The 5 Wedding Questions I Get Asked All the Time

Having worked for wedding magazines and websites and blogged about weddings, I’ve learned a few things along the way. My friends know this. My Twitter followers do, too. And because the world of weddings can be downright confusing, they often turn to me when they have a planning conundrum or an etiquette question. Some queries pop up more than others. So consider this the FAQs page on my site for brides and wedding guests.

Questions from Brides
Do I need a wedding photographer?
While it’s true that some of my favorite shots of the day came from friends’ cameras (like the above, from our friends Brooke and Brian), it’s important to designate someone as your official wedding photographer–and it’s not fair to burden a guest with that responsibility. Besides, no courteous guest is going to stick a camera inches from your face during the vows. Trust me, though, you want that shot of you getting teary-eyed. And since it’s difficult to gather the VIPs during your reception–and they likely don’t want to take time away from eating and dancing to take a picture–you need someone to get all the group shots before the party. Even at the reception, a pro knows how and when to capture those must-have shots that a friend who’s never covered a wedding may miss. All that said, you don’t need to spend $3,000 on a wedding photographer to love the end result.

Do I need a wedding planner?
I didn’t because I had a good sense of the venue and vendors in my location and price range. I also knew the best ways to save on my wedding because of the countless articles I had written on the subject. But there are aspects of the planning (namely, the design) and the day itself (namely, the florist delivering the wrong chuppah) that would’ve went more smoothly and been executed more beautifully if I had a coordinator in my corner. But I simply didn’t have the budget for it. And because perfection wasn’t my goal–a good time for as many people as possible was–it wasn’t my priority. So if you’re confident in your ability and availability to plan an event, and you won’t bawl on the balcony if your beloved anemones don’t arrive, then no, you don’t need a wedding planner.

How long do I really need to plan a wedding?
The short answer: 6 – 9 months. And that’s if you want the standard ceremony and reception at a rented venue, pro vendors providing everything from the music to the cake, and lots of adorable details that guests will remember. If you do it at your or a friend’s house and keep things a bit more casual, you don’t need as much time because you know the date’ll be free. So why do so many people have longer engagements? Because they may have their hearts set on a certain venue, vendor, and/or date that other brides have snatched up. Also because they want time to enjoy being engaged instead of spending every waking moment wedding planning. And for me and Paul, we had a two-year engagement (which I regret, for the record) because we were 23 freaking years old and had about six bucks to our names and knew we wanted to pay for a good portion of our wedding.

Questions from Wedding Guests
Do I have to buy a wedding gift from the registry?
No, but why wouldn’t you? The couple is telling you exactly what they want you to buy them. “But I want to give her something more personal than a toaster!” Unless you’re 100% sure that your non-registry gift is up her alley–my best friends got me a gorgeous heart-shaped vase with my and Paul’s names and wedding date engraved on it, but they were positive I love girly, heart-shaped things–don’t do it. It’s more important to get the couple something they want than something you think is more personal.

What should I wear?
If the attire is important enough to the couple, they’ll specify on the invite. And then you can google what the heck white tie means (sneak preview: Don’t go to a wedding that requests white tie). No clues? Lurk on Facebook to see what the couple wears to weddings they attend that are similar in formality and timing to theirs. Not into stalking? In general: Ladies, wear a cocktail dress in a fancy fabric to any event that’s indoors at a wedding venue. Save sparkles for nighttime affairs. Outside: Pretty sundresses do the trick. Guys, wear a suit and tie indoors; dark for night, anything goes for day inside. Outdoors, a light-fabric suit or, if it’s super-casual, khakis and a button-down, collared shirt.

Any wedding things you’re wondering about? Ask in the comments or tweet me @mereditor.

More About Weddings
What No One Admits About Wedding Dresses
How to Tell If a Friend Is Bridesmaid-Worthy
6 “Budget” Wedding Tips That Aren’t Worth It

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