Random questions about weddings

So after some minor drama with my parents, my boyfriend and I have agreed to a summer/fall wedding next year. His family lives in Northern Ireland while mine live here in Korea. Both of us have friends here - he’s been here for 6 years, I’ve been here double that - although a lot of our friends are also scattered across the globe. Anyway, I’ve never been party to planning weddings of any sort, so I’m looking for advice/suggestions/anecdotes/etc from Dopers to help me out here. :slight_smile:

  1. How far in advance are weddings usually planned? At the moment we’re planning a summer wedding in Ireland and a fall wedding in Seoul - the honeymoon would be in-between, I suppose. I read on one website that you should have things like flowers and photographers booked a year ahead. :dubious: Really?

  2. How far in advance should invitations be sent out? I’ve noticed people sending out “Save the Date” cards - are those mandatory nowadays? It seems like a waste of paper to me, and our wedding in Ireland is probably going to be very small (most just his folks and my parents, and possibly any friends who can make the trip). Would it be rude just to call/email people before we send out invites?

  3. What happens if you plan an outdoor wedding and it rains? Is it normal to have a back-up plan or do you just have to pray for the best? (I’d love to have an outdoor ceremony in Ireland but it seems a bit risky, to say the least)

  4. Have wedding favors become a given for Western weddings nowadays?

  5. Is the bride expected to wear her wedding dress all day (ceremony + reception)? In Korea brides usually change into something else for the reception, but I wasn’t sure if this was common in the West.

  6. How do you have an open bar without bankrupting yourself? :eek:

  7. Is there a traditional number of attendants you’re supposed to have? And does the number have to match (groomsmen vs bridesmaids)? We’re trying to save as much money as possible, so I was thinking of just having a maid of honor.

  8. My boyfriend has two nephews and a niece (all under the age of 8) - I think it’d be nice to include them somehow in the ceremony. Flower girl, ring bearer, and . . .?

  9. Any tips on how to cut costs on decorations? (One of the venues I looked at here in Seoul charges about $1000 for flower decorations. That seems extremely pricey to me, but maybe my expectations are unrealistic.)

I think that’s it for now. :slight_smile: Any related advice would be appreciated as well.

Congratulations Hazel!

I don’t have any advice, but I wanted to wish you the very best! I’m glad it worked out!

Thanks! :slight_smile: The moral support I got from my fellow Dopers really did cheer me up.

I’m no expert on weddings but I don’t think making plans at least a year in advance is unusual.

By convincing your parents it’s traditional for them to pay the bar bill.

Congratulations, Hazel and the lucky guy! :slight_smile: unfortunately I have little to offer you in terms of wedding advice…

My sister had her wedding outdoors. It rained, but it was just a drizzle. We just went along with it.

I’d check the weather report a few days ahead and make a contingency plan.

Only invite Mormans.

Also, congrats!

  1. My then-to-be husband proposed on New Year’s Day, and we were married that April - with a traditional church wedding, catered reception, all the usual trimmings. So no, booking things a year in advance is not mandatory! That said, it depends how picky and up-market you are. If you’ve got your heart set on one particular photographer (/venue/whatever) - well, might as well get in early. (Oh, we were finding and buying a house in that three months too. The wedding was the easy bit!).

  2. I’ve received proper wedding invitations as much as a year in advance. I don’t see the point of “save the date” - just invite them when you know what you’re doing. If you’re expecting O/S guests, better give them plenty of notice.

  3. I understand they do this in America. Never seen it in Oz. You might want to ask some specifically local opinions.

  4. That would be the norm but I don’t suppose anyone will tar and feather you if you don’t. But most folks have spent a fair amount of dough on a nice wedding dress, and like to show it off.

  5. Whatever you want. One is fine. I’ve seen up to six, which I think is over the top but again - local culture.

  6. My number one wedding money-saving tip - DON’T TELL THEM IT’S FOR A WEDDING! This can save you money in many different areas :wink:

Generally you set up tents just in case.

Why don’t you have multiple ring bearers?

Just never tell people your purchases are for a wedding. Prices will go way down.


  1. I’ve known weddings planned in less than 6 months - I’m not sure how they do it though. Depending on how specific you are about the sort of venue you want, it’s worth starting to look for that now, at least, and even then you’ll find a lot of them are already booked on the most popular dates. We started looking about 15 months before our wedding, and every Saturday in July was already booked at the venue we found. I didn’t book a photographer till about 6 months before the wedding, and very nearly didn’t get one.

  2. I think we sent our invites out about 4 months before the wedding, but the key people been told the date as soon as it was set - our maid-of-honour was coming from Beijing and the best man from Australia, so needed plenty of notice. We didn’t bother with save-the-date cards though - just sent an email.

  3. For obvious reasons, outdoor weddings aren’t that common in the UK and Ireland - the chances of it not raining, even in summer, are low. I have known people do it, though, but they have indoor space available in the form of a marquee, or in one case a barn and some teepees. If it’s the same in Ireland as it is the UK, very places are licensed for outdoor ceremonies anyway, though the reception is a different matter.

  4. Pretty much, but I wasn’t going to bother. My mum wanted them, though, so we agreed to have them if she’d find them, pay for them and organise them on the day.

  5. I haven’t been to a wedding in recent years where the bride has changed - most of us only get to wear a wedding dress and want to make the most of it! It’s entirely up to you, though.

  6. You don’t, especially if some of your guests are Irish! It’s not mandatory, anyway - only about 50% of the weddings I’ve been to have. You could do what we did, which was give guests drinks with the canapes (we had Pimms), wine with dinner and champagne for the toasts, and then have a paid bar; or you could have a free bar for a limited time only - though I suspect this will just encourage your guests to load up on booze early!

  7. Nope, and they certainly don’t have to match. I had a maid-of-honour and 3 bridesmaids, my husband had a best man and two ushers, one of whom was female. I can’t imagine anyone will be counting, anyway!

  8. Pageboy - like a ring bearer but without the ring.

  9. If you know someone who’s good at that sort of thing, you could buy flowers wholesale and have them arrange them for you. Otherwise, going for in season, native flowers will keep your costs down, as well being flexible with which ones you have. We had lisianthus instead of roses, which saved us a fair bit, and they looked lovely.

A final tip - work out what you’re prepared to money on, and what you don’t think is worth it. We knew we were prepared to shell out for good food, for example, so a large portion of our budget went on that. But I’ve never understood why people spend huge amounts on invitations which most people will just throw away, so we just bought very simple packs of invites from department stores for about £50 total - we got our thank you cards from the same place. YMMV, obviously!

Good luck, and don’t let other people drive you crazy with what they think you should have!

Yeah, I just skimmed one random venue in NI and every Saturday in June 2012 is already booked. :eek: Wow, I feel somewhat naive. Guess we better get on that soon.

Thanks for the good wishes and advice so far everyone :slight_smile:

Booking things a year in advance might be necessary in popular locations, but choosing a less traditional day to get married (ie Friday instead of Saturday) will help open up the availability of your venue/photographer/florist/etc. I got married the weekend before Christmas (22 Dec) and nothing was booked less than two months before the big day (every place I called said “Of course we’re free! No one gets married the weekend before Christmas!”).

I can’t see any reason not to send the final invitations as soon as you’re sure of the arrangements. A “Save The Day” card seems like a good alternative if you’ve got little more than the date set in stone and you want to give plenty of notice to family and friends who have travel arrangements of their own to make.

I got married outdoors. We’d sussed out a place to hold the ceremony if it rained but it wasn’t a desirable alternative and we were just lucky the weather held. It might be worth asking, when you contact different venues, if they have a backup plan or a place they typically use in case of bad weather. Failing that, maybe set up some sort of marquee you can retreat to if you have to?

I’ve never been to a wedding that didn’t do bombonieres of some description and I’m also in Oz so obviously this is a YMMV thing. The content (and correspondingly, the value) of the items given as favours has varied dramatically from wedding to wedding, so I have no preconceptions of what may be given as a favour.

In some municipalities, particularly New York City and San Francisco, if you want to get any kind of decent deal on a nice location you have to book 12+ months in advance, yes. Honestly, it;s nuts. We booked our venue 14 months in advance and not every date we had in mind was available. Other places, probably not.

It depends how far people have to travel. Save the dates let people know, MUCH further in advance so they can start looking for an airfare bargain. I didn’t use them myself. For some people, just emailing or calling individuals is fine.

If it rains you get wet. Yes, you need a backup plan. MANY (but not all) places where you can get married outdoors have some sort of indoor contingency plan, usually a bit less pretty than the outdoor option. Something to consider when you are looking fr a site.

No, if anything they are falling out of favor (IMHO). Edible favors such as chocolates seem to be the most desireable, if you feel like doing it.

In Western Ceremonies, typically yes. Bride wears dress all night.

You hint at “family drama”, and one thing I would recommend is to decide early if the weddings–not the marriage, the weddings–are about you or the family. If they really are about the family–and there’s nothing wrong with that–just do what they want to whatever degree you can afford. I the wedding is about you–and that’s fine, too–decide which 2-4 things you really, really care about and focus on those. Let everything else work itself out, or even let others decide.

It’s easy in wedding planning to let every little detail become a power struggle, and each power struggle raises the stakes for the next one: “His mom got her way on the type of icing on the groom’s cake, NO WAY I am giving in on the flower girl’s hair ornament” and you allow all these things you really don’t even give a damn about turn into hot messes.

As far as the open bar, serve the cheaper brands. Most people won’t know the difference, and after they’ve had a few nobody will care anyway.

  1. I think that a year is the window of time to get “the best” flowers and photographers. You need to have your cake booked six months ahead even here in central Illinois… so yes, hop on those things.

  2. You’ll want to have RSVPs in hand by six weeks before the wedding, so probably sending invitations three months ahead is right. A lot of people are now sending out “save the date” cards a year or more ahead, so people don’t book other things at the same time.

  3. Backup plans are common. We planned a picnic wedding and it poured buckets nonstop all day.

  4. According to Dope threads I’ve read, lots of people don’t do them. They don’t have to be elaborate… I’ve been to plenty where it was a tulle bag full of Jordan almonds.

  5. Lots of dresses come in two pieces, one being the huge frilly skirt for the ceremony, the rest being the actual dress for the reception–which is manageable for dancing in. I changed clothes at my wedding.

  6. It’s tough. Offer only wine and beer, was our solution.

  7. I don’t think the number has to match, though lots of people like it that way. I think just having a maid of honor would be fine, if you’re willing to deal with whatever drama may come out of not having everyone and her sister as attendants. I had only a flower girl, to hold my bouquet during the vows.

  8. Dunno.

  9. Give up on flowers, or do them yourself… or look for used stuff on eBay. There are lots of huge bunches of votive candles, fish bowls, etc from weddings there.

My advice: keep it as simple and small as possible. Planning a wedding is way more work that it sounds like. It’s not even much fun, to tell the truth. I would recommend having a wedding planner rather than flying solo. If you try to figure everything out yourself, things will fall through the cracks (as things did for us…)

eBay is a great idea. I think I’ll keep the flowers cheap - I’m definitely not picky and whatever’s in season would work for me.

Another question - would it weird not to serve cake? Honestly it seems like such a waste - I’ve never been interested in eating cake in any wedding I’ve been to. Maybe have a small cake just for show? Dessert would be served separately anyway as part of the meal.

Well, the drama was more about my parents wanting us to get married ASAP. Originally they were pushing for next spring, but we drew the line and said the following fall was early enough.

Fortunately neither of our moms are picky about details. (At least, I don’t think they are. I’ve heard weddings bring out the worst in people, so we’ll see.)

I can’t help with all of these, but here’s my musings on a few…

  1. At least a year to a year and a half.

  2. I think this one has been answered already.

  3. I think so. Well, every wedding I’ve been to in forever has had them.

  4. I’m not sure. I’ve been to both.

  5. No. For my own wedding, I only had a maid of honor.

  6. I’ve seen lots of brides buying stuff at Dollar stores. Might be worth a look.

And congratulations!!!

Well… wedding cakes are a huge European tradition going back for centuries. I don’t think there’s any other object that’s been so tightly associated with wedding celebrations than the cake, for so long. I don’t know about Korean wedding traditions, but I think the Irish contingent would be confused if there wasn’t one.

But as someone else wisely said above–decide if the wedding is for you or for your family, and make decisions accordingly.

Wonderful news - huge congratulations!

Nothing to add on wedding planning other than: be patient with your fiance…