Plan Like a Pro: Wedding Planner Colin Cowie Shares His Top Tips

Etiquette, Planning Tips
Plan Like a Pro Wedding Planner: Colin Cowie's Tips

Photo: Gianluca Adovasio

One of the biggest names in the wedding world, Colin Cowie, is here to dish everything you need to know when it comes to planning your big day. From etiquette tips for the couple, their family, and guests, to some of his biggest do's and don'ts for the reception, check out Cowie's expert advice below!

A bride can have multiple showers but only one engagement party.
By tradition, guests should give you a gift for each event they attend, as well as the wedding itself.

But do not expect people to spend more than they can afford.
Be polite and make sure there's a range of prices on your registry.

If you invite Mary to your engagement party, you must invite her to your wedding.
After all, you're inviting only your nearest and dearest. And why would you invite 150 people to your engagement party and just 100 people to your wedding?

Make sure the RSVP-by date is a month to six weeks before your wedding.
When should people RSVP? Immediately! If someone is tardy — incredibly rude — the bride, the groom the maid of honor, someone should email her to confirm attendance.

Not everyone in your bridal party needs a plus-one.
If it's someone your brother plans on spending years with, fine. But you don't want to meet a new person at your wedding unless he or she is a really significant other.

Don't schedule the ceremony and reception several hours apart.
You do not get to take up three quarters of your guests' day! And you shouldn't ask them to dress in black tie at noon or mill around for hours in between.

If you parents are divorced, don't force them to sit together.
Do invite their significant others, and seat them apart. If his parents are divorced too, you may need four parents' tables.

The sweetheart table is too ridiculous for words.
Go sit with your family and friends! You have the rest of your lives to be by yourselves.

Avoid receiving lines.
They create a terrible bottleneck when everybody is heading to cocktails. It's better to go from table to table and thank every guest for coming. A speech from the couple is also classy.

A cash bar is not OK in my book.
Better to have a smaller group and entertain nicely. Open bar till we drop. Till. We. Drop.

If the bouquet and garter tosses are done well, they don't have to be tacky.
Do them at the end of the night, when everyone's been drinking and you're looking for some energy. As long as he's not groping you under your dress, it shouldn't be an issue.

What is tacky...
When the groom pushes cake all over the bride's face during the cake cutting. It's a humiliating and disrespectful ritual.

It's OK to control the toasts — especially if you have a best man who's a live wire.
Here's your script: "Hey, Dave, what are you planning to say tomorrow night? You're rehearsing your speech with me right now." And, no, that's not rude. It's your wedding. You decide.

For more great etiquette tips, be sure to check out our April/May issue, on newsstands now and available for download.

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