- Ride Around: When the weather's warm, try taking a bike ride outside your city and having lunch in the next town over. Better yet? Pack a picnic and eat al fresco.
- Hot for Teacher: Cooking classes are all the rage, so why not take one that involves making dessert with a blow torch, then marvel at your newfound skills over wine after? Smokin' hot.
- Snow Bunny: If you live near the slopes, enjoy an afternoon of skiing or snowboarding, then refuel with burgers in the ski lodge. End the date with your feet by the fire and a warm drink in your hands.
- Who's Got Game?: Bring your competitive edge by going to an arcade, fair, or boardwalk to indulge in some gaming Olympics: Best out of five competitive events wins. Then, the winner gets a giant toy bought with your combined tickets.
- Map It: Play tourist in your own city: Pick a landmark neither of you have been to, then spend the afternoon or evening checking it out and exploring the gift shop.
- Shall We Dine?: Turn a typical dinner date into an adventure by having what's called a "progressive dinner," where you enjoy your appetizers, entrees and desserts all at different places. Yum!
- Must Love Dogs: If you're both into animals, head over to the local animal shelter to walk some adorable pooches while bonding over stories about your childhood pets. Adorbs.
For the bride and groom that like to do everything together, couples’ shower themes are all the rage. No tea parties or negligees to be found, the couple’s shower is the modern-day evolution of the true meaning of marriage: blending your separate lives into one. If you are a couple that has a lot of interests, the hardest part about throwing a couple’s shower may be trying to pick just one theme for your party.
From rock climbing to re-living your high school prom, there are many ways to thematically tie your love story together into one giant soiree. Here are a few crowd favorites that are sure to help you celebrate your life-to be in true-to-you fashion.
Garden Party Co-ed Style
Ditch the Hawaiian tablecloths and rum punch. Instead, take your garden party’s class quotient up a few notches by choosing to host it in the early evening amidst lit candles. Hundreds of tea lights and soft music can make for a dreamy pre-nuptial night. For added flair, tie in the garden party theme by asking your guests to bring their favorite seeds to plant in your garden. Have little plots already staked out with twine; each labeled with personalized moments from your own life. For instance, your oldest friends can choose to plant their seeds in the “young love” plot, whereas your family members can choose to dedicate their seeds to the “family tree” patch.
All Hail the Honeymoon
A couple’s shower that honors your honeymoon destination can be an exciting way to involve your guests in your anticipation for jet setting. This works best for those that have a unique destination spot. For instance, if you are booked to taste wine in Argentina (Malbec lovers unite!), you can host a wine tasting event that only highlights Argentine varietals. The food can be just as authentic with grilled asada and Chorizo to boot. Be sure that the music matches the cadence of the destination as well. Acapulco? Consider hiring a mariachi band and making fresh margaritas.
A honeymoon-themed couple’s shower is the perfect idea for those couples that registered for their honeymoon instead of traditional gifts. Showing your guests how amazing your destination is can get people excited about buying you excursions and pitching in for your hotel stay.
For the adventurous types, an outdoorsy couple’s shower may be the perfect fit. However, since some of your friends and family may not be as stoked as you are to summit the nearest cliff-face, there are some pedestrian ways to incorporate your guts-and-glory approach to life. Consider indoor skydiving. With several facilities around the nation, this option can appeal to any and all types of people – even those who never consider skydiving to be on their bucket list. If you are more of the hiking or camping type, ask a land-rich friend or rent a field in a nearby town. Bring in several different tents with lanterns inside for atmosphere and fire up a bonfire for s’mores. Hire a guitar aficionado to prepare some fireside sing-along-songs, and give each attendee a pair of carabineers with each of your initials on it as a parting gift.
It doesn’t matter what your couple style is, a Jack and Jill shower is the best way to throw the party of your dreams and having everyone able to attend. The trick is to be as creative and crazy as you both are and let the true essence of your couple personality shine.
From flavor to frosting and everything in between, this is the only wedding cake planning guide you'll ever need.
Step 1. Figure Out Your Style
Your cake doesn't have to be white and round. There are so many other choices. To nail down a design, look to your venue, the time of year and, of course, your personal sense of style. If it's a springtime country-club wedding, you might go for a preppy striped cake with a few pink peony sugar flowers. Modern loft? Then maybe it's a tall cake with thin ribbon trim and a few orchids. As you're deciding on a look, browse tons of cake photos and save your favorites to show your baker.
Step 2. Learn the Basics
Let's start with cake shapes. Beyond the traditional round cake, there's a slew of other options. Square cakes are hugely popular -- and a great way to showcase a modern wedding style. But those are just the beginning: We've also seen hexagonal, oval, petal-shaped and even triangle wedding cakes! When it comes to icing, you'll have a number of choices. Buttercream (made from butter and sugar) is smooth and creamy, and it stays soft -- so it's easy to cut, color and flavor. Fondant is another popular option; it's rolled out before it's draped over the cake and makes a smooth, firm base for decorative details.
Step 3. Know Where (And Where Not) To Cut
Be prepared to pay anywhere from $1.50 all the way up to $20 a slice and beyond. And the more complicated the cake, the more you'll pay. Fondant is generally more expensive than butter cream, and if you want elaborately molded shapes, vibrant colors or handmade sugar flowers, you'll pay for the cake designer's time and labor. One cost-cutting option is to order the cake of your dreams made on a small scale for a price you can comfortably afford, and then order sheet cakes of the same flavor to be cut in the kitchen (some but not all designers will do this). Bottom line: Once you find your baker, you'll want to work with them to come up with a wedding cake design that falls within your budget.
Step 4. Search For The Perfect Cake Mate
Once you have a sense of cost and a rough idea of the type of cake you're looking for, it's time to find a baker. Start your research online: Read reviews, search TheKnot.com/cakes for bakers in your area and ask around. Also, your caterer will most likely have recs. Once you have your top three bakers in mind, set up appointments to meet in person and look at their portfolios. You'll discuss the time and place of the wedding, the degree of formality, the colors and what your gown is like. You also should bring pictures of cakes you like or even swatches of fabric from your table linens.
Step 5. Taste Test!
The biggest misconception about wedding cakes is that they're designed to look good but taste less than fabulous. Far from the cake being just a showpiece, it's what's inside that counts. When you meet with your prospective bakers, be sure to taste lots of samples (forget the diet—this is "research"). You might be surprised to discover it isn't average cake. Top designers are working with complex flavorings such as coconut and Key lime, blood orange and mango, and chocolate-hazelnut and mocha. (Are you drooling yet?) You might also go for flavors based on the season, with heavier combinations like chocolate cake with mocha-praline filling perfect for winter weddings and lighter sponge cakes with fruits, curds and preserves more ideal for summer affairs.
Step 6. Book Your Baker
When you think you've met your match, book your baker. Often, a deposit is required at this time, and you'll also be asked to sign a contract. Before you sign, there are a few important points to tackle: Find out how far in advance the cakes are made prior to the wedding day and who exactly will be baking and decorating your cake (it's not always the same person). Lock in your cake maker as soon as you can -- some top bakers get booked up a year in advance.
Step 7. Decide How You'll Display It
Have fun dressing up your cake table: Drape it with fabrics and decorate it with motifs, colors and flowers to match the cake (your florist can help). And don't settle for a generic cake stand -- showcase your masterpiece! For a ballroom wedding, place the cake on a tall, traditional cake stand; go for a wooden platform covered in fresh flowers for a spring garden wedding; or try a sleek, clear acrylic stand for an urban loft wedding. And make sure you have a lighting plan: Surround the cake with tiny votives, hang a canopy with twinkling lights over it or place a gleaming antique chandelier above it. Finish off the cake table by covering it with a solid or patterned tablecloth.
Step 8. Work Out Delivery Details
Just as you would with a fine painting, once you've decided exactly how your wedding cake is going to look, make certain that great care is taken to transport it in one piece to the reception site. Most cake designers prefer to deliver the cake themselves (or use their in-house, experienced delivery team to do the job), and we think paying the extra delivery fee is worth the peace of mind that the cake will arrive to your reception site in top form. Make certain that your baker has a contact person at the reception site so they can give the catering manager or event planner any pertinent information on handling the cake -- it might have to be refrigerated or stationed in a cool, out-of-the-way location, and you'll want to make sure everyone knows the plan.
Step 9. Schedule A Time To Cut It
Traditionally, the cake cutting signifies that the end of the reception is near (and cues the elder guests that they can politely slip out), so couples typically wait until an hour before the party ends to cut it. But if you don't want to interrupt your dance party, cut it at the beginning of the reception right after you make your grand entrance, while all eyes are on you. Most important, double-check that your photographer has your cake on his shot list so that you get a few photos of the cake (and of you cutting it) for your wedding album.
Step 10. Eat A Piece Of Your Own Cake
You'd be surprised how many couples don't get a chance to eat their own wedding cake -- don't let that be you! If you don't have time to sit down at the reception and enjoy a slice, ask your caterer to save some for you. Share it as a snack that night after the wedding, or taste it at the post wedding brunch. (Leftover wedding cake makes for the perfect menu addition to the day-after brunch dessert!) Either way, make sure you try it. You deserve to enjoy the cake you worked so hard to help create.
Japan: Many Japanese actually use imposter cakes at wedding receptions. Made of artificial rubber, these faux confections are iced with wax -- and even feature a slot for the bride and groom to insert a knife. Believe it or not, some models have even been known to produce a puff of steam! Other dupes consist of elaborately frosted Styrofoam dummy cakes. While the imposters are just for show, sheet cakes hiding out in the kitchen are cut and served to guests. Korea: Many American-style wedding cakes would be considered too sweet for Koreans. They opt instead for a cake made of ground steamed rice covered in red bean powder. A tiered sponge cake covered in nondairy whipped cream is also a popular treat.
China: The traditional Chinese wedding cake is a massive, many-layered creation known as lapis Surabaya. The layers represent a ladder of success for the couple. Traditionally, the bride and groom cut the cake from the bottom up, starting with pieces for each parent and grandparent, who are all fed by the newlyweds.
Great Britain: A fanciful fruitcake takes center stage at British weddings. Usually the cake is made with cognac-soaked dates, prunes, raisins, currants, and orange peel, to create a very moist cake. Popular frostings include marzipan, brandy butter, or fondant. And rather than saving a piece for their first anniversary, Brits hang on to the entire top tier, called the christening cake, until the birth of their first child.
Ireland and Scotland: Fruitcakes are also popular in Ireland and Scotland, where the heady, three-tiered confection is often times laced with bourbon, brandy, or whiskey and each layer is spread with almond paste.
Caribbean: Caribbean couples traditionally feast on fruitcakes. The cake is often dark and filled with dried fruits and sherry, wine, or rum. Bermuda: In Bermuda, it's common to have a small cedar sapling top off a wedding cakes. The sapling is said to symbolize the couple's growing love, and is usually replanted after the ceremony.
West Indies: Party guests in the West Indies pay for a lucky peek at the wedding cake hidden under a fine white tablecloth. Here a rum-laced fruitcake is the sweet of choice.
Germany: Though American-style wedding cakes are slowly making their way into Europe, countries such as Germany are hanging onto their own traditions. German couples often serve up a rich nut or genoise sponge cake to their guests. The cake is usually laced with liqueur or syrup; filled with jam, marzipan, or nougat; and covered in fondant or ganache. Any use of artificial coloring on a cake is considered a major faux pas. France: The French traditionally serve up what is known as a croquembouche. This tall tower of cream-filled pastries is coated in caramel and formed into a pyramid shape, and makes quite a statement.
Italy: Wedding cakes are regional in Italy, and in some areas cake is not served at all. At those where they are, taste trumps decoration. In many areas, the custom is to serve a mille-foglia, an Italian cake made from layers of light filo pastry, chocolate, and vanilla creams, and topped with strawberries.
Lithuania: In Lithuania, the wedding cake is actually a cookie-like pastry shaped into a Christmas tree. Baked to a sunny yellow hue, the pastry, called a sakotis, displays fresh flowers and herbs protruding from the top peak. Ukraine: Ukrainian couples share a type of wedding bread known as Korovai. Decorated with designs representing eternity and the joining of the two families, the bread is considered a sacred part of the wedding feast.
Norway: Shying away from cake altogether, Norwegians serve brudlaupskling, a type of wedding bread first developed when white flour was a rarity on farms in Norway. Any food containing wheat was once highly prized, so the wedding bread was considered a true treat. Topped with cheese, cream, and syrup, this unique bread is folded over and cut into small squares and served to all the guests. Denmark: The Danish are known to feast upon a cornucopia cake. Made of almond cake and marzipan, the ring-shaped confection is decorated with pastilage and filled in the center with candy, almond cakes, fresh fruit, or sorbet. Sometimes marzipan portraits of the bride and groom are attached to the outside of the cake. To avoid bad luck, the newlyweds cut the cake together; all the guests must eat a slice.
Iceland: Icelanders enjoy a kransakaka at weddings. Made up of ring-shaped almond pastries piled on top of one another to form a pyramid, the hollow center of the tower is filled with fine chocolates or candies.
Italy: No Italian wedding would be complete with out zuppa inglese. Scrumptiously filled with chocolate custard, vanilla custard, rum cream, and fruit, tiers of pound cake are elaborately trimmed with flower blooms of royal icing. Greece: These days, most Greek couples prefer a flourless almond cake, which is filled with vanilla custard and fruit, and covered in sliced almonds. The traditional rendition of a Greek wedding cake consists of honey, sesame seed, and quince, which is said to symbolize the couple's enduring commitment to each other. Sourdough wedding bread decorated with beads and blossoms is also a traditional treat.
1. Wedding Band Equipment
Why it's hidden: The cost of the wedding band includes fees for the musicians' time and the minimum amount of equipment needed. If your reception space is extra-large, then additional speakers and microphones could possibly be required to project the best sound quality.
The cost: Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars
How to avoid it: Before booking your wedding band or DJ, you need to clearly explain the layout of the space (or have them check it out, if they're willing) so the vendors know exactly what they're working with. If they want to add in extra equipment, you should have them explain why it's necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay for anything else.
2. Postage Stamps
Why it's hidden: Stationers don't advertise the shipping costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler invites.
The cost: Oversized, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often run you as much as $2 each to mail.
How to avoid it: Skip the fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, which can bulk up quickly and cost a lot more than you bargained for.
3. Wedding Dress Alterations and Steaming
Why it's hidden: Most stores don't include alterations (or steaming!) in the price of the wedding dress, and they're not doing it for free -- it can take up to three hours just to alter the bustier!
The cost: A simple hem can be less than $100, but completely rebuilding a bodice or moving zippers can send the price upward of $500.
How to avoid it: Ask about what the store charges for every alteration you may need before you purchase the gown.
4. Overtime Costs
Why it's hidden: Your band, DJ, wedding photographer and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, they'll charge per hour.
The cost: Starting at $250 per hour
How to avoid it: WFactor in additional time for getting dressed and taking photos; that way, you can book your vendors for a more realistic timeline. Get overtime costs in writing (they shouldn't be more than 50 percent more per hour than the regular rate) so you'll know what to expect if you decide to keep the party going.
5. Welcome-Bag Delivery
Why it's hidden: Most hotels don't factor in a welcome-bag delivery fee when you block rooms. And they may fail to mention the rate unless you ask -- they'll just add it to your final bill. Inquire within; they may even charge you a fee for holding the welcome bags if you drop them off before the guests arrive!
The cost: Up to $7 per bag
How to avoid it: During the booking process, ask about the hotel's policy on receiving and delivering welcome bags to guests' rooms. It may be free or cheaper if they hand the bags out at the counter as guests check in. If you don't want the extra charge, you can distribute them at the rehearsal dinner.
6. Rental Transport
Why it's hidden: You'd assume that the rental companies would include these extra fees in the per-item costs (do they honestly think you're going to fit 150 chiavari chairs in your own car?), but surprisingly, they don't.
The cost: From $50 up to more than $500
How to avoid it: Ask the rental company what their shipping and packaging fees are up front -- if the cost is too high for your budget, shop around a bit. You just might find that you'll actually save some money by renting items from a more expensive company that includes delivery costs at no extra charge.
7. Taxes and Gratuities
Why it's hidden: Even though these aren't exactly hidden -- we all know that there are taxes on almost everything -- most couples don't think about how much they'll end up owing during the planning process.
The cost: This will depend on the total amount of money you're spending as well as the location of the event (taxes vary in different areas).
How to avoid it: There's no getting around paying taxes, but paying the entire bill in one lump sum can help lower the overall price. A safe bet: Tack on an extra third of your total costs to your budget for tips and taxes.
8. Cake-Cutting and Corkage Fees
Why it's hidden; If you use the cake or booze provided by your reception site, the charge is typically wrapped into the cost. Going with an outside baker or vino can raise the price. Why? Because your venue's workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes. This means more work for their staff!
The cost: From $2 to $5 per guest for the cake; from $1.50 to $3 for every bottle the venue opens
How to avoid it: Calculate the cake-cutting and corkage fees before you decide to go with an outside source for either.
9. Cleanup and Breakdown Costs
Why it's hidden: Many brides spend so much time planning the actual day that they forget to budget for what happens when it's all over.
The cost: TWhile a full-service venue won't charge for these things, if you're paying a flat fee to rent the space only, anticipate fees for garbage removal (up to $250), freight elevator use (up to $150) and cleaning (up to $500). And even most full-service venues require same-day setup and cleanup. So if you're getting married on a weekend, expect to pay time and a half for labor, and if your party goes into the wee hours of the morning, you may face extra charges for late-night pickup and cleanup.
How to avoid it: Read your contract carefully -- the setup and breakdown costs should be included in the labor charge.
10. Non-Approved Vendors
Why it's hidden: Some venues require you to use caterers or florists from their preferred vendor list -- and tack on a fee if you don't.
The cost: Usually an extra 20 percent or more
How to avoid it: Stick to the list, or choose a venue without one.
1. The Testy Bridesmaid
The Problem: "I love my maid of honor, but getting her in a dress that wasn't black or covered every inch of her was a task. If we found a color or a print, she would tell me that she didn't want to take attention away from the bride."
Our Advice: If one of your bridesmaids is a little nervous about showing some skin or wearing a bold color, it's better to find her an alternate option than to force her into something she's not comfortable with. For a modest maid of honor, make a strapless dress more conservative by incorporating a wrap, a fun cardigan, or a vintage bolero jacket in a complementing shade. Or play up your color palette in a subtler way with jewelry or hair fascinators. And look at the bright side -- compromising now will give you a little leverage when you serve as a maid in her wedding.
2. The Wedding Know-It-All
The Problem: "My future sister-in-law is telling me I shouldn't wear a white dress because it would be too harsh with my skin tone, wants to register for gifts with me (as well as tell me what to register for), and is suggesting where we honeymoon!"
Our Advice: When wedding suggestions cross the line from helpful to aggravating, it's time to redirect that input so that you don't end up arguing over something that might not seem so significant a few years down the line. Assign specific tasks to keep her busy but still involved, like helping you confirm orders with vendors or assembling favors.
3. The Doesn't-Know-Her-Place Wedding Guest
The Problem: "One of our guests keeps insisting that we invite everyone on her 'party guest list' to our destination wedding -- I even found an open invite on her MySpace page!"
Our Advice: Some wedding guests take it upon themselves to suggest a few invitees. And then some guests invite everyone on the Internet. Unless you want Tom from MySpace raising a glass to toast your union, make sure it's clear that there's only one guest list for your wedding. Luckily, rationalizing a small guest list is a lot easier when you have a destination wedding -- just explain that you're having an intimate wedding with close friends and family only (she should feel honored that she's one of them!).
4. The Over-Eager Wedding Guest
The Problem: "A woman my mother works with wants to do my ceremony music, and a customer of my mother's always volunteers to help and acts like she is family. I hardly know her!"
Our Advice: You know that expression about too many cooks in the kitchen? Meet its wedding equivalent. Having a lot of people offer to help you plan sounds like a blessing, but when assistance comes from left field, it can feel like more of a hindrance. If you feel like someone's eagerness is a bit more than you need, let her know how grateful you are for the offer, but that you're in great shape, planning-wise, and that if anything comes up that she could help with, you'll be sure to call.
5. The Children-Or-Bust Wedding Guest
The Problem: "My husband-to-be has a niece and nephew (both under five), and his sister, her husband, and his parents said they would refuse to come if the children aren't allowed."
Our Advice: A lot of couples choose not to invite kids to their wedding, but if you risk a boycott by some VIPs, find a way soothe the situation. Offer to hire a babysitter and set up a private area with games, coloring books, and a few comfy pillows for little ones to crash on if the reception runs past their bedtimes. Your relatives might even offer to chip in once they see how accommodating you're being, but if they don't, the extra expense will be worth bypassing the drama of a fight with your new family.
Gift giving is a way for guests to celebrate your wedding and to help you stock your new home. Here's what to keep in mind when making your bridal registry.
1. Register Early
What are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should be one of the first tasks you tackle when you get engaged. Friends and relatives will be looking to buy wedding gifts as soon as he pops the question. Really! Take the guesswork out of gift buying by making sure they know what you want. You don’t need to complete your list just yet, but at least have a selection for guests to browse.
2. Do it together
Hitting the stores together is essential. After all, the gifts are for both of you. To decide what you need, take inventory of the things you already have and see where the gaps are. Talk about the style of home you'd both like, and split up the final say (you could alternate items) to make it fair. (Maybe he gets to make final decisions on electronics, while you get to choose the kitchen stuff since you’re the chef.)
3. Register for whatever you want
Don’t feel like you just need to register for china and flatware. Many stores have wedding registries now, so feel free to include whatever it is that will make your new house a home, be it electronics, appliances, or even camping equipment.
4. But...think about how you live
Try to avoid filling your list with things you’re never going to use. If you two aren’t the formal party types, then you probably won’t need a crystal punch bowl, as compelling as it may seem when you walk by with that registry scanner. Also, be extra-sure before you register for anything that's monogrammed. Once your name is on it, you probably won’t be able to return it.
5. Check the store's return policies
It's always a good idea to inquire about a store's exchange/return policies. The great thing is many wedding registry retailers have amazing customer service to accommodate to-be-weds' needs (for example, you might suddenly realize that you don't really have room for 24 chargers and want to return, say, eight of them). That said, being aware of the store's return and exchange timelines will help you better plan and manage your registry.
6. Make sure you hit all price points
As much as you may be hankering for that gorgeous $350-a-place-setting silver, be sure to register for items in a wide range of price points: under $50, under $75, under $100, under $200, and beyond, so all of your guests can choose gifts they can afford. You don't want your college friend feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he can't find a single gift; and on the opposite side, you don't want your parents' closest friends to have to buy you a multitude of smaller items to give you a generous gift.
7. Be considerate of your guests
At least one (and preferably all) of your registries should be available online. Guests should also be able to place their orders in person, over the phone, or by fax. If you’ve registered at a boutique retailer that doesn’t offer online services, you should be okay, as long as that’s not the only place you’ve registered. We live in a hectic world and you want to let guests be able to order you a gift -- even if it's 2 a.m.!
8. Update often
When a guest buys a gift for you, your registry should automatically update, allowing other guests to see what’s been purchased (and allowing you to see what’s on its way!). Make sure to revisit your registry often (trust us, you’ll be visiting several times a day once the wedding day nears), and update it with additional selections as products are purchased so that guests always have a variety of things to choose from. Aim to have at least twice as many items on your list as guests at your wedding.
9. Think gift cards
Sure, some couples love receiving cash, but asking for it is not exactly Future Mr. and Mrs. Manners-approved. A more etiquette-friendly option? Try gift cards. Many stores allow you to register for them and you can use them to buy the things you want and need...later. If you are anxious for cash gifts, ask one or two close friends and immediate family members to politely spread the word.
10. Say thanks
Be gracious -- let your guests know their gifts have arrived -- promptly. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month of your return from the honeymoon. In all notes, be sure to mention the gift by name.
Family, friends, and family friends: Where should they sit during your big moment? With parents, stepparents, divorced parents, grandparents, and extended family, all in attendence, you'll need a plan. Here are our guidelines.
Ushers: Who Are They?
You can enlist a few of your groomsmen to play ushers, or you can ask some relatives or friends to seat your guests. The rule of thumb is one usher for every 50 guests. If you're having an intimate ceremony, you may not need ushers, but you might want to put someone in charge of "sensitive" seating issues -- like keeping your mom and stepmom apart.
Ushers really need to know where everyone's supposed to sit -- so print out a list for them! Traditionally, female guests are escorted to their seats; the usher offers his right arm to the woman, and her male companion follows them down the aisle. (With a group of women, the usher might offer his arm to the oldest woman.) These days, it's fine for ushers to simply greet guests at the door and lead them to their seats, saying, "Please follow me.
Ushers needn't ask guests whose "side" they are on. (In Christian ceremonies, the bride's side is the left side of the church when looking from back to front, and the groom's side is the right; for Jewish services, it's the opposite.) But should someone express a preference for one side or the other (many guests will say they are friends or relatives of the bride or groom), they should be seated where they want to sit. If one side of the family will have more guests than the other, ushers should try to even things out, explaining that everyone will sit together so guests can get the best view possible.
Who Sits Where? Quick answers to your most frequent seating questions:
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