Ask the Expert

Emma Frankart Henterly

Weddings are known to spark questions about propriety. With so many decisions to be made and rules about how things should play out, it's easy to feel overwhelmed at the possibility of accidentally causing offense. You came to us with your questions, and we turned to the pros at Landoll's Mohican Castle in Loudonville—assistant general manager Matthew Scruggs and wedding planners Melody McCrory and Shayla Landoll—for answers.

My stepmother has a family friend who's a photographer, and she wants me to book him for my wedding. She's even offering to pay for it! The only problem is, I don't like the photographer's work. How can I decline the offer without seeming ungrateful?

The road to any offer of help in the wedding planning process is paved with good intentions; unfortunately, this often yields unwanted results. We find honesty to be the best policy, but first talk to your fiancé to come up with the best plan of action and to present a united front. Thank your stepmother for her help and generosity, then tell her that in discussing it, you and your fiancé have decided that her friends' style is not what you are looking for.

What's the timeline for sending thank-you cards? I've heard up to a year after the wedding, but that seems like a really long time. Also, should I thank people who came but didn't bring a gift? And how do you write a thank-you for monetary gifts?

While convention says you have a year, we think you should start them within four weeks of the wedding … and start with family first. Do a few each evening as you are watching Netflix to make it feel less daunting. Sometimes presence is a present, and in these hard economic times, sometimes that is gift enough—so a thank-you is definitely appropriate. As for money, you could write, “Thank you for your generous gift,” followed by an explanation of how you intend to use it.

A friend of mine recently asked if she was invited to the wedding … except she isn't. How do I let her know that we couldn't squeeze her into our guest list without hurting her feelings?

Chances are, you probably cut a few cousins or other friends from your guest list, so you can let her down gently by saying, “I hope your feelings are not hurt; I had to make some tough decisions with the guest list and even cut some extended family from it.” If you're having an after party, make sure she knows that you'd love to see her there.

Is it rude to have my wedding the same day as a casual acquaintance? We have a few mutual invitees who would have to choose between the two events, but we both have our hearts set on an early spring wedding, and there are only so many open dates to go around.

There are only 52 weekends a year, and we find that many prime dates book fast. Pick your date and be confident in it. If the few mutual invitees have to pick one over the other, just be prepared to not hold it against them. Remember the movie “Bridal Wars” and plan accordingly.

How do we decide who gets to bring a plus-one? Pippa Middleton famously had a “no ring, no bring” policy for her wedding in May, meaning people couldn't bring a date unless they were engaged or married. That seems too strict to me, but at the same time, I can't afford for everyone to bring a date.

In these hard times, people are spending their money differently on weddings. While we agree with Pippa's stance and think it is a good way to make sure you have quality over quantity in your guest list, we suggest expanding the list to include couples who cohabitate but aren't engaged.

Have a question? Email it to and you could see it answered in the next issue.