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PLEASE HELP! I'm getting married in September, in New York where my fiance and I live. The wedding is out of state for both our families (my family is from CT, his from NH and a lot of my extended family will be flying in from IA) This wedding (as much as it is my dream day) is still a reflection of my parents. I am their one and only daughter and they are taking their “parents of the bride” position very seriously. I have a large family and there are about 180 people total on the invite list. My parents expect that the count is more like 120 (elderly, people who may not want to travel, people they feel like they had to invite and so on). Our ceremony site is a place that's very special to my fiance and I. It's a small garden and it’s the place of my dreams but the venue is VERY strict that only 100 people are allowed. I was fine with inviting the majority to the reception but not everyone to the ceremony. My parents thought that we should invite everyone and in the event that we’re over the 100 allotted people (which we will be!) we should eat our words and tell some people that due to space they can come to the reception, but not the wedding festivities. We decided to send out ‘Save the Dates’ with RSVP cards, and some diplomatic words indicating that space is tight and we'd appreciate an early reply so we have an idea of guest numbers. Formal invitation to follow. I am hoping you can help us develop some ideas for what to write after the Save-a-Date stage has passed, in case we need to tackle the too-many-guests issue!

Congratulations! It's perfectly okay to have a smaller group invited to the ceremony than the reception - this is not uncommon practice. Save the dates are usually sent out far before the event (hence the names) and many of your guests may not be able to plan far enough ahead to be certain to come to the ceremony, so now you're dealing with chasing two sets of RSVPS instead of one (and trust me, you will be chasing them....) I don't know that it would be helpful. I suggest you invite the people you THINK will come to the ceremony, to the ceremony (and this can certainly be an informal conversation rather than a printed invite), and if space seems to be opening up, you can invite others by word of mouth. You can never count on people not wanting to come to either one; the couples I officiate are surprised on a regular basis, and you don't want to be in the situation of having 150 guests and 100 people's worth of space. Better to have 80 people there and not be worried. Try not to stress and enjoy this wonderful time in your life!

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In a nutshell: one set of parents, one set of step parents, all very close to me - who walks me down the aisle??

The truth is that these days I see an equal number of brides accompanied down the aisle as I see unaccompanied down the aisle. It's a sweet tradition - the figurative "handing over" of the woman from the first man in her life to the next man in her life - but it's not an obligatory part of your processional. Any variation of this theme can work here...both mothers on either side, both fathers on either side, both couples on either side...if the aisle can fit that many! Or you can, of course, walk down by yourself or with your imminent hubby to be. Follow your heart on this one...I doubt it will lead you astray.

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My fiance has some very strong (negative) feelings about a friend of mine and insists that I don't invite him to our wedding (says he just rubs him the wrong way but can't point to anything specific). In the meantime, this friend has been bringing up the wedding quite a bit and I know he's expecting an invitation. While he's not a 'best friend,' we do talk and occasionally hang out, and I would feel bad for not inviting him. What should I do?

It's very hard to be put into this kind of situation, but in the end you want your fiance to be just as happy as you are on your wedding day. This means that, unfortunately, sacrifices will have to be made and you will need to explain to your friend that you are limited by the number of guests you can invite to your wedding. I don't recommend revealing the real reason you can't invite him (no need to add salt to the wound), but perhaps you can allude to the idea that the guest list comprises only those in your very inner circle...meaning friends with you AND your fiance.

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Some of my friends (including those in my wedding party) are having fun dating around right now. I know they'd like to bring dates with them to the wedding but we're on a budget and we'd rather not pay for someone we don't even know! Is there a right or wrong way to handle this?

Generally speaking, invitations should be extended to married, engaged, and live-in partners. If any of your friends are involved in, what seems to be, a serious relationship, then you might consider a "+1" invitation as well. Casual dates or casual friends do not need to take a bite out of your budget. Just make sure to be consistent when drawing the line so that no one ends up feeling slighted.

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We are fortunate enough to have both sets of parents offering to pay for our wedding. They have asked us for guidance on who should be paying for what but my fiance and I aren't familiar with the rules!

First of all, congratulations to you and your partner! While tradition has seen the bride's family cover the cost of invitations, the wedding gown, flowers, photographer, music, and overall elements of the reception, and the groom's family covering the cost of the rehearsal dinner, bouquet and boutonniere, legal paperwork, wedding officiant/minister, and even the honeymoon, these days it has become more common practice to simply split the cost down the middle (or per one's relative capacity to contribute). If one of your parents feels strongly about paying for, and advising you on, a particular element (cake, flowers, photographer), then feel free to allocate appropriately. Some responsibilities may naturally be more suited to one side of the family than the other (e.g.: a social or business connection that may exist, or a logistical advantage), so approach these arrangements with flexibility and encourage open but diplomatic communication.

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My fiance and I have been living together for 3 years and we have finally set a wedding date! What's the word on wearing a white wedding gown for the non-virgin bride?

While many interpret the color white to mean "purity," this needn't necessarily translate into "virgin wedding." The fact is, most women today get married in a white (or off-white variation) wedding gown and it has come to represent other things such as beauty, celebration, and the start of a new life. If you want to wear white you should do so with pride and in good health!

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