Wedding Etiquette (for guests who don’t love weddings)

It is okay to admit that you are not a fan of weddings; they aren’t for everyone. That does not mean you are against love or have a heart of stone. Weddings are a lot of work to put together, and even the most enjoyable weddings require effort on the part of the guests. But even if you don’t like attending weddings, there are some basic rules that you MUST follow out of courtesy. If you can’t manage these basic rules, simply RSVP no (as soon as you get your invite). 


It is so easy to get the wedding invite, put it aside and forget all about it. Maybe you have a million other things more important to worry about when you open it. In reality, it will take less than a minute to check your calendar and make a split decision to go or not go. Either you are free and want to attend, or you are busy (or don’t want to go). Most couples send out a save the date well in advance, so hopefully you already know your availability and had been planning to get the invite. Bottom line: RSVP right away!

If something is holding up your decision (work schedule, travel, etc.) contact the couple and let them know that you will RSVP as soon as your schedule is available, and set a reminder for yourself!


Rule 2- Don’t Add your Own Plus One

Attending weddings alone can be really intimidating. I have gone stag, and while it wasn’t the most fun, I really wanted to be there for the couple. It is the most intimate and expensive day of their lives. It’s their day, their money, their memories. So if the envelope is only addressed to you, and there is no line for a plus one, DO NOT bring a date (and for the love, do not ASK the couple if you can bring a date)!

Want to make it more fun? Look for other guests who are alone at a wedding (even if you brought an invited date). Include them, make small talk or ask them to join you on the dance floor. Going solo is tough, so try and make the single ladies/men feel welcome!

Rule 3- If you are right on time, you’re late

Biggest wedding faux pas is showing up late. If the wedding starts at 3 PM, it will start promptly at 3. Not 3:15 or 3:30. So give yourself plenty of time to park, look up traffic while you are getting ready - PLAN AHEAD!

If due to unforeseen circumstances, you do arrive late, wait outside or somewhere inconspicuous until it is appropriate to enter. You don’t want to walk in as the bride is coming down the aisle. Even if you have to miss the ceremony, that is less rude than causing a disturbance.

Rule 4- Pay Attention
Being a spectator at many clients’ weddings, I can’t even tell you how many wedding guests barely pay attention to the services or special moments.  This is a HUGE deal for the couple. They took care to invite YOU out of all the people they know, because it is meaningful for them to have you there.  If you don’t care enough about them to listen and watch, don’t attend.  

Here is a list of important moments to pay special attention to:



Toast (no matter how long they might drag on)

First Dance

Cake Cutting

Family Dances 

And anything special the couple decides to do 


Rule 5- Sit Down and Follow Direction

If the couple has assigned seating, sit where you are asked. Even if your friend is at another table. Don’t ask people around you to switch places, don’t pull up a chair. In the big picture, dinner is usually about an hour. You can manage mingling with strangers while you enjoy the meal.  Moving seats around disrupts service, setup and flow.  

Also, when instructed to be seated for dinner, to get up to go to the buffet, or that the bar is closing, follow along.  Odds are you are delaying the entire night’s schedule by not following directions.


Rule 6- Interacting with Vendors and the Venue 

The couple has likely hired a number of vendors, along with the venue for the event. Be courteous, stay out of their way, listen if they ask you to do something. Here are some major DON’Ts (based on actual encounters with guests):

Photographer- Do not ask them to take photos of you or your family/friends. Do not hold your phone in the way of any photos they may need to take. 

DJ/Band- Do not request music unless there was a specific instruction to request songs. Do not get on stage to dance or sing with the band unless asked.  

Venue- Don’t get in the way during setup/teardown. Do not request special meals or different meals from what you ordered. (If you have dietary restrictions, tell the couple in advance of the actual day.) If the bar is closed don’t go and get your own drink and don’t complain to the staff, or worse, the couple. You could disrupt the entire flow of the evening with what you think is a simple request.


Rule 7- Basic Etiquette

Aside from the major No-Nos listed above, there are general guidelines that everyone should follow at a wedding:

  1. Do not drink yourself into a stupor.  You do not want to be “that person” to pass out or throw up on someone’s wedding day.

  2. Do not ask for food to go, no matter how delicious it was.   

  3. Be polite when helping yourself to the buffet or dessert stations. We all love sweets (at least I do) but only take what you are actually going to eat and (see rule above) wait until the staff is done setting up before you start taking things.

  4. Do NOT be rude to the staff.  Every single person working that day is following the direction of the couple and what they wanted their day to look like. Listen, agree and be as helpful as you can.  If you can’t be helpful, then at least be quiet. :-)


You may think you are one guest out of a couple hundred, and no one will notice if you aren’t the most well behaved. But remember how special this day is to the couple hosting, and that they incurred an expense to invite you to celebrate with them. They said yes to including you which means they probably had to exclude someone else. Share in their joy, be respectful, and have fun! Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with sending a gift and well wishes and staying home that evening!

All Photos by Aster + Olive Photography (5.30.2015)

Brandi HamerstoneComment
Weddings by CPE is an H.I.T

I don’t know that I have encountered many people who could match Sharnise Sears’ level of passion, drive, and her positive outlook. I really enjoyed interviewing her about her company, Weddings by CPE., where you can book pre-marital counseling sessions or hire her to officiate your wedding! Sharnise is someone who LOVES love. And with all the negative things that happen day in and day out, it is so refreshing to interact with someone who brings joy to every situation. (Hint, if you need a nice boost of happiness in your IG feed, follow @weddingsbycpe)!!

I also love that Sharnise offers pre-marital counseling services, and that she is so passionate about them. Marriage is a big commitment, and there are so many things couples usually don’t know about one another - even if they have been together for years.

I hope you enjoy her story and her positive attitude as much as I do!

All Events Planned: How did you come to be a wedding officiant/premarital and marriage coach?

Weddings by CPE: I’ve always known that I would work in a field that complimented my gift of gab, but I had no idea I would be a part of the wedding industry too (WIN!)

I am a notary public by trade and through that industry, I discovered that ALL notaries have other side hustles such as officiating. I tested out a few other side gigs before I tried officiating and honestly, I completely fell in love during my first wedding. My first wedding had me in tears during and after the ceremony. You could literally feel the love between the couple. It was shortly after that first ceremony that I decided that THIS would be my life’s work: Uniting couples in love and marriage.

After about a year of Officiating, a friend who happens to be a licensed therapist suggested I take the SYMBIS course to become a certified Pre-Marriage & Marriage Coach because of my unique insight and passion for real love and healthy marriages. It has been the best compliment to Officiating and a modern alternative to counseling or therapy.



AEP: Can you describe for us a little about your brand/style?

CPE: This is a tough one to narrow down. I know that as a small business owner I should have a really good one liner that perfectly depicts who I am and what my brand is but at this time, I just don’t, and that’s the honest truth. I am my brand and my personality style make my business style unique.

I am very much an ambivert so when its just us (myself and the couple) it’s a relaxing yet meaningful experience. We laugh, we may cry a little, but over all its good-clean-fun. Every interaction from consultation to wedding reception, it’s all about YOU (the couple) so I am at your beck and call. You need laughs? I got you! You need a distraction? I am here for it. You need to run? Not happening! I will remind you of why you said yes (here is where the consultation conversations come in handy… although I’ve never had to use it).  All of my focus remains on the couple before, during and after the ceremony. Afterwards, you can most likely find me making conversation with your grandparents or coloring at the children’s table for sure.


AEP: When a couple hires you, what can they expect when it comes to working with you?

CPE: When couples decide to book with me, they can expect a genuine connection and a lifelong love leader. It’s not easy for me to separate my love for officiating from my passion for healthy marriages. It’s rare that I just show up to weddings and read then leave. I’m not good at that, I’ll probably still email you weeks later and may even follow you on social media. So, when I meet with potential clients, I want to hear all about their love journey, their favorite date nights, why the said yes, and their plan to stay married. These details not only help me to create an amazing ceremony script that’s not copied but it also helps us all to connect on a deeper level that will hopefully last beyond the “I-Do”.


AEP: What is your advice for any couples considering doing premarital counseling together?

CPE: DO IT! Whether you think you know everything about each other or not, this is a great way to connect, reflect, and plan for the future of your relationship. You don’t have to wait until you have a ring on your finger either. If marriage is on your mind, then definitely take this step BEFORE engagement if you can.

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AEP: What are a few mistakes couples sometimes make when choosing an officiant?

CPE: I wouldn’t say that couples make mistakes when choosing an officiant per se’ I just think there are so many choices out there that they get overwhelmed or they just aren’t sure what they want.  If I had to say “mistake” I would say choosing an officiant based on price is a huge mistake.

Your wedding ceremony is what makes the difference between having an actual wedding or throwing an expensive party.  If I can offer any advice to help narrow down your choices I would say:

1.       Check their reviews before requesting info and Don’t just look at the stars, read the reviews. If there isn’t much detail in the reviews, then that may be an indicator for the type of wedding ceremony that you will get.

2.       Compare their offerings. Some officiants show up, read a few words, then leave and that may be exactly what you’re looking for. Others are with you during the planning process up until the first anniversary and beyond…and their pricing reflects that.

3.       Meet each prospective officiant face to face before booking. Consult with the high-end, the mid-range, and the lowest priced Officiant to see what makes their pricing different. Then filter by personality fit.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from others in this industry?

CPE: In reviews for my services, couples say that when we chat, it’s like we’ve known each other for years and I wholeheartedly believe that that simple thing is what sets me apart from all other officiants and pre-marriage coaches. The engagement and wedding planning process can be stressful and full of other people’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas so I continuously aim to provide a safe space and a relaxing environment for all of my couples.


AEP: Can you tell us about any personalized vows that really moved you when you heard them?

CPE: A lot of times couples write letters or recaps of their love journey and they have the most romantic vows that would move anyone to tears. That is awesome and all, but vows are more than eloquent words and romantic languages. Last summer I had a couple that wrote the most honest vows I’ve ever heard. I don’t like to share word for word (because that’s like reading their private love letters) but I will share that someone promised to take the trash and the dog out every day so that the other person can sleep in and not be a grouch and someone else vowed to play Pokémon Go and watch scary movies even though they personally have no interest in either. There was more of course, but I really loved that they vowed to selflessly DO for their spouse. They vowed to take action for the sake of their relationship and that is what really moved me.


AEP: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your industry?

 CPE: One of the biggest misconceptions about my industry is that were all a bunch of stiffs with no personality and with every interaction you must be on pins and needles. Seriously. I kid you not, I get that response at the beginning of every consultation! Hiring an Independent Pro Wedding Officiant (one that is not ordained within the church) means that you get to choose which officiant compliments your personality and relationship best. We all have our own unique personalities, offerings, and skill sets. Hiring an Officiant should be just as easy and judgment free as hiring any other Pro Wedding Vendor. 

Sharnise - thank you for sharing your heart, your story, and your passions with us. If you need an officiant, or have thought about any kind of counseling with your significant other, please check out Weddings by CPE!

Brandi HamerstoneComment
Where in the World...a travel agent's advice for honeymooners
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Was I alone in assuming that most travel agencies have gone out of business by now? With search engines that tell you the cheapest flights and hotels, I wondered if people even used travel agents or just trusty Google. Enter Christina Carzoo from Christina Carzoo Travel, who had me sticking my metaphorical foot in my mouth after the first 2 questions of our interview. She taught me that there is a distinct difference between booking a family vacation to, let’s say Disneyland, and booking a family vacation when you aren’t quite sure where you want to go. You can work with someone who has vast connections and personal experience, instead of relying on reading review after review to decide where to stay, what time of year to visit, or even where to go! But don’t take my word for it. Let her words speak for themselves:

All Events Planned: How would you describe your style, your personality and/or your brand? 

Christina Carzoo: We are a boutique luxury travel planning agency and turn what can be a stressful and time-consuming process into a fun one for our clients!  Your honeymoon is the most important trip you will ever take and that’s why you should really make it count. We approach travel planning similar to a wedding planner by creating custom luxury trips based on your interests and travel style.   Our agency is constantly traveling the world and vetting out properties to ensure we are sending our clients to the best properties and providing them with an experience that will stay with them long after they return from their trip.   Our recommendations for our clients are always backed up with our personal experience and strong relationships we have cultivated.

AEP: Who is your ideal client? (Even if this is describing past couples you've LOVED working with) 
CC: My ideal clients are curious about the world and want to experience a trip that is beyond basic.  Each trip I plan is unique because each client is unique. I love learning about their interests and travel style, crafting a trip that is planned with them in mind.  For honeymoons,  I really love couples who like to pair adventure along with relaxation.  I get it, planning a wedding is super-stressful on top of the everyday stressors of life so going to a tropical vacation and planting yourself by the beach or pool with a drink sounds (and is!) fantastic.  We certainly help clients do that all the time and provide an amazing experience for them! However, for most people, the honeymoon is the most important trip they will ever take and in most cases one of their only opportunities to go all-out before buying a house (if they haven’t already) and having kids so I love it when people pair a safari in Tanzania with the Seychelles or want to discover the beautiful islands of The Maldives along with the exciting city of Dubai.  Maybe they don’t like beaches at all and would prefer to hike Machu Picchu in Peru or explore the diverse landscapes of New Zealand.  I love clients who want to experience the beauty our world has to offer.  While all of those I just mentioned are more exotic options, of course I love planning relaxing trips to beautiful destinations too and that makes up a big part of our business. 

AEP: What are a few mistakes couples sometimes make when booking a honeymoon/ people make when booking travel?  
CC: 1.  Not fully considering what they both want from a trip

2.  Not having a realistic budget for their destination and or amount of days you want to be gone

3.  Not taking into account the seasonality of the destination you are wanting to visit.  For example, the Greek Isles are an amazing honeymoon destination but if you are getting married in November it isn’t a good choice for you as most of the islands restaurants and resorts shut down and the weather isn’t as great. 

4.  Not reaching out to a travel professional for advice and planning.  While the internet is full of information to help you plan your trip, you are really losing a level of service, peace of mind and expertise (along with some seriously amazing perks!) you get when utilizing a travel agent.  Travel agents have spent years traveling the globe to personally vet out properties and form relationships with hotels and suppliers which helps you have an amazing trip.  Our reputation and job literally depends on you having the best trip ever.  The random reviewer on TripAdvisor isn’t basing their entire professional reputation on their review and they may be very different from you in what you like and base a good trip on.  We save you so much time and are able to make suggestions and offers that are unavailable to those planning on their own.

AEP: What questions should people be asking when booking a vacation with an agency?
I think it is important to find an agency who has great hotel and supplier relationships and who invest in traveling the world themselves.  I would ask them about both of these points specifically in addition to how do they come up with the hotels they recommend?  If the agency you contacted doesn’t have a vast travel background how are they going to help you plan a trip full of valuable insight?  If they aren’t asking you a lot of questions, your trip will be less tailored to your interests and budget as you would like. 

AEP: What is YOUR dream vacation?? 
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to all seven continents, seeing many places on my original list of dream vacations.  The funny thing about travel is the more you see, the more you realize you haven’t seen! I would say of the places I have not yet been to I would love to do another safari (taking my daughter when she is old enough), this time in Tanzania. I’m also very hopeful to go to Thailand and Cambodia, or Chile to see Easter Island and the Chilean side of Patagonia.

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AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them? 
This is such a good question and I love the idea of planning an epic, around the world trip for a honeymoon!  We could start by flying out of California to explore the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand, then relaxing in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, heading to Asia and hitting up Bali and Thailand, then making our way to Europe by going to the romantic countries of Greece and Italy and stopping in Paris for some amazing food and rich cultural city experience before heading back home.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other travel agents?
Expertise, connections and experience.  While there are many travel agents who can book a trip, many provide services more transactive in nature. We take a very consultative approach with our clients, tailoring everything to them and drawing upon our vast travel experience to give them a trip as unique as they are.  My host agency I work under, Epperly Travel,  is constantly traveling the world to experience hotels and destinations, allowing us to provide the best experiences for our valued clients.  We are one of the only agencies in Ohio that is a Virtuoso agency, an elite, invitation-only consortium of the top 1% of travel providers in the world.  Epperly Travel is an affiliate of Travel Edge, which means I have access to and relationships with global luxury hotels, boutique hotels and villas, reputable and award-winning tour guides, private transportation and more to ensure my clients have an incredible experience. I can also ensure you receive VIP service with amenities such as upgrades, food and beverage credits, and other services not available through the mass-market companies one finds on the internet, and at no added cost!  I help my clients by taking the time and stress out of planning travel, while providing them additional perks, expert destination insight and insider information.

AEP: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your industry?
The biggest misconceptions ar that we don’t exist anymore and are unnecessary. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth!  Since the introduction of discount sites years ago, such as Expedia and Travelocity, many thought of travel agents as a declining profession.   Gone are the days of old school travel agents sitting behind their desks booking travel in a purely transactional manner.   In reality, the modern travel agent has their boots on the ground and is exploring exotic locations and properties on the regular, building relationships with suppliers and hoteliers to better provide their clients with destination insight, diverse experiences and peace of mind when booking their global travel.  These frequent travels and relationships benefit the savvy clients who seek out their services tremendously.  They are able to save valuable time and energy sifting through all the noise on the internet doing their own research, and they can be assured their precious investment will be planned perfectly as each item on their itinerary has been vetted and chosen with their interests in mind.  A 3rd common misconception is that it will cost more to use a travel agent. The truth is that we have access to the same rates you find with the hotels direct and sometimes we even have promotional rates not found online!

Please visit Christina’s personal website for more information about her travel planning services.

Okay, now I’m guessing you’re about to get lost in cyberspace, looking at images of some of the amazing places she described. The world is so vast and we only get the chance to see so much of it. I hope this helped gain perspective about travel agents and how beneficial it can be to use one! Now I need to get in touch with an investment advisor so I can plan one of those incredible safaris… :-)

Shufflin' into Spring

Were you under the impression that shuffleboard is only for retirement communities? Well, prepare to be proven wrong!


Forest City Shuffleboard is not only a fun place to spend your Friday or Saturday (or even a weekday!) night, but it’s also an awesome space for an event! We interviewed the owner, Jim Miketo, to hear more about the history of FCS and some of its best features!

All Events Planned: How you describe Forest City's atmosphere?

Forest City Shuffleboard: The atmosphere at Forest City Shuffleboard Arena and Bar (FCS) is very cozy and approachable. The theme of the space is vintage varsity and when you walk in, you should feel a sense of nostalgia. We made an effort to help keep a lot of the original features of the building that is over 110 years old. With a space as large as we have, it was also important to connect the different areas so as not to feel like you are in a large, overwhelming space.

AEP: What kind of events do you host at Forest City?

FCS: We host all types of events at FCS and that is a function of the game of shuffleboard. Shuffleboard is a game that every can pick up and enjoy as it is a very social, interactive event. Some of the events we have hosted include birthday parties, company outings, sales meetings, wedding related events, high school reunions, fundraisers and much more.

AEP: What has been one of the most memorable events that have taken place here?

FCS: We have greatly enjoyed hosting all of our events and parties. We genuinely work hard to make each event unique and fun, and satisfied customers is why we are in this business. For me, the most memorable event was my daughter's first birthday. We had only been open for a few months, but it was extremely special to me because we had our daughter as we started the journey to build out and ultimately open FCS. In her first year, we went through a lot of ups and downs with the buildout but to cap it off with a flamingo themed birthday party, was very special.

AEP: What is a feature that someone should splurge on when booking Forest City?

FCS: We have a parking lot and lots of street parking, but I would say valet parking. It isn't terribly expensive, but can give the event a more formal feel if that is what you are after.

AEP: Describe your ideal client or person to work with.

FCS: We truly enjoy working with all of our customers and our main goal is to make their event fun and memorable. 

AEP: What are some common mistakes you've seen people make when booking event space?

FCS: The biggest thing we see, is people ordering too much food. A lot of times, people will over estimate the guest count, or how much the guests will eat.

AEP: What do you recommend couples (or really anyone) be aware of when looking for a venue?

FCS: Make sure the event is right for you and what you want to look back on years down the road in a favorable light. Also, work within your budget. It is easy to throw money at the event, but don't break the bank doing it. 

AEP: What is the biggest misconception about your venue (or the event industry)?

FCS: Shuffleboard is cool and fun! It is not just for 90+ year olds living in Senior Living Communities in Florida. If you have not tried it, please do. It is a very fun and social game that anyone can play and win!

^^See, told you!! :-)

If you are looking for a fun place for date night or to celebrate a birthday, head on over to Forest City Shuffleboard! The staff are wonderful, the food is delicious, and you will have a blast! Be sure to check out their website for more information and to see a menu!

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Brandi HamerstoneComment