Feel free to tell those in your wedding party or other close relatives that you prefer dollars to doilies and that, if asked, they should relay your wishes. There are also honeymoon registries, which make it possible for guests to contribute to a fund; their gift might be one night at the hotel or an adventure outing (sea kayaking, anyone?)
Many same-sex couples, marrying after many years together and with too much stuff, are foregoing gifts altogether and politely suggesting to their guests that donations be made to a marriage equality organization, like Freedom to Marry.
CNN: Destination weddings have their own special set of dilemmas. The biggest question that couples face is who pays for what. What's the best way to handle expenses for a destination wedding?
Steven Petrow: I love the idea; I hate the cost. In fact, I have an invitation right now for a fall wedding in Italy that will cost at least a couple of grand to attend. Unless your destination wedding is, say, in Syracuse, New York, you're going to lose a number of your guests who can't afford either the cost or the time away from work.
Guests should expect to pay for their airfare and accommodations as well as any meals not associated with wedding festivities. So before you say yes, do the math.
Special circumstances: If you have a dear friend or relative who can't afford your dream wedding, do your best to make sure they can attend. Factor this cost into your budget before you make your final decision.
Lizzie Post: These days, many weddings are destination weddings for everyone but the couple. For any wedding, the hosts should pay for the bridal party's accommodations, so they just pay for their own travel.
Do not pick bridesmaids based on who can afford to come; invite those whom you want, with the understanding that it is OK for them to politely decline if the expenses are too much.
Consider your priorities about who will be able to attend versus having a certain location. If you do book your wedding at a ritzy resort, look for other nearby accommodations. Think about all of the expenses that are going to be involved in attending your wedding -- travel, attire, even care of pets back home. Make it very clear to everyone involved whether you are covering expenses for accommodations or not.
CNN: Every social circle has at least one person who is known to cause a scene at parties. (Yes, probably even your family has at least one of them.) How do you recommend that couples prepare for problem guests?
Southern Weddings: There's always one in the bunch. Discreetly warn bartenders about possible repeat offenders so they can keep an eye on how many times they've filled up. And if possible, assign a trustworthy relative or friend to shadow each rowdiest party-goer.
Randy Fenoli: Couples need to set ground rules, have tough conversations and be firm, even if this means you may not have some people at your wedding.
CNN: Who should get the most say in which wedding gown to buy -- the bride or her mother? And does that change depending on which one of them is paying for the dress?
Randy Fenoli: I work for the bride, so when this problem arises, I ask the mother, "Who picked out your wedding dress?" If she did, then I tell her it's time to let her daughter pick out hers. If her mother did, I ask her how she felt about that.
If this doesn't work, I ask her who is choosing her mother of the bride gown, or how would she feel wearing a garment she didn't like on the most important day of her life.
If all these tactics fail, I simply turn to the mother with a smile on my face and say, "I'm sure like any parent, all you truly want is for your daughter to be happy."
Lizzie Post: It is a discussion you need to have before you go shopping. If your ideas are too far apart, thank you mother for her offer to pay for the dress, and then say that you have decided to take care of it yourself. You may still wish to invite her to come shopping for the wedding gown with you.
CNN: What is your best advice for couples about choosing the people who will stand up with them at their wedding?
Lizzie Post: Take everything into account. Who is really important to you? Look at family first. Also reach across the aisle to the family you are going to be joining; you may wish to invite your future sisters-in-law to be bridesmaids.
Do not get carried away choosing your bridal party; keep it simple and remember that you can always find other special jobs and other ways to include friends who are not bridesmaids. Sometimes it is best to limit your bridal party to just family to keep the size reasonable. It is also OK not to have attendants at all.
Southern Weddings: Think about your past, present and future. It's tempting to choose your childhood friends for sentimental reasons, even if you're not close to them anymore, but a newer friend might be a more meaningful choice if you can see them standing beside you long into the future.