To ask Anna an etiquette question, write to email@example.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR WEDDING
Q. I’m really excited to be engaged. Is it okay to post pictures and information about the wedding on my Facebook page?
ANNA: Facebook is a great place to share your engagement and wedding news. But in all the excitement, it’s easy to accidently over-share. Try to avoid:
The rush to gush. Make sure you’ve told your big news personally or by phone to your most important relatives and close friends before you tell the your social media world. Think how you’d feel if you heard about your sister’s engagement on Facebook and not from her.
Posting without asking. A recent survey says that while 57% of women want to share a photo of their ring on Facebook, only 18% of the guys think that’s a good idea.*
Inadvertently extending an invitation.
A “Can’t wait to see you all at the wedding” post to your entire friend list could be taken seriously by those you weren’t intending to invite. Unless you mean it, don’t do it—not only could your wedding be overrun, but you’re likely to hurt the feelings of those friends that don’t receive a printed invitation.
TMI – not all your social network friends will be coming to your wedding, so keep planning chatter to a minimum, or create a private Facebook group for your attendants.
TMI II – no outrageous photos from the bachelor(ette) party.
Q. My fiancé and I are paying for our own wedding. Usually we’re on the same page about the major decisions, but lately his mother has been calling almost daily to demand that we invite certain distant relatives or pressuring us to serve a particular type of meal. How do I get her to back down?
ANNA: It’s easy to get annoyed when someone else’s input doesn’t fit in with your plans and budget. Because it’s your future mother-in-law, proceed with caution. You want this relationship to be pleasant. It’s likely that most of her suggestions are coming from excitement and a desire to be involved in the planning. Include her where you can and work to build a good relationship—spending ten minutes on the phone with her to share the pros and cons of your top two receptions locations doesn’t cost you anything and will mean a lot to her. As you begin to include her more, it’s likely that the demands will decrease if not disappear. When you do need to say no, enlist the help of your fiancé—he can explain to his mother why it’s not possible to include her second cousins on the guest list. If there are any small concessions that you can make as a gesture of good will then do so. If her best friend is a vegan, ask the caterer if there can be a vegan meal for this one guest.
ALL ABOUT TIPPING
Q. My fiancé and I are in the midst of reception planning and the subject of tipping has come up. We’re not sure which vendors to tip, and if we do need to tip them, how do we do it? Also, should we tip our officiant?
ANNA: Tipping can be a tricky question, and whether to tip or not depends on the vendor and your contract. Tipping amounts can also vary by region and are often on the higher end in major metropolitan areas, so ask around about the norms. Let’s break it into categories: ceremony services, reception services, transportation services, and professional services.
Ceremony Services: Ask about the fees or suggested donations for the use of the house of worship when you meet with your officiant or the person who organizes weddings. Usually, you don’t tip the officiant, the organist, or other members of the church or synagogue’s staff. If your officiant isn’t affiliated with a house of worship, or is travelling to be at your wedding, you should cover all his or her travel and lodging costs. Additionally, your officiant (and his or her spouse or significant other) is a guest at both the rehearsal dinner and the reception. A letter of thanks to your officiant, perhaps accompanied by a personal gift, is a good way to show your appreciation to someone who played a major role in your wedding.
If a tip isn’t included in the contract for any outside musicians that you hire, add 15 percent, or tip a flat fee of $15 to $20 per musician.
Deliver all fees (or the balance on fees) and tips right after the ceremony. Prepare labeled envelopes several days ahead, and include a short note of thanks. It’s the best man’s duty to deliver them; if that’s not possible, then the father of the bride (or groom in some cases) should put this on their “to do” list.
Reception Services: Nowadays, it’s likely that your contract with a reception venue will include tips as a percentage of the entire package. Do ask which members of staff are tipped, and how tips are handled. Since tips are the host’s responsibility, make it clear that no tip jars or coin plates will be displayed.
Typically, restroom and coatroom attendants, wait staff, bartenders, the maître d’, catering manager and sometimes the chef are all tipped. If these tips aren’t included in your contract, count on $1 to $2 per guest for restroom and coat attendants. Make an estimate from your final guest count and round up a little. Tip the bartenders as a group, 10 percent of the total liquor bill. The maître d’ or headwaiter is tipped 1 to 3 percent of the contracted food and beverage price, and waiters each receive about $20 or more. Tip the chef $100 or more. As with ceremony fees and tips, prepare labeled payment envelopes and have the best man or father of the bride deliver them to the reception manager or maître d’ for distribution.
Musicians or a D.J. are tipped at the end of their gig and any final payments are also delivered at the same time. Tip a D.J. 15 percent of the fee, and musicians $25 to $50 per musician if tips aren’t included in the contract.
Transportation Services: Limo, taxi, bus and shuttle drivers are tipped 15% if the tip is extra, and parking attendants $1 to $2 per car. Tip more for valet parking; if the valet parking is contracted, then 15 percent is the norm.
Professional Services: Your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, and reception manager fall into this category. These are the people you will work with the most and develop a close relationship with. Generally, amounts vary from $100 to $400, depending on level of service and satisfaction. However you decide to style your thank you, send it personally from you as a couple along with a heartfelt note expressing your appreciation soon after your wedding day.
*Men’s Health Marriage Proposal Survey in partnership with TheKnot.com: survey of 1500 engaged or married men and women, released Feb 2012.