Recent Etiquette + Advice Posts
By: Sarah Zlotnick
No way around it — your wedding day ensemble is going to be one of the most memorable outfits of your life. And we’re here to help you through the gown selection process! Start by finding salons near you using WeddingWire’s vendor catalog, then whittle down where you’ll actually shop using these 10 helpful questions.
1. Are you by appointment only? Shopping for a wedding dress is not like shopping at the Gap — and it shouldn’t be. Bridal is one of the few realms of fashion where couture sensibilities still apply, and that means you’ll likely be trying on samples of gowns styles and then placing an order. That attention to detail requires dedicated time with a dedicated sales associate, and for that, my dears, you will likely need to schedule a time to visit.
2. Do you carry my designer? Most brides these days do some gown research before heading into a shop (you can start yours by using our searchable dress galleries or getting inspired by our Fashion Ideas section). This means they have a general idea of what — and more importantly, what designer — they’d like to wear. Before you book a slot at your local salon, check to see if the designers they carry match up with your list / overall aesthetic. If you know there’s only one designer for you, it’s worth checking directly with the brand to see when / where their next trunk show will be in your area.
Also important: Ensuring your store is an authorized retailer for your dress designer. If it isn’t, you run the risk of purchasing a knock-off gown that could be of lesser quality and that can’t be set to the original maker should something be wrong with it after delivery.
3. What is your price range? Sticking to a dress budget can become mighty difficult when you fall in love with a gown before looking at the tag. if you don’t want to risk the temptation, it helps to stick to shops where the majority of options fit your affordability scale.
4. What should I bring with me? Our general advice is heels, a strapless bra, seamless underwear, and shape wear. But some salons have undergarments available for you to use during your appointment, and others might request a makeup free face to prevent gowns from staining. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible by checking before you head in.
5. Who should I bring with me? Many brides opt to bring their mother and one or more members of their bridal party, but your salon might not have space to accommodate everyone. Ensure a comfortable, stress-free environment by whittling down your shopping party accordingly.
6. What’s included in the price? Some shops include alteration, taxes, and delivery fees in their original price, while others add them on a la carte after the initial gown purchase. These extra fees can drastically impact your dress budget, so be sure to get a feel for all the steps you’ll be paying for before committing to a gown.
7. What’s the payment process? The majority of salons ask for an initial deposit (around half the price of the gown), and then request the second portion of the payment after alterations have been completed. Ask ahead of time so you can budget accordingly in your wedding spending. Unfun, but also worth inquiring about: the cancellation policy. Should something go awry on your way to the altar, it can’t hurt to know how long you have to request a refund.
8. How do fittings/alterations work? The dress you settle on in-store is typically a sample gown. After you select a style, the salon will then place an order for yours, and, after a few weeks of waiting for delivery, the alterations begin. It’s important to understand how your salon handles this process before committing to purchasing there. Are alterations done in house or do you have to coordinate with a separate seamstress? How many fittings do brides typically undergo? What’s the cost for alterations? How many weeks should you allow for the whole ordeal? These are just a few of the important details to get straight.
9. Can I customize my gown? You love a dress, but you would be completely sold on it if only it had sleeves / more sequins / straps / a different bodice / whatever. If you’re working with a smaller salon (or even one with a whiz of a seamstress), you may be able to pay extra to pull off changes beyond alterations to your wedding gown. Brides that are very particular about their personal style will definitely benefit from asking about these possibilities ahead of time.
10. What do I do with my dress after the wedding? Take it to a preservationist, of course! Ask your salon for a referral in your area.
Photo: Heather Brulez Photography
Happy Halloween! We celebrated yesterday at WW headquarters with an array of creative costumes from Care Bears to “What does the fox say?” and Snow White and the seven dwarfs to Breaking Bad, but there’s nothing more scary to engaged couples than their wedding planning going awry. Spooktacularly, our editors have come up with tips below to help you avoid being a wedding day horror story:
1. Do research before you hire vendors. Check out WeddingWire’s vendor reviews to find the perfect match based on your location and preferences. Once one is added to your team, check in and confirm, reiterate directions, emergency contact numbers, and day-of schedule. Prepare final payments and tips ahead of time that way you don’t have to remember what is owed to whom on your wedding day.
2. Develop a timeline with ample allowance. Build in enough cushion time for your vendors to set up before the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception begin that way if anything unexpected happens, no one will notice as long as you don’t keep guests waiting.
3. Organize your guest list. Create a no-expectations policy (significant others only if they’re engaged; no children under 18), if possible, in hopes that your guest list does not become larger than desired and use WeddingWire’s guest list tool to keep track of RSVPs.
4. Prepare for inclement weather. Mother Nature can be less-than-ideal — rain, thunderstorms, heat, snow — have a Plan B, especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding. Consider a venue with an indoor space or tent as backup. Provide fans that double as ceremony programs to keep guests cool or rent space heaters to keep guests warm.
5. Have an emergency kit on stand-by. Of course, you’ll need the essentials like bandaids, pain reliever, and deodorant, but what happens if you have a broken heel, stain, skin breakout, or fallen updo? Have a pair of spare shoes or invest in Shoe Goo for a broken heel, baby powder and rubbing alcohol or white chalk for stains, concealer for cover-up, and bobby pins and hair spray for a fallen updo.
6. Consider having an “unplugged” ceremony. Politely ask your guests and bridal party to turn off all electronic devices, including cell phones, smart phones, and cameras and allow the professional photographers and videographers do their job. You wouldn’t want a bridesmaid to update her Facebook status, tweet, or Instagram a picture of you getting ready in your dress before the first look or walk down the aisle, it may ruin the surprise for the groom!
7. Indicate whether you’re having a cocktail, buffet, or plated dinner reception. Let’s be honest, you don’t want your guests’ stomachs to growl or your guests to have an allergic reaction to the food. Take note of those who do have special requests.
8. Monitor your speech-givers. Sometimes a toast needs to steer clear of sensitive topics such as exes, religion, or race. And if it’s an open bar, they might have calmed their nerves a little too much and could roast you to a crisp. Communicate that this is totally irrelevant and uncomfortable for not only you but your guests listening. A good rule of thumb is to keep it no longer than 5 minutes.
9. Create a playlist for the DJ or band. These songs are meant to be skipped: “Chicken Dance,” “Cha Cha Slide,” “YMCA,” “Macarena,” you get the idea.
10. Eat, drink, and be married. Don’t go through your wedding day on an empty stomach, pre-order oatmeal with chia seeds for breakfast, salad for lunch and an afternoon snack like trail mix. The oatmeal along with the chia seeds will keep your skin glowing from head to toe, the salad will diminish unnecessary bloating and the trail mix will cure your hunger in between the ceremony and reception dinner. Hydrate with water before you pop the bubbly!
Photo: Amy E. Photography
Choosing a cake baker is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of wedding planning. Why? Because who wouldn’t want to partake in a cake tasting session? After reading dozens of WeddingWire vendor reviews and narrowing your candidates down, you’re finally ready to sit down (with an empty stomach) for an in-person or phone interview. Have them answer the following questions:
1. Do you customize cakes? Familiarize yourself with their portfolio! There probably is a set number of designs that he/she offers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own inspiration to the conversation.
2. How long before the wedding will the cake be baked? It’s not a one-day job. Keep in mind that he/she often has more than one wedding cake per weekend to prepare. Layers are normally baked in advance, but you don’t want a stale or frozen cake. To be safe, make sure it’s two to four days in advance.
3. Some of my guests have allergies. What are my options? Depending on the number of guests that have allergies, your cake baker might suggest to either have one tier or the entire cake to be gluten-free.
4. Which flavors, fillings, and icings do you offer? Find out what’s available. Common flavors include: vanilla, chocolate devil’s food, lemon, and coconut. Common fillings and icings include: buttercream, cream cheese, and fruit purees.
5. What if I want fresh flowers? Will you coordinate with my florist? Come up with a game plan of communication between the two. Request the florist to provide a photo of the pesticide-free flowers he/she plans on arranging, so your cake baker can design the cake around them.
6. How will the cake be transported? Ask whether the cake baker or decorator will be on hand for last minute touch ups once the cake is delivered.
7. Will the cake need to be refrigerated? The types of “soft” frosting and filling you pick will ultimately decide whether the heat and humidity will be a concern.
8. Do you cut the cake? Is that an extra fee? If your cake baker is not an in-house vendor affiliated with your venue, there’s a possibility for a cutting-fee on average of $1.50 per person.
9. What’s the cost per slice? Consider the details. The more intricate and exotic, the higher it will cost. And vice versa.
10. Can we save the top tier our first anniversary? Often times, your cake baker will provide a free mini cake instead.
Photo: Genesa Richards Photography
Like everything else on your wedding day, your ceremony should be a deeply personal experience that reflects both you and your significant other’s values and style. Whether your ceremony is religious or not, having the right person to guide you toward a ceremony that’s special and meaningful is crucial. Check out WeddingWire’s vendor reviews to find officiants near you, then use these questions to help guide your initial discussion.
1. Are you free on my wedding date? Obviously, you’ll need to make sure that the person can perform the wedding on your big day.
2. Do you only perform weddings at a specific venue (house of worship) or will you be able to come to my venue? Some officiants will only perform ceremonies in their house of worship, and won’t travel to other venues. If you want to have your wedding at a house of worship, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re planning on hosting a ceremony at a different location, this is an important question.
3. Are you licensed to perform a wedding in the state where we’ll be marrying? Your officiant should be ordained and licensed to perform marriages in your state.
4. How much do you charge? If you’re marrying in a church or house of worship, a couple will usually make a donation in lieu of actually paying the officiant directly. If the officiant works on more of a “freelance” basis, they’ll have a fee, plus any travel or other expenses.
5. How many times/how often should we meet before the wedding? This varies from officiant to officiant. Some require premarital counseling, others just want to meet once or twice before the wedding to discuss the ceremony.
6. How long have you been performing ceremonies? Find out about the officiant’s experience, and how many weddings he or she has performed. While this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, it’s good to know.
7. What do you love most about being an officiant? This is a good way to get a sense of the officiant’s personality.
8. How much can we personalize our ceremony? Would you allow us to write our own vows and incorporate readings? Some religious ceremonies are quite strict and may not allow much customization, but other ceremonies are a bit more flexible.
9. How long does a ceremony typically take? For planning purposes, it’s good to know how long your ceremony will be – it can vary greatly from officiant to officiant.
10. Can you provide a sample of a ceremony you did for another couple, either in writing or on video? Get a sense of what a typical ceremony looks and sounds like. How much input did the couple have? Did it feel personal and special?
11. What happens in case of an emergency? Make sure that there is a backup plan in case the officiant gets sick or there is some other unforeseen issue.
By: Leeor Pilo
Photo: Maryland Wedding Makeup
Alright ladies, we all know we want to look and feel our best on our wedding day, and the right makeup artist can significantly alleviate some of our biggest beauty woes. But with all the new technology in makeup products and applications, it can get confusing to know which makeup artist and method is right for you! Your pretty face is in your makeup artist’s hands, not literally, of course — well kinda, so you should feel confident that they know exactly how you want to look. Check out WeddingWire’s vendor reviews, and ask the studios and beauticians you’re considering this list of questions.
First, get the logistics out of the way:
1. How do I book you for my wedding date and do you require a deposit? Do you charge a travel fee? The answer to these questions will help you organize your budget and get yet another item checked off your list when planning for your wedding.
2. Will it be you at my wedding or another artist? What happens if you can’t make it? Larger studios may have more than one artist on hand so make sure that the professional you’re seeing at your trial-run will be the one who comes on the day-of. This is the person you’ve discussed the details and developed a report with. It’s important to know ahead of time that they’ll be there for you at your wedding. Also, what will happen in the event of an emergency? Get the facts now so you can rest easy the night before your wedding.
3. How many weddings have you done? Do you normally work with brides? Makeup artists, who work with brides exclusively, will understand your needs better than a makeup artist with another area of expertise.
4. Do you accommodate bridal parties? If your girls are interested in getting their makeup done too, ask whether your makeup artist can provide services to your entire crew and what the extra cost will be.
Now onto beauty:
5. Do you have a portfolio I can look at? The makeup artist’s portfolio will give you a better gauge in knowing whether they can provide the look and feel you want for your wedding day makeup.
6. What makeup products do you use? How do you clean your brushes and tools? If you have sensitive skin or severe acne, this is a MUST-ASK for you! Communicate your skin allergies to your makeup artist so he/she knows in advance what products may or may not work for you.
7. Do you use oil-free products or products with SPF? Don’t forget to protect your skin on your wedding day! Summer brides especially should know whether the makeup used will be melt-proof and protect your skin from the hot sun.
8. Do you sell the cosmetic products you use? Even the longest-wearing lipstick may need a touchup or two, (especially with all that kissing!) Find out where you can find some of the same items your makeup artist will use ahead of time in order for you to reapply as needed after the ceremony or before the reception.
9. Do you offer air-brushing, false lashes, tattoo coverage or other specialized services? If you’re interested in any of these services, it’s good to research whether makeup artists, who can provide them or not.
10. Do you specialize in a certain look? If your makeup artist loves a wedding day smokey eye but you prefer a more natural look, find a makeup artist that understands your desired look and executes on them.