Susquehanna Style
Real Wedding Problems Solved
Q&A with local wedding experts

January 2015

By Cindy Kalinoski

Reprinted with the kind permission of Susquehanna Style

The Details

When it comes to weddings, there will always be issues related to etiquette. What’s the right thing to do when such-and-such happens? We talked to regional wedding planners, asking them how to handle some delicate situations. Let’s see what these experts have to say when…

A guest wants to change her seating assignment. Just so people know, this is a faux pas. Do not do it. “It’s probably never appropriate to ask to be moved,” says Fastnacht, “and the time you’re actually sitting at the table eating is not that long.” Moran explains, “Your seating assignment was made thoughtfully and carefully by the bride and groom. There are intricacies you may not be privy to. Also, part of what is factored into where you’re seated are the entrée choices, and it is integral to a flawless execution by the food service.”

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Kirkham notes, “Once you try to adjust seating assignments, it gets very uncomfortable for the rest of the guests at that table. The bride and groom have already considered family dynamics, friendships, relationships, maybe introducing some potentially new friends. Basically, the guest would be causing a scene just when a lot of things are about to happen—toasts, introductions, blessings.”

While seating can be tight, Herwig offers an alternative: “This is an ideal situation for the wedding planner (or staff) to handle. The guest should never make an issue of it to the bride. If we are made aware of the situation early enough, during the cocktail hour, we can often arrange to have someone discreetly moved to another table based on empty seats determined by remaining escort cards.”

Perhaps the best advice for touchy subjects like these is that given by Moran. “As a member of the wedding party or family, as a vendor, or as a guest, you need to be a team player.”

Someone responds with a plus one when “and guest” hasn’t been indicated on the envelope. Jonnaysa Kirkham of Planned Perfection recommends talking with your family ahead of time about this. “You have to stick to your guns. Once you say yes to one, that opens the door to more. A family member could say, ‘I was able to bring my new boyfriend.’ If you keep including those plus-ones, pretty soon you’re creating a whole different party with everyone’s friends, and pretty soon you don’t know who’s at your party.”

Susan Moran of That’s It Wedding Concepts says, “My personal and professional policy is inclusion rather than exclusion. You may risk offending them and losing that friendship. You can’t put a price on friendship. If the person is engaged or living together (or dating seriously), the guest clearly should come—with the caveat that the budget can accommodate that.”

Ashley Fastnacht of Lovely Lane Events puts it this way: “If you can fit it in your budget (perhaps $80 per head, but it can go up to $350), then go ahead and do it. It’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have with someone, but if you really are on a tight budget, make it about that person, telling her: ‘Because you’re so special to us, we want you to be there, but we are limited with our budget.’ If you don’t have eighty people trying to do that and it’s just one person, it’s worth it not to have to have that conversation.”

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Finally, there’s advice from Amy Herwig of Party Belles: “This is the job of the wedding coordinator. We have the RSVPs come to us so the bride doesn’t have to be involved.” Herwig then calls the person and explains, one, there are size limitations; two, it has nothing to do with you personally; three, if we let you, we’d have to let others.; and four, the bride asked us to keep a tight number on the count.

A friend or family member wants to be a vendor: On this question, our experts were unanimous: Absolutely not, even if the person is offering it as a wedding gift. With one voice these wedding planners recommend making it all about the guest, conveying that you want to honor the guest and not have him work, to really participate and enjoy the wedding. But this may also come along with fear that the service that’s being offered may not provide the quality you’re looking for, and Kirkham says that could get in the way of the friendship or family relationship.

Fastnacht’s warning is especially strong if it’s the photography that’s in question. “When all is said and done, all you have left is the photography and videography. You can always say you’re working on a contract with someone or have someone picked out and you wouldn’t want to back out of that.” Alternatively, let that person help by, say, taking the engagement photos.

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