Wediquette: B Lists, Budget Booze, and Bossy Moms

Editor Brittany Jasnoff tackles your toughest big-day conundrums.


Illustrations by Libby Vanderploeg

What should be the rule for giving bridesmaids and groomsmen a plus one?

The last thing you want to do is offend a dear friend who is already sinking a lot of time (and cash) into your wedding festivities. If a member of your bridal party is married, engaged, or in a serious relationship, etiquette dictates that you should invite the significant other. Whether you give noncommitted bridesmaids and groomsmen a plus one should be determined by budget—and, of course, how much you think your besties would appreciate it.

I’ve heard that it’s in poor taste to not offer an open bar. However, my future husband is footing the bill for the event, and we’re trying hard to avoid debt. Might table wine service be a reasonable tradeoff?

It’s never a good idea to overextend yourself financially for the sake of a wedding. That said, I’d recommend trimming the fat from other areas of the budget—photo booths, fondue fountains—before putting the kibosh on the bar, which is typically guests’ first stop after the ceremony. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep the party going without draining your wedding fund. Rather than host a high-priced open bar, consider extending wine service into cocktail hour (pouring your favorite craft brew and soft drinks would also be a nice gesture). Lots of couples also choose to offer a “signature” cocktail (see page 28), which limits the number of bottles the bartender needs to open—and has the benefit of showing off your fabulous style.

Do people have a B list for wedding invites? If so, how does this work without looking tacky?

Yes, you can have a B list. But should you? The answer depends on how good you are at juggling spreadsheets, multiple RSVP deadlines, and hundreds of little pieces of paper. However, if you want to lower the risk of hurt feelings—and retain your sanity—I’d advise going with one streamlined guest list. Your coworkers and distant cousins understand that weddings are expensive, and budgets tight. Just be sure to keep social circles in mind as you whittle down the list—you wouldn’t want eccentric Uncle Marcus to find out from his own siblings that he didn’t make the cut, would you?


Illustrations by Libby Vanderploeg

My mom is a momzilla; she takes it as a personal attack if she offers you advice and you decide to go another route. She will often say to us, “Well, Jane Doe Officemate did this for her wedding.” Any suggestions on how to set the tone?

All moms want to be involved in planning their little girl’s wedding—so much so that they can forget that their little girl is now a grown woman with her own style! Try being proactive by making Mom feel like she’s part of the process. Request her help on projects like tracking RSVPs or assembling favors, and ask for her opinion on things you’re sure to agree on. Then, when she says that “so-and-so doesn’t think that card boxes/food trucks/flip-flops are a good idea,” you can tell her that while you appreciate her input, you and your fiancé have decided to go in another direction.


Illustrations by Libby Vanderploeg

What is your opinion on “first looks”? Do I really want my future husband to see me before I walk down the aisle?

There are many benefits to seeing your sweetheart before the ceremony. So many, in fact, that my husband and I decided to do a first look when we got married! First off, it lets you take formal photos before cocktail hour, which translates to plenty of time to mingle with your guests. It quells those prewedding nerves. But most important, it creates an unforgettable moment between you and your spouse-to-be—without 150 people craning their necks to watch. A few tips: Brainstorm a couple of locations around wedding base camp with your photographer before settling on a place/time. Don’t bring your whole entourage. When the time comes, all you’ll have to do is give your beloved a tap on the shoulder and watch him melt.


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