Dealing with Sensitive Wedding Issues, Part Two

August 26, 2014

Last month, we introduced Part One of our Dealing with Sensitive Wedding Issues and tackled issues of adults-only weddings, financial responsibilities, and more. So in our Part Two, we are sharing our etiquette tips for when it comes to some wedding day-of and post-wedding sensitive issues. With the help of the queen bee of etiquette, Emily Post, and other web resources, we are sharing some tried-and-true wedding go-to advice!

How to honor different religious or cultural family traditions…

Diversity is beautiful! And even more beautiful when worlds collide to create something new and special. With couples coming from even more diverse backgrounds and stories, wedding ceremonies and receptions take on some unique forms. It's important to communicate to your family and loved ones what you feel is important to your special day. To help bridge the connection, ask them what they would consider are important and how to create a hybrid celebration that honors, but also celebrates you two and your new marriage together. While it can be a sensitive ground to walk on, communicating with everyone involved will be key to a happy day.

Emily Post shares some great ideas for multicultural wedding traditions that you can piecemeal into a personal event. Take a few from each of your families to create a truly beautiful celebration.

How to communicate your last name preferences…

It's the modern day, and you and your to-be have decided not to alter any names. While you're completely happy with your decision, it may confuse family members and friends. Changing or not changing your last name is a very personal decision, and it only involves the two people involved. But because weddings always involve families in one way or another, it will be up to you to set the tone and communicate your wishes. It will be expected people will ask (sometimes respectfully, sometimes not). And for this, simple is best!

"I've decided to keep my maiden name."

And when not asked, in emails and greeting cards, communicate what you expect. By addressing your cards and letters a certain way, it will speak volumes.

Mr. Ryan Porter and Mrs. Janine Reed
123 Perdue Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Try to be understanding if you receive something not addressed properly at first; while it can be a little annoying, it does take some time to relearn a personal and social standard.

How to navigate your reception bars and alcoholism…

For couples who have loved ones who struggle with severe alcoholism, it can be a very difficult topic to navigate when it comes to their wedding reception and its libations. If having an open bar or a cash bar is important to you, then you have a decision to make. It's all about respecting your wedding day, but also trying to uphold dignity for all people involved. One thing to keep in mind that emotions are, of course, always high when it comes to weddings, and nothing will ever be perfect, but you have some respectful options that will calm your nerves and keep guests happy in celebration.

1. You can politely not invite that person.
2. You can serve alcohol from the bar and request that the bartender discreetly enforce a limit in serving her/him.
3. You respectfully and subtly assign a trustworthy friend (bonus if they're a medical professional) to her/him all night to make sure that she/he doesn't get too inebriated and under the agreement that if she/he does, your friend will safely escort your loved one back to her/his room.

Again, the key is respect and dignity. No option is an easy one to choose, but truly knowing your family and friend dynamics and type of wedding will help your decision.

You can also help set the reception tone by limiting how many alcoholic drinks are available, requesting limited bar hours, offering a lot of non-salty late night snacks and water, and organizing various reception entertainment (such as photo booths, live performances, and games).

Another great addition to your reception bar is coming up with creative non-alcoholic drinks! You'll win major points for thinking out of the box and still have something Instagrammable. For my winter wedding, we had a hot cider station! Find out some great basic non-alcoholic ideas on Emily Post.

How to express your unplugged wishes…

Oh, technology. We love it, we hate it. More and more couples are requesting an "unplugged wedding" which means no cell phones, no cameras, no electronics; they want their guests to be in the moment and fully present during their ceremonies. So what are some tactful ways to convey your wishes?

Consider creating a large sign at the door (like this hand-inked one on Etsy) or putting a note in your wedding program. From Offbeat Bride, this example of some creative and polite wording is great:

We want you to be able to relax and have fun with us today! This in mind, we invite you to put down all your favorite devices and just be present in the moment with us. Please leave your camera in your bag (we've got photography covered!), and put your cell phone on mute (we promise they'll call back!).

Remember at the end of the day, people still will be people. Do the best to your ability and act in kindness. Keep your priorities at the top and keep smiling at the thought of seeing you two at the altar. And food always brings people together. :)

Want to see our responses to other sensitive wedding issues?

All photos from Jen + Ashley. To see the entire feature and full vendor credits, head over to our very first launch feature.