Wedding Etiquette: How To Cancel a Wedding

For the small number of couples faced with the decision to cancel their wedding, sharing the news is never easy. Some cancellations are the result of a painful experience like that of a major betrayal of trust, and others may be the result of a spontaneous elopement to escape a highly pressurized wedding planning experience. Regardless of the reason, the following wedding etiquette tips are broken into steps to help you work through the task of notifying others of your decision. Learn how to cancel a wedding tactfully and efficiently.

[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″] • Step #1 Notify your families and wedding party. [/sws_grey_box]

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With your big girl stilettos firmly planted on your feet, it is important that you not delay in sharing your decision with your immediate family and members of your wedding party. As the people closest to you, they should receive the courtesy of the first notification. Wedding etiquette suggests that whenever possible, the news should be delivered in person. Be prepared for questions, and know in advance how much you are willing to disclose if the details are very personal in nature. Ask them to support and respect your decision, and not share the news with anyone until you are ready for them to. Anticipate that they will be approached by those with “inquiring minds” once word of the cancellation gets out, so agree ahead of time on how you want them to respond. The groom should be responsible for communicating the decision to his immediate family and his groomsmen.

[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″] • Step #2 Notify your vendors. [/sws_grey_box]

It is important to practice proper wedding etiquette and phone each vendor directly to share your decision to cancel your wedding. A vendor qualifies as anyone that is providing a product or service for your wedding. If a signed formal agreement exists between you and the vendor, you should familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy and not expect to receive a refund of any monies spent. For persons who offered to provide a service as a gift, you should extend the courtesy of a phone call to them also.

[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″]• Step #3 Notify your guests. [/sws_grey_box]

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How you choose to notify guests about the cancellation depends heavily on whether or not invitations have been mailed. If invitations have already gone out and time permits, wedding etiquette suggests that a phone call is much more personal. If you choose to take this approach, it is okay to enlist help from your family and wedding party. If invitations have not gone out, but guests are aware of the upcoming wedding date, mail a formal printed card letting them know the wedding won’t take place. Be sure to keep track of everyone that has been contacted to ensure the notification is shared with all guests. All gifts received for your engagement, wedding, shower, including monetary gifts should be returned along with a note thanking them for the gift to show your appreciation for their gesture of kindness.

It takes a great deal of courage to make a decision to cancel ones wedding. But with the support from family and friends, you can overcome the pain of the experience. For wedding etiquette advice on this and other topics, send email to Thank you for joining me. Until next time, take care.

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VIDEO: Wedding Seating Plan Template

8 Wedding “Rules” to Break

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Bridal Fashion: Glossary of Terms

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Issue 5

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In This Issue

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VIDEO:  Wedding Planning Questions

Ultimate Dress Shopping Guide

6 Signs You May Be in a Lifetime Love

Reasons To Write Your Own Vows

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Wedding Etiquette: Who Do I Invite?


Nothing brings out tensions during wedding planning like that of the guest list. The struggle to agree on the number of guests to invite to the celebration frequently results in feelings of frustration for the bride, groom, and parents who traditionally have a financial stake in the wedding. “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings” is a common reason given for guest list overload, putting pressure on the budget and emotional strain on relationships.

Wedding etiquette suggests the following guidelines be used upfront to help reduce the stress of deciding who to invite to the wedding:

[sws_blue_box box_size=”500″] • The level of intimacy desired for the wedding [/sws_blue_box][sws_blue_box box_size=”500″]• The financial investment (budget) planned for the wedding [/sws_blue_box][sws_blue_box box_size=”500″]• The number of guests that can be accommodated comfortably by the ceremony and reception venues [/sws_blue_box]

With emotions running high, the guidelines are often times ignored. But here are some common questions and responses regarding the guest list that may help you avoid “the guest list blues”.

Question #1 – How is the guest list divided between the bride, groom, and parents?

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The main rule of thumb is to avoid situations where you invite a majority and exclude one or two.

Traditionally because parents hosted (paid for) the wedding, the guest list was shared evenly by the bride and groom’s families; with the bride’s family holding the higher percentage. But a more modern approach is for couples to have the larger percentage of the guest list while their parents are allotted an agreed number of guests to invite personal friends of their own. The best thing is to discuss how the guest list will be divided ahead of time to avoid misunderstandings later

Question #2 – Is it okay to ‘waitlist’ guests?

Although there doesn’t appear to be a hard rule on wedding etiquette concerning a waitlist of guests, it really puts you at risk of hurting someone’s feelings if they were to ever find out they weren’t part of your original list. While a waitlist appears to be a good solution for controlling the count and ultimately your budget, it requires proper planning to ensure your usage of it remains discreet. If you choose to take the waitlist approach, be sure to send invitations early enough and to set your response date accordingly to leave enough time to determine if you are safe to send an invitation to a waitlisted guest. This means incurring the expense upfront for extra invitations so you can promptly send the invitation to the waitlisted guest without it being obvious that they are receiving after others have received theirs.

Question #3 – Do I have to invite my co-workers?

[sws_pullquote_left]The short answer is NO. [/sws_pullquote_left]

Wedding etiquette is clear when it comes to including co-workers on a guest list. The guidelines for creating a guest list shared earlier will help tremendously with this decision, but it really comes down to your personal

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preference. If your budget is already stretched, or the venue is already tight, you may want to exclude co-workers unless they are part of your regular social network outside of work. If business politics are at play, you may want to consider at least inviting your boss and assistants if applicable. The main rule of thumb is to avoid situations where you invite a majority and exclude one or two. It can cause hard feelings that can linger and make your work relationships awkward.

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Question #4 – What should I do when people assume they are invited?

With the average cost of a U.S. wedding at $25,656, it is rude for anyone to assume they are invited to a wedding. Anyone that is bold enough to express their expectation for receiving an invitation to your wedding or anyone that has the nerve to ask if they can bring extra guests to your celebration is completely out of line and needs a lesson in wedding etiquette themselves.  So what do you do? While it may be difficult, it is important that you shut this down immediately. Use tact but be firm in making sure they understand that you are not in a position to add headcount to your guest list. While they may not like your response, they have no choice but to respect it. What you don’t want to do is allow people to guilt you into an invitation that results in budget creep or puts you in a situation with others who may want the same exception.

There is so much more information to share concerning wedding etiquette as it relates to your guest list, so I will share more on the subject soon. In the meantime, if you have questions send them to Thank you for joining me. Until next time, happy planning!

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Wedding Seating Plan Template

Guest seating at a wedding is extremely important and requires advanced planning to ensure the comfort of your guests. When considering a wedding seating plan template, you have to think about how your guests will experience every phase of your celebration. Not only do you have to consider seating for the ceremony and reception, but anything that is happening in between (like a cocktail hour). While it may not seem like a big deal, a wedding seating plan template will contribute greatly to eliminating the stress of logistical challenges.

 Special software is available for purchase to help you create a wedding seating plan template, but Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint were my tools of choice to create seating plans for my former clients. Whatever you choose to use, here are some tips I recommend to get you started.

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Tip #1: Draw Your Ideas

After visiting each venue and getting a sense of the amount of space you are working with, come up with a seating plan. Some venues (like churches) are permanently staged and don’t offer flexibility in moving seating, but most hotel ballrooms, private event facilities and outdoor venues give you the option to layout your seating as you choose.

Always ask the venue if they have a copy of a blank floor diagram of the space so you can draw your ideas, and find out if they have a recommended setup for the space since they likely have multiple ways of arranging seating. 


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It is okay to be creative with your seating layout, but you have to ensure enough space is available for your idea. The more complex the seating arrangement, the more challenging it may be logistically.

Tip #2: Review your Ideas

Share your drawing with the vendors whose service performance could potentially be impacted by the seating plan to get their feedback. You want to ensure whatever you come up with will not interfere with their work. The vendors you especially want to review your ideas with include:

  • Catering Manager/Director
  • The Banquet Team providing food and beverage service at the reception must be able to freely move between guests and tables, and not have anything obstructing their ability to enter or exit the kitchen, etc.
  • Photographer and Videographer

As the documenters of memories, these vendors must be able to freely and quickly move around the room. Every logistical detail is important for them to perform at their best, including lighting.


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  • Design Specialists
    Working their magic to transform the ordinary to extraordinary is what these vendors do. From flowers, to drape and lighting, and everything eye candy …. the placement of every table and chair, the location of every entrance and exit, are all critical details these creative minds want to know about.
  • Entertainers
  • DJs, Bands, Dancers, and others used to engage your guests will want to ensure they are front and center (well second to you and the groom that is) as part of your logistical planning.

Tip #3 Share the Plan

Once you’ve included all feedback from vendors, you will want to share your wedding seating plan template with whomever you hired to coordinate your wedding day. It is important that whomever is managing your wedding day details has a clear understanding of your vision. Without a wedding seating plan template, it is nearly impossible to ensure proper placement of anything. Be sure to share the seating plan prior to the wedding day to leave an opportunity for questions to avoid misunderstandings later.

A wedding seating plan template is extremely helpful by itself, but even more valuable when used with a wedding day timeline. These documents will prove invaluable in giving clear direction for your expectations to anyone who is coordinating the wedding. For more tips on this subject and others, send email to Thank you for joining me. Until next time, happy planning!

Wedding Planning Questions: Budget. Focus. Execute.


It is impossible to fully understand the magnitude of planning a wedding until you are the one planning it. You will face decision after decision about what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. So, to help you get started, here are the top six wedding planning questions I’ve been asked by brides over the years.

Wedding Planning Question #1: How much should my wedding cost?

In 2012, the average U.S. couple spent close to $27,000 on their wedding, and that’s slightly down from the peak of $28,000 spent in 2008.

Wedding Planning Question #2: Are buffets more affordable than a plated dinner?

But even with these national stats, it is my belief that what one chooses to spend on a wedding is personal. It all comes down to your choices based on what is important to you. Come up with a realistic budget you can manage that won’t leave you with debt after the “I Do’s”. As I always say, the wedding is a single day in your life, but the marriage is a lifetime. Plan accordingly.

The cost of a buffet versus a plated dinner depends on the actual food selected for the wedding, the number of service staff required, and the estimate of food that will be consumed. Your decision to choose one over the other is a matter of preference in how you want your guests to experience your wedding. If variety is what you want, a buffet is for you. If treating your guests to a nice dining experience is important, a plated dinner is the way to go. Bottom-line, a wedding isn’t a restaurant experience so it is possible your efforts will still result in a few guests not being satisfied. So choose the option that represents your wedding style and budget best.

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Wedding Planning Question #3: When do invitations go out?

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Invitations should be mailed six to eight weeks before the wedding date. To help you meet this recommended timeframe, you should count backwards from the date you plan to mail them and allot three months for design (for custom invitations), printing, and delivery of all your wedding stationery and add another two weeks for you to address and assemble your invitations. Plan your postage accordingly to ensure your invitations reach their intended destinations and that responses are returned to you without fail.

Wedding Planning Question #4: Can I have a cash bar?

While many couples opt to do so, having a cash bar at a wedding is in poor taste. It is like inviting guests to your home for a holiday party and asking them to pay for their cocktails. Yikes! Bottom-line, your decision to host a wedding and invite people to the reception makes them your guests. If your budget is somewhat limited and unable to accommodate a hefty bar bill, consider cutting back on the size of your guest list or offer a cocktail hour only.

Wedding Planning Question #5: Can I request money in place of gifts?

More and more couples are getting married after they’ve established homes and as a result, don’t need many of the household items typically found on gift registries. In some cultures, giving a newly married couple money as a wedding gift is expected. However, some guests prefer to give a tangible gift. The main thing is to be careful in how you express your desire for money. You never (under any circumstance) include a message like “monetary gifts preferred” in your invitation. It doesn’t matter how nice you try to word it, you are still asking for money and possibly offending guests who may feel you care more about that than having them join you in celebration.

Rule of thumb, make your desire known to family and friends and let them be the bearer of news when asked.

Wedding Planning Question #6: Do I have to invite children to the wedding?

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Absolutely not! It’s your wedding and you have every right to plan it the way you want to. However, you should be considerate and sensitive when it comes to excluding children as some of your guests will not be happy with this decision. For those family members and close friends who you want to be sure not to offend, a personal phone call in advance of them receiving their invitation is a nice way to break the news. The formal invitation should then only include the parents’ names on the outer and inner envelopes. Even still, prepare yourself for some guests taking offense to you excluding their children from the festivities and therefore deciding not to come. In that case, all you can do is respect their decision and know you’ve done your best to handle a delicate situation the best way you could.

There are so many other questions that I would love to answer for you, so feel free to send yours to Thank you for joining me. Until next time, happy planning!

Engagement Photography Ideas


Every amazing wedding deserves equally amazing photography to ensure memories are never forgotten long after the I Do‘s. More and more, couples are recognizing the important role engagement photography plays in the memories being captured and are therefore opting to include engagement sessions in their wedding plans. Unlike the pressure of a wedding day, an engagement session is experienced privately by the bride and groom.


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Therefore, your engagement photography ideas should result in images that capture the true personalities and style of the couple being photographed. Since there is a good possibility that couples have not worked with a professional photographer prior to their wedding, it is natural for them to feel a bit anxious about having their picture taken the day of their wedding when all eyes will certainly be on them. So it is highly recommended that couples take advantage of an engagement session so they can become more comfortable in front of the camera before the big day.

Incorporate Props

Bring along elements of your personalities and relationship that will allow you to have some fun. Examples could include riding bikes, blowing bubbles, playing Frisbee, your favorite book, flowers, etc.  Engagement photography has become more stylish over the years. Instead of taking pictures in a photography studio where the couple is typically staged in front of a backdrop, more couples are choosing to take their engagement pictures in locations that are familiar, fun, and even romantic for them. Today’s engagement sessions are all about capturing the couple in the most natural ways possible, concentrating mostly around their personalities and allowing their love story to be told through pictures. No need to settle for the traditional, bland and ordinary approach to your engagement photography.  Below I offer ideas to help you explore the possibilities to show your true colors as a couple for your engagement session.

Romantic Picnic

 A simple picnic in the park on your favorite blanket, or even popping the cork on a bottle of champagne on the beach; an awesome way to kick back and relax.

Where Did You Meet?

Go back in time to that place where it all began! Was it a movie theater, favorite hang out, restaurant, or neighborhood coffee shop! All locations add even more meaning to your engagement photography.

Your Favorite Things

What about a location at which you both enjoy spending time? Is there a special park in which you like to take evening walks? Think about those things that express your uniqueness as a couple.

Are You A Sports Fan?

Bring along your favorite team jersey for a fun session that shows off your fan-demonium!

Out On The Town!

Incorporate the city skyline, or metro area at dusk to add a little flavor to your session. City landmarks, museums, urban areas are all great backdrops.

Puppy Love

Your pets are family too, so why not include them in your session?



Is there a carnival in town? Then head over and capture some fun shots on the carnival rides, eating cotton candy, or sharing a candy apple! A carnival is limitless for the possibility of capturing a lot of great images.

Movie Inspired

Use your favorite movie as inspiration for your session. Play dress up; find the perfect location and add the lights, camera, action!

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Ready For Your Close Up

It’s a great idea to schedule your makeup trial on the day of your engagement session. By doing so, your makeup is professionally applied to ensure you photograph at your best and you get an idea of what your experience will be like with your makeup artist the day of your wedding.

Like anything else for your wedding, your engagement photography must be planned. Photographers who are experienced with engagement sessions know the key to a successful shoot depends on advanced preparation. No matter where you choose to take your pictures, it is important that you select a photographer who is up to the challenge of handling any location and concept so they can bring out the best in you for the camera. The time spent with the photographer during the engagement session is also a great way to build a personal connection and relationship built on trust. Collaborating with your photographer in advance builds your confidence about what to expect during your engagement session.

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VIDEO:  How To Make a Wedding Plan

6 Ways To Reduce Your Guest List

How To Make A Lush Centerpiece

Secrets To A 75-Year Marriage[/sws_blue_box]

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How to Make a Wedding Plan

Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and requires a great deal of patience as you work through what sometimes feels like a never-ending list of tasks. You need a strategy to help you stay on track and maintain your focus in the midst of the excitement. As a Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, most of my energy is spent on creating a plan to help implement a client’s wedding vision. My most successful weddings have been those that engage me in the planning details early so I can think through everything that must be done and create a strategy to help with the transition from one task to the next. I know the challenge you will face putting your own plan together, so I want to help ease you into the process with three simple tips for how to make a wedding plan.


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Tip #1

Know what you want

The first and most important step in knowing how to make a wedding plan is to have a clear vision about what you want for your wedding. You can’t build a solid plan for your wedding on a rocky foundation.  So, be certain not to skip the important stages of visualizing your wedding and setting your budget.  They will help shape your ideas and give clear direction for your plan.

Tip #2

Document all your tasks

Organization is another key step in knowing how to make a wedding plan. A formal project plan will help you keep track of your details. You can either invest in any number of wedding planning software programs available on the market or you can use Microsoft project, Excel, or good old fashioned pen and paper to document your ‘to do’ items.

[sws_divider_small_padding]Whatever you choose should be comfortable and easy for you to use. And don’t forget, planning a wedding is a team effort between you and your hubby-to-be. So don’t be afraid to assign your future husband responsibility for a few tasks and anyone else you trust to get the job done.

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Tip #3

Manage tasks through completion

With your ‘to do’ tasks clearly documented, you will have an easier time of managing their completion once you know how to make a wedding plan. A calendar is an important tool in helping you to assign realistic due dates and keep up with progress that is made as you attempt to check things off your list. Vendor payments are especially important, as many will require partial or full payment before service is rendered for the wedding. Reviewing your contracts in advance and managing payment terms of each vendor is important as many charge late penalties you will certainly want to avoid.


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It is easy to become distracted at different stages of the planning process, but the strategy you define upfront is your road map to success. When documented, your plan provides clear direction for you to follow during times of uncertainty and keeps you from straying away from the work you must do. Your reward for your efforts will be the joy you will feel when all your plans come together on your wedding day.  Join Urban Veil today

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For more tips on how to make a wedding plan, send an email to Thank you for joining me. Until next time, happy planning!

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  • VIDEO: Wedding Planning Advice
  • How To Make A Colorful, Oversized Bouquet
  • 3 Gifts Your Bridesmaids Will Actually Use
  • Do Work And Wedding Planning Mix? [/sws_blue_box]

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