable in it. Why not email the pictures to the bride so she can reassure you. I’m sure she’ll love it. I wore those colours to my God daughter’s wedding last October.

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

There are so many different venues and styles when it comes to weddings and the rehearsal dinners. Take a good look at the formality of the location and dress appropriate. From jean dresses and boots for an outdoor BBQ to a little black cocktail dress that doesn’t distract from the bride at her four-star restaurant choice. When worse comes to worse, ask the bride for her opinion and what would make her feel comfortable.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

photos via Style Me Pretty

The Golden Rules of Wedding Invitation Etiquette: Wording & Addressing Properly

Wedding Invitation Golden Rules

The Golden Rules of Wedding Invitation Etiquette

A wedding invitation is much like any other invitation–it invites guests to an event. Like all invitations, it conveys information about the event, such as the who, what, when, where, and why. However, it is a rather unique type of invitation. This piece of paper can actually create an impression of glamour, good taste, wealth, warmth, or even, “OMG! Really? I can’t believe they thought that was appropriate!”

Don’t want that last reaction? Then simply follow the “Golden Rules”.

# 1 Follow flawless form. Hey, you’ve got style!

Remember that invitations convey information with more than just words. Formal or informal? The weight of the paper is heavier; the font is more ornate with formal weddings.

Never use labels to address your envelopes! But you’ve got bad handwriting? No problem. It’s okay to print envelopes with a high quality laser printer, using a handwriting font. For more formal weddings consider hiring a calligrapher.

What else makes an invitation formal? Wording. Use of the phrase, “request the honour of your presence” is common, even though this is typically reserved for religious ceremonies. Request the pleasure of your company is used for civil ceremonies, those not being held in a place of worship and for an invitation to the reception only.

With formal invitations, use the most formal format: listing parents as hosts. This doesn’t mean that the couple couldn’t use their names as hosts, especially if this is an encore wedding. And, if parents are divorced and remarried, the spouse should be listed. Steps are parents too.

# 2 Online is fine.

Invitations can be sent using any method, with the formality setting the method:

Formal = hand addressed and snail mail
Informal = fewer rules.

For the very informal wedding with few guests, it is perfectly appropriate to use the internet, i.e. “e-vites” (E-mail) or Facebook. But, be very careful to inform your guests of exactly who is and is not invited. Be specific.

# 3 Mention the players.

Traditionally, parents, especially the bride’s parents, invited (hosted) guests and were mentioned at the top of the wedding invitation. As mentioned before, this form is still used, especially for the most formal wedding. However, anyone can “invite” and appear as host. Anyone, except those who cannot host, like young children and those who are deceased (listed under the bride’s and groom’s names as: also the daughter/son of…, and on the wedding program.

# 4 No kiddie zone? Let them know.

Even on informal invitations, where there are fewer restrictions, never write “adult only” or “child free event”. It’s offensive to parents and sounds negative. So, how do you let these parents know this is a kid free event? Simple -just don’t include the children’s names on the inner envelope. What if there is no inner envelope? List those invited on the outer envelope. (If you ARE inviting children and there’s no inner envelope, only list the adults on the outer envelope and include an insert informing the couple that their children are also invited.) This is a clever way of also including a “plus-one”. But, be sure to get the full name of the guest/child and spell it out.

Mrs. Jane Jones and Guest = NO
Mrs. Jane Jones and Michael Gold = YES

This is especially important if you don’t want strangers attending. Use this same format for reception place cards too.

# 5 Invitations all around.

Anyone over the age of 16 to 18 (some differing opinions on age) receive their own invitation even if living in the same home. However, couples, even same gender, receive only one invitation. They are “invited” as a couple.

# 6 No B-listers please!

It’s a common problem. The couple wants everyone they know and love to come to their wedding, but their venue or budget won’t allow. Using an A and B list to solve the problem is tricky. No one wants to be a B-Lister. Ouch! If this must be done, timing is everything.

# 7 Don’t fish for gifts.

Some still believe and advise that all who receive a wedding invitation are obligated to send a gift. This belief tends to lead to invitations for everyone the parents and/or couple has ever known; especially those they know won’t attend. Honestly, those who receive these know they are being asked to send a gift but aren’t expected to attend. However, do send invitations to those you really want to attend. If you don’t think they can or will attend, send them any way. Sometimes people surprise us. And, those we love will know we aren’t just fishing for gifts.

# 8 Use enclosures.

Enclosures and response cards can be included with our invitations. Use enclosures to advise guests of attire (more on that later), inclusion of an escort or children, maps/directions, local activities, and an easy way to respond (response card). On the response card, there should be a clear RSVP date with address and/or phone number for replying, and include a stamp addressed envelope for ease of return. It’s fine to use an email address for the reply for an informal wedding.

Tip: take a completed invitation to the Post Office to be weighed. You will need to know how much postage costs per invitation AND how much postage your response cards require. It’s difficult enough to get these cards back on time, so make the process simple for the guest. Although, if not using response cards, guests would write formal replies and mail these on their dime…ah, dollar.

# 9 Dress for success!

Deciphering dress codes is getting more and more difficult as people create their own–Texas Formal?? So, when we advise our guests what to wear, it is best to stick to the tried and true dress codes, such as “formal” or ‘black tie’ and only for a formal, combination wedding/reception invitation.

So, what can we do to help our guests know what would be appropriate attire? After all, even if the wedding is informal, you probably don’t want guests arriving in swim suits. Including this information on an insert or enclosure should do the trick.

# 10 Resist to list… the registry.

Never ever include gift registry information with wedding invitations! Doing so makes the gift seem more important than the invitation. In fact, never print gift expectations on invitations, even if you don’t want any. And, requesting cash, in any manner, is viewed extremely negatively and greedy. Convey gift preference through word of mouth or on a wedding website, but never on the first page.

Do

  • Begin to gather names and addresses of guests early in the wedding planning process.
  • Include groom when creating and addressing invitations. And, allow plenty of time for this. It can be a very time consuming activity.
  • For ease of assembly, lay all enclosures, envelopes, and tissue out for all invitations so you don’t forget anything.
  • Mail invitations eight weeks before the wedding. Save the dates may be sent up to a year in advance. These are not invitations, but all who receive them also receive invitations.
  • If not using an inner envelope, write all names of those invited on the outer envelope or list children and escorts on enclosures.

Do not

  • Mention gift preferences, registry, gift table/card box/wishing well (gasp!) info on invitations–not even on enclosures.
  • Invite guests you don’t want to attend just for a gift.
  • List deceased parents or young children as hosts.
  • Don’t use labels on envelopes.
  • Use an A and B list if at all possible. If you do, do not send your B list out any later than 6 weeks before your event.

Wedding Invitation Golden Rules

More Tips & Trips

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

Formal Invitation Wording

Traditional style used when the bride’s parents are hosting:

*Dr. and Mrs. Richard I Kerr

request the honour of your presence (religious) or request thepleasure of your company (civil)

at the marriage of their daughter Susan Lynn Kerr to Mr. James Walker Crandall Saturday, the ninth of July

two thousand and twelve (optional)

at half past five in the evening

*Father of the bride is a doctor, so his title is used.

When the bride’s parents are hosting and the groom’s parents are included:


Mr. Richard Kerr and *The Honorable Jane Kerr

request the honour of your presence (religious)
or request the
pleasure of your company (civil)

at the marriage of their daughter Susan Lynn Kerr

to Mr. James Walker Crandall

son of Mr. and Mrs. James Crandall

etc.

*Mother of the bride is a judge so she is listed on a separate line.

When both parents are hosting:


Mr. James Earle

and

*Captain Jane Earle

United States Navy

and

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Crandon

request the honour of your presence (religious)

or request thepleasure of your company (civil)

at the marriage of (their children)

Cheryl Lynn Earle

to

Mr. James Walker Crandon

etc. *Mother and father are listed on separate lines when one is an officer in the military. Branch of service is included

The bride or groom wish to honor a deceased parent:

*Mrs. Jane (or James) Earle

request the honour of your presence (religious)

or request thepleasure of your company (civil)

at the marriage of her daughter

Shannon Lynn Earle

also daughter of the late Mr. James Earle

to

Mr. James Walker Crandon

son of the late Mrs. Michelle (or Michael) Crandon

(or son of Mr. Michael Crandon and the late Mrs. Michelle Crandon)

etc. *It is becoming more common for women to use their first names rather than their husband’s.

When the bride’s stepfather is hosting along with the mother:

Mr. and Mrs. James Earle

request the honour of your presence (religious)

or

request thepleasure of your company (civil)

*at the marriage of her daughter Shannon Lynn Maurice to Mr. James Walker Crandon etc.

*If stepmother were hosting with father, “her” would be replaced with “his” daughter.

The couple is issuing the invitation, but honoring their parents:

Dr. Shannon Lynn Maurice

daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Maurice

and

Mr. James Walker Crandon

son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Crandon

request the honour of your presence (religious)
or request thepleasure of your company (civil)

etc.

Children hosting

Mr. and Mrs. James Louis Markum (the bride’s oldest son and spouse)

Ms. Shannon Lynn Markum (the bride’s younger daughter)

Mr. Samuel Graham Earle (the groom’s son)

request the honour of your presence (religious)

or request thepleasure of your company (civil) at the marriage of their parents Ms. Simone Clair Markum to Mr. Charles Sean Earle etc.

An invitation issued by the couple to the wedding and reception:

The pleasure of your company is requested

at the marriage of

Susan Lynn Kerr

and

Mr. James Walker Crandall Saturday, the tenth of May

at five o’clock

Happy Valley Resort

San Francisco And afterward at the reception

RSVP

Reception held in a different location than the wedding. The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of

Susan Lynn Kerr

and

Mr. James Walker Crandall Saturday, the fifth of May

at five o’clock

Church of the Blessed Saints Sacramento
Please join us immediately afterwards for the reception

Granite Bay Country Club

4433 Granite Bay Drive

Granite Bay

RSVP

Informal Invitations

Options are limitless! Be creative and personal.

Parents Hosting

Jane and John Coates

along with Michelle and James Crandon

*invite you to the wedding of their children

Shannon Coates to James Crandon

Saturday, June 19, 2011 (year is optional)

at 6:00 in the evening (6 pm may be used)

LocationOptions: *invite you to share and celebrate (or share in the joy) at the marriage of their children; wish to share their joy in the wedding of their children…etc.

Most any phase can be used here as long as it “invites”.

The bride or groom wish to honor a deceased parent:

Maria Giordano

daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Giordano

(or daughter of Mrs. Sharon Giordano and the late Mr. Frank Giordano)

and

James Smith

son of Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

(or son of Mr. John Smith and the late Mrs. Michelle Smith)

request the honour of your presence (religious)

or request thepleasure of your company (civil)

etc.

Couple Invites

Maria Giordano

and

James Smith

invite you to share their joy (most any phrase can used)

at their wedding

Etc.

This can also be a handwritten letter if your wedding is a small intimate event. Email is fine as well.

Children Hosting

Mary Ennis

with her daughter Lindsay Ennis

and Charles Earle

with his son Samuel Earle

wish to invite you to the celebration

of uniting these two families (most any phrase may be used here) etc.

Handwritten (or Email) Invitation

Dear John and Susan,

Michael and I will be married on July 9, at 2 pm at our home, with a cake and champagne reception following the ceremony. Please come and celebrate with us.

Warm regards,

Wedding Invitation Golden Rules

***Be sure to spell out words like states, time and dates. For example; the fifteenth of June (not June 15th) and half after five o’clock in the evening, (not 5:30 pm).

Make sure to put return postage on all RSVP envelopes.

Always try to find out the names of a guest to avoid the impersonal “and guest” on invitations and place cards.

No punctuation is necessary when wording the invitation except abbreviations and a comma between city and state.

A folded formal wedding invitation is slid into the inner envelope, fold first and printed side facing up (in other words facing the opening of the envelope). Inserts go on to of the printed side.

Wedding Invitation Golden Rules

@sealdwithappeal asked on Twitter:

What do you think about using “honor” vs. “honour” on wedding invitations ie: hono(u)r of your presence…

Answer: The words honour or favour, written in the British style, are traditional wording but honor and favor, in the American style, is appropriate too if the couple prefers.

In conclusion,

Send a wedding invitation to everyone you want to attend the wedding. Don’t try to guess whether or not they can travel. Go ahead and send the invite and let your guest decide. Often people will get their feelings hurt if they don’t receive an invitation – even if they know they can’t come. It’s nice to feel wanted. That said, never send an invitation to someone you haven’t had a relationship (and I don’t mean commenting on facebook photos!) with in years (Ex. college roommates, long lost cousins). That will appear as though you’re just looking to pad the guest list – either because you want more gifts or you have to fil a seating quota. If you are thinking about getting back in touch, the wedding isn’t the place to start.

 

photos via Style Me Pretty

Popping the Question: How to Get a ‘Yes’

how to get my girlfriend to say yes

Whether you are male or female, no matter if you have already discussed getting married with your partner or not, popping the question ‘officially’ is still a daunting task. Ever heard of the phrase ‘start as you mean to go on’?

You want the occasion to be a special and intimate moment to remember and you definitely want a ‘yes’ as an answer, so you need a good plan in place to make sure that the proposal is a success. Read our guide below on how to get a yes when you are popping the question…

Choosing the Location

Where you decide to pop the question to your partner is very important. Will this be a public display of affection or a low key event, maybe even just the two of you? Always think about what your partner likes, and, more importantly, doesn’t like – it is surprising how often this is overlooked. This moment is a very personal choice but consider the best option for you. For example, only opt to go public if you are already sure that she or he will say yes, you do not want them to say yes out of embarrassment or say no and cause you humiliation.

Surprise your partner as all proposals should be a surprise, it is part and parcel of the romance and excitement – so be picky about who you confide in before you pop the big question. Take them on their surprise dream holiday, back to the first place you met, a surprise picnic or hot air balloon ride. If you want to avoid clichés then go for more a more personalised approach, perhaps something that holds special meaning to the both of you.

choose a location for proposing

Choosing the Ring

Having a ring is imperative to seal the deal of any marriage proposal. If you are buying for your girlfriend choose a style that is unique and beautiful. Antique jewellery is a wonderful option for an engagement ring because of its rarity and the story it tells. Alternatively, blow her away with a platinum diamond ring, brilliantly crafted from the likes of a luxury reputable brand such as George Pragnell.

choosing an engagement ring

Choosing a Plan B

Not a plan B partner of course, but you will need a backup proposal plan in case unforeseen circumstances do prevent you from getting down one knee. So, if bad weather or unavoidable traffic gets in your way and you want nothing more than to propose to your partner, then you need to have a backup plan, something simple and romantic that can be easily arranged.