You’ve sorted the dress, the flowers, the transport, the cake, the personalized favors that took you (arrgh!) 43½ hours to painstakingly put together and then – horror – you realize you haven’t even spared a thought to where your out-of-town guests will stay. Auntie Liz and Uncle Mitch are gonna be maaaaaad! Stop these wake-at-3am-in-a-cold-sweat realizations with this Miscellaneous section that covers things that can often get forgotten among all the food-tasting, dress-fitting, favor-gluing excitement. It also covers everything from the pros and cons of hiring a wedding coordinator to how to change your name after you’re married.
- Wedding Coordinators
- Marriage License
- Wedding Insurance
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Changing Your Name
- Out-of-Town Guests
- Same-Sex Marriages
- Wedding Superstitions
- Wedding Survival Guide
Should you hire a wedding coordinator? It’s a highly personal choice. Many couples enjoy being involved in every aspect of planning their wedding. They would find the very idea of a coordinator intrusive. Others see them as a godsend and wouldn’t consider planning their wedding without one. You may find that you fall somewhere in-between.
We can help by explaining the role a wedding consultant might play in your planning process. We can also offer advice on getting the most from the relationship. But the decision on whether or not to use one is all yours.
A good wedding coordinator – also known as a bridal advisor or wedding consultant – should have extensive knowledge of the bridal industry. They should be able to plan anything from a royal wedding to a small, intimate affair. If the services of a wedding coordinator make sense for you, book this professional first. Then, they can advise you on all other aspects of your wedding planning.
Remember: the coordinator serves as your advisor, your financial planner – and perhaps most importantly – your advocate. Their job is to take the pressure off you as the big day approaches. It’s your wedding and you deserve to enjoy every minute of it!
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Wedding Coordinator
How many weddings have you handled? What training have you had?
The whole point of hiring a wedding coordinator is to have experienced, professional guidance throughout your planning process. Don’t hesitate to inquire about a prospect’s level of training. Several organizations offer certification programs for wedding coordinators. Call any associations that the consultant belongs to and verify their status.
What specific services do you provide?
Different coordinators offer a diverse menu of services and areas of expertise. Consider your most critical needs when interviewing prospects. If you feel confident about selecting your decorations and gown, you might be looking more for someone who specializes in coordination and budget management. On the other hand, a consultant with a strong eye for visual design and a decorative flair may be exactly what you need.
How are your fees structured?
Some consultants charge a fixed hourly rate while others want a percentage of the total wedding budget. Others make their money from suppliers’ commissions and won’t charge the consumer.
Will I be obligated to use the vendors you suggest?
Ask if you are obligated to use vendors suggested by the coordinator. You want to know that they will be working with – and for – you.
How many weddings will you work at one time?
Many full-service consultants will work on two to three weddings per month. If a coordinator takes on more than that, you may find it difficult to get personalized assistance. In addition to considering specific responses and qualifications, pay attention to personality. Do you feel comfortable with this individual? Do they listen attentively? Is this person readily available? If you are satisfied with the responses you receive, and the references check out, book ’em!
Some coordinators work free of charge, serving as a source of information and referrals. But those who do charge a fee will plan as little or as much of your wedding as you want. Many expect a percentage (usually around 15%) of the total wedding budget when managing the event from start to finish. Others will bill at a flat hourly rate – particularly if they are offering limited services.
A contract protects your interests as well as those of the wedding coordinator. It serves as a written reference for all agreements that the two of you have made. It will also be your guarantee of the services and fees that you have agreed to. The coordinator may have a standard contract or you can write your own. Just be sure that you make it as detailed as possible and that you review it thoroughly before signing.
Your contract with the wedding coordinator should include:
- Time and date of the wedding
- Service specifics
- All billing details
- Payment schedule
- Details of any special requests or agreements
- Guarantees and liabilities
- Name/s of any assistants
- Wedding coordinator’s name, contact information and signature
For more on the subject of wedding coordinators, visit:
- Reasons to Have a Wedding Planner
- Why Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?
- Ask the Editor: How Do I Choose a Wedding Planner?
A marriage license is a document issued by a religious or state authority that allows a couple to marry. When applying for a marriage license, requirements vary from state to state but most need you to do the following:
- Apply for and use the license in the correct timeframe. There is usually a waiting period before the license is valid and a time it expires if you haven’t married before then.
- Meet residency requirements for the county and/or state where the marriage will be held.
- Present any ID required such as birth or baptismal certificates and/or driving license.
- Meet the legal age requirement for marriage – or have parental consent.
- Find out whether you need a medical examination and/or blood test to detect transmissible diseases.
Questions to Ask the County Clerk
At least two months prior to your wedding, call the county clerk’s office and ask the following questions about obtaining a marriage license.
Does the marriage license have to be from the same county that the ceremony takes place in?
Find out the geographical constraints – it may be OK to get the license issued from anywhere in the state but you’ll need to check.
Do both the bride- and groom-to-be have to be present?
Sometimes only one signature is required.
Is there a waiting period between obtaining the license and the ceremony?
Some states impose a waiting time of a few days and most licenses expire after a month or two.
What documents will I need to bring with me? Is a blood test required?
Different areas have different requirements in terms of legal documentation. Check!
How much does it cost to apply for a marriage license? What types of payment do you accept?
A lot of offices will only accept cash or a money order.
Do you charge for extra copies of the marriage license? How much?
It’s a good idea to get multiple copies (at least three) – you’ll need to provide your marriage license to various companies when changing your name.
When working out your budget, don’t forget to factor in the cost of taxes. Many people make this mistake and get a big shock when the final bills come through – we’re talking thousands of dollars that you hadn’t banked on spending! Make sure you find out how much sales tax is in your area and add this percentage into your budget.
Considering how much weddings cost these days, it’s not a bad idea to take out insurance in case anything goes wrong. Every policy will vary so make sure you read the small print carefully and choose coverage tailored to your needs. The most basic policy covers you in cases of cancellation or postponement if, for example, the venue you’ve selected goes out of business or floods on the day of your wedding, making it unusable. The policy can be enhanced to include coverage for medical expenses and personal liability, as well as costs you encounter if anything goes wrong with the caterer, damage to rented items – and other unforeseen events.
Before you take out a wedding-insurance policy, check the details of your existing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, as well as any security in each vendor’s contract, to figure out where you may need extra coverage.
Although this is the least romantic and most pessimistic document in the world, some couples don’t want to enter into a marriage without a prenuptial agreement. It’s is a legal contract between the bride and groom that documents the items and assets that each person brings to the marriage and outlines how these will be divided up in case of divorce. Couples who usually opt for such a contract do so if one person has significantly more assets or capital, or if there are children involved from a prior marriage.
It’s advisable to have an attorney draw up the document – and both the bride and groom should be represented by different attorneys. If you plan to live in a different state after the wedding, it’s worth considering using an attorney from that state draw up the contract.
Changing Your Name
If you decide you want to take your husband’s last name, you may be surprised by how much paperwork, standing in line and time spent on the phone you’ll have to endure. But there are ways to make the process less torturous. Follow these links for help and advice:
You may have invited people who live far afield out of politeness thinking, “They’ll never come anyway.” But what if they do? You’ll need to give these guests some special consideration for two reasons: one, they probably don’t know anything about accommodation/transport in the area in which your wedding is, and two, they’re making the effort to travel to see you get married so the least you can do is offer them some help in making the whole experience easier and, ergo, more fun. For suggestions on gift baskets for your out-of-town guests, visit "Welcome Gifts for Guests"
Reserve blocks of rooms in a few hotels – in a range of price budgets – that are in close proximity to your wedding. Ask about reduced group rates. For more on this, visit "Communicating Details with Out of Town Guests".
Check with airlines for deals, and also taxis and shuttle buses in case people need a ride from the airport to the accommodation. Note that you’re not responsible for paying for these travel arrangements.
If you can collate the accommodation and travel information before you send out the save-the-date cards, you can include it, or you could send it in a separate mailing once people have RSVP’d.
It’s fun to plan other activities for people who have traveled a long way to be at your wedding. Family or friends might like to organize a barbecue the day before the wedding or a brunch the day after. It’s best to keep things casual so people can drop by as and when their schedule will allow (plus if they want to sleep in, they won’t feel guilty!). Other activities that would be enjoyable include a sightseeing tour, a picnic, spa treatments or a round of golf. They’ll allow you to spend quality time with your guests – and allow them to bond with each other – but they’ll understand if you can’t attend them all as you may well be rushing around with last-minute wedding arrangements.
To read about same-sex marriages, visit "Commitment Ceremony Tips".
To read about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do surrounding your wedding, visit "Don’t Pass an Open Grave on Your Way to The Ceremony and Other Historic Wedding Superstitions".
Wedding Survival Guide
While most newlyweds agree their wedding was well worth the effort, few to none say it was easy. In fact, don’t be surprised if making wedding plans is the most complex project you’ve ever undertaken as a couple.
Looking for ways to better enjoy this often-challenging, sometimes-crazy time in your life? Here are some tried-and-true survival tips to get you through your wedding day – from the start of planning to the ceremony.
- Since much stress is money-related, plan your budget upfront and stick to it. Try not to start your life together in debt from your wedding!
- Take a breather from your wedding planning once in a while. Schedule some get-away-from-it-all outings with your intended. Have a romantic dinner or take a bike ride – just don’t discuss the wedding.
- Be flexible! You can’t have your way on every wedding detail, so don’t try. Compromise on the less important aspects.
- Remember that brides are almost always more interested in the details than grooms. Don’t get so crazy over every detail that you lose out on the fun.
- Expect a terrific wedding, not perfection. It’s a no-win situation when you set your expectations too high and try to please everyone.
- Remind yourself that your love and partnership are worth celebrating.
- Ease your time pressure by delegating as much as you can to others. However, when you give a task away, make a special effort to be happy with the choices the other person makes.
- Hire only wedding service professionals that you like and trust.
- Does a friend or family member bring you down? When your stress level is high, try to stay away from him or her. Or at least try limiting your time together.
- Does the prospect of saying your wedding vows or taking the first dance as a couple make you uneasy? Reduce your fears through an exercise used by professional athletes and performers: positive visualization. Relax, close your eyes and really visualize the event going smoothly from start to finish. Repeat this exercise several times daily if you need to. It can make you feel – and perform – much better!
- Realize that your parents’ and in-laws’ stress may be about more than the wedding itself. They may be feeling anxiety over you leaving “the nest”. This is commonly known as separation anxiety. It may help if you make a special point to reassure them of their importance in your lives.
- Expect to be feeling more stressed than usual during your engagement, and plan accordingly. Exercise is one of the best and healthiest ways to reduce ongoing or occasional stress. And don’t overlook deep breathing as a stress reliever – it can bring down your anxiety levels right away.
- Are you eating right? You’ll stay calmer when you eat more vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, and less caffeine, chocolate and alcohol.
- Put together a wedding-day schedule and give a copy to each member of your wedding party. They’ll be better prepared with this detailed timetable of events that starts with the day’s earliest preparation and ends with an hour after your departure from the reception.
- If you get dressed for your wedding at home, put on some relaxing music, take a bubble bath and allow plenty of time to get ready. How long does it usually take you to get ready? Give yourself double or triple that time.
- Everyone wants to help the bride. So assign last-minute details to someone else.
- Even if a mistake is made, try not to get upset. Your wedding will probably go on just fine. It’s hard to believe at the time, but a faux pas may even go down as a favorite wedding memory.
- Set aside family conflicts on your wedding day, and be happy. Your guests – even those family members you’re at odds with – will find your joy contagious.
- Are there special friends or family members who can’t attend your festivities? Make it less upsetting for all by sending them a DVD or photos of your ceremony and reception. That way, they won't miss out entirely and you can still share your special time with them.
Learn how to speak “wedding” with this cheat sheet.
- Ascot: Scarf-like necktie worn with the cutaway tailcoat and looped under the chin.
- Bakeware: Cake pans, muffin pans, cookie sheets and other items used in the kitchen for baking.
- Bone China: Fine china with bone ash as an ingredient known for characteristic translucency and whiteness. Although very thin, it's strong and resistant to chipping.
- Boutonniere: A small flower arrangement or single flower traditionally worn by men on a suit jacket lapel.
- Buffet: Tables or sideboards set up with food and/or refreshments. Conducive for guests to serve themselves.
- Calligraphy: Fancy, decorative handwriting style.
- Charmeuse: Satin fabric with flexible, soft and lightweight finish.
- Chiffon: Lightweight, lustrous sheer and often-layered fabric.
- Chupah: During Jewish weddings, a couple stands underneath this canopy or arch of flowers.
- Cookware: Saucepans, saucepots, frying pans and other items used in the kitchen for cooking.
- Corsage: Traditionally this small flower arrangement is worn by a woman and pinned on her dress near her shoulder.
- Chiffon: Lightweight, lustrous sheer and often-layered fabric.
- Crystal: As the highest quality of glass you can buy, it is clear, transparent and sparkling. Containing a percentage of lead, it is softer and much more fragile than glass. It is not dishwasher safe.
- Cuff Links: Jewelry that fastens (links) shirt cuffs.
- Cummerbund: A sash worn to take the place of a vest. It is worn with pleats facing upward and over the waistband of suit trousers.
- Cutaway: Worn with striped trousers, this tailcoat is worn in formal daytime weddings.
- Cutlery: Steak knives, steak knives and other cutting instruments primarily used in the kitchen.
- Earthenware: Non-translucent ware made from clay and fired at lower temperatures than china. Although cheaper to produce than china, it doesn't possess the same durability.
- Engraved Invitations: Words are cut (engraved) into the paper on these elegant invitations, which are usually used for very formal weddings. They are the most expensive invitation type.
- Fiancé: Man engaged to be married.
- Fiancée: Woman engaged to be married.
- Flatware: Forks, knives, spoons and other dining and serving utensils.
- Formal Wedding: Characteristics of this type of ceremonious wedding include: engraved or thermographed invitations for up to 200 guests; two to six bridesmaids and ushers; bride attired in long gown and veil; groom and ushers in tuxedos; reception with full meal and drinks following the ceremony. Usually a band or DJ provides music at the reception.
- Four-in-hand Tie: Standard necktie worn with a regular shirt and stroller. Often worn daily by men who wear suits to work.
- Glassware: Everyday, casual glasses, including iced tea and juice glasses. Crystal is not included as glassware.
- Hollowware: Serving pieces.
- Informal wedding: Non-formal, casual relaxed wedding with fewer than 50 guests. Sites for informal weddings run the gamut, including city hall. A small, informal reception at a home or a restaurant may follow a simple ceremony.
- Ironstone: Higher quality, heavier and more durable type of earthenware.
- Maid of Honor: Unmarried woman who stands by the bride's side at the ceremony and signs as an official witness on the marriage certificate. The bride chooses her.
- Matron of Honor: Married woman who stands by the bride's side at the ceremony and signs as an official witness on the marriage certificate. The bride chooses her.
- Monogram: Couples may choose to have their initials, or monogram, engraved in their silver or embroidered on their linens. Monograms come in several variations.
- Nosegay: Round arrangement or bouquet of flowers that is usually small.
- Officiant: Person who performs a wedding ceremony.
- Organza: Chiffon-like fabric, only heavier and stiffer.
- Porcelain: Similar to bone china, though it does not have bone ash as an ingredient and is usually not quite as translucent.
- Pottery: Ware made of clay.
- Semi-formal Wedding: Characteristics include: printed invitations for under 100 guests; groom attired in either dark suit or tuxedo; bride attired in floor-length gown; one or two bridesmaids and ushers; reception with buffet or hors d'oeuvres following ceremony.
- Shantung: Usually made of silk, this fabric is known for its characteristic nubby texture. It's a bit coarse to the touch.
- Silverplate: Through a process called electroplating, this metal-based flatware is coated with pure silver.
- Stainless: Rust-resistant flatware made of an alloy steel, chromium. Unlike sterling or silverplate flatware, this cheaper choice is dishwasher safe and does not require any special care.
- Sterling: Made of solid silver, it is the highest quality of flatware available. Any flatware referred to as sterling must contain at least .925 parts of pure silver.
- Stoneware: Made of clay and fired at very high temperatures, this ware is hard, nonporous and very durable. Since it's microwave-, oven- and dishwasher-safe and unlikely to chip easily, it's a very popular choice for everyday casual dinnerware.
- Stroller: Black or gray long suit jacket worn with striped trousers and popular for formal, daytime weddings.
- Taffeta: Stiff and heavy fabric popular for bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses.
- Thermographed Invitations: Although they may have a similar look and feel as engraved invitations, this alternative is significantly cheaper. A special powder is used to accomplish raised lettering.
- Trousseau: Bride's wardrobe and belongings; wedding gown; lingerie; accessories; honeymoon wardrobe; and new household linens.
- Tulle: Usually seen in the skirts of certain wedding gowns, this fabric features a net-like appearance.
- Ultra-formal Wedding: Characteristics of the most formal, ceremonious wedding type include: engraved invitations for at least 200 (usually more) guests; up to 12 bridesmaids and ushers; bride attired in a gown with a long train and long veil; men attired in suit tails (white tie for evening weddings); lavish reception with sit-down dinner and drinks following the ceremony; live band or orchestra at the reception.
- White Tie: As the most formal evening attire worn by men, dress includes a tailcoat, white wing collar shirt, white vest and tie.
- Wedding Floral Focus: Learn the traditions and meanings of wedding flowers by visiting floral Symbolism.
For general advice that will help you keep your sanity during the planning process, visit: