Drunk Groomsmen, Paying Parents, and Are Engagement Photos Worth It?


My fiancé’s college friends are big drinkers. We’ve been to lots of mutual friends’ weddings where they got pretty rowdy, and I don’t want that for my own wedding. How can I prevent it? I want a reception, not a frat party. —Nervous

Dear Nervous,
If you’ve decided to host an open bar at your reception (yay!), then this is a very real concern. And if certain old friends have a habit of, ahem, overdoing it, then it’s almost guaranteed. They’ve probably already selected their designated driver for the evening. You can try a couple things here: Start by dropping hints. When discussing your future reception with these friends, use the word “tasteful” as often as possible. Also “classy.” Will there be small children at your wedding? Mention that, with a mildly shaming tone. Was there a particularly heinous incident at another friend’s wedding? Remind them. Is there video evidence? Roll that tape. Then cross your fingers.

If they’re just not getting it, ask your fiancé to step in and ask that they not get super drunk at your dream wedding. If they’re really close friends, they’ll respect the request and tone it down. Hopefully.

If all else seems to be failing, then consider just cutting hard liquor from your bar. This might seem extreme, and any frat boy worth his toga can still do some damage with wine and beer, but it will probably take a couple hours. Spirits will take him from hors d’oeuvres to hammered real quick. Bonus: You’ll save some cash.

Should my parents be paying for everything? They haven’t mentioned it, and I don’t know how to bring it up. —Wondering

Dear Wondering,
This is a tricky one. As far as Mrs. Know-It-All can tell, that’s not a guaranteed thing anymore—at least not in your garden variety American wedding. If you’re from the south or Texas or something, then the tradition might be holding on pretty tight. So double-check with the family matriarch. Mrs. Know-It-All hails from the Ohio River Valley, however, where such social rules have relaxed significantly in the last century. Many contemporary weddings are a family affair, paid for by anyone and everyone, including the bride and groom themselves. But you wanted to know how to proceed, so here goes:

The very first thing you should do is talk to your fiancé, and then sit down and talk with both sets of parents, separately. Because if your parents haven’t broached the subject, then they might not be planning to pay for anything. Or they might be assuming that they’re paying for everything. It’s impossible to know without talking to them. Decide (with your fiancé) what kind of wedding you want to have, and if you need help paying for it—and if so, how much. Then sit down with your parents and tell them what you’re hoping to do. That will be their chance to bring up their contribution, if they do plan on contributing. This might mean footing the entire bill, offering a flat sum, covering certain single items (like your dress or the honeymoon), or nothing at all. Then you should have the same conversation with your fiancé’s parents. Once you know the financial landscape, you can start planning in earnest. Above all, be flexible with your expectations. Hurt feelings are not a great way to start a marriage.

Are engagement pictures a good idea? It seems like everyone has them. —Feeling Peer-Pressured

Dear Pressured,
Sure! Maybe. Not really? Actually, it totally depends. Start with these questions: Do you love the idea of having your wedding photographed? Would you welcome the chance to practice posing for said photography before the big day? Have you ever said that you “just want a nice photo of the two of you”? If so, then an engagement session might be perfect. You’ll get some time in front of the lens to practice not looking weird. You’ll have cute pictures to share with friends and family. You can buy a new outfit! And it’s a great chance to run through dos and don’ts with your wedding photographer, and rule out stuff that you never even knew was an option. For example: They might ask you to fake-punch your fiancé. Here’s your chance to say “no.”

If none of that sounds like fun to you, then maybe don’t do it. And consider cost: Sometimes engagement sessions are rolled into wedding photography packages, and sometimes they are extra. If the cost is a minimal addition to your photography budget, it might be worth a try. If not, then run the numbers. Your budget will likely decide for you.

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