Do’s and Don’ts for Wedding Etiquette

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Photo by: Moore Photography

Planning your wedding is one of the most special and memorable times of your life.

What is there not to love about trying on extravagant dresses, attending delicious cake tastings, and picking out your favorite flowers for your centre pieces?

There’s so much to take in and enjoy during the planning process, but believe it or not, some of these tasks aren’t so pleasant. For example, how do you deal with friends that are offended they’re not invited? Or, how do couples with different cultural backgrounds incorporate both their culture and traditions?

Here are some quick and easy Do’s and Don’ts for wedding etiquette.

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Photo by: Moore Photography

1. We want to meet with our parents to discuss our wedding budget. How much should we expect our parents to contribute? Is there certain things each side should pay for?

Wedding budgets are always a difficult area to cover, and is really dependent on a number of factors, such as your projected budget, whether your guests lists is equally divided between both families, and of course, what can your parents comfortably afford?

If money isn’t a issue for your parents, many couples find splitting their wedding budget into thirds works best. This would mean the couple would share their expenses with both families evenly. Keep in mind, the more your parents are invested in your wedding, the more say they can potentially have when it comes to the menu, decor and guests lists.

If your parents are looking to contribute in a smaller means, you can always ask if they can take care of important wedding details such as your photographer, or your cake.

2. My fiancé and I decided we want to go with a more intimate wedding with a smaller guest list. How do I explain to my family and friends who didn’t make the shortlist?

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding. If a smaller and more intimate event is what you and your fiancé envisioned, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes, this decision may upset and even hurt some of your family and friends, but sooner than later they’ll understand and even forgive you. When explaining to family and friends who didn’t make the guest list, it’s important to stay united as a couple and to not blame it on one another. Express it was a decision you made together and unfortunately due to the circumstances (e.g. venue capacity or wedding budget), you couldn’t have everyone there.

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Photo by: Moore Photography

To lighten the blow, you can always host a casual post-wedding get-together at your home or at the park to give all your family and friends an opportunity to celebrate your marriage and to shower you with blessings and gifts.

3. What is the difference between a Banquet Coordinator and a Wedding Planner?

Your wedding planner and the banquet coordinator (or catering coordinator) work closely together to ensure your big day runs smoothly and successfully. Both roles are integral to the planning process, but it’s important to be able to distinguish between them.

Your Banquet Coordinator is employed by the venue and looks over the food and the beverage sales for the venue. She/he is your prime contact from your venue and will work with you to draft and finalize your venue and food service contract. He/she will communicate your needs to the day-of banquet captain, who will then ensure your dinner service runs smoothly and on time.

Your Wedding Planner is employed by you as your personal consultant and oversees all aspects of the planning process. She/he will create a comprehensive timeline and itinerary for your event, and will work with you and your fiancé to coordinate all details and logistics, from the arrival of your out-of-town guests, to the style of your centre pieces.

4. I don’t want children at my reception — how do I let my guests know this?

If you’re going for an adult-only reception, you can state it is a “Adult Only Reception” on your invitations. You can also use your bridal party and your closest family and friends to share your wishes with your guests through word of mouth. If your day comes, and some guests do not comply, don’t ask them to leave but instead find an extra seat to make it work.

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Photo by: Moore Photography

5. Are we required to specify if we want cash or gifts on our invitation?

It’s never good etiquette to ask your guests for cash or gifts on your wedding invitation. Your asking your family and friends to be a part of your big day because they’re special to you, and the last thing you want to imply is that it comes with a fee.

However, don’t fret, it is unlikely for your guests to come to your wedding empty-handed, which is why we often have presentation boxes at guest book tables. Just in case your guests may have questions regarding on what to get you, ensure you communicate with your bridal party on your gift preferences.

6. My fiancé and I have different cultural backgrounds. How do we incorporate both of our cultures into our wedding?

Being located in such a rich and diverse city, we see this a lot. And each time it happens, we’re thrilled! Ethnic and cultural weddings are full of unique customs and special traditions, and should definitely be embraced!

If you and your fiancé are different ethnicities, start off by having a talk about what is important to the both of you and what your “must-haves” are. If budget allows, you can always host two different wedding ceremonies on different dates to acknowledge both your cultures. If your budget and time is tight, you can also compromise and have one traditional wedding ceremony and from there dedicate your reception to the other’s culture and background.

For example, if you’re Sikh and your partner is Catholic, you can have a traditional Catholic ceremony, but then change it up for your reception and wear traditional Indian attire and serve an Indian-style buffet.

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Photo by: Luckygirl Photography

7. Any tips on planning a smooth and quick reception program? Our worst worry is to bore our crowd during our wedding.

This is where your event planner or day-of coordinator can help tremendously. Your on-site wedding coordinators will be your key enforcers to ensure your reception program runs  smoothly and quickly. He/she will work your master of ceremonies to ensure the speeches, dinner service, videos and entertainment are all on schedule.

8. Are we expected to save a seat and feed our wedding vendors during our dinner?

Yes, it is proper wedding etiquette to reserve a table or seats for your wedding vendors, such as your wedding planners, a/v techs,  DJ, photographers and videographers. On the day of your wedding, your main wedding vendors are working extremely long hours, often without having any breaks, to ensure all the details of your weddings are complete.

 9. Is it absolutely necessary to provide a late-night snack during our reception for our guests?

If your wedding reception will be running late into the night and alcohol is being served, it is actually by law you have to serve a sufficient late-night snack for your guests. Couples also serve late-night snack later in their wedding reception as a boost of energy to keep the party going. Be creative with your late-night snack and use it to showcase you and your fiancé’s tastes and personalities.

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Photo by: blfStudios Photography

10. What kind of wedding favours should I get for my guests?

At Events by Emma we have a simple rule: wedding favours should either be edible or practical. If they’re not edible or practical, they probably belong in the trash. Although it’s not easy finding the perfect give-away, your wedding favour is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to your guests in a special way with a meaningful gift.  Just like your late-night snack, be creative and use your favours as a reflection of you and your fiancé.

To find out more about wedding etiquette or to discuss an upcoming event you are planning, connect with Events by Emma by calling 204-779-8812.

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Stepping Up Your Gala Game

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So your sponsors are rolling in and your seats are getting filled. Your decor, menu and venue are finalized and you’re working hard to get the little details in check. All that’s really left is the program and speaking notes, and your team is ready to rock n’ roll.

When putting together your gala program, it’s important to find ways to engage with your sponsors and guests to enhance their experience at your event. Your fundraiser is a golden opportunity to sell your non-profit organization and the importance of their support and your hard work. Your fundraiser is also a reflection of your organization and your cause, and if they have a valuable and positive experience at your event, the more likely they’ll associate valuable and positive thoughts to your non-profit.

Here are five ways to step up your gala game, and impress your sponsors and guests:

1. First Impression
With any event you should aim to impress your guests by surpassing their expectations right when they arrive. If your venue is in a hotel with several ballrooms, have a few of your volunteers in the lobby welcoming your guests and directing them to the correct ballroom. In addition, a cocktail hour is a great opportunity to set the vibe for your entire evening. Promote a signature drink and don’t forget to dress up your cocktail tables and bar. Go the extra mile and hire an hour of entertainment that goes hand-in-hand with your event theme.

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2. Use Social Media
Social media is a great tool to get people talking, not only about your event, but also about your cause. Be sure to preplan an event #hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and share it with your guests on the program. Have your Master of Ceremonies encourage your guests to take photos of the event and to share their photos and experience online. Not only will they be able to contribute to the conversation, but it will also have them spreading the word about your event and your cause to their family and friends!

3. Get your Sponsors Involved
Without your sponsors your fundraising gala wouldn’t be possible. When there’s an opportunity to get the crowd involved, take it! Go beyond the free seats, logo placement and verbal shout out during the program, and find a unique way to have them be a part of the event. Invite them on-stage and have them present an award or have them announce the auction winners. If you want to engage them further, have a representative from each sponsor table participate in a fun game during dinner, which will also double as program entertainment.

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Photo credit: Robert Lowdon Photography

4. Call for Action Auction
Not everyone in the crowd is a live auction or even silent auction person, but it doesn’t mean they’re not interested to give to your charity. Call for Action Auction is a fundraising technique you can use at your gala that will allow for your guests not interested in the live or silent auctions to make a donation they’re comfortable with. This can be done by exchanging a fixed donation (e.g. $25, $50 or $100) with a token of support. For example, our client, Special Olympics Manitoba, sold bronze, silver and gold medals to their gala guests for less than $100. All proceeds from the sales were considered donation to help support Special Olympics.

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5. Say Thank You
When your event is said and done, don’t forget to take the time and personally thank all of your sponsors, volunteers and guests. Ensuring all of your supporters feel valued and appreciated is important to maintaining and building those key relationships. When next year comes along, you’ll feel more equipped and confident when approaching them again.

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To find out more about how to impress your sponsors at your gala, or to discuss an upcoming event you are planning, connect with Events by Emma at , or call 204-779-8812.

Eventiquette: Dress Code

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Photo by Mr. Daniel, flickr

Eventiquette: Event Dress Code

We live in a time where we receive invitations to attend all kinds of events throughout the year, which is great, until we realize that we need to decipher the dress code for the gathering and somehow figure out what we should wear. Most people just want to fit in with the other guests and not be under – or over- dressed. This can lead to a fair amount of despair, especially when you don’t quite know what the dress code “White Tie” requires.

If you are attending an event in the afternoon men should wear business suits, dark in winter and light in summer, and women should wear a suit or a knee-length dress with very little make-up and glam. Always take note of the location of the event and dress appropriately.

Here is a simple breakdown of the different dress codes out there:

Black Tie (aka Formal): This calls for formal attire. Men wear tuxedos; women wear either a cocktail dress or a dressy evening outfit.

White Tie (aka Ultra-formal):  This requires men to wear full dress, with white tie, vest, and shirt. Women wear long ball gowns.

Black Tie Optional: This allows men the option of wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie. Women can wear a cocktail dress or a dressy evening outfit.

Creative Black Tie: This enables you to incorporate your style and taste into traditional formal wear. Men could wear a tux with a black shirt and no tie, and women could wear long or short dresses or an evening outfit. – Have fun with this one!

Semi-Formal (aka After 5): This means that tuxes and long dresses are not necessary. Men can wear a suit and Women a cocktail dress.

Cocktail Attire: This calls for a dark suit for the men and a short, elegant dress for the women.

Informal: On occasion mistaken for “Casual” – but is actually the same as “Semi-Formal”.

Casual: This means that anything goes.

Dressy Casual: This is the dressed up version of “Casual” – normally no jeans, shorts and t-shirts, but no tux and tie either.

Written by Kim ten Krooden, Event Coordinator, EVENTS BY EMMA

Eventiquette: Signature Cocktails

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Eventiquette: Signature Cocktails

Having a signature cocktail is a great way to tie your theme into every aspect of your event. It is a great point of conversation for your guests who might not know each other, and who doesn’t like to try a new cocktail?

When choosing your signature drink there are some things that you need to be mindful of. If your budget is tighter than you would like, stay away from expensive cocktails that require pricey ingredients and wherever possible use the less expensive brand – no one will even realize that you are not using Absolut vodka in your drink creation.

Consider your guests tastes and styles, you will never be able to please everyone, but you need something that will appeal to the crowd. Having said that it is after-all your signature drink so be sure to choose something that reflects you and your style. If your event has a colour theme you will need to stick to it when choosing your signature cocktail – you want to go for continuity.

Go ahead and create a fabulous name for your cocktail. Even if you are using a Tequila Sunrise as your cocktail, changing the name adds just one more personal touch to your event. Your cocktails can be served in a wide variety of glasses, so choose according to the style of the event or gathering that you are holding.

When holding your event at a venue where the bar staff will be provided to serve your drinks, it is a good idea to determine how they will be preparing, mixing, presenting and serving your cocktail to your guests – you do not want them pre-mixing a large batch of the drink and then serving it out bucket on the floor. Presentation is Key!

Now for the fun part, don’t forget to taste test your cocktail before your event to make sure that it tastes as good as it looks and sounds.

Written by Kim ten Krooden, Event Coordinator, EVENTS BY EMMA

Eventiquette: Gift Registries

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Gift Registries

Registering for gifts can be a lot of fun and very helpful to your guests, but many people don’t realise that there are etiquette guidelines that need to be followed to ensure that no one is offended.

Both the Bride & the Groom should be involved in selecting what gifts should be included on the registry – this makes sense as both will be using the gifts. When adding gifts to your wish list make sure to consider your guests and their budgets. Include items with a wide variety of price ranges so as to give everyone an opportunity to buy you something that you will love. Deciding how many gifts to put on your registry can be a daunting task; experts recommend that each invited couple should be able to choose between 2 to 3 selections in their chosen price range.

It is a good idea to create your registry approximately 6 months in advance of the Wedding. Some of your guests would like to get your gift as soon as they receive the invitation and others will wait until the week of the wedding or even after the wedding to purchase your gift. No matter when you receive the gifts you should wait until after the wedding to open them – some believe that it is bad luck to open wedding gifts before the wedding. It is also important to know that you are not obligated to open the gifts in front of anyone.

Telling your guests about your registry is the toughest part. The only acceptable way to inform people of your registry details is by word of mouth. You need to count on your family and bridal party to spread the word for you. It is extremely rude to ask for gifts or cash, you are inviting your family and friends to celebrate with you and their attendance is more important than receiving a gift from them. Never include registry or gift wish list information on your wedding invitation, many store registries provide little cards to include in the envelopes – this is poor etiquette. You can however give these cards to your family and bridal party to pass on to your guests as they ask for gift information.

Written by Kim ten Krooden, Event Coordinator, EVENTS BY EMMA

Eventiquette: Banquet Dinner Manners

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Banquet Dinner Manners

With the increase in popularity of the fast food industry, many people are losing their dining etiquette. Simple table manners are important for everyone to know and practice. Many people are required to attend dinner parties, conventions and special events where proper dining etiquette is a must. Our actions at the table during dinner are crucial to how others perceive us.

The following are some guidelines to proper dining etiquette:

• Before being seated for a formal meal, gentlemen should stand behind their chairs until the women are seated.

• Once seated, you are to place your napkin in your lap.

• The courses will be served from your left and removed from your right-hand side.

• Always wait until everyone at your table has been served their course before you begin eating – if the host is seated with you, you should refrain from eating until he/she has begun.

• If your meal has been delayed tell the others at your table to begin eating.

• If the meal is being served “family style” you must pass the food to the person on your right, so that they may help themselves. Always consider how much food is on the serving dish and how many people will need to share it.

• As the different courses are served, use your utensils starting from the outside moving in towards the main plate. Dessert utensils will either be above the main plate or served with dessert.

• Instead of sawing your bread in half like a hamburger bun, you should rather use your fingers to break your bread and then butter one piece at a time.

• If the salad has big leaves use a knife to cut it.

• When eating soup, dip your soup spoon away from you into the soup and then scoop up to your mouth. Make sure to eat the soup soundlessly from the side of the spoon.

• If you are struggling to get food onto your fork you can use a little piece of bread or your knife to help. Never use your fingers or thumb.

• You may rest your forearms on the table, but never your elbows.

• Don’t wave your knife and fork around in the air while talking to people.

• It is very rude to talk on your cellphone or "text" at the table. If you need to take an urgent call you can apologize and excuse yourself from the table.

• If leaving the table briefly leave your napkin on your chair. When you leave the table at the end of the meal, loosely place the used napkin on the table to the left of your plate.

• At the end of your meal, place all used utensils together onto your plate, on the right side, pointed up, so the waiters know that they can remove your plate. Do not place dirty utensils on the table.

Written by Kim ten Krooden, Event Coordinator, EVENTS BY EMMA

Eventiquette: Using an RSVP Card

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Photo by Sugarflower Design, Flickr

Using an RSVP Card

A response card, included with your invitation, is a great way to simplify the process of keeping track of who has replied. Always send out a card that requires a response for either acceptance or declining of the invitation, guests should reply whether they will be attending the event or not. RSVPs should be sent out at least a month before the event and they need to specify all the details of the event, who is invited, a deadline and method for accepting or declining.

There is no one correct way of wording your response card, but it is important to keep the style of the card aligned with that of the event. You could make it easy for your guests to reply by pre-addressing a return envelope. It is becoming more commonplace to use email as the primary response method, just be sure to include a secondary method for those that are not as computer savvy.

What is the most appropriate way to respond to an RSVP? The host will generally indicate on the invitation how and by when you need to RSVP. They have chosen a particular method of response for a reason and you need to be respectful of that. The most common forms of RSVP are by phone, email, postcard or traditional response card. No matter how the host prefers for you to RSVP you should respond as soon as you can. Remember that the hosts are waiting to hear from you to finalize their event details and they need your acceptance or regret in a timely manner.

Do not RSVP and then not show up. Unexpected things do happen that might prevent you from attending, and most hosts will understand your absence. If you realize that you will no longer be able to attend you must make sure to let the hosts know as soon as possible to give them time to make adjustments to their event. A nice note or phone call to apologize is always appreciated.

Written by Kim ten Krooden, Event Coordinator, EVENTS BY EMMA

Etiquette 101

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(Cool Book Cover….it has the same E font as in my logo)

Over the past few weeks I have been meeting with many of my new clients and have begun the planning process for variety of ‘09 events. Every year at this time, some of the first questions asked are regarding etiquette and budget……………usually the two go hand-in-hand.

Here are just a few of the common Wedding related questions I get asked.

Who pays for what?

A wedding is supposed to be a celebration of your love and new life together, and is not meant to be a financial strain on you and your family. Traditionally, the bride and her family pay for most of the wedding costs. However, relationships and roles in marriage have changed considerably and as a result, having the financial burden on the bride’s family is no longer standard in today’s world. All three parties including the bride, groom and parents should talk about the wedding plan ahead of time so that everyone’s concerns and willingness to contribute can be taken into consideration.

The Cash Bar Issue?

Yes, weddings are expensive. Yes, couples should be on the lookout for budget saving tips. However, hosting a cash bar at your reception is an etiquette buster! Think about it …. you would never ask anyone to pay for a drink in your own home. People at your reception are still your guests, even if the event is not held in your house. That said, if a full bar is not within your budget, consider these alternatives:

1. Host a soft bar, in which guests can order champagne, beer and wine.

2. Host a consumption bar, in which the bar is open till a certain time or until a certain amount of drinks are served.

3. Host a non-alcohol based bar (mocktails) with neat signature drinks.

4. Cut down the size of your guest list – this is the only significant way to reduce costs in the first place.

Is it acceptable to allow my bridal attendants to select their own dresses?

While it is traditional to have the bride’s attendants in the same attire, today we are seeing more brides giving their attendants independence to select a style that is flattering to their figure and personality within a specific hue. Also, nice dresses these days a few hundred dollars plus alterations, why not let your attendants get something “that they feel they will wear again!”.

What do I do if I do not want children at my wedding?

It’s not appropriate to make sweeping statements on your invitations. Instead make sure your invitations are addressed explicitly with only the names of the guests invited. As back-up, you should also pre-arrange for a children’s hospitality suite with babysitting service, activities and a fun meal like pizza at the wedding venue.

How can I communicate to my guests that I would prefer them to donate to my favorite charity in lieu of a gift?

While the tradition of gift giving is a social norm, it is completely optional for your guests. If you want your guests to donate to a charity or the cause of your choice in lieu of a gift, you can include this on your personal wedding website or through word of mouth by family and friends

What do I do if the bride and groom have different cultures/religions?

In interfaith marriages, the cultural and religious traditions from both the bride and groom are often incorporated into the ceremony. This sometimes leads to multi-day affairs. This gesture symbolizes the new unity of faith between the couple while paying tribute to both heritages.

Is Champagne the only beverage used for toasts?

While champagne is the traditional beverage used in toasts, today’s fashion forward brides are customizing the beverage to accommodate their favorite libation, seasonal drink or lifestyle/cultural family heritage.

What do you with your flowers after the wedding?

Some suggestions are to offer them to your guests to take home, reuse them for a post wedding brunch the following day or donate them to a hospital, charity or local foundation.

How long do I have to send out my thank you cards?

Ideally, you would send thank you notes throughout the pre-wedding period as you receive gifts. A timely thank you is proper etiquette, so the sooner the better; however, it is never too late to be gracious. Remember to personalize the thank you note specific to the gift or include a memory from the big day.

Who should plan the honeymoon?

In the past, the groom was known to plan the honeymoon; however, today it is viewed as a grand vacation and is planned by both the bride and groom. This includes all of the research, making the reservation and arranging all of the details prior to your departure (i.e. children, pets, mail delivery, house sitting arrangements, etc.).

Hiring a Wedding Consultant/Planner?

No more planning the wedding on your own with help from your various cousins and friends. The trend has clearly shifted towards hiring a wedding consultant/planner who takes care of all the details for the wedding and ensures that it is not a mismanaged and haphazard affair! Consultants can help guide you through all of the intricacies of contracting vendors, staging rehearsals, seeing that proper wedding etiquette is followed and basically ensuring that no loose ends are left unattended. A consultant can be used just for the beginning or ending arrangements of your wedding or throughout all of the planning stages.