Your significant other popped the question, and you said yes. Hooray!
Then reality sinks in: you have to start planning.
You may think to yourself, “I’ve been in a few weddings before—how hard can it be?” Even if you have all the right wedding boards saved on Pinterest, that may not be enough when it comes to the small details. With so many to-do’s on your list, brides-to-be can feel overwhelmed.
You might feel embarrassed, but there’s no reason to—it’s your wedding, after all! Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have. Family members, friends, and the online community can be amazing resources. There are no dumb questions. It’s okay not to know it all.
As you’re gearing up for your wedding day, being prepared can help you feel totally confident on your big day. Read on for our collection of common wedding questions.
1. When should we send save-the-dates and invites?
When you send your save-the-dates and invites largely depends on where your wedding is in relation to your guests. Will many of your guests need to plan ahead to take the time off?
If you’re planning a destination wedding, send your save-the-dates 8-10 months ahead of time, and send your invites about 3 months before the wedding.
If your wedding is local and your guests are within reasonable travel distance, it’s customary to send save-the-dates 4 months in advance and send your invites 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
2. When it comes to traditional wedding customs and etiquette, what’s ok to skip? And what should we include?
Generally, most wedding traditions are not required. It’s your special day, and the final decision lies with you and your partner.
Do you have to have a receiving line? No, greeting guests throughout the reception is just fine.
Do you have to do a garter toss or throw the bouquet? Not necessary (unless you really want to)!
In today’s world, it’s become more acceptable to forgo the traditional wedding customs and tailor your wedding the way you want it to be. Our recommendation? Give some thought to what will be respectful to your family. Of course, you don’t have to include something just because Aunt Hilda wants to include it, but consider whether or not there are family traditions that you may want to continue.
Check out more etiquette tips on our blog post on modern wedding etiquette, since there’s so much to cover.
3. How do we choose a photographer/videographer?
We all have that one friend who is trying to build their photography portfolio by offering to do your wedding for free (or cheap). Use your judgement, but our recommendation is to spring for a professional photographer or videographer. Quality is important, and you’ll always want to look back at your wedding photos or videos. Try to find someone experienced.
4. Do we have to have an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen?
Nope! Uneven wedding parties are becoming more acceptable (and it beats asking someone you really don’t want to be in the bridal party for the sake of evening out the numbers).
Mixed-gender bridesmaid and groomsmen parties are also becoming more popular. Do what works for you and your partner!
5. Does the bride’s family have to pay for the wedding?
Traditionally, the bride’s family foots the bill for the wedding. But modern weddings don’t have to follow this custom.
Today, it would be incredibly generous for the bride’s family to cover the costs, but it’s not expected.
Typically, both families will contribute to the wedding. Many couples also pay for everything themselves and take the family out of the financing altogether.
6. How much will the wedding cost?
This is another one of those questions that varies from couple to couple. Statistics say the average wedding cost in the United States is around $20,000, but it’s possible to spend much less—or much more—depending on your plans.
The best way to figure out the cost is to work with your partner to list out the things you want to spend on, hash out what they might cost, and go from there. Are there things you’d rather skip to save money? Are there non-negotiables that you have to have? Work with your partner and talk about what’s important to each of you.
7. Do we have to have a bridal shower? Are there alternatives that don’t separate based on gender?
If you want to have a bridal shower, it’s a time-honored tradition that many brides-to-be look forward to! However, one of the questions brides have is, “Can’t we do something a little more inclusive?”
Engagement parties are growing in popularity. Consider throwing a general party that includes both partners’ friends and family.
8. I’ve never rented a venue before. What questions should I ask?
When you’re shopping around for a space to have your wedding, you don’t want to get surprised by the fine print. Try to ask your venue rep these questions—they could make or break your decision!
- What exactly is included?
- How much time will we have to set up, and when will the space be available to start?
- When do we need to have everything cleaned up?
- Are there additional charges for things like a coat check?
- What’s the capacity for guests?
- Is gratuity expected?
- What is the payment schedule? (i.e., do you have to put down a deposit or pay in installments?)
These questions will give you a starting point when choosing your venue.
9. Is it rude to include a dress code on the wedding invitations?
If you have a specific style of dress you’d prefer at your wedding, it’s okay to say so in your invitations! Try to use clear language—saying the dress code is “black tie” is better than saying “dress fancy.”
10. Do we have to invite plus-ones?
You don’t have to invite your guests’ guests, but it’s a nice gesture if you can afford it. However, it can get expensive to include everyone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, so a good rule of thumb is to invite the other half if the couple has been together over a year.
11. Should we have an open bar?
The alcohol situation is a tricky one. An open bar is great to have, but can be pricey (and encourage people to drink more since they don’t have to pay for it)!
Another option to consider is a cash bar. In this situation, your guests pay the venue to buy drinks directly. This can be a win-win, since the venue benefits from the extra money, and you don’t have to shell out extra cash. The downside? Guests don’t always expect to spend money on drinks at the wedding.
Yet another option is bringing your own alcohol. With the rise of craft beer, bringing in a few kegs of your favorite brew can be a great way to celebrate! Just check with your venue to see if they allow that sort of thing (many don’t).
12. Is it normal to feel nervous or scared about the wedding?
Yes, it is absolutely normal to feel nervous, scared, or even doubtful about the idea of getting married. It’s a big life change, and it’s normal for you to think and re-think whether you’re making the right choice or worry about details slipping through the cracks. If you’re sure your partner’s the one, though, don’t let it stop you from enjoying your engagement and getting ready to an amazing wedding day! Even if something goes wrong just remember that you’re marrying your best friend and that’s what’s most important!
You've got this!
It’s normal to have questions about your wedding day - and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers! Your friends and family are your support group during this hectic and exciting time. Your vendors can also be a good resource (after all, they’ve probably seen hundreds of weddings).
In the end, though, the decisions are ultimately yours and your partner’s. There are no hard line requirements or rules. What’s important is creating a day you both remember and cherish during your lives together. And maybe one day you can share your own knowledge with friends who are getting married!
As you get closer to your big day, check out our post on things to do the night before the wedding.
Do you have other questions or ideas about getting married? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Great list! Really do your research on wedding etiquette and what is a must versus what is optional. It’s your day, customize it to yours and your partners style!
My theme colour for our wedding is dusty blue which is extremely hard to find in ireland as nearly everyone goes for pinks.
It would mean the world to us if we won the three blue bridesmaid dresses, your selection is amazing.
Thank you and pick us x
Loved the article!
These are great to keep in mind! So helpful!
Some great questions.
Super helpful! Newly engaged and don’t know where to even begin! Thanks!
I wish I had been able to see this article before I got married, but I’m glad I’ve been able to show it to friends who are now engaged. Thank you!
I think the tradition of the brides family paying for the wedding is slowly becoming less popular. Weddings seem to be getting more and more expensive, so having multiple parties help is what I definitely see more often.
Love this helpful article! Thanks, Kennedy Blue!