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III  Wedding Manifesto

Focus Focus Focus

by Judith Rivers-Moore, The WeddingLinks Coach

Welcome to the third chapter for Successful Brides & Groom. We will be discussing how focusing on specific parts of the planning process will help you design your signature wedding. In the last chapter, we gave you interview questions to assist in hiring your professional vendors. Between the “Wedding Manifesto” pages, the printouts of the management gifts, along with the forms and guidance pages, your binder has become a large planning book. 

In this chapter we discuss working with the vendors you select and how to review contracts, a little more information on wedding locations, setting the tone and design of your wedding and how to work with the officiant. You’ll learn to place your personal signature on the music, décor, linens, and flowers which will create the style of the reception. These are all thought out and will assist you to bring things into FOCUS.

Please Print These Management Forms  & Articles From Our Website

Articles Designed To Focus On Your Wedding Style & Design 

Room Design Sheets For Receptions

Interview Questions For The Wedding Services

Music List & Photographers List

Selecting & Completing The Invitations

Creating A Great Wedding Toast

What Is A Wedding Design

The design is more than colors, it is a formula that can bring a style or theme into focus. Most of us are used to coordinating our wardrobe: colors, necklines, purses; all relating to styles according to where we are going and weather appropriate. The wedding design can come from what you have seen, experienced, have a passion for, consider romantic or memorable to you. Some women pursue a historic period or a unique backdrop such as a beach, forest, lake or cosmopolitan skyscraper, or a personal hobby etc. Many weddings are designed around a favorite movie, music or play, favorite flowers and often include ethnic traditions. Weave the design into the fabric of your special day. Most couples infuse the wedding with their personalities, and personal interests.  This design is entirely up to the bride and groom.  

             Example:  A couple I worked with met on the Golden Gate bridge.  Her chain came off her bike and he stopped to fix it.  She appreciated his assist and cooked him a dinner to say thank you.  Their wedding was planned around the bridge:  The day before their guests walked the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoyed a rehearsal dinner on a S.F. Bay party boat.  The wedding was in one of the Presidio Chapels and the reception at the Officers Club with views of the Golden Gate.  They had two miniature bicycles as a cake topper.

Some people have a natural ability to complete the outline for their wedding design, while others need to pull from outside resources. Our previous chapter shows enormous variations in styles of colors and linens. When you approach and complete each section of your wedding as a design, you will end up with your uniqueness and authentic self-shining through. Your approach may be of your personal taste in dealing with selections that are simplistic, elegant, opulent, country, informal, casual, black tie, theatrical, cosmopolitan, religious, nautical, humorous, zany or calm, macabre, radical, sublime, ethnic, historic period, arty, or… you name it!

 By working on one section at a time, you will focus your search for information, your thoughts and application toward your wedding. (This is how a professional coordinator would work with you to complete the wedding of your dreams.) Tip: It is helpful to research, tear magazines and place photos and design ideas into a plastic sheet protector for each section of the wedding. Then, lay them out to help form your decision.  Keep It Simple is a popular saying with wedding planners.  Shop for styles and ideas that fit your budget. If you are struggling with this, get help from someone else whose ideas you value. Have a plan A or B and follow closely what your budget dictates by using alternative ideas, as necessary.  Most brides will simplify the process by pulling the areas of design into 2 or 3 groups of decision-making. Other brides prefer the design that moves throughout the entire ceremony and reception. It is your choice, but you can cut cost dramatically when you use the same flowers, colors, etc., in the reception as will be used during the ceremony. Most of those flowers will decorate the reception room when transported after the ceremony.

Remember  "How Do You Eat An Elephant?"  One bite at a time!  This is the concept we share with you.  Wedding Planning breaks into:

Gown, Bridesmaid Dresses & Tuxes

• Rehearsal and Dinner

• The Ceremony

• The Reception

• The Honeymoon

Example:   Your wedding dress, jewelry, make-up, hair, veil, and shoes are all one complete design area. Accented by your bridesmaid's outfits, it can (if you choose) pull together your concept with necklines, colors, hem lengths, and flowers - along with the men in tuxedos or suits and vests that may accent your chosen colors or each bridesmaid’s colors. 

Tip: As a bride, how your maids and male attendants appear during your wedding celebration is your choice. Since 2008, trends show new and different concepts: dresses with necklines unique for each lady and dress colors range through various shades, in addition to varied shoe styles from one bridesmaid to the other.

Tip: You and your bridesmaids purchase your shoes once you have the dresses selected. Score the bottoms and practice walking in them on

all types of flooring. You’ll have fewer slips this way, plus you will all

navigate the aisle during the wedding with much more confidence!

Tip: If selecting bridesmaid dresses of one color, make certain the order goes in for all the dresses the same day for perfect color match as dye lots for fabrics may vary.

Moving from the traditional to non-traditional elements can find the wedding design an enjoyable combination of ideas, but we do suggest you apply specifics of design to one segment. Mixing them up only brings confusion to you and your guests.  When you create your wedding design,

make sure the ambiance you create is a reflection of yourself. You may have two or three favorite colors or two or three key themes. One can be used in the ceremony and two in your reception room. You may want classical music during your ceremony and a different style during the reception. Your use of flowers, linens, candles and favors can carry a color and theme throughout (or individually) in each wedding section.

The only time this does not work as well is if you are hosting your wedding in a garden, terrace or room where everything is set up together. This style wedding should visually flow in a singular design. See the “Wedding Style” outline in the gifts from the previous chapter for additional guidance.

Your invitation will set the tone of formality to your wedding, but it does not set the ingredients you choose as you create your signature style unless you wish it to.  Write down your decisions on formality on different sheets of paper, sectioning out the wedding in the following areas:

• Gown, Bridesmaid dresses & Tuxes

• Rehearsal and Dinner

• The Ceremony

• The Reception

• The Honeymoon

List some of the important things you want for each of these areas: colors, foods, music, flowers and envision the outcome of what your guest will see. Find photos and attach with a paper clip until you finalize your decision.

Party Rental Items

There may be a great need for party rental items. Party rental companies often have “room designers” who will give you concepts on colors, decor and placement. They can move a room from nice to “wow” with exquisite linens and china settings, unique serving pieces, portable dance floors, and bars plus lighting, audio, tenting or awnings and basic tables and chairs. Caterers sometimes comment that the party rentals can be more expensive than the food, so check the pricing and understand what you are adding on to your event cost. Price, quality, and service can differ from one company to another.

Tip: Wedding team members will need to review the party rental items as they arrive on the scene. Take photos and physicallynote on the delivery invoice, any item that has:

• Nicks, scratches, or damage as they are delivered

• Check the order sheet for every item delivered

Consider having them set up and take down tables if you do not have strong men to assist. You must know the watering system diagram to place tents on lawns and turn off your sprinkling systems two days before your event.  Personally set up one table setting or go over this with the reception coordinator you have chosen from your wedding team. This drawing or setup will illustrate how you want it done and let others complete the task.

• Don’t forget, party rental items are charged by the day or weekend and must be returned accordingly.


It is very important to interview and check references prior to hiring a service. Interview two to three services to gain the one that fits your budget and desires. Use the individual vendor interview questions from your gifts as an assist in this.

Contracts With Vendor Services

It is suggested that you hire from resources who belong to known wedding (or events) associations that must meet standards and ethics rules in order to be a member. The wedding and events industry contracts a variety of ways. You are generally hiring “Independent Contractors” who create their own business contracts. (There are no general standards.) You will be asked to deposit funds to “reserve the date contracted” from your vendors. I do not suggest you deposit funds for a tentative “hold a date” unless it is refundable.  People often forget to ask the company to dress according to their event. If you are having a formal event, someone shooting photos in a Hawaiian shirt may stand out. Until you have a signed contract with the location or vendor, your deposit (reserve the date funds) can sometimes be retrievable up until a specific date. Your vendors and location require a 30 to 50% deposit to contract their business.

• The closer to your wedding day that you pull out of your contract, the less they will return.

• Some companies will not give anything back unless you can prove a hardship for canceling the wedding. Even then, it is difficult.

• Some service contracts will clearly state - they will not return the funds, but if you decide to reestablish your wedding date, your previous deposit will be held for you.

• Some vendors will return funds up to stated cut-off date. It is very important to read through a contract and if you have questions, ask them to explain in greater detail. Items in the contracts that should be included are:

• Agreed to paragraphs

• What is included

• Recourse

• Dates, times locations etc.

• Scheduled payments

• Your personal requests

• Who (by name) will perform task

Scan the small print on recourse. (Most contracts state arbitration for recourse.) You should request a copy of the contract for your records. Keep all your contacts in one place.  

Special Concerns for Those Working with Foods and Alcohol

It is common courtesy to not ask for a bid from a caterer unless you are very serious about working with them. Narrow down your caterers to about three, and then get bids. That way you can make some informed comparisons. Also, if this is a caterer you really want to work with and need to have them cut the costs on their bid, request the percentage you need the bid reduced and ask if there is a way that this can be done. Depending on the request, there may be a way to bring the cost down  It is O.K. to ask to see copies of the health department certificates and the ABC alcohol licenses to serve.  Remember, any serving of alcohol to minors can cause them to lose their license. 

• If contracting a caterer or baker, ask that a copy of their health dept. certificate be attached to the contract.

• This type of contract should include the number of guests to be fed and the format (buffet, seated and served). The menus, beverages, corkage fees, cake cutting fees, any party rental or serving items plus the tax and tips are to be outlined in the bid they give you.

• You will be asked for a “last week” count and whether those guests show up to eat, or not, your bill will reflect the count you gave them.

When working with another country, their laws and recourse may differ.

Contracts with the Wedding & Reception Location

Review locations on the web for the number of guests, if the location will do what you require, is available for the time of year you want it and fits your budget. Weddings are planned a year or eighteen months out, so do not consider working with a location who will only book a wedding nine months out. This is too complicated to hinge all of your plans on. Even if you adore the site, it can lead to added frustration.

Tip: You will spend approximately 45% to 65% of your budget on food, location plus party rentals. If one site has tables, chairs, china, and linens (that you like) and another has no linens, no china, and some tables, (but a lower price) you will need to figure this out mathematically for the better value. Party rentals will bring up your costs but give you more of a signature style.  

Tip: Even with a backyard wedding you will require party rentals, etc. You are often meeting with the catering office manager (or the site manager) who will draw up the contract. It is very important you put the exact name of the ballroom (or space) on the contract and please read the fine print.  Sometimes they will bump you into another room.  Getting into a location prior to your event can also be pricey. Some allow you time and others charge you extra for setup and breakdown time. Many locations will do two or more events in the same room a day, so there is

no extra time.

Most Site Charges Include:

Lighting, heat, air conditioning, space, stages, a damage deposit (refundable).

Not Unusual Charges:

Fees for a security guard, janitorial service and extra fees for use of a sound system or kitchens. Use of their chairs, linens, set-up staff, portable stage or dance floor and some garbage/trash pickup services.  Remember "Odd Charges" Increase Their Profits:  Some locations charge for everything, including moving a piano, using your floral centerpieces and not the fake ones they offer. Bringing in a wedding cake you had made somewhere besides their kitchen. Use of their parking lot, and entry signs. Putting up any type of decoration and making changes in the menu or serving pieces.

It is important to feel really comfortable with a location and its policies before you sign on the dotted line - they are all different.

Because hotels, resorts, golf courses and many types of locations transfer employees, some will not honor a previous person’s contract and you can get bumped off the “booking board” in the transition. Be in touch every few months with your location. Restaurants may require a buy-out and guarantee of a maximum guest list to close their site to the public for a private party. Most of these restaurants prefer Sunday afternoons or evenings for wedding parties. Restaurants with banquet rooms work very well for wedding celebrations or a rehearsal dinner.

Often in-house catering chefs will not let outside food services bring a unique style dish in through their kitchen. They may negotiate with proof of the other companies health certification bringing in the outside foods. Kosher situations are very stringent and the entire kitchen,  ingredients, and staff are monitored. 

Preferred Vendor Lists

Many wedding venues require that you utilize their vendor list or preferred list, so the wisdom is that you do not begin hiring your wedding services until you have completed your contracting of the location. You can negotiate just about any wedding service you prefer. You will need to ask your preferred service to call, discuss their experience and possibly go for an introductory interview with the location manager.

There are many things that can help your vendors work with you best, to become part of a strong wedding team. (Yes, you hired them, but they can not be mind readers.) They do have things they will need from you:  

• Items, such as photos ahead of time for video or DVD prep

• Lists or copies of specific music you desire played/sung

• List of who receives corsages, boutonnieres, number of table centerpieces

• Addresses and phone numbers of location and what time site will be open for them to set up and begin

• Introduction to the location contact and your coordinator for questions - day of

• Outline of the day’s events and a copy of your timeline

• A final week reminder call and last minute details

• Final fitting appointments for gowns

• Vendor food and refreshment access the day of the wedding

• If a caterer, they will need a final guest count the week prior

Please be on time for appointments you have set.

In the Articles section, you will find lists, photos, and music to assist you, plus several articles on flowers, party rentals, location selection, destination weddings and backyard weddings to increase your knowledge in these areas.

Beauty Tips

For Your Hands and Nails - Since They Will Be Seen in the Photographs!

1. As you do housework chores or dishes and when your hands are in water or cleaning chemicals. wear

rubber gloves. (These chemicals weaken your nails and they will break easily.)

2. Use an Emory board and not a nail file to shape your nails.

3. Find a hand cream you prefer and use many times daily, and always at bedtime.

4. Drink protein powder in juice or milk daily - it strengthens hair and nails from within.

5. Use acetone-free polish removers and strong nail polishes that will harden the nails and prevent breaking.

6. Fungus, staph infections and other concerns are picked up from salons. Please go to reputable salons. Your nails will be very weak after using fake nails, acrylics or having porcelains done. Fakes can be taken off, but it will take time to restore your nails to their natural health.

7. Most ladies want pretty feet for the honeymoon. Soften your feet by taking off the callous after a bath

with a special appliance or pumice stone. Toenails cut flat will not puncture nylons.

8. Get your feet used to the shoes you are planning to wear for your wedding. Wear them around the house a few hours each day. Score or sand the bottoms so you do not slip in them.

Ten Mistakes Couples Make with Their Wedding Planning

1. Starting their planning, location finding and vendor selection too late.  Popular venues need to be booked 18 mos in advance.

2. Hiring a service before they know their total budget

3. Not realizing the wedding is the outcome of their decision-making

4. Not understanding the numerical dynamics of their guest list

5. Not obtaining a specific e-mail address for just the wedding planning

6. Giving out their cell phone number to everyone

7. Not enjoying their courtship and engagement time together

8. Exceeding their intended budget

9. Getting drunk the night before or on their wedding day

10. Not communicating with their attendants and wedding team

Mistakes Made Regarding a Honeymoon

1. Failing to investigate and apply for their passport and travel visa several months in advance for the country they plan to honeymoon.

2. Not checking the ”best weather time of year” to visit their honeymoon destination.

3. Getting too sunburned on their honeymoon to enjoy it.

Hiring The Officiant & Planning Your Ceremony

Since there are different rules around the world regarding who can marry you, please go to this LINK and find the country where you are

planning to be wed and inquire there.  Some countries have a waiting period after applying for government approval and others  require blood tests and others different licenses for those married previously

Who can marry you in the USA?

A judge (retired or not) or magistrate of the U.S. or a commissioner of civil ceremonies, the county clerk, a priest, rabbi or ordained minister who is at least 18 years (or older). Rules differ from state to state and county to county. Please call the destination county clerks office for their exact stipulations.  Many states offer special “one-day-wedding marriage rights” to the couple’s specific friends or relatives.  The Caribbean Islands differ on marriage laws from one to the other. Captains of yachts or ships must have a ministerial license to legally marry couples.

Years ago we looked to be married within our religions. For a variety of reasons, many couples today seek a non-denominational officiate to assist them in reflecting and producing their vows for the ceremony. There are many wonderful and dynamic officiants today who enjoy this romantic way of expression. Some offer you a background in pre-marital, marital or family counseling. It is vital each of these persons knows they are to fill out the legal documents and mail them to the county or specific regional office to make your wedding vows legal. So, if you have decided to have an untrained friend marry you, they must also learn the procedure and complete the legal paperwork to uphold your marriage. 

Ceremonies Vary in Different Amounts of Time

• Couples study and write their vows adding specific items

• Speak only a few words - “I do”, “I will” (in response to the officiant)

• The officiate includes personal anecdotes of the couple in the ceremony

• Unique rituals to the ceremony, (fire, water, unity candle lighting, music)

• Special religious readings or a mass is included

When children are involved with a marriage, there may be “joining ceremonies” of the two families and significant keepsake gifts are offered.

Some couples today search for and include the exact words movies stars have said during their wedding ceremonies.

Completing Your Rehearsal Plans

Why it’s important to think about the wedding rehearsal and plan it out ahead of time on paper?

You personally understand the planning of the wedding ceremony and understand the logistics, but those other involved parties do not always know what you have in mind or your plans. When there is a formula for direction, it brings confidence to those involved during the actual wedding. During the rehearsal, some people are pretty relaxed, some goof-off, and others don’t listen and appear to be behind, asking you to repeat areas of concern. Even a poor rehearsal can mean a well-run ceremony. Keep your cool and be kind, just keep telling

them: “When we all pull together, we can do this”.

While very small weddings may not require a rehearsal, the larger (30-upwards) will need to run through the details of the program. The rehearsal can be held one or two days prior to the actual wedding date. The rehearsal does combine learning from visuals, experiencing and hearing directions. If you have a printed outline or have created a “wedding ceremony program” to hand out, that too will provide guidance.

Coordinators will often drop by the ceremony location a few days ahead - at the actual time, the wedding will be held. You may want to do this with the photographer if they have not worked the location previously. This helps to spot any concerns for photographers, lighting, etc. and gives them knowledge of unique circumstances. You can also ask last minute questions.

The officiant will often run the rehearsal, but if he/she is only coming for your actual wedding ceremony, then please move everyone through this yourself (acting as the director of a play), and ask for assistance from one of the wedding team - who has hopefully had prior experience. Speak with them about helping with the rehearsal process. It is important to walk through the wedding from the lineup for the processional through the recessional at least two times.

The Rehearsal          The ceremony area must be scheduled ahead of time for the rehearsal

This is an outline for a traditional Western Wedding. Every culture is different.  Invitations to the rehearsal and dinner need to go a few weeks

early to those involved with the wedding ceremony, sending them maps, timetables, phone numbers of the location and your cell phone number ahead of time. Especially important because the location for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner may be quite far apart. Ask your best man and maid of honor to please come an hour earlier to instruct them - so they can instruct others. One of your early meetings with the officiant may be to go over many of the rehearsal details. The officiant or the wedding hostess or your coordinator will direct the rehearsal, but in their absence, you or one of your wedding team can move everyone through the process of the ceremony.

Who Is Invited To The Rehearsal?

The Wedding Planner/Hostess

The Wedding Officiant

All The Wedding Party:  Both mothers & fathers, flower girl, ring bearer, any soloist, musician, all the bridesmaids, all the groomsmen

It is very important to have a wedding rehearsal. Request that your wedding ceremony location gives you an appointed time for the rehearsal (Some locations ask you to host it elsewhere because of their schedule). You can use local parks, the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner will be, a friend’s house or yard.

Prior to the rehearsal, please create a timeline or a wedding program for guests at your wedding. It is a great idea to hand them out to everyone at the rehearsal. It helps guide those involved. especially the officiant, who needs to see it (or a timeline) so he/she can make notes. 

(See the guideline for a wedding program,  one of our gifts with this book

During the rehearsal, you should run through the timing of the ceremony with the music – either pre-recorded or with your musician, the groom, your wedding team, officiate and your wedding party, including your parents. Dynamics of the Rehearsal Ceremony

It is less confusing to instruct one part of the group at a time. Musicians & Soloists  Remember ... The musicians must be seated to clearly see the wedding processional. Knowing when to begin certain music is important for the mothers, soloists, wedding processional and bride’s entrance.   

For Flower Girls or Ring Bearers 

Using props, practice with the children involved (at least 3 times and then get them to a babysitter.) Letting them run wild during the rehearsal is very distracting.  Depending on their age, expecting them at the rehearsal dinner may be too much for them the next day).  Determine who is in charge of each child during the wedding. It may be their own parent or someone at the front of the ceremony. You never know how they will behave and having them cry loudly throughout the ceremony because they want their mom or dad up front, is not what you want. Ask people ahead of time to assist and take them out or let them stand with their parents.

Seating The Guests  - The Only people to walk down the center aisle are: Mothers and their escorts.

• The center aisle is closed to guests walking down it for very formal weddings

• Seating is from the outer aisles moving the guests toward the center aisle

Musicians and Soloists

Decide where the musicians and/or soloist are to set-up, play from or sing. If there is dance included, it is vital you make certain of their dance area space. Giving those involved a copy of the timeline or wedding program, as it will help them greatly.


• Mother of the groom is seated on the right side, 10 minutes prior to the wedding beginning and she walks down the center or main entry aisle

• Her son, the groom, may take her down the aisle, or someone of her choosing (dressed to the formality of the occasion). Her husband or guest can walk directly behind them. She sits at the left edge of the aisle on the right side of the aisle, and family members are seated beside and in rows behind her.

• Mother of the bride officially begins the wedding processional. She is seated on the left side at the very start of the wedding. (Make certain the bride is ready.) The mother may walk alone or be escorted down the aisle by someone dressed for the occasion. There can be a special music selection after she is seated on the left side of the aisle. She leaves room for her husband/partner.  Her family can fill out the aisle and in the immediate rows behind her.

• The father of the groom walks with the bride down the aisle on his left arm.

Tip: Mothers can be seated in the very front aisle - but it is more viewable from the second row. Her row does not have to be filled, but her husband or guest may be seated with her and other people of her choosing.

Tip For Divorced Parents: With divorced parents of the bride or groom, they may not want to be seated in the same row.  Etiquette states that divorced fathers may be seated two rows back of the mother with his guest. He may give the bride away and then move to the row.


• Show your bridesmaids your preference on how to walk down the aisle, how you want them to hold their flowers, and which groomsman they are to recess with.

• Line up the wedding  processional – in the exact order to walk toward the ceremony area

• Tell them exactly where you want them to be right after the recessional. (Sometimes this is in a receiving line or sometimes in a photo area.)

• They are to stay throughout the day and be ready for photos at all times.

Children can either walk just before the bride or begin the wedding processional of bridesmaids. In England they walk behind the bride.

The younger the child, the more important it is to have people waiting up front for them. Sometimes they walk

together, sometimes the ring bearer first, then the flower girls.

Maid/Matron of Honor

Because she arrives an hour early, she will be able to instruct the bridesmaids. She will have the groom’s ring on her thumb, process down the aisle just ahead of the bride, help the bride by taking her bouquet during the ceremony, give her the groom’s ring and arrange the bride’s train, and sign the marriage certificate later. A toast is offered later at the reception celebration - just after the best man's toast.


Process down the aisle ahead of the bride, line up in front and wait to face the rear for the bride’s entrance. Once she has arrived and been brought forward toward the officiant by the groom, the bridesmaids turn and face forward toward the ceremony.

Best Man

Because he arrived early for the rehearsal, he can help instruct the groomsmen on how to seat and usher the guests in. He stays close to the groom, puts the boutonnieres on the groom and groomsmen, communicates with the bridesmaids any messages, carries the brides wedding ring, signs the marriage license and gives a toast at the reception.  He makes certain the guest's glasses are filled before beginning.


Teach the groomsmen how to seat the individual families. On the left for the bride and on the right for groom’s side.  Family members in the front rows as designated. The center aisle is to be roped off or door closed on it. That is only for the bride and wedding processional. 

If an aisle runner is to be laid, or rose petals placed, that is done in the last hour before the guests are to arrive (no one is to walk on this).

Instruct the groomsmen on where to get dressed, and how to enter the ceremony area. Give them the standing order with the groom. Give them the recessional order to leave with the designated bridesmaid. Teach the groomsmen how to seat the guests, give them any available wedding programs, let them know where the location lights, heating and air conditioning are, plus how to bring the bridesmaids back down the aisle after the ceremony

Groomsmen have a great deal of work ahead of time seating people. For a large wedding, you will need an extra usher who can continue to direct people toward seating after the groomsmen go up to the ceremony area. 

• Most guests will leave down the center aisle. If a very formal wedding, AFTER all the groomsmen go out behind the newlyweds, give their congratulations - then two groomsmen will go back up the outside aisles toward the ceremony area and then stand the mothers up first and offering their arm and empty each of the rows (in sequence) into the center aisle. 

After teaching each group what you want from them, run through the entire process at least one or two times and write down how long it takes. Try to not spend over an hour or hour and a half at this.

• the time on the music presentations

• the time on any readings

• the recessional - the music and in what order

Gather the groomsmen and bridesmaids close to make a few announcements - making certain everyone has the direction to the rehearsal dinner and/or a ride.

Announce to the group:

what is expected of the wedding party right after the wedding service (may be photos, receiving line, etc.) exactly when you want them on-site for getting dressed (or be dressed and ready), special appointments, photos/flowers for the wedding day and how you want them near for the photos. It’s a good idea to put all this in print.  

  • Bring a camera to photograph the fun throughout the evening
  • Many couples decide to give out the attendant’s gifts at the rehearsal dinner.

 TIP:  Ushers Seating Guests: A certain number of aisles up front will be left for family members only, as designated by the bride and the groom. Do not seat other guests there. If one side of the room gets more populated, begin asking guests if they have a preference? If not, let them fill in the less populated side. Ushers need to move guests from the outside aisles toward the inside aisle.

TIP: There is no rule on who walks the bride down the aisle. We see grooms walk in with their brides, brides walk alone, brides with their mothers, grandparents or best friends, brides with their children walking her down, and brides who prefer their step-father over their blood-connected dad walk them down.

TIP: Casual weddings where people stand or are encircling the couple - there are no rules on this. Always have seating AVAILABLE for elderly guests. Wheelchairs are brought up the side aisles. 

TIP: Wheelchairs and walkers are often taken down the side aisles and/or left at the end of the row. 

Rehearsal Dinners

Depending on the area you are being married, your rehearsal dinner location should be decided upon and booked four and no less than two months in advance.  Rehearsal dinners can be anything from very casual to more elaborate than the wedding day. Parents of the groom often plan this, but couples can complete these plans. All of it is relative to the distance people are from the wedding’s location. It is preferable to choose a location where people can have a conversation because this is a great time for families to get to know one another better.

Etiquette states it is the parents of the groom who host the occasion, but all of that depends on their financial ability, and how far they are traveling to complete this (near where the wedding is being held). The groom or one of the bride’s family can take care of the selection and the paperwork. The groom’s parents may provide some financial support up to a certain number of guests.  Sometimes the mother and father of the groom will ask your preferences on the type of rehearsal dinner you would prefer, either formal or informal. Etiquette dictates when they are involved, this is their decision for the style and location. A close proximity to the site of the rehearsal, the better.  

Rehearsal Dinner Timeline requires a flexible time that you can arrive at the location, begin the food serving, introductions, toasts or presentations, gifts for your attendants and/or entertainment and sometimes dancing. You also may be in a region where unique city tours, wine tasting, casino, or specialty acts are available to include.

TIP: You will feel much better the next day, for the wedding, if you do not eat too much rich food and over indulge in alcohol. Especially important if you have been dieting, this can be a major challenge to your body to recover and feel good the next day.  Invitations and directions to both the rehearsal and the location for dinner are mailed one month in advance. It is important to include addresses for both the rehearsal site and the dinner site with phone numbers and maps to each location.  Choose foods that can wait for your ability to get people there. Sometimes, rehearsals can go beyond an hour and up to two hours. So your timeline to have dinner served needs to reflect:

• ESTIMATED total time of the rehearsal  1 hour 1.30 hours or

• driving time

• cocktail time

• dinner and dessert

• entertainment

Before they can book the location, whoever is handling the rehearsal dinner plans will need:

• the exact date of the rehearsal

• the time you will need the location booked

• your number of guests.

Who is Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner - with names and addresses of each person for the invitations?

There is a budget constraint to be met on this, if there are too many extra people at the last minute the location

may not have room for them. Please be careful with your count.

• the bride and groom

• parents of the bride

• parents of the groom

• any stepparents

• unmarried brothers and sisters can bring a guest

• your wedding attendants and one guest for each

• the flower girl(s) and one or both parents

• the ring bearer and one or both parents

• the wedding officiant and guest

• if you have one, the wedding coordinator and guest

• the person taking you down the aisle and their guest (if not your father)

• grandparents or godparents, sponsors

• family friends in town for the wedding.

This space of time requires its own management list (if you are the one handling it.)

Toasting the Couple

Every culture has a different method of presenting toasts to honor people. Even in the U.S.A., our various ethnic backgrounds bring forth traditions in giving a toast. There a list of toast responsibilities included in the gifts you were given. There are specific times and a list of those responsible to give toasts throughout the various events surrounding the celebration of engagements and weddings. Please review the gift, possibly offer a copy to those concerned, and look forward to a toast and not a roast from friends and family.

Important Things to Remember:

• Say thank you for the toasts given to you

• Do not let youth under the legal drinking age use alcohol (the location or catering service can get into trouble for serving them).

• Toasts can be in plastic cups as well as crystal

• Good champagne really should be served in glass or crystal

• The couple may want their own set of toasting goblets as mementos

• Some traditions crush the toasting glass

• Have non-alcoholic beverages available

• Toasts can be made with punch or non-alcoholic drinks

Copyright 2017, Judith Rivers-Moore, JR Publications