Category Archives: Ask The Yentas

When Do You Send Thank You Cards for Wedding Gifts?

I often receive emails from readers about the little things. I am always happy to help however I can! This one came in recently and I thought it was a great example of a really good question needing an equally good answer.

Dear Alison,

I was hoping to get your take on thank you cards for wedding gifts and when to send them. We have just started to receive some gifts for our wedding next month and it feels weird to wait until after the wedding to acknowledge our receipt of them. What do you think?

If I do choose to send a thank you card for a gift sent now, should I also send another thank you card after the wedding thanking the guest for coming?

-Abby

*************************

Super good question!!! Write them as you get them. Much less daunting task than waiting until after the wedding. It’s totally acceptable to get wedding gifts early and it’s even more acceptable to write as you get them. The person who’s sending the gift likes it, too, because they feel good knowing you’ve received it and it’s safely in your home.

Thank them and do your spiel and if they’re coming to the wedding and say something like: “We are so looking forward to celebrating with you Next month/in a few weeks…”

If they’re not coming say something like: “We will miss you on the big day, but please know your thoughtfulness is so appreciated…”

And if you don’t know yet because you haven’t received their RSVP, just say something very neutral like: “The wedding day will be even sweeter thanks to your thoughtfulness, and we are so excited!”

After the wedding, you’ll write these same sentiments but just make them past tense.

Hope this helps!

Big fat mazels and love,
Alison

thank you note

Attacking The Cocktail Hour

2012 was definitely the year of love, as my husband and I attended five weddings from August to December! By now, we feel we have memorized the general wedding ceremony and have mastered the art of leaving a guestbook message. Three of those weddings were Jewish weddings, so we definitely got our fair share of Horah time, and if I don’t do another grapevine for a couple more months, my feet (in heels!) will be OK.

No, really, weddings are fun, and we are lucky that members of our circle of friends and family are tying the knot and joining the Marrieds Club.

All this wedding-guesting, though, has gotten my husband quite a reputation as the Cocktail Hour Stalker. It sounds creepier than it is. What this means is that his favorite time of the whole Wedding Olympics is that glorious hour between the “I do” and the dancing: Cocktail Hour, AKA sixty minutes of miniature food items being passed around on trays, like a real life episode of Downton Abbey.

By the fifth wedding of the year in Chicago, our friends at the wedding checked in with my husband to make sure he was OK. Not because he’d fallen on aisle treatments. Not because he drank too much during the toasts. But to make sure he’d had enough of those coveted mac and cheese cups, or tomato soup shots and mini grilled cheese sandwiches duets, or beef satay wraps. Apparently, his consumption and approval of the hors d’oeuvre were a front-and-center concern.

Floataway Studio

Floataway Studio

Cocktail houring is basically an artform. If you have upcoming weddings on your calendar, here are some ways to enjoy this foodtastic time, as demonstrated by Husband Yenta (Yento?):

  • There’s the obvious Stand At The Kitchen Exit method. After the ceremony, find the space between the exit and the kitchen. Make like a lion in the Serengeti and lie in wait. When the unsuspecting cocktail hour server appears with tray in hand, pounce.
  • However, the above tactic won’t work if the servers get smart to your method. At the last wedding we went to, the servers sprinted out of the kitchen avoiding the area where people congregated to get their paws on the grub. In that case, head toward the back of the room. Servers will also tend to cover this section to accommodate some more sedentary guests, like older folks. I’m NOT condoning you steal appetizers out of the hands of senior citizens. I’m merely advising an additional location for prosperous appetizer consumption.
  • Split up. Make alliances. This is serious business. Partner up with your wedding date or another friend in case the servers are onto your shenanigans. Each of you can take turns picking up appetizers and sharing them. Maybe you are on chicken skewer duty while your partner is in charge of bruschetta. Divide and conquer.
  • Make friends with the servers. One of the servers at a 2012 wedding was a bit of a cranky pants. Every time we’d try to take an appetizer from her tray, she’d run away. She even began to appear from the kitchen with NAPKINS ON TOP OF THE FOOD to HIDE it from US. She was on a mission to keep food out of our hungry bellies. So instead, we found a young, cute, not-a-sour-puss server and told him that Scowly Face over there wasn’t stopping for us and could he help a sista out? His perfectly Crest-whitened teeth sparkled and I swore I heard a “ding!” when he smiled. Sure enough, all the mac-and-cheese cups were ours to enjoy for eternity… if the cocktail hour had gone on that long. Besties for life, yo.
  • If all else fails, drink. It IS cocktail hour after all.

What Should You Do When Guests Don’t RSVP To Your Wedding?

Remember those nights you spent on Illustrator designing your perfect wedding invitation? Remember the days off work you took to purchase your papers and embelishments and create prototypes? Remember the episodes of Grey’s Anatomy you half-watched while you assembled each and every element of your printed invitation into its coordinating lined envelope? Oh wait, who am I kidding, you would never only half-watch Grey’s. Okay, so shows your fiance watches that you couldn’t care less about? Probably more like that.

Point is, you spent a lot of time creating an invitation suite that would represent you as a couple and the style of wedding you are planning. Plus, your blood, sweat, and tears went into this expensive DIY project! Or, maybe you ordered them through a professional company and spent the bucks to mail out formal letterpress invitations to all 80 households.

So, what chutzpah to have a few dangling responders who’ve not yet sent in their reply a couple handfuls of days before the wedding! If you’re foaming at the mouth about this, it’s okay. You’re entitled and it’s safe to bet all Yentas would feel the same way.

It’s so simple: a household receives the invitation to your wedding. There’s an RSVP deadline. The household should send in their reply — yes or no — by the deadline. Done. Easy. No brainer. Unfortunately, you can’t expect everyone to be so considerate. So, what do you do when guests don’t RSVP to your wedding?

What you shouldn’t do is blast your frustration on Facebook. Passive aggressive never looks flattering on a bride. Stick to white and lace. Emailing seems like a good idea, but if the household was unable to reply with tangible, paper mail, it’s safe to bet that easy-to-forget and out-of-the-way electronic mail won’t make it through their eyes, out their fingers, and into your account. Also, IMs won’t do because many people leave their IM clients on even when they’re not at the computer and it’s possible they’ll miss it, so skip the GChat check-in with the absent RSVPer.

Go the old fashioned way: there was a time long, long ago when people used these things called — say it with me — “telephones” to — are you ready? — “speak.” Yes, they’d pick up a phone and dial a number and then both voices would communicate. I suggest this method.

So who calls? Whoever in your immediate family “owns” the dangling RSVP should make the call. If it’s your future father-in-law’s college sit-in buddy from back in the day when they worshipped Jerry with the rest of the Deadheads, have him call and find out what the status is (hopefully the status is not “still following The Dead.”). If it’s your sorority sister who has pregnancy brain and can’t seem to remember to even feed herself day to day, give her a ring. If it’s your mom’s mah jongg pal who’s busy organizing the temple’s upcoming tournament, then your mom should make the call. Bottomline: getting a reply will be much more effective if the TBD invitee hears from his or her connection to your wedding. Sometimes our parents invite people we don’t even know to our weddings and they might get the invitation in the mail and think “WHO’S marrying WHO????” And if, by chance, it’s one of your friends who is holding the RSVP card hostage (as if!), then you can call or ask your MOH to call. It’s very likely that you’ll be stressed about a zillion other things so close to the wedding date, and this is the kind of thing you can count on your MOH handling because she’s calm, dependable, and supportive — reasons why you picked her!

If anything, these calls can be a confirmation that 1) the guest even received the invitation; 2) the guest mailed it in, but maybe something went wrong?; 3) the guest is intending to come and with the invited people or person the invitation was addressed to. This helps clear the guest’s assumption that an invitation addressed to him doesn’t include his newest floozy of a fling, her daughter, and her daughter’s BFF. Unless, of course, you want all of them at your wedding… ahem. Whatever. No judging here…

Always make sure to check with your venue or catering company when they need a final headcount and calculate that date into your RSVP deadline. Make your deadline a week before that final headcount is due. That way, you have a buffer of time between when you need to know and OMG WHEN YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take comfort in knowing, though, that unless you’re getting married on the top of Mt. Everest, it’s very likely that your venue or caterer will be able to accommodate those who show up that day without an RSVP (I am not talking about wedding crashers/people you didn’t invite). They might bill you after the fact, but they usually have extra food on hand for this precise occurrence.

At the end of the day, it’s okay to be frustrated when your invited guests don’t take the 32 seconds to fill out the RSVP card and pay $0.00 to mail you back the response. But, just know that everything is fixable and once you get over the principle of it all, you really will enjoy the big day no matter who is there.

The Names You Should Use On Your Yarmulkes and Ketubah

Two very reasonable questions came my way and I thought they’d be great to share with all of Yentaland. These questions crossed my mind when I was planning my wedding as well, so I’m sure there will be readers who are looking for these answers, too.

First, a message from Melanie:
Hello Yentas!
I am so glad I finally found you! I am trying to order the yarmulkes and I have no clue what to write inside. I don’t live in my home town so I can’t go to the drawer with all of the old ones in it. So do personalize them with:

“The Wedding of Bride’s First and Last Name & Groom’s First and Last Name” or should I just use our first names?
What goes inside? Please and thank you!
Melanie

Answer from The Wedding Yentas:
Hi Melanie!
It’s really up to you when you personalize the inside of your yarmulkes! It’s a personal preference. For my own wedding, I just included The Wedding of Alison & Bryan with our wedding date underneath. While it’s not wrong to include last names, you might not want to take up extra space and clutter the area with the 2 additional names. Plus, by the time people take them home to re-wear them, you will no longer be known as your first name and maiden name (exciting, right?!) and you will both have the same last name (mazel!). So, my suggestion would be to keep it to the first names. Nothing’s right, nothing’s wrong. Personal preference and that’s mine.

You can also include your wedding date below the names. You can use the American calendar like I did — May 25, 2008 — or you can include the Hebrew month, day, and year. You’d need to check to make sure you have it correctly, but it just depends on how Jewish you want to make it.

Good luck!!
Alison

Great question, right? Melanie, I hope that helped you!

Next, another question about last names, but this time it’s in regards to the ketubah.
On Facebook, Megan asked:

Ok this may be a dumb question but do I sign the ketubah with my maiden name or married name??

Answer from The Wedding Yentas:
Not dumb!! Totally reasonable question. Since you sign the ketubah before your chuppah ceremony (which also serves as your official civil ceremony), you’ll autograph the ketubah with your maiden name. All ketubah signers, as well as marriage certificate signers, should use their full names, and that includes the bride and groom. If you have a Hebrew name, be prepared to know what it is and sign that as well. If your Hebrew is a little rough or non-existent, your rabbi should be able to help you write the letters. Always check with your officiant for specific directions.

So there you have it! Two totally reasonable questions with answers that hopefully help some fellow Yentas in distress.

If you have more questions, feel free to email them to alison @ theweddingyentas [dot] com and I’ll be happy to help you! I’m a geek, so I normally know the answer but if I don’t, I’ll find out for you. Consider The Wedding Yentas your personal wedding concierge!

Ask The Yentas – What To Do With Your Dress

As you all know by now, Yentas are big time schmoozers! When it comes to weddings, there’s just so much to talk about! So, if you want to shmooze, The Wedding Yentas always shmooze back. Readers email with wedding questions for reliable and been-there-done-that information and feedback. Some of these questions haven’t been addressed in blog posts yet, but have become inspirations to create the topic in order to provide answers.

Reader Alexandra asks: “Hey there Wedding Yentas: I figured you might be a good person to ask about this. Do you know of a great place/organization to donate your wedding dress to? As much as I don’t want to give it up, I will never wear it again, and the odds that A). I have a daughter, and B). she’ll be able/want to wear it are slim. Let me know if you have any ideas.”

Hi Alexandra,

You have come to the right place. There are plenty of answers for you!

1. You can sell the dress here: Preownedweddingdresses.com is a good site that allows you to have control of the sale and is a safer bet than eBay since you are targeting your exact market: brides looking for wedding gowns.

preownedweddingdresses.com

2. If you want to donate your gown, there’s also Brides Against Breast Cancer. You ship it to a center and then they tour the gowns in different cities where people buy them and proceeds go to battling breast cancer.

bridesagainstbreastcancer.com

3. Trash your dress! I know what you are going to say: “Yentas, I can’t trash my dress! Are you guys OUT. OF. YOUR. MINDS?” Well, quite possibly, but that’s for another day and time. Of course you can trash your dress. It doesn’t have to be the kind where you throw it in the garbage, but the photography movement of modeling your dress for non traditional photos. Ask your photographer about a “Trash the Dress” session or search on Google and get ready to feast your eyes on beautiful images of brides laying in the ocean, playing in the sand, covered in mud, or baking brownies! This type of session can also be referred to as a “Day After Session” and you don’t really have to trash your dress! It’s just another opportunity to wear your dress and take beautiful photos you might not have had the chance to take on your wedding day!

trash-the-dress-session

trash-the-dress-session

trash-the-dress-session

trash-the-dress-session

4. Cut off a piece of your dress so that your future daughter or granddaughter can incorporate some of it on her wedding day. Whether she uses the fabric as part of her dress or as a bouquet wrapper can be her decision. Then donate your dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer or the Salvation Army.

lace-from-mom's-wedding-dress

5.Redo it. Old new borrowed redo is a company run by three sisters who take worn dresses (wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, prom dresses — whatever! They even take old t-shirts!) and redo them to create something else. Your wedding gown can become your new throw pillows on your bed or a doll’s dress for your daughter. The options are pretty much endless and the sisters love working with you to customize your old/new product into something redone that you will love. Check ‘em out on Facebook, too, to find out what new projects are in the works.

6. Last but not least…keep it. In the event that your daughter or granddaughter might want to wear it. Get your dress dry-cleaned and preserved. Wedding Gown Specialists, who have locations all over the country, preserve and box up your dress so it’s ready to store away in a safe place for many years to come. The bride below wore her mother’s wedding dress and it looked beautiful!

wearing-your-moms-wedding-gown

wearing-your-moms-wedding-gown

We hope we have given you lots of ideas for what to do with your dress once your wedding is over. At the end of the day it is a totally personal decision, but just know there are lots of great options available.

  • Amber says:

    I love the bouquet holder ideas! What a nice way to incorporate part of your mother’s dress and a something old at the same time.

  • Bean Benson says:

    What absolutely wonderful ideas!

    I donated my wedding gown to http://www.thebridesproject.com/ and was THRILLED with the decision to do so! xo