Request: Your third cousin asks to bring her boyfriend-of-the-month to your $150-a-plate wedding reception.
What you should say: "We've already had to make so many tough decisions to get the guest list down to size. We really can't squeeze in/afford another guest. But I would love to have you two over for drinks sometime so I can meet him."
Why it works: If you illuminate some of your behind-the-scenes planning, your cousin may get a clue about the inappropriateness of the request.
Why you shouldn't feel guilty: It's your party and your pocketbook, says author Patti Breitman.
How to avoid the situation in the future: Make a few calls before you put together the guest list to see if there are new additions you should consider as you plan.
2 of 6Tina Rupp
Tips for the Toastee
If you're the one being toasted, your job is easy. Judith Martin, author of the "Miss Manners" column and books, says, "Really, the simplest task of all, but the one people being toasted have terrible trouble managing, is to do nothing but look modest and pleased―and certainly not to drink to themselves. The way for them to start drinking is to offer a return toast." When toasting back, something as simple as "I feel so lucky to be here with all of you tonight. To good friends!" will suffice. Rather than trying to touch glasses with everyone at the table, simply raise yours high in the air and everyone else will follow suit.
3 of 6James Baigrie
Wedding Ceremony and Reception: How to Recycle Flowers
Your friends’ weddings make you cry―the vows, the meaningful readings...and the thought that at the end of the night thousands of dollars’ worth of flower arrangements will be thrown away. Ask the bride (or the host of any gala) if you can arrange for some of the flowers to be delivered to local hospices or nursing homes. If you live in New York City or Los Angeles, call the nonprofit group FlowerPower at 212-308-4930 (or go to flowerpowerfoundation.org) and it will do the delivering for you.
4 of 6Gemma Comas
How to Break in Your In-Laws
It's often the dark side of the lovely mother-daughter relationship: the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law relationship. If you feel smothered by a mother-in-law who calls hourly, flatter rather than stiff-arm her (but be genuine). "Tell her, `I'm so in love with your son that I want to have him all to myself right now.' It lets her know that she is great and raised a wonderful son, not that she's in your way," says Eden Unger Bowditch, coauthor of The Daughter-in-Law's Survival Guide ($13, amazon.com.). Take your in-laws out to dinner shortly after the honeymoon, suggests Martha Edwards. Thank them for all they did during the wedding, and start your new life together on a positive note. If possible, both you and your spouse should also spend some time alone with your respective in-laws after you get married. To avoid holiday conflicts, set a schedule in advance and stick to it: Alternate Thanksgivings with each family, for example. Creating a schedule for monthly dinners with in-laws is a good idea, too, because it helps establish boundaries about when and where you'll see each other.
5 of 6Paul Whicheloe
The Perfect "Thank You" Note
The hardest part about saying "thank you" may be determining how to do it.
You should send a hand-written note...
If you are given a gift for a wedding, a graduation, or the birth of a child.
If you were given a gift that you didn't open in the giver's presence.
If you were an overnight guest at someone's home.
To acknowledge a condolence note, flowers, or a donation given in a loved one's name.
To acknowledge a note or a fruit basket given in response to an illness.
You can say "thank you" via phone or e-mail...
If you are sent flowers by your sweetheart or parents. (Do it promptly, so the sender knows they arrived.)
If you are given a gift by an employer or a colleague, or if you were thrown a baby shower or a birthday party at the office.
If you were a guest at a dinner or a party.
6 of 6Mark Lund
Finish Thank-You Notes
It’s eight months post-wedding, post–baby shower, or post-40th and (your mother would kill you) you still haven’t completed thank-you notes for all the nice gifts. Avoid this scenario (or at least make the catch-up less daunting) by placing stationery, a pen, and some stamps on your bedside table. That way, before you go to sleep, you’ll have a visual prompt to jot down a quick note or two. A few per night is an easily achievable goal―and completing them will make your sleep that much more restful.