Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ask a Planner... "Top 5 Wedding Faux Pas"

Hello Lovelies!

We get questions all the time about what's proper and what's not when hosting a wedding and so I thought I'd recap several of them here for everyone's reading pleasure and education. Keep in mind that my opinion is based on 14 years in the wedding business specifically and is a result of seeing (and hearing) the effects of client's decisions (both good and bad) from a guest's perspective.  Hopefully this insight offers you -- the future bride -- an opportunity to understand the repercussions of certain decisions now rather than after when it's too late!  No need to say Hindsight is 20-20 or feel regret when you know ahead of time! :O) 

Top 5 Wedding Faux Pas:

1. Timing is Everything - Think about how the day will play out for both you, your wedding party, and your guests.  If you are having an evening reception, try and schedule the ceremony to take place later in the day to keep the momentum going.  There's nothing more awkward and boring than having to "waste away" precious hours in the middle of the day hanging out at a local restaurant in your finest attire while you wait for the evening festivities to commence.  Early morning ceremonies with a lengthily gap in between is also hard on you and your wedding party as the day is already long enough without drawing it out further. 

2. Ceremony Location -  It's not always possible to coordinate your ceremony location with that of your reception venue because sometimes a particular church or desired venue may quite simply not be in the same area of town as your preferred reception venue, however, keep it in mind so that in the event that you do have control over the matter you can make it that much more wonderful for your guests and the overall flow of the day.  And on that note... Hosting a ceremony in the morning/early afternoon at the same venue as the evening reception, but asking guests to leave and return later should be avoided if at all possible.

3. Cocktail Hour...ZZZ - Super extended cocktail periods are no fun for anyone!  Get the party started on a high note and keep the momentum going!  Typically an evening reception will start at 6:00pm with champagne and/or a hosted bar and maybe some light hors d'oeuvres.  An hour is typically a good length of time for guests to arrive, get their bearings, grab a drink, and chat with a few friends before heading in to dinner.  The maximum length of time should be 1.5 hours.  2 Hours is too long -- no ifs, ands, or buts.  In the event a cocktail period needs to go longer (i.e. you are on a remote island or hosting a destination wedding) arrange for some entertaining elements like lawn games, board games, live entertainment, photo booths, interactive guest book stations, etc.  It will at the very least allow guests to remain engaged.

4. Cough it up for the Cash Bar!  Weddings are no place for a cash bar.  If you were hosting the wedding in your home you would never dream of charging guests to pay for their own drinks or pay a cover charge and this is no different.  Now, I realize that some people have to invite everyone they have ever met to their wedding (and a few friends of those people just to be nice) and simply cannot pay for everyone to run a muck on your tab for 6-8 hours.  Fair enough.  So... my first suggestion is to limit the number of guests invited, or limit the bar offerings (i.e. no doubles, no shooters, no top shelf, etc.) or opt for a brunch, late night dessert, or lunch reception.  For some, cash bars are typical in their social circles and for others it's unheard of so you need to do what's right for you.  In any case there is always room for good manners so regardless of the need to incorporate a cash bar into the night's line up, do right by your guests and ensure that some sort of drinks are being hosted at various points of the night.  

Perhaps flip over to a cash bar after dinner, once you have had the opportunity to receive your guests and treat them to a drink or two and a nice glass of wine with dinner.  Also, it's never okay to allow your Wedding Party to pay for their own drinks.  Arrange drink tickets with the venue or a an all access stamp for those designated VIP individuals.  It's just the right thing to do given all the money they have invested in your day.  Typically a bridesmaid will spend anywhere from $500-$1000.00 once the dress, shoes, hair, make-up, gifts, stagette, and spa treatments are factored in!

5. Please keep your priorities straight. Forgoing proper hosting etiquette so that you can have pretty chair covers and/or charger plates is not okay.  Yes, a good looking room is very important and is one of the most fun parts of creating a wedding event to remember, BUT not at the expense of your guest's enjoyment.  Luxury decor and a designer gown will not be remembered fondly if guests had to pay for their drinks and eat rubbery chicken. It's all relative.  Treat yours well. 

Wedding Planner signing off!  Until next week… keep those questions coming in!  Submit your questions by emailing us at


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Genève McNally, Principal Planner, DreamGroup Productions

Genève first began her wedding career in 1999 as the Catering Manager for one of Vancouver’s most sought after wedding venues, Brock House Restaurant.  In 2004 Genève and college friend Sarah Shore ambitiously started up what is now one of Vancouver's longest running and most trusted wedding planning companies, DreamGroup Productions Inc.

These days, in addition to working with her clients in a full planning capacity, Genève focuses her attention on the sales and marketing aspects of the company and is most often the friendly voice you will chat with when first inquiring with DreamGroup.  Genève is known to inspire and excite both clients and industry associates alike with her exuberant personality and joie de vivre!  Her ability to be refreshingly candid and her in depth knowledge of the wedding industry have earned her the friendly moniker “Two-Cents McNally”.  Genève also teaches the Wedding Planning classes offered through the dg Academy and is the chief correspondent behind DreamGroup's weekly Blog feature Ask a Planner.

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