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Ask Us Anything: 4 Pressing Planning Questions Solved

Local experts offer advice to solve your wedding worries.

Q I’m so excited to have my nearest and dearest next to me as bridesmaids on the big day—but in this modern world with wedding planners and expert wedding pros helping out with my big-day details, I can’t help but wonder: What are my ’maids actually supposed to do?

A The No. 1 responsibility for your bridesmaids is to support you on the big day and leading up to it. That support can take many different shapes.

Today’s weddings can tend to be large affairs, requiring significant planning and execution of details—which is why many brides turn to their bridal parties for help and support. But don’t fret; your bridal party is made up of the women (and/or men) in your life who mean the most to you, so they’ll likely be more than happy to help out. But it’s important to make sure you and your bridal party are on the same page about who is responsible for what.

“It’s important to spell out early in the process what you expect of your bridal party,” says Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects in Minneapolis. “For members of the bridal party, it may be the first time they are helping with wedding arrangements, so providing a checklist will make them feel more comfortable with any tasks assigned to them.”

According to Mazumdar, the maid of honor is often a bride’s right-hand gal throughout the planning process and wedding itself. This includes attending any special vendor meetings and dress fittings, attending or hosting all pre-wedding events and helping with any DIY projects. The maid of honor is usually the go-to girl on the big day itself for any last-minute vendor coordination and planning details, as well as signing the marriage license as a witness and giving a toast at the reception.

The greater wedding party is responsible for assisting the maid of honor in coordinating wedding showers and the bachelorette party, as well as attending pre-wedding events. They are also responsible for running last-minute errands and helping the bride ensure everything is perfect for her big day—and that she is calm, cool and collected.

If you’re hesitant about assigning responsibilities to your bridal party, consider hiring a wedding planner. Wedding planners are true experts in planning and executing weddings, and will be more than happy to lighten your to-do list (that’s their job!). By hiring a wedding planner, your family and friends can sit back, relax, and enjoy the planning process and the big day itself.

Q When tipping my vendors, what percent is customary?

A Your vendors are helping make your wedding dream a reality, and in many cases putting in many hours on your big event—so it’s important to tip your vendors (and do so on time). Jennae Saltzman, owner of Blush and Whim in Minneapolis, says that tipping amounts vary depending on the vendor.

It’s common etiquette to tip your stylists, catering staff, transportation and entertainment 15 to 18 percent. For smaller vendors, tips ranging from $25 to $100 are common based on their level of service and package amount. For officiants, a small gift or donation to their church or place of service is a great option. All other vendors typically have negotiated their gratuity and service fees into your total package for a set price.

When tipping, Saltzman reminds couples to note whether or not your vendor owns their own business. “For bigger companies who work with multiple contracted artists, a tip is always appreciated, as those vendors are usually working on a smaller commission.” In the end, outstanding service always deserves an extra pat on the back.

Saltzman recommends writing the names of each vendor on an envelope, and having your wedding planner, maid of honor or best man be in charge of distributing tips to each of your vendors.

And don’t forget a thank-you note. “Oftentimes kind words go above and beyond any dollar amount, as vendors can use those thank-yous as testimonials on their websites and social media,” says Saltzman. Once a wedding is over, it’s often difficult for vendors to reach out to get a few words from you; thank-you notes are the perfect way to show your appreciation.

Q My fiancé and I want to be as sustainable as possible at our wedding, so we are considering electronic invitations. Is that tacky, or tastefully green?

A Going green is a great decision—and the good news is that your options for sustainable invitations are nearly endless. But before you commit to going paperless, it’s important to consider the impact a paper invitation has on your guests.

“Paper invitations are the first interaction your guests have with you on your wedding day,” says Kate Panke, owner of Paper Rock Scissor in Minneapolis. “You want to be sure that the invitations match the formality and tone of your day, and that they also get your guests excited for the incredible celebration you’re planning.”

But don’t worry—paper invites can still be sustainable. Panke recommends brides speak with their stationer about the materials they’ll be using for your invitations. One tree-friendly option brides have is to use paper made from cotton instead of wood pulp. If cotton paper is above your price range, post-consumer recycled paper is an option that many stationers offer.

Another way to be sustainable is to place your invitation order with a vendor who works and prints locally, as that’s a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding. The Twin Cities are home to dozens of talented stationers, so finding a local vendor should be an easy task.

In addition to adhering to green practices with invitations, couples also have options when it comes to their RSVPs. If you’re looking forward to seeing your mailbox full of wedding RSVPs, consider formatting your RSVP card as a postcard to forgo the need for an envelope. Or ditch the reply card entirely and set up a wedding website where your guests can RSVP electronically.

Q If I already know that one of my intended guests can’t attend the wedding, should I still send them an invitation?

A Yes! According to Antoinette Golinghorst, owner and creative director of Paperista in Minneapolis, everyone on your guest list should receive an invitation even if they let you know early on that they are unable to attend.

“An invitation is more than just paper,” she says. “An invitation is the official act of inviting a guest to your wedding, regardless of any verbal interaction you may have had previously.”

In addition to being a formal invitation to your wedding, people’s plans change, so it’s a good idea to give your guests another chance to change their RSVP if needed. This allows guests to formally let you know whether they will be attending or not, and leaves no questions unanswered.

If you’re worried that sending an invitation may make the recipient feel like you are sending it just to receive a gift, don’t worry! Simply include a handwritten note stating that you are sending the invitation as a keepsake and will miss them at the celebration. This kind of gesture will make your loved ones feel included in your special day, whether they are able to be there in person or will be celebrating from afar. 

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