Know: Kids at Your Wedding

Kids. CLD loves kids. Kids attending and being a part of a wedding can be so truly special (and oh-so-adorable). But, kids and weddings don’t always mix, especially very, very young ones. That’s just the truth.

So, what do you do?

Sit down with your fiancée while working on your guest list and launch right into the question: “Should we allow kids at our wedding?” We have a feeling that you’ll both have a gut reaction, but take a really good look at the guest list to prepare for any potential issues.  Are there any people traveling to your wedding with small children? Is there anyone in the bridal party or immediate family with children? Do we have children and how do we want to incorporate them into our day?

Once you have that initial feeling expressed, collaborate to make a uniform policy. You have so many decisions to already make for this big day, so do yourself a favor here and stick with consistency. Here are some options:

1) Adopt a “adults-only” policy. This is a popular policy for destination weddings, super formal weddings, or the very alcohol-friendly receptions where having people under the age of 21 is going to be hard. You might feel guilty going this route, but if it’s feasible, it really is OK! Seriously, it’s OK.

2) The more kids, the merrier! If you know that kids are a must-have, go for it in full-force. If you know they are going to be a significant amount of kids (such as 10-15% of the guest list), make sure you have some kid-friendly extras included. These might include good non-alcoholic beverages, a table just for the kids, an activity room or corner, etc.

3) Immediate family and bridal party can bring their kids–they are your family! This is a good policy if there are a few special little ones that need to be there for your day as a flower girl, junior bridesmaid or ring bearer, but you don’t want to have a ton of kids for the reception. Or, let’s say you have a long engagement (over a year): during that time, the child situation in your family or with your bridal party can change pretty fast, so you might need to be accommodating to those closest to you.  But again, be consistent in your application of this–once you make an exception, be prepared to make more.

4) Our new favorite solution (that can be applied to any of these policies): hire child care. Yes, this is an extra expense and you’ll need to provide a good space for children, but this really makes a wedding run smoothly.  Ask your wedding planner for referrals or start researching babysitting agencies in your area–having those few extra hands during the day can make all the difference!

Whatever policy you do decide to go with, kids can make a lovely (and adorable!) addition to any wedding, as seen here:

Christina pins a boutonnière on quite the dapper gentleman!

Christina pins a boutonnière on quite the dapper gentleman!

 

Know: Wedding Guest Attire

“What do I wear today?”

Everyone is plagued by this question every day… but when it’s time to dress up for a wedding, it seems like the question is ten times more daunting than usual. So many more follow-up questions arise quickly: Where is the ceremony? Where is the reception? What time of day are we arriving? Is anything outside and what is the temperature? Does the invitation say anything?

These are of course important questions that will hopefully lead to the perfect wedding day outfit. But here are a few additional tips that might make creating your “wedding guest wardrobe” much more simpler.

Dress Code Guidelines

Some wedding invitations will cut straight to the chase and tell you what type of attire they are looking for.

White Tie: This is a rarity these days as it is the most formal of all! This requires gentlemen to wear a tuxedo with tails and a bowtie, while the ladies can go for all-out glamour in a formal, full-length ball gown with dramatic hair and makeup. It is almost like prom again for grown-ups!

Black Tie: Men still have to don those penguin suits (black tuxedos) while women can choose between a chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown.

Formal or Black Tie Optional: Men get more leeway here by deciding between a tux or a formal dark suit, while women are again deciding between cocktail dresses and long evening gowns.

Semi-Formal, Dressy Casual or Cocktail: Men can take it down a notch to a classy suit and tie (fabric and color can vary depending on the time of day), while women can bust out that cocktail dress or a fabulous and dressy skirt-top combo.

Casual: The easiest one of all folks! Men can wear dress pants with a button down (bring a sport jacket in case of a chill). Ladies can go with a sundress.

Perfect attire for Semiformal or Cocktail!

Perfect attire for Semiformal or Cocktail!

Variations

Beach Weddings: Formal beach weddings require a summer suit for the gentlemen (think linen and light) while a more formal cocktail sundress is appropriate for ladies (but you can wear sandals). More casual beach weddings will adhere to casual standards.

Theme Weddings: Yes, these do exist and are quite fun. Get into it.

Emo, Goth, or “Quirky Cocktail”: These variations also exist and can be difficult to define. Never be afraid to ask the bride or grooms for a better explanation.

Purple and casual fit the bill for an outdoor carnival wedding.

Purple and casual fit the bill for an outdoor carnival wedding.

Shoes

Always, always, always wear something comfortable. Men have it so much easier these days! Sports companies like Nike and Adidas are combining forces with amazing shoemakers like Cole Haan and Rockport to make gorgeous wingtip loafers feel like your favorite pair of running shoes. Women, on the other hand, will have to continue to search for the holy grail of women’s shoes: the pair that is beautiful, comfortable, and make your legs go on for days!  Some shoes are coming close, but thankfully wedges are now a popular and widely accepted go-to shoe for semiformal and cocktail weddings. We only request that if you are attending a beach wedding, to not wear flip-flops unless provided (or approved) by the wedding couple.

Weather Conditions

It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before a wedding, even if the entire shindig is taking place indoors. We’ve seen unexpected thunderstorms nearly ruin chiffon dresses, gorgeous stilettos marred by golf course mud, and a few great wet-dress-shirt-contests for men without jackets.

Color

Colors can actually be a difficult thing to judge for a wedding. It’s best to stick with neutral shades (you don’t want to be the neon standout in group photos!) like black, navy, or soft pastels. The wedding invitation might give you clues on the actual wedding colors so you don’t end up looking like a member of the bridal party.

But we at CLD can unilaterally and universally agree on the #1 RULE of dressing for a wedding (especially women): please, please, please do not wear white. This includes bright white, cream, off-white, ecru, or white with a different color print on it.  You also do not get to cover it up with a different color cardigan or blazer on top.  While we certainly believe that weddings never have to follow rules or traditions, this is one rule we are not going to budge on!

Happy shopping and here’s to looking fabulous at the next wedding you attend!

Wedding planners have it easy---we just have to blend in to the crowd!

Wedding planners have it easy—                         we just have to blend in to the crowd!

 

Do I Have to Give a Gift??

Wedding gift etiquette.  It’s a tough one and can sometimes be super awkward when you’re not sure what’s an old custom and what’s the current requirement.  So we’re gonna give a little breakdown for you, though keep in mind, some of these you have to use your best judgement. There is not always a “right” answer for everything.
Ballow-219

1. How much do I spend?
This totally varies.  Are they a really close friend or family member?  Are they someone you work with and don’t know exceptionally well?  Is there one or two of you attending?  Are you doing well financially or are you 22 and just starting off on your own.  All of these are factors.  In general, you spend a little more on close friends and family than you may have to on a casual friend.  But a range of $75-$150 for a single person to a couple is acceptable, and a gift from $100-$200 is acceptable for an older couple who is more well off and of close familial relationship.  To give a gift determined by how much your dinner costs per person is just an old and silly rule.  No need to spend $400 because you go to a fancy $200pp wedding!

2. I can’t make the wedding – do I have to send a gift?
This one is your call, believe it or not.  I think the common misconception is that you have to send a gift if you’re invited to the ceremony.  But the truth is, if you’re not close with them, you can make the call if you’d like to send a gift.  It is not mandatory. Sometimes sending a congratulatory card is nice.  Really, the couple should consider who they’re inviting before they send invites, because it does put pressure on a person to feel they need to send a gift.

3. It’s a destination wedding and I am already spending so much.
Sorry, this does not automatically mean you don’t have to give a gift.  I know the costs add up – travel, hotel, bridesmaid dress, eating out, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t also give a gift.  It 100% allows you to scale down immensely on the price of your item.  Sending something small but thoughtful is the best way to go.  And if you really can’t find the extra money, send a card thanking them and congratulating them.  They will at least know that you thought of them and it will be understood that you couldn’t afford a gift as well.

4. Should I give off their registry?
I am married to someone who likes to go strictly from the registry.  I personally hate to give gifts off it!  I want to shop and seek something out that feels like “them”, but my husband wants to make sure they get something they want (and then reminds me of gifts we didn’t particularly love).  My advice: go with your gut.  But if you buy something off registry, include a receipt so they can always exchange it.  As for cash, perfectly acceptable to give inside of a card.  It’s 2013.  Everyone gladly accepts (and appreciates) cash!

5. Do I bring the gift to the wedding?
This depends on the location of the wedding.  If it’s a local wedding (to them!) and in their hometown, then yes, you can bring the gift.  But if you are going to a wedding in your town and the guests are not from there, think of what a pain it will be to have to drive or send their gifts home.  Bring a card or ship their present ahead of it.  Same goes for showers.  Feel free to ship the present if you know they are visiting from out of town.

6. I forgot to buy a gift, do I get a year after the wedding to send one?
Nope.  Sorry to bare the bad news, but this is pretty unacceptable. I have yet to meet one bride who actually received a gift one year after their wedding from a friend who forgot.  It is rude and inappropriate when you have known for so long about the wedding.  The maximum time you get is 3 months to send a gift, or it’s just not polite.

7. I’m a plus one – do I have to bring a gift.
Technically, no.  But it is appropriate to talk to your date and offer to contribute to the gift.  Chances are they will say no, but you should certainly make the gesture in case they were feeling like you should contribute since they asked you along. If you are the date of a sibling, then you should definitely give a gift! Especially if you are just a friend and invited to keep them company. The sibling won’t be giving a typical gift, so make sure you contribute or give a gift of your own.  At least give a card to the couple to say congratulations.

8. My whole family is on the invite, do I have to give my own gift?
If you’re 20 or younger, probably not.  But if you are 22 and living on your own (and especially if you’re bringing a date!), then you absolutely need to bring a gift.  You are an adult now and should show appreciation for an invitation in an appropriate manner. Feel free to spend closer to your budget, even if that means you spend $30 at Crate & Barrel.

9. It’s the second marriage, do they need a gift?
Not necessarily.  If it is a second wedding for both newlyweds, then you do not need to send a gift.  You can and it is always appreciated, but it is not frowned upon if you do not.  If it is the second marriage for one of them and you are friends with the first-timer, then yes, you should give a gift. If you are friends of the other spouse, it is polite since they are still starting a life with someone new, but it is not mandatory.  You be the judge, as it should really be a judgement call on the couple, their needs and your relationship.

10. I’m the bride, how do I tell them where I’m registered?
This is one of those thank God for the internet moments, because you can put where you’re registered on your wedding website.  Where not to list it? Your invitation.  It is definitely looked at as inappropriate to put where you’re registered on your invite.  If you would like to give your guests a reminder, you can include an insert that reminds them ti visit your website for complete details.  Otherwise, it’s up to your mom and family to spread the word.  Don’t worry, people will find out.

While you have to use a lot of circumstantial judgement on these tips, they are good rules of thumb to go by.  When in doubt, send a small gift and a card.  Everyone loves acknowledgment!