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Sticky Situation: Can We Ask Guests to Help Pay For Our Wedding?

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Sticky situation:

My partner and I are planning to get married next year. However, we have a problem. My future husband is adamant; he wants to ask guests to pay a dollar amount for their presence on our wedding day.

For my part, I have some discomfort. We discussed it with our families and they all seem to agree with my fiancé. Your help would be greatly appreciated so I can make an informed decision.

Solution(s):

Your discomfort is justified and also honourable.

According to etiquette guidelines, when you choose to invite people to a party it is never appropriate to solicit cash contributions.

It's really tacky to ask guests to pay. Inviting = paying.

In addition, when one asks for money as a gift, it presumes that people will not inquire to the bride and groom about what would make them happy. In fact, it assumes that your guests don't have any basic manners and are not aware of the unspoken rule: "Every wedding invitation carries an obligation of gift giving, whether or not one chooses to attend."

If you want to organize a celebration where everyone pays for their part, the invitation should not use the words "We invite you...". It will instead use the words "We would like you to join us..."

To avoid a faux-pas if your budget is quite limited and strict, it is better to invite fewer guests or have a smaller celebration in a less expensive location.

It is important to note that any invitation should not contain any mention of a gift. Asking guests not to bring gifts, once again, makes the presumption of receiving a gift. Even the clever phrase "Your presence is the only present we want " could be perceived as presumptuous and rude.

The perfect way to share gift information is by good old-fashioned word of mouth, by your relatives.

You and your spouse will give the details of your wish, like a European wine tour or a wedding registry at a large department store.

If a guest wishes to contribute money to make your dream come true, your trusted informants can then tell them how. Generally, guests can send a check by mail before the wedding day, to the future bride or groom that they are closest to.

Note: As a bridal shower is a gift-giving party it is appropriate to mention the gift theme on a shower invitation (lingerie, wine cellar). The accompanying gift registry information should be on a separate paper.

Expecting to receive a gift, especially a specific cash donation, when "inviting" guests to celebrate, is simply rude.

I hope this clarifies the rule of invitation so you may continue your discussion with your future spouse to invite your guests, without making a faux-pas.

Have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Check out Facebook, Twitter or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.

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