I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long while, but was afraid it would come off as a bit of a rant. Maybe it will. Trust me, these things need to be said.
In the eleven months I’ve been planning my wedding, I have come across countless articles like, “It’s your day! Make your day special!” or “How To Personalize your Wedding!”, “Here’s Where to Buy All the Things!”
I’ve read countless message board posts on Weddingbee and The Kn*t about “Do I really have to serve a full dinner?” “Do I really have to invite people with a +1?” “Do I really have to register for gifts?” The list of endless etiquette questions go on and on and on. It’s exhausting.
Here’s my two cents, and you can take it or leave it. (But I hope y’all take it, because I know what I’m talking about.)
When you decide to host a wedding, you become exactly that: Hosts. Yes, you are still the Bride and Groom, but even more than that, you are the Hosts of The Party. Are your parents helping you pay for this shindig? If so, great. They are also Hosts of The Party.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Duh, yeah, I know…”
But do you know what it means to be a good host? It’s ok if you don’t. Not many people do. Not many people nowadays host parties in their homes, or organize events for a living. (I do, and I’ve done, both – regularly.) It’s becoming kind of a lost art, sadly. (And no, the keggers you threw in college don’t count. Not at all.)
Being a Good Host means anticipating your guests needs and meeting them. Pretty simple, actually. But you’d be surprised how many Hosts miss the boat completely on this one.
The problem is the current cultural expectations for weddings and the Wedding Industrial Complex. The current expectation for your wedding is that is will be THE BEST DAY YOU’VE EVER HAD and that’s IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU. Both of those things are totally untrue. It may in fact be the best day ever, but putting that kind of expectation on something is a recipe for disappointment. And if you really think your wedding is all about you, I invite you to audition for Bridezillas.
Those women totally think it’s all about them, and they are hideous. If my wedding day was truly All About Me, we would be at the spa for half the day, and then we’d get married by a justice of the peace, have sushi and macaroni and cheese for dinner, and then go see a Broadway musical. No, your wedding is about you and your husband and your families and your friends. It’s about sharing a moment that cannot be repeated. It’s about the ceremony. It’s about pledging your vows to your partner in front of the people you love the most. The reception is just a bonus dance party.
And the Wedding Industrial Complex? They are just trying to get you to buy All The Things. They don’t really care if your wedding ends up the most self-indulgent thing anyone has ever seen. They want to convince you that your guests really WANT a picture frame engraved with your names and your wedding date. Trust me, the only person who wants that is you.
So, here are the top things I keep hearing from brides who are either 1.) trying to make things “easy” for their guests or 2.) trying to make things “easy” for themselves.
1. “We don’t need a wedding website, do we?” Yes you do. Here’s why. In this day and age, almost everyone gets their information from the internet. And events require a lot of information. Almost too much information. Unless you are designing an invitation that is so comprehensive it’s the size of a book, you need a wedding website. Accurate communication is one of the first things you need to be a Good Host. Don’t leave your guests guessing, and don’t leave them scrambling for information. Don’t force them to call your parents for details. Put yourself in your guests shoes. Make things easy for them. Wedding websites are free, easy, and don’t take that much time to set up. You can get one for free here on WordPress, or WeddingWire or TheKnot, and many, many more places.
2. “I don’t really have to have an open bar/hor doevures/full meal/cake, do I?” Nope. You don’t have to have any of those, as long as you are clear with your guests. Don’t schedule your cake and punch reception for 6pm on a Saturday night and people won’t expect a full meal. You don’t have to have an open bar or a full bar or passed appetizers, as long as you don’t make your guests stand around with nothing to do, eat, or drink for an hour while you take photos. Again, put yourself in your guests shoes. Nothing is more awkward (and more of a party killer) than cranky guests who are thirsty, hungry or bored.
3. “I’m not going to assign seats. They can sit wherever they want.” Ok, this one kills me. Unless you are having a picnic or beach wedding that is so casual everyone will be sitting on blankets on the floor, assign seating! Have you ever been to a wedding with open seating?? I have, and it’s awful. Many years ago, some friends of my ex hosted a pretty formal wedding at a historic building in San Francisco. People were wearing gowns and tuxes! When we got to the reception, we realized they had food stations (awesome) and no assigned seating (awful). Not only that, but there actually weren’t enough chairs for everyone. We were lucky and snagged some seats before we realized what was going on. But, every time we wanted more food, we had to leave our seats. And when we got back, those seats were taken by someone else. I ate most of my dinner that night standing up. In a gown. Feeling awkward.
Don’t do this to your guests!! Just assign them tables, so they have a home base. People will mingle amongst the tables anyway. But if you have a home table, you have somewhere to keep your purse and your iPhone. And your DRINK. At the aforementioned wedding, we had nowhere to put our drink, because we were standing up and eating. I was holding my plate with one hand, and my fork with the other. We left that wedding early.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of seating…Don’t make your wedding party sit at a dais table. What is it, 1976?
Unless your wedding party are all single, they would rather get to sit with their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife. Seriously. Don’t be a jerk.
4. “We’re not registering. I think it’s rude to ask for what we want.” I understand this one, I do. But, honestly? Put yourself in your guests shoes. Wouldn’t you want to get your family/friend something that they actually wanted as a gift? Registries exist to make things easier for your guests. Not having a registry puts a lot of pressure on your guests. And for those of you who aren’t registering because you’d prefer cash? Guess what? The guests who were going to gift you cash were always going to gift you cash. Everyone else is just going to buy you something that you don’t like or need. Have fun returning ten different toasters to ten different stores. Don’t be difficult. Just go register.
5. “I found the cutest favors with our names on them!” NO. No one loves monograms more than me. Truly. But your guests don’t want or need a momento from your wedding that has your name on it. Or your photo. Just say no! At every wedding I coordinated, I threw away favors. People just won’t take them if they don’t like them. And then you’ve basically thrown your hard earned money out the window.
All of these things will end up at a yard sale. Trust.
In my opinion, favors should either be edible or a donation to a charity you care about. That’s it. End of story.
6. “But we have a small budget, we can’t afford to _________. Most common: invite +1, feed everyone, blah, blah…” Awesome. Everyone has the budget they have, that can’t change. Just please, spend your money wisely. Cut back on your guest list. Have a morning wedding. Have your wedding on a Sunday or Friday! Have a cake and punch reception. Or just desserts. Or just hor doeuvres. But think about where you are spending your money.
Two years ago, I attended a wedding in which the bride spent $4,000 on her dress (I know this because she told me). They didn’t have any drinks or hor deouvres at all during the planned “cocktail hour” because it wasn’t in their budget. Huh. Seriously? Then don’t plan a “cocktail hour” if there’s not cocktails. Just go straight into dinner. We all stood around looking for food and getting cranky. I was admittedly more cranky because I knew where their money went.
So kids, here’s my point. When you are faced with a wedding decision, PLEASE always put yourself in your guests shoes. Ask yourself, “Would I like this? Would I be confused by this information? Would I know what’s happening next? Would I be thirsty at this point? Would I expect to be dancing now? etc…”
Your wedding is NOT all about you. It’s about everyone. Make sure your wedding day reflects that.
I would love to hear your feedback. Have a question? Think I’m totally off base? Comment below.