Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Wedding Guests

No, I'm not getting married again. But I have several friends (and a sister) who are. And watching them go through it brings it all back . . . quite vividly. My wedding planning actually pretty smoothly. My parents (bless their hearts) insisted on hiring a wedding coordinator to help me because they lived on the other side of the country. And so from Nina I learned everything I needed to know about proper wedding etiquette.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?).
  5. 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.

MOB: Yes.

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!


Johnny said...

I don't know if you keep up with sports. But, there was a (I think) ex-basketball coach who recently made the news. Their invites for their upcoming wedding garnered a 95% RSVP-we'll-be-there response. This was not what they were expecting, so they sent out letters UN-INVITING them their guests and saying they were getting married in Europe instead. A bit more intimate, you know.

Keely said...

I'm probably one of the most devoted readers of this blog yet have never posted a comment. I couldn't resist on this entry. I was the bridevictim of somebody bringing their uninvited child to the wedding. Their invitation read Mr and Mrs and two seperate invitations were sent to their adult children at college. Their youngest, who was around 11 at the time, was not invited. They oh-so-unpolitely RSVP'd Mr and Mrs and child. I couldn't believe it! (Mind you, this was my husband's side of the family and he refused to say anything. Had it been mine, it would have been taken care of.) Some people are just clueless!

:::delinda::: said...

I heard about that basketball coach. I'm pretty sure it was a Bruin...!

The 42 Year Old Rookie said...

I say, send an email to your friends or maybe even a phone call..then fly to Bermuda, have a small and beautiful wedding on the beach...the easier the better...

Andrea said...

We had a no children policy too (the exceptions were my sisters two children who traveled 3000 miles to be there and the second ring bearer). Most people were ok with getting a night away from the kids. At least that we heard about anyway.
I'd welcome a no kids invite - turns it into a date!

ann said...

thanks for sticking up for us brides even though you are so much busier than me right now! you're the best maid-of-honor already! And bring the kids even if I forget to include them on the envelope!!!

Anonymous said...

The exact opposite happened at our wedding this month - children were wholeheartedly invited, but most parents didn't bring them. We were so bummed!

I'd also like to add a little rant to your well composed diatribe, regarding wedding gift etiquette - based on personal experience:

First, if you're going to ask someone where they're registered make sure to actually buy something off their registries. The happy couple has spent lots of time making those lists and have undoubtedly included things from many different price ranges in order to give you, their valued guest, options. If you've never been to the happy couple's house, don't assume a steam-cleaner will be an appropriate gift. (P.S. There are no carpets in our house.)

Second, if you're going to give a personalized gift, make darn sure it is going to be something they like. Take a look at that registry and see what their dishes look like - classic, vintage, retro, eclectic, or country? And never the twain shall meet...

Third, if all you can muster to bring is a silver lamé tunic with Celtic knot ribbon trim in a size two - from Goodwill, no doubt - shouldn't you leave the gift at home? It's not "Renaissance", dear, "It's hideous."

Fourth, let's pretend you're a friend of ours and you're invited to our home on a regular basis for other events (holiday parties, port and chocolate tastings, etc.). Let's pretend that when you come to our house you're always very thoughtful and bring along a bottle of port to share or stash for next time. Now, let's pretend you're invited to the wedding; what are you going to bring as a gift? Three bottles of inexpensive port we've already had in your presence and some chocolate? Hmmm.... special. It would have been more thoughtful to spend the same amount on one special bottle of port (like my dear brother who brought us a bottle of port back from his trip to Portugal). Thanks!