10 Big Wedding Toast Don’ts!

10 Big Wedding Toast Don’ts!

The perfect wedding toast is a work of oratory art. It can’t be too short (cheers!) and it can’t drone on and on. It has to be funny but it also has to be sentimental. So if you’ve been tasked with toasting the newlyweds, prepare to prep — and whatever you do, avoid these toasting faux pas!

Wedding party listening to toast

Photo by Nikki Mills

Don’t be afraid to roast the bride or groom, but know when enough is enough.

There’s a fine line between poking fun and being vulgar. So don’t talk about how drunk they got at college and what trouble they used to get into. For starters it’s unoriginal, but mainly because Grandma and the in-laws are in the audience too.

Don’t tell private jokes.

It doesn’t matter how funny you and five other of your friends think something is, if half the audience doesn’t know it, you’re excluding them and they’ll stop listening.

Don’t dwell on touchy subjects.

Avoid talking about differences in religion, race and especially exes. These topics are totally irrelevant to this day and it will make everyone feel super-uncomfortable.

Don’t tell us how your friend is like your sister (maids of honor, this one’s for you).

We know you adore each other — that’s why she gave you the job. Tell us why you love her, why she’s so amazing and why she makes you laugh.

Don’t just use adjectives to describe the person you’re talking about.

You need to backup your descriptions with stories. The more specific you are, the better the speech.

Don’t be overly sentimental.

Try for at least 70 percent humor and storytelling. When was the last time you left a wedding talking about an amazing speech that was all tears and “I love yous?” If you think back over all the time you’ve spent together, you’ll find the juicy details about your friend and the humor.

Don’t speak for longer than five minutes.

It’s always better to leave the guests wanting more than wishing you’d stop.

Don’t get hammered at the open bar.

If a glass of wine or a shot of tequila gives you a bit of confidence, then go for it. But no more than one until you’re done!

Don’t talk about yourself.

Yes, you’ve shared hundreds of adventures with your best friend or sibling, but you’re the best man or maid because all those stories make you an expert on them. Look through your speech and count the “I’s.”

Don’t let nerves get the better of you!

You’re about to deliver the best gift to your friend you’ve ever given them – it’s exciting and you should be looking forward to it. If you spend the whole speech freaking out, you’ll regret it afterward, and you only get one chance, so enjoy every moment of it.

Special thanks to Victoria Wellman, cofounder of The Oratory Laboratory.


Is Having a Small Wedding Ceremony Rude?

Is Having a Small Wedding Ceremony Rude?

Do guests feel like they are only second fiddle if they find out that they’re solely invited to the reception?

Overhead picture of a small outdoor wedding ceremony

Photo by Q Weddings

We’ve seen a rising trend during our Wedding Wednesday chats on Facebook asking if it’s okay to have a small, intimate wedding ceremony followed by a bigger reception party on the same day. And, if smaller ceremony guest lists are okay, how should the invitations be worded differently for the smaller group invited to the ceremony versus the people only invited to the party portion of the evening?

This isn’t an unheard of phenomenon, and it actually goes back to having a fun party post elopement or after a smaller destination wedding. But even though traditional etiquette rules don’t expressly forbid doing this, it still has a tendency to rub some guests the wrong way, no matter how nicely the invites are worded.

One bride on our community boards asked the question pretty clearly: “We decided early on that we wanted a small wedding ceremony that only includes our immediate family. We plan on having an evening dinner celebration on the same day as our ceremony with everyone (85 people). I’ve been reading too many posts about how rude it is, and others that say its perfectly fine! Help!”

The response to this bride’s thread wasn’t entirely supportive. Many people fired back at her, saying that they’d never attend a wedding reception only and that it feels like a “gift grab.” While others said that they didn’t know what all the fuss was about, since the reception is the main event.

Can you have a small ceremony? Yep, just remember…

Regardless of where you fit on that spectrum, one thing remains clear: If you’re having a smaller ceremony it should truly be intimate, with just wedding party and family members attending. If you invite one half of the guests to the ceremony and another half gets completely left out, it really does seem like everyone else is second fiddle. And even though it’s understood generally that the wedding reception is the more costly portion of the evening, it’s hard not to feel like you aren’t as important as the guests who were invited to all the events.

Reasons to have a smaller wedding ceremony:

1. The capacity of the ceremony venue only allows part of your guest list, not all.

2. Your whole wedding is an intimate affair.

3. It’s part of your elopement plans or small destination wedding plans, and you’ll celebrate with a wider group of people when you return.

A few alternatives to consider:

If you are keeping things small because you only want the people around who matter most, you might consider cutting the entire guest list down and marrying at a destination that gives you a built-in excuse for only inviting a certain amount of people to the entire celebration. That way, you’re covered and the problem is solved.

If your ceremony location has a capacity issue, that’s definitely more understandable, but it still doesn’t take away that feeling of being a second-choice guest. Before settling on a ceremony venue, you should do some extra research to find out if other ceremony locations in your area would take on more guests. If you’re set on your location, that’s totally okay! Don’t sweat it. This is one thing people understand even if they feel like they wish they were included.

Our easiest advice? Invite everyone you’d like to have around you (within reason) to both parts of your wedding — that way there are no hurt feelings. And again, if you’re set on having a smaller ceremony, stick with a family-only policy. Adding in equations about which people get to come to the ceremony, and which people don’t, based on how often you interact with them or how long they’ve been friends just gets murky. Drawing the line at family members is a clear action that’s easy to follow and hard to argue.

If you are having a smaller ceremony, here’s what to do:

Send out two different sets of invites.

One group to the people invited to all events, and one to the group that is just invited to the reception. Word the reception-only invites like this: “[Names of the couple] request the honor of your presence at a celebration of their marriage Saturday, the ninth of January at seven o’clock at the Rob Roy Country Club in Mount Prospect, Illinois.” This way, guests will understand that the wedding itself will have already taken place.

Field questions about when the ceremony is taking place.

Be prepared to be asked about when the ceremony is happening. Let guests know that you’re just having an intimate ceremony with limited space, but you hope they can still celebrate with you! Hopefully this will drop the hint and you won’t be asked many more questions.


Getting-Ready Ideas for Your Bridesmaids

Getting-Ready Ideas for Your Bridesmaids

Skip the matching velvet jumpsuits and pick up a set of gorgeous robes or cute tanks for your bridesmaids. (Bonus: They make for a great morning-of photo op!)

bride with bridesmaid in pink robes

Photo by Sunglow Photography
  1. Bow tank tops

    bridesmaid with bow back tank tops

    Photo by Amber Hately Photography

    Cute, fitted tank tops are an effortless option—and the bow detail adds a fun, feminine touch.

    Get the Look: Bow-back tank tops, $25, Bridal Bliss Couture, Etsy.com

  2. Cozy flannels

    Bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in flannel button downs

    Photo by Tracey Buyce Photography

    Customized flannels will keep you chic and cozy. The perfect addition to your winter wedding, these oversize button-downs are so warm and comfy it will feel like you’re getting ready in your pj’s all day!

    Get the Look: Customized flannel button-downs, $42, TinyTulip.com

  3. Monogrammed men’s shirts

    bridesmaids in pink button downs

    Photo by Jacquie Rives Photography

    We’re seeing lots of brides and maids opting for these monogrammed button-downs to get ready in. They’re casual, easy and perfect for the hair and makeup chair.

    Get the Look: Oversize button-down, $34, AdvantageBridal.com

  4. Matching robes

    bride and bridesmaids in getting ready robes

    Photo by Troy Grover Photographers

    Robes are perfect for the morning of your wedding. Not only are they comfortable, but they can be taken off without messing up your bridal hair.

    Get the Look: Kimono-style robe, $65, PlumPrettySugar.com

  5. Custom hanger tags

    wooden hangers with bridesmaid name tags

    Photo by Bryan Jonathan Weddings

    Prevent any bridesmaid-dress mix-ups by attaching cute little name tags to all of the hangers.

    Get the Look: Hanger name tags, $3, Bliss Lettering, Etsy.com

  6. Monogrammed makeup bags

    bridesmaid with monogrammed makeup bag

    Photo by Photography By Vanessa

    Give your bridesmaids a cute place to stash their makeup with matching monogrammed clutches. The best part? They’ll definitely use them again after your wedding.

    Get the Look: Cosmetic bag, $12, WeddingShop.TheKnot.com

  7. Emergency essentials

    bridesmaid emergency kit

    Photo by pinch provisions

    Okay, not exactly an outfit, but don’t forget to have a little emergency kit of everything you and your bridesmaids could ever need on your wedding day.

    Get the Look: Minimergency Kit for Bridesmaids, $16, PinchProvisions.com


5 Traditions That Will Never Die (And Why!)

5 Traditions That Will Never Die (And Why!)

By now you’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s tradition!” like a hundred times. While some wedding traditions are arguably on their way to being out of fashion (it seems like every year fewer brides make time for a garter toss), there’s good reason why some of these tried-and-true wedding staples are still around: They’re steeped in history. And while your version of the tradition might look different than the original, the sentiment and meaning is still the same.
  1. The Wedding Cake

    Rustic fresh flower wedding cake

    Photo by Jesse Leake Photography

    The sweetest part of the wedding day dates back to ancient Greece, when couples shared crushed sesame cakes to ensure fertility, and the concept evolved into the confection we know and love today. And while the wedding cake can have many different looks — from a three-tier buttercream cake to a cupcake tower or even a stack of doughnuts — the idea behind it is still intact. In other words, sharing something sweet together on your wedding day with each other and your guests is a symbol of your union, and that’ll never go out of style.

    Fresh New Idea: “We’re not cake fans (I even own a bakery), so we didn’t really want cake. I’m making a small cutting cake so we can have that tradition, but then we’re breaking all the rules. I have some friends who opened a self-serve frozen yogurt place in town a few years ago and last year they started doing mobile events. Everyone gets a six-ounce serving and can then pile on as many toppings (we get five) as they want! We can even choose up to eight flavors, and if we don’t serve it all, no big deal — they’ll use it in the store!” – snowdaisy822

  2. The Bridal Shower

    Photo by Shutterstock

    Bridal showers are just as steeped in history as the details of the actual wedding day. This tradition began three centuries ago in Holland. If the father didn’t approve of his daughter’s fiance and refused to give her a proper dowry, the girl’s friends would come to her rescue, showering her with gifts so that she would have a dowry and could marry the man of her choosing. Today, bridal showers are thrown by the bride’s friends and family as a show of love and support for the bride and her transition into married life. Today’s prewedding parties are leaving behind the formalities, which means couples are changing the traditional party format to fit their style and preferences.

    Fresh new idea: “When my daughter married, the shower was small enough to include members from both families. Her fiance arrived halfway into the shower just prior to gift opening. He sat beside her and they opened gifts together. I think his family enjoyed seeing him there.” – mobkaz

  3. Not Seeing Each Other

    Bride and groom first look in the woods

    Photo by Bradley James Photography

    There are so many options — from a classic white ball gown to an edgy and mod jumpsuit — that will make a bride look stunning on her wedding day. But it’s more about the anticipation of the couple seeing each other for the very first time on the day they’ve chosen to commit, than it is about just the dress. You’ve spent a lot of time choosing every detail of how’ll you’ll look, from your dress to the shoes and your makeup, and you want to make it a romantic moment where you soak it all in. Doing a first look makes for a great photo shoot and creates an intimate moment together before you meet up with family and friends. It doesn’t matter if the big reveal happens on the ceremony aisle or the day before — it’s about the feeling you have in that moment, and for a lot of couples that’s very emotional. Take a look at these first look photos if you don’t believe us.

    Fresh new idea: “I went out and got a second dress, a tea-length dress, and am going to wear that for the first look. Yeah, it kind of defeats the purpose a little, but the plan is for him to think that’s my wedding dress, then I’m going to change into my gown after the first look. I’m sooooo excited about it though! We get the special moment of a first look, but also the surprise when I come down the sandy aisle in my gown. He’s constantly surprising me, so I’m ecstatic for this on our big day!” – kls33145

  4. Holding the Bouquet

    Succulent, anemone and orchid bridal bouquet

    Photo by Brooke Images

    Brides throughout history have carried or worn flowers on their wedding day (it’s true!). In some cultures it was thought that carrying a bouquet of flowers would help ward off evil spirits, and in ancient Rome brides carried bunches of herbs to symbolize fidelity and fertility. Even if you’re not into the meaning behind the flowers, carrying a bouquet is a no-brainer to add pretty fresh decor, color and scent to your wedding, not to mention they can be arranged to fit any wedding style! Fresh flowers aren’t the only option available to couples: Paper and flower bouquets are a hot alternative to fresh blooms, and since they’re nonperishable, it means you can keep your bouquet forever (and even pass it down to future brides!).

    Fresh new idea: “I’m debating between paper flowers, fabric flowers, pinwheels or a brooch. But so far, the front-runners are (recycled) paper flowers :)” – FrankensteinsGirl

  5. The Rings

    Bride, mom and grandma wedding rings
    Photo by Nikki Mills

    Circles have been a symbol associated with everlasting love since the time of ancient Egypt (it’s believed the pharaohs of Egypt first used the circle, a shape with no beginning or end, as a symbol of eternity), but wearing a ring as a public pledge to honor the marriage contract didn’t become customary until Roman times. The earliest rings were made of simple iron, but gold rings set with gems became fashionable by medieval days. The point isn’t for couples to have the biggest, flashiest diamond ring; it’s the physical symbol of commitment that won’t go the way of the shoulder-padded wedding dress. For some couples, that doesn’t mean a ring — it could be any piece of jewelry or something different altogether — but it’s the idea of keeping part of your loved one close by at all times that’s here to stay.

    Fresh new ideas: “My fiance and I are going to get wedding symbols tattooed on instead of wearing rings. He works in a place where he couldn’t wear a ring and we both like tattoos, so it works for us. We are still going to exchange something during the ceremony.” – lizreuter