Dear Savannah...

This is the second installment in an ongoing series!  

As a photographer, I get the immense blessing of seeing weddings from a very personal viewpoint all the time. You're likely planning a wedding for the first and last time. Awkward etiquette situations can be really tricky to navigate. I asked some brides for their current most pressing questions and I answered them! I hope you'll find my insight helpful. 


I have a cousin getting married a few months before me. We are a tight family even with him being second cousin. This is his second wedding. I recently found out that my fiancé and I are not invited; he's keeping it small with only first cousins invited. However, I have been engaged for almost 2 years (he's only been engaged a few months) and he and his then girlfriend have known they would be invited to my wedding as they came to my engagement party a year and a half ago. I also sent them a save the date way before their invites went out recently. So, my question is, even though I already sent them a save the date, now that I know I'm not invited to their wedding, is it totally trashy to just not send them a formal invite to mine? If they're cutting corners, why can't we? 
 

Oh yes, that does sound frustrating and I know that what you feel you should do and what you want to do probably don't match up. While personally I do think your cousin snubbing you when he knew you were inviting him to your own wedding is a bit rude, I also think that the rules for reciprocal invites are extremely outdated. I have two answers to this situation. 

What I think I should say: because you sent him a save-the-date, proper etiquette would say that he then should be invited to the wedding - especially if you consider yourselves a close-knit family. Unfortunately unless there has been a massive fallout or drama, I would say you should still invite the him. 

What I'm going to say: You can do whatever the heck you want, girl. Just know that if there is some pushback from other relatives, you'll need to be prepared for it. Modern etiquette rules are changing to suit the needs and wants of the bride and groom but being courteous should always be important. It can be very difficult to only invite certain family members and not invite others of the same... rank (for lack of a better word). But if you think it could be done without creating major stress and drama, then do what you want! It's your wedding. 


Do you feel a DJ is absolutely necessary? What if the couple wants to do their own thing for music, home videos and pictures with music they like and represents them? 

I have two answers for this question too so let me start with the simpler one. 

It's your wedding. You can do whatever you want. 

However, the above can come with major consequences, challenges and additional work. Just like photographers, DJ's do so much more than you'd ever realize at a reception. When you work with a great DJ, you take time to sit down with them and discuss your no-play and must-play lists, share with them your style and what you want your reception to feel like and what you'll need them to do.  They will create the playlists and also know how to get people up and out of their seats when the playlist isn't cutting it. Without them, you're adding hours of work to your wedding planning to-do list. They're going to handle introductions, songs for the first dance and possible parent dances, songs for events like cake cutting, various announcements and introductions throughout the evening, entertaining the guests with great songs and helping people have a wonderful time.

If you choose to forego having a DJ, who will do all of those things? And then the flip-side is, if you have a friend handling the announcements and songs, what happens when there is a technical difficulty? Just like a professional photographer knows how to handle emergencies, drama and timeline issues - a DJ knows how to professionally handle those same things + any technical sound difficulties without ever drawing attention to them. When you have a great DJ you remember the amazing party your guests enjoyed but when you have a crappy one, you remember the non-working microphone, the playlist no one wanted to dance to and the crackling speaker. 

I look at the DJ as the person who runs the show at a reception. I have shot a handful of weddings where there was no professional DJ and I will admit that they felt less professional, less romantic and much more clunky/messy. My own wedding DJ knows that I want absolutely none of the crap that is usually played at weddings - and he's up for the task! A DJ who does weddings every weekend will be able to incorporate your favorite songs and cute videos. 


How do you feel about uneven wedding parties (more bridesmaids than groomsmen and vice versa)? 

Oh I definitely think this is more than fine! The wedding party should only be people you are excited for spending all darn day with so don't forcibly add people to your party just to create even numbers. Posing wedding parties is extremely flexible and if there was a dramatic size difference, I would skip the traditional line up of girls on one side and guys on the other in favor of more modern and flexible posing. I'm also a big supporter of "maids" of the opposite sex! I believe that the traditional bridesmaids and groomsmen roles can be very outdated + often unnecessary. My biggest piece of advice is to deeply consider if you really need a wedding party at all! There are plenty of ways for your friends to spend time with you, celebrate with you and play a role in your day without spending money on matching dresses. 


What are your thoughts on animals participating in weddings? 

I. LOVE. IT. 

In April, one of my couples had their dog serve as a groomsman. I often have couples who bring their dogs to portraiture time after the first look and it's my favorite part of the day. I'm a shameless obsessive dog mom so I'm always going to say... BRING THE PUPPIES! However, I would highly recommend having a very specific plan when it comes to your pets + having a handler for them (someone who isn't playing a role in the wedding). 

If you plan to have your dog spend the entire day, take care to make sure they have enough water and food at all times. Receptions can also be incredibly overwhelming for pets. The music is loud, there are a lot of people in one space, there are loud announcements and lots of clapping. Even the most well behaved dogs can suddenly suffer from a great deal of anxiety at a reception so please, make sure to provide them with a calm and quiet space and don't force them into any situations where they would be overwhelmed or upset! 


My fiancé and I are huge baseball fans and we first connected at a Phillies game. Baseball is important to us and it's been what has tied us together for many years. We don't want to be too cheesy and have a Phillies themed wedding but we definitely want to honor what brought us together and we are planning a casual all-american summer wedding with baseball as an overarching theme. With that said, our parents are really pushing for us to do "traditional" wedding food (chicken, green beans, beef, potatoes, etc.) and it just feels like it doesn't fit and it's boring to me! They have a hard time grasping that weddings can have food other than what a banquet center would serve. However, now I'm starting to think that it's what people want and what guests will be happy with. I don't like to create controversy but how can we inject some fun into our menu without upsetting our parents? 

Weddings have changed a lot since your parents got married - trust me. It used to be that you couldn't tell one wedding from the next but now events are tailored to fit the couples' personalities, wants, wishes, and favorite things. I firmly believe that your wedding should be a reflection of your personalities and relationship! I am not a baseball fan however, I am a fan of stadium food. Have you considered using multiple food trucks or centering your dinner around hand-held deliciousness? I don't think there is a reason that you couldn't serve a fancy/wedding version of burgers, soft pretzels, nachos, bratwurst, wings and popcorn. That's a wedding I definitely want to attend! The term "wedding food" tends to have a really negative connotation so any time you can step away from the norm and serve your guests something fun and amazing, I definitely think you should do it. If your parents need convincing, take them to a tasting and win them over with all of the amazing flavors.