Erika Preval - Simply Put

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CHARM SCHOOL: ADDRESSING WEDDING INVITATIONS

Courtesy The Impressionist

Courtesy of The Impressionist

 

In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With the abundance of social gatherings the holidays bring, many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about how to be a gracious host or guest. Each week during the holiday season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.

The guest list was difficult, but I’ve heard that addressing invitations is also a challenge. We’re placing our stationery order soon. What should we consider before we address the envelopes?

Wedding invitations set the tone for the event and act as a directive. To ensure a great presentation and further clarify guests, think about these:

SIGNED – Envelopes of wedding invitations should be handwritten. If your handwriting isn’t impeccable hire a calligrapher. They will require at least two weeks for lettering, so request envelopes ahead of invitations from your stationer. Invest in calligraphy software that can print directly onto the envelopes, if time or budget don’t allow for a professional calligrapher.

SEALED – Avoid confusion of who is (and isn’t) invited by carefully addressing your inner envelope. Spouses of guests are always invited. Deciding to include a guest for single friends is at your discretion. If they’ve been a couple for over 6 months, consider a plus-one who should either receive a separate invitation, have their name appear on a separate line on the inner envelope, or have the notation of recipient’s name “and Guest”.

Names of children should appear beneath their parents. Boys carry the honorific “Master” through age 16, and girls “Miss” until age 18. Children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation, even if living within the same household.

DELIVERED – Traditionally the inner envelope ensured that a wedding invitation, having travelled via horse and carriage, arrived in pristine condition to its recipients. Though the mode of transportation has been updated, invitations can still be damaged en route to your guests.

Canceling your stamps by hand in lieu of sending invitations through a machine is one way to prevent bent envelopes, and the like. The USPS officially ceased hand-canceling, but there are still post offices that allow it. Choose a post office that is less busy and try dropping the invitations off in small batches or pay a non-machinable fee for greater success.

Tip: You’ve likely spent a good bit of time gathering addresses of guests. Keep this list handy for upcoming showers, thank you notes and holiday cards.

CHARM SCHOOL: MARRIAGE PROPOSAL ETIQUETTE – SOUTHERN LIVING

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

 

In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With the approaching wedding season—that brings an abundance of gatherings—many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about social protocol.  Every other week throughout wedding season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.

I’ve been trying to plan the perfect proposal since buying my girlfriend’s engagement ring last month. Pinterest has lots of elaborate ideas, but I’m not really sure that she’s looking for anything over the top. Asking opinions of her friends and family might ruin the surprise. I’m getting really nervous about messing this up. Is there proposal etiquette that can guide me?

With the emergence of proposal planners and videos of marriage proposals going viral online, I can understand your anxiety over making yours perfect. Keeping your focus on your lady in waiting is most important for a successful event. As you continue to plan your special moment, consider this advice before, during and after you pop the question.

Stay in good graces - Tradition dictates the request of her hand in marriage, from her father, prior to your proposal. I suggest that you make both sets of parents – hers and yours, aware of your intentions. This will create a wonderful foundation of respect and consideration for the merging of your families. Since you’re ready to become engaged, chances are that you’ve already discussed marriage with your girlfriend. So, should someone have a slip of the tongue (barring shared details) your surprise will still be safe. Nevertheless, ask for the parents’ discretion.

Stay focused on her - Although there is a trend towards having elaborate proposals with an audience of family and friends incorporated, please know that only two people are necessary to make your proposal perfect: you and your sweetheart. You have the rest of your lives to share your proposal story, so if it relieves any anxiety, know that (unless she’s expressed otherwise) most brides prefer an intimate proposal. No matter public or private, after expressing to her your reasons for wanting to do so, get down on one knee to utter those four magical words. You’ll likely want to arrange for a photographer, videographer or both to capture this moment. If your budget is constrained, opt for a discreet friend with a steady hand.

Stay offline awhile - If you’ve chosen to keep the proposal private, you’ll want to share news of your engagement once the celebration with your fiancée is complete. Some gentlemen will have already arranged a surprise engagement party of sorts with close family and friends at a separate location. Should this not be the case for you, refrain from announcing your engagement to online friends and followers on social media until you’ve had time to connect with those closest to you by call or text with the big news.

I wish you all the best on your proposal and beyond. Be certain to insure the engagement ring and try not to rush into wedding planning mode – savor the moment!

3 TIPS FOR HOSTING A PRE-PROM PICTURE PARTY

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Senior year comes with lots of lasts: the last first day of school, the last yearbook photos, and the last prom. It’s my daughter’s senior year, and I’ve done my best to document these moments along the way. To stay in the moment I hosted a pre-prom picture party within a suite at The Georgian Terrace (prom was across the street at the Fox Theatre) and hired Janet Howard to capture the event.

If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen a few of the 300+ photos Janet sent over. I’ll share more here, as well as some tips for hosting a similar party for your teens.

  1. Hire a photographer. We invited parents to take their own photos, but there’s nothing like enjoying an event and knowing that a professional is capturing every moment. Our guests are able to access all of the photos and download as many as they’d like at no charge.
  2. Keep decorations simple. Guests won’t be with you very long, so be sure your decorations serve as functional props. For this event, I had trays of sweet small bites, soda and still and sparkling water. A simple vase of Whole Foods roses was placed in the entryway and photo booth props from BigDotofHappiness were scattered on tables throughout the suite. Gold accents from Paper Source, a vintage camera and West Elm frame for signing were all it took to set the tone for the party.
  3. Set a time, but be flexible with the timeline. I used an electronic Paperless Post invitation (you can always order a single paper copy for your memories) and gave a timeline for photos. For this occasion, however, I anticipated staggered arrivals due to the separate hair and makeup appointments of friends.

 

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CHARM SCHOOL: WEDDING SHOWER ETIQUETTE – SOUTHERN LIVING

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In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With the approaching wedding season—that brings an abundance of gatherings—many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about social protocol.  Every other week throughout wedding season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.

Q: I’m the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding. She’s having two other showers, and the bridesmaids and I want to host a monogram bridal shower at her favorite restaurant. Should the guests pay for their meals and how do we decide who’s invited? We’d appreciate any suggestions.

A: This shower’s monogram theme is perfect since hers will be changing soon – how thoughtful. Here are a few tips to get you on your way. Enjoy yourselves!

Tally it up - As with any event, the host covers all costs, including food and beverage. If they’ve agreed to host, share the budget with the bridesmaids to clarify how things will be paid for. Should costs be a challenge, scale the event back to something that is a bit more budget-friendly but still reflects the bride’s style.

Double check - Guests of the shower must also be invited to the wedding, so use the wedding guest list as your guide. Finalize your guest list by checking for duplicate invitees to the other showers, and discussing those with their hosts. While bridesmaids are typically invited to all bridal showers, wedding guests should only be invited to one.

Give thanks - Ensure that the bride is equipped to be a gracious one by designating someone to record the particulars (who gave what) of gifts, as they are opened. Also, make sure stationery and postage are at the ready. Ask if she’s ordered her own. If not, you can add matching thank you notes to your invitation order.

Tip: Don’t forget to save the bows and ribbons from opened gifts. They’re traditionally fashioned into a bouquet, of sorts, for the bride’s use during the wedding rehearsal.