Ask Mrs. Know-It-All: Formalities, Budgets, and Unplugged Weddings

My daughter is getting married in June 2016. The reception is at The Madison in Covington and valet parking is included in the price of the venue. Is it odd to include that on the invitations, worded, “Free valet parking courtesy of the bride and groom”? Even though we (her parents) are paying for the wedding? —Moneybags

Dear Moneybags:
I think “odd” is exactly the right word to describe it. I’m going to do something annoying and answer a question you’re not asking: “Should I put a note about the valet on the invite?” Nope. It wouldn’t be bad or rude or anything like that, but it wouldn’t be necessary either, and it will junk up a lovely invitation with non-essential particulars. Guests will most certainly find out about the free service on the night of the wedding—provided, of course, that there is appropriate signage at the venue. Best-case scenario? They’ll be very pleasantly surprised. Worst-case scenario? They’ll have an extra fiver left over that they planned to use at the valet. Done and done. Still want to list it somewhere? Here are a couple options: Are there extra materials, like a map, with the invitation? The line could go there! Or is there a website? It could go there! OK, now to wording: Just say, “Free valet parking.” The word “courtesy” does indicate that someone is paying for it, and that information is redundant. Of course someone is paying for it. Most people will assume that it is in fact you, since you’re the bride’s parents and that’s tradition (a topic for a future Mrs. Know-it-All…). Short answer: Keep it simple.

We’re looking for a few good places to save money in our wedding budget, but we don’t want to go too far and end up cutting something important. So we’re wondering: Should we spend the time and money to send out save-the-dates? If so, when should they go out? —Planning Ahead

Dear Planning:
That all depends. Is it a destination wedding? Then right now. Like, put-down-this-magazine-and-run-to-the-post-office right now. But seriously, if a lot of guests at your wedding will have to make significant travel plans, such as booking flights and hotels and taking vacation from work and wrangling overnight babysitters, then you need to give them a heads up as soon as humanly possible. You’ll do that with a save-the-date. But here’s the good news: You get to choose the medium (your wedding, your rules!). If you’re emotionally attached to traditional print correspondence (like, ahem, some of us), then you can mail a hard copy save-the-date. But it can be incredibly simple—just a postcard with your names and the wedding date and location. You’ll even save on postage, since post cards are less pricey to mail than envelopes. Or, if you know exactly who among your party will need pertinent travel information, place a phone call or even send an e-mail. Just don’t send, like, a Snapchat, k? Here’s the long and short of it: Print save-the-dates are a simple one-time shot, but will cost money. E-mail save-the-dates are free, but will cost your time and effort. And possibly leave Aunt Mamie in a tiff. So it’s your call. The bottom line is that save-the-dates aren’t obsolete, like some other wedding traditions (I’m looking at you, wedding favors); they serve a purpose and are a gesture of courtesy to your guests. But you need not spend a lot—or any—money on them.

What the heck is an “unplugged” wedding? Will there be an acoustic band there or something? —Confused

Dear Confused:
I’m so glad you asked. In the 21st-century wedding universe, “unplugged” does not refer to live musical acts (RIP MTV Unplugged). It refers to phones. And tablets. And other handheld digital devices that people stare at when they’re bored (or in my case, hungry). So when a couple asks guests to participate in an “unplugged” wedding, what they’re saying is, “We really don’t want you checking Facebook during the maid of honor speech.” Or, “We’d prefer that you not live-Tweet the ceremony.” Actually, what they’re really saying is, “Put your phone down and be with us while we do this important thing that we paid too much money for.” So go ahead and be a good guest and oblige. Pinterest will unfortunately still be there when you log back in.

new1finalportraitMrs. Know-It-All is Amy Brownlee. She got married once and it was really fun. Send your pressing wedding etiquette questions here.

Illustrations by Super Secret Pow Wow

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