Experts Weigh in on Wedding Planning Etiquette for Everything from Renting Linens to Gathering RSVPs

weddingplanningPutting together a wedding can be difficult for a couple, especially because for many, it’s the first time they’ve hosted such an elaborate event. But a little bit of etiquette — and planning — can go a long way in making sure everything is ready for the big day.

Whether or not a couple has the money to hire their own wedding planner, they can often work with a venue on at least some of the details. The best way to prepare, however, is to be clear on deadlines, guest counts, and the terms and conditions of things like the venue and rental items.

Claudia Hoste, wedding planner and owner of Hoste Events, warns couples to be aware of any fees for their venue, so there’s no confusion — or arguing — at the last minute.

“Every venue is different,” Hoste said. “Some might require you to rent everything from the napkins to the tables to the lights and bathrooms, which adds up very quickly.”

Hoste suggests getting this information ahead of time from the venue and rental companies to ensure that there are no surprises when couples get the bill, either.

Getting an accurate guest count is another issue that many couples will encounter, and they may have to take initiative if their guests fail to RSVP.

Last year, Blue Ribbon Bags, a luggage-insurance company from New York City, held a dinner for around 250 travel agents. But problems occurred when another 96 guests, all of whom had not RSVP’d showed up to dinner, as well.

Lizzie Post, a spokeswoman for Emily Post Institute Inc. and great-great-granddaughter of etiquette doyenne Emily Post herself, explained that many people forgo RSVPs altogether. “We are worse at RSVP-ing than we ever have been,” Post said. “We want to be able to decide that morning if we want to go that night — we have forgotten how to simply commit.”

New York City event planner Bronson van Wyck said that it’s often the venues, rental companies and event planners — not the couple getting married — who have to do some last-minute shuffling when unexpected guests show up.

For one event, van Wyck and his team had to add tables and cut table cloths from bolts of fabric to plan for 33 extra guests — with just 90 minutes to get it done.

When it comes to throwing parties, van Wyck said, “You’re talking about complicated seating arrangements where a lot of care and thought went into making sure you’re going to have nice people to talk to, or making sure your date or spouse is in a good spot.”

“It is definitely wise to set a deadline for RSVPs for larger parties and events and to make sure clients stick with it. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to get a couple extra place settings and chairs for any last minute plus ones,” says Chris Bray, General Manager at Allied Party Rentals

Even getting things like table linen rentals back on time is important when following proper etiquette (plus it can help a couple avoid late fees).

Susie Perelman, owner of Mosaic Inc. linen rentals in Pittsburgh, PA, said that the biggest challenge with her customers was turnaround time.

Clients who are late returning linens prevent those items from being shipped back or dry cleaned, Perelman said, which makes it difficult to predict when the items will be available for another customer.

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