Your Questions Answered


If you have any questions about your wedding, protocol regarding hens and bachelor’s parties, or music to play at the reception, complete the on-line form. Questions are answered each month   and posted to WeddingNet.

Q. I am chief bridesmaid for my best friend’s wedding and am organising a ‘tressour’ party.  Firstly, I would like to know the correct spelling and secondly, what type of fun, ‘not so silly’ games can we play? Kyla, Brisbane, Australia.

A. Dear Kyla,

I think the word you are looking for is ‘trousseau’, and while I haven’t heard of a ‘trousseau party’ before, this simply sounds like another term for a wedding shower. A wedding shower can be held at any time before the wedding. However, it’s usually best to have the shower a few days before the wedding when relatives and friends from out of town are present. The shower can be held anywhere you like, although your house, as you are chief bridesmaid, is probably the easiest and most appropriate choice.

When organising your friend’s shower, you might like to start by choosing a theme. Choose a theme that you know your friend may need help stocking her house with. For example, if she is moving into a new home, a house and garden shower would be great and gifts such as potted plants, garden ornaments, nice pots and decorating books could be given. Other themes include linen showers where guests bring gifts with a linen theme (e.g. tablecloths, bed sheets, place mats, towels), CD showers where guests each bring a CD as a gift, or bar showers where guests bring a bottle or bar accessory. After you have chosen your theme and organised the food you will serve, arrange a few games (it’s best to arrange them a few days ahead in case you need to buy materials). Below are three wedding shower games to get you started:


The advice game

Prepare a piece of paper with some problems you think most couples may encounter during their marriage. Then, get each guest to write down a piece of wisdom or advice they think will be useful to the bride after she is married. The pieces of paper are then mixed up in a hat and drawn out one at a time. You should read a ‘problem’ and then a piece of ‘advice’. The matches you make during this game can be really funny!


The handbag game

Make a list of items you think people keep in their handbags, vary the items from common ones (e.g. car keys) to uncommon ones (e.g. a red pen). Guests should then retrieve their handbags and sit in a circle. The bride then picks an item from her list. The first guest to find the item in their handbag and hold it up gets one point. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.


Wedding ‘Pictionary’

Collect some paper and pens. Write down some words or phrases connected with weddings on some slips of paper (e.g. cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, wedding ring etc.). Then, along the lines of ‘Pictionary’ pick your slip of paper and draw away!


Q. We are planning an informal second wedding in our garden and are looking for some ideas for readings that are not too sentimental, too glib, or too religious. Any ideas? Debbie, Brisbane, Australia.

A. Dear Debbie,

It sounds like you want to keep things simple, elegant and understated. I would suggest that you head down to your local bookstore and buy a few books of poetry. The romantic poets (Byron, Keats etc.) would be perfect. Take these home and spend a romantic evening or two choosing a reading with your husband-to-be.


Q. My husband and I are planning to re-new our vows with a traditional wedding ceremony and reception, as when we got married it was done in a registry office.  I would like to know if we should arrange things like a normal wedding ceremony, or if there are different traditions I have to follow. Melina, Caboolture, Australia.

A. Dear Melina,

Good news – there are no traditions when it comes to re-newing your vows, so you have free rein on your day. I would suggest that you sit down with your husband and write a list of all the things you would like your second wedding day to be like, then compare lists. When you have done this, try and implement all of these things to make your day the way you would have perhaps liked it to be the first time around.


Q. What is the whole story behind unity candles? Sharon, New Hartford, USA.

A. Dear Sharon,

The lighting of the ‘unity candle’ is a popular American tradition. There are actually three candles involved in the ceremony: two taper candles, which represent the couple as individuals, and the unity candle itself. The two taper candles are lit and then used to light the single, unity candle, thus symbolising the couples’ commitment to one another.


Q. How long before you will be adding Newcastle to your list of local regions? Could you add a section where questions relating to wedding issues could be answered, i.e. is it okay for my fiancé to have his father as his best man? Lurene, Wallsend, Australia.

A. Dear Lurene,

We will be adding Newcastle to our list of local regions in August. As to your comment about a ‘wedding issues’ section, please feel free to direct all your questions to me. In answer to your own, personal question, it’s fine for your fiancé to have his father as best man, although most grooms do choose their best friend or brother if they have one.


Q. I am getting married soon and one of the things that I’m anxious about are the speeches. My fiancé’s friends are a very rowdy bunch and I’ve witnessed their antics with speeches at other weddings. Is there a way that I can change the format of the speeches or at least stop my guests from feeling uncomfortable? Nina, Ingleburn, Australia.

A. Dear Nina,

We have an article on ‘toasts and speeches’ coming up for you soon at WeddingNet. In the meantime, I would suggest that you perhaps plan your speeches for earlier on in the night than at the previous weddings you have attended, especially if you think alcohol might be one of the contributing factors to the rowdiness. Make sure everyone speaking understands the rules (no telling stories that may offend and no making tasteless jokes about the wedding night etc. as this would only be fuel for the fire). If you do this, and keep your speeches short so guests don’t get restless (under five minutes is best), you should be fine. However, if you are still concerned, a quiet word in the ear of the guests you think might make trouble could be a good idea.


Q. I am thinking of having small boxes tied with decorative ribbons (aimed to look like miniature presents) for my bombonniere. Besides chocolates and sugared almonds, what else could you suggest I put in them? Basia, Adelaide, Australia.

A. Dear Basia,

Potpourri would be a nice idea, or maybe a small poem expressing your feelings about your wedding day and thanking your guests for helping to make it so special. If you would like to spend a little more money on a truly special gift, you could buy some small, antique-looking silver frames and put these in the boxes. The ideas below may also give you some inspiration.


Q. I am at a loss for inexpensive wedding favors to give at the reception. Help! Monica, St Louis, USA.

A. Dear Monica,

There have been some fantastic new, inexpensive options in gifts for your guests (also known as favors, or bombonniere) lately. While the traditional sugared almonds are lovely, you might like to consider some of the following options:

  • sachets or small baskets of potpourri for guests to use in their drawers or wardrobes;
  • chocolate covered spoons;
  • packets of native seed and a note stating the occasion, date and planting instructions;
  • tiny porcelain bells (often available at local discount stores);
  • little bottles of bubble-blowing mixture;
  • three small candles, tied with a satin ribbon;
  • small potted plants or seedlings, with tulle covered pots;
  • miniature terra cotta pots, filled with lollies, potpourri, or anything else you like;
  • baby notebooks, with an inscription on the inside front cover.

A hint for you: discount stores are great places to look for inexpensive gifts for your guests!


Q. I need to organise the hens’ night and need some great ideas besides ‘Studs Afloat’ etc. Kathy, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Kathy,

There are many new ideas coming forward concerning bucks’ and hens’ nights as their reputation as having a tendency to get out of control has influenced many couples to hold different styles of parties. One great idea is for you and your girlfriends to have a weekend away, perhaps touring some wineries, relaxing at a beauty spa, shopping, or bungie jumping – whatever you like! Another new idea is that of the joint bucks’ and hens’ night where the couple hold a joint party at a nice restaurant, and have a few close friends make speeches. This can also be extended to the weekend away concept by booking a beach or country house for the weekend and having the party there.


Q. I am about to embark upon the huge responsibility of being best man for my brother’s wedding. Do you have any idea where I could view some pre-written speeches? Anthony, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Anthony,

We have an article on ‘toasts and speeches’ coming up for you soon at WeddingNet. In the meantime, try the free automatic wedding speech writer at and see how you go!


Q. Could you please advise me if it is still considered bad taste for guests to wear white or black to a wedding? Ann, Melbourne, Australia.

A. Dear Ann,

Nowadays it isn’t considered bad taste for guests to wear white or black to a wedding. It is, however, in bad taste to wear a dress that is ‘showier’ than the bride’s.


Q. I am looking for a unique gift to present to my wife at the reception. Rob, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Rob,

It’s great that you are putting so much thought into your gift to your wife – I’m sure you’ll come up with something special. I would suggest a gift that can be treasured forever and handed down to your children and grandchildren. A piece of antique jewellery, or a special piece of antique furniture would be lovely (for example, a writing desk). However, for a truly unique gift, how about a plot of land on the Moon? Yes, you can actually buy a plot of land on the Moon from the Lunar Embassy for US$15.99. Check out their website at

Q. Could you please give me some suggestions as to what colour flowers would best match an ice blue bridesmaid’s dress and ivory wedding dress.  I would prefer something eye-catching rather than a plain white, but don’t know what would suit. Julia, Strathfield, Australia.

A. Dear Julia,

This all depends on what time of year your wedding will be held. The following table will show you what flowers will be in season at the time of your wedding and will give you some ideas of what might suit:



Spring and Summer


Autumn and Winter


Belladonna lilies

Blushing bride

Blushing bride

Calla Lilies






Cymbidium orchids



















Kangaroo paws

Kangaroo paws

Tiger lilies


Lily of the valley




Michaelmas daisies









Sweat peas

Tiger lilies









Baby’s breath


Bird of paradise





Trailing ivy



Lilies (some varieties)



Singapore orchids





Q. I’m a full time international student and I’m getting married to an Australian. I would like to know if I will need any documentation from my country allowing me to get married. Also, who organises the bridal showers? Jini, Reservoir, Australia.

A. Dear Jini,

It would be best to ask your officiant just what documentation you will be required to show for a legal marriage. However, in answer to your second question, I can tell you that it is usually the chief bridesmaid, or matron of honour that organises the bridal shower.

Q. My fiancée and I are getting married later this year and while it my first wedding, it will be her second. We are perplexed with the differing opinions on the correct etiquette for second weddings. Can my fiancée wear white? Is it appropriate to wear tuxedos? What about receiving gifts and is a gift registry appropriate? John, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear John,

The second wedding etiquette rules are changing and they’re changing fast. Thankfully, these days the etiquette lies more with what feels the most comfortable to you and your bride, rather than relying on the ‘rules’ you’ll find in some dusty old book. Thus, your fiancée is free to wear white, as you are to wear a tuxedo, gifts are fine and so is joining a gift registry. Feel free to do what youwant on your big day – it’s your wedding after all!


Q. We are thinking of getting married in Bali. However, I have heard that the ceremony would not be a legal one and that we would have to get married here first. Is it possible to get married in Bali and have the marriage acknowledged legally here in Australia? Stacey, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Stacey,

I believe that the marriage is, in fact, legal. However, I would advise calling the authorities to verify this and to check exactly what documents you will need to take with you. Indonesian authorities require all foreigners planning to marry in Indonesia to obtain a ‘Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage’ from their respective consulate or embassy (this is usually in the form of a letter). To obtain this certificate, you must personally swear an oath that you are free to marry and also show specific documents. The documents must be originals and include your:


birth certificate;

proof of your occupation;

proof of your faith (e.g baptism certificates);

proof of your address;

written consent from your parents if you are under the age of 21; and

the death certificate of your former spouse, or proof of divorce, or decree absolute, if you have been previously married.


Q. What is the price range for make-up done at the brides home for the bride, bridemaids and mother-of-the-bride? Should the price include a free trial? Is it standard for the consultant to supply the make-up and, if so, what about touch-ups during the day? Wendy, Perth, Australia.

A. Dear Wendy,

I think the average price these days is approximately (for makeup only) $50-$60 for the bride and $40-$50 for the mother-of-the-bride and bridesmaids. Often this includes a free trial for the bride. It is standard for the consultant to supply the make-up and he/she will be able to show, or sell you products, that you can use for touch-ups during the day.


Q. My fiancé and I are having trouble deciding who will be sitting at the head table. His parents are divorced and have new partners, but he doesn’t want one of the partners at the table and his parents don’t really talk to each other. Would it be terrible to just have my parents there, even though I think we should have all six there? My parents will be paying for the wedding with no assistance from his family. Could you think of a better suggestion for us? Jillian, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Jillian,

Hmmm… you do have a problem. As it doesn’t sound like things will go well seating everyone at the head table, I would suggest a re-think on the whole head table concept. Why not solve your problems by having the ultimate in romantic head tables – a head table made for two. Just you and the groom. You could then seat your parents and his parents wherever you felt they would be happy, while the rest of the wedding party (the best man, the maid/matron of honour, the groomsmen and bridesmaids), could have a table of their own. If you do this, no-one will feel left out and it won’t be conspicuous that you’ve tried to separate people who don’t get on.


Q. My fiancé and I have agreed that we should go on holidays and have our honeymoon first, get married by a celebrant, then come back to Brisbane and spend maybe $1000 on a party with our families. We would like to exchange vows somewhere in America, but haven’t decided on the destination yet. Could you give me some ideas of an exciting place to get married? We’re thinking of 1/1/2000. Jodie, Brisbane, Australia.

A. Dear Jodie,

This sounds like a fantastic idea and a great, fun, way to get married! As for the most exciting place to be in America on the 1/1/2000, I would have to say New York. Alternatively, what could be more exciting and over the top than Las Vegas? Or, for something different, you might like to consider Hawaii. Whichever you choose, I would suggest that you start planning fast, as 1/1/2000 is going to be a very popular wedding date!


Q. My fiancé is from the USA and has had his name legally changed.  Unfortunately there are some documents that he still has not received with his new name on it.  How will this affect things? Also, it is intended that I move to the States with him after the wedding.  Does marrying a US citizen automatically allow me to enter the States without any visa hassles? Louisa, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Louisa,

These are questions best put to the authorities who are experienced and up-to-date with the latest developments in immigration law. I would also ask your officiant about the problems your fiancé is having with his documents.


Q. My fiancée and I have already submitted the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ to our celebrant. The problem is I haven’t the faintest idea of what to do next in organising our wedding. Also, is it O.K to have just a matron of honour and no bridesmaids? Shabri, New Delhi, India.

A. Dear Shabri,

First of all I’ll answer the easy question – yes, it’s fine to have a matron of honour and no bridesmaids.

Now for the harder question! In answer to this, we have an article called ‘I’m engaged – now what do I do?’ coming up for you soon at WeddingNet. In the meantime, I think the best idea to get, and keep yourself organised, would be to go out and buy a large ring binder and some plastic dividers. Use the dividers to make different sections in the binder. For example, you will need sections on your budget, rings, officiant, ceremony venue, reception venue, guests, attendants, decorations, flowers, music, food, cake, entertainment, attire and your honeymoon. Also, buy some plastic envelopes to hold your receipts and any other information you have, such as brochures. Keep this ring binder handy, and you will have all the information you need at your fingertips right through your wedding planning.

Now that you are organised, the best way to start your planning is to sit down with your fiancé and discuss exactly what you think your wedding will be like. This is an interesting discussion for many couples, who find out that they have very different ideas of what they want their wedding to be like. Most importantly, you should discuss how big you want your wedding to be, how many guests will be invited, whether it will be formal or informal, day or night, indoors or outdoors, nearby or at a set destination (Hawaii etc.). Don’t worry about small details at this stage, that sort of planning will come later. At this point in time, it is only important that you both have a broad idea of what your wedding will be like. After this it’s time to plan your budget.

The first question you need to ask yourself concerning your budget is: ‘who will be paying for the wedding?’. This could be any number of people. The traditional way of the bride’s parents paying for the entire wedding is fast becoming history. These days it is not uncommon to see the bride and the groom pay for the entire wedding themselves, or to have the parents of the bride and groom split the cost.

To work out your budget, the first thing you will need to do is decide on three things:


1. How much money you can afford to spend on your wedding;

2. Who will be paying for the wedding;

3. What aspects of the wedding are most important to you.

Once you have decided on who is paying for the wedding, and the amount of money you are able to spend, sit down with your fiancé over a cup of coffee and talk about your priorities. What elements of the wedding are important to your both? What do you want to remember most about your wedding? What do you want your guests to remember? For example, if you have always dreamed of having your ceremony venue filled with flowers, you will need to allocate more money in your budget towards flowers. If you want to remember the great time you had dancing the night away with your guests at your reception, you will want to allocate more money towards entertainment. Choose three or four items that are your top priorities, and set the rest of your budget from there.

Now that you’ve decided what’s important to you, and how much money you have to spend, it’s time to put your phone bill to the test and start ringing service providers – you’re on your way!


Q. Is it really necessary to have bridesmaids at a small wedding?   I ask this for a number of reasons. Firstly, my fiancé and I are working to a very tight budget and I believe the bride is meant to pay for the bridesmaids’ outfits. Secondly, I am having trouble choosing between a long time friend (I will be her bridesmaid next year), my sister and a newer friend with whom I have become quite close.   I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I thought that not having bridesmaids would help ease the problem.  We are planning a small ceremony and reception with immediate family and close friends only.  Any advice? Judi, North Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Judi,

It isn’t compulsory to have bridesmaids, especially at a small wedding. In your case, it sounds like it would be a good idea not to have any if people will be upset at being left out. However, I will bring to your attention the fact that the bridesmaids generally pay for their own outfits as this may solve your budgeting problems and allow you to have all three bridesmaids after all.


Q. I would like to find information regarding traditional Irish weddings. Fiona, Geelong, Australia.

A. Dear Fiona,

I would try searching the internet for some quick and easy information on traditional Irish weddings. I found the following in only half an hour:

  • have a claddagh ring for your wedding ring;
  • have the groom, best man and groomsmen wear kilts;
  • add some Irish cuisine to your reception food (for example, soda bread, stout and Irish whiskey);
  • hire an Irish piper or band for your entertainment and teach your guests some Irish jigs, reels or hornpipes; and
  • honeymoon in Ireland (of course!).

Q. I am looking for the lyrics to the song ‘The Rose’. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me find them. Trina.

A. Dear Trina,

I found the lyrics to ‘The Rose’ at the ‘Divine Lyrics of Bette Midler’ 

‘The Rose’

by Manda McBrooom

Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you it’s only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.

It’s the one who won’t be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dying
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,

just remember in the winter
far beneath the winter snows
lies the seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes the rose.


Q. I would like to retain my maiden name but also take my fiancé’s surname. If I hyphenate our names, is it ok for my fiancé to keep his as is? Emma, Campbell, Australia.

A. Dear Emma,

If you are both happy with this arrangement, then this is fine. However, it may be a good idea to discuss the issue of what your children would then be called.




Q. I would like to know what information we will have to keep in our ceremony and what I can change to suit my own taste (we will be married by a celebrant). Sally, Edgewater, Australia.

A. Dear Sally,

I think it would be a good idea that you first meet with your officiant to find out what must be legally kept in your ceremony, and what can be written by you. Before you do this, it’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of what you and your fiancé would like to say to your family and friends about your relationship and future life together so you will know which parts of the ceremony you might like to change. For example, you may want to halt the ceremony at one point to say something about your feelings for each other, discuss your views on commitment and trust, or to simply read a poem.


Q. My mother and paternal grandfather are giving me away as my father is no longer with us.  Should we all walk down the aisle together, or should each of them walk part of the way with me (the aisle isn’t very long or wide)? Who should I ask to make the traditional father-of-the-bride toast?  My fiancé’s father has also passed away, but he has a stepfather, so should we ask him to make a toast? Or should we just leave out these toasts altogether? I’d appreciate any suggestions you may have. Trish, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Trish,

I think the answer to all your questions is ‘whatever you feel most comfortable with’. If you would prefer not to have any toasts or speeches, then leave them out altogether. Alternatively, just have some key people in your lives say a few words instead of the ‘usual’ people (for example, your mother, a friend who has known you both for a long time, or some other special person could make a short speech). As for walking down the aisle, if there simply isn’t enough space for all three of you, I think each person walking part of the way would be a nice gesture – perhaps your grandfather first, then your mother, to symbolise the generations.


Q. What is proper protocol for feeding the photographer, videographer and other paid participants at a wedding reception?  Should they be counted in the head count for the caterer, since this is a per person reception? Florine, Greenbelt, USA.

A. Dear Florine,

If your wedding will be held at a meal time, such as lunch or dinner, your service professionals should be fed. This includes your photographer, videographer, band members and any other professionals you have hired to work at your wedding. Not only is offering them food polite, it will ensure that they are kept happy, won’t need to leave your reception for long periods of time to buy food and they won’t faint from standing up too long! Some brides have a special table set aside for their service professionals, the same as if they were guests. Other brides have their meal brought to them elsewhere, or have their caterer make the professionals a small ‘packed lunch’ style of meal. I would consult with your caterer as to what would be the best arrangement.


Q. I’ve had an idea for my bridesmaid’s dresses, but I’m not quite sure if it should be done or not! I was thinking of having three bridesmaids in the same dress, but have the dresses in three different colours. I think this is called the rainbow effect. Have you seen this done before and if so, do you think it looks any good? Liz, Sydney, Australia.

A. Dear Liz,

I think that this is a great idea and can tell you that is was very popular at weddings in the 50s. I have actually seen a wedding photo where there were approximately ten bridesmaids, all in the same style of dress, but each dress a different colour – it really did look like a rainbow!

Q. My daughter is getting married soon and I have a friend that has handmade the pew bows, the bride’s bouquet, the maid-of-honor’s bouquet and the four bridesmaid’s bouquets. As well as all this she has decorated the entire reception hall (including the cake table, the gift table, the food table and the centerpieces for the wedding party table and the thirteen guest tables).  Although she is a friend, I would like to pay her something.  What is an appropriate price? Rochelle, Washington, USA.

A. Dear Rochelle,

In some cases I would say that your friend may be offended if you offered her money, as she may consider the work she has done to be her present to the bride. However, as your friend has obviously spent a great deal of money on materials, I do think you should offer to pay her for these. As to the appropriate price, I would simply ask your friend how much the materials cost and if she needs anything else for her ‘time’. If you phrase this carefully and tactfully, I’m sure your friend won’t mind your question at all.


Q: How much can I expect to pay per guest for a function between 100 – 150 people at a decent reception centre (no food, drinks or music). Drew, Victoria, Australia.A: Dear Drew,

Most reception centres will offer you a ‘package deal’ on your function which includes food, drinks and, sometimes, music. Generally, this will cost between $40 and $100 per head, however, because this is an all-inclusive deal, it would be very hard to ascertain exactly how much you were paying for the reception centre itself. What would probably be best is that you pick a few reception centres you like and then compare costs per head for the entire function. Naturally, the pricing will change with the kind of function you have – a simple cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception will be far less expensive than a seafood buffet.

Q: I am getting married for the second time and am in a quandary about how many bridesmaids is a reasonable number to have. It will be a semi-formal affair and I have a step-daughter, an adopted daughter and a very close friend. Is three bridesmaids at a second marriage too many? Kerry, Australia.A: Dear Kerry,

By all means have three bridesmaids, they are all special and important people in your lives and no-one will think twice if you ask them to be bridesmaids on your special day. What is important is that you celebrate your day how you want and with who you want. I recently read of a wedding where the bride had already chosen three bridesmaids but the groom wanted his sister to be included in the wedding party too. Do you know what they did? They made her a groomsman – these days anything goes!

Q: My brother is getting married soon and his fiancee has asked for my assistance with the wording of the invitations. They had a baby girl this year and, at my suggestion, they are planning to incorporate her christening into the wedding ceremony and make it a ‘double celebration’. The bride is Catholic and the Catholic minister presiding is happy to do this, the only problem we have is how best to word the invitation. Any suggestions on how the two ceremonies could be melded together? Kylie, Queensland, Australia.A: Dear Kylie,

What a wonderful idea! My first thought would be to call it something like a ‘family celebration’ and carry this theme through the day. Maybe the invitation wording could invite guests to celebrate in the family’s special day and then go on to explain that the day will include both the wedding and the christening. It would also be a nice touch to include a poem or reading about families and how important they are. I am not quite sure about the legalities of melding the two ceremonies together, as certain parts of the wedding ceremony will have to be performed in order, so it would be best to ask the minister about this aspect.

Q: I don’t really enjoy dancing with anyone other than my fiance. His mother has said that I will be required to dance with a lot of people at the reception. Is this normally what happens and, if so, is there a polite way to avoid it? I want to spend my special day constantly in the company of the man I love. Leanne, Orleans, Canada.A: Dear Leanne,

I’m afraid that the bride does usually dance with many people at the reception. You will be the highlight of the day and everyone will want attention from you! Really, the only way to get around this would be not to have any dancing at all. If you do want to have dancing at your reception, maybe you could take a few dancing lessons to build your confidence and prepare you for the big day.

Q: Could you tell me what flowers are in season in January? I’m curious about the availability of gerberas and freesias. Nikki, Sydney, Australia.A: Following is a list of flowers in season for Spring and Summer. It would be best to ask your florist about the availability of gerberas and freesias as even when flowers are not in season you may still be able to procure them. If you want to cut costs on your flower bill, remember that it is less expensive to use flowers that are readily available and in season.
Spring and Summer:Azaleas
Blushing Bride
Calla Lilies
Cymbidium orchids

Kangaroo paws
Sweat peas
Tiger lilies

Q: Where can I go to find out the cost of a wedding celebrant? Natalie, ACT, Australia.A: Dear Natalie,

The best thing to do would be to grab the Yellow Pages and phone a few celebrants. They will be more than happy to discuss their costs with you and what you would like for your wedding day.

Q: Help! We are throwing a baby shower for an Australian friend living in America and we don’t know what the traditions are. Please help – we want her to feel at home, any suggestions? Christy, Chicago, USA.A: Dear Christy,

You are in luck! Showers are an American tradition and, therefore, they do not seem to change much around the world. Maybe you could have an Australian theme to the shower and serve some vegemite sandwiches for an Australian touch!

Q: I am looking for photographs of wedding celebrants as I feel appearance and presentation is a deciding factor on picking the right celebrant for the big day. It isn’t feasible to travel to each celebrant just to see what they look like. Obviously, this is a touchy subject! Have you got any ideas? David and Rachal, Australia.A: Dear David and Rachal,

I think you will find that most celebrants will be immaculately presented, making the most of their appearance for your wedding ceremony. However, if you are a bit concerned, it would be best to choose a short-list of three celebrants that you feel comfortable talking to on the phone and then arrange to meet them in person. This way you won’t have to run around after numerous celebrants but you will feel confident of their abilities and appearance on your wedding day.

Q: My best man and his wife have offered to organise our engagement party, but they are taking so long we think it would probably be easier to just do it ourselves. Should we strip them of their responsibility? Dan, Wollongong, Australia.A: Dear Dan,

This could be a tricky situation! I think it would be best for you to take over the organising if things are not moving fast enough. Remember to be honest with your best man and his wife, however, be tactful as well and sugar-coat your words a little. Maybe you could tell them that you will need so much of their help in organising the wedding it would be unfair to have them plan the whole engagement party as well. Tell them that you want to be part of the planning committee. By doing this they still have the option to help you plan, but you can steer everything in the right direction and keep things moving.

Q: I am on a mission for silver horseshoes about the size of a quarter to put on my wedding cake. I’m having a western wedding and they would be perfect. Do you have any suggestions? Annette, USA.A: Dear Annette,

First, try phoning around some of the bigger craft stores. Even if they don’t have what you are looking for they may be able to steer you in the right direction. There are also many cake decorating associations around that may be able to give you a tip or two on your quest!

Q: My fiance is from the USA and we are planning to get married in Australia. Can you supply us with a list of requirements (eg. birth certificates etc.) that we need in order to get married? Peter, Beechworth, Australia.A: Dear Peter,

The legal requirements for marrying in Australia are listed in the Federal Marriage Act (1961). In summary, you need to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage with your officiant not less than one month and one day before your wedding. You will need to provide your birth certificates or passports and, if you have been married before, evidence that your previous marriage has been terminated. A few weeks before the wedding you will have to sign a Declaration of Marriage, which is to confirm that there is no reason the marriage cannot take place. After the marriage service you will need to sign the wedding certificate and a form that will be lodged with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state you were married in. It would be a good idea to choose where you would like to be married and then contact an officiant in this area. They will be able to guide you every step of the way!

Q: A friend of mine is getting married soon and wants a certain song for her wedding but does not know the name of it. We know it is by Bryan Adams and a line from it is ‘Forever we will be together faithfully’. Can you help? Ginger, USA.A: Dear Ginger,

I found the lyrics for ‘I’ll always be right there’ on the official Bryan Adams web-site:


Written by: B. Adams/R.J. Lange/M. Kamen
Published by: Badams Music Ltd./Zomba Music International/
K’Man Corps/Sony Music
© 1996 All Rights Reserved

I swear to you – I will always be there for you – there’s nothin’ I won’t do
I promise you – all my life I will live for you – we will make it through
Forever – we will be
Together – you and me
Oh n’ when I hold ya – nothin’ can compare
With all of my heart – ya know I’ll always be – right there

I believe in us – nothin’ else could ever mean so much
You’re the one I trust our time has come – we’re not two people
Now – we are one – ya you’re second to none
Forever – we will be
Together – a family

The more I get to know ya – nothin’ can compare
With all of my heart – ya know I’ll always be – right there

Forever – we will be
Together – just you and me

The more I get to know ya – the more I really care
With all of my heart – ya know I’ll always be…
Ya know I really love ya – ya nothin’ can compare
For all of my life – ya know I’ll always be – right there

(Written for the Motion Picture “101 Dalmatians”)

Q: Do you know the lyrics for the Anne Murray song ‘Could I have this dance’?. Lin, Meansville, USA.A: Dear Lin,

Unfortunately the lyrics for ‘Could I have this dance’ do not appear to be on the web. You could try visiting the Anne Murray Centre they may be able to help you!



Q. My fiancee and I are planning to wed in the near future. We are both unemployed and on a shoestring budget. On top of this, her parents no longer speak to her and my parents interfere too much! How can we organise our wedding cheaply at such short notice? Robert, St Marys.A. Dear Robert,

Changing the timing of your wedding is the best way to save money all around. The reception will be the most costly part of your wedding and one of the least expensive receptions would be to have either a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres, or cake and punch style, reception at home. This way you would save money on a venue and you will not have to serve a full sit-down meal. However, this is only a good idea if you will be having less than 50 guests. Many couples are now finding that having their reception at an inexpensive BYO restaurant is a good way to save money as it is far less expensive than hiring a reception venue where you have to pay for drinks. If you would like to hire a reception venue, you could save money by having your reception at an off-peak time. For example, a reception on a Friday night would be cheaper than a reception on a Saturday night. An afternoon tea on a Sunday would be cheaper still.

Concerning the other costs associated with your wedding, the bride and groom might like to buy or borrow a secondhand gown and suit, and the bridesmaids might like to help out by arranging the flowers themselves. If you enlist the help of your friends and stick to a budget it is quite easy to have a less expensive wedding that is still everything you wanted.

Q. Why is it so hard to find attire ideas for flowergirls? I have looked through countless wedding magazines and have only found about four dresses! Often they are very overdone. Do you have any ideas? Melissa, Brisbane.A. Dear Melissa,

If you are stuck for ideas, I think it would be best to spend a day or two looking around some of the larger bridal boutiques. It might be best to call first and find out if they have a good range of outfits for flowergirls. If you would like something simple, you might like to design their dresses yourself. For example, a plain coloured dress with a large sash is a simple design, but always looks lovely.

Q. I know this is a strange question, but much debate has been raised over it! Could you please tell us the significance of flicking the garter? Kelvin, Sydney.

Q. I would like some information on bachelor party ideas, planning and etiquette. Also, do you have any examples of speeches for the best man? Ken, Norwalk, USA.A. Dear Ken,

Traditionally, the bachelor party is held to mourn the groom’s departure from bachelorhood and is a men only affair. The best man organises the night and it is paid for by the best man and the groomsmen.

There are a few new trends concerning bachelor parties in the 90s that you might like to know about. Some grooms, regaled with horror stories of other men put on planes and trains a few short hours before their wedding, are choosing different sorts of parties. One idea is to take your mates go-kart racing, parachuting or on some other adrenalin pumping activity!

Many couples are now deciding not to have ‘buck’s’ and ‘hen’s’ nights at all. One popular idea is to hold a joint party at a nice restaurant, and have a couple of close friends make speeches. Another idea is to book a beach or country house for the weekend, and to have the party there. A party like this will enable you to spend some quality time with your friends before the wedding. Whatever kind of party you hold, make sure it is at least a week before your wedding date.

As for the best man’s speech, he should first thank the groom for honouring him with his role in the wedding. Then, he should tell a lighthearted story or two about his relationship with the groom and make a few comments about the couple’s courtship. He may also read faxes from guests who could not make it to the wedding.

Q. I know this is a strange question, but much debate has been raised over it! Could you please tell us the significance of flicking the garter? Kelvin, Sydney.A. Dear Kelvin,

Apparently the tradition comes from North England. In years past, young men used to try and grab the bride’s garter as she left the church. However, in these times, ribbons were usually worn as they were easier to remove. At the reception, the young men who had been lucky enough to procure a ribbon would pin it to their suit. Some brides, scared of being mobbed, would stuff ribbons in their tops and throw them to the young men! Nowadays, flicking the garter seems to have the same significance as the tossing of the bride’s bouquet. The single young male guests are called forward and the groom flicks the garter – whoever catches it will be the next to marry.

Q. I’m looking for shops that either sell or hire medieval wedding dresses. Also, do you know of any traditions they had or wording they used? Joanne, Brisbane.A. Dear Joanne,

In Brisbane, you might like to try Antioch Clothiers who use authentic patterns and construction techniques to produce historical clothing. Allgoods, Brides and Lace and Anna Marie and Mr John also have a selection of historical clothes. As for medieval traditions and wording, the following site may help you as it contains a number of articles and tips for people having historical weddings, be they medieval, renaissance or viking weddings

Q. Does the bride leave the reception in her wedding dress or a going-away outfit if the couple are spending the honeymoon night at a hotel and then returning home the next day? Sharyn, East Sydney.A. Dear Sharyn,

Many brides are now choosing to wear their wedding dress from the reception rather than change into a going-away outfit. Usually this is because they love their gown and also because a going-away outfit is simply another expense that they must deal with. However, some brides still like to change into a going-away outfit. I don’t think this is really an ‘etiquette’ issue anymore. If you would like to wear your gown, do so. In the 90s, no-one will notice anything but how beautiful you look!

Q. I am getting married in Sweden and I think that having an online gift registry would be of great help to my relatives and friends. Is it against the protocol to do something like this? How would I tell my guests about it? Claudia, Lund, Europe.A. Dear Claudia,

An online gift registry is a great idea! Gift registries of all kinds are becoming more and more common these days and I doubt you will find that any of your guests will be upset that you want one. Do make sure, however, that you choose gifts with a wide range of prices to suit all your guest’s budgets. I would suggest that you create your own personal ‘wedding homepage’ where you can keep your guests up-to-date with your wedding plans and create a list of gifts you would like, or provide them with a link to an actual online registry you have joined.

Q. With regard to changing my name before the honeymoon, which main items (driver’s licence etc) do I have to change my name on? Fiona, Nowra.A. Dear Fiona,

Changing your name can be a tiring business! However, most businesses these days have special forms for you to fill out concerning this matter. Remember to take a certified copy of your wedding certificate with you, as some businesses may require a sighting of it.

Use the following checklist as a reminder for name and address changes:

Insurance policies
Superannuation scheme
Credit cards
Driver’s licence
Car registration
Car insurance
Medical Funds
Magazine subscriptions

Club memberships (gym/video etc.)

Q. I’ve been asked to be the Master of Ceremonies (MC) at a friend’s wedding. Could you tell me what’s involved? Peter, Brisbane.A. Dear Peter,

At the reception, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) should introduce him/herself to the function manager. He/she should arrange such things as when champagne will be required for the toasts and a knife to cut the cake with. The MC should also make sure the musicians or DJ have appropriate music ready for the bridal waltz.

Your MC should introduce him/herself at the start of the reception and welcome your guests to the festivities. Then, once dessert has been served, the MC should begin the speeches and toasts by gaining your guests’ attention. Firstly, the bride’s father will be called upon to propose a toast. When he has done this, the MC will ask the guests to join him/her in a toast to the couple’s future health and happiness. After the groom’s and best man’s speeches, the MC should propose a toast to the bride’s parents, then to the groom’s parents.

Q. I am getting married this year and have hair to my chin. I am after ideas on how to wear my hair. Also, I would like a more personalised ceremony. Have you got any ideas on wording? Janelle, Toronto, NSW.A. Dear Janelle,

With hair to your chin, you should be able to have an up-style. I think it would be best to consult your hairdresser who will have numerous pictures and ideas to share with you on hair styles that will suit you and your dress. If you will be wearing a veil or headpiece, it is very important that you take this with you to the hairdresser.

Concerning having a more personalised ceremony, adding your own views and thoughts of your love, and of your future life together, will be sure to give a touching intimacy to your ceremony. If you would like to write your own vows, you should first meet with your officiant to find out what must be legally kept in the ceremony, and what you can write yourself. It is a good idea to make a list of what you would both like to say to your family and friends about your relationship and future life together, your hopes and dreams. You may want to say something about your feelings for each other, your views on commitment and trust, or simply read a poem.

Q.  Is the groom’s mother supposed to give the bride a shower? The bride’s family is already holding a shower for her.  Jeri, Oakdale, USA.

A.  Dear Jeri,

Traditionally, it is the head bridesmaid that organises, and pays for, the bride’s shower tea.  However, there is a new trend in having more modern showers where men and women are invited.

In the past, showers were a ‘women only’ event, given to help the bride stock her new home.  These days, many brides already own a well-stocked home and, because of this, we are seeing more showers with a definite theme.  This theme could be a CD shower, where a gift of a CD is given by the guests, a plant party, for brides who need to work on their garden, or a bottle party, where guests present the bride with a bottle of wine each.

I have heard of brides who have had up to eight showers!  So, if the bride’s mother-in-law wants to hold a shower, I’m sure the bride would love to have more than one.

Q.  We are getting married shortly and need some advice.  Our wedding is at 1pm and the service will take about 40 minutes.  What time should we book the reception for, and will it be too early for dinner?  Is it possible to leave the reception till 3pm?   What would our guests do in the meantime?  Jennie, NSW, Australia.

A. Dear Jennie,

I think it would be fine to leave your reception till 3pm.  You could consider using a time filler to keep your guests amused for half an hour or so, then serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  One great time filler (often used to entertain guests while photos are being taken) is to have a member of your family make a video or slide show for them to watch.  It could be about how you met, your relationship, the proposal etc.   This kind of time filler is always fun and keeps your guests in the spirit of the day.

As for the timing, I agree with you that 3pm is a little too early for dinner!   Realistically, however, it would be around 4pm before the main meal was served at your reception.  Perhaps a buffet would be the best option for you.  This way, guests can choose their own food and need not have a very heavy meal if they do not want one.

Q. Do you have any interesting ideas for bombonniere?  Belinda, Willagee, Australia.

A. Dear Belinda,

There have been some fantastic new options in gifts for your guests, or bombonniere, lately.  While the traditional sugared almonds are lovely, you might like to consider some of the following options:

sachets or small baskets of potpourri for guests to use in their drawers or wardrobes;
chocolate covered spoons;
packets of native seed and a note stating the occasion, date and planting instructions;
tiny porcelain bells (often available at local discount stores);
little bottles of bubble-blowing mixture;
three small candles, tied with a satin ribbon;
small potted plants or seedlings, with tulle covered pots;
miniature terra cotta pots, filled with lollies, potpourri, or anything else you like;
baby notebooks, with an inscription on the inside front cover.

Q. Who makes the speeches at the reception and what is the general content?  Thomas, Cape Town, South Africa.

A.  Dear Thomas,

The first speech is generally made by the bride’s father to welcome the groom into the family and tell a few childhood stories about the bride.  After his speech, a toast is usually made to the happiness of the bride and groom in years to come.

The second speech is the groom’s reply.  Traditionally, the groom made this speech himself, in response to the toast.  However, many brides now like to make their own speech, or the bride and groom make one together.  This is a good opportunity to thank everyone who came to the wedding and especially those who helped organise the day.   A small anecdote about the bride and groom’s courtship, or another funny story, can also be told.  The groom should make a toast to the bridesmaids at the end of the speech.

The third speech is made by the best man.  Again, traditionally, he responds to the groom’s toast to the bridesmaids.  However, many head bridesmaids also like to say a few words these days.  The best man/head bridesmaid should thank the groom and bride for honouring them with such a role on their important day and maybe tell a short story about the bride and groom.

The fourth speech is made by the groom’s father.  Similar to the bride’s father’s speech, he should thank the bride’s parents, welcome the bride into the family and wish the couple a happy future.

After the speeches have been made, the Master of Ceremonies will usually make a toast to absent friends and read any faxes or messages that have been sent to the bride and groom from guests who could not be at the wedding.

Q. My fiance and I want to get married somewhere like Broome, by a celebrant.  How do we go about organising this when we live in Wollongong?   Bride, Wollongong, Australia.

Dear Bride,

The best thing to do in your situation is to contact a celebrant in the area in which you want to be married.  They will arrange the paperwork for you, know the area in detail and be able to answer any questions you may have.

Q. My fiance and I are starting to plan our wedding, and I am wondering who to ask to be my bridesmaids (I have already selected the head bridesmaid).   I am considering asking my fiance’s sister, mostly because I think his family will be offended if I don’t.  However, I believe I am under no obligation to ask her.   As she lives quite a long way away, I am worried that she would not be able to be here when I need her.  Rowena, Latham, Australia.

A.  Dear Rowena,

You are quite correct in saying you are under no obligation to have your sister-in-law as your bridesmaid.  However, what you will need to work out is whether your in-laws will truly be upset if you do not ask her.  Traditionally, the bride would ask her own sisters, or the groom’s, then her friends or relations to be bridesmaids.  These days, who you choose to have as your bridesmaids is entirely up to you.   Unfortunately, situations like yours arise far too often.  Remember that, while this is your wedding, sometimes it is better to avoid a big fuss if you can.   It will only make you stressed!

While your sister-in-law may not be able to help with much of the wedding planning, it is not impossible to have a bridesmaid that lives a long way away – other brides do it all the time!  Just make the most of the time you have while she does visit, and have her measurements taken for her dress etc. when you have the opportunity.

Q. I am wondering what ‘wedding insurance’ is?  Could you tell me more about it?   Erica, Sydney, Australia.

A.  Dear Erica,

Keep a look out at Weddingnet – we are compiling a new finance article which will explain all about wedding insurance.

Q.   I would like to know what order the matron of honour and the bridesmaids travel in the cars, and also the order in which they should walk down the aisle.  Lex, Canberra, Australia.

A.  Dear Lex,

Generally, the bride and the bride’s father ride in the first car to the wedding ceremony.   Then, the second car takes the bride’s mother and bridesmaids.  However, some brides like to hire a stretch limo.  This way, they can have their mother, father and their bridesmaids with them for support!  As for walking down the aisle, the bridesmaids go before the matron of honour.



Q. My son is getting married in a different state and we would like to know what the financial responsibilities of the groom’s parents are (paying for the band, a percentage of the reception, the rehearsal dinner etc.).  We are planning a reception in our home state for all the guests who won’t be able to travel to the wedding.   Sandy, Hazlet, USA. 

A.  Dear Sandy,

Traditionally, the groom’s parents are responsible for paying for the rehearsal dinner, a gift for the bride and groom and their own travelling expenses and clothes for the day.   However, this can change with each family situation.  In situations where the groom’s family will be inviting more guests to the reception than the bride’s family, they may offer to pay for some of the reception costs.  Or, they may offer to help with the overall wedding costs if the bride’s family doesn’t have a lot of money.

As I don’t know the entire dynamics of your situation, it is hard for me to comment on what you should/should not pay for.  It seems that you are making a fair contribution by paying for the separate reception in your home state.  However, if you would like to pay for any of the other wedding costs, do feel free to discuss this with the bride and her parents.  I’m sure they won’t feel insulted by your offer.

Q. We recently became engaged on a trip to Australia.  Are there any Australian traditions we could incorporate into our ceremony?  Julia, Ann Arbor, USA.

A. Dear Julia,

Congratulations!  I don’t think there are any Australian traditions involving the ceremony itself, but your reception would provide the perfect opportunity to add a little piece of Aussie hospitality.  How about labelling your guest’s tables as different states or famous attractions in Australia, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Ayer’s Rock etc.  Or, you could give your guests tiny jars of vegemite as favours.  I would suggest having a BBQ or wearing thongs, but maybe this would be a little over the top!!!

Q. I have been asked to be the best man at a close friend’s wedding.   I have never done this before.  What are my official duties?  Do I have to make a speech?  Brian, Rosemount, Australia.

A.  Dear Brian,

As best man, your duties include:

keeping up-to-date with the wedding arrangements;
hosting the bachelor party;
organising the delivery and return of the men’s wedding attire;
arranging the wedding transport for the groom and groomsmen;
making sure the groomsmen know what to do and when to do it;
collecting the money from the groom to pay the celebrant;
helping the groom get ready for the ceremony;
helping with the buttonholes;
accompanying the groom to the ceremony;
carrying the rings;
arranging the transport of the bride and groom’s luggage.

You will be required to make a speech at the reception.  In the speech you should thank the groom for asking you to be his best man and tell an anecdote or funny story about something you have done together in the past (it should be suitable for his grandmother to hear!).

Q. My fiance’s parents would like us to get married in a church, however, I have not been baptised and haven’t been in a church since I was eight.  My fiance was baptised Uniting, but hasn’t been in a church since he was very young either.   Also, we have been living together for the last year.  Will we have problems finding a church that will marry us?  Peta, Chiswick, Australia.

A.  Dear Peta,
It is my guess that your fiance’s parents would like you to be married by a minister from the Uniting Church.  You should not have a problem with this because, as its name suggests, the Uniting Church is usually happy to marry people of different backgrounds and religions.  The Uniting Church is fairly liberal and will, in most cases, even marry divorcees.  However, you should remember that a large part of the ceremony is devoted to asking God to bless your marriage.  If you, or your fiance, do not feel comfortable with this, it might be best to look at some other types of venues for your ceremony.
Q. We are planning an afternoon wedding and are worried about losing the light at the sites we have chosen for the photos.  Is it acceptable to have the photos taken before the ceremony?  Simon, Picton, Australia.

A.  Dear Simon,

It is quite acceptable to take the photos before the ceremony.  However, if you would feel more comfortable taking them afterwards, you could check the sunset time for your wedding day and talk to your photographer about the available light and your options.

Q. We are having trouble finding a bride and groom figurine to go on the wedding cake.   Can you suggest any place we might find one?  Melissa, Wollongong, Australia.

A.    Dear Melissa,

I’m surprised that you’re having trouble finding this very popular item!  I would try ringing a few bakers in your area.  If you have done this and still  can’t find one, try contacting a cake decorating society near you.  They will be sure to know where to find one.

Q. I’m not getting married anytime soon, but I would like to start a hope chest for when the special day comes.  I would like some ideas on what to collect.  Lynn, Wilmington, USA.

A.  Dear Lynn,

Traditionally, a hope chest contains linen and clothing.  However, you could update yours and add all kinds of sentimental items.  For example, you could add some favourite recipes from your mother or grandmother or other such personal items.

Q. I would like some information about the lighting of a candle during the wedding ceremony.  I am also planning on wearing gloves during the ceremony.   What happens to them when the groom goes to put the ring on my finger?  Do I take them off?  Fiona, Latham, Australia.

A.  Dear Fiona,

The lighting of the candle that you are talking about is an American tradition called a ‘unity candle’.  There are actually three candles involved: two taper candles, which represent the couple as individuals, and the unity candle itself.  The two taper candles are lit and then used to light the single, unity candle, thus symbolising the couples commitment to one another.

There are two schools of thought on what to do about gloves during the ceremony.   Some people say that your gloves should be taken off before the ceremony and given to your head bridesmaid to take care of.  Other people say you may leave them on and place the rings over the gloves.  It is your choice.  Whatever you choose to do, a word of warning: do not take your gloves off at the alter.  It always looks like a striptease act and is extremely bad manners!

Q. I am a bridesmaid for a wedding coming up very soon.  Do you have any suggestions for music for walking down the aisle and after the ceremony?   Heidi, Wellington, NZ.

A.  Dear Heidi,

The most popular piece of music for the processional is Wagner’s Bridal March from Lohengrin. Other favourites include the Four Season’s Spring Allegro by Vivaldi and Verdi’s Grand March from Aida.

For the recessional, many brides choose to play Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummernight’s Dream.



Q: Is it proper to charge guests at a reception?  We have a very low budget and many guests to feed.  Are there any alternatives for feeding 450 guests?  Darryl, Los Angeles, USA.

A.  Dear Darryl,
While many wedding traditions are changing fast, it would still be considered improper to charge guests at the reception.  However, there are many alternatives to the traditional sit-down dinner that will enable you to save vast amounts of money.  The most economical option is to have a stand-up cocktail-style reception where drinks and hors d’oeuvres are served.  If you do want to have a sit-down dinner, the best way to save money is to choose simple dishes and food that will be in season.  Also, you might be able to save some money by cutting out the dessert course and serving your cake for dessert instead.

Q:  Help!  My fiance’s brother is planning a bachelor party for him.  My fiance has told me, and his brother,  that he doesn’t want a stripper.  Can you suggest some other activities for them?  We thought he would like an overnight camping trip, but that’s not going to be possible.  Sharon, Hudson, USA.A.  Dear Sharon,
As you seem to like the camping trip idea, why not consider another less time-consuming activity like this?  The guys might like to do some other ‘male-bonding’ activities like sky-diving, go-kart racing or white-water rafting.  Although this may turn out to be a little more expensive than a stripper, it will be sure to get his heart racing before that walk up the aisle!
Q.  My husband and I have been invited to a large, formal wedding at 6pm.  While the invitation doesn’t say black tie, the reception card for dinner, at 7pm, does.  Does this mean my husband should wear black tie to the wedding?  Lynne, Missouri, USA.A.  Dear Lynne,

The general rule is that guests should follow the lead of the key men at the wedding.  So, if the groom is wearing black tie, guests should follow his example.  As the wedding will be held at 6pm it is highly doubtful that the guests will have time to change into evening wear after the ceremony anyway.  If you would like to be sure, find out what the groom or best man will be wearing and you can then rest easy!



Q.  My fiance and I are just beginning to plan our wedding that we are hoping to hold a year from now.  I was wondering what options are available to people who are not religious in regards to wedding venues.  We do not wish to get married outdoors due to the unpredictability of the weather.  Kirsten, Sydney

A.  Dear Kirsten,

Luckily there are plenty of options open to you!  As you will be having a civil celebrant, you will be able to get married just about anywhere.  While you do not want to get married outdoors, many reception venues have equally beautiful places for brides who wish to be married indoors.  These can include wide, spacious verandahs, sweeping staircases or near a cosy fireplace.  If your wedding will be held in the warmer months, ask some of the venues you like if they have an outdoor setting that is protected from the elements, such as a decorative rotunda or shady pergola.

Q.  We can’t find a suitable venue!  We’re not traditional and don’t want a ‘wedding wedding’, but want a nice venue with a good view that would be able to cater for 50-65 people.  Any suggestions?  Leonie, Sydney.

A.  Dear Leonie,

A beautiful harbour-side restaurant would be perfect for your reception.  Have a look around to find some that you like and then ring them to check out their prices.  With 50-65 people, you may even be able to find a restaurant that will be able to seat you on their deck.  What better place to have your reception – alongside a stunning view of the most beautiful harbour in the world?



Q.  I am Catholic and my fiance is Anglican.  We are having trouble working out where to get married because of our different religions.  We both want to get married in a church, but don’t know which one.  Please help!  Meredith, Melbourne.

A.  Dear Meredith,

This is a tricky situation!  It sounds as if you both need to find some neutral ground.  What about getting married in your school chapel (if either of you have one).  This is more neutral and concentrates on the relationship with the school rather than the fact that you are both of different religions.  If neither of you can come to an agreement, maybe it would be better to compromise and be married by a civil celebrant or in a registry office.  Then, you can write your own vows and make your wedding truly yours.

Q.  My fiance and I are planning to get married in the next couple of months, but we’re not sure if we can pull this off in the short amount of time we have.   Do you think it will be possible to do it?  We’re planning to have a small wedding.  I’m only afraid that most reception places would be booked out by now.  Any suggestions?  Theresa, NSW.

A.  Dear Theresa,

There’s plenty of time left to plan your wedding and get a great reception venue!  While you probably won’t be able to get the most popular venue for a Saturday booking, most venues, even cruises, will be able to fit you in on a Friday night, Sunday or even on a public holiday.  If you would consider having your wedding on a weekday or night you should be able to choose from any venue in town and a bonus is that it will be far cheaper than on a Saturday.



Q.  I would like to know about the purpose of the groom’s cake.  Could you help?  Debra, York, USA.

A.  Dear Debra,

Traditionally, the groom’s cake is cut into small pieces and placed in boxes for the unmarried women to take home.  Supposedly, when it is placed under their pillows, they will dream of the man they will one day marry.  The groom’s cake is a nice tradition to keep in your wedding, especially as so much of the day revolves around the bride!  Many couples are choosing ‘novelty’ cakes for the groom’s cake, based around a sport or hobby he enjoys, such as football or tennis.

Q.  I’m looking for gift ideas for my bridesmaids and the groomsmen.  Any suggestions?  Shannon, Greenville, USA.

A.  Dear Shannon,

The trend at the moment is to pick gifts that suit the person’s personality, rather than give each person the same thing.  In the past, popular gifts included earrings, brooches or other pieces of jewellery for the bridesmaids.  However, this isn’t a very thoughtful gift if your bridesmaids don’t like, or wear, jewellery.  Instead, think about the person’s interests and hobbies and try to pick something they might use every day and think of you.  For example, if one of your bridesmaids likes to write, a beautiful pen or fancy journal might be a good idea.



Q.   We are thinking of getting married in Australia.  We have no idea of the legal obligations that we need to abide by, and where and by whom we can be married.  Do the legal requirements vary in each State?  Sydney or Cairns would be nice, but can you get married anywhere you like there?  Craig, Channel Islands, UK.

A.  Dear Craig,

If you will be choosing a civil celebrant to officiate at your wedding, you can get married just about anywhere!  The legal requirements for marrying in Australia are listed in the Federal Marriage Act (1961).  In summary, you need to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant not less than one month and one day before your wedding.  All celebrants have these forms.  You will need to provide your birth certificates or passports and, if you have been married before, evidence that your previous marriage has been terminated.  A few weeks before the wedding you will have to sign a Declaration of Marriage, which is to confirm that there is no reason the marriage cannot take place.  After the marriage service you will need to sign the wedding certificate and a form that will be lodged with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and  Marriages in the state you were married in.  It would be a good idea to choose where you would like to be married and then contact a civil celebrant in this area.  They will be able to guide you every step of the way!



Q. What is the minimum stay required prior to a marriage ceremony?  We would like to marry in Australia, but heard that there is a six month stay prior to a wedding.  Bill, El Dorado Hills, USA.

A.  Dear Bill,

The legal requirements for marrying in Australia are as above.  While there is not usually a time limit before you can be married, Australian immigration has informed me that it would be best to check with an Australian Consulate if you have any particular concerns.



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