Dear Zadie:  I have a question that I have not seen in your column.  My fiancé and I really need a lot of things and would prefer money instead of gifts.  That way we can select exactly what we want.  How do I do this tactfully?


Dear Tactful: There is no way to do this tactfully.  In fact, there is no way you should do this in any shape, manner or form.  A gift is just that – a gift.  It is something offered in friendship.  It is entirely the option of the giver – not the recipient.  The gift registry is designed to help givers find something you will like and is the closest you will come to asking for something.  This is one of those cardinal rules of etiquette that must not be broken.



Dear Zadie:  Should I tip my vendors?  Some of these kind people have gone way beyond anything expected and I would like to say thank you in a special way. 


Dear Thankful:  Tips are tricky.  How much, how little, to whom and when – are a few of the questions people ask.  Here is a rule of thumb:  Fifteen to twenty percent of the bill to any vendor who does not automatically add a gratuity.  The gratuity will be listed on the contract you signed if it is added. 


Any other vendor such as caterer, florist, DJ, photographer, videographer or minister is given a gratuity if you think they have done more than what was agreed upon.  If you have a wedding consultant, he or she can handle this for you.  Otherwise, pass on the names of those vendors who did excellent work.  That is the best “thank you” you can give.



Dear Zadie:  How will people know where I am registered if I don’t include one of those gift registry cards in the invitations?  I don’t want to be pushy, but I can’t see how guests will know what I want or need.


Dear Pushy: This is one of those questions that comes up periodically and Zadie loves to hit out of the park.  You never, never, never send one of those gift registry cards.  It is asking for a gift and that is TACKY.  The people who want this information will call your mother, your maid of honor, the groom’s mother or WHOEVER if they are interested.  Zadie does not care one whit if Target gives you these cards free, it is not done.  Is that clear?



Dear Zadie:  I have found the photographer of my dreams.  His work is the very best I have seen; he has a vision about weddings unequalled to any of the five other photographers I interviewed.  Here is my question.  His price is way beyond my budget, so is it proper to bargain him down on his price?  He says it is a fair charge for the package.  This is the photographer I must have for my wedding – do you think he will be insulted if I offer him less?


Dear Determined: In many countries around the world, bargaining, haggling, if you will, are considered de rigueur.  In the United States it is less so.  Most wedding professionals work diligently to offer their work at a fair price.  When you consider all the hours involved, his talent, the extra person he must hire and cost of equipment, prices are indeed relevant.  After-wedding production is at least another thirty or forty hours.  This is what he considers to be a fair price for his work. 


As Zadie views this problem, you have one of three solutions.  First, you pay him what he asks.  Second, you talk to him about a smaller, less expensive package.  Third, find another photographer.  When you start bargaining, you run the risk of insulting the vendors.  This is one person you want on your side.  It is my considered opinion, you should ask about less expensive packages.  If this is not a successful conversation, pay his price or find someone else.  He will understand.



Dear Zadie:  Should I purchase my airline tickets in my married or maiden name?


Dear Traveling Bride: Purchase your tickets in the name that matches your picture ID.  Zadie understands this is the first time you can use your new married name, but the Transportation Safety Administration wants everything to match up nicely.  Tickets match drivers’ license, passport, whatever.  They are funny that way; but if you want to get on one of the planes on the other side of security, you must comply with their rules.



Dear Zadie:  My great-grandmother is ninety-two years old.  She plans to attend my wedding and I am thrilled to have her.  She is my favorite person on the whole earth.  She is in a wheelchair, but insists she will “dance at my wedding.”  That is not the problem; I am wondering what we can do if she tires out and needs to go back to the nursing home before the party ends.


Dear Lucky Great-granddaughter:  This is the first time Zadie has received this question, but here goes.  Check at the nursing home to see if someone there who would like to earn a few extra dollars by taking her home when she grows weary.  All you need is a cell phone number to reach this person – or invite them to the wedding to sit near your Grandmother during the evening to keep an eye on her.  Otherwise, how about asking a family member to quietly leave the party to take her home and return later when she is safely in bed. But I must warn you, I’ll bet this lady will make it through the wedding, the reception, and tuck all of you in bed!


This is the first issue of 2005; Zadie looks forward to a wonderful year with a glass of icy Perrier-Jouet champagne. 






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