Open Bar, Cash Bar or Alcohol Free ?

When it comes to the reception, what kind of bar you will have is a big question. First, there is the expense and then the responsiblity of guests safety when driving home, then personal taste, and what kind of friends and family will be attending. To simplify, there are three types of bar:

Open Bar – is  a bar  at which drinks are served free. The venue will charge a price per person for the bar and you will also have to factor in tax and gratuity. In addition, an open bar that offers all top-shelf liquor will certainly be more expensive than one offering lower-priced spirits. Some couples choose to offer only beer, wine and soft drinks throughout the evening. Others offer a signature drink during the cocktail hour along with the open bar. There are seemingly endless options so make sure you have a detailed description of what you want to be served in your contract.

Cash Bar is a bar where drinks are sold by the glass. basically, each geust will pay for each  drink. You may be tempted to have a cash bar for a variety of reasons, from cutting costs on your already swollen wedding budget to wanting to avoid having your guests overindulge before having to travel home from your wedding.  Be prepared, there may be some feedback since most guests have an underlying resentment about a cash bar. In fact, most wedding etiquette sites insist that a cash bar is considered ‘tacky’ no matter how cute the sign … yikes!

Alcohol Free – This is a reception where there is no alcohol served at all. Your wedding festivities don’t have to suffer due to lack of alcohol, there are many options for beverages other than booze. You can serve fun, fruity beverages and still even have your own signature drink. If you do not drink alcohol or have alcohol related issues, don’t feel bad and don’t make any excuses. You can also sleep knowing that everyone can drive home safely and there won’t be any drunken mishaps during the reception.

Whatever choice you make , it should be clearly listed on the invitation so that guests know what to expect.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Angry Brides vs Rude Guests

Although the spelling is very close, ‘Angry Brides’ are quite different from the wingless birds of the game variety. They are both of varying sizes, they are both on a mission  to accomplish their task. Fortunately, there are no brides ( no matter how angry) that explode upon contact. So, as a guest, how can you avoid being the giant pig in a hard hat? Here are the top six things that can really get under a bride’s skin:

1) RSVP. The reply card should already have a stamp so, send it as early as possible and don’t make any changes like adding a guest when one is not invited… and don’t change it after the RSVP date or (God forbid) just show up. How hard is that? Do that for every wedding related event and you will be just fine.

2) Put a card on the gift. If the gift has no card, how is the couple supposed to know who it is from? To be safe, always enclose a small card inside the wrapped gift. If it is being sent directly from a website or store, bring a card to the reception that indicates a gift was already sent. “Best Wishes on your wedding, I (we) hope you enjoy the ________ that was sent previously from ________”. This way the bride and groom know a gift was sent, where it came from and if it didn’t arrive, they can let you know.

3) Don’t inundate the bride with tons of questions about the wedding. Cost, number of guests, what kind of flowers, location, date, ring, gown, etc. Most brides are very excited to talk about their wedding but, asking too many questions all the time may seem intrusive and is downright rude. Furthermore, the cost of things is no one’s business unless the couple  publicizes it and then it is equally tacky.

4) Don’t show up late or not at all. Whether you are a vendor, a bridesmaid or a friend; showing up late, missing important appointments and forgetting wedding related events is out of the question. If you have a problem attending, let the bride know as soon as you get the invitation, not ten minutes before. See #1.

5) Don’t ask to alter the menu. If you have severe food allergies, inform the bride right away so concessions can be made on the menu, or decline the invitation. However, be prepared with an epi-pen just in case, since no matter how hard you try, mistakes can happen. Some allergies are severe enough to be triggered by the smell of the peanuts, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep in mind – food allergies are a lot different from food preferences. Your preferences are not the bride’s concern but, your health should be.

6) Becoming inebriated at the reception. Have a drink or two, unwind a little, have some fun – but, end it there. If your speech is slurred, it is time to stop drinking alcohol and go home.

As a guest, attendant or family member at a wedding you aren’t required to make sure every detail is executed flawlessy but, it is your job make sure your conduct is on point. Try to remember how much planning, expense and stress is involved and be mindful of your place in the wedding.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Wedding Faux Pas

Etiquette is one of the most complicated topics of discussion regarding weddings. Who should be seated at the head table, how to address the envelopes, how do you handle wording on the invitations regarding divorced parents and who pays for what, to mention a few. Basically it is a mine field of dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs and one mis-step could put you in hot water with almost anyone. It is exhausting, to say the least.

Manners are the unenforced standards of conduct in polite society. The real purpose of manners is  to make other people feel comfortable, not to alienate or subject them to your own standards.  There are some  basic tenets that hold society together such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’, other than that  the essence of good manners is to remember that what you think is the truth is actually only your opinion.

Luckily most wedding professionals will help guide you through the planning process gracefully so you can avoid most of the major lapses in etiquette. Invitation specialists will help you decide on wording, the DJ will help you with introducing the wedding party and selecting music, the caterer will help you figure out the details of dinner. Beware, though, there are still pitfalls. Of course you could buy a book on wedding etiquette or surf the net with your specific topics. But, for every person who writes a book or a column or a blog, remember that the ‘etiquette’ guide is just a guide. It is merely the opinion of the author and not the Constitution and if you search long enough you will find someone who agrees with your opinion, whether it is right or wrong.  Common sense should prevail and if you have any doubt that something is in poor taste, it probably is. If you don’t know the definition of poor taste, then it won’t matter anyway.

Keeping all of that in mind, I have composed my list of the worst wedding faux pas.  See if you agree.

Asking for money outright.Whether it is in the invitation, on your website or by mouth, asking for money is a no-no. You should sign up for at least one registry and there are tons of creative ones like the FHA mortgage registry or Home Depot.  Worst offender – Passing around a bag, box or any sort of container  at the wedding or reception like a collection plate at church. This has actually happened. Ghastly! Money Trees are also a thing of the past and  vulgar. Keep it confidential, please… no one wants to see your cash.

Turning the ceremony into a talent show. The bride and groom do not need to sing during the ceremony.  Celine Dion did not sing at her wedding so you don’t need to, either. This is not the time to prove to the world that the bride has the chops for Ave  Maria.

Late Start. Starting the ceremony more than 15 minutes late is bad, starting it over an hour late is unconscionable. After ten minutes an announcement should be made regarding the late-ness of the ceremony, explaining to the waiting guests why the ceremony is held up. Traffic, medical issue   are good reasons, oversleeping is not. If your fiance oversleeps on your wedding day and is more than one hour late to the ceremony, you should take a pass.

Dragging Ceremony.  The average ceremony in America lasts about 30 minutes, the longest I have attended was a little over an hour. Long enough that by the end of it I had made a mental list of things I needed to do when I got home and wondering if I turned off the stove. If your vows take more than an hour, the groomsmen will be kissing marble before the bride has a chance to pucker up. If the ceremony lasts more than two hours, you need to have your head examined.

Bad Toasts – Where do I begin? If the toast embarasses anyone, ridicules anyone, mentions sex in any way or the cost of the wedding, have it edited out of your wedding video. For your entertainment there is a website dedicated to bad wedding toasts.

Drunk Bride or Groom – The #1 thing you can do at your wedding to show your guests you have absolutely no clue about manners, etiquette or good taste is to get drunk at the reception. If you slur a few words, no problem… just take a break from champagne and drink some water. If you vomit, curse or wind up in jail you are out of control.

Fortunately there are those of us who embrace live comedy. We love the big and little faux pas in life and see them as entertainment. We tell and re-tell the stories of the tacky, extreme and ridiculous as if it were yesterday, and we love the awful as much as the elegant. So, if you are one of those people who cannot resist wearing a size 12 shoe in your size 8 mouth – don’t despair! We support you. For without you we would have no idea of what not to do.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago