A couple embraces at their engagement shoot with Ashley Nicole Photography

Ask the Wedding Experts: Seating Charts, Dinner Style, Wearing White and More

Have you ever felt like knowledge can be both a blessing and a curse? That is how you might feel from about the immense amount of well-intentioned (but sometimes unsolicited) advice offered by friends and family as you plan your wedding. How can you possibly determine the good advice from the bad—the current trends from the passé? What is acceptable now could be vastly different from what was appropriate for your grandmother’s wedding over 50 years ago. Since the wedding industry is forever evolving, even advice from a bride as recently as five to 10 years ago may no longer apply. That’s why we are here to help you sort out the common misconceptions and to guide you through the most common wedding myths.

Wedding Myth #1
A wedding planner is an unnecessary expense.
More often than not, the cost of a wedding planner is money well spent in the long term. A wedding planner can offer invaluable up-to-date advice, assist in making decisions and ultimately save you from a multitude of headaches along the road to wedded bliss. Additionally, wedding planners may end up saving money on costs due to their connections within the industry, such as negotiating a group rate with a hotel for your out-of-town guests. They can use their business relationships to negotiate a satisfactory rate at hotels, venues and other vendors while saving you time and effort.

Wedding Myth #2
Only the bride should wear white.
Thanks to the high-profile weddings of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, the tradition of white being worn only by the bride is no longer a steadfast rule. After all, weddings are trending toward the non-traditional, and not all brides wear white anymore when it comes to their big day. Ideally, close family members should check with the bride before selecting a white dress for the occasion; when in doubt, accessorize.

When it comes to dressing the wedding party, there are more choices now than ever for colors, fabrics and styles. It is entirely up to you whether your bridesmaids are decked out in the same dress style or different shades of your favorite color. You can even mix and match similar styles and hues, as long as the end result is tasteful and coordinated. Thinking of mixing in some shades of white or ivory? As long as you are comfortable, everyone else may as well join in!

Wedding Myth #3
A DIY wedding will save you money.
If the truth be told, handmade details can be time-consuming and expensive. If you take on too many DIY projects, you could well find your head spinning. But that’s okay, because you are saving money, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, the materials alone for your project can end up costing much more than intended, leading not only to financial cost, but labor as well. When factoring in both manpower and materials, suddenly a DIY wedding doesn’t seem so wonderful after all.

Cheer up! Handcrafted details do not have to be an overwhelming task, as long as your plans are realistic and achievable. While doing so, keep in mind that there are hundreds of fantastic local wedding vendors waiting to do the job for you. Their sole purpose is to help ease the burden of planning such a large event and give you everything your dreams have envisioned. Vendors also have years of experience to draw upon when creating the perfect product for your wedding day. Instead of taking on everything yourself, pick a few handcrafted details that truly speak to you and your relationship, and evaluate whether the task can be tackled before the big day. If not, delegate those details to the professionals.

Wedding Myth #4
Seating charts are a waste of time.
Assigned seating shows your guests how much consideration and time was put into assuring their comfort at the reception. Not only does it streamline the seating process, it allows new relationships to be formed through the intermingling of family and friends. Keep in mind that if you hire a wedding planner, they can do this work for you.

There are many new and fun options for displaying seating charts and escort cards. Utilize the skills of an artsy friend or relative if you have one. A quality paper vendor will always know how to incorporate escort cards into your wedding suite package, so don’t worry if you would rather avoid the fuss. There are no rules when it comes to invites, so have fun playing with a unique design, size, or shape! Couples can even play with the placement of the invitation card for a twist.

The only rule of thumb when it comes to building a seating chart is to be considerate of your guests. It is wise to have your parents or other designated family member review the chart to double check that you have not overlooked an old feud or uncomfortable relationship, unwittingly placing those guests at the same table.

Wedding Myth #5
Buffets are cheaper than plated dinners.
It is often assumed that buffets are a money-saving option for large receptions. While buffets can be fantastic for offering guests a variety of choices, some dishes can still be rather costly, especially when including one or more carving stations. While a self-service buffet minimizes wait staff, it does not allow for portion control. If it is not properly managed, a self-service buffet can also leave the last guests in line with food that is past its prime, dishes that are cold, or completely empty of food.

One option for portion-control is to have your caterer provide wait staff to “serve” from one side of the buffet to guests as they move through the line on the other. This not only provides portion control, but it also allows wait staff to monitor when an item needs to be replenished.
Another meal service concept growing in popularity is the “family-style” meal. This style is typically less expensive than a plated meal, and your guests will feel more comfortable with no need to wait or get up for their meal. The dishes remain on the table to be refilled by wait staff as needed, cutting down on waste as well as cost. When choosing a family-style dinner, it is important to secure the services of a chef, wedding planner or venue that has experience in this type of service. Also, keep in mind the logistics of each table’s décor as you plan room for serving dishes. You will want to keep tabletop décor to a minimum so that both guests and serving dishes will fit comfortably.

However, don’t count out the benefits of a plated meal, which still allows your guests to make personal choices while bringing an added level of elegance and traditional sophistication to your reception. There’s nothing quite like being served a beautifully plated meal to make guests feel pampered and satisfied. To prepare for this, however, it is essential to include the entrée choices on your response cards and track the selections accordingly for your caterer.

Gone are the days of steadfast rules when it comes to proper decorum at modern weddings. The best advice we can give is to remain tasteful in your choices and considerate of your wedding party, family and guests. At the end of the day, it is best to make these decisions based upon how best you can celebrate your own love story on this very special day, and share it with people that truly care about you and your new spouse.