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Ask Us Anything: Answers to Questions of Etiquette, Planning and More

Local experts answer four of your pressing planning questions.

Q: Do speeches typically happen during the dinner portion of the reception? Is there an order we should stick to when planning our timeline? Help, please!

A: Yes. Traditionally, couples plan for speeches to take place during the dinner portion of their reception. Many couples choose this option because it provides for a flow between the time guests sit down and dinner is served, between courses or after dinner before the dancing begins.

Janea Mitcheltree, co-founder of Rosetree Weddings & Events in Minneapolis, has worked with dozens of couples to determine the timeline of their wedding day, including the timing and order of speeches.

“It’s tradition that the host, usually the bride’s parents, give the first toast,” Mitcheltree says. “This is a good opportunity for them to welcome everyone to the wedding and kick off the remainder of the speeches. This typically happens right after the grand entrance and prior to dinner being served.” Speeches by the groom’s parents can immediately follow, but traditionally these are given at the rehearsal dinner.

After the host’s speeches, the best man and maid of honor typically give toasts during dinner. Mitcheltree recommends waiting until everyone has been served to begin the wedding party speeches to minimize noise and ensure the focus is on the speaker.

Lastly, it is courteous for the bride and groom to say a thank you to their guests for celebrating their big day with them. This is also a perfect opportunity for the couple to leave the head table and begin saying hello to their guests before the dancing begins.

But don’t feel tied to tradition if it doesn’t feel right for you. “It’s your big day. You should certainly feel free to think outside the box,” Mitcheltree says. “By focusing on what works best for you and your guests, your wedding will have a unique vibe that stays true to who you are as a couple. There’s no right or wrong.”

Rosetree Weddings & Events, Minneapolis, 612.345.4325, rosetreeevents.com

Q: I’ve selected my bridesmaids and am considering having a personal attendant. What is the attendant’s role in a wedding party? Do most brides still have them?

A: Every wedding and bridal party is different—some brides swear by their personal attendants, while others tend to lean on their wedding planners for additional help.

Caitlin Wolff, branch manager and lead planner at the Simply Elegant Group in Minneapolis, has worked with many brides who have had personal attendants. As a rule, she says, “the role of a personal attendant is to take care of your every need. Similar to members of the bridal party, she’ll be with you nonstop the day of the wedding. She can get you coffee in the morning, help with your hair and makeup, anything you need her help for.”

In addition to helping you with smaller tasks, Wolff says many brides rely on their personal attendants to assist with some of the bigger day-of tasks, including setting out décor, being the main point of contact for vendors and ensuring the bridal party follows the timeline.

Although your personal attendant can help you with some of the bigger tasks on your wedding day, remember that a personal attendant is not the same as a day-of coordinator or wedding planner. “Keep in mind that she is a guest at your wedding and not a vendor, so don’t overload her with so many tasks that she won’t be able to enjoy your wedding,” Wolff advises. In addition, Wolff reminds brides to make sure their personal attendant isn’t getting left out of the bridal party. Her title and role might be different, but she’s important to you and will want to be included on your big day, similar to your bridesmaids.

Relationships between the bride and personal attendant vary, but Wolff says that many personal attendants tend to be sisters-in law, cousins, friends or coworkers. While there’s no direct equivalent for the groom, many grooms ask family members, friends or coworkers to serve as ushers during the ceremony. While ushers typically are only expected to hand out programs and walk guests to their seats, many grooms treat them like groomsmen and have them by their sides from start to finish on the big day.

The Simply Elegant Group, Minneapolis, 612.803.1764, thesimplyelegantgroup.com

Q: We’re a couple weeks away from our wedding, and a few of our guests are changing their RSVPs or requesting to change their plus-ones. Is this typical? What do we do?

A: While you and your significant other are committing to forever, don’t expect that of your guests. Joan Nilsen, owner of Ambiente Wedding & Event Planning in Minneapolis, recommends couples stay calm about last-minute changes and remember that this is a common occurrence. “Changes and additions will always happen. Just remember that your wedding planner and caterer expect this and will be your partners in making sure everything is taken care of.”

For any 11th-hour changes, Nilsen recommends consulting with your wedding planner or whoever is in charge of your place cards. If an extra guest needs to be added, refer to the seating chart and be prepared to move the couple to a new table if spacing dictates. Place cards can certainly be printed the week of, or even a few days prior to the big day. If not, then simply hand-write one for the last-minute addition.

After communicating with your wedding planner, reach out to your caterer if the preferred meal choice of your guest’s new plus-one is different from what was originally ordered. “Keep in mind that your final guest count typically isn’t due until the week of your wedding, and caterers handle last-minute changes all of the time,” Nilsen says.

While it’s easy to get flustered, especially as the day approaches, Nilsen reminds couples that even the most organized bride will not be able to foresee everything—and that’s OK. “On your wedding day, name cards, meal preferences and plus-ones will be the last thing on your mind. Focus on your big day, each other, the family and friends surrounding you on your wedding day—and remember that everything will work out beautifully.”

Ambiente Wedding & Event Planning, Minneapolis, 612.285.2955, ambientegroup.com

Q: We love children, but would like to ask our guests to leave their little ones at home on our wedding day. How can we politely ask them to do so?

A: While your loved ones’ tiny tots are cute as can be, it’s common for couples to want an adults-only wedding. By doing so, you’ll avoid any disruption that children can bring (crying or fussing, running around the dance floor, late-night meltdowns, etc.). Plus, your adult guests will likely stay longer and fully enjoy their night out without the kiddos.

Rachelle Mazumdar, director of events at Style-Architects Weddings + Events in Minneapolis, says that many couples she works with wish to limit the number of children present during their wedding and reception, but aren’t always sure how to ask their guests to leave their children at home. “It can be an uncomfortable conversation for couples to have with their guests,” she says. “But if it’s important to you to have an adults-only wedding, there are many options to communicate that to your guests.”

Mazumdar notes that while there’s no easy way to say “no kids” on your invitations, there are subtle ways to get the message across. To do so, she suggests that couples address the invitations properly and include the names of all the specific guests that are invited. Spread the word among family and friends (before your invitations go out) of your desire to have your wedding be adults only.

Also, add a line of copy to your wedding website that states that your wedding will be adults only. A commonly used phrase: “We respectfully request that guests honor our wishes for an adults-only event.”

Once you’ve determined how to communicate your wishes to guests, Mazumdar recommends couples be consistent across the board—no exceptions. “It’s easier to explain that no children are invited rather than why a handful of children are invited and others aren’t,” she says. “Feelings will be hurt if couples see other children at the event. The only exception should be flower girls and ring-bearers.”

If you’re concerned about being consistent or seeming too much like you’re putting your foot down, on-site child care is another option. Often, a room for kids can be reserved at your reception or hotel, and many companies offer babysitting services specifically for weddings and events.

Style-Architects Weddings + Events, Minneapolis, 612.326.9020, style-architectsweddings.com

Have a question you’d like answered? Email our editor at sarah.rogers@tigeroak.com with the subject line ‘Ask Us Anything.’