23 Mar An Open Letter to Wedding Guests

Jerrod Brown Studios

Jerrod Brown Studios

Dear Wedding Guest,

As a wedding planner, I often have to guide my couples through the excruciating process of how to handle inappropriate responses from some of their guests that have been invited to the wedding and for those who have not. My hope is that by addressing the most disrespectful responses and actions I hear of guests committing most often (and that my letter actually reaches the masses), that they will reconsider and avoid questioning their hosts all together.

A few things to keep in mind…

  1. Simply put, weddings are expensive. Unless you have you planned one recently, chances are you really have no idea the costs that are included with today’s average wedding. Just to provide average food and beverage can run anywhere from $25 to $150 per guest depending upon the menu planned and location for the event. Sometimes this cost is even higher. It doesn’t take very many guests adding additions for themselves to seriously affect the budget.
  2. Venues have limited space and accommodations. There are fire codes for the number of bodies that can be inside a venue at any given time, not to mention the comfort and well-being to be taken into consideration for each guest in attendance. We (the couple and their wedding vendors) want the guest experience to be absolutely perfect and work hard to prepare or that.
  3. Finally… the couple’s wishes. Most think long and hard and agonize over multiple lists to come up with who they want there to witness and celebrate their day with them. Today’s couple is very much about having a loving and meaningful wedding day. Having everyone they or their parents have ever crossed paths with and their plus one’s is just not that appealing to them. They want to already know and have a strong connection with everyone in attendance. I don’t see receiving lines used much anymore… they are just not needed when you already know all of your guests.

The Envelopes
Traditional wedding invitations usually employ the use of two envelopes. There is a very specific reason for this. The outer envelope is addressed to the main recipient(s) at that location. The inner envelope will contain the invitation, any additional pertinent wedding information the couple wishes to pass along, and it will also have written on it the name of every individual at that household who is invited to the wedding. For example… the couple sends an invitation addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. George Darling” followed by the address. On the inner envelope, “Mr. and Mrs. Darling” or “George and Mary” is written. But Mr. and Mrs. Darling have three children. Anyone have a guess as to who is actually invited to the wedding? Yes, that’s correct… just Mr. and Mrs. Darling. If the inner envelope had been written to include “and children”, “and family”, or “Wendy, John and Michael”, then it is a given, the three children were also invited.

And while I’m talking about children, let me say this… to invite or not to invite children to the wedding is a very personal choice that I see a lot of couples struggle with. They don’t want to offend family or friends with children by coming across as not liking their precious little ones but they also probably do not envision sharing their day with them either. They simply just want to make it through their intimate ceremony without a child crying out in the background of their video or for that to make it difficult for other guests to hear them speak their personalized vows. They also don’t want to worry about the kids running around the venue during the reception riding up and down the elevators or taking impromptu dips in the water fountains. You laugh… but it happens.

Sidebar… I also have to say that I’ve seen a bride or two get even with their guests for bringing their children despite their request not to. One even added a huge candy buffet to their already present cupcake bar and soda pop bar just to make sure the little boogers were swinging from the rafters when it was time to go home. I had to chuckle that night when I saw several flustered parents trying to escort their very tired, but hopped up on sugar, little ones out the door that night. It was evil but genius in the same time… she definitely had the last laugh.

Wondering if you can have a plus one? Is “and Guest” listed on the invitation envelope that you received? Then no, you cannot bring a date. If you have a significant other that you have been with for awhile, the couple will know about them and they will be included on the invitation. If you are just looking for someone to come with you, your hosts have considered that and feel you are adult enough to attend on your own. Don’t worry they have confidence in your ability to talk and play nicely with others. 😉

There should never be an assumption made by the guest that others were simply left off of the invitation by mistake. Don’t be offended and please, please, please, resist the urge to pick up the phone and call them about it. That is simply rude.

Répondez s’il vous plaît – Reply Please!
Proper etiquette once required that upon receipt of a wedding invitation, the recipient was to send their attendance response via their own stationery. These days a response card is usually included with the invitation ensemble along with a pre-addressed postage paid envelope to make life easier for the guest. Literally, all the recipient has to do is mark that they are or are not coming, seal it up and drop it back in the mail. I honestly do not see what is so difficult about getting this done. And most will even say something along the lines of “please kindly reply by <whatever date here>” just to make sure you understand they want to hear from you one way or the other by the specified date.

Let me also say this, I know we all get busy in life, but even if you have already told the couple in person that you will be attending, please send the card back. It’s a bit stressful when they wonder why they haven’t heard from you yet. Our minds can conjure all kinds of scenarios when we are aloud to run amuck in them. It almost feels like you must be waiting for a better offer for the night. This also goes for those in the wedding party… just mail it back!

For the number attending, please refer back to the part about the envelopes above and fill your card in accordingly. If your host has gone ahead and pre-filled in the number reserved for your invitation, DO NOT increase this number. Again… this is simply rude.

Also, if you don’t send in your reply card and simply show up… I’m sorry, but you have no leg to stand on when it comes to being upset with the catering staff expecting a seat to have been prepared for you at the seated dinner. In case you haven’t heard, money doesn’t grow on trees and your host will not have prepared for your accommodations (just in case) in the event you haven’t let them know you plan to attend. On the flip side of the coin, responding you will attend and then not showing up is just as bad. We all understand when unavoidable circumstances arise (if possible, call and let someone know) but deciding not to attend just because you were tired or something better came up, well that’s just wasteful and again… rude.

On the List or Not
If you haven’t received an invitation to a wedding that you know is coming up very soon but you have definitely had a conversation with the couple and they gleefully let you know you are on the invite list, then you might consider contacting them. It could be an oversight, it happens, not often, but it does happen. But if said conversation has not taken place… let it go. It is inappropriate to approach them out some where, call them up, or “gasp” message them privately or otherwise on Facebook about where your invitation is.

And for Pete’s sake… don’t contact, call or approach a couple that just got engaged and say something like “I can’t wait for your wedding” or “make sure I’m on the list”. They will have people coming out of the woodwork from all aspects of their lives wanting to remind them of their “friendship” and expected invitation to their wedding. Don’t allow yourself to be added to this list of inconsiderate people. Just pass along your well wishes and be done with it.

As with dealing with anything in life, there are always multiple points of view to any situation and always another side to any story. If you try to put yourself in the couple’s shoes and consider what the ramifications of your actions or statements could mean for them, you’ll probably be able to answer your question or response before even contacting them.

So in closing, please just be respectful and kind and think before you do or say anything to the couple to be.

Thanks for reading,

Rachael Grammer
Two Hearts Weddings and Events

Understanding Wedding Vendors
Bachelorette Fun - New Orleans