Dear Zadie:  My husband and I attended a lovely wedding last week.  Everything was perfect right down to the lovely favors the bride made for each of her guests.  The food was wonderful; the music during the ceremony beautiful, the band at the reception was the best I have heard in a long time.  My question is this:  Is it proper for a guest to bring his own camera to take pictures?  There was the most obnoxious man with a camera who insisted arranging people and jumping into the middle of some beautiful pictures about to be snapped by the professional photographer.  What does a host do about someone this rude?

Dear Curious: It is Zadie’s considered opinion that asking a self-appointed photographer to get rid of the camera would not be rude.  It is the height of bad manners for a guest to bring a camera to a wedding to get his own shots.  The bride and groom have hired someone to be in charge of photography at their wedding.  They have paid this professional money to catch all the wonderful moments.  If a guest injects himself and his camera into this situation, he deserves whatever is directed his way.  If this should happen at a wedding you are paying for, I would tell the man (woman), as nicely as possible, to put the camera away NOW…he will be able to order photographs from the professional photographer just like everyone else.

Dear Zadie:  My groom’s mother is from a very small town and she is having a wonderful time helping me with the guest list.  Every week she sends me another five or six people to be added.  Her explanation usually goes along the lines of…she must invite them because she invited the second cousin of her brother’s first wife and they all belong to the same country club…or some such explanation.  How do I handle this?

Dear Zadie:  I have just about had it with my mother who won’t stop inviting people to my wedding.  My groom and I have budgeted a good, healthy amount, but it is not bottomless.  How do I stop her from taking over?

Dear Budgeting Brides:  Zadie has a question for both of you…are you and the groom paying for your weddings with no help from your parents?  If the answer is yes, this is a fairly simple situation to handle.  The wedding is yours.  Tell both sets of parents how many people they may invite.  At the same time, ask them to put the list in order of the guests’ importance—so that if you must cut people, you can start from the bottom of the list.

However, if your parents are paying for most of the wedding, they get a bigger say on everything including the invitation list so you may need to brush up on your negotiating skills.  Many questions about the wedding depend on who’s paying.  I know it sounds crass, but it’s true.  If your parents are paying and you want a bigger say, you might start by thanking them for all they have done and are doing for your wedding FIRST before you start negotiations.  It empowers your position, if you are sincerely grateful.

Dear Zadie:  Is it permissible to have a cash bar?  We are getting low on funds for the reception and if we didn’t have to pay for an open bar, it would help a lot.

Dear Pinching Pennies:  Zadie is assuming that it’s too late to shave the guest list so you can afford an open bar, right?   When you invite guests to your reception, you pay for everything.  When alcohol is made available, you pay for it.  There are ways to cut down on the expense, but if you plan to serve it, you pay.  It is extremely rude to force your guests to buy a glass of champagne to toast YOU.  Your party:  Your bill. 

Keep in mind you do not have to serve top-shelf liquor; in fact there are plenty of ways to serve and save.  You can offer wine and beer only or create a signature cocktail.  You might have an open bar with hors d’oeuvres and serve wine with dinner.  If you have an open bar during the cocktail hour, don’t stay away two hours taking photographs…that’s a good way to run a huge bar tab because when people get hungry, they tend to drink more. 

Dear Zadie:  I am planning a fall wedding and we do not want children to attend.  I want this to be an adult affair.  We are not even having a flower girl or ring bearer.  Is it too awful to put a line in the invitations announcing NO CHILDREN?   

Dear Adults Only:  In the olden days this topic never came up mainly because weddings were considered adults only affairs to begin with.  Children, such as flower girls and ring bearers were shuttled off after the ceremony not to be seen or heard from again that day.  A few years ago, the question of children in attendance started coming up, but it was never addressed in the invitation.  The bridal party assumed the duty of letting guests knows that children were not welcome.   

Today, we have progressed to the point where a note is permissible.  It is best handled with a notation on the Reply Card— where people have a better chance of actually reading it.  A delicate note of “Adults Only, Please,” should handle it.  There will still be people who insist that their children are not a problem; but that is really not the question.  Many brides and grooms do not wish to plan a separate menu for children; nor do they want to buy a kid a filet mignon.  It is the prerogative of the hosts to decide who is invited and who is not.  Zadie looks forward to the day when hauling children to adult parties and functions is not considered de rigueur.  It will still be helpful for the bridal party to circulate the word that children are not invited.

 Zadie extends her sincerest thanks to René Showalter for her help in answering the last question.  René is the owner of Celebrations in Paper in old Scottsdale and rides to Zadie’s rescue on questions about invitations.  Now, it is the time to close this article.  Zadie wishes all brides and grooms lovely weddings and wonderful spring days.

 Your Mannered Friend,



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