Accommodating special wedding guest needs

You tried on dozens of dresses before finding the right one. You poured over invitation samples and sealed every envelope with a kiss. You even got a stomach ache from trying all of those delicious cake samples.
As brides- and grooms-to-be go through the seemingly never-ending steps to plan a wedding, they consider their own tastes and style, hoping that their wedding guests will leave saying, “What a lovely wedding for a lovely couple!”.

It can be hard to remember that you and your spouse-to-be aren’t the only ones whose preferences should be considered. Many now-married couples will tell you that the most likely source for worry or even drama is realizing too late that you didn’t make a special consideration for a guest.

You’ve spent so much time and effort to plan to the perfect wedding. At the end of the day (or weekend), you just want everyone to leave happy. But that won’t happen if you overlook a guest’s needs or even offend them. So here are five commonly overlooked considerations that every bride and groom should discuss before finalizing their wedding plans.

Gluten or Lactose Free Guests

Many brides and grooms have been embarrassed by forgetting a guest’s food intolerance or allergy, leaving an aunt or cousin with only an undressed salad to eat. If your wedding is small, you probably know about the dietary restrictions of your guests. But for larger weddings, or if you aren’t sure, many couples choose to add a line to their RSVP card that reads “Dietary Restrictions” and leaves room for the respondent to comment.

Caterers and restaurants are adept at meeting the needs of various dietary restrictions, so be sure to talk with them ahead of time. Even if you aren’t certain of the needs of your guests, chefs can always recommend dishes that satisfy the most common food intolerances.

Handicap Accessibility

Most venues are required to meet handicap accessibility standards, but during your walkthrough of the building, ask about how your guest in a wheelchair or walker would fare. Is there parking at a different entrance that would put them closer to an elevator? If you’re hosting a buffet meal, ask a guest seated at their table to help fill a plate.

Sober Guests at an Open Bar Wedding

If you know a friend or family members is committed to living a sober lifestyle, consider where they are in their journey. Tell them in advance that you will have an open bar, so they can consider their own triggers and risk factors. Ask if there’s anything you can do to support them, like seating them with other members of your family or circle of friends who won’t be drinking. It is very common for families to make considerations for recovering alcoholics.

Religious Expectations

Many families think of weddings as religious occasions with a great party afterwards. If you choose to marry in a ceremony of another faith or in a non-religious ceremony, you may risk offending more observant members of your family. Have an open conversation ahead of time, explaining why you decided to do things a certain way. If you and your spouse are marrying in a religious ceremony and many of the guests in attendance are not religious, ask your minister to take the time to explain the different parts of the ceremony so everyone feels involved. You could also print explanations of the ceremony so guests can easily follow along.

Guests with Kids

It’s hard to cater to all of the needs of children, but there are a few basic considerations that can help parents feel welcome and at ease at your wedding. When booking a block of hotel rooms, one with an indoor pool, nearby arcade or other kid-friendly activity will score major points with parents. When picking the menu, make sure there are some basic kid-friendly meal options, beyond the cake and desserts.

Don’t expect kids to turn into mini-adults – be flexible enough to allow for running around during the reception and some dance floor antics. If you’ve invited a breastfeeding mom, you can ask your venue where they suggest moms go for a private, clean place to pump breastmilk. Taking these steps ahead of time will mean the world to your guests, and it means you and your spouse-to-be can savor every moment of your big day!

Image by Scott Webb

7 Essential Things to Consider About Your Wedding Invitations

Things to consider about your wedding invitations

Fast forward 20 years and the print industry has been so long dead that few people actually know what goes on an invitation, let alone the basic etiquette involved.

Instead of worrying that Great Aunt Martha is going to be offended by your tissue paper selection, here are seven things to consider about your wedding invitations – and they will make you proud.

1. The Guest List

Choosing who to invite to your wedding very well may be the hardest decision you have to make during this process. We all have those family members that we’d really prefer didn’t come to the wedding, but at the same time, we feel required to invite them.

If your venue is limited or you really don’t want to spend even more money on someone who isn’t going to make your day special, put your happiness as a couple first and tactfully find ways to invite only people you really care about to your wedding. One of the more tricky decisions for many is whether to invite coworkers.

2. The Timing

As has become the tradition, a couple usually needs at least a year to plan their wedding and the hunt for a stationer should begin almost immediately. Invitations should be mailed approximately two months before the wedding – more if it’s a destination wedding – and you should anticipate your invitations taking two to three months from order placement to be ready.

3. The Content

Not only do you need to consider the formality of the tone you’re using in your invitations, but you also must consider who is hosting the wedding and phrase the invitation accordingly. Of course, you can always buck tradition altogether and embrace casualness, but make sure that there’s still verbiage that requires the recipient to respond. Otherwise, you might have an unexpected guest show up with no additional place settings available.

4. The Font

Ask any graphic designer about fonts and you’ll soon learn how important choosing the right one is. The schools of thought on font choices are endless, so it’s important that you keep in mind the theme of your wedding when selecting a font. Serif or no serif, avoid overly scripted choices that are potentially more difficult to read and don’t pick a typeface that’s too cutesy if you’re aiming for a more formal affair.

5. The Paper

Perhaps more challenging than choosing a font, making a decision on paper for both your stationery and envelope can be an involved process. Depending on the shape and heft of your paper, you may be required to pay more in postage later. Again, when choosing design details such as matte vs. gloss, keep in mind your style as a couple and how you imagine that translating to your guests via these invitations.

6. The Printing

Check with couples you know that were recently married to get a recommendation for a printer near you. By reputation, printers can sometimes be difficult to work with so finding one that is reputable and thorough is crucial in making this process as painless possible. The numerous different styles of printing adds another layer to consider. Factors to keep in mind include how quick their turnaround is, samples of their work and a willingness to supply proofs and edits.

7. The Postage

Once you finally get your beautiful invitations that you’ve basically made into a work of art, you may just want to stuff them in the mailbox so your loved ones can see your masterpiece. Unfortunately, there’s one more step before the invites wind up in the hands of your family and friends: stamps.

There are moments in our lives where a random assortment of stamps will do just to get mail out the door, but your wedding invitations are a time to add a bit of pizzazz. Try to find stamps that go with your theme or are particularly significant to you. As a memento, you can even save some of your stamps as a keepsake (sometimes they can also be worth a lot of money in the future).

So, keep in mind these things to consider about your wedding invitations and set the perfect tone for your big day.

Do you have additional wedding invitation tips or advice? Tell us in the comments section below!

Image by Barn Images

Facebook Faux Pas

When you live with your significant other, you get to frequently put into practice the cardinal rule of kindergarten: Share. Now, I’ve been living with my fiance for quite some time and believe I’ve got the basics down. But if you are currently living solo and getting ready to move in with your spouse-to-be, take note that the slight nuances of sharing aren’t always so clear.

Take Facebook, for example. Your Facebook account is clearly something you probably want to keep separate.

Fiance and I were recently both looped into a discussion in Facebook between his brothers and sisters regarding what we would be doing for the holidays and when we could all get together. Fiance navigated to the social networking site to respond with what our plans entailed, but got sidetracked by the box in the upper right hand corner of the home page that suggests other people you may know and desire to add as Facebook friends.

The first person listed was his brother.

“That’s funny,” Fiance said to himself. “I could have sworn I was already friends with him.”

He clicked the “Add Friend” button and moved on to the second person in the list: his sister’s husband.

“Huh,” said Fiance. “I thought I was friends with him too.” So he added his brother-in-law as well.

Facebook then suggested he may wish to friend one of his coworkers. Fiance obliged.

Fiance continued in this manner, friending five of six more individuals he believed he was already Facebook friends with.

When he finally felt tapped out on adding friends for the day, he moved on to responding to his family regarding our plans for the holidays. He typed out a short message, hit “reply all,” and then saw his message appear on the list – with my name and image.  With a sinking feeling, Fiance realized the source of all of his Facebook-friend-deja vu and what he had done.

Apparently, I was the last person to use the laptop and left my Facebook account logged in. Fiance had been sending friend requests to people that, yes, were already his Facebook friends, but whom I maybe have met once or twice (with the exception of certain members of his family) and therefore not quite in the realm of proper Facebook friendship. Other Facebook users will certainly understand and relate to this breach of etiquette.

So the lesson of the day is ALWAYS log out of your personal accounts on a shared computer. The end result wasn’t too detrimental, I suppose. Everyone he/I “friended” accepted my request. So at least they don’t all think I’m a total weirdo, and I gained some additional Facebook clout.

I learned that the word “friended” is actually a real verb because spell checker didn’t pick it up. “Friending” too! Who knew?

Telling guests about the wedding registry

Registry details in the invitation?

Many people think it inappropriate to include registry information in the wedding invitation, so if you want to be couth you better hope your mother likes to talk as much as mine does. But somehow you really should be telling guests about the wedding registry.

Word of mouth is the best way to let family and friends know where you have registered for wedding gifts. Also helping to spread the work, it is permissible to indicate in bridal shower invitations at which stores you are registered.

What is appropriate in my registry?

What you put on your registry is completely up to you. If you’re worried about putting on items that are too high priced, there is no need to worry because if guests feel an item is too expensive they simply won’t purchase it. China and silver patterns, sheets and towels, and kitchen gadgets and appliances are all typically found on gift registries.

Which registry program?

From Kmart and Target to Bloomingdale’s and Williams Sonoma, there is a wide variety of retail and department stores that have wedding gift registry programs. Some stores even offer “gift certificate’ programs that allow guest to contribute money to a general fund that the couple can apply toward items in the store. This is especially useful in stores with high-priced items such as furniture. Yep, you read that correctly — furniture. This is a great method to use if you have all your appliances but are ready to up-grade your hand-me down living room set.

Don’t forget the honeymoon

But don’t stop at ‘registering’ for furniture, why not have family and friends contribute to your honeymoon. That seven-day all-inclusive resort in Fiji is possible if you set up a fund for your honeymoon. Work with your travel agent to set up such an account. And for those newlyweds who need cash more than gifts or a honeymoon, this site even allows couple to set up a fund that will allow them to get the cash value of what guests have given toward a gift.

Some traditional registry sites include The Knot and AAA-Wedding Registry.

When you’re deciding where to register, keep in mind that registering in too many places can be confusing for you and your guests, so try to register at two or three places. If you are registering for big-ticket items, you may want to limit the places you register to that one honeymoon site. Finally, complete the registration process five to eight months before the wedding (most stores keep your list on file for one year) so that guests have ample time to purchase gifts. And above all-have fun!

Who announces the engagement

When my fiancé and I are engaged, who is responsible for beginning communication between the two families?

Traditionally, the responsibility to make “first contact” falls to the groom’s family. It is their duty to telephone or write to the bride’s family and, if possible, to invite the bride’s family to meet them. With families spread out across thousands of miles, an in-person meeting may not be possible, but the families should at least make an effort to exchange a few letters or have a few long phone calls before the wedding day.

Now, the fact that something is traditional doesn’t mean everyone knows about it. Your future in-laws may be the sweetest, nicest people in the world, but may neglect to pick up the phone and call your parents. Perhaps they’re shy. Perhaps they don’t know that making contact is their responsibility. What can you do to help?

If you’re comfortable with making a direct suggestion, go ahead and say, after they’ve given their blessing to the engagement, “My parents are looking forward to meeting with you-they’ll probably be thrilled to talk about the wedding. Here’s their address and phone number.”

What if weeks go by without contact being made? It’s okay for your parents to make the first move. If your future in-laws don’t know the “rule,” they may be wondering why your parents haven’t called them! So rather than worrying about who might take offense, ask your parents to move ahead with calling or writing.

You can also pre-empt the whole problem by introducing both sets of parents yourself. If everyone lives in the same area, invite both families to join you for a simple meal (or even just dessert) so they can get to know one another. They may actually feel more comfortable with you and your fiancé present than if they had to face the “stranger family” alone. If the families live far apart, see if your phone system will support three-way calling. It’s a fairly common feature that would allow you to have a telephone conversation with both sets of parents at once. Or, if you want to be a bit more indirect, send each mother a card with the other mother’s address and a few facts about her, so they feel they aren’t entirely writing to a stranger.

It’s important to stress that the first “meeting” between the parents doesn’t have to be long or formal. This isn’t the time to discuss who will pay for what portions of the wedding. It’s the time to get to know each other, share embarrassing stories about your childhoods, and develop some comfort level with each other. Let the parents build a cordial relationship before they have to discuss tension-inducing issues like money, guest lists, and whose church you’ll be married in.

If it happens that the parents don’t meet until the rehearsal dinner, this isn’t necessarily disastrous. Actually, it’s increasingly common! It’s a problem only if both sets of parents expect to be intimately involved in planning the wedding-and you end up running interference because they won’t speak to each other. When my husband and I got married, our parents came from opposite coasts for the wedding and had never shown any interest in meeting beforehand. The rehearsal dinner had a few stilted moments-but it would have anyway, as our parents didn’t know our friends. I can’t say that the parents fell into each others’ arms like long-lost brothers, but they got along well enough. My husband claims that our fathers spent part of the reception having a long chat-probably about how boring this wedding stuff was and what a dull city we live in.

It’s a measure of how obscurity and disuse of the “groom’s parents make the first move” rule that it isn’t covered in the Frequently Asked Questions for any of the wedding newsgroups, and I can’t find a single personal Web page that mentions parents being introduced to each other in advance. It’s still a charming custom, with practical benefits! Try to be relaxed in encouraging the parents to get together… who makes the first move is less important than getting them together at all.

A grooms checklist

Here comes the day and yes, as the man of the hour there are many errands, arrangements, and plans to make. You’ll find below a checklist, in chronologic order below, of those ‘not to be forgotten’ steps.

Buy the engagement ring.

Put together a wedding guest list and have your family make out theirs. You should note which guests you would like to have seated in the reserved pews of the church or of the wedding ceremony site.

Dependent on what kind of wedding affair that you and your bride have chosen; decide on the type of formalwear or nontraditional outfits for you and the men in your wedding party.

Make an invitation to your friend to be your best man and select and invite other friends to be ushers.

Select a gift for your best man and the ushers, that can be presented at the wedding rehearsal or the bachelor party.

Select a gift for your bride. This gift ideally should be something personal such as a fine piece of jewelry, a watch, a full day at the Spa with the works, etc…

With your bride choose wedding rings. Have them engraved with your initials and wedding date on the inside of the rings.

With your bride, begin planning the honeymoon, with time enough for making reservations, changes in the plans, or additions to the plans.

Make arrangements for the purchase of the bride’s bouquet, the bride’s going-away corsage, corsages for both of the mothers and the closest female relatives on both sides. Not to forget, the boutonnieres for all the men in your wedding party, need to be selected and paid for.

Make sure that you and your bride have all necessary arrangements for blood tests, birth certificates, baptismal certificates, etc.

Apply for the marriage license. The license should be obtained with ample time before the wedding date. The license should be given to the best man before the wedding, he will then present after the wedding ceremony.

Change the status on all pertinent paperwork regarding your marital status. This includes insurances on life, property, household, medical and fire.

If there is to be a pre-nuptial agreement, the agreement should be drawn, reviewed and each may want to seek council so that the agreement may be signed.

Arrange for and throw a bachelor dinner several days before the wedding. The best man and ushers often will host this.

Set a date for the wedding rehearsal and notify all your attendants of the place and time.

Provide the best man with the clergyman’s fee and information on the logistics of the wedding, the honeymoon and travel plans.

Print out our Best Man’s Checklist and provide him with a copy and any other resources he’ll need.

After the wedding ceremony, you and your bride need to sign the wedding certificate and have your best man ensure it is safely put away.

The day after the ceremony, send to the bride’s parents a telegram thanking them for the wonderful wedding and reception.

Roles of the bride and the bridesmaids

It’s very important that brides and potential attendants discuss the expected expenses before the attendants accept their positions. (Grooms and their attendants either rarely have these problems or rarely complain about them.) I therefore present the following exciting, and totally new…Mutual Responsibilities of the Bride and Her Attendants.

The bride is responsible for:
◾Informing the attendants, when she asks them, of the level of investment (both time and money) she expects of them. A bride who does not know where, when, or how formal her wedding will be is not ready to ask her attendants yet.
◾Consulting with the attendants about the cost, style, and color of the outfits they will wear.
◾Recognizing that a $59 dress worn by your best friend is far more beautiful than a $300 dress on a professional model.
◾Being open to the idea of relatively classic, neutral styles and colors. A “neutral” is neutral because it coordinates well with many other colors.
◾Resisting the urge to fixate on dyed-to-match shoes, and entirely refusing to get involved in choosing the bridesmaids’ stockings or undergarments.
◾Paying for professional hairstyling or make-up for the bridesmaids if she suddenly decides, months after asking the attendants, that these services are a necessity.
◾Graciously accepting that a shower is a “nice to have” not a “need to have”-and that it’s no reflection on the friendship if her attendants can afford only a small shower or no shower.
◾Never springing a surprise expense on the bridesmaids.
◾Recognizing that travel greatly increases an attendants’ expenses- and helping with those expenses however possible. If the couple cannot follow the old custom of providing lodging for the attendants, then at the very least they should help by recommending affordable hotels and by keeping the other attendant expenses low.

The attendants are responsible for:
◾Asking the bride about expectations and expenses-if she doesn’t volunteer the information-before accepting or declining the position.
◾Returning the bride’s calls promptly when she asks about preferences for dress colors and styles. Bridesmaids who don’t return messages have only themselves to blame if they end up wearing skin-tight lime green gowns.
◾Leaving your worst personal insecurities home when invited on dress-hunting expeditions. If you always hate your rear every time you look in a mirror, rest assured that you’ll hate it in the dresses you try- and live with it, okay? Similarly, the bridesmaid who is half your size was not chosen solely to make you feel huge (or vice-versa).
◾Leaving your preferences for how you’d do your perfect wedding at home, too. As long as you look nice in the dress and don’t feel that you’re squandering your rent money, it doesn’t matter if you’d put your own bridesmaids in it.
◾Being honest, polite, and direct about dealing with areas of discomfort as soon as they arise. Ignoring phone calls or refusing to send measurements will not make an unwanted, over-priced dress go away. If you feel you must drop out of the wedding for any reason, tell the bride as soon as possible. The news will hurt less if you deliver it three months before the wedding instead of three days before.
◾Consulting with other attendants on any project that will call for their time, effort, or money. You simply cannot assume that Bridesmaid #4 will pay a quarter of the shower costs if you didn’t ask her.
◾Recognizing that poverty is not shameful, and that saying “I’d love to do it, but I really can’t afford it” is a polite and reasonable response to a request that you can’t handle.

An interesting note on the traditional division of expenses-I discovered that in South Africa , the bride traditionally buys her attendants’ wedding outfits. This wouldn’t be a bad custom to adopt in the United States , as it would motivate brides to trim their tastes in bridesmaids’ dresses to their own budgets rather than to what they wish their attendants could afford. (The same could be said of grooms, but tuxedo quality and prices don’t vary as much. Men have it easy!)

Speech advice for the best man

The best man for my wedding has made some jokes about what his wedding toast will be like. I’m a little worried that he isn’t sure of what he is doing and will end up offending our guests. What can I tell him so that I don’t end up hiding under the reception table?

We’ve all witnessed it. The best man stands up to give what should be a touching and meaningful speech, but instead his words make the bride blush and the groom shake with anger. Yes – he did dare to bring up bachelor party escapades.

Don’t be too hard on the best man, though. He might not have given much thought to his speech duty and, now, with 200 pairs of eyes staring at him, can only ramble nervously. So be sure that your wedding speechmakers know what is expected of them well before the wedding day. Flicks Package Liquors’ website, flicks4fun, gives some great tips for preparing and giving toasts. First, it says, be prepared. Thinking about whom you are toasting, why, and who will be listening will help your speechmaker figure out what kind of tone to take. Remind him/her that your grandmother will be sitting at the front table. And no matter how foolish they feel, speechwriters should practice their toasts in a mirror sometime before the big day.

Next, let your best man or maid of honor know that they should be themselves. If he or she is usually brief with words, the speech can be a simple three-line poem. But if your speechmaker is a natural born comedian then he should force himself to be sentimental. But of course, he must remember to keep the joking clean. However, those making speeches don’t have to use an original toast if speech writing is not their forte. There are many web sites out there that offer prewritten toasts and speeches, including wedding speeches. If you don’t want to pay for a speech you can also look on the Harlequin Romances section of Women.com.

Make the toast into a story about the couple. Wedding guest love hearing about how the couple met-many guest might not have heard the story of how the first time they met, Sue hated Tom so much that she threw a drink in his face.

Timing is everything so make sure your best man knows when he is supposed to give his speech. Oftentimes, the DJ or MC will announce to the guests that the toasting will begin. This is usually after all the guests have been seated for dinner, but before food has been served. It is important that the bride and groom discuss with the DJ how many speeches will be given and in what order. Traditionally, the best man is the first to speak, then the father of the bride. They are followed by other members of the families, wedding party and guests. Once everyone has finished speaking, the groom toasts his new bride and her parents.

Following these pointers, your best man will be able to make a lovely toast that will keep you out from under the table and in your seat.

Handling a difficult bridesmaid

One of my best friends is a bridesmaid in my wedding. She is making this engagement a living nightmare, complaining about the dress she has to wear, the people that are going to be attending my wedding, and who she has to walk down the aisle with at the ceremony. How can I tell her I don’t want her in my wedding anymore? Would it be proper to tell her that? I know she is going to be my ONLY headache during this joyous time for me.

Your wedding date is still a long way off, so I’m guessing offhand that none of the arrangements have yet been set in stone. There’s still plenty of time to find another dress that the two of you can agree on, and to reshuffle the processional so that she can strut down the aisle with someone she finds at least tolerable. I’d draw the line at rewriting the guest list for her, though. The question you need to ask yourself is “Is this whiner really worth the effort?” You did like her enough at one point to ask her to be in your wedding (heaven forfend you asked her for a silly reason like wanting to have an exactly equal number of maids and ushers), so the answer may be a grudging Yes.

It may happen, though, that you have your heart set on the arrangements as they are for whatever reason, and are prepared to dig in your heels and tell your errant maid to like it or lump it. Unfortunately, the only time one can ask a bridesmaid to step down without fear of repercussions is if the friendship is irreparably severed between the time you assign her the job and your wedding date. If you want to keep the friend, you have to keep the bridesmaid. Or at least the appearance of wanting to keep the bridesmaid. Otherwise, you’ll have a conversation that goes like this:

“Lisa, I don’t want you in the wedding anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Because you complain incessantly and you’re making my engagement a waking nightmare. Why do you have to be such a pill? It’s my wedding and I’ll do it the way I wish. My way or the highway, baby!”

Few friendships can survive such frankness.

However, there is a sneaky means of defusing the situation with a rather high success rate. Make it sound as if you’re doing her a favor by being considerate of her stress level, rather than your own.

“Lisa, you’ve been so unhappy since I asked you to be in my wedding. I really didn’t mean to cause you to be so upset by putting you in a dress you don’t like and pairing you with a guy you’d cross a busy street to avoid. I hate seeing you troubled over all these wedding arrangements. It’s supposed to be fun for us! I’m worried that you only agreed to stand up for me because you felt pressured or you didn’t know how to say no. But I want to make sure you know that you being in the wedding party is totally optional. If you’re unhappy, I’ll be unhappy too.”

And if she wails, “Don’t you WANT me there?” you can honestly respond, “Of course I want you there—you’re one of my best friends. But I need to know that you want to be there. If you don’t, I’ll feel so guilty for pushing you into this.”

Now, isn’t that kind of you? Are you a swell friend or what? Putting your pal’s feelings over yours! Well, let’s hope she appreciates your selflessness.

One of two things will happen at this point. Either she’ll say, “You’re right, I’m not at all sure whether or not I want to do this,” and you can soothe her with, “I want you to be at the wedding even if you’re not in the wedding—I promise I won’t hold it against you if you dislike being in the party enough to want out.” Or she’ll protest that she loves the idea of standing up for you and you’ll be stuck with her.

Either way, your problem is most likely solved. If she claims to want to stick around and then starts mewling again, just heave a deep, sorrowful sigh every time she acts up. Brush a tear from your eye if you can do so in a faux-surreptitious manner that’s not too forced. Say, “Oh, Lisa, I always imagined on my wedding day I’d be surrounded by joyful friends, and it’s just not working out that way. I don’t know what to do!” After a few rounds of this she’ll realize that she’s wrecking your festive mood and will learn to shut her big mouth, if she is indeed your friend. Friends are generally racked with guilt over such things.

Bridal attendants freak out in droves. Common reasons include feeling envious of your committed relationship or being afraid of losing you as a friend once you’re married. Maybe if you act concerned and understanding enough, she’ll let you know about what’s really gotten under her skin. (Or maybe your dresses really are hideous. They’re not pink taffeta, are they?)

One thing you absolutely can’t do is blow a spaz at her, no matter how tempting or justified such a spaz might be. Otherwise, word will get around that planning your wedding has turned you into a hideously wicked princess with no regard for the feelings of others. People have a way of remembering when and how others have been mean to them, long after the memory of their provoking that meanness has slipped their minds entirely.

Bridesmaid trouble

If you’ve got a bridesmaid or maid of honor who’s just not pulling her weight, the best approach is the most direct. Talk to her directly. Tell her that you’re concerned that she doesn’t have the time or interest for being in your wedding, and that you wouldn’t be upset.

When you find that you have an attendant you does not want to be an attendant, the kindest thing for everyone is for the bride (or groom, as there are reluctant best men, too) to directly and politely offer the reluctant attendant the opportunity to back out.

Don’t get involved in a discussion of who is to blame for the situation, don’t tell her that she is an awful attendant, and don’t feel that you have to “replace” a missing attendant. There is nothing shocking about having uneven numbers of people who truly care about you and want to support you on your wedding day.

For readers who have yet to choose attendants, you can avoid Reluctant Attendant Syndrome by following these simple rules:
◾Choose people who are true friends. “Obligation” attendants tend to be the worse problems. No one, other than perhaps your mother, will care that your sister is not your maid of honor and that the groom’s sister isn’t a bridesmaid.
◾Skip friends who have a long-term reputation for flakiness. People who disappear for six months at a time may be delightful in person, but they will drive you mad as honor attendants.
◾Insist that you be given a chance to tell your attendants how much help you expect before they give you a firm acceptance. If your dearest friend in the world is doing a medical internship, she may not be available to do intensive maid of honor work.
◾Do not expect your wedding to help you repair friendships that are waning. If your best friend from high school returns your calls only once a year, she’d probably be happier attending as a guest.
◾Think twice about choosing attendants more than a year before the wedding. Friendships change, as do circumstances. Your college pal probably won’t give up a six-month scholarship in Europe in order to be your bridesmaid!
◾Don’t choose attendants just to have some, or to have even numbers. A bridesmaid who gets on your nerves is worse than no bridesmaid at all. There are many ways to arrange uneven wedding parties. An uneven wedding party full of smiling, happy faces results in much nicer photos (and memories) than an even wedding party with a sullen attendant and a stressed-out bride.
◾Consider having your friends be your attendants and his friends be his attendants, regardless of gender. Sometimes the bride bonds intensely with the groom’s sisters, but sometimes it’s much easier to let the groom deal with them himself.
◾Remember that you can’t force someone to be a good attendant: your friends have their lives and priorities too.
◾If you feel you have to ask an attendant to step down, talk with that person directly. Don’t rely on avoidance to solve the problem.