As a wedding planner, I know better than most how frustrating and costly it is when guests don’t respond, say they are coming but don’t come; or RSVP for one person but bring three.
All sorts of issues occur:
- food and beverage costs increase
- last minute rearranging of seating to accommodate the extra guests
- Making sure none of the guests are sitting at a table by themselves.
It’s tempting to want to recoups those costs, maybe even send an invoice to the offenders for the cost of their rudeness. Although it might feel good for a moment, it is not the solution. Answering rudeness with rudeness will only cause pain and hurt feelings, and pain is the last thing you want to associate with your wedding.
You’re thinking: “Gwen, if we can’t bill them, what do we do?”
My answer will not be easy to hear but it is the answer: ACCEPTANCE. People are complicated. Your wedding is the most important thing in your world. But for your guests, even though they love you, they have other things in their lives.
Things happen at the last minute – things beyond their control. Illness, injury, work commitments, obligations they did not realize would conflict with your wedding, or my least favorite but it happens, they forgot. The reasons don’t matter; how you and your guest handled the situation does.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving anyone a free pass to be rude. If you replied you would be at a wedding but now can’t attend, let them know. If you have unexpected guests, don’t bring them to someone else’s wedding. When you receive an invitation to a wedding (or anything else for that matter), reply promptly. Never assume you can bring a date or your children if the invitation does not say “And Guest” or “And Family” that means they are not invited. If you must ask to bring extra people, ask politely. If the answer is no, be gracious.
For you, my lovely engaged couples, the most important thing is to understand that this will happen. You can’t control it. You can plan for it, to an extent. There are conventions or as I like to call them “the rules everyone quotes but never actually occur as stated”; i.e. the 20% rule.
This rule says that 20% of the people who reply they will attend your wedding don’t. In numbers, if 100 people say they will attend, 20 don’t. In my experience, unless there is a catastrophic event (hurricane, fire, flood or death in the family) that number is more like 6. If you plan for 20 guests not to show, and only six don’t attend, you now have no place to put 14 people. That, my friends, is much worse because those 14 people did reply.
I find the “rules” deceiving. For the most part, I ignore them. Yes, if you are paying $300 per person for your wedding, six is still a lot of wasted money. On the other hand, you had prepared to pay it so getting stressed is a waste of joy. A great deal of time, energy and preparation goes into a wedding, no one involved wants it to be anything but perfect.
I’m not going to lie – perfect is a myth, nothing that involves human beings can be perfect. We do our best to make it as perfect as possible Things happen, people don’t show up who said they would, other people come that never told you they were coming. It happens, and if you are honest, you have done it too.
In the end, there is no way to know who will show up at your wedding until they do or don’t. All you can do is be prepared to accept who came, love them for being there, as for the rest, as the song says “Let It Go”!
Best wishes for an enjoyable wedding planning experience and a long happy marriage, Gwen
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A little about Gwen: Where to Start was launched in 1991. My corporate experience taught me the management skills necessary get the best for my clients. My broadcasting and theater studies play a significant role in how I see weddings. I love getting to know my clients – finding out what makes them happy, what they love in life and about each other. I combine this knowledge with my experience to create your perfect wedding. I hope you will allow me the privilege of helping you create your perfect wedding.