by Amoré Cianciola, Hassayampa Inn, Director of Catering & Events
As a wedding professional who has helped almost 1,000 couples say “I do!” I am always asked about rules. When do I need to send out my invitations? How many people should I really budget for? What is the proper etiquette for seating my mother’s side of the family at the church? How do I have the day I want and make everyone happy? While there is no magic answer to any of these questions, I have learned a few things over the years.
The best is what I call F.L.O.P. What is this, and why would I want it? The tradition of having the bride’s family pay for the wedding is happening less often. Many well-intentioned family members and friends often ask if they can contribute to your day. This is where F.L.O.P. comes in. F.L.O.P. stands for Florist, Linens, Officiate and Photographer. To maintain control, you choose your vendor, and when you are in receipt of the invoice at an amount you feel comfortable paying without a patron, ask how much family and friends would like to contribute to the overall cost of the invoice.
When there are divorces in the family, seating can cause unnecessary tension. If there is a clear plan and everyone is made aware of the plan in advance you should be fine. Proper etiquette at the church would be to have your mother sit on the left side in the first row on the aisle and her immediate family fills in that row and the rows behind her.
If the father of the bride is giving the bride away, he would be seated on the aisle in the row just behind the mother’s family. This is true even if the father of the bride is hosting the whole wedding. The seating would be the same for the groom’s family. If all parties get along, there is no reason that the divorced parents can’t share the first row. Even if you do not have “sides,” you would still want to reserve the first couple rows for your closest family members. These rules apply to same-sex weddings, as well.
Trust your wedding vendors. The people you have hired to assist you with your wedding do this for a living. They will do everything they can and have been hired to create a wonderful day for you. While you don’t get an opportunity to plan a wedding every day, your vendor does. Trust does not mean to blindly follow, however, so make sure you read all your contracts and understand exactly what you are getting when you hire them. Don’t expect your photographer or their assistant to glue on your false eyelashes. You hired them for the beautiful images they will capture.
The biggest take away I have? Relax, don’t take on too much in the final days leading up to your wedding day, and remember, no matter what happens at the end of the day, when you kick your wedding shoes off and snuggle into your spouse’s arms, you are married to your person.