Consumer Law

How Royal Is Your Wedding

Okay, so you're not a princess or marrying a prince; you're not getting married in Westminster Abbey; the entire nation won't be on high alert with ultra-tight security; and millions of people around the world won't be watching the ceremony on TV in the wee hours of the morning.

Other than that, what's the difference between a royal wedding like Prince William and Catherine's and your wedding? There are some differences, but there are some similarities, too.

Guest List

Practically everyone invites guests to their wedding. It's a celebration, after all. Unlike the royal wedding, you're probably not inviting over 1,800 people, though.

Just the same, get a list together early and track down current addresses. You can write them out yourself with, maybe with the help of friends and family, or you can hire a company to print out personal invitations. Either way, make sure they're in the mail at least three or four weeks before the big day.

The Dress

The royal dress makes headlines months before the wedding, usually costs thousands (and thousands) of dollars (actually, British pounds) and is copied by designers all over the world.

No matter if you plan to buy a dress off-the-rack or have one custom tailored or designed for you, your biggest concern - other than style, perhaps! - is making sure the dress is ready and in your hands before the wedding day. Keep in contact with the dressmaker and check on progress and the schedule.

Also, don't pay the full cost of the dress until all of the alterations are done and fit on you. This goes for any other clothing you might purchase.

Men are lucky. They get to rent their tuxes. Watch out for late return fees and charges if you don't clean it before taking it back.

Don't Get Scammed

There are counterfeit and fake "designer" wedding dresses out there. Don't pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a dress that's worth only a fraction of price tag. Watch out for big discounts. You've probably found a fake when you see a dress that normally sells for $2,000 being offered for $200!

Guests Bring Gifts - It's Tradition

William and Catherine don't want the traditional gifts most newlyweds receive from their guests. Instead, they're asking anyone who'd like to send or give a gift make a money donation to special charity fund they've created.

You can do this, too. Just be careful in choosing the charity - you don't want to make scammers rich on your guests' dime! Here's what to do:

  • Check to see if a charity is registered in your state
  • See if there are any complaints against the charity. Try the Better Business Bureau
  • Make sure the charity is listed with the IRS as a qualified charity before you tell your guests their gifts are tax deductible
  • Contact the charity directly and ask for information about the percentage of donations that is actually used for charitable purposes and how much goes toward expenses and overhead

Going the Traditional Way?

There's nothing wrong with accepting traditional gifts from your guests. Keep these things in mind, though:

  • Use a registry service at one or more well-known retail stores. Your guests really do want to know what you want and need, along with prices
  • Check out the retailers' return policies. Many will let you return items from the registry without a receipt, but many don't. Others may only give you store credit for returns
  • Use gift cards after the wedding to buy remaining items from your registry. Ask if the retailer gives you a discount on items you buy from your registry
  • If you get gift cards and the store goes out of business, you may be out of luck

Talk about a Prenuptial Agreement

Will William and Catherine sign a prenuptial agreement? No one knows. It may be a good idea, though. The prince has substantial assets, and he'll gain even more some day in the future. He may want to think carefully about protecting it - just in case the marriage doesn't work out.

But just because you're not a royal or super-rich doesn't mean a prenuptial agreement can't be of use to you. For example, you and your soon-to-be spouse can agree that:

  • You're responsible for your own debts you had before wedding
  • The property you own before the marriage will be yours if the marriage fails

Add to Your "To-Do" List

Yes, you're busy planning the wedding details, and your list seems like it's a mile long. Just the same, try to add these things to it:

  • Consider buying wedding insurance. It can get you off the hook for paying for a wedding dress or reception hall, for example, if the wedding is cancelled or postponed for some reason
  • Look into travel insurance, too, just in case something goes wrong with the honeymoon
  • Before making any deposits or down payments, talk to all of your vendors - the caterer, reception hall ceremony location, etc. - and ask about refunds in case the wedding is cancelled or postponed
  • Stay organized. Keep a running calendar of dates and appointments, and keep in contact with everyone involved in the wedding to make sure things are on schedule
  • Have a candid talk with your soon-to-be spouse about a prenuptial agreement. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to a lawyer
  • You may wish to do a background check on your spouse-to-be. It isn't romantic, but sometimes you can't be too careful

For you, your big day is just as big as a royal wedding. Careful planning and attention to details will make it a day to remember for a lifetime.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Should we sign a prenuptial agreement?
  • I had to postpone my wedding for two weeks because of an illness. The reception hall won't refund my deposit. What can I do?
  • Can a state or local agency require me to get a physical examination or blood tests before I can get a marriage license?
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