The Do’s and Don’ts: How to be a Gracious Bride

There is football season, baseball season and hunting season, but, folks, right now, we are deep in the throes of engagement season. More than 40 percent of engagements happen between November and Valentine’s Day, sending wedding professionals, including myself, into a flurry. Spring 2018? Almost booked. Yes, you heard that right. This is Charleston, after all, and the city’s ever-growing popularity makes it a top wedding destination.

Because of that popularity, I get to meet a lot of interesting people not only from all over the country, but also from all over the world. I see happy brides, stressed-out brides and brides who think their weddings are a competition. It seems as though the number of competitive brides are growing, and let’s be honest, pop culture has contributed to painting brides in an unflattering light (Bridezillas?). Ladies, we can do better. We can be gracious brides.

I think a lot of women in the South struggle with finding that balance between the manners we were taught growing up and the bold society that we live in as adults.

So, as you go into the planning process, here’s a checklist from someone who has been married before, planned hundreds of events and seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Do’s:

Do stick to a budget. In today’s society, many of my clients are contributing toward the cost of the wedding and it isn’t just mom and dad paying the tab anymore. That said, I see soooo many brides and grooms who feel this pressure to one-up their friends, sisters and sisters-in-law, and it puts a totally unnecessary financial strain on them. I like to say, “It doesn’t matter if you are spending $10,000 or $100,000, it’s a LOT of money to spend on one day.” Decide what your budget is, and as you go through the planning process, allot that money to different areas, but don’t go more than $20,000 over budget because you feel the need to impress people.

Do be kind to your bridesmaids. This includes thinking about the cost of the dress you pick out (Locally, I love Bella Bridesmaid and Lula Kate.) and not putting ridiculous expectations on your bridesmaids financially. Remember, these are supposed to be some of your closest friends, and I see more bridesmaid blowups over things that won’t matter once the wedding planning is over.

Do remember to thank everyone at the wedding. Long gone are the days of a traditional receiving line so you better get your booty around and speak to every guest.

Do incorporate details that are MEANINGFUL, not just trendy. If you didn’t grow up drinking out of Mason jars, then please don’t.

Do a groom’s cake. It shows that the wedding isn’t all just about you.

The Don’ts:

Do not ever email invitations. Please. Use Dodeline Designs. They are local. Tell them I sent you.

Do not list where you are registered on your wedding invitation. I just can’t. For the love of God, a wedding isn’t about asking for gifts. Please keep this in mind.

Do not specifically ask for money or gift cards. My great-grandmother would roll over in her grave and my grandmother’s sister would say, “Well, bless your heart.”

Do not offer a cash bar. If you don’t have the budget for a full bar, then opt for only beer and wine and serve a signature drink during the cocktail hour.

Do not ask guests to wear a specific color to the wedding. You’re not a Kardashian. Do I really need to type this? Well, yes, because clearly someone has brought it up.

Do not choose a scandalous wedding dress. I get it. You’re in the shape of your life. But please think long term here. In 20 years, will you still love this look? Would you want your daughter to wear this look?

Do not make your reception so long that guests are complaining in the bathrooms that you will not leave. OK, I get it. You want to throw a killer party. Your band is amazing. But I will tell you right now, four to five hours is PLENTY. When you get past that point, it just gets messy.

Do not say ‘no’ to help. If your aunt is begging to do something, assign her a duty, such as the hospitality bags. She will feel important and you’ll have less on your plate.

Do not send out a pre-printed thank you note! Or, heaven forbid, tell someone you returned her gift.

Above all, remember to be a gracious bride. This is your day, but when you get back from your honeymoon, you have to see all of these people in your life again. Don’t alienate people to the point that you have “family issues” to come home to after your first blissful week as a newlywed.