Q. We have just got engaged but have no idea where to start planning our wedding. How should we begin?

Initially by agreeing on what your overall wedding vision and approximate budget is. Don’t concentrate on any minute details until much later in the piece.

By understanding your vision and budget, an experienced wedding planner or good vendors can provide you with ideas to complete that vision.

Figure out what services you would like at your wedding and what level of priority and importance each of these services are to you.

As an example, if hypothetically great catering is a top priority look at high end venues, boutique caterers or restaurants.

Compensate the budget by saving money on hypothetically bomboniere and cake and invest $2 per bomboniere as a token gesture to your guests instead of investing $25 a bomboniere and $300 rather than $1200 on a massive cake or vice versa, so to speak.

Q. What is the traditional division of who pays for what on the bride and groom’s side?

Every culture varies in the appropriation of funds and traditions. In relation to who pays for what and by who is different for everybody. The best way in our opinion to handle this is 50-50%, it’s fair and equitable.

Q. We both have large families but our budget is tight. Is it ok to invite them to the engagement but not the wedding, and if so, how do we go about it?

Each culture can treat this situation a little different but there is no silver bullet for this dilemma and an extremely difficult question to answer.

One solution is to do a simple, elegant low budget engagement and invite everyone and then elope with your closest friends and relatives interstate or abroad for the wedding and do it in real style.

This way fewer will be disappointed or feel left out.

Q. The parents (or in-laws) want to invite people we don’t know and have offered to pay for them but we want a small wedding. How do we compromise?

What we have found in our experience at Sovereign Weddings is that there is a certain level of compromise required from all parties involved in order to have a happy outcome.

For example if they offer to pay for guests early in the wedding planning process, you can select a venue slightly larger to accommodate this and everyone is happy.

In other cases, couples will fund the wedding themselves in order to keep their family out of the decision making process.

For example, if you want a small wedding, it would be reasonable to tell your family upfront that you are only inviting immediate family/close friends and be firm about it.

Keep in mind that if you say yes to a request to invite just one second cousin, then you will upset other second and third cousins who were not invited and it snowballs into a more problematic situation.

Q. My mother/mother-in-law is becoming overbearing with the organisation of the wedding. How can I tell her to back off in a nice way?

Find parts of the wedding that you find personally frustrating and pass these as duties to your mother-in-law. That way she feels that her assistance is appreciated and you can avoid having to do this yourself. Don’t try and totally shut her out, it will end poorly for all parties.

Q. I’ve found the perfect dress but it’s out of my budget.

Remember that half the cost of the dress is the label, so you could go to a less well known boutique and pick a dress with a similar design, or go to a dress maker and get a similar design made up more cost effectively. Otherwise, you might like to consider restructuring your budget to get the dress you want, shaving costs in areas of the wedding that are less important.

Q. Yiayia has gone and invited 10 extra guests without telling us. What do we do?

Greeks are notorious for inviting extra family. If you have room at the venue, you can pay the extra fee and accommodate them, provided that the venue has spare catering.

If you don’t want them, nicely explain to your grandmother that they were not on your list of guests.

Ask her to politely apologise to them about the misunderstanding and explain to them that they were actually not invited.

Again, the way to avoid this is to inform family from the very beginning about the invitation parameters.

One way to do this is to send out Save the Date cards shortly after booking the wedding and specify not to invite additional people.
Q. We don’t want children at the wedding. How do we break this to the guests?

This has come up many times in the past but over the last few years many people understand that kids at a special occasion can be a distraction.

In other cases they are the life of the party.

Usually, if asked by friends or relatives you can use the venue capacity idea or what we use on certain occasions these days is child care workers.

Kids are placed in another part of the venue and the workers entertain the kids. It is also quite cost effective for all concerned.

That way they are not doing simultaneous slides across the dance floor during your wedding waltz, they are taken care of by professionals and your guests don’t need to hire a nanny for the night.

Q. My wife has turned into a complete Bridezilla. What can I do to calm her down?

When your bride to be turns into a Bridezilla, in most cases is due to stress of the planning process.

Find time to go through things together in a calm way, don’t just say – whatever you want honey !!! That usually ticks them off more. They need to feel that you care about this too.

Secondly, invest in professional assistance or find friends to delegate research duties. Once some of the stress alleviates and she feels like things are under control, she, in most cases, will start to relax.

Q. If someone invites you to their wedding do you have to invite them?

The ultimate dilemma question. In most instances, yes, that is the case. But over time people do drift apart or your budget isn’t as big as theirs and it’s very hard sometimes to invite everyone. If you look at latest trends, people invite who they want to invite or who their parents want to invite.