04/09/2015 09:06 EDT | Updated 06/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Sticky Situation: Asking Wedding Guests To Pay Is Rude

From the readers' emails that I receive, these new trends of requesting meal payment from guests, making expensive demands on wedding party members and extending the celebration beyond the wedding day, is making wedding dreams come true for the couple but putting a serious strain on many friendships.

Central Press via Getty Images
14th July 1971: Sarah Fitzalan Howard and Rod Balfour leaving St James Church, Spanish Place, after their wedding. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Sticky situation:

I'm one of the bridesmaids for the wedding of a close childhood friend.

It is a much more expensive commitment than I ever expected.

First, the dress. I had to spend $250 for a very unconventional dress that I will probably never wear again. That price tag does not even include the accessories, the hair and the makeup. Those will probably add up to over $200.

Then there's the hotel reservation, add another $200. Brunch the next day is $30, plus taxes and services. And the first time I had to take out my checkbook was to sign for the requested $75-per-guest payment, for the wedding meal.

With such a hefty bill, am I still required to give a gift?

Rumor has it that their wedding will not cost them anything. I find this quite unsettling -- is this an acceptable practice?


Your situation, even if very personal, is not uncommon.

From the reader emails that I receive, these new trends of requesting meal payment from guests, making expensive demands on wedding party members and extending the celebration beyond the wedding day, are making wedding dreams come true for the couple, but putting a serious strain on many friendships.

For the benefit of other readers, who are being asked to be a bridesmaids, allow me to enlighten them. As a chosen maid of honour, first recognize the honour that is bestowed upon you. Then, before accepting or declining to participate in the wedding party, find out about expectations and obligations,

As highlighted in this previous blog post, economic, health and family reasons are all acceptable the bridesmaid role.

If you choose to pass, speak with your heart. The bride will then decide if she will defray, split certain costs, or even pass these responsibilities on to the next suitable candidate.

Indeed, as you can attest, all the costs related to your attire and extra wedding day activities are every bridesmaid's and matron of honor's responsibility.

Yes, you must also offer a gift.

Every wedding invitation requires a gift, even if you do not attend.

This traditional gift is a tangible testimony of support and love for the couple. The only exception is when you have not had contact with either member of the couple in a few years.

At this point, you're probably wondering how much you should allocate for the wedding gift. There is no complicated math equation for this present. The venue of the wedding; the Ritz or a Sugar Shack, has no impact on the price of your wedding gift to the couple.

The wedding gift price formula is: choose with your heart, based on your bank account. Base your gift choice on your relationship with the couple, what they mean to you and what they like. Spend according to your means and respect your budget.

Finally, the answer to your last question is no. It is not an acceptable practice to request that guests pay for their meals at a wedding.

Inviting equates paying. Requesting payment when inviting is rude. If the bride and groom cannot afford their dream wedding, they need to adjust their vision to suit their financial reality. Friends do not put friends in difficult financial situations.

Another possibility is for the couple to ask their relatives and loved ones to "join them" for a less formal party at their home or in a restaurant. By using the words "join us to celebrate" the guests will know to pay for their meals. Each attendee can individually choose from the menu according to their means.

At this time, attempting to change your friend's expectations may create conflict. Avoid a crisis. Remember how precious she is and how stressful this time is for her. Follow through with your commitment and remember these guidelines the next time you are asked to participate in a wedding, or for you own wedding.

You have a sticky situation at work or at home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities. With Julie's help gone will be awkwardness, embarrassment and faux-pas.


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