When Wedding Invitations Go Bad – are you Demanding too Much From your Wedding Guests?
It has long been acknowledged, and is very well-documented (thanks, Reddit), that brides often have huge, sometimes unrealistic, expectations of their bridesmaids. Everything from being asked to lose weight to fit their dresses, to planning elaborate, extravagant bridal showers, hens parties and more, not to mention the money they’re expected to shell out for the whole she-bang! (See also What Bridesmaids are Expected to Pay for)
You’re Out of Your Mind, Susan!
However, what has recently caught my eye is the expectations and demands some engaged couples are making of their wedding guests, such as the story of Susan and her fiancé who tried to make their guests contribute $1,500 each towards their dream wedding – and cancelled it when they wouldn’t pay. When demands are getting so ridiculous (that even Hollywood Royalty Chrissy Tiegen snaps back), it might be time to set some ground rules.
Oh, and if you hear or see “You’re out of your mind, Susan” – this is the story from which it originates – it was a response from a Facebook friend to Susan’s post.
Before we get onto the “ground rules” (aka, common sense) of making demands of your Wedding Guests, what else are couples asking for?
- Pippa Middleton allegedly requested for her wedding guests to bring a second outfit for the reception.
- One couple emailed a guest after their wedding to inform her the $176 cheque she’d gifted them “didn’t seem to match the warmth of [her] good wishes”.
- $6,000 Destination Weddings (and then being genuinely bewildered when only a handful of people confirm).
- “They asked me to cook the whole dinner and pay for half of it. She wanted me to handle the whole dinner. As in cooking for 200 people, as a 19-year-old having only done a year of culinary school. She also wanted me to help pay for the food I’d be making, as their gift. She wanted me to make caesar salad, potatoes au gratin and roast enough ducks for 200, by myself, and pay for about half of it.”
What are acceptable requests to make of your Wedding Guests?
I genuinely adore weddings, and I will move heaven and earth to attend one I am invited to. I will offer to help with anything on the day, and often find myself wrangling guests on behalf of the photographer, to get those all-important group shots. I will adhere to dress codes, I will bring a gift, or send cash in the direction the couple asks of me, and I will be first on the dance floor when the couple wants to get the party started. But, where would I draw the line, or rather, where should you?
Attending a wedding can be a huge financial undertaking. Even if the wedding is hosted in the region where you live and you don’t need to travel far to attend or book accommodation, there are still usually costs for transport, buying or hiring an appropriate outfit, and some will have to take a day off work. If you are close friends, there’s also likely to be a cost of attending a bridal shower and/or hens party. So, after all that, can you still ask for an expensive gift, or expect a large cash contribution towards your honeymoon fund?
It used to be considered impolite or even tacky to request cash as a wedding gift, and some more conservative, and possibly older guests will still think this is inappropriate (but realistic! We don’t all need new toasters anymore! See also Can you Ask for Cash for a Wedding Gift)
When planning your wedding, be aware that financial considerations will determine both how many of your guests can attend, and possibly also whether it’s still reasonable to ask for a gift. If you already know your wedding guests will be stretching themselves to attend, perhaps lower your expectations of a wedding gift in addition. As much as we all would love to help pay for your New York honeymoon accommodation, most of us have lots of weddings to attend each season, and will be feeling it in our wallets. We still love you, even if our gift is small!
TO THE MOON AND BACK
I don’t think we’ve had any weddings held on the Moon yet, but surely that can’t be too far in the distant future…? Destination Weddings are fantastic, I love them, I’ve travelled to England and Ireland for weddings, and next year will hopefully go to Mexico for another (can one of my friends please get married in Fiji!?)
I would have loved to have one, I’ve even started a website with a specific focus on helping couples plan and book their destination weddings in Rarotonga, Samoa and Fiji – three of the most popular destinations for Kiwi weddings – www.ourwedding.co.nz. In fact, what I think is most fantastic about destination weddings is that couples really have to think about who they’d like to spend a week with, inviting only their nearest and dearest, and guests have to think about whether they really can justify the time and expense of attending, which, if they’re your very close friends, they’re more likely to be able to. So, destination weddings often consist only of your close friend and family group, they’re intimate, and quite often less expensive!
However, IF you are planning a destination wedding, you must realise that you cannot reasonably expect or demand everyone to be able to make it. We can’t all afford it, we can’t all get the time off work, we may not even want to spend our precious annual leave or holiday budget on your destination of choice. Accept that you are asking your guests for a huge undertaking in inviting them to a destination wedding, and that not everyone can or will come.
Even if your guests don’t have to leave the country, nationwide travel is still expensive, so again, you may wish to lower your expectations for attendance.
DRESS TO THE NINES
I love a chance to dress up, and a wedding is the perfect opportunity to do so, but for some, the words “dress code” install panic and despair. Once you’ve decoded the dress code and worked out exactly what you’re supposed to be wearing, the next hurdle is whether you actually own anything suitable, or whether you’ll have to beg, borrow or steal something appropriate.
Ladies and Gents, we don’t all have a ‘black tie’ suit or ballgown at our disposal. You’ll know your guests best, you’ll know whether or not your dress code is likely to make life difficult for them – so do consider that. Same goes for a particular wedding theme, if you’re asking for a ‘Gatsby’ outfit, or whatever costume idea you have, just be aware that not everyone will be able to dress to theme if they have to buy or hire a new outfit.
LENDING A HAND
A wonderful way to cut down your wedding budget is to ask friends and family to lend a hand. It can be as simple as having some of your friends help with preparations on the morning of, or as elaborate as having a friend bake your wedding cake, or even make your wedding dress. However, as you’ll see from the example of the young chef above, sometimes asking for a ‘favour’ can be taken too far, but that’s not the only thing that can go wrong.
A couple of years ago, an engaged friend’s older family friend offered to decorate her wedding cake. The bride herself actually made the cake, and gave it to the family friend, who decorated it and brought it to the wedding. A month later, she sent a bill to the bride for a few hundred dollars’ of labour, and, shockingly, for the transport of the cake (to the wedding she was already attending).
If asking for, or accepting an offer to help, you need to be very considerate of, and clear about how much you are asking of the friend, and whether the amount of time, or expense incurred should be paid for. If you are asking for a favour for free, you can be certain that they are on the same page by asking for the favour in lieu of a wedding present, or offer to reimburse all of their actual costs, for materials/postage, for example.
MAKE IT A DAY TO REMEMBER – FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS
It goes without saying that you want to make sure guests are comfortable and have a fabulous time at your wedding – otherwise why would you go to so much trouble and expense to organise an amazing day? How you treat your wedding guests in the lead up to your wedding, will have just as much impact on their enjoyment as the wonderful day you’ve prepared. So, if you have something to ask, always do so politely and humbly, and whatever you do, thank them properly for their generosity.
If you’ve just started wedding planning, make sure you head to the wedding planning index to find all you need to organise your dream day, and if you haven’t already, make sure you get your hands on the little white book wedding planner.