When it comes to your budget, chances are a big portion of it will be spent on food and drinks for you big day. You’ll likely spend anywhere from a third to a half of your funds on catering, so it’s essential that you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. Food, taste, presentation, and service all matter and help make your wedding as memorable as possible (for all the right reasons). Before you commit to a caterer, be sure you’re satisfied with their responses to these 11 questions.

 

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Photo by: Frank Farrugia

 

1. Can you work with our budget?

You need to ask caterers if your budget is a match for what they can provide. Couples should be asking this because sometimes they start their search by contacting caterers that are never going to fit within their budget. Getting the money question out of the way up front helps you narrow down your list to caterers who you can realistically hire. If they’re more than you can afford, then move on and look for a caterer who can work with your budget and your food vision. For example, while you may not be able to afford a formal sit down dinner, your caterer might be able to offer you a reasonably priced alternative.

2. What’s in the contract?

Sure, contracts seem boring, but they’re a very important detail. They outline everything you will and won’t get and how much everything will cost. Be sure that you understand everything listed in the contract and ask for clarification if needed. The contract should outline deadlines for the final guest count and when payments are due, as well as fees for last minute changes. Understand how many cocktails you’ll get for cocktial hour, what desserts you’ll have beyond cake, and the alcohol situation.

3. What fees do you consider to be extra?

Not all services are included in the base rate so be sure to ask your potential caterer what extra fees may be tacked onto your tab, such as corkage fees if you’re providing your own alcohol or a cake cutting fee for cake baked by an outside baker. Sometimes these fees are negotiable but most of the time, they’re not. Still, you need to know what’s expected so you’re not surprised when you get the bill. That would NOT be a welcome wedding present!

4. Have you ever catered at our wedding venue?

It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a definite bonus if your caterer has previously worked at your venue. They’ll know the ins and outs of the space and may know the venue staff and site guidelines. They will be familiar with the venue policies, the load-in and load-out procedures, the best floor plans, and the workspace setup. The knowledge will allow them to focus on preparing and executing your delicious food.

5. Where will the food be prepared?

Depending on where your wedding is, there may or may not be a kitchen or cooking facilities on site. That’s why you need to ask if the food is prepared at the venue or if it will be cooked prior to the reception. Will there be additional fees for setting up a kitchen on site.

6. Can we speak to previous clients?

This is an important question to ask of almost every wedding vendor. Get at least two references from couples who had similar guest counts and menu styles. Speaking with previous clients is the best way to really get a feel for the attentiveness, expertise, and overall personality of the caterer. It’s also a good idea to check online reviews for the caterers.

7. Can we attend a tasting?

Before you decide what’s on the menu, you want to sample the caterer’s cuisine. Ask them if you can have a tasting before booking. Some caterers do group tastings for you and other couples to get a preview of the style they offer; while other caterers offer specific custom menu tastings for each couple based on what you’d like for your wedding.

8. Who will be working our wedding?

You need to find out about the staff working your event. How many servers will be at the reception? Will your catering manager be your on-site point-of-contact or will someone else be filling in?

9. Can we customise our menu?

Be sure to ask if your caterer will allow you to customise the menu. Many catering companies offer standard menus but often they’ll do something different if you request it. Trust in your caterer as the expert. If they deter you from certain things, it’s probably because they have tried them before and would not recommend them for your occasion. But don’t be afraid to speak up if you have a family recipe or favorite food you really want to include in the feast. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

10. Can you accommodate any special requests?

These days menus aren’t just chicken, meat, and fish. Ask if your caterer can handle special requests like nut-free, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Most caterers can handle menus with dietary preferences if you make the request well in advance of the wedding. Make sure you know about any of your guests’ allergies so you can ask all the proper questions up front.

11. Are you licensed and insured?

Check to make sure your caterer is licensed and insured. It’s a basic thing that marks the difference between an amateur caterer and a true professional. This will protect you and your guests, should anything occur during or after your event realted to food. Also ask the venue what insurance requirements they have for caterers.

 

Agreeing to be a bridesmaid or maid of honour is no small task: depending on the size of the wedding and the bride’s expectations, you may have a lot of pre-wedding and day-of responsibilities or maybe you’ll just have a handful of parties to attend (lucky you). It’s important to be informed before you dive into the role of bridesmaid, so read on to discover everything that might be asked of you if you agree to take on the challenge.

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Photo by Michelle Fiona

1. Buying a dress and accessories.
While the bride will typically pay for your bouquet and, in some cases, your hair and makeup, you’ll be expected to buy your own bridesmaid dress. Ditto for accessories and shoes.

2. General pre-wedding help.
This could include making favours, helping out with DIY projects, hand-writing names on place cards, shopping for dresses and decor with the bride, and anything else she might need before the big day.

3. Planning and attending the bridal shower.
Planning the bridal shower doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of a bridesmaid — a mom, sister, cousin, aunt, or non-bridesmaid friend might take the lead — but don’t be surprised if this task lands on your plate. You’ll also be expected to attend, but if you can’t make it (a situation that is highly likely if your friend lives in a different city), that’s OK.

4. Planning and attending the bachelorette party.
While the maid of honor will usually take the lead on planning the bachelorette party, you’ll be expected to help generate ideas, chip in to pay for the event, and to attend the event itself. (However, speak up if what the MOH is envisioning is out of your budget and don’t feel obliged to attend if it’s not financially possible.)

5. Keeping the bride calm, cool, and collected.
On her wedding day, the bride may be stressed out or panicky. The bridesmaids typically help keep her calm by liaising with the wedding planner, vendors, family, and guests, and taking care of anything else she might need. (Pre-wedding mimosas, anyone?)

6. Assisting the bride at the ceremony.
The maid of honour or bridesmaids are often asked to help the flower girl or ring bearer down the aisle, witness the signing of the marriage certificate, hold one or both of the wedding rings, and hold the bride’s bouquet.

7. Making a speech.
Not every bridesmaid will be asked to make a speech, but if you’re particularly close to the bride, you might ask if you can say a few words about your friendship; she’ll be touched.

8. Helping the bride use the bathroom on her wedding day.
Most wedding gowns are long and heavy — meaning it’s difficult to use the bathroom on your own. Be prepared to help the bride bustle and un-bustle her gown, and hold it up while she uses the restroom.

Whether you’re the bride or a potential bridesmaid, the best thing you can do for each other is talk through the items on this list before anyone commits to being in the wedding. If you’re all on the same page about responsibilities and expectations, wedding planning will be much easier for everyone.

Bridesmaid style isn’t what it used to be and that’s a REAL good thing in our book. Gone are the days of lovely ladies wearing the same exact dress (often featuring ruffles and shiny fabric, of course). Now brides are making sure their girls look and feel great on the big day by having their ‘maids rock different bridesmaid dresses in styles that fit their bodies AND their personalities. And while we’re really loving this mismatched trend, if it’s not done right, it can end up looking really disjointed. Here’s five tips to make sure you nail it.

 

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Photo by: I Love Wednesday

 

1. Choose a colour, switch up the styles:

To make sure your girls look good together, don’t have too many competing features on display. You need at least one unifying element, so pick a colour and then let your ‘maids choose their neckline or skirt style. Having too many things going on will just make for a confused ensemble!

2. Pick the perfect palette:

Can’t pick just one colour? Not a problem. If you find yourself drawn to multiple colours, opt to have your bridesmaids rock dresses in complementary tones. Hone in on a few harmonious hues to keep things looking chic and cohesive, and stick to a blend of just two or three colours so there’s not too much going on. If you pick one fabric as the base of your ladies’ look, it will help tie the look together.

3. Have fun with fabrics:

Love lace, chiffon, and beads? Then consider having a mix of ALL your favourite fabrics. Just make sure you think about what kind of fabrics will photograph well together. If the texture of each dress’ material are too drastically different, they might have a negative impact on your big day photos! So bring a camera with you to the store and make sure you see the dresses together in natural light to see how they play off of each other.

4. Keep the length of the dresses the same:

When you’re putting together different colours and fabrics, it can be challenging to create a cohesive look. One way to make sure your ‘maids match? Sticking to one length. If your wedding party is wearing dresses with different hem lengths, they might not look like they go together.

5. Don’t give your girls too many choices:

Before you bring your bridesmaids to look at dresses, make an appointment to go through all your options. Pick out the dresses and the details (necklines, colours, fabrics) you want to include in your lineup of ladies. Then, let them choose their style from that pre-selected group of dresses. This will definitely help prevent a lot of potential confusion and conflict.

Creating a wedding budget is one of the most stressful aspects of wedding planning. Talking money can leave you feeling frustrated and burned-out just a few weeks into your engagement. To help you navigate this part of the process, we’ve put together some tips for creating your wedding budget without ever threatening to just call the whole thing off and elope. Here are some ideas to help get you started.

 

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Photo by: Frank Farrugia

 

Figure out what sort of wedding you want to have.

You don’t have to get super detailed here, but it helps to go through the major elements of the day, like location, season, type of venue, photography, approximate guest count, entertainment, and food, and think about what you really want for each item. As you do so, figure out what’s most important to each you. Is being married on the beach more important than having your extended family there? Would you rather have great food or a great band? This is also a good time to ask your families what they envision for your big day. What relatives and friends do they want to invite? Do they have strong feelings about any other parts of the wedding in particular?

 

Estimate what you and your partner and your families can reasonably contribute to the cost of your day.

Maybe you already know what your parents can contribute, or perhaps you know they won’t be paying for anything. In any case, it helps to have a ballpark figure in your head as you being your initial research. So set up a time to talk to your parents and once you know their number, sit down with your partner to discuss how much you can comfortably put towards the big day.

 

Do some research.

Starting with the basic elements you and your partner decided were important, figure out what it would cost to have that wedding. Is it reasonable? If not, go back to the drawing board and see what you can adjust to make it work. Would you be willing to get married on a Sunday in order to book your dream photographer? Can you try a different location if it meant you could afford to feed 250 people?

The research phase is one of the most time-consuming aspects of creating your budget because it plays a crucial role in determining where you’ll be able to spend your money. As you start digging a little deeper and asking very specific questions about your ideal venue (particularly with regard to catering, decor, lighting, and rentals), you’ll uncover any additional costs you might need to think about. Give yourself time to work through it all; it can take a few weeks to gather the information from all your potential venues and vendors and then re-think what kind of wedding you want to have. We recommend figuring out what your wedding would look like at three different price points, or figuring out three ways your wedding could look at the same price point. It’s important to stay flexible until you sign on the dotted line.

 

Talk to your families about what you’re thinking.

If your parents are paying for part (or all) of the wedding, they will probably want to have a say in any big ticket items. So once you’ve done your research, go back and get their input. Be willing to compromise and negotiate. We recommend telling them what sort of wedding you’re hoping to have and what it will cost based on your research. This is where it’s really helpful to have three different venue examples to show them. Then if they say, “There’s no way a venue should cost $10,000” you can say, “Well, here’s what a $5000 venue looks like…are you OK with it?”

 

Decide who will pay for what.

There a lot of items that need to be factored into your budget, so it’s very important to know who is covering what before you get too far along. If your entire wishlist can be covered by the overall budget, you’re all set. Hooray! But if not, you need to decide what you and your partner are comfortable paying for out of your own pocket — like your attire, your hair and makeup, or gifts for your bridal party — and what you’d like to have your parents pay for. If they can only contribute a certain number, it might make sense to ask them to cover something specific, like the videographer or band, rather than just accepting cash. If you take that route, consider removing those items from your budget spreadsheet so you can just focus on how much you as a couple will need to bring to the table.

 

Make your actual wedding budget.

Create a spreadsheet and enter all the aspects of a wedding you plan to include, followed by your estimated allocations for each. Under each main category, list all the items that are included in that budget and give each a dollar amount. Then add a line for miscellaneous items and additional fees and factor in an extra $100-$500 for each category to account for unforeseen costs. As you finalise the budget, you’ll realise where you might need to reduce what you hoped to spend, where you can redistribute the money, and where you can save. Don’t be surprised if you have to revisit your budget and renegotiate the breakdown several times during your planning process.

Once you’ve created your spreadsheet, you can officially say you have a wedding budget! From there, determine how exactly you’ll pay and whether or not you need a monthly savings plan. Then start booking vendors and making deposits!

Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, we feel you. Our best advice is to remember that your wedding budget and major wedding decisions will likely be a moving target for a few weeks. Keep in mind that having to re-think your original vision is totally normal, and that you will get through it and be well on your way to planning a wedding that will do you and your partner proud.

 

The time has come and the morning of your wedding day is finally here! How is there somehow STILL so much to be done? To avoid getting lost in the shuffle of the wedding day morning, we’ve streamlined a few tips to help you relax and ENJOY the moments before the day starts.

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Photo by: I Love Wednesdays

 

1. Order breakfast. 

Do you and your bridesmaids have a favourite cafe? Consider ordering breakfast so that it’s there in time for when everyone arrives. Or, if you’re in a hotel, consider ordering room service. You don’t want any hungry bridesmaids while you’re trying to get ready.

2. Plan the order.

With any luck, your makeup artist, photographer, and hairstylist will arrive right on time. Plan the order of who will be getting hair and/or makeup first, and communicate the plan to all of the girls. That way, all parties involved should be there on time and ready to get the show on the road.

3. Delegate. 

Even though the bachelorette party and bridal shower are over, make sure to designate one last (very fun) responsibility to your MOH or another bridesmaid – someone has to be in charge of keeping mimosas and water flowing! Choose your most expert bottle-popping friend and pour away (within reason, of course).

4. Create a playlist! 

Make sure to save a selection of your favourite jams – those that make you happy, the ones that make you laugh, and maybe a few sappy ones thrown in there too. Just be sure not to get TOO sentimental! You don’t want to be crying through your mascara application.

5. Organise your accessories. 

The last thing you need is to be stressing about where you put your something blue, or your grandmother’s diamond necklace. Keep your accessories in one organised place so that they’re easily accessible when you’re putting on the final touches.

6. Pack your favourite makeup.

Your makeup artist will come armed with an arsenal of makeup supplies, but they may not have that “oh-so-perfect” shade of lipstick you discovered last season. Pack a small bag of your favourites to use with the makeup artist, or carry in a clutch at the after-party.

7. Email everyone the game plan.

The arrival time, the hair and makeup schedule, the person in charge of champagne, etc etc etc. Emailing this ahead of time will help everyone stay organised and on the ball – leaving less time for stress and more time for fun!

8. Relax and ENJOY! 

After countless hours of planning and preparation, not to mention waiting your whole life to finally join forces with your favourite person forever – make sure you take the time to enjoy it! It’s easy to be nervous or stressed out on your big day, but do your best to put that aside. Breathe deeply, share a laugh, and enjoy this moment.

 

It’s normal to want to share your engagement with all of your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friends.

But before you hit “post,” make sure you consider how your followers will react to your announcement. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of your engagement, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is as excited as you are…

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Here are six tips for tastefully announcing your engagement on social media without getting unfriended.

1. Don’t flood the feed.

We get it, you’re super pumped. That doesn’t mean that you should post multiple photos, status updates, photo albums and big day details to social media all in one day. Spread out your posts to make sure friends don’t get overwhelmed with your news.

2. Don’t get too specific about the ring.

We love ring selfies, but make sure not to get too detailed. There’s no need to specify how many carats the diamond is, how much it cost, or where your partner purchased it from.

3. Do stick to one photo or album.

Remember, quality over quantity! Instead of posting a bunch of pictures in the days following your engagement, stick to one really awesome photo or wait until you have enough images to create a single photo album.

4. Do thank people for their well wishes.

Make sure you’re being gracious when friends and family congratulate you on social media. Like their comments or comment back and thank them for their support and excitement. If someone took the time to write on your post, you can take the time to write back.

5. Don’t share every detail of your planning process.

It’s okay to share some photos throughout the wedding planning process, but don’t turn your Facebook or Instagram into your personal inspiration board for the big day. Keep the details to a minimum to avoid hurt feelings (from uninvited guests) and giving away too much information.

6. Don’t make other people’s engagement announcements about you.

If your friend gets engaged, make sure to show your excitement without bringing up your own engagement. Your recently engaged friend does not want to hear how his/her proposal or ring compares to yours.

There’s something special about saying “I do” outdoors, with the sun shining, the birds chirping, and a light breeze blowing through your veil as you walk down the aisle to your dearly beloved. Sounds great, right? Well, if you’ve dreamed of a outdoor wedding, there are a few things you need to take care of to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch. Whether you’re in your own backyard, in a breathtaking field, at a national park or on the lawn of a grand estate, here’s everything you need to do to make that warm-weather al fresco affair a success.

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1. Marquee

Because we can’t control the weather, renting a marquee is a really good idea. But, believe it or not, that’s not always the easiest thing to do. There are a lot of questions that you’ll need to have an answer to. What structure would you like? Does your venue allow enough space? Do you want side walls, and should they be transparent or solid? Plus, depending on the location of your wedding, you may or may not need a permit to set the marquee up. There’s a lot to consider, but a talented rental professional and a helpful venue coordinator will be able to help you sort through all the details.

2. Generators

When you’re outside, outlets and high levels of electricity aren’t exactly easy to find. But since you’re probably planning on having music and dancing, you’ll definitely need to bring in some A/V and lighting equipment, which require just a few accessible plugs. Depending on what your wedding venue already has made available to you, you might have to rent generators or invest in some heavy-duty extension cords to make sure everything runs smoothly all night long.

3. Flooring

Imagine trying to bust a move on a dance floor made of grass/sand (sore calves, anyone?) or your grandma’s chair sinking into the muddy grounds during your ceremony (that’s gonna get messy). Not so fun, right? Some types of terrain can be hard to walk, sit, and dance on, so think through the logistics of how you want the night to go before the big day. The goal is to make sure you and all your guests are comfortable and able to enjoy the night; make sure you look into your temporary flooring options. It might come with your marquee rental, so don’t be afraid to ask questions before you start researching other companies.

4. Lighting

There’s a pretty good chance you’ll celebrate into the night, and that means that it’s eventually going to get dark (because, well, nighttime). Unfortunately, you can’t just count on the moon and the stars to light up the night. Your venue or marquee could already have light fixtures in place — bonus! — but extra lighting never hurt anyone. Overhead string lights or pretty lanterns will do the trick and look super romantic. Pro tip: Be careful with candles. Many venues — especially outdoor, wooded spaces — have rules about open flames as a fire precaution. Check with your site for any guidelines and limitations before you buy up all the candles you can find.

5. Noise Permits

No good wedding is complete without music, whether it’s from a DJ or a band. Chances are, though, that music will get loud (hey, you like to party) — and since you’ll be outside, the noise will travel. That’s why many councils have local noise ordinances, which limit what the volume of your sound can be and what time the party (or at least the music) has to end. In many cases, venue coordinators will take care of this for you, but if your outdoor wedding is somewhere a little more unconventional (like your own backyard), you’ll need to figure out the rules and manage this detail in advance. The last thing you want is to have your party busted up by the cops…

6. Bathrooms

They may not be the most glamorous part of planning your wedding, but it’s a necessary evil. Depending on several factors (like your venue, your guest count, the location of the nearest bathrooms, and the number of toilets available), renting portable restrooms could become a definite “must” on your to-do list. Luckily, you won’t have to go with those gross plastic boxes we’ve all seen at festivals and other major events. These days, there are plenty of sleeker options in sturdier structures.

7. Extreme Heat Plan

Sweating through a tux probably isn’t something you’ve had on your wedding wish list, but if your nuptials are in the summer, it’s a definite possibility. Prepare for the hottest day possible by offering pretty program fans and providing electric fans, cool washcloths, and lots of ice-cold water for your guests. Even if it’s a perfectly sunny day, if the temperature gets too high, you might just need to move inside to keep everyone safe and happy.

8. Backup Plan

Speaking of moving inside, you absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt MUST have a back-up plan for your outdoor wedding. Too many couples skip the back-up plan because they “just have a feeling” the weather will cooperate. Two words: Bad idea. At the very least, rent an extra marquee and some flooring so your guests will be comfortably covered and not knee-deep in mud on the off-chance it actually does end up raining. But even a tent might not be enough; you’re better off finding an indoor option that you’ll be just as happy with on your big day.

Sure, hiring a videographer is an expense you have to factor into your big day budget (just like any other wedding vendor), but many couples feel that footage of their wedding day is priceless. If you can’t wait to curl up on the couch and watch your ceremony on repeat or to email blast the reception to your family and friends (hey, you worked HARD on that first dance), then hiring a videographer is an absolute must. Here are 10 reasons why you won’t regret this decision…

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1. Because hearing your beloved speak his or her vows is so special. Standing at the altar is so surreal, there’s a good chance you won’t really catch the words the first time around!

2. So you can listen to the toasts again and again (and again). Even if your dad started in on embarrassing childhood stories or your maid of honor was a little (OK: a lot) drunk, the sweet things they said and the way they said them are best captured on video.

3. Because you’ve spent so much time practicing the choreographed flash mob, you’re going to want to be sure it’s perfectly captured. (And even if you skip the flash mob, your first dance is going to be ahhhhhh-mazing.)

4. To see the looks on your guests’ faces during those magic moments. Your aunt’s smile as you first stepped out to walk down the aisle, grandma wiping a tear from her eye when you said “I do”…you’ll be so wrapped up in the day that you’re bound to miss things, and it’s great to be able to relive them.

5. Because no matter how many times you remind people, they always forget to turn their iPhones horizontally before hitting record…meaning you’re going to be flanked by the dreaded black bars as you say your vows.

6. Have you ever watched an 8mm wedding film from the 1950s? It’s amazing. In 60 years, people will be saying the same thing about the antique YouTube collection in the National Archives.

7. Forgive us for being macabre but….videography is a beautiful way to capture sweet moments with family members who will soon pass on.

8. So you’ll always have something extra-awesome to share on #ThrowbackThursday.

9. Because videographers know what they’re doing…and by playing with speed, music, and voiceover, they can create a beautiful wedding keepsake that takes you right back to one of the best days of your life.

10. So your future children can cry at your vows and laugh at your choreographed flash mob first dance.

 

As you start working with your wedding vendors—namely your planner or day-of coordinator and your stylist—you’re going to have to communicate your wedding vision to your big day dream team.

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Because having your wedding vendors on the same page as you, décor and vibe-wise, is so important to making your planning experience a smooth one, the way you present and outline how you want your day designed is critical. Here’s how you can better help your vendors help you make the wedding you’ve been dreaming of a reality:

Get your vision as clear as possible first

It’s easy to feel somewhat torn on which direction you want to go with all the wedding styles and themes out there these days, from boho-chic, to city-glam, to rustic-romantic. Which one, you might be asking yourself is really you?

Before you start sharing what you envision with vendors, have a clear idea on which direction you want to go, if only so you can avoid confusion later on down the road. If you’re between two or three styles, that’s totally fine. Explain to your vendors that you need to assistance in choosing, rather than trying to narrow it down right before you meet with them or describing your ideal vibe as combo of styles just for the sake of having something to tell them. Ideally, your vendors will know what questions to ask to help you hone your vision.

Be concrete

The more specific you can be—in terms of colors, styles, and even textures—the better. If you must have sequins or garlands of greenery or branches incorporated into the centerpieces—say so! While you want to get your vendors’ opinions and take their ideas into account, you also want to own your wants and desires for your wedding to take priority. Let them know from the get-go what your “absolutely need” details are.

You may even want to research which flowers will be in-season during the time of your wedding and come prepared with some ideas of blooms you really love—this way, your florist can get a better sense of your style.

Create a vision board you can look at together—and update as needed

Visual aids are so helpful when conveying your ideal wedding. Whether you create a vision board using magazine tear-outs, scraps of fabric and flowers, or Pinterest, having something to actually show your vendor can really make a difference when trying to get on the same page. You might even refer to the same board throughout your planning to keep you both on track. Be sure to edit and update your board periodically to make sure everything on it is still something you want and fits in with your final concept.

Outline what you don’t want

Likewise, it’s okay to be totally candid about anything you cannot, will not have at your wedding. Sometimes, it may feel like you’re being demanding or even rude to say that you hate, for example, baby’s breath or tall centrepieces. You don’t want to offend your planner or stylist and that’s understandable. (Like, what if they had towering arrangements of baby’s breath at their weddings?!) But you also don’t want to have to go back and play editor after your vendors come up with a floral or design plan that includes details you’re not keen on. It’s your wedding, after all—there shouldn’t be any offence taken!