Guests Behaving Badly

You have planned every single aspect of your big day that you can think of – dress, bridal party, invitations, venue, food, music, photographer, videographer, flowers – you get the picture.  You think everything is all set to go until you start to encounter guests who don’t have the manners you were brought up with.  What’s a bride to do?

Not RSVPing
You never expect to deal with it, but it does happen (and I am speaking from personal experience).  You do everything possible to make it easy for your guests to send the little reply card back.  All they have to do it take 2 minutes to fill it out, add their name(s), select their meal (if that applies to you), put the card back in the envelope, and drop it in the mail.  If you are like most brides, the envelope is already pre-addressed AND there is a stamp already on it.  But the day after your RSVP date, there are still cards missing.  So many thoughts run through your mind…

“Did they receive the invitation?  They MUST have!  There was a return address on the envelope.  If they didn’t receive it, it would have gotten sent back.”

“Did I put a stamp on the invitation?  I MUST have!  If there wasn’t a stamp, it would have gotten sent back.”

“Should I call them? Should I wait?  I need to give my final numbers to the reception venue.”

“Oh, god, I feel embarrassed calling them.  What would I say?  Um, hi.  Are you planning on coming to my wedding?  I never heard back from you.”

The truth of the matter is, you CAN contact them.  If the RSVP date has come and passed, you can absolutely call or email them – which ever is more appropriate in your relationship with this invited guest.  All you have to do is say you are finalizing the numbers and you hadn’t heard back from them.  Trust me, THEY should feel embarrassed, not you. 

Asking to bring “Plus 1”
If your budget permits, you may end up inviting single guests with a guest of their own.  I did to make sure single guests felt more comfortable at the wedding.  Some took us up on it, others didn’t.  If you decide not to do so for budget or other reasons, don’t be surprised if an invited guest contacts you to see if he/she can bring someone along.   If it was an oversight and you meant to add “and guest” on the invitation, you can just say so.  If you need to check your budget before agreeing to it, you can say “I’ll look into it and get back to you this week”.  If you know you can’t, don’t feel bad.  Everyone has a budget.  And maybe you just wanted your close friends and family there for a more intimate reception.  Whatever your reason, it’s your decision.

Bringing an uninvited guest
I hope this doesn’t happen too often, but I have heard of it happening.  If a guest shows up that you weren’t aware of, take a deep breath.  Immediately find the wedding coordinator or the person handling the logistics at your venue.  A few things will need to happen.  A seat needs to be added and a place setting needs to be set (preferably with the guest that brought him/her).   Someone needs to make sure there is an extra plate for this person (venues always prepare a little more than expected so that shouldn’t be a problem).  Other than that, the venue doesn’t need anything else, except for payment of the extra plate, but you can figure that out after the reception or they may just bill you.  It may not be the situation you had planned, but at this point, you are married and you shouldn’t let it ruin your day. 

Drinking too much
We all know someone who enjoys their cocktails a little too much.  Give your venue a heads up in advance to make sure the bartender cuts off anyone he/she feels needs to be.  Also, if the happy drinker is seated with others who know how things can get, make sure you mention it to them (although, you may not have to if they know how he/she can get).  You don’t want any sort of scene or catch a glimpse of someone doing a strip tease on the dance floor.  Yes, it does happen.

Requesting horrible songs from the band or DJ
It’s 2010, and you are just about done hearing “YMCA”, “We Are Family”, “Electric Slide”, and “Macarena” at weddings.  To avoid these songs being played at all, make sure you speak to your DJ / band ahead of time and create a Do Not Play list.  If someone requests one of those songs, it just won’t be played.  Plus, no one should be requesting songs anyway because this is a wedding, not a high school dance.  

No Gifts / Bad gifts
I would never do it, but there are some people who may not give you a gift at all for your wedding.  Although some etiquette columns may say “gifts are not required”, I would ALWAYS give a gift.  Even if someone cannot attend your wedding, they should send something.  It’s the gesture that counts more than anything else.  And if the person is a family member or close friend, even more so.  But it’s going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it.  Also be prepared for bad gifts.  It would be great if guests inquired about what is culturally acceptable for your wedding (whether to give a gift from the registry or money) but that is not going to always happen.  I am old school and always try to give an amount to “cover my plate (and my husband’s) and a little extra”.  The way I see it, a gift is supposed to help the new couple start their lives together.  Not everyone sees it that way.  If you receive a non-cash gift, don’t feel obligated to give cash to that couple in the future.  I always try to do something similar.  I don’t want anyone to feel awkward about the gift they gave, so I will always give something worth about what they gave me.  That’s just me.  At the end of the day, people give what they can afford, but they should give something.

Not acknowledging the bride and groom
It would always be preferred if the bride and groom make their way around to all the guests to say hello and to thank them for coming to the wedding.  But, with larger weddings, that may not be possible.  Guests should never leave a wedding without at least saying hello and congratulations.  That is what the receiving line is for.  If they miss the ceremony and receiving line, catching the bride and groom some time after dinner is perfectly acceptable  Even if that means they have to run out on the dance floor (except during slow dances or significant dances such as a first dance, father-daughter dance, etc.) before they leave to say hi and bye.  If the wedding is over and you don’t remember seeing certain guests, you can feel horrible about it. 

Hopefully these are all rare occurrences and they won’t happen at your wedding, but just be prepared, take things in stride, and enjoy your big day.
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