Are you a bride embarking on the adventure of planning your own wedding? Have you been asked to be a maid or matron of honor, and you are looking to help out the bride in every conceivable way? Are you the mom of a bride or groom who needs some helpful wedding etiquette tips for parents?You don’t have to get an internship as a wedding planner to learn some general insider information and garner a few secrets about wedding planning protocol.

1. Make sure everything you are offered and agree to is in writing.

It goes without saying that for a day as important as a wedding day, your hope is that things will go off without a hitch, regardless if it is your wedding or your best friend’s nuptials. That said, this is more easily accomplished if you get everything you want and order in writing.

Making a minor change in the amount of time set aside by the venue for your event? Ensure that the exact times are there in the contract. Planning to include a specialty drink from the bar? Make certain that is somehow indicated in writing. This is not only to protect the overall investment and deposits but to establish that both parties are “on the same page” in all the details. Modifying a standard contract before or after you sign it is not difficult if you follow a few simple rules.

2. You get what you pay for.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with cutting a few corners for a wedding, especially if you are on a tight budget. But keep in mind that hiring your Aunt Susie’s down-the-street neighbor as your videographer can cost you in the long run. Make sure you get references and recommendations, and check these before hiring him. Decide what elements of the wedding are the most important and invest the time and energy into ensuring that those you hire to be responsible for these details are trustworthy, capable, and clear about what you want, need, and expect.

3. Spend money on things you can keep and reuse.

Thinking of having crystal champagne glasses engraved with “bride” and “groom?” Think again. It would be wiser to have items you intend to keep engraved with your initials or specially designed monogram. These will be one-of-a-kind heirlooms that can be passed down or saved for other major life events and celebrations.

4. Families can be drama, especially when planning a special event.

Brides and grooms, take heed. Where possible, find ways to minimize the number of hands stirring the proverbial soup. Many young couples have parents paying for all or some of the wedding costs; unfortunately, contributing parties often feel that if they are writing the checks, they have the right to call the shots.

Propose a budget early on in the planning. Deciding on the amount that will be furnished by each person, rather than looking to a parent to cover a specific task make sure that the money is a collective unit, to be dispersed how and where the bride and groom see fit. And parents, if you are the ones reading this, remember that, ultimately, your goal is to help the bride and groom have the day of their dreams, not your own. Navigating all of the details of a wedding is difficult enough, without dealing with family drama during the planning process.

5. Make sure everyone invited to the bachelor/bachelorette party is on the wedding list.

People who are asked to attend bachelor parties, wedding showers, and bachelorette shindigs are assuming their invitations are already in the mail. It is poor wedding etiquette to invite someone to the pre-wedding festivities and then exclude them from the actual nuptials. So if that chain-smoking cousin who has not yet discovered JUUL is great to party with at the bar, but you aren’t sure she’s the kind you’d invite to a sit-down reception dinner or choose to have with an open bar, you probably should leave her off the bachelorette karaoke list!

6. Consider custom bridesmaid dresses.

The bride and groom aren’t the only ones who want to look good at the wedding. While it has been traditional for the bride to choose a dress style that all the bridesmaids order in their own size, sometimes picking the color but allowing each individual bridesmaid to order a style that is flattering for her body shape and reflects her personal style adds a little flair to a wedding.

What special insight do you have about wedding planning? Have you or someone you know done something that really worked? Feel free to comment below.

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