A Bride’s Guide to Tipping and Thank You Etiquette

 

There are some things you can do on or after your wedding to show your appreciation to friends, loved ones, and vendors who are taking part in your special day.

Giving a thank you gift to your bridal party, each other (bride and groom), your immediate family, and favors for your guests:

  • You absolutely should thank your bridal party for being in your wedding. Many have invested a lot of time and money (especially if they are traveling) to be in your wedding. Something small (thought, not expense matters) a necklace to wear in the wedding, a pair of earrings, or matching robes are common gifts given as a thank you on your wedding day to your bridesmaids. A small item like cuff-links are a nice gift for your groomsmen.
  • Special honored guests and attendants do not expect gifts, but you should make sure they have a corsage or boutonniere.
  • Young bridal party members will not expect gifts but giving them something small or a framed picture with a thank you card after the wedding, and including their parents (if they are not already part of the bridal party) in the rehearsal dinner, is expected.
  • It is traditional to give each other (bride and groom) a gift, but not all couples do this. These gifts do not need to hold any monetary value, it can be a special letter to be delivered before your make up is ready (just in case).
  • Parents will often give something special or borrowed to their daughter or son on their wedding day, but don’t forget to show your appreciation to them in some special way. Again, this does not have to be a “gift” of monetary value, but a special thank you in any way you choose is always appreciated by your family. It’s a busy day, don’t forget this important moment of gratitude and reflection. Those special moments you have alone together before your ceremony will never be forgotten.
  • Your guests do not expect nor require favors or gifts. In my experience, I’ve found that if you do give a favor, having them set at each place setting is ideal if they are a single item and add to your decor. If you leave them for people to take they may not notice or may forget on their way out. Edible favors are always a favorite, and less likely to go to waste. They can be simple and inexpensive. Many couples choose to do a candy table and gift bags. If your favors are items that would not add to your décor, having them set out before the end of your reception, near the exit, is ideal.

 

Thanking your vendors

Most of your vendors do not expect, nor require, any extra monetary thank you in the form of a tip. The wedding industry is made up of many small business owners, and larger businesses. Consider which type of business your vendor is when deciding if you should tip. Small business owners set their own prices and shouldn’t need an extra tip. Those who are employees of a vendor will greatly appreciate (and never expect) an extra tip.

Your Pastor – Most clergy do not expect nor receive tips. A donation to your church or a gift or donation valuing approximately $100 to your Congregation, is a nice gesture. It is always expected you will invite your Pastor to the rehearsal dinner, and your reception.

Your Decorator – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Florist – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Event Planner – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Baker – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Musicians, Band, and DJ – If your DJ is a business owner, they usually do not expect a tip. If you do tip a DJ 10-15% is customary. Bands and musicians do not typically get a percentage. If you are tipping your musicians, give them a flat amount of your choosing $20-$50 each is standard.

Your Photographer – Does not expect nor require a tip when they are the business owner. If your photographer will have a second shooter, you may opt to give the second shooter a tip of $50-$100. It is not required. Do expect to offer a dinner to your photographer. They are there all day long. They do not require a seat at the table, but make sure you note to your caterer that you will have certain vendors who will be eating.

Your makeup and hair professionals – Typically, people will always tip the same as you would in a salon (15-20%).

Catering/Venue – This is a tricky one. Look at your contract. Does it include gratuity? Often you will find that gratuity is included in your final price. Most caterers and venues include gratuity in your bill. If you do not have gratuity included in your contract, and/or if it is not broken out by catering as a stand-alone line item to come up with a percentage (15-20%), then a flat fee per server of $20-$50 each is a fair tip. Chefs and bartenders typically if you are paying them a flat tip $50-$100 each is fair. Consider the number of hours of service. If it is just for a cocktail hour less than if it is a full dinner reception.

When any of your servers, staff, delivery, or assistants for the wedding are unpaid volunteers consider giving each a gift as opposed to payment. If they are business owners donating their services and do not want payment beyond cost, a present valued in accordance with the above tip guide is a nice gesture.

For all of your vendors who do not require nor expect a tip, remember they are mostly small business owners. Their good name, and your referrals and reviews are greatly appreciated and help them with their business! Review them after the wedding on websites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Facebook, or Google. In these modern times, your public thank you in the review section of these platforms is free to you, but holds value for them. Doing this at some point soon after the wedding is a wonderful thing to do for your vendors!

Spring Weddings

Spring is an amazing time to get married. For starters, it’s a lot easier to book a venue than the summer – of course, in Portland it better be indoors or you need a back up rain plan. You’ll still want to plan months ahead, if it isn’t an elopement, but if you’re planning now for Spring 2019 you’re going to usually find it less chaotic than summer 2019. And a lot of the most desirable Spring venues will already be booking up.

The flowers! Spring is an amazing season for real flowers that actually bloom and are abundant in nature right now. While you can always get greenery tulips, and roses, you can’t always get daffodils, and naturally brilliant blossom branches. The diversity and colors available beg you to escape the blush pallet, in Spring.

Now let’s talk about your guests. Yes, unless you plan for Spring break (which many schools haven’t finalized scheduling for next year yet and all school districts are different) and graduation season (mid May to mid June) there will be conflicts for some traveling guests. That’s ok unless it’s an MVP cannot live without guest. Most people will prioritize their calendars and place your wedding above everything else they reasonably can. But if you know this will be a problem think about March, or April.

In Oregon, it rains in Spring. It also can be warm and sunny. On the same day you can wake to frost in the morning, it can hail, then be sunny, then sprinkle, and later be 62 degrees and sunny. We are used to this. We go with this. As long as you have a plan and the right venue, it won’t matter. December was the top month for weddings in the US last year, most of those weren’t outside either.

I’m one of those people who thinks every season is a great season for a wedding, there’s just different reasons why for each one.

Making it Official

To obtain a marriage license, you need to know the requirements for the state you are getting married in.  Here are the easy steps to getting legally wed in Oregon.

Step 1: Visit your county Clerk’s office. You can go to any County Clerks office in the state if you plan to get married anywhere in Oregon. You have to appear together to apply for a marriage license . If you are getting married anywhere in Oregon and you work in Portland, you can meet on your lunch break, go to the Multnomah County office, fill out the form and prove your identity. The standard fee is $60 (may vary for different states and county offices). Some will accept a certified check, debit or credit cards and cash, they will not accept personal checks, please check before you go.

It’s important to note the timing of applying for your marriage license. There is usually a 3 day waiting period in Oregon. Once your license application is approved you have 60 days to make it official. If you are getting married in Washington or any other state you have to apply for a marriage license in that state. You cannot use an Oregon Marriage License in another state.

Step 2: Get married. You must have an official present to officiate your ceremony. You will want two witnesses, in addition to your officiant. If you are eloping, you may use your vendors as a witness, but make sure you ask them in advance. Traditionally the Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor serve as your witnesses.

Step 3: Your officiant is responsible for submitting the official marriage certificate to the County Office in a timely manor. You will be given a decorative, non-official certificate when you apply for your marriage license, and sometimes your officiant has their own ornate certificate – none of these are your legal documentation for official purposes. These are keepsakes only.

Step 4: After your official documentation is submitted by your officiant and confirmed by the state, you will be able to order certified copies from your County office. In Multnomah County the cost is $7.95. We recommend you order at least 1 certified copy for your records and from 3 to 4 copies if one or both of you plan on changing your legal name. You’ll want to be able to mail copies while retaining a copy during the process of changing your ID and documents.

So that brings us to part two of making it legal – how do you change your name legally?

Step 1: Obtain certified copies of your marriage certificate.

Step 2: Visit the Social Security website, print up the name change form and order a new copy of your Social Security with your new name, by mailing in the form and necessary documents

Step 3: Go to the DMV – it will be a long wait. Bring your certified marriage certificate and proof of address if your address has changed.

Step 4: Change your name on your passport once you receive your corrected social security card and ID from the DMV

Step 5: Change your bank account, notify your employer and all accounts.

Step 6: Let everyone else know.

 

If this doesn’t sound fun, you can use a service, such as Hitch Switch, but it truly isn’t a ton of work and if you just update your accounts with every interaction you have as you go – you’ll get there before you know it.

 

 

 

Your guests are not going to put their phones away. So now what?

We’ve read a lot of blog posts lately about all the ways you can try to get your guests to put their phones away at your wedding. So as the parents of teenagers, let us tell you the only way to get them to put their phones away is to take them, put them in a basket and not hand them back until they leave the Thanksgiving table. No really, your guests are not going to respect your wishes to put their phones away. It’s 2017!

We applaud your noble attempts to fight the culture, and by all means follow all of the blog tips we’ve all read lately, they may or may not help a little. Or, rather than fight against the culture, use the culture to your advantage. Here are real actual useful tips for helping to guide your guests towards using their phones for good instead of evil.

#1 You’re engaged! Awesome! We are all so excited that #shesaidyes and now we want you to create a wedding brand, all forms of social media accounts, and a website. You can use many of the free wedding driven cookie cutter sites out there. If you’re tech savvy you can create your own free lifelong wordpress or squarespace site and blog. Or if you’re busy, you can hire an expert like us to do it for you.  Whatever you do, do it soon. Have a designated email account, website, snapchat, instagram, and facebook page. All of this will come in handy while you are planning your big day and this will all last a lifetime as you grow as a couple and family, throughout your life together.

#2 Hashtag your wedding. That’s right, embrace the fact that it is 2017, we’ve all had iPhones for nearly 10 years (or ok ten years for some of us electronics nerds) and even your grandma knows “#” doesn’t mean “pound” or “number sign” anymore. So #hashtag your wedding with a brand to last the ages. You can bring it back for all of your future events – anniversaries, holiday parties at your house, birthdays, milestones, family photos and life events.

#3 Make a point of putting a heartfelt blog post on your website asking your guests to respect your wishes regarding their phones and social media. Keep them off and away during your ceremony. Always keep the volume on silent, turn off notifications and vibrations. If they do take photos, videos, or snapchats on your wedding day, ask them to make sure they don’t obstruct anyone’s view, especially that of the paid photographer, or the bridal party. Remind them that if they take any pictures or videos for any form of social media, you want them to share it with you using your hashtag. This is important! It will remind them if it isn’t something appropriate to post publicly connected to your wedding then they shouldn’t post it PERIOD. It makes a difference if they know you will be looking.

#4 Buy a geofilter for snapchat for your wedding venue on your wedding day. It’s very affordable. They offer templates you can customize online at their website, or you can hire an expert like us to create a custom geofilter for you. Again, if they know their videos are going to be something you will watch while you’re waiting for your plane the next day, they are NOT going to embarrass themselves or you. You’ll have the added benefit of being able to save and capture all of these moments right away. It’s like the table disposable cameras of the 90’s but with instant gratification, and really cute frames for every picture.

#5 Remind your guests on your wedding day. Use your signs to remind guests of your hashtag, and your requests. Ask your ushers to remind them. Put a note on your wedding programs and menus. Use these printed materials and signs to remind them of your hashtags, and ask them to tag your social media wedding accounts.

#6 Use your hashtag for fun at the cocktail hour and reception. You can even incorporate your social media pages and hashtags in to your wedding day by asking people to post a message on Instagram using a video and the hashtag during the cocktail hour or reception. If you have reception games, incorporate the hashtag and social media in to your games. Have a contest for different categories, or just one – the best candid shot, the prize can be the first dinner party with the couple in your new home after you return from your honeymoon and are ready to entertain.

You and your guests have all grown very attached to your phones. You can stress about keeping them out of your wedding day, or try directing how and when they are used. We hope these ideas help you make a choice that works for you and your guests.

 

Personally, We Think The Ceremony Is The Most Important Part

There are many reasons couples turn to a friend or loved one to officiate their wedding: They don’t belong to a specific church or feel attached to a specific clergy member; our kids’ fourth birthdays are a big spectacle why wouldn’t our wedding ceremony be something to remember and completely unique; it only takes a few minutes to become ordained online; and couples enjoy having their ceremonies in very non-traditional personally meaningful ways.

While we are certain your best friend is going to be just great at this, we’re also betting they may not have done this before. Even if you don’t want or need a professional officiant, we highly recommend you turn to a professional to help you write and plan your ceremony.

Personalized ceremonies are our favorite, but they can also be the absolute WORST! There is nothing more embarrassing than a wedding where the bride and groom clearly worked on their own or with a planner to create an amazing and unique reception experience for them and their guests, but they failed to pay the same attention to detail in planning their ceremony.

Sure, the couple knew where they wanted to stand, the decor, even the chairs are comfortably fantastic, and the processional and recessional music Had guests dancing in their seats or crying tears of joy, but what about the ceremony? What’s in a ceremony? Do you have to pledge obedience or other creepy antiquated ideals of a sexist past you’d like to not participate in? Of course not!

Writing and poetry are not every person’s strong suit. Even if you as a couple are determined to write every word of your vows yourself, what about the other parts of the ceremony? Your friend may be brilliant, an excellent public speaker, or even a writer, but are they going to write your perfect ceremony from start to finish? What readings or traditions will you include? What would you like to keep out completely?

This is why hiring a wedding planner can help you in ways you may not have even considered. You thought they were just going to arrange who stood where, but no, your modern planner is also an ordained minister (remember it only takes a few minutes online and come on when we say we are ready to solve any problem that may arise, that includes being ready to officiate because it was the plan all along or because your officiant got caught in traffic between weddings). We are experts, we won’t let you forget a single detail. And most importantly, at Vareus Events and other modern planning firms, you can turn to an expert just to help you craft the perfect custom ceremony plug in the parts from your friend – the officiant, and your personalized vows. It’s stress free, and more importantly it will be the part you most look forward to.

Our Vareus Events Custom ceremonies start at $200. For $500 you get a custom ceremony, an officiant, and a rehearsal. As part of an existing package, writing and planning services may already be included. Our full service planning packages always include a planner as an emergency back up officiant – where local laws allow (void in some states or counties).