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- As a wedding planner, I’m used to answering questions people are too embarrassed to ask.
- There are polite ways to say that you don’t want kids or unvaccinated guests at your nuptials.
- You don’t have to serve a meal or register, but this should be clearly communicated to guests.
Wedding planning can take a lot of time, and from listening to loved ones’ opinions to dealing with the phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to have a lot of questions while preparing for your special day.
Here are answers to 10 questions couples are sometimes too embarrassed to ask when it comes to their wedding:
Will it kill the mood if I mention COVID-19?
Your guests and your vendors are still thinking about COVID-19, even if you don’t want to talk about it.
Instead of leaving them in the dark, tell your guests and the people you’ve hired how you and your partner are prioritizing their health and safety.
An easy way to do this is to create a COVID-19 safety policy and share it with your guests and vendors. Consider what a vaccine boundary would look like at your wedding or which type of proof of vaccination you desire or your area requires.
Of course, this isn’t perfect, and whenever we talk about vaccines, we need to remember that some people can’t get one.
But I encourage you and your partner to at least engage in some kind of conversation around COVID-19 and your wedding. The alternative — which I’ve seen a lot in the past year — is that you don’t talk about this at all, which, unfortunately, is how people end up stressed and, sometimes, sick.
How do we politely uninvite people?
Couples have realized that uninviting a guest means more money to spend on other things and a chance to talk to everyone at their own wedding.
But I won’t lie: This is a tough one, particularly if you’ve already sent this person some kind of guest-facing correspondence, such as a save the date or an invite.
Because of that, there’s a chance that this person has already made arrangements such as travel, time off work, or childcare.
Depending on the situation, you can do one of two things:
- You can own it. Explain that you and your partner have reassessed the goal of your wedding, and you’ve realized that your original plan no longer works. As such, you’ve had to reduce the guest count.
- You can lie — just a little. Many couples I’ve spoken with are using the next phase of the pandemic to edit their guest lists. They explain that they’re doing their best to abide by current health and safety regulations, which stress smaller gatherings, and they’re reducing head count even though they could probably have more people.
I think there are worse things you can do when it comes to a wedding, so if using a little white lie to politely uninvite that second cousin you haven’t talked to in 10 years makes the whole thing a little easier, go for it.
To make this bad news go over a little better, you can offer alternatives for how the uninvited can still recognize the start of your marriage through virtual options or other types of wedding-related gatherings like “minireceptions,” where the couple travels to the guests.
You can also suggest ways to connect such as texts, phone calls, cards, and even gifts. One of the ways people show love and support is through gift giving, so don’t cheat anybody — even the uninvited — the opportunity to show this, even if they’re no longer coming to your wedding.
What if I changed my mind about someone in the wedding party?
While there’s a legal requirement in most states to have witnesses at your ceremony, you’re not obligated to have a wedding party in the first place.
But if you’re asking someone to no longer be your maid of honor or best man, it takes empathy and kindness. Ideally, you’ll explain in person or over the phone or video why you and your partner no longer feel that this person’s role serves the goal of the wedding.
Make this choice about the higher purpose of the wedding and not a critique of the person’s character by avoiding “you” statements and centering how everyone can enjoy the day more fully. For example, “I deeply value your friendship, and I feel this job has put a lot of strain on what we love about each other as friends, so I want to find another way you can be a part of our wedding.”
This other part may be this person reading something during the ceremony, giving a toast, or having time before, during, or after the wedding for just the two of you. Don’t be limited by the titles and responsibilities of a wedding party.
Of course, it’s likely still bad news for the other person, so their initial reaction may be one of defensiveness, pain, and even anger. Give them space and don’t force them to feel a certain way about your decision.
What do I do if someone is bringing a plus-one and it’s someone I don’t want at my wedding?
Couples often ask me about this regarding a sibling’s significant other — while you care about them, you might have doubts about their taste in partners.
Before you and your partner enact any kind of “they can’t come” edict, I challenge you two to ask yourselves: “Will this person’s attendance at our wedding dramatically reduce our joy?”
In most cases, the answer is no — having someone’s weird boyfriend there may be unfortunate but not a deal breaker.
If you answer yes, be prepared for a very tough conversation that can likely end in neither party attending.
This is hard, but unless you’re able to have a heart-to-heart with this person, and they’re willing to attend without their date, your only other alternative is the most nuclear option: Don’t allow plus-ones for any of your guests.
How do I make it clear I don’t want kids at my wedding?
You can just say it, and understand that you and your partner’s decision may mean that certain people you care about can’t come to your wedding.
This is particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic when some vaccinations are not available for children under 12.
Another alternative is to offer on-site childcare at your wedding. It costs extra, but it can be a nice way to invite kids without having them take over the whole wedding.
What do I do about loved ones who want to plan the wedding for me?
Loved ones, especially if they’re helping to pay for part of the wedding, usually want to be involved in the planning process.
The most effective option is to pay for everything yourself, but, of course, this isn’t possible for the vast majority of couples.
As an alternative, be very clear about what you two want out of your wedding day, and then communicate those guidelines to your inner circle. In nearly all situations, the person who’s texting you wants you to know that they love you, and sending you a million links is the best way they know how.
You can acknowledge that outpouring of love without agreeing to something that’s out of sync with your values by remembering the power of “no, thank you” and, in more intense situations, considering ways others could be involved that play to their talents.
Is it OK not to register?
While you don’t need to register, certain people are going to want to buy you a gift.
Depriving them of that opportunity doesn’t mean they won’t do it — they’ll either bug you about it or buy something you’ll never use.
Instead, think of your registry as an opportunity to fund other opportunities. Are there experiences that you and your partner want to have that a registry could help fund? What about nonprofits that you two support? Could you ask for donations?
Approach a registry like a creative project, and build it together as a couple.
Will people be bored during our wedding ceremony?
While you might think you should rush through the ceremony to get to the reception, I think this portion is one of the most defining parts of a wedding.
Even the most elaborate secular ceremonies usually last no longer than 30 minutes. If you think yours will go longer, message that in some type of guest-facing correspondence either before or on the wedding day so people have notice before the ceremony begins.
As for more religious ceremonies, if you believe your guests don’t normally attend these kinds of functions, or you invited a varied group of people, give them notice so they can have some idea of what the day will look like.
Do I have to serve a meal?
While you don’t have to serve a meal, you should give people a heads-up because the idea of a wedding usually involves some kind of dinner.
Tasteful ways to talk about food include, “Dessert to follow,” or, “Guests are encouraged to bring their favorite potluck dish.”
The goal here is to clue your guests into what will and won’t be available at the wedding so they can plan accordingly.
Do we have to have sex on the wedding night?
While some cultures still adhere to a “bedding ceremony,” many don’t, and that means you two don’t have to prove anything to anyone when it comes to your sex life.
A wedding night can be the worst time to fool around because you’re really tired and maybe even a little drunk.
Take the pressure off, and remember that you have the honeymoon and the rest of your lives to play catch-up.