Unfortunately, I am apparently in the minority on that. And I really don't get it. I mean, if you've ever hosted a wedding or been involved in planning one (or a friend to someone who is), how could you not know how to properly read a wedding invitation? Is that snobbery on my part? Perhaps. So here is my letter to those of you who may be invited to a wedding in the near future:
Dear Wedding Guests,
If you have recently been invited to the wedding, please follow these simple rules to aid the Bride and Groom and having a happy wedding day:
- Please RSVP to the wedding on time. Thousands of dollars and months (or even years) have gone into planning this event. Your response is necessary for determining seating arrangements, expenses, and just so the bride and groom don't go crazy. If you can't go, let them know. If you plan to go, let them know. The key: let them know.
- If do RSVP that you plan to attend the event, and then something happens which is preventing you from attending, please contact the bride or groom. It doesn't matter that it's the night before. Or the morning of the wedding. Leave a message if no one answers. Even though it's common for a certain percentage of people who have RSVPd to not attend the wedding in the end, it's just polite to let the bride or groom know you won't be there. Life happens. They will understand, but they still care that you aren't there even on the day of their wedding. They invited you after all.
- Please don't RSVP to bring more people than listed on the invitation. What am I talking about? Check the envelope and see who it's addressed to. If it's addressed to Mr. and Mrs. S, please don't RSVP for Mr. & Mrs. S and your three kids and your kids' friends. Often time space (and budgets) are limited, and those invitations are carefully crafted. If "and family" is not on the invitation, your kids are not invited. Similarly, if you're single and your invitation does not include the phrase and guest it's because the bride and groom are expecting you there solo.
- If you don't like that your invitation is just to you and your spouse (and not your kids) or just to you (and not your boyfriend or girlfriend), don't bother the bride or groom. It was not accidental. Nothing about wedding invitations are accidental. If you're pissed, don't go. But don't harass the bride or groom into letting you bring a date (didn't we learn this from How I Met Your Mother?).
- If the invitation or response card actually specifies that children are not included, do not call the bride or the groom (or their parents) and ask if you can bring your kids because they are so well behaved. Or breast-feeding. Or because your babysitter is out of town. It's rude. Your kids are still kids. They aren't invited. If you're in doubt about whether or not your kids are invited, they probably are not.
Oh. One more thing. If you found out that someone you know just got engaged, please don't assume you'll be invited to the wedding. Weddings are expensive affairs, and funds are limited-- this means that if you aren't invited, it's not that the bride and groom don't like you. They just don't like you enough. Just kidding. Seriously, though, don't take it personally-- I like to think of it as an honor when I'm invited, but I'm still happy for friends and colleagues and classmates when they get married and I'm not there to help them celebrate!
P.S. All this wedding invitation etiquette talk was prompted by my friend, I'll call her Bride. She is getting married in September and currently studying for the Bar. She's finally turned off her cell phone because she keeps getting calls about the wedding invitations, sent out a week or two ago. This is a rough rendition of the initial exchange between Mother of the Bride (MOB) and Woman (W) after W received Bride's invitation,which says on the response card that children are not permitted at the wedding venue (in this case, it' s liability issue):
W: Hi MOB, I just got Bride's invitation, and I noticed it says children are not included.
W: I don’t understand what this means. My girls are 12 and 13.
MOB: Mmm. Hmm. What don’t you understand?
W: Well, the invitation says no children, but we don't really consider them children.
MOB: Hmm. Well, Bride and Groom haven't included any children under the age of 15 because the venue liability insurance won't permit it.
W: Well, okay.
Now, let's flash forward three days. W calls my friend, Bride. And repeats the exchange. All the while, my friend Bride is thinking: What do you mean you don't consider them children? What are they? Can they vote? Do you let them drive? Can they enter a contract legally? Do you let them gamble? Smoke? Drink? Last time I checked, 12 and 13 year olds were children!
Over-reaction? Maybe. She is studying for the bar. But there's a lesson in here-- don't keep harassing people until you get the answer you want. Seriously. Just be happy you were invited!