Ask Team Practical: Disappearing Guests and Vendor Expectations

Ya’ll, it’s Friday. Amazing spring-is-finally-here Friday (we’re having a heat wave in San Francisco, which is so rare here that the whole city practically grinds to a halt and we all eat outdoors nonstop). But that’s not the only reason to rejoice! It’s also Ask Team Practical Friday with Alyssa, and she is rocking it out today with three questions (I love when she does three questions). Plus, I’m answering questions too (and not just by sneaking in sentences when I edit, like I usually do). So let’s get on this.

My wedding is long over, but there’s one thing about the otherwise fantastic day that still bothers me. I briefly saw several people before the ceremony who seemed to disappear before the reception started, and I never had time to chat with them or thank them for coming. When I asked my mother later about one family in particular, she said that they were under the impression that they were only invited to the ceremony. What?!? The ceremony and reception were in the same room, and the invitation said “Reception immediately following.”

I’ve since learned that a number of people left immediately after the ceremony. I didn’t really notice not seeing most of them, but I do remember thinking that there were a lot of empty tables at the reception. I’m totally confused. Did I somehow make a mistake when writing my invitations? Is it common for some guests to leave after the ceremony? Did I just have a really boring reception? I’ve been torturing myself for months with thoughts that my guests think I was rude enough to only invite them to the ceremony. Some of those who left are people I had really hoped to see and celebrate with. Also, we had so much leftover food and cake, which means that we spent far more money than we needed to. I’m hoping that you’ll have some insight into where I went wrong, so that the wedding undergraduates out there can learn from my mistake. Also, I want to finally stop worrying about this. Thanks!

-Worried About A Cold Reception in Kentucky


You’re lucky, because you get two answers for your question! One from Meg and one from Alyssa. You win. Maybe because you have a fun sign-off to your letter. Achem (get on that people!)



I’m at a loss here.  I realize that etiquette rules are not always as clear as they may have once appeared, but “Reception immediately following” is pretty darn clear.  I can only think of a couple of reasons for your disappearing guests.

1. Your guests are liar-liar-pants-on-fires.  They had other plans that day and are too chicken to tell you or admit it to your mother.

2. Your guests are morons.

To find out, your only recourse would be to actually get ahold of the people who left and ask them what was up.  You can either say, ” I didn’t get a chance to see you at my reception, did you have fun?” or “HEY. Why’d you bail on my reception, yo?” But what kind of answer would satisfy you? The kind where they go back in time and go to your wedding reception? So. Right. Maybe don’t ask.

Just remember the good times that you did have.  And that you didn’t commit any breach of etiquette or make a mistake.  Your guests did come to your ceremony and saw the most important part of a wedding.  They missed out on an amazing time and that’s their fault, the losers. And now I’m going to kick this to Meg, because she knows a thing or two about this.


My dear WAACRIK,

I’m going to clue you into a closely held secret of wedding planning: some wedding guests are dicks. It has nothing to do with you, or your kick-ass wedding, or the clarity of your invitation. Some people just don’t get that weddings are important, don’t care, and can’t be bothered.

How do I know this? Well. We had some wedding no-shows. Here is the sum up: we had people who skipped the ceremony and just showed for the free food and booze. (Unluckily for them we were taking pictures at the entrance when they walked in, so they had to walk right by us to get in. So, awkward for them, but kind of hilarious for us.) We had people who skipped the whole thing because they “had a day” (seriously). We had people who went to the reception, ate as fast as they could, and then stood up and announced (announced!) that they were leaving. Excellent.

You know what that means? That means some people are *ss-hats. In some cases we learned things about our friendships that we were not sure we wanted to know (which oddly, was ok, because we learned that other friends are so much more awesome than we’d ever imagined). In other cases we learned that some of our friends are sh*tacular at weddings, but are still awesome at being our friends, and we’re ok with that. In some cases we learned who was lacking in social graces. But in no case did we learn that our wedding was boring, or we were bad hosts, or even that we shouldn’t have invited these people. Because with something as big as a wedding (or a family, or a circle of friends), things just go wrong.

But fundamentally? People skipping your reception and making idiotic excuses (or your ceremony, for that matter) doesn’t mean a d*mn thing about you, or how clear you were in your invitations, or how awesome your wedding was. So I absolutely refuse to allow you to spend one more second worrying about that. Go back and look at an awesome wedding picture. Something like this:

{Me dancing at our wedding! By One Love Photo! Forget jerky wedding guests!}

And remember how it felt, and let the rest go. The end.


am considering asking my caterer if she would be willing to barter her services. Not all of them, just perhaps a reduction in the cost in exchange for free labor on my part. Originally I didn’t think I’d want a caterer, or be able to afford one. I just assumed we’d get people to help us put it together. Our budget is tight. But it seems to be more efficient (and easier for all of us!) if we can find a caterer who we could work well with to come up with budget friendly food. We can maybe squeeze a little more out of our budget but not much. Which is why I thought I’d ask her about bartering. I would like to trade my services as a waitress, set up person, bartender, or whatever she’ll have me do so that I could get a reduction in part of the catering cost. Obviously I don’t want her to lose money on the deal but I’d like to save a little if possible. I am the type of person who often looks at something and says “I could make that instead of pay XX amount for it.” And generally I can. I would rather work than pay almost 90% of the time. And I have waitressing/bartending/cooking skills. I’ve been working part time as a waitress for a year and worked at restaurants through college and beyond. I guess what I’m asking is: Have you ever known anyone who bartered with someone (not originally a friend) successfully? Have you heard of someone doing this for their wedding and how did it turn out? Is it even rude to ask? Any advice or tips?


I’m going to have to say that this is probably a no-good-very-bad idea.  Maybe the readers have heard of this working, but APW’s editorial staff has not. Bartering can work, but only if it is with a business in need of your skills or it is a business that would welcome the practice.  (Small boutique caterer with hippie leanings and short on reliable waitstaff?  Probably.  A larger business that more than likely hires out their servers, and probably at an insanely cheap rate?  Not so much.)  Bartering needs to benefit both parties and be an equal exchange of labor. The bottom line is this: if you know someone who says, “Hey, I would love to do your wedding for cheap in exchange for me helping you out,” you should jump on that. But, it’s not cool to approach a small business who hasn’t offered any kind of discount, and ask them to do your wedding on the cheap in exchange for you working for them. They have mouths to feed, rent to pay, a staff to support, and you need to respect that. Or as the awesome Cate Subrosa once said about her own wedding planning, “if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.”

So what will work? Try finding a caterer in your general price range, and being upfront.  Say, “I have X amount of money.  I love you guys, but I might need a small discount. Do you ever barter?”  Mention your waiting and bartending skills, but I wouldn’t hang your hat on that alone.  Talk to them about ways to reduce the cost, including cutting delivery, choosing something that is off-menu and lower cost, or the possibility that they provide only the food and you take care of all the plates, utensils, serving dishes, etc. Some caterers will cut a deal in exchange for them doing less work, even if they won’t cut you a deal when the deal is you working for them. And other caterers won’t. Most businesses have an amount they need to make for every weekend with a wedding, to cover their expenses. And that’s understandable too.


I’m having a tough time knowing what is reasonable to expect from vendors and what isn’t. For example, yesterday I had a phone consultation with a florist (we are getting married about 4 hours away from where we live, so I’m doing most of the bookings over the phone or by email), and I felt like I clicked really well with the florist. She suggested that we meet with her in person to sort out details in June when we travel to our venue. That works for me, however, when I asked about a quote, or some ballpark figure, she told me that she doesn’t give quotes until she has a deposit because if she gave a quote then people could go to another florist in town and that florist could low-ball her. However, the deposit is $100 and it’s non-refundable. The website doesn’t give me any idea of prices either. I’m not sure if this is standard in the wedding industry, but I’m just not sure how to proceed. We’re on a pretty tight budget, so I don’t want to wait till June then put down a deposit only to find out that she’s way over our budget for flowers. On the other hand, if this is how it works, than I’ll just suck it up… At this point I don’t want to be going insane interviewing dozens of vendors.

Is it reasonable not to get any idea of prices until after you’ve put down a deposit?


Again, a no-good very bad idea, but in this case, it’s the florists bad idea. Dear Lord…

No one on the APW staff had heard of this practice before, and it wasn’t until I googled it that I realized how prevalent it is.  Regardless, I don’t think it’s standard business practice, nor do I think it should be.

A deposit is a way for you to ensure you will be provided with the agreed upon service and for a business to recoup their loses if they fail to get their full payment or suffer damages.  But refusing to give even ballpark figures before you receive a non-refundable deposit?  That means that if she isn’t able to provide you with services that meet your budget, you just paid $100 for her to put together a quote.  Even if the quote sings and dances and then makes you tea, I don’t think it’s going to be worth $100. (Editors note: It’s one thing if you agree on a ballpark range, and a florist charges $100 to give you a super detailed twelve-blue-flowers-and-two-hundred-red-flowers that will be $2,788.93 quote. Not sure I adore the practice, but fair enough. But if the florist is like “Maybe I charge $5 maybe I charge $5 million dollars pay me $100 and you’ll find out”? Bat-sh*t. Let’s carry on!) Quotes are a comparison of cost so that you can figure if they fit into your budget. While she may have had issues with other florists under-cutting her business, that’s not your problem.

That being said, the florist can run her business any way she sees fit.  That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to go along with it.  Meg’s favorite quote is from Marie-Ève (who funny enough is also a florist) who said, “You don’t have to spend money in ways that does not feel right to you, or that makes you feel financially uncomfortable.”   And if you were comfortable with this, you wouldn’t be writing in to ATP.  There’s no need to be combative with the florist, but explain that you are not comfortable with her policy and while you are not trying to hurt her and her business in any way, you won’t be paying for a quote.  And then let her take it or leave it.

Maybe she’ll give in and give you a quote.  Maybe she won’t.  Either way, definitely still check elsewhere.  There are plenty of people who will be able to give you an estimate before you give them money or sign a contract.


Alright, Team Practical!  What advice can you give our ladies?  Have you had a mishap like WAACRK? Make her feel better and share, and tell her that her wedding was RAD.  Have you ever been a bartering bandit? (With, you know, someone who wasn’t family or a friend?)  What about vendors that hold quotes hostage until you give them a deposit; how did you deal with being flummoxed by a florist? Let us know in the comments! Your best advice! Go!

*If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa a askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  Seriously. We love sign-offs.  Make your editors happy.

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  • Sigh. We had a couple who just did not show up, after begging me for months for an invitation. No warning, no explanation ever after, no nothing. What bothers me the most is the moment of bafflement and pain on a day so otherwise happy. Sigh. But, you know, I got over it. I did not talk to her again, though. There wasn’t enough there there (even exclusive of this faux pas, you know?) to justify the friendship.

    • I had this happen at my first wedding with a very good friend. When I saw him again, I mentioned that we missed him. What Happened? I asked.

      Turns out that his grandmother died suddenly and he had to travel to New York to be with his family over the holidays (we had a Christmas wedding), at which point I was (a) glad I asked and (b) wished I had known so that I could send him on his way with some cookies at least.

      My point is: you just never know, and it might make you feel better to ask.

      • Eh, I feel fine. We were not the closest people in the world. Unless the subject comes up like it did today, I don’t think about it when I think about my wedding. Were she a very good friend, as in your case, it would be a different story.

  • Kate

    Just to quickly add my two cents on the florist issue – the response is right on. I would definitely look elsewhere for a florist, there’s no reason to adhere to that policy! I don’t have any other grains of wisdom, so this is really more like an “Exactly!” for the response. :-)

    • Me too! The florist thing is extra baffling.

      I mean, like a bunch of us here, I plan events for work. I purchase things for work. In general, I see no downside in basically acting like two professionals. Would you put down a deposit before receiving a quote in anything for your job? Of course not. The professional thing to do is ask for a quote or find another florist.

      • Carreg

        You know what it does remind me of? Wretched letting agents who charge a non-refundable deposit to APPLY to rent a house — with no guarantee of actually getting it. Difference is, you have to have somewhere to live, whereas you don’t absolutely have to have flowers. They’re only the sexual organs of plants… You have the option of a different florist or buying flowers wholesale or some other kind of decoration. What a diddle.

        • Hearing about this florist practice reminded me of those “surprise” bags of something I saw at a flea market a while back. It was a stapled closed brown paper lunch bag, and was $10, I think, for an unknown “surprise.” Ummmm….? No thank you. :)

    • Kristen

      I’ll go with something more akin to an “ABSOLUTELY!”

      That’s just nuts. I would be interested to know how much she makes each year in $100 deposits that don’t book when they get the quote.

      I understand both protecting your business and being a fair consumer. It’s not nice to take the quote up the street and say, “Suzy will do m, k, and v for this price. How about you?” But here’s the thing: would you ever go to a store and say, “I’ll give you $5 to find out the price of this sweater. If it turns out it’s a good price, I’ll buy the sweater. If it turns out crazy, I’ll be out $5.” ? I think sometimes when you’re a ‘bride’ and terrified of being a ‘bridezilla’ some businesses take advantage either on purpose or because they’re tired of dealing with some of the crazytown girls you see on Bridezillas. Bottom line is that you are a consumer and you get to make well-informed consumer choices. Just keep asking yourself, “If I were a regular consumer, what would I do?”

      Good businesses find the sweet spot of value. Maybe the florist up the street is cheaper. But maybe that florist is uncreative and has crazy hoops for you to jump through and really the better value is this florist that is a little more expensive but is very reliable and helpful and will deliver. I’d find some reviews and if they were good, explain your concerns, explain that you have no intention of taking her quote to another florist and asking if they can do the exact same thing for cheaper and see if she wants to play ball. If not, I would move on.

  • Zoe

    So… I’ve kind of been the a$$ who left a wedding early. I got a wedding invite so some not-very-close friends (someone who I’d once been friends with, but hadn’t spoken to in years.)

    My husband and I went, greatly enjoyed the ceremony, stayed for lunch, etc, but we left pretty early into the reception because of some social anxiety issues. It was a daytime, dry wedding, no music, no dancing. It meant there was nowhere to “hide.” We didn’t know anyone. This is not to say it was the hosts fault at all. 99 percent of the people there were having an AWESOME time. They all knew each other and were rocking it out. Just, not us. Please, please, please don’t think I’m criticizing dry/daytime weddings. We had a daytime wedding! I’m just saying that we got into a situation where we felt increasingly uncomfortable and awkward.

    Also. I was young, stupid and had NO IDEA, how meaningful/significant weddings were and what went into them. I know that sounds dumb, but I wasn’t married yet and just didn’t GET it.

    I felt really bad about it at the time, and still do. I should have stuck it out.


    My main message is that (as these wise ladies have already said) it’s SO not about you. People have all kind of crazy shit going on in their lives. My boss had a nasty cold and left early (I didn’t know why til I got back from my honeymoon). You did absolutely nothing wrong.

    • Zoe

      I really just want to reiterate that it was my fault. I was rude and self-centered. I made the day about how I was feeling rather than being there for the new couple.

      I posted not to justify, but to give the question writer some insight of how sometimes people suck in ways that have NOTHING to do with the wedding hosts.

      • Just throwing this out there but:

        I am an early to bed early to rise kind of person and I once went to an evening wedding where the actual dinner was not served until around 9pm. I actually did stay pretty late at this wedding but would it have been rude for me to leave right after dinner if I had chosen to?

        I think that just as guests should be mindful of the fact that weddings are super important events, the couple needs to be mindful of their guests lives and abilities too. It’s that fine line we all walk between “this is my WEDDING! it’s a BIG deal!” and “This is MY wedding. It’s a big deal to ME.”

        • FM

          Totally agree. Just want to put out there that I am a person who had a crazy late wedding, with ceremony starting at 8:30 and dinner not starting until 10 (which was a conscious choice, as having our wedding after sundown on a Saturday night in August was better for us given all factors than other options). And I fully accepted that our choice of time meant that some people might not make it past the ceremony due to the lateness, just as I accepted that people might not be able to fly out to us or find a way out of the city for the evening, etc. I think that’s important – realizing that you can make your choices as the couple throwing the wedding (time, place, etc.), and accept that your guests might not want to/be able to be as present because of it as they might be if you made different choices. Which totally has nothing to do with the question above, but good to keep in mind I think for people.

          By the way, the only people who left early in the end were our two little flower girls.

      • Another day time, (mostly) dry wedding here. I’d also like to add that you did nothing wrong. We totally understood when people left early. Especially those who we knew didn’t know other people, or had social anxiety. Having been in that situation before, I totally understand.

        I once cried at someone else’s reception because of a bad case of social anxiety, and not knowing anyone except my boyfriend, who was seated at the head table, away from me. That was not a pretty sight. But, that was the consequence of sticking it out. You did the right thing.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Zoe, I know I’m not Alyssa or Meg and thus not nearly as cool and authoritative. BUT. I’m going to say that you can stop beating yourself up and feeling bad about leaving early. Leaving early for social anxiety reasons is different from leaving early because you’d really rather be lounging on the couch in your pj’s with a beer in your hand watching reruns of Buffy (or something). You showed up. You were there. Do you think it would have contributed significantly to the couple’s joy if you had miserably “stuck it out” until the end? I’m justifying for you.

      • YES. Zoe, you are fine. The problem with the poster’s guests is not that they left, but they didn’t show up at all to the reception and when asked, said they didn’t know they were invited to it. When it was in the SAME ROOM. (I almost missed that part too when I first was answering it.)
        So no apologies.

        And Hypothetical Sarah, I can pretty much guarantee that you are cooler than me. I’m a giant doofus, I just play vaguely put-together on the internet…

        • As a fellow doofus, I’m always happy to read you!

      • KB

        I agree with Sarah — Zoe, you did nothing wrong! You stayed for the whole ceremony and the lunch! I don’t think anyone expects all guests to stay to the closing minutes. I don’t think you have anything to apologize for.

        • Sarah


          We had a daytime dry wedding. Those that left early becuase they didn’t know anyone and felt awkward? Totally fine. They came, celebrated with us, enjoyed lunch, and that was perfect.

          It was the ones that came to say “we’re taking off” while we were still eating, even though they knew at least 50% of the guests (this was family for crying out loud) that hurt. Or the ones that snuck out and didn’t say a word to us, that sucked too.

          Zoe, you did nothing wrong. I promise. Don’t beat yourself up. =)

    • I had some people leave my reception early– older aunts and uncles, my 94-year-old grandmother, etc. That’s fine, and to be expected. My college roommate actually left early and I didn’t notice until she sent me an email a couple weeks later apologizing– she and her wife both were really sick and needed to drive TWO HOURS back home!! They had made it all the way through the ceremony and dinner and just weren’t up for dancing (uh, duh?).

      Sometimes, there are rational reasons for people to leave early or come late; we had our wedding on a Thursday at 5:30, and one friend couldn’t get out of work and missed the ceremony. What, am I going to lecture them on etiquette or some BS? No. There are perfectly good reasons for missing part of a wedding, and sharing them with the bride and groom makes a difference. Missing out because of anxiety? TOTALLY FINE.

      • meg

        Exactly! But totally skipping the reception and then lying and saying you thought you were not invited? File under not a good reason.

        Also, I didn’t say there was anything wrong with leaving a reception early. I said we had socially awkward guests who STOOD UP AND ANNOUNCED they were leaving the reception early. That was really weird. But even that didn’t cloud the day for us.

        • EXACTLY. It’s okay if people can’t be there for every last second of a wedding, if they have a good reason and are, you know, decent people. But lying or randomly announcing to a room that you’re leaving? Awkward, bad, and not so great.

        • Emily

          But what if the real reason is that they panicked because they didn’t know anyone, freaked out and left early, and then felt terrible afterwards? And then they lied because the above story makes them cringe with embarrassment.

          Not saying that’s what happened, just that I don’t think it’s a big deal to tell a white lie to smooth over a social faux pas, and that unless it seems like people were being malicious (which to me it doesn’t), I think it makes sense to give loved ones the benefit of the doubt.

          • Benefit of the doubt is always lovely and kind.

            But I still think if they had to make up a white lie, they could have done one that didn’t blame the bride and groom for not being clear, so much so that she’s writing in to check her ettiquette. Maybe it was thought up on the fly (or they were being honest,) but it still implies that the people who invited them were not clear.

          • What would make me uneasy is that they’re not taking responsibility for their own behaviour.

            I agree with the benefit of the doubt, kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit, etc, but come on. These people are grown ups, right?

          • Like everyone else is saying, there’s nothing wrong with telling a little white lie, especially if there are personal issues at play. They could have said they were sick or had something early in the morning or whatever, but to put the blame on the hosts? Lame.


      I think this was the case for one person at my wedding. I invited several high school friends, and only one RSVPed yes. I saw him before the ceremony and got to chat with him, but since he didn’t really know anyone else there, I’m not too surprised that he left early. Don’t feel too bad, because I totally understand! I might have done the same thing in your shoes.

      • Carreg

        Oh I hope people don’t feel like it’s time to go home because they don’t know anyone at our do. I mean, I hope they feel like they can maybe make some new friends (wouldn’t we all). I’d feel like it was my fault for failing to generate the required level of Friendly — even though I daresay it wouldn’t be really.

        Usual deal is you have to stay til the speeches, isn’t it? Then the socially awkward people make a dive for the exits. We weren’t going to have speeches, but maybe we should at least hold out the promise of speeches. Oh, yeah, in half an hour, another fifteen minutes, definitely going to have speeches, yeah, have another beer, like to dance? that’s it, yeah, we’ll have speeches in a minute, more beer?

        No one even likes speeches, they’re like sprouts at Christmas….

        • To each their own! The only thing I regret about my wedding? Not doing speeches / toasts, and giving the people we love a chance to vocalize that love. But then, I like sprouts to, so maybe I’m just a weird one. :)

          • I left a wedding early this past weekend. I did not have any social anxiety and knew a fairly large-sized group at the wedding, but I was just done. I got to the wedding early to help one of the bridesmaids wrangle her tasks and spent an hour or so pinning corsages and boutonnieres onto important people, taping bridesmaids’ bosoms into dresses and other menial tasks.

            The wedding was supposed to start at 3:30 but not only was the groom running late, his father got lost and went to the wrong town. After two extra hours in the TX spring heat the wedding finally started. Instead of serving us dinner while the wedding party took pictures for an hour the guests had to sit and wait, yet again. The wedding and reception were in one place, but after the toasts I said my goodbyes and left. I know that I didn’t get to participate in all of the wedding festivities, but I felt like I put in my fair share of time.

  • North Star

    I had a few family members who came to the reception, had food & left immediately afterwards without saying goodbye. It disappointed me, as I thought I was close to some of them & wanted to spend time with them at the wedding. I’ve come to realize that as Meg noted that some people just aren’t good at weddings. I still talk to them & have gotten a few questions recently about things that happened at the reception they heard about from other family members that they regret missing.

  • A-L

    Well, I guess we’d be put into the rude guest category. We recently went to a wedding where we attended the ceremony and just the first part of the reception. Here’s why:

    1) There was only enough seating in the reception area for about 1/4 of the guests (and we weren’t part of the 1/4 that had a seat).

    2) We had talked to the other guests that we knew for about the first 45m of the reception while we waited for the bride and groom to finish taking pictures, and inane cocktail chatter is one of my (and my husband’s) least favorite things to do.

    3) It was not clear that there was going to be an actual meal. (It was a 2 o’clock wedding which is in between meals which is often advertised as hors d’oeuvres only or cake/punch. There was a cupcake stand and a couple servers who would be mobbed for their food when they entered the room. There was no evidence of a buffet planned, nor was there seating apparent for a sit down meal.)

    4) My husband’s stomach was feeling upset and was worried about stinking the place up (and hogging one of the only male stalls).

    So we did stay for about an hour. We watched the first dance, and the father/daughter dance, and the mother/daughter dance. We did not make an announcement about our departure, but told one or two couples that we passed on our way out in case anyone asked about us.

    I would hate to think that the couple in question found us rude though. I’ve always been told that the important part of the wedding day is the actual ceremony. One could attend the ceremony, but not the reception, but to do the reverse would be the height of rudeness. Anyway, maybe food for thought.

    • ellobie

      Just like Zoe above, I don’t think anyone would call you rude for this! You stayed for the important bits and bolted when you felt uncomfortable. I don’t see a problem.

    • meg

      While I’m sure you’re fine, I do disagree that it’s only important to attend the ceremony. Weddings are a big emotionally loaded deal, and if you’re in, you’re in. The general etiquette rule is that you can’t leave until the bride and groom leave, but it’s been modified for REALLY LONG receptions a bit, and in the case of an endless reception, you’re now allowed to leave after the cake is cut. But not before people. Mistakes made in the past are forgiven, but now we all know better!

      • SUE

        What do we consider really long? Just curious….

        • I think everyone’s mileage will vary on long, but we had a ten course dinner (traditional in ny culture) and THEN dancing. All told the whole thing took about 5.5 hours, with dinner as 2 of those hours, so I didn’t think it unreasonable at all for people who had young children or long drives home to leave right after eating. We had a couple duck out post-ceremony because of not feeling well too.

          I’ll also say that I really appreciated the guests who came up and said goodbye to us before leaving (and let us know their reason if it was early). I think a lot of times people don’t want to ‘take up’ the bride and groom’s time and don’t realize that it’s not an imposition to say a quick farewell!

      • Kaitlyn

        So, I know the general rules are a) don’t leave before the bride and groom leave and b) SERIOUSLY don’t leave until the cake is cut. But at every wedding I’ve been to, the bride and groom have been the absolute LAST to leave, along with a handful of their die-hard closest friends. Everyone else? Out of there in accordance with their level of stamina (often right after the first dances but well before the cake is cut – and we’re talking all the parents’ friends, all the aunts and uncles, basically everyone over 55). At many of the weddings I’ve been to, the cake is cut before dinner is even served, and cake is eaten directly after dinner and before the first dances, which kind of eliminates cake as a gauge of dismissal.

        • Danielle

          Yes, I have been to weddings where the bride and groom were the last to leave.

          • We were nearly the last to leave. We were amped and loving it and still partying till midnight. Our first guests headed off about 9.30pm after a 3pm ceremony and 6.30pm reception (only arranged that way because of set ceremony times at our venue, and because thats fairly normal around here).
            To be honest, I was a little bummed when I looked around at 10.30pm and realised almost everyone was gone.
            Then we were at a friends wedding with an almost identical timing arrangement on the weekend – and we were among the later ones to leave at 10pm and I was exhausted. I got it, and thankfully that bride had been a guest at our wedding too and understood where we were coming from.
            In the end, we were happy that everyone stayed until the speeches and the first dances were over, plus about 20 minutes, including our two siblings with little kids.
            I’ve only ever been to one wedding where the bride and groom left before most of the guests – and they were a very christian couple who just wanted to get up to their hotel room and lose their virginity! And to be honest, the party died completely when they left and we all went home…

          • Morgan

            That was us. We didn’t leave until 3 am, and all that was left at that point was the die-hard drinkers and the family cleaning up.

        • That happened with us, actually. The bar had last call at 11pm (which was the venue’s “kick out” time), and the DJ had done the last song, etc. The shuttle was there. Everyone but family left – family helped load stuff into people’s cars, and we settled the bill with the venue. So, in our case, it made SENSE that we were the last to leave. But the party was definitely over. :)

      • FM

        Interesting. I guess one way I think of it is, if most of the guests left at the same time as you, would you feel bad for the couple because it’s obvious their wedding isn’t actually over yet? I’ve never been to a short wedding, and I’ve only been to one wedding where the bride and groom had a send-off rather than leaving after all their guests (and we were on the wedding shuttle, so no leaving early regardless), but I would agree the cake cutting is at many weddings a good cue that the wedding is winding down and people can head out without upsetting anyone, if they want. Doesn’t work for weddings where there is not cake cutting, or it’s all cake or for some other reason the cake cutting happens pretty early in the night.

      • Class of 1980

        Back before some receptions got so long and late into the night, you used to be expected to be present during the couple’s exit. The EXIT was a big deal.

        But now that couples show no sign of exiting first, I’d say the cake cutting would be the new marker.

        • Jenna

          Yup, for every wedding I’ve been to/in (and believe me, it’s quite a few!), the acceptable marker seems to be the cake cutting. It’s a sign of the end of the formalities and the beginning of the “dance and party” times, at which it’s completely expected that some people will leave.

      • A-L

        Thanks for the clarification about what is more widely expected in terms of reception departure times.

        Maybe this is partially a cultural thing? Or a regional thing? Our Sunday wedding started at 5, the buffet opened at 6:00, we cut the cake around 8:00, and we scheduled our departure for 8:55 (which we actually did). I’d say that about half of the people left before we did (and we had a 60 person wedding), including my father who left about 10 or so minutes before we did. I was miffed at him for less than a day (particularly since I’m 99% sure he had a schedule including our scheduled departure time…and that we’d been sticking to it the whole night), but quickly got over it. And I figure if the father-of-the-bride leaving doesn’t end up being that big of a deal, can a not-so-close friend really be that insulting?

        But thinking back on it, most people stayed for the cutting of the cake, so perhaps people tend to think of that as the general rule. And I appreciate hearing from all the brides who were really hurt by early departures. Just confirms my plan to invite the recently married couple over for dinner to hopefully smooth over any issues in case they were hurt. (Dinner was planned because we want to get to know them better…the intention to make them not feel hurt has been added because of this post.)

      • Marina

        Yikes. I had no idea about this rule, and so basically planned my wedding around me and my husband being the last to leave. I based that on 1) I felt like the host, and a host never leaves before guests, and 2) I hoped it would be an awesome party and I didn’t want to miss any of it. Ugh, now I just hope no one stayed longer than they should have or felt bad about leaving because I’m a wedding ignoramus…

        • Morgan

          I wouldn’t worry about it. Different people have totally different expectations. We didn’t leave our wedding until 3:00 am, and we weren’t quite the last to leave (our families were doing the last of the cleaning up), but certainly among the last. We were too busy having a good time to leave. I had faith that our guests left when it was good for them. I would hardly insist that 160 people had to outlast my party stamina, OR that we should have left the party early so others would be comfortable going home when they wanted to.

        • Class of 1980


          Changing marriage patterns are part of all this controversy.

          It used to be that the parents of the bride were the host and hostess of the wedding, which they were giving “for” their children. That’s why in a traditional invitation the parents of the bride are doing the inviting.

          The bride and groom were not considered to be hosting and the end of the reception was when they departed for their honeymoon.

          With people getting married at older ages now, more of them are paying for and essentially hosting their own wedding.

          Also, fewer are in any particular hurry to be alone if you get my drift. Been there; done that. So receptions are going on into the wee hours.

  • Carbon Girl

    Two things:

    In regards to the first question. Yes, it is your guests who were rude, and I am betting almost all of us had some of those. I had several who stuffed their faces during cocktail hour then left or left as soon as they ate dinner. Eating and leaving is a common practice unfortunately, so much so that my mom has a catchy phrase for it–“the chew and screw.” As in “I can’t believe they left without saying goodbye! It seems like they pulled the ‘ol chew and screw.”

    In regards to the florist. I found that absolutely shocking. I think it would be worth telling her “Hey, I felt like I really clicked with you but I do not feel comfortable putting down a deposit without a ballpark figure.” That way maybe she can change her mind, and at least she knows that business practice may be losing as many customers as it helps keep.

    • Ahahahaha I love your mom!

      I agree that “the old chew and screw” is not exactly polite, but I wouldn’t stress about people not attending the reception. As others have noted, there are a lot of possible reasons that have nothing to do with you, and for all you know, your guests are mortified that you think that they left to cause you offense. My old boss always said to never attribute to malice what could just be ignorance, and I would apply that here.

    • Jessica

      Curious – when do people think it’s appropriate to leave? I just want to make sure I wasn’t totally rude leaving a recent wedding on the early side! (Probably around 10 or 10:30 for a 5pm reception – we stayed well past dinner and for a good chunk of the dancing, past when the photographers left, but I think we were one of the first to go – we were pretty exhausted due to jet lag.) My understanding is that it’s appropriate to leave after the cake is cut – is that still true or is it an outdated rule of thumb?

      • Kaitlyn

        Honestly, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect people to stay that long or to think of 10pm (after FIVE HOURS of reception) as “leaving early”. Of course it’s amazing if people want to stay and party until the very last song, and hopefully your best friends will do that. But I wouldn’t expect older guests to ever stay past 8 or so… and I wouldn’t expect younger guests who aren’t part of the core group to stay much later than that.

        • Marisa-Andrea

          Me and my husband have attended several weddings over the years and not one of them did we stay until the end. And for really close friends. Why? Everyone had a reception that ran from 6 until midnight, they partied to the very end and by 10, I’m knocked out (literally) and one of us has to be able to drive us home. And oh yeah….strangely, everyone had reception venues that were at least an hour drive from home. So yes, its traditional and proper to leave after the bride and groom but sometimes, that isn’t always possible (e.g.., maybe you have young children and can only hire a babysitter for a certain amount of time). With that being said, we never left until after the cake was cut and we always made sure we saw the bride and groom WELL before we left and made sure they knew we loved and supported them. We didn’t announce our exit or even tell the bride and groom we were leaving. We simply made a quiet and tasteful way to the door.

      • meg

        In sum: traditionally you can’t leave till the bride and groom leave. But in the case of very long receptions, you can now (quietly!) leave after you’ve congratulated the couple and the cake is cut. I wouldn’t tell them that you are leaving though, it tends to make them sad.

        • Jessica

          Ok, good, you guys are making me feel better. :) After reading this thread, I was also feeling like we should have stopped to say goodbye, but at the time, we felt the same as you do here, that it was more appropriate to slip out quietly, since we’d already had the chance to congratulate and interact with the couple a few times during the wedding. (Though I was totally sad after the fact, when I saw from pictures that a taco truck showed up later in the night! Our loss.) Thanks!

        • Hee it made me sad that people DIDN’T tell us they were leaving, but that’s because we were moving cross-country three days later and our wedding was the last chance we had to see a bunch of people.

        • marbella

          I find it a bit weird that on a site that is about non-conformist weddings, we are giving advice on what is ‘traditionally’ expected of guests. If the bride and groom are having a ‘non-traditional’ wedding and that’s OK, how can we then expect guests to conform to traditional etiquette? We didn’t leave our wedding until the end (not uncommon in Europe if you aren’t going straight on a honeymoon), does that mean our guests should all stay til midnight? (And bear in mind that’s a very early end for us Europeans!) What if you don’t have a cake? When is it OK for people to duck out? How can you give them their cue?
          I don’t think that you can put one label on when it’s OK for people to leave. Everyone has individual reasons for why they might want to leave – tired, sick, long drive, children, or just that they are an arse (plenty of those around!)
          I know this will appear below a Meg reply, but it’s not a rant at you Meg, just trying to point out that a non-traditional wedding might cause problems for guests expecting certain social cues.
          Also, I was gutted when people left without telling me, that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and thank them for coming. I would say unless the bride/groom is clearly busy and you can’t interrupt, there is nothing wrong with saying goodbye. I would never leave a regular party without thanking my host, so why different for a wedding?

          • JEM

            I wouldn’t say that APW is strictly about non-conformist weddings. It’s about doing what is right for you, whatver that may be, traditional or not.

            And as far as I’m concerned, ettiquette is ettiquette. Dine and Dash is rarely acceptable unless under dire circumstances.

          • meg

            Well, this isn’t really a site about non-conformist weddings. This is a site about practical weddings, and I always toe the line that other peoples feelings are as important as your own, and some social niceties are there for very important reasons. I have toed that line for three years, and I will for the foreseeable future.

            That said, I totally agree. If you don’t have a cake, people need to use common sense to figure out when is an ok time to cut out. But that’s well after dinner and well into the party, always (unless there are crazy circumstances, like illness or international flights, or pre-arranged early exits). And as for leaving early, if you’re leaving before the bride and groom, you’re doing something that, well, etiquette tells you not to do for a really simple reason—it hurts people’s feelings. It’s a super important day for them, and you’re not staying till the end. So! If you are going to slip out early, I’d suggest you slip out. As long as you’ve already congratulated and loved them up, you’re fine. And trust me, as a bride, you don’t want to know who left early… you really don’t.

          • Lindsay

            I agree with Marbella. When I have regular parties I am always a little bummed if guests leave without saying goodbye. I will be even more sad at my wedding if I don’t get a chance to thank someone for coming, even if they’re leaving early.
            This conversation has made me think about putting a note on our wedding website about transportation. We are having a shuttle because our ceremony/reception site is sort of in the boonies. But I think I will both move the first shuttle time a bit earlier and also mention the time on our wedding website so that people who think they will want to leave earlier can make arrangements to do so. This also will let guests know that we don’t expect them to stay all night.

          • MARBELLA

            When I said non-comformist, what I really meant was non-WIC-conformist. As you said, it’s a site about doing what’s right for you. But I think it a double standard if it’s OK to do what’s right for you, but not let your guests do what’s right for them. I understand (and actually agree personally) that guests ought to stay until the bride and groom leave. But that’s not always practical, and I made a personal decision that I would let it go when people left our wedding early (even though a couple of those stung a lot). You aren’t in other people’s heads, and you can’t make judgments about why they might or might not have to leave unless they’ve told you. Personally I love weddings and would never leave one until the bitter end unless I was ill or outside circumstances forced me too, but I am not other people. I think someones comment earlier about refusing an invitation if you have social anxiety was quite thoughtless. I don’t suffer from it personally, so I can’t know how that feels, but I know if I had a close friend I had wanted at my wedding enough to invite them who did suffer from it, I would rather they came and were there for as much as they could be than felt they had to refuse the invitation in case I got pissed off that they left early.
            This is turning into a bit of an essay so I will stop. I basically wanted to say that we can’t always know people’s reasons for doing what they do, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s much better for you mentally than holding a grudge.

          • Kaitlyn

            Marbella, I want to agree with your comment below, even though I can’t reply to it :) I’d rather have someone make the effort to come to part of it than give a “no” RSVP (especially if they only came to the ceremony, which they’re not getting anything out of). And I agree that the conventional wisdom about how guests should behave often is simply not practical (especially since so many people travel to get to weddings, and wedding days can be very long).

            I also used to be an angry kid until I read a lovely book about how personally damaging it can be to set rules for other people’s behavior and then mentally fine them for not living up to the expectations that they never owned or agreed to. If you demand that someone fulfill your concept of their role, but their concept is different, you’re just creating opportunities for mental anguish when your one-sided contract is violated. Changed my life. Sound like you have a similar philosophy and I like it!

          • whitelotus

            I’m with Marbella. Sorry Meg, but “trust me, as a bride you don’t want to know who’s leaving early” was not my experience at all. I DEFINITELY wanted to know that my Grandma chose to make an exit at 8 so I could give her a big hug and thank her for staying up later than usual to be there, and tell her how happy I was that she was able to be there to celebrate with us. If she’d left without telling us, I would have been really, really sad to have missed that moment.

            So just because “you don’t want to know” worked for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone.

          • marbella

            Kaitlyn, yes, very much so! I have been working hard to get to the point where I think like that though – like you, used to be an angry kid! lol. I’d be interested in reading that book you mentioned, what was it?
            And whitelotus, 1 million times exactly! There is no way I didn’t notice when people I loved had left, so to me it was more upsetting that they hadn’t said goodbye. I don’t know how you couldn’t realise people had gone unless you had a massive wedding, ours was about 90 people so it was pretty apparent who had left.

          • A bit late for commenting but can’t help myself. As Marbella said above, it can be sooo different when you change countries… In France, most weddings takes place in the afternoon and the party is supposed to continue until after midnight (e.g, for our wedding, the catholic ceremony was at 4p.m, cocktail from 6:30 to 8:30pm and dinner from 9pm to 12pm (we cut the cake at that time, began dancing just after the cheese so people wouldn’t doze off ;-))… and partying until 4pm at what time we had to cut the music but we stayed chatting with our last friends until 5pm !)

            For the people invited to the dinner (because usually some are invited only to the cocktail, the ones that aren’t very close) they usually wait until after the cake cutting. But I never left a wedding before 1 or 2am…

        • I understood when guests left earlier than we did, and wasn’t upset about that. I was pretty bummed when they didn’t say goodbye though. That was the bit that hurt my feelings.

          Read more:

        • whitelotus

          I don’t even think this needs to be a “rule” – we didn’t cut our cake (it wasn’t a cake, but whatevs) until 10pm because we were having so much fun that we sort of..ehhh…errr…forgot (and didn’t have a “schedule of events”, or any other events, for that matter). We didn’t do toasts until people were well into dessert at 10:30pm.

          Some people left earlier – not many, but some – and we don’t blame them. My grandma, who usually goes to bed at 7pm, took her leave at 8 with our blessing (she came to hug us and say goodbye). We had intended to cut the “cake” just before she left but, like I said, we sort of got wrapped up in enjoying our guests.

          Besides grandma, the ones who took off early tended to be the ones with kids. Nobody left so early that their departure was “rude”.

    • meg

      Chew & screw. RAD. Tell your mom we love her.

  • I’m currently in the deposit-giving phase of hiring vendors, and so far I’ve never had to give any amount of money before getting at least an estimate of final cost. (Our florist mentioned we could change things around a little if we wanted up until very close to the actual wedding, depending on what the season has to offer.) If someone isn’t willing to share their prices up front, I’d be really disinclined to work with them. Who knows what else they could be hiding?

    • Yeah, I don’t think you should hand over money without at least a good idea of what you might pay in the end. Saying that, I kind of did book our florist on a ‘good feeling’ without an official contract – with the understanding that she was very lovely, very willing to work within our budget and flexible to what we wanted. She’s really relaxed about things, and I think she ‘gets’ what we want, even though we haven’t worked up a contract for x amount of y types of flowers.

      Also I feel maybe this florist had an experience with a nasty bride was really harsh and did play her off, so now she needs some florist therapy on how to resolve her florist-trust issues. I think I would do what someone else said on here: tell her that you liked her, but you need at least a guideline figure. If she can’t do that, then you don’t need the stress, and you’ll find another florist you click with.

  • WAACRIK, I have (almost) been that guest. I was invited to a wedding of friends, though not terribly close friends, along with my sister (who had been at uni with the couple and knew them rather better). I assumed I didn’t know them well enough to be invited to the reception. It was only on the day of the wedding I read my invitation properly and realised I was. Fortunately, it was local, and I hadn’t planned anything else that day and all was well. :) But, there really are people dappy enough to not read an invitation closely and not realise they’re invited to the reception.

    (Needless to say, since that I’ve read every wedding invitation I’ve received very carefully and when we were writing ours, made sure it was clear!)

    • Another Thea

      Just to turn it around, I think I’ve read from Miss Manners that some ceremonies (like a religious wedding in a church–depending on the religion, of course) are open to all, regardless, because it’s a community event and the couple is being welcomed into the congregation. In other words, you don’t have jurisdiction to be able to invite anyone to the ceremony, but you invite people to the reception, because that is your private party.

      Has anyone else heard this, or know if it’s actually the custom?

      • Christine

        Growing up in a non-denominational church, it was typical for the whole church to be invited to the ceremony- sometimes there was an announcement posted and sometimes it was just assumed. When my husband and I got married this fall in the church that we are both part of, we had a number of church people (to whom we hadn’t sent invitations) who were there for our ceremony, and this was lovely and not unexpected.

        In our (large) family, it is also common to invite only the adults to the reception, but most of the younger cousins still attend the ceremony.

  • One of my favorite people came to the ceremony (I noticed because she had a huge hat on, so cute) and then at the end of the night, I realized that I had never given her a hug, and that she hadn’t been at the reception. It took me weeks to ask her why (I was nervous) but it turned out that she had the flu, really wanted to see me get married, did not want to get me sick, and was shaky and needed to go home to bed, so she quietly left the ceremony at the end.

    Some people are indeed asshats, and some are not. Either way, was your wedding awesome for you? Because that is what matters!

    • Emily

      This is such a good point. Sometimes people have perfectly good reasons for leaving a wedding early. And really, the etiquette on what to do in that case isn’t clear at all. They might not feel comfortable talking to the bride, groom, or wedding party, since those individuals are generally in high demand. You should probably tell somebody that you’re leaving, but as Meg points out, you don’t want to make a huge deal about it and bring a bunch of attention to yourself.

      And sure, as Alyssa says, maybe these guests are lying about why they left. But I don’t think we should automatically assume it’s because their a**holes. They might have felt ill or just generally not up to a wedding reception, which can be a social nightmare for someone who isn’t in the right frame of mind. Why lie? Well, maybe they feel bad. Maybe they don’t want to go into the reasons why they didn’t stay (which might be personal or embarrassing).

      And maybe they did have another commitment. I’m not the only person who has been invited to a wedding on the same day as a baby shower on the same weekend as a company picnic, right? A wedding is really important, but it doesn’t prevent the world from turning. Other people have important things that happen too.

      The important thing is that they made a point to come to your wedding. It’s a shame you didn’t get to see them at the reception, but it’s not the end of the world. Wherever they went and whatever they did, these are people you clearly care about. I vote you give them the benefit of the doubt and let yourself off the etiquette hook.

      But of course, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to do the things Meg mentions — skipping the ceremony but dropping by for free drinks, making a scene, saying you’ll come and bailing altogether. None of those involve an effort to celebrate the couple or be polite; they’re just rude. In which case, yes, some wedding guests are just jerks.

      • El

        Agreed. And I’m pretty uncomfortable with the jump to friends and loved ones becoming “morons,” “dicks,” and “*ss-hats” because they left a party before the bitter end, or actually did celebrate via the ceremony but didn’t make it to the reception. Yes, there are ways to bow out gracefully that do not include making a run for it, but as many folks have noted here, people have things going on, and a wedding day is not an end-all-be-all day for everyone. Why not extend the benefit of the doubt to those we love on such a lovely day? And be grateful for the celebrating they were able to and chose to do with us?

        • In contrast to my first post on this thread, I have to say that, unfortunately, friends and loved ones can in fact be asshats. At my wedding, this turned out to be my sister-in-law, who didn’t show up for family photos before the ceremony, and who sent her husband back to the hotel with their two boys after the APPETIZERS so they could go swimming in the pool (apparently instead of staying and dancing with the 25 other little kids at our wedding.) Yes, it hurt our feelings, and yes, I’m pissed that my husband has no pictures of his nephews from our wedding.

          I had a Sunday night wedding and plenty of people left before I did, but there are ways to be polite about this and ways to be asshats. Every event has both, whether you love them or not!

      • meg

        No, y’all. You can’t leave a reception till the cake is cut. Sorry, no dice. It doesn’t matter if you have another commitment, if you agree to go to a wedding, you’re in till your cue to leave. There are reason we have rules for these things, and it’s so people don’t end up feeling really hurt. Etiquette is about watching out for others, when you want to just watch out for you sometimes.

        And Lauren’s right. Sometimes people do have totally valid reasons (which, may I add, only consist of “I was wildly ill.” But those people tend to apologize of their own accord, and they don’t say things like “I didn’t think I was invited to the party.”

        • Emily

          We may just have to agree to disagree here, and I know the cake rule is what all the etiquette books say. But I do think there is room for people to politely (as in quietly, saying good-bye if it feels appropriate, and probably with a phone call or email later explaining why) leave earlier than that. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for people to leave out of a sense of extreme discomfort (physical or social). I wouldn’t want people staying at my wedding solely out of etiquette obligation, if there was a reason why doing so would cause them personal pain or serious discomfort.

          As for conflicting plans, I think you should tell the bride and groom at the time of your RSVP, or as soon as you know of the conflict, “Hi, I’m really excited about your wedding, but I wanted to let you know that my best friend from college has a baby shower that day. I’d love to go to both, but might have to leave the reception early. Is that ok?” And yes, I realize that when wedding planning, people get 1001 and one requests/comments like this and it becomes a huge pain in the ass to accommodate them while still giving the caterer an accurate headcount and making a seating chart work. But I’d still like to think that when people genuinely care about each other, and want to support each other on an important day, that exceptions can be made to rules of etiquette.

          • Lydia

            Guests do have a chance to honor other committments…when they RSVP “will NOT attend” to your wedding. If you are attending, you are expected to stay after dinner! Obviously illness is unpredictable and in that case if you leave, I’d just drop a note saying you are so sorry you left early but you were sick. The people who ducked out early from my wedding were all pregnant so no problems there. And most of them made it a long time. Also, a few old people, totally fine. But if you have social anxiety and don’t know anyone going to the wedding, then RSVP your regrets and DON’T go at all! Good lord people, if you say you’re going, you are in for the whole shebang. If you don’t like it you do have options, like RSVPing NO. Ha.

          • meg

            I have to say, I agree with Lydia on this one.

          • Sarah

            I big time disagree, Lydia. Big time.

            I had an issue a few years ago where I was in a show, doing a matinee on the day of a good friend’s wedding. We knew in advance that I would be able to make the wedding and about an hour of the reception, but that was it.

            Day of, there was an emergency with the church (100+ degree day, the air conditioning was out. It took hours to get fans in and get the church under 90 degrees.) that led to the ceremony starting an hour late. Which means no reception for me.

            The bride and groom knew. No one was hurt. There was no etiquette problem.

            I could have just RSVPed no and been done with it. But it was important to me that I be able to be there to support and affirm them during their ceremony. And they said it was important to THEM that I be there for it. So I was.

            There were people at my wedding that did the same. Hell, a cousin flew in the morning of the wedding and had to leave the reception just after lunch to catch her flight home. That was literally the only thing her schedule permitted. We were thrilled to have her for what little time we did. I would never had DREAMED of telling her not to bother.

            As for the social anxiety … you don’t go to a wedding because of the fellow guests, you go to support the couple. How hurtful would it be to receive a “No” RSVP with the reason “I won’t know anyone else there, sorry!”

            This is an issue that isn’t just black and white. There are SO many factors that can play a role. To say “you do this or you do that, period” doesn’t take into account that everyone involved are real people with real feelings.

          • kaysa

            I’m with you, Emily. Stuff happens; generous and gracious guests do their best to attend the whole thing and gracious hosts are gracious. I was always told that a wedding reception was a “thank you” to all the people you care about and support you–and if something happens where they aren’t able to accept that thanks, it would make me sad, but then so be it.

            I’d much rather people feel like they can leave when they need to – and with my blessing – than not attend. And if one’s guests really are being mean or rude, it isn’t worth wasting negative energy worrying about it.

          • I think there is a difference between guests who have emergencies come up — work, illness, what-have-you — and who let the bride and groom know what’s up and people who just duck out without saying goodbye.

            I would not be at all offended if someone gave me a hug and said, “I’m so glad we were able to come to this part. I am sick as a dog [have work emergency; training for marathon; grandma died; babysitter bailed on us; etc.] and need to get going, but thank you for including us in your day. It was lovely!”

            If, on the other hand, someone slipped out without saying anything at all and then lied and tried to put it on ME (“Oh. We thought the reception didn’t include US.”) like what happened here, that’s a different ball of wax. That’s just weird and rude.

        • The other great thing about etiquette is that even if you don’t agree with it, it lets you know when a slight apology is necessary so that you can ward off future hard feelings from the other party. (Even though I know we shouldn’t hold grudges… Some of us are still a work in progress…)

          Hell, you can even quote it. A note saying, “We left your reception before you cut your cake, which is a breach of etiquette, according to Miss Manners, (who is not to be defied.) But we apologize and wanted to let you know that your ceremony was beautiful. Personal reasons kept us from experiencing the ceremony fully, but it looked amazing and we know you put a lot of work into it. We wish you both the best.”

          Bam. A bride and groom who may have been sad you left are satisfied and the bride and groom who didn’t even notice you were gone are like, “AWW! How sweet. I’m putting this in a scrapbook.”
          Or something like that.

          • Agreed! I strongly believe that as long as you communicate a.) “We’re so happy for you! Congratulations!” and b.) “We really appreciate all the work you put into this wedding!” it’d be really hard for someone to stay unhappy at you (even if you did breach a little bit of etiquette).

            Personally yeah, if I got that note, I’d totally be like “AWW.”

          • Class of 1980

            Reply to Sarah above:

            If you had to do a show and told the couple in advance, that is fine. You told them in advance and it’s job-related, which is completely out of your control. They knew to adjust their catering bill accordingly.

            Same as an illness.

            You did not break any rule.

        • Jennifer

          I’ve actually seen the cake-cutting rule brought up elsewhere as part of the counter argument when someone has asked if they can skip the wedding cake thing. “Noooo, you have to have a wedding cake and do a big cake-cutting, otherwise how will people know it’s okay to leave?” It wasn’t an issue at our wedding (because I love the traditional cake-cutting – a whole tradition centered around cake? awesome!) but I’ve always wondered what people would consider the “rule” for a wedding that doesn’t have a cake (or ceremonial pie-cutting, or what have you).

          The last two weddings I went to (besides ours), one had trays of cupcakes out after dinner, which I probably would have deemed as the equivalent even though there wasn’t any cake-cutting or the grooms feeding each other cake or anything (though I stayed dancing way after that); the one before that, I have no idea if they even had cake – if they did, it wasn’t brought out until waaaaay after the meal (and we couldn’t stay late because the wee nieces I was with were getting cranky after six hours outside).

          • I had no idea about this rule and we didn’t do a “cake cutting”. But we had several cakes, which were all cut and served (with threats of bodily harm from me if I didn’t get to try at least two of them,) so I guess that would have been the equivalent.

            So I’m thinking rule of thumb is stay until the bride and groom have left. Can’t do that? Stay until the cake is cut. Can’t find a cake or its equivalent and you absolutely can’t stay? Send a note with your regrets.
            And possibly cookies. Everything is forgiven when accompanied by cookies.

          • meg

            Agreed. If there is not a cake (or if the social contract is tweaked by the cake being cut at three am) then you can and should pick an equivalent moment to quietly make your exit.

        • whitelotus

          Why assume there is a cake? Or that it will be cut in some sort of remarked-upon event?

          I’m with Emily – it’s OK to leave at a reasonable time, meaning not right after dinner (if there is a dinner) but the amount of time you decide to stay can be based on individual circumstances. Some people would say an hour after dinner is reasonable, some might have reasons to leave earlier (I agree that those people should be honest about it, though).

          I would say that those people don’t need to “apologize” though I agree that pretending you didn’t know you were invited to the reception is rude, if that in fact happened. I don’t think leaving early because you are sick, anxious, have kids, are exhausted or are just the sort who goes to bed at 10pm means you have to apologize. Explain, sure. Apologize? You have nothing to feel sorry for!

    • Courtney

      I’m so glad you asked her!

      I left my best friend’s wedding early because I was SO sick, but I didn’t want her worrying about me, so I didn’t say anything to her about how I was feeling. It wasn’t until months later, when she was reminiscing about her cake and I confessed I hadn’t had any, that she was brave enough to ask me why I didn’t stay later. I was so upset that my not-wanting-her-to-worry had backfired and made her wonder for months what was wrong!

      There is so much room for misunderstandings like that at weddings, so I’d much rather assume that they meant well and executed it poorly, like I did, rather than doing it on purpose.

  • In response to WAACRIK – I have to say… while your wedding is the most important day of your life you can’t expect it to be the most important day of everyone else around you. I don’t mean this to sound harsh at all – I just wouldn’t take it personally. I’m willing to bet that your nearest and dearest stayed through your reception, yeah? That’s all that matters! And this is just another reason why I’m a huge advocate of small weddings.

    In response to batering for services – there are always alternative (and cheaper) solutions. If you REALLY want the best invitation designer / caterer / florist on the block you’re going to have to expect to pay for it. Otherwise, just find a solution that’s within your budget. As an invitation designer sometimes I feel like people think they’re entitled to my work just because they LIKE it and it doesn’t work that way.

    • True about the idea that your wedding is not the most important day of other people’s lives. I agree. I had a great time at our reception, even though most all of my friends left “early,” compared to how late the reception went. (And there were not that many people from my side since the wedding was in my husband’s town/country.) Our reception started at 9 pm though, so it was understandable that people on my side who were flying out the next morning might want to leave early. So I got that and didn’t let that bother me. I was just so glad they were there in the first place! What did hurt, however, was that my two closest, most long-standing girlfriends (my only bridesmaid there and my friend who was our pastor) left well before the party was over too. They both came in the same car from the hotel, and didn’t know the town, so when my one friend said she was tired and needed to go to bed because she had a big week the next week and didn’t want to be tired all week, it did hurt. And it meant my other friend had to leave then too. But, you know, what can you do? My other friend, who felt really bad about leaving without helping us wrap up/clean up our totally DIY reception, communicated that to me, so I understood her intentions and heart. I dunno. Sometimes I think there is less pain in choosing to let something go than choosing to let something really, really upset and offend me. But it still hurts a little when I think about it, so I try not to. :)

    • Here’s my main issue with people leaving early: if they RSVPd to your wedding and said they were coming, you included them in the count for dinner/cake/whatever. If said people don’t give you a heads up that they aren’t staying for dinner, then you’re paying for the dinner they won’t use. Okay if one or two folks do that, but imagine if 10, 15, or 20 people do that. I’d be ticked.

      Yes, the world keeps turning, and a wedding isn’t a monopoly on the day. But when I RSVP yes to a wedding (& reception), I am committing to be there, and I’m being counted among the guests. If you only want to go to the ceremony, tell the bride when you send back the card (I am sure you can find a gracious way to do so). And if you’re sick or something comes up, just let someone know. Way better than getting to the end of the night and realizing that you’re on the hook for 20 plated dinners and tons of cake that didn’t get eaten.

  • Kate

    I find the florist thing pretty appalling, but then again it sounds like she perhaps isn’t very good at running her business if she was consistently losing clients to others. But then in London it is extremely common to charge a £20 fee just to try on wedding dresses. So I guess perhaps other vendors are catching on and trying to ensure a revenue stream from anyone who takes their time?

    I can see perhaps at a serious strech charging a nominal fee for a quote but not even being willing to give any sort of ballpark figure feels a bit shady to me.

    • Jess

      Where in London do they charge you £20 to try on wedding dresses? I must have been to a dozen or so shops by now and not one has charged me to try on dresses. I would definitely skip over any shops forcing me to part with 20 quid for an appointment.

      • I paid £30 in Southampton for an evening appointment which included champagne and cupcakes.

        I absolutely would not pay just to try them on.

        • Kate

          It wasn’t actually me but my friend who was going, I was just along for the ride, and it wasn’t everywhere and was mostly for Saturday appts. But it was still at least 3-4 of the shops, which I was really surprised about and it was generally the higher end places as well. No champagne or cupcakes though – agreed that would have made it more worthwhile!

  • I think the bartering idea is a really interesting one! It’s worth asking (I am a firm believer in the idea that we don’t get what we want unless we ask), but only in the exact way Alyssa described in her 2nd paragraph. It’s a trendy thing actually, catching on!

    Alternately, if you get desperate and somehow find that you have time on your hands, as your request suggests, you could just get a part-time gig and earn some extra wedding cash, quitting if you have to later. As long as you aren’t desperate for references, it’s not a big deal if you have one job that doesn’t last forever. That industry doesn’t expect to keep every hire for years. Just a thought!

    • M

      Yeah, I have two jobs right now, and the waitressing is the part time gig to pay for extra wedding stuff as my current job is on the low side of the income spectrum (adjuncts unite!) When the summer comes I was going to wait tables full time and if the caterer let me consider my part of the bartering as a part time job. But, I’ve just gotten her estimate and realized that no matter how much bartering I do I won’t be able to use her services. I thought she was a little cheaper than I now realize she is. I priced out what it would cost to go to Wegmann’s or Whole Foods catering and hire some waitress friends who aren’t quite close enough to make the cut for the wedding (can only have a certain amount, sadly) and ask them to run the buffet. Some have already enthusiastically agreed.

      I totally get Alyssa’s answer and would only have asked if I could sense that this is the type of company that could benefit from this and the caterer seems to be the type that would do it, just from our two conversations, but I still can’t afford it. However, I agree that bartering is making a comeback. I read about it in RealSimple and else where. It would have been great if it worked. Oh well, thank you Alysssa!

  • Amy

    Personally, I would not work any vendor who would not give me a general quote up front, along with any other relevant details I might need to know (when do you generally arrive before a wedding, when do you tear down, what is included in your fees, what don’t you do, etc.).
    That being said – it is hard for florists to give you an exact quote down to the type and color of flowers. Sometimes they may not know until a few days before the wedding if the flowers they ordered came in in just the right shade, or the kind of shape they’re in. My florist was up front about those things, and I was fine with it. It freaked my mom out a bit, but I’ve dealt with a lot of florists for work and this is pretty standard. Unfortunately you can’t command peonies to bloom on command in the perfect shade of pink, and if the ones you ordered look raggedy…well…this is why you ok a substitute with the bride ahead of time.

    • Cass

      The florist I hired was able to tell me which flowers are reliable like this, and which are not. I was able to even pick the “brand” and color of peruvian lily/alstromeria that exactly matched my bridesmaid dresses.
      I’m not super anal about flower colors, but the ability to choose seemed rather amazing to me. And all I had to do was ask.
      It never hurts to ask a vendor “what can I realistically expect?”

    • I would have to disagree on the florist not being able to tell you type or color. I mean, flowers aren’t exactly magic, florists work with vendors who know what is being grown and what would be available in season. (And what is available but look crappy out of season.) I think you’re right on things being out of their control, but a nice little sentence on the quote saying, “Subject to change due to unforseen circumstances.” would cover their butt nicely.
      But they can definitely tell you whether or not you can have pink peonies. Now if they are the perfect baby pink that matches your linens exactly…well, that’s nice if you can have, but if you’re that worried about it, you need to go with fake flowers.
      (that was a general you, not a you YOU, Amy. :-) )

      • Amy

        Ha, no worries Alyssa! I didn’t much care about the specifics of my flowers, and I trusted my florist. But, he was also a guy who did a lot of Manhattan special event work and apparently you’d be surprised by the sheer number of people who go ape-sh*t when their pink peonies/garden roses/what have you do not perfectly match the color of their linens. Must be a NY thing ;)

      • Marie-Eve actually did my flowers for my wedding and she was awesome!!! :) So I was so happy to see the link to Fleur Bleue. When I told her exactly what I envisioned and how many of everything, etc, she gave me a quote of what that would cost, and that was our final cost. And we loved the results. Ahhh. :) That being said, I would never hire someone who wouldn’t give a relatively accurate quote. I value knowing the facts in advance so I can make informed choices about what fits my budget and values. And I think the florist should be experienced enough to know roughly what it would cost to pull off certain flowers/looks in various seasons. I mean, that is why I would hire a professional- they know their stuff, right? :)

  • Kaitlyn

    WAACRIK, I’m so sorry about this situation. I had an experience this summer where I went to a friend’s ceremony, and my sister was going to join me for the reception held a couple hours later at a different location. My sister bailed at the last minute (to watch reruns in her pjs), and I was extremely upset; my mom suggested that I skip the reception, as I had already been to “the important part”. She explained to me that it’s very common for some people to go only to the ceremony, others to go only to the reception, and it’s not a big deal.

    This seemed strange to me and I headed off to the reception all by my lonesome and had an awkward but delicious dinner. This was clearly the right thing to do and my friend obviously appreciated it, but my mom thought I was needlessly torturing myself.

    I think there is a principle out there among some cultural groups, if you will, stating that guests may come and go as they please. I wonder if this is a hold-over from the days of much-less-expensive weddings, when no-shows and half-shows weren’t wasting significant amounts of the couple’s money? And, um, before the ease of updating someone via e-mail or cell (although, even today, I know some people who would feel a bride is too busy with other things to worry about little-old-them). When my parents and their friends were getting married, half the town was invited to the ceremony and a large group was invited to the reception; RSVPs were appreciated but only the bridal party were truly expected to follow through (my family loves to talk about how my uncle missed his sister’s entire wedding to take care of me when I was a sick baby; they’re full of similar stories).

    How do your older relatives feel about the reception-skipping? They might be a better gauge of how things are seen in your particular region and among the people you invited as guests. *The upside* may be that your guests aren’t terribly rude people with no regard for you; they just haven’t been checking out the blogz and aren’t up on modern wedding etiquette. Had I not been planning a wedding of my own, I probably would have followed my mom’s advice and skipped my friend’s reception.

    • FM

      I would suggest that there are lots of “come-and-go-as-you-please” weddings still going on. A friend of mine went to one in W. Virginia where about 1/4 of the chairs were empty and everyone said that was just the normal way for weddings around there, for people to be casual about whether or not they show up or stay. I have also heard of wedding receptions in some places where there wasn’t even an rsvp option, it was just kind of a show up if you want arrangement.

      • meg

        Just because “come-and-go-as-you-please” weddings are happening, does not make it ok. Etiquette is there to protect people’s feelings (and budgets). People do all sorts of things, but I’m not going to endorse all of those things. When you go to a wedding, you commit to be there for the wedding and emotionally support the couple. Oh, and to eat the food that they paid good money for when you RSVPed yes.

        • Class of 1980

          Some perspective here … because I’m 52 and all that.

          When I was barely 20, most of the weddings I went to were Southern Baptist cake and punch receptions. At that type of wedding, they put an invitation into the Sunday bulletin and the whole church was invited. No RSVP required.

          However, if you attended, you were expected to stay until the couple made their BIG EXIT. Absolutely no one left before. There was no “coming and going”. Then again, those receptions didn’t go on all night..

          Later on, the weddings I went to involved personal invitations and RSVP’s. When you’re talking about catering and cost-per-person, an RSVP becomes necessary. Once you have indicated that you are attending, only an illness should prevent you from going. Otherwise you have caused the couple to waste money on catering that wasn’t necessary.

          That’s why it’s rude to request to bring a guest. You are asking them to pay for more catering that they are not prepared to do. They may not even have the space and their budget may be maxed out.

          I have a friend who is attending a wedding this weekend. The poor couple has had it with a few guests asking to bring guests of their own, because the catering is costing them $140 per person. It really puts them in a bad position.

          • Kaitlyn

            I think we have a lot of different cultures going on, even for “traditional” weddings – they may look similar but the rules vary! My proper old-South, Presbyterian grandmother had quite the eye-opening experience at my parents’ raucous Irish/German Catholic fete, complete with full hour-plus mass at which she was not allowed to take communion, standing around in the street for half an hour to mount a massive farewell from the church (that was their “big exit”), and a backyard extravaganza featuring more booze than she’d ever seen in one place.

            I 100% agree that it is rude to ask to bring a guest and I don’t think that should ever be done. I’m shocked when I hear about people who have just brought a friend along with no notice. I want to clarify that in the case I mentioned above, I was invited to bring a guest, and was thrilled because I wouldn’t know anyone there. Then I got stood up. By my sister. I was mortified – not least about the wasted $$. I would certainly have noted on my RSVP that I wouldn’t be bringing a guest, had I known that I would not, in fact, be bringing a guest.

            However, I also think that, unless someone has actively participated in planning a recent wedding… they often just don’t know what is involved, how much it costs and what the expectations are.

          • Class of 1980

            Well, Kaitlyn,

            The wedding my friend is attending this weekend is between a 40-something and a 50-something.

            The guest who asked to bring a guest, is in her forties at least. If a person does not know by their forties that what they’re doing is rude, then I feel sorry for them.

  • Abby C.

    I have to say, I’ve been the rude wedding guest too – I was volunteering at an event the same day as the wedding of two friends to whom I was only somewhat close. I balanced the day by going to the ceremony and sitting for the dinner while someone else covered me at the event, but I had to leave during the dancing to help break down my event (free outdoor festival). I made the afterparty, but I’ve always worried that I hurt the bride and groom’s feelings. I did explain to the maid of honor, though, so hopefully she understood and smoothed any ruffled feelings.

    Also, nice to know I’m not the only practical bride in Kentucky!

  • I’ve left a wedding reception early about (10:30ish) because I wasn’t feeling well. I felt horrible at the time and I still do feel bad about it, especially since my boyfriend was the best man (he stayed, I would never make him leave). Sometimes people are ill on your wedding day, and it’s no one’s fault, it’s just the way things happen. To WAACRIK though, it sounds like your guests are using the “oh we didn’t know we could come to the reception” excuse as just that, an excuse. Maybe for whatever reason they didn’t want to come, or couldn’t come (illness, anxiety), but it would have been nice for them to be open with you about why.

    Personally, I’d only be upset if people left early and didn’t say good-bye to me and my husband. I don’t really care if people leave early, that’s their own choice for various reasons, but even just taking a moment to say farewell and give best wishes seems to leave things on a high note.

    • Kaitlyn

      I just want to point out that it takes an extraordinarily confident anxious person and an unbelievably understanding bride and groom for a conversation like, “I’m sorry I left your reception early, it was an awkward situation and I panicked” to go over well. The couple might think the person was making it up, and the anxious person might feel compelled to compensate by sharing their anxious history of anxiety, after which Anxiety F. Disorder might feel like a total anxious freak who’s going to be gossiped about by everyone who knows the couple… or, if the couple has one anxious bone amongst their newly-married bodies, they will think their reception wasn’t welcoming or accommodating enough, the timing was awkward, everything was horrible…

      Except in the case of very close friends, I can’t see this going well.

      • True enough. I was thinking more along the lines of illness, but I could see how that would be difficult for someone with anxiety. Thanks for pointing that out, I definitely wasn’t thinking about that. :)

        • Class of 1980

          Illness has always been an acceptable excuse. No worries.

      • I agree, but think this would be an acceptable time for a white lie. It allows you a graceful way to exit, without potentially hurting feelings or ruffling feathers. As a social anxious person, I’ll use the excuse that I have a migraine (which I do get). If you say you’re not feeling well, chances are you won’t be asked to elaborate. (And if they do, you can say you have an upset stomach, not will will ask for elaboration on that!)

    • ellobie

      Meh, tons of people left our reception at points throughout the night and didn’t necessarily come by to hug me and say bye. I was boogeying on the dance floor with my new husband for the majority of the evening, I saw/hugged everyone immediately after the ceremony and mingled a bit at the reception. But for the most part, if you wanted to chat with me, you had to get your butt on the dance floor. I’m not bothered that people left without stopping to say bye.

  • Chelsea

    WAACRIK – we had a no-show groomsman, which I didn’t realize until I was sitting on the altar, smiling at everyone.. and then suddenly realizing the numbers weren’t right. He lives far away and was going through some really tough times, and it turned out that seeing so many people from his past in one place at one time when he was sort of a mess was just too much for him to handle, and he panicked. I’m sympathetic, but it can still burn me up when I think about it… not that it hurt the wedding, but that it hurt my husband.

    Anyway, what I eventually had to decide (about him and the other no shows, of which there were a couple) was “Am I going to let this affect my memory of the day?” Of course I didn’t want it to, but it took a real effort to get to the point where it really and truly didn’t. Now the no shows are hadly a blip in the radar, and if I do think about them it’s with sympathy, because they missed a party that, over 9 months later, people STILL talk about!

  • Cass

    For those inclined to church/community weddings, see if there is a community newsletter or bulletin that you can check out. I found almost every one of my vendors through my church bulletin, which advertises to help with the printing cost. 1) I’m guaranteed the vendor knows how to work the location. 2) I know that they will share my values (being members of my church). 3) No endless google searches needed! No overpriced vendors who pay a ton to be on WIC websites! 4) It is probably very possible to work out a lower price. But so many of the vendors fit in to our budget, I didn’t feel the need to short-change these hard working people!

  • Hey M.! I didn’t barter for actual wedding day stuff, but I have bartered since then. It’s mostly been with friends, but for professional services (my professional pet-care stuff for her professional photography). We both came into it with “this is what we would normally charge for this service” and traded the appropriate number of hours (um, just fyi: many hours of petsitting = few hours of photography. oh well.). I think it’s worth asking; if it’s something that you’re interested in, and you have the skillset for it, it seems like a great idea to me! The only thing is that I think you’d need to offer to do YOUR part before the wedding, and have it in writing; or you could offer to put down a monetary deposit, which you’d get back. Just something so that they know you’re serious, and in it to win it, and also awesome.

    WAACRIK, we had a few people leave early, too. I think most of them stuck around long enough to eat, but didn’t stay for pie or dancing or any of that. I was a little sad about that because we put so much planning into it, but later found out good reasons: one person was sick, one couldn’t get childcare for her kids for all day but coming to the wedding was important to her, one was really uncomfortable in social situations but wanted to be there for US, and when she felt she’d done that, she was ready to go. I agree with Meg’s advice: look at your happy pictures.

  • “Even if the quote sings and dances and then makes you tea, I don’t think it’s going to be worth $100”

    Just had to note that this made me spit out my tea, laughing.

    • Jennifer

      I think I actually would pay $100 for a quote that sings and dances and makes me tea. Especially if there was any chance I might be able to reverse-engineer that sucker and figure out how to make my own singing-and-dancing-and-tea-making documents. But I would want to know upfront that I was paying $100 for the Amazing Dancing Floral Quote, so.

  • Anna

    I agree on all accounts:

    a) Some people aren’t good at weddings and some people have good reasons to bail early. In any case, 99% of peoples actions have very little to do with you and more to do with them (i think this applies in all areas of life- not just weddings)

    b) “If you can’t afford it- you can’t have it” -Exactly. Offering your services may seem helpful and worthwhile to you, but to a business, it’s probably not as valuable. Think about a company hiring a new employee, the training time is time & money invested by the company because the payoff is eventually a well trained, productive employee. You would, essentially, be a new employee who they spend time and money training who has no intention of sticking around long term. Sorry :(

    c) Aaaand the Florist situation- what the whaaaaat?? That’s crazy. It’s like pay me $100 to find out what’s in the mystery box. And you have NO IDEA what’s in the mystery box.

  • Edelweiss

    Re: Caterer Bartering
    My intended works in the catering industry, and used to work for a company that catered weddings (which has led to a complete intolerence of the WIC – sidenote: one of the reasons I love APW is that it sponsors vendors that seem like good people. I’ve heard WAY too many unethical and shadeball stories from the dark side).

    While he was at that company a couple spent a year working for the caterer to help defray the costs of the wedding. This had mixed success.
    Logistics- First of all, they found the caterer because he was advertising for part-time help (one position at the time) and they approached him suggesting a deal that first involved her and then her fiancee eventually joined the bargain. To ensure that they would feel like employees and be comitted to showing up, it was important to the owner that they make a small, part-time wage, combined with discounts on thier event, so it took a full year to get the discounts they needed to afford the wedding. The part-time wage also helped earn money ontop of their normal jobs, which went into thier wedding fund. The caterer also treated them just like employees, running references and placing them under all the same expectations. They did not get anything “at cost” or any additional discounts. They were upcharged because it was a weddng, just like anybody else was. It was just like they had half their pay essentially direct-deposited into their wedding payment.

    Other factors – At the end, they got the wedding they pictured. But there was an emotional let-down. They spent a year building relationships with thier new co-workers, who were then serving them at their wedding, which was a little weird, for a few different reasons. And their “new boss” didn’t throw in a free limo or a special appetizer or anything. This was in complete accordance with thier agreement, but they had false hopes based on their new relationship. They also worked their butts off for a year ontop of planning thier wedding, their regular jobs, planning thier new home, etc. At he end, the bride was proud of the wedding and glad she did it, because she liked knowing she had certain things that she felt were necessary for a wedding. So it did work according to her definition, and other people might have different experiences with different dynamics. It’s not something that I would personally do, but let’s be real, I’m too lazy to work an extra job for one night. It is possible to make it happen for those that have that drive.

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    WAACRIK, I totally feel your pain. After the hours I spent agonizing over the seating charts, the juggling we’d done to get the guest list exactly the right size and the effort we put into making the whole event lovely, I was pissed that not everyone who rsvp’ed “yes” came, and some people who did come left early. I managed to make my peace with it by the end of our honeymoon (although, like Meg, I think we’ve reevaluated some friendships), but there’s one that still makes me see red.

    My uncle and aunt (my dad’s only brother) rsvp’ed “yes” right away and wrote a really sweet note saying how much they were looking forward to the wedding. They mentioned being excited to come again when we saw them at Christmas. Then they decided not to come and wrote me a letter saying they wouldn’t be there, which I received the day of the wedding. WTF? Pick up a damn phone! And really, I’m not close with them so I wasn’t super upset about not seeing them. I was super upset that this would hurt my dad though. Also that those hours with the seating chart now left empty seats at my parents’ table.

    But, as it turns out, we didn’t mention it to my dad and I had his sister (my favorite aunt for a reason) quietly switch some placecards around and fill the spots. Dad didn’t even miss his brother until way later and we still had an awesome time. So I’m still really, really mad at my uncle, but I’ve separated my anger at him from my feelings about the wedding.

  • Personally I would never give a vendor a deposit without a contract. Without a contract, they have no obligation to you. I understand some contracts for florists might indicate that the flowers in it are just suggestions as they have no way of knowing exactly what might be available day of. But I sure as heck want something in writing saying they are compelled to execute their services for a specific amount or a very narrow range. I’m kind of a worst case scenario kind of girl and I can imagine a vendor getting a deposit and then saying, no sorry I don’t want to work with you anymore, but I’m keeping your deposit and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    • Or saying “Those centerpieces everyone else is charging $50 a piece for? Yeah, We’re charging $80.”

  • rachel

    We were subject to early departers also at our wedding, as well as no-shows. However, I understand it with our wedding-we had a 3pm wedding with a picnic dinner reception afterwards is a gorgeous park nearby. We had fabulous food and cake, but couldn’t have any booze since it was in a park (which, while disappointing those who enjoy a nice cold one in the family, we also have teetotalers and recovering alcoholics, so this made things less complicated) and we didn’t have dancing-just a rockin’ ipod playlist thanks to my boy :) So really after dinner and cake and talking…most people were gone by 7:30ish. I had images of Bilbo’s party from LOTR in my mind- people eating and talking all night, but I realize now that that would have been on the impractical side.

    And also, I would RUN from any florist that wont even give you a ballpark figure. I used to work for a wonderful florist who was so excellent at working with people’s budgets and giving them the best they could for what they could afford, so perhaps I got spoiled with that. However, that practice seems like a great way to keep customers away rather than keeping them.

    • Jessica

      “…giving them the best they could for what they could afford…” – This is how it worked with my florist – I gave him my budget, and he said he was comfortable working within it. I haven’t met with him yet, so I imagine we’ll start getting a bit more specific at some point, but that’s where we started. The downside is that it means there’s little chance that we’ll come in under budget on flowers, but I already thought my flower budget was a little small for what we want, so I didn’t expect to come in under budget anyway. Also, my parents have a relationship with the florist (he had a store on their street for many years), so I don’t know if he would typically work in that way. That said, if you are comfortable putting your cards on the table, it might be appropriate to give the florist your budget upfront (or at least a range) and ask if she can work within it, and if she says she can (ideally by email, so you have it in writing!), then it might be more comfortable to give a deposit for the detailed quote (though I still agree it’s a weird practice.)

      • Lindsay

        I also recommend putting your cards on the table up front. I am trying to find a caterer right now and after the first quote was outrageous I changed tactics. It has saved me a bunch of time being up front about our budget. I basically got laughed at once by a super fancy company, and the caterer I really wanted was able to work with out budget, but not in a way that we were ok with. So I got over it and have found another lovely company that I think is going to work out. Save yourself the time! No need to drag out the pain of realizing that the vendor you want just isn’t realistic.

  • WAACRIK- It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously. People are just clueless. They have no idea how much things cost or that you have a head count or that you invited them for a reason. Its not an open house, its a wedding people!

    My in laws were an hour late because they stopped for a drink to catch up with some other guests. (Really? We had an open bar in a super cute atmosphere!) My husband’s aunt and uncle showed up with their 21 year old son (who got his own invite but declined) AND his college roommate…that’s a +2 that ate and drank A LOT. You can’t really turn them away at the door. It ended up ok though because about 6 people just no showed altogether, including one who adamently requested (and received) a +1. No message, no call later, not even a card.

    Its rude! It happens all the time but there isn’t anything we can do to control the a**-hats of the world. All we can do is keep our side of the street clean and be the best darn wedding guests for the rest of our lives :)

    • “All we can do is keep our side of the street clean and be the best darn wedding guests for the rest of our lives :)”

      I like this. Very true. :)

  • Laura

    Yikes… I’ve been a rude wedding guest, I suppose. I attended a friend’s wedding awhile back… we were friends from the dog park, and I didn’t know a single soul besides the bride. The reception was held in the church fellowship hall, and when I walked in, I realized that there were no assigned seats, and there were small groups of people already seated at most of the tables.

    Honestly, I kinda panicked and just put my gift on the gift table and left. I’m pretty introverted (especially at a dry event, like this one was), and the thought of walking up to a table of people I didn’t know and asking if I could sit with them gave me flashbacks to the middle school cafeteria.

    I did apologize to the bride the next time I saw her, and she was understanding. I don’t think she even noticed I wasn’t there. But I decided we are most definitely assigning guests to tables at our wedding this fall, because I don’t want anyone to feel as awkward as I felt.

    • Other Katelyn

      This just convinced me to do assigned seating. I hate those anxious moments!

      • Me too, I was thinking about letting everyone figure it out, but no…to resolve those moments of panic for guests would be a good thing.

    • Situations like that are why we assigned people to tables. Not specific seats, just tables. That way, we could put people who knew each other together and no one would be awkwardly standing around looking for a seat.

    • thank you! feeling a bit validated, that’s pretty much why I wanted to seat people at our wedding also. I got many comments along the lines of “people are adults, they can handle finding a seat, and should get to sit with whomever they want.” but it’s not that simple. also doing the table assignments was really fun on AND it worked out really well, because we were able to kind of force our family and friend groups to mingle with each other, in a way that made sense (my cousins with his cousins, my friends with his friends, my aunts and uncles with his, etc).

      • Karen

        I went to an out-of-town wedding where the only person I knew was the bride, and there were no assigned seats or assigned tables. It would have been a total disaster except that the bride knew I’d be in that position, so she arranged for a friend of hers to look out for me — having that kind of welcome made it work out fine.

        So if you’re planning on not having assigned tables, maybe enlist some gregarious friends to take care of the shy ones….

        • We didn’t have any seating charts or anything, I had a new friend who came to our wedding who only knew my husband and I, so in advance, I asked my friends to find her and introduce themselves to her, and my new friend got to know them and even people on my husband’s side. Apparently, it worked out well and she had a good time. :)

      • Amy

        Good point – we took a lot of time with our seating assignments, and made an effort to put couples who didn’t know anyone else with people who were about their age and fun. One of those couples actually told us at the wedding how much they loved the people at their table and how much fun they were having, which made us really happy!

    • tuffbunny

      This happened to me too! My fiance and I were invited to a wedding, but we didn’t know anyone other than the couple getting married. So that we wouldn’t have to do the whole middle-school-cafeteria-routine, we sat down at an empty table as soon as we entered the room. But there were more chairs that people, and we ended up at a table for eight all by ourselves. It was so awkward :-\ We ended up toughing it out until after the cake, but I still feel bad about the whole thing. Right after running away, my finance and I decided that we’re having assigned tables.

  • @ M: If you’re hiring a caterer to have a more efficient food service situation, and make things easier on everybody, then offering to work isn’t really going to give you what you’re after in hiring a caterer in the first place… There really are affordable options out there, even if you have to think very low key. I’m not sure of your venue, the atmosphere you’re imagining or what type of food you have in mind, BUT here are a few things you could do… Order food in bulk from a restaurant instead of a full on “caterer” (meat by the pound, side dishes by the gallon, or pint, or whatever). Have the food delivered and set up buffet style but make it SELF serve instead of hiring servers. Desserts and drinks can be bought in bulk at Costco and dressed up with nice serving platters and pitchers, and you can get all of your utensils etc in bulk, too. If you’re willing to work a little bit, which it sounds like you are, then running to Costco shouldn’t be so bad. Maybe you could barter with some friends or offer to pay them cheaply or with alcohol to help with set up on the day of your wedding. Just some ideas. It is possible to find a catering like option at a decent price, and you don’t have to work like a dog on your own wedding day to make it that way! Good luck!

    And @ Jenn: Don’t second guess yourself. If you’re uncomfortable with the situation, then something is wrong (and a vendor who won’t give you a ballpark figure without a deposit is definitely wrong, in my opinion.) Vendors can be very helpful and personable, and it’s great to find ones that you click with. BUT, it’s also business. Sometimes you have to play hardball and leave your emotions out of it. Just because a vendor is offering a service you want, and you like them, doesn’t mean you have to play by their rules. If you don’t like their rules, you can try to negotiate, or FIND A DIFFERENT VENDOR. There are plenty out there who are open and honest and willing to help. You can do it :-)

  • I’m fairly new to the site (& getting married SOOONNNN. I wish I found y’all earlier!!!) but I ADORE these posts. Alyssa & Meg are both (a) funny & (b) incredibly logical. It’s a super burst of fresh air to see in the wedding community.

    Oh – & that Florist can kiss patootie ;) She very well might offer up a quote if you tell her no, anyway. The best way to negotiate is having the ability to walk away – and these people need business to make a living. Wise words. & it’s exactly how my grandmother scored us our venue (near all-inclusive) for 100 people at the cost of 50 people. Win.

  • We had a few non-responsive guests. It was one buddy of ours who fell off the face of the planet with regards to our wedding, but showed up in wedding pictures for a mutual acquaintance, who got married a week before us. The other was a couple who asked about childcare or bringing their toddler, and then never responded about the wedding at all. We texted, Facebook messaged, called, everything– no response. And Meg is right– the way guests behave just shows you a little more of their character, it doesn’t reflect on your etiquette or your kickass party. Focus on the wonderful, the beautiful, the magnificent, and let the other stuff slide.

    As for spring being here? I’m in Boston, and we have two inches of slush. And no, that’s not an April Fool’s joke. Thank goodness the Red Sox are playing the season opener in Texas…

    • We got snow on Friday too. Sigh.

      • Morgan

        I woke up to 20 cm of snow this morning. (That’s what, 8 inches?) Over night snow-pocalypse. Spring is a tease.

        • Whoa. Do I remember right that you’re in Canada too?

          • Yup. Calgary. Today the sun came out and half the snow melted. Slush everywhere.

            It’s still feels like spring, however. One day ALL the snow will melt and not come back, right? Please?

  • Lauren

    Re: Disappearing wedding guests. They happen. It’s sad, and dumb, and I don’t know how to tell you not to feel bad about it, because, well, it sucks.

    My mom insisted I invite a bunch of people from the church I grew up in to the wedding- people her age who had known me all my life, that she wanted to be at my wedding partially because they were her friends and partially because they cared about me.

    They all left right after dinner. Before the first dance, cake cutting, etc., which is, in my region, the accepted time to cut out early. To be fair, it was June, in GA, and we were outdoors (hot!). Also, the wedding was where I live currently, which was about an hour’s drive and some change from where most of my guests lived, and dinner ended at about seven or seven thirty, so I guess maybe they didn’t want to drive home late?

    I had a limited number of invites, and we actually ended up with way more people coming than we had told our caterer. There were people my own age, not close friends, but people I liked and would have liked to invite, people that I worked with, teachers from my high school and college that I would have wanted to invite, if we had had the room for them. I gave up those spots so we could invite this fairly large group of people who were mostly friends of my mother- and they all left before the reception had really even started. I’m still really miffed about this, mostly because I didn’t want to invite them in the first place.

    I personally haven’t made peace with this, ten months later. There were other things I let my mom have her way on that also bothered me, and I think the only thing that’s going to really let me love my wedding is a do-over. Maybe in ten years time?

    • ellobie

      I had kind of the opposite problem as Lauren. My husband’s mother “adopted” a refugee Cambodian family decades ago and even though the two families are no longer in touch (despite living in the same city), the Cambodians have invited my huband’s family (mom, dad, husband, his brother & SIL) to every one of their 8 kids’ weddings. So when my husband and I were getting married, his mother insisted we invite the Cambodians, who I had barely met once at the last daughter’s wedding the year before. I can understand her position, but we had a 100 person capacity (including servers/workers) on our room and the Cambodians ended up being 18 of those 100 people. Nearly 20% of our wedding invites to (perfectly lovely) people my husband & I really didn’t know at all. I was pretty livid, but my husband and his mother insisted. We still aren’t in touch on a regular basis with this huge, lovely Cambodian family, but they filled up the dance floor, were full of joy for our marriage and we ended up having a great time with them. My “color” is pink, my husband’s is orange. Our wedding was alllll pink & orange. For attire on our invites, we wrote, “Pink & Orange summer festive wear!” I cannot tell you how many of our friends and relatives didn’t get it or just ignored it, which was totally fine but I remember wondering how they missed the message. Those 18 Cambodians? Every single one of them showed up in bright pinks &/or oranges! And a big portion of them barely even speak/read English.

      Had they all taken off right after dinner, I would have the same feelings as you, Lauren!

  • I guess there are enough examples by now to show that sometimes guests have reasons they can’t fully experience your wedding, and sometimes they have really, really good reasons. It would be best if they would share those reasons with you, but maybe they’re extremely private people or embarrassed and chose not to, or made up a ridiculous reason like ‘we didn’t know we were invited to the reception’ because they didn’t know what to say.

    Two close family members and a friend each had their wedding a couple of weeks after my then-boyfriend of five years broke up with me (I thought we were on our way to getting married). I was devastated by the breakup, and while I was happy for my family and friends getting married, I was a joyless as they come when their weddings rolled around. I attended out of support for my loved ones, but couldn’t find it in my heart to stay and dance and have a good time. So I left rather than be a sourpuss. I was not myself at the time, and I also neglected to explain to the brides or grooms why I struggled to be there.

    This may be completely far from your own guests’ reasons for leaving, but I would venture to say that they showed up means they care about you and wanted to support you. But they probably had a reason they couldn’t fully be present, and may not have felt comfortable telling you why because they didn’t want to take away from your joy (even though them may have unintentionally done so by not explaining!)

    • Emily

      This. I once left a wedding reception early (like before dinner had been fully served), without saying anything to the bride or groom, because someone who had broken up with me six months earlier was sitting 10 feet away with me with his new fiance, and I was pretty much on the verge of tears all evening. I figured better to cut out as quietly as I could as quickly as possible and leave people wondering where I’d gone, than to risk forcing my issues onto my friends who should be celebrating their very important day. I definitely got some flack for it later, but I wouldn’t do it differently now. I’m really glad I got to see my friends get married, and while I’m sad I wasn’t in the right place to celebrate with them afterward, there’s just no way way I was going to be able to put on a happy face for the rest of the night.

      Am I selfish? A jerk? In a way, yes. I put my own feelings before those of my friends on their wedding day. And their families spent a lot of money, some of it on food and cake I wound up not eating and a band I didn’t dance to. On the other hand, I bought them some lovely red wine glasses. Weddings are pricey and emotional, and you want them to be sources of joy for all involved. But shit happens, and sometimes they aren’t.

      I’m still friends with those guys (and they’re still friends with my ex), and five years later, no one harbors any ill will about me leaving the wedding early.

  • fleda

    We had a few friends miss our ceremony because of late trains and accidental injuries. That was sad, but totally not their fault! More interestingly, we had one couple not show at all, and it was annoying because we didn’t want to invite them anyway and they didn’t RSVP until the Very Last Minute and then bailed without notice. Here’s the thing though: I didn’t even know about this until the next day, and when I learned about it I was like, “Oh, well, guess that sucks for them. Now I’m going to go on my honeymoon. Bye!” Presumably there were empty seats and extra dinner rolls at one table. Presumably our friends said, “oh good, a chair to put my purse on!” or “oh nice, I really wanted another one of those sesame-seeded organic wheat buns!” It is rude to not show when someone has already paid $100+ for your dinner, but this rudeness so did not impact the quality of our party.

    I do however sometimes still worry about my own potential rudeness as a bride: commenters above have mentioned the importance of “saying goodbye” when one leaves a reception. My husband and I said goodbye to almost no one at our wedding because we stayed at the hot center of the dance floor pretty much continuously for the last two hours of the event. I’m slightly concerned that this was not totally polite, but I don’t really regret it.

    And that florist? Whatever! This sounds like a great opportunity to take your business elsewhere.

    • ellobie

      I heart your attitude Fleda!

  • Sarah

    There are so many comments today regarding being “that guest” because we’ve left early, or felt uncomfortable, or had another committment, or whatever.

    The thing is, these are all perfectly valid reasons to leave. I don’t think WAACRIK is complaining that people left. That’s not the issue. The issue is that when people were asked outright why they didn’t stay, they lied.

    The wording was straight forward, and if your ceremony and reception are in the same room, it’s pretty damn clear what’s going on when no one else is leaving. If there was a reason they had to leave, all they needed to do was voice it. If it was a “I’d rather be at home on the couch.” well … that’s another issue all together.

    The point here is that WAACRIK did nothing wrong. Her wedding was clearly awesome (no one can have that many happy memories if the event was terrible, let’s be honest), and that people left was no reflection on her. She can let go of the guilt and focus on all the lovely memories. No need to worry about it any longer. =)

    • Yes. This is exactly what I was going to say. There are a lot of Very Good Reasons for leaving early. (I’ve had one of them.) I think that a lot of the way the talk has slightly sidetracked is because we can relate to that side of it, and we have this wonderful place where we can all talk, and share our stories in a supportive place with awesome ladies.
      WAACRIK’s problem is a totally different thing altogether. For people to just not show, then try to blame her and her husband is a horrible breach of good behavior.

  • Katy

    I really don’t think people understand what goes into setting the final head count. If you’re sick or miss your flight, that’s one thing. But when people have invited you, paid for food, worked you into a seating chart and you just don’t feel like showing up? I was surprised how hurt I was by the no-shows.

    We invited a couple who my husband was really good friends with in high school. (If I remember correctly, they were the first friends of his I met after we started dating oooh…8 years ago?) They were excited, they RSVP’d yes…and then the guy shows up in the middle of the reception, like, “Oh, girlfriend can’t make it.” No call, no facebook message, nothing. Six months later, we still don’t know if it’s worth it to call and ask what happened. I mean, if they don’t think it’s worth it to contact us and say anything, then why should we chase after them?

    I’m worried that it seems petty to let a friendship go for not showing up to a wedding, but I think it says something about how much you care about the couple involved–either you think this is an important day or you don’t.

    • We had a casual picnic, no seating chart, no price per head meal. I was still really hurt by the no shows, and shocked that we had some. I thought maybe because it was casual people were treating it more casually than they aught for a wedding. I’m starting to see that it’s not the case.

  • Kathryn

    So, part of my job is to teach Negotiations, which is so fun and an amazingly helpful skill to have. (If you want to learn more, “You Can Negotiate Anything” by Herb Cohen is a good place to start.) The two vendor related questions reminded me of a few things –
    The florist is not playing fair, by withholding information you literally can’t negotiate with her. Being a competitive negotiator also may reflect on how she treats working with you in general. I would not work with her.
    For the caterer, if you think you have the time to work for them it never hurts to ask, but Alyssa’s right in suggesting that you try to negotiate the price down with other options. You are most likely to be successful in negotiating when you ask a lot of questions to find out what would be really helpful or cost cutting for the caterer. You need to figure out what they need, not just what you want to give.

  • Great advice from you both on all accounts!

  • Lisa

    Worried in KY….my wedding & reception were in the same place too. Our guest hotel was within walking distance. You know who left my reception? Both of my sisters, who were two of the three people who stood up with me. They left as soon as the first dance was done. My MOH stayed for a couple more dances, but split after that. All of them had kids, all of them refused my offer to hire a babysitter for the evening, all of them husbands who could have taken on dad duty. All of them said they did what they were supposed to do and were free to go. Not going to lie, it sucks. But what can you do? You can’t change what happened, you can’t fix it, you can’t change the people. All you can do is move on and know they are the ones who missed out on a great party.

  • ellobie

    “In other cases we learned that some of our friends are sh*tacular at weddings, but are still awesome at being our friends, and we’re ok with that.”

    “I eventually had to decide… ‘Am I going to let this affect my memory of the day?’ Of course I didn’t want it to, but it took a real effort to get to the point where it really and truly didn’t.”

    Love these. My advice for WAACRIK is to put your thought/effort into Chelsea’s method of erasing these painful bits from your memory and focus on the positive. Every wedding has high and low points and it’s definitely worth your time as a bride to remember the + and forget the -. I am still working on it, too.

    About a week after the wedding, I saw my friend’s second-by-second pictures of the wedding dance my husband & I worked SO HARD on (his wish, not mine). She was standing in the corner of the room and we were kind of in the background of the pics. In the foreground? My brand-new MIL and FIL, their backs to us throughout the entire dance, futzing around and snacking and totally ignoring us. I was livid. Then I was heartbroken. Now, I’m still kind of disappointed, mostly for my husband, and kind of meh about it. They also left inappropriately early but that was easy to forgive as FIL is 85 (!) and it was a long day for him.

    The – of having to set aside almost 20% of our guest list for the giant family neither my husband nor I knew was easily turned into a + after we had so much fun with them.

    The – of my mom being a ridiculous biotch through the entire process, from engagement to, um, now is alllllmost outweighed by how fantastically awesome, supportive and sympathetic my sister has been.

    So, I would try to take one last bit of time to be really sad about it and then find something that made you really really super duper happy and focus on letting that fill up the sad space. If nothing else, smile at the thought that you will never ever have to invite those people to anything you host ever again. :)

  • When you have to pay per head I think it’s pretty rubbish for people to RSVP then not turn up without saying. Obviously people get ill etc but at least tell someone – although probably not the bride who’ll be stressing enough!

  • We had a similar florist experience, sort of. The first one we went to was a face-to-face visit and she went line by line explaining what flowers she would use and how much each item would cost, and took note on some form she had. I just kind of assumed I’d get a copy of it when we left so I didn’t take many mental or physical notes. When I hinted at it, she said something like “No, I don’t give you this until you book with us because you could take it somewhere else and they could under-quote me by twenty bucks to get you.” Granted, she did tally it up and we left with a very clear idea of how much it would cost to book her, but I was a little thrown off. The next florist we met with (who we booked) was very straightforward and wrote up a generalized quote listing types of flowers we wanted and how much each item would cost, which I thought was helpful and seemed more ‘open’. I’m sure there are people out there that may have tried to shop around once they have the quote in hand but I never would have done that. I’m looking for vendors that we click with and trust to work with for our wedding day, not just the absolute lowest dollar amount to a penny.

  • I’m a recent Bride & a wedding vendor so here are my humble two-cents on the vendor issues . . .

    1. Caterer/Batering: First, I would take the approach of being honest about your budget & seeing if they can make it happen. You may be surprised at how creative & fun many wedding vendors can be to work with a budget. The food may be different (sandwiches vs. hot dishes), the service may be different (buffet vs. served), etc but they may be able to do it. If not, see if there is a newer, looking-for-business caterer who may be hungry for the business. Good luck!

    2. Florist/No Quote: I’ve been in the wedding business for 10+ years now & I’ve never worked with a vendor who doesn’t give a quote before a deposit, including myself. I would never dream of expecting a deposit without a quote. Often, I work & rework my quotes to satisfy potential clients. I want them to be 100% happy & confident before we move forward. Please look elsewhere, I’m sure you can find another wonderful florist to work with you on your wedding.

  • Fiorentina

    Bwahahaha! Our ceremony/reception venue is a tiny farm with no parking. We are hiring a bus to get all our guests to/from the city to the venue. (It’s like Hotel California – you can come but you can’t leave – *evil cackle*) It’s also a destination wedding so it’s not like guests who will be attending will have work conflicts, etc. That being said, if we do have guests who *need* to leave for some reason (illness, social anxiety) I really hope that they will say something – some of our closer relatives will have cars onsite and we can surely take care of their needs that way. Now I’m worried that people will be stuck there not having a good time…no I’m not – it’s going to be awesome fun.

  • David, the other half, here for my semi-yearly comment. Why this post of all posts you ask? Eh, just felt like it.

    Re, Guests: First off, I’d like to say a wedding is a social contract of sorts. In this social contract you agree to come to said ceremony, and celebrate with said couple for a socially acceptable amount of time and in return, said couple promises to actually consider the comfort of their guests when said 8-hour bacchanalian celebration is planned.

    Second, an observation. There have been some commenters (who’s actual situations I don’t know, so please take this as a general comment) who’ve stated that they may have left early from a wedding of old friends who’s social circle they no longer inhabit. While it is wonderful to be invited to a wedding, and we’ve certainly been invited to weddings we never expected, I’ll reference point one here—when you say yes, you’ve got to stick to the social contract. If you get an invitation and get the “oh.. God…” feeling, just RSVP no. It serves no one to go to a wedding you only vaguely may want to be at and then skip out when you realize, “yeah, I don’t know why I’m here.” The socially acceptable response is to graciously decline the invitation in the first place. (And you’re not being rude if you do.)

    Re, Florist: This is just nuts. And because three years of law school has rotted my brain, I keep trying to think if such a thing is enforceable. The other lawyers on APW may have a different take, but it seems to me what this florist is asking is to be paid to make an offer. I just don’t see how that’s enforceable. Then again, who’s going to take her to small claims court over $100?

    • SEZ

      yes! another wise comment from David!
      So, David can only half an invited couple manage to be un-rude by graciously declining an invite which elicits the “oh. God…” response? see my scenario below…. and help!

    • Emily

      I like the idea of thinking about weddings as a social contract. I’m going to quibble with the conclusion you reach though, because apparently I feel really passionately about the question of whether it’s okay for guests to cut out of the wedding early. Weird, I know.

      I agree with you regarding weddings of people you used to be close to but no longer are. I think most people get a wedding invitation or two in their late 20s, from college or high school friends, and find themselves simultaneously flattered (they remember me!), scared (oh my, I’m going to wind up talking to the bartender all night because I won’t know anyone), and cynical (is this a ploy for more wedding gifts?). And in that situation, the safest thing to do is to just decline. And if you don’t decline, you’re going in with the knowledge that you might feel really awkward at the reception but that you will still be expected to stay and makes small talk and listen to speeches and clap when they cut the cake. After all, you knew it going in. Plus, you might be surprised and reconnect with a bunch of people you haven’t seen in a long time and have an amazing time and stay all night. That happened to me once.

      But I think some people are talking about situations where they wanted to attend the wedding, looked forward to it, and then just couldn’t make it all the way through for some reason. An emotional crisis, feeling sick, the reality of being 7 months pregnant, social discomfort caused by the presence of someone you weren’t expecting to see. It happens. A lot, actually, because weddings tend to be highly emotional events. In that case, I tend to think there’s a caveat to that implied contract that says, “My dear friend/family member — I want you to have fun at my wedding and please know your presence is desired, but for god’s sake, if staying is causing you personal pain, please go.” I just can’t imagine expecting guests to struggle through a reception because the etiquette book says stay until cake.

      There is pretty much always a bit of guest list churn at a wedding. Some of it is caused by jerks who RSVP and then don’t even try to show up, or dilettantes who haven’t thought the situation out beforehand. But often it’s due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. I think the best thing for brides and grooms to do is (1) expect it to happen, because it almost definitely will, no matter how you phrase the invite or how many RSVP delinquents you try to track down, and (2) just let it go. The people who don’t make it, or leave early? They missed out. Maybe they’ll make your 10 year anniversary.

    • Class of 1980


      Obviously part of the reason Meg married you is because you’re a smart guy … and funny too! ;)


      Illness is okay. It’s always been okay.

  • SEZ

    So, maybe a bit of a spur off the first topic, but I am really curious about how Etiquette would tell me and my husband to deal with the following issue of jsut simply accepting invites to weddings in this case:

    My husband and I were invited to two weddings on the same day and I want to go to #1 and he wants (correction: feels obligated) to go to #2.
    #1 is bound to be a fun amazing wedding of our two girlfriends, and they let us know a month ago about the date. #2 is the wedding of my husband’s sister and her fiance and she told us two days ago. So, yeah.

    There is a lot of nuance to the situation, of course, but bottom line is there isn’t much familial “closeness” and a whole lot of drama with #2, but my husband is going because it is FAMILY (even though he’s listed a million other things he’d rather do). Still, because he is great, he is encouraging me to do what I want (which is obviously to go to #1). But, I am left feeling somewhat selfish and not wanting to be guilty of an etiquette sin, and most importantly not wanting to skimp on giving my husband (and our baby family) the support he deserves, so I don’t know what to do!….

    So once the silly issue of accepting an invite(s) is resolved, THEN we can focus on being non-a$$hat guests… thoughts?

    • Since you asked above (and I’m feeling chatty):

      You’re husband has to go to his sister’s wedding. He just does. Once again, I don’t know his family situation, but it is family nonetheless. While they might not be close now, nor might they ever be close, your husband doesn’t want to destroy whatever relationship is there with his sister (or other siblings, or parents, or extended family) by just not showing up. Nobody wants to be the stuff of family legends (“Remember when cousin David didn’t show up to his own SISTER’S WEDDING!”).

      How you fit into it is more difficult. I’m assuming, for sake of argument, that these weddings are at the exact same time. There’s no explaining the situation to the good friends and then leaving the sister’s at the socially acceptable time (although, when talking about siblings, that time generally is after the bride and groom/parents/grandparents/etc. leave) and catching the tail end of friend’s party?

      My gut reaction is that, unfortunately, you and your husband are a unit, and when he shows up to his sister’s wedding sans wife it will not look good for him or for you (see familial harmony, above). I don’t imagine the same applies to close friends. It’s a different ballgame of emotions when dealing with family vs. friends.

      So he has to go to his sister’s wedding and you, I think, have to go too.

      • SEZ

        This is the conclusion I was drawing, and it was breaking my heart a bit (except that I would say “fortunately, we are a unit”…even though it makes things like this pretty darn hard… :) either way, so-called social contracts can be mighty annoying…

        So yes, he is definitely going to his sister’s wedding for all the reasons you note. Without knowing exact timing details yet, I also doubt I could manage the intermediate option, which leaves me somewhat glumly realizing I might have to say “no” to our friends (and probably cry a bit about it…). Doesn’t help that #1 is going to be so totally APW, and #2… well… is not. Sigh.

      • Exactly. And I just wanted to add that she is his sister, and to you, she’s your sister….in-law. She’s part of your family too, whether or not you’re close now or ever will be. I think you’re both obligated to go.

        I had something happen for my own wedding — a dear friend couldn’t make it because her cousin’s wedding was the same day. Family is family, and I think your other wedding couple should completely understand.

    • I’m no miss manners but I think it’s totally fine for you to attend #1 and your hubs to attend #2, especially since he seems fine with it. #1 couple should understand that he’s got familial obligations and has to miss theirs, and #2 should understand that you are already booked. Particularly since your hubs is apparently not terribly close with his sister.

      • after reading other comments apparently I’m crazy! but i’m curious about the “familial closeness and drama” factor. definitely if it’s going to cause family strife, you need to go to the sister’s wedding, but from your comment it seemed to me that the guilt was coming more from YOU than from his family. if this will mean 20 years of tense thanksgiving dinners, probably not worth it.

        • SEZ

          You are NOT crazy, because yeah most of the guilt IS coming from me (even his mom and dad are sort of dreading it, so what does that say?!…) Basically, I think they’d understand, but maybe any awkwardness isn’t worth it… (even though we are so not close that we rarely see the sister anyway, maybe very rare thanksgivings – but they already somewhat strained, so)… I think maybe it is more that I feel mean to consider this such a sacrifice…

      • Jennifer

        I agree that it’s generally okay to divide and conquer. We had several people attend sans spouse for various reasons (including two weddings on the same date – the husband came to his grad school friend’s wedding, the wife went to her college friend’s wedding). But I think when it’s your spouse’s sibling, it’s different – his sister (and soon, his brother-in-law) aren’t just his family, they’re yours. Etiquette aside, it’s probably to your benefit not to be giving your sister-in-law reason to resent you.

        • SEZ

          yes… family to us both, and there is the rub. I do hear that (granted, through hands clamped over ears while humming)… There are so many reasons that boost my argument, but I realize at a certain point I should be a bigger person and just suck it up…

          • This actually happened very very recently with a friend of mine, very similar situation, except instead of the weddings being nearby on the same day, they were on the same weekend, but 6+ hours apart, and her husband was in the sil’s wedding. (Not the same modicum of drama that you’re implying, either.)

            No question, she went to the sil’s wedding instead of the friend’s wedding, as disappointed as she was to miss the friend’s wedding. The friend TOTALLY understood and EXPECTED that, once she found out that sil was getting married the same weekend. As I mentioned above, the relations are closer than what your comment implies, and they WANTED to go to sil’s wedding, but needless to say my friend was disappointed she had to choose at all.

            So, instead, my friend attended all of the “pre-wedding” stuff for my other friend – bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc. In other words, she found other ways to be there for our friend.

            Being an adult means you have to make choices, and they aren’t always the ones you want to make. Generally speaking, you can’t cut out of one event early so you can attend another event; you have to choose between them. And, sometimes, the event you want to attend is not the event you should attend.

            In short, I don’t have much to add to what David said – your husband should go to his sister’s wedding because it’s the Right Thing to Do, and you should go with him to support him, because you guys are a team.

    • Yeah, unfortunately family trumps friends. Every time. Believe me I hate this as much as you. I too have missed out on some super cool weddings to attend awkward family weddings, and had the pleasure of not inviting one of our best friends to our wedding after my mother-in-law called to let me know my sister-in-law had issues with them and thought it better if WE, the one’s getting married, didn’t invite them.

      Since the wedding is for his sister, you’re pretty much obligated to attend as well. Think of it like this, your friends will completely understand if you tell them that your sister-in-law is getting married all of a sudden and unfortunately you have to attend. Your sister-in-law, on the other hand, will probably never forgive you and make all other family occasions that much more awkward.

      The exception may be that if you had already RSVP’d to your friends wedding, you might could weasel out of going but probably not, and definitely not your husband. Better yet, just invite the happy awesome couple to a dinner party to celebrate their post-nuptials in a few weeks!

      • Heather G

        I feel differently about this family vs friends and family always wins. This is probably because as a striving psychologist, I see the yucky side of families who do not get along. I hate the feeling of, “Oh I should endure this really terrible situation where there is zero mutual respect, just because it’s family.”

        But ultimately, I think the answer is, it depends. Some of my girlfriends are my family (I don’t know if this is the case with you, Sez) and some of my family are not really family. If a family member sprung a wedding on me, with 2 days notice, and I had already RSVP’d to a dear friend’s wedding, I would explain the situation and see what I could do. But I would likely attend my good friend’s wedding.

        In your situation, Sez, I think it would come down to NOT whether the family member will be mad (I know, I’m harsh!), but whether I would want to support my partner. If I knew my partner was going into the pits of despair, then I would probably support him and invite the friends over later (like the other commenter suggested). But again, it would be about the relationship that is working for me, not trying to satisfy unreasonable family members. (I’m assuming they are unreasonable.) And the reason I say this is because you will never, ever make unreasonable people happy.

        • Class of 1980

          I am estranged from a family member right now.

          But I think as long as you choose to have certain family members in your life, then you show up.

          The only acceptable excuse for not supporting a family member is when you’ve given up on them and cut them out.

    • Anna

      I’ve been in a similar situation:

      Wedding #1 being close, fun, friends

      Wedding #2 bring not-so-close, drama-ridden, family affair

      I attended both weddings. Even though Wedding #1s celebration would have been most fun and drama free, I feel family comes first. I called my friend and told her I would love to attend her service but was, regretfully, unable to celebrate with her afterwards (and I explained the situation- her being a good friend completely understood and removed me from her final head count). I then rushed to Wedding #2 and took part in their service and endured the awkward, high-drama, reception of the family party. Such is life; Family is family.

    • My fiance and I are in the same boat, but with 2 sets of friends! One booked their date about a year ago for this june, and hte other booked about 2 months ago for the same date. Technically (technically) one couple is “my” friends and one is “his” friends, so if we have to split up, we can. But we don’t want to.

      “My” friends’ ceremony is at 1 pm and their reception doesn’t start until 6 pm. We might try to go to their ceremony and then the reception of the other friends (which starts at 5:30), but I feel like this will STILL cause a lot of drama. Sigh.

    • clampers

      “I am left feeling somewhat selfish and not wanting to be guilty of an etiquette sin…”

      Then you should go.

  • Laura

    To WAACRIK – If it helps you feel better, you can also remind yourself that those guests may see your side of things somewhere down the line. Several of the guests at my wedding have since become engaged or otherwise involved in wedding planning, and at one point or another, they’ve all said something along the lines of “I never really appreciated how much time/money/effort/emotion is involved in a wedding until I was planning one myself.” And then you can send them to APW. :)

  • I wonder if my comment has anything to offer. I am getting married in two months on a Thursday evening, and I am expecting at least some people to leave early. I have a seven months old niece who sleeps at 7 pm, who is regularly crabby starting at 6 pm, and I wonder how well she will hold up for the day’s events. If my SIL and/or brother want to duck out early because the baby won’t stop crying, I think my hope is that they will take the food to go, and enjoy it at home. I gather that I am not a typical bride. We ruled out eloping, so that we could host a reception to celebrate the many people who have supported and loved us through the years. If these people want to leave early, then my hope is that they signed the guest book and took a photo in the booth, so I have something to remind me that they made it out that night.

  • Rachel

    Good morning! To WAACRIK, I feel your pain and the answers were spot on (go Alyssa and Meg!). You could always do what I plan on doing: if you don’t show up and do not have a good excuse as to why I am going to invoice your *ss for the food and wine so you know what I how much I wanted you there. I once went to a wedding where 90 extra guests showed up after the ceremony, ate and then left. RIDiculous! Let it go sista, those people are dicks. The important people stayed, partied with you, and will be there for you in the long run.

    Dear Jenn,

    I’m sorry but that florist should wear a sign “stay away from me” at all times. I have never in a million years heard of that practice and what a shoddy business practice it is. There are zillion vendors in the sea, go with someone else. I really love our florist and LOVED that she sent us an inspiration board for our wedding before we put our deposit down. That made sure that we were both on the same page. Best of luck to you and regardless and I know your wedding will be one spectacular affair.

  • We had a few guests who couldn’t make it to the ceremony and only made it to the reception, but the fact that they told us that ahead of time and had valid reasons (it was, after all, 4pm on a Tuesday, and some people couldn’t get off work) made it all okay. We did have one guest who was a TOTAL no-show– an old beloved teacher of ours. I even went out of my way the week before the wedding to track her down in person to tell her that the reception site had changed, and to ask what the name of her +1 was. She was all excited and then… didn’t show. No idea why. I’m a little hurt, but hey, what can you do?

    Re: the florist. Um, yeah, no. Quotes are important. I had a similar experience with a bridal salon which literally ripped the tags out of all the dresses and would not tell you the maker or model # of the dress until you put down a deposit. And of course I didn’t find out about this rule until after I’d found a dress there that I loved . That was out of my price range. (Randomly stumbled across the dress on ebay later for a lower price, so happy ending.) I don’t know what it is that lets vendors get away with crap like this when they hear the word “wedding.” It infuriates me.

  • Heather

    I’d like to chime in on the question related to bartering with the caterer and putting a non-refundable deposit to even get a quote: don’t do either.

    I’m a wedding vendor (and just got married 2 years ago this coming October) and most caterers I work with would not be open to this idea. While staffing can be expensive, there are other overhead costs that must be considered on their part that many don’t think about – gas for transportation, paying kitchen staff to prep food, equipment maintenance, just to name a few. Where you have the wedding can greatly influence these costs. No kitchen – means extra equipment and you offering to lend a hand only covers a small percentage of these costs. They are running a business in the hopes of turning profit in order to keep their doors open. Your best bet is to be honest with them and they will be honest with you. If they can’t meet your budget, they should say so right up front and ultimately – you will find someone who can. I see it happen all the time! :)

    As for the florist – yeah. No. That’s a ridiculous business model to follow and I’m surprised it’s worked for anyone for this long. I would never put money down just to see the product. I mean, come on. If she were confident about her floral design she would never feel the need to lock you in. A good florist trusts their skills and stands by their work. Turn the other way and find a different florist.

  • Nicole

    What if the family really DIDN’T realize they were invited to the reception? Is everyone jumping to the conclusion that they are lying here? I know for a chunk of my family that doesn’t get out much, they’re a little confused about the fact that our ceremony and reception are in the same place and that one immediately follows the next. They are used to getting a card in the invitation that has info about the reception and directions from the ceremony (read: church) to the reception, and I think if they didn’t get that and I wasn’t there to specifically tell them what the deal was then they might get confused. Maybe we should cut these folks some slack?

    • Emily

      Yep, and some people have never been to a wedding before and honestly have no idea what they’re doing. At my sister’s wedding we had all kinds of shenanigans (no shows, people dressed really inappropriately, people leaving early, showing up late) because she and her husband were, at the time, working with a group that runs programs for college kids. A lot of the guests were college kids or recently graduated, so they had never attended a wedding before (or at least never a “friend’s” wedding). To compound things, it was a group that represented a really broad cross-section, socio-economically (which seriously matters — different groups of people have extremely different expectations about these things).

      My sis was pissed… at first. But once the stress and momentousness of the wedding wore off, she was like, “Eh, they’re just kids and they didn’t know what to do because no one ever told them.” And the upside? Those kids probably did a better job at the next wedding they attended.

  • Emily Elizabeth

    Quick note on the bartering question: does it really work out to be worth it to you? Think of the time you would be spending working for that person, time that you could be spending at, say, a full- or part-time job that you have already, where you are paid and can put that money towards paying for the caterers. How many hours would it take to get a significant discount? How many other peoples weddings or fancy parties would you cater to save a couple hundred off of yours? I think bartering definitely works in other situations, but maybe not in this one.

  • Tamera

    There are so many ‘just leave politely’ comments that I wanted to offer another perspective. While I totally understand why some guests were taking off early, enough people did at our tiny wedding that it basically ended the daytime reception at least an hour earlier than I expected. So, I agree with cake-cutting rules!!

    • whitelotus

      What if there is no cake cutting? Not everyone does this.

      • Class of 1980

        Look around. If you see a cake, then you know what to do. ;)

  • Michelle

    This is all good food for thought but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this post independent of the serious issues it addresses – you two are funny ladies! Just sayin’.

  • Lee G.

    Remember when Meg wrote about a friend being not really into APW because it’s too wordy? Man, I try and read all the comments, but I just can’t keep up!

    On that note, I though I’d throw out a story if anyone cared. A good friend of my boyfriend’s got married two years ago. He was the MC and his twin brother was in the wedding party. Another good friend was in the wedding party, we’ll call him A. Needless to say, they’re all a pretty tight group of friends and we hang out together all the time.

    A’s wife was invited to the wedding, but didn’t show, to any of it. It remains to this day a great mystery as to why. A didn’t even say anything to the bride or groom either. Also, that couple is now not involved with this group of friends anymore. It makes me kind of sad, because I liked A’s wife. I’ve tried to reconnect, but no such luck.

    Anyway, no point really, well I guess sometimes things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    • Maybe she had bad social anxiety. Going to a wedding full of people you don’t know, where your SO is known and loved, and part of the wedding party (and therefor probably sitting at a different table) can be super intimidating. RSVPing No is a much better option then having an anxiety attack and crying at someone else’s wedding reception. I know. I’ve been there.

  • nicole

    I’ve got a vendor question for you all, hopefully you can shed some light. I contacted a florist and she had really reasonable prices. yaaay!

    When I asked her if we could do a contract for the bouquets and possibly add centerpieces later (we are considering doing our own) she said that they have an exclusivity clause in their contract and wouldn’t be able to do the bouquets only, since here work would be next to someone else’s work.

    Is this normal? I’m considering looking for someone else, but if this is typical, maybe I’ll stick with this one florist/\.

    • I’ve never heard of this and it sounds really sketchy to me. Honestly, in this economy, I think they should be happy to get any business at all.

    • meg

      Lets go back to Marie-Eve’s quote here, “”You don’t have to spend money in ways that does not feel right to you, or that makes you feel financially uncomfortable.” Your florist won’t let you make your own centerpieces? Well, clearly she wants you to pay for the full monty, but you can’t afford to pay for the full monty. So find someone who will work with your needs. They are out there (and if not, bouquets are easy to make, and we have a tutorial coming up on them too.)

    • nicole

      :D That’s what I love about this site! Thanks for setting me straight. All of this can be so confusing and new!

  • Allie

    I’ve been lurking here for a really long time (over a year) and I’m one of thoes people who just like it here, not getting married any time soon but I have to chime in on the florist issue. My family owns a flower shop, my mom runs it and I work then when I’m needed. I have seen in the past seven years how many hours my mom works and how little she gets paid (it’s a common story for any small business owner.) 

    A few weeks ago my mom sighed and said, “I think I’m going to have to start charging for wedding quotes, maybe $30.” I was totally against it at first but then she explained. It has happened far too many times that she has spent an hour in the consultation then an hour or two researching her whole saler prices, adding up labor and all to give the bride a quote and never hear from them. Now it’s not what you all Seem to think that if she’s not getting the weddings then she must be charging exorbitant prices (she often undercuts all the other local florists) or doing poor work (our roses are garanteed to open and last for 10 days, everything else, 2wks.) It’s that flowers are often the first thing to go when people get realabout their budgets. Now I think $100 is riddiculous but I think it’s fair to charge for her time that is going specifially to one persons wedding. Especially since I’m rather fond of my mom, I know how hard she works and I see all the things she isn’t charging for, the bride who calls 2 times a week to change her order or demands to speak with her the day before Valentines day or second consultations in which she orders in the flowers and makes a sample so the bride can confirm the carnations are buttery yellow not lemon (and that’s not snark we are just as concerned as the bride is that our flowers don’t clash.)

    Still I don’t agree with $100 without a ball park range but if you have a good florist she should be able to yell you she’ll work something up in your price range, inform you of the prices of the flowers or whole arrangements and suggest ideas that will help you cut costs (and her labor, win-win!) And then I think it’s fair to charge additional time for working up the exact estimate because you want to treat your vendors just as fairly as you want them to treat you.

    • Your poor mom. That’s got to be frustrating. But I think there is a definite difference between your mother charging a $30 quote fee and for this florist to charge $100 and call it a non-refundable deposit.

      Also, I appreciate the work that your mom (and other florists/vendors!) do, but there’s a point where that just needs to be part of your business. I hope she gives a ballpark figure based on the needs or what she has done similarly in the past, and then charges a quote fee for a detailed quote. At the very least, a customer needs to know if the quote falls somewhere in their price range to make an informed decision.

    • bumblebee611

      I commented on this below and just wanted to add that I can certainly understand where you and your mother are coming from — but there’s a big difference between the vendor’s charging for her time to prepare a quote, and essentially refusing to tell a customer how much it will cost unless she makes a substantial deposit (commits to using that vendor) because she doesn’t want to compete with other vendors on price.

    • whitelotus

      I do feel for your mom, and do realize that that must be frustrating. I definitely have sympathy.

      The thing is, it’s entirely within the rights of those couples to decide not to use her services, or those of any other vendor even after the time they took to put together a quote/consultation. They’re not bad people because they chose to/had to cut the flower budget or go elsewhere. Floral budgets are usually the first thing to cut because, let’s face it (and no disrespect to your mom, florists’ work is challenging and creative and merits a fair payment for that work), flowers are the most optional, least necessary, most want-based and not need-based thing in a wedding. That doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful and appreciated, just that it makes sense to cut the flower budget when you can’t cut elsewhere.

      And I agree with the above – at some point this just has to be a part of the business. Honestly speaking – and no disrespect to your mom but really honestly – I wouldn’t pay $30 for any quote. Not food, not venue, not flowers, not for trying on dresses.

    • J.

      Agree with this. In some situations, a quote fee is totally acceptable.

      I used to work in a very niche travel agency, and we sometimes spent hours getting quotes for clients, who would then vanish after we would give them the quote, probably only to price things out themselves on Expedia. I guess they wanted to save the handling fees the agency charged, but as each quote was priced individually and required an enormous amount of effort, it was a huge waste for us. Eventually, we charged a quote fee, and guess what? The people serious about using our services paid.

      Yes, some may think it’s wacky for a florist to charge $100 for a quote. And that’s valid. It’s valid to go elsewhere because of that. We live in a market economy where the consumer has the right to choose.

      But, it’s also the right of business owners to turn away clients who may not be 100% serious about purchasing from them. Think about the hours of wasted effort a business-person could spend catering to clients who are just shopping around.

      Again, maybe a quote fee isn’t a choice many businesses would make, but it’s not unscrupulous.

      • A.Kam

        I disagree. I feel for your mom, but she shouldn’t be charging for quotes. Instead, she should take the $30, multiply it by the number of quotes she makes, and work that amount into her fee. People will complain about at $30 quote fee, but a minimal increase in the bill will hardly be noticed.

  • melissa

    All three florists I spoke to gave me either verbal or written estimates. I ended up going with the first one I met with because she just got me and was the only one to add value to my vision by offering suggestions and expertise. She turned out to be cheapest by $300. I would have picked her even if she were $300 more expensive. This florist sounds a little full of herself. Her work and a fair price, cheapest or not, should sell her services. If they don’t, then tell her to hit the road and take her games with her. Maybe not in those exact words.

  • Just to chime in from a wedding vendor’s perspective….

    “Reception immediately following” is very clear and the standard wording to indicate to your guests that they ought to stick around for cake and dancing. Please don’t beat yourself up over this – your invitations were worded just right!

    Regarding bartering and discounts and quotes, a good vendor (regardless of whether we are talking about florists, stationers, DJs, whatever) ought to be able to have a straight, non-judgemental conversation with the clients about their budget. If the vendor makes you feel badly about your budget or requires you to pay to even have the money conversation – RUN AWAY!!! I’ve heard of businesses that require clients to pay to have a basic consultation and this just smacks of elitest nonsense to me. If the vendor isn’t treating you in a way you feel comfortable with at the first meeting, it won’t get any better after you give them your money. Find someone who is respectful of your time and your budget from the start.

    Even great, friendly, sane vendors may not be willing to discount or barter their services and goods, but it is ok to ask. You are likely to get a favorable result, if you say something like “my budget is $$$ and this is what I want most. Can you help me find the way to get the most out of my money?” The vendor might offer you discounts or show you less expensive ways to get something similar to what you really want. Or they may not, which is ok too. Sometimes you just can’t afford it.

  • pat

    Wow, I feel like I am very much in the minority with this whole leaving a wedding early thing. Maybe because I have only been to one wedding where the couple actually left before everyone else. Most weddings I have been to (maybe due to a lack of honeymoon?), I stayed until the end because the couple stayed until the end. One had an after party at a separate location, and I traipsed over there too. That is going to be the plan for ours. But I am a low-energy person beset with social anxiety as well. I worry that I will crap out early, like just hit my limit and shut down — or worse, fall asleep (that happens to me sometimes even if I am in a social situation and is highly embarrassing). If people want to leave early from my wedding, I hope they will say goodbye, but I won’t at all be sad to see them go or think they are rude. In fact, I am really hoping that older generations and family leave early.

    My etiquette question is about attending the reception and not the ceremony. Is that as rude or more rude than leaving early? What if they are at separate locations, pretty far apart and it is not at all clear how to get from one to the other? Again, this is something that I would totally not mind if people do with my wedding, so I can’t judge etiquette by other people’s feelings matching my feelings.

    • Jillian

      I would find this totally and completely rude and I’ve seen it happen at a wedding. To me, it just says “Hey we’ll show up for the free food and booze, we don’t really care to see you actually get married!”

      The wedding I attended where this happened it was painfully obvious since a large number of people snubbed the ceremony and came to the reception. I didn’t know the bride and groom well enough (they were cousins of my fiance) to know if they knew or cared. But if this were to happen at my wedding, I think it would really disappoint me.

      • pat

        Hm OK thanks! I just wasn’t sure if the separate locations affects the level of rudeness? Unbelievably I have never been to a wedding where the ceremony and reception were NOT at the same location! I know it used to be the norm, but clearly it isn’t anymore. And since I am doing a church wedding, mine will be in two separate locations too (and I’m really anxious about it but it is unavoidable because I love my church but want booze at the reception).

        • Jillian

          For the most part, your guests are adults. They should be able to get from point A to point B with minimal difficulty. If you are truly worried about people not getting to one location you have a few things you can do:

          1) Provide shuttles/other transportation for your guests between church and reception.

          2) Include detailed directions in your invites for guests- or on your wedding website, wherever.

          3) Have a contact person for the wedding day. It can be one of the groomsmen or a local relative that can be the person to call if anyone gets lost driving.

          As to the rudeness aspect… the wedding where I witnessed this the ceremony was at a church and the reception at a different hall. The people that skipped the ceremony were a large group of 20-30 year olds. I think they were the college friends of the couple. It really seemed like they were just there for the meal.

          If you miss the ceremony for an accidental reason, hey things happen. If you actively skip it to just go to the reception.. that is beyond rude.

          • pat

            Thanks again! We can’t afford to provide the transportation ourselves, but I will definitely be implementing your second two suggestions!

        • KB

          Just chiming in to second Jillian — attending the reception and not the ceremony would be quite rude and would disappoint the couple greatly, even if the events are in different places. In these days of GPS or even printed Google maps directions, being far apart or seemingly hard to get to wouldn’t fly as excuses.

          • Jess

            Well yes, but if the bride had a 2-tiered guest list, and these people were invited to the reception only, then it would not be their faux pas. Where I’m from, inviting some people to the reception only is a common practice.

    • Jessica

      I was honestly wondering the same thing myself- I’ve never actually attended a wedding where the bride and groom did not stay to the bitter end. I thought having a big send off just happened in Father of the Bride, not real life! I also did not know about the cake signal- which seems a little outdated now. The last wedding I went to, the bride and groom did everything like cake cutting and first dance before dinner was served, so once people finished eating, it was straight onto the dance floor.

      It seems really strict to say “you should stay until the end! no excuses!” but maybe I was just raised incorrectly? My family always stayed at weddings for a decent chunk of time- we’ve never missed anything important, but we generally don’t stay until the DJ starts packing up; it all depends on our energy levels. Are we bad people for leaving in the middle of dancing? I never thought so, but apparently I am wrong.

      • Class of 1980


        No, you are not wrong. It’s complicated.

        The old rule was that the bride and groom had a big exit with people throwing rice or petals on them. They would have left around nine or ten o’clock at an evening wedding.

        But then receptions started getting longer and longer and couples wanted to stay up late and party with their friends. So the big send off is still alive, but kinda dying a slow death.

        The new signal that’s it’s okay to leave would be the cake cutting or some equivalent.

        Like you said, if the couple cuts the cake super early (before dinner?) and the party keeps going on and on, well, they’ve changed the whole game at that point.

        At an evening wedding where the cake has been cut, I’d probably feel safe to leave around ten o’clock if I was tired. Nine o’clock at the earliest.

        But I wonder … if the bride and groom stay until the bitter end, does it feel a little anti-climatic to them to see everyone go? A big send-off is an experience in itself.

        • Yeah, we actually had to change up the cake-cut at our wedding. The cake nearly toppled over in transit and our lovely, wonderful chef at our venue jury-rigged it so it would stand (sort of) upright. However, it wasn’t going to last long, so we did the cake cutting right before our first dance, at about 8pm or so (we had originally planned to do it around 9:30).

        • I grew up in the south, and every wedding except three that I attended in my whole life had a big send-off for the bride and groom. Those three were weddings were ones I have attended that happened in different regions- one in the “north” of the US, and and two in Canada- my husband’s sister’s, and my own. As a bride who grew up envisioning a send-off in my idea of my future wedding, I will say that this was a disappointment and it was anti-climatic to be almost the last ones out. 4 people stayed longer than us. But what was most anti-climatic was cleaning up our reception by ourselves at 3 am, but that is a whole other story. :) But the clash of what I had grown up seeing as the send-off and the reality of cleaning stuff up and loading our car in my wedding dress….so not what I had imagined and I was almost in tears throughout the clean-up time. Ah well. But at the same time, it is true that during the reception, I didn’t want to leave before everyone else either (even if it had been a possibility), because I wanted to enjoy it as fully as possible and enjoy being with all these people at the same time.

          • Class of 1980

            I have noticed a lot of “BIG EXIT” photos with sparklers in photographer web sites that are based in the South. So it’s definitely being done.

            Tradition dies a lot more slowly here.

  • a reader

    Bless me APW, for I have sinned…I left a wedding reception early!

    I was young and naive, I had only been to a couple of family weddings before (which were radically different from American weddings), and it was the first wedding I was going to by myself. Five years later even after the couple has long since divorced, I am still racked with guilt for ducking out early (after dinner, but probably before the cake cutting, though I don’t remember)…especially now that I read through APW and have a better idea of what goes into wedding planning emotionally and financially. Ever since that day I knew that my reason was not good enough, and I know that I was a jerk for leaving even though I still remain friends with the bride. I knew two people, excluding the couple, at the wedding and I was assigned a seat at a table where everyone else knew each other and weren’t interested in talking to me. I tried. I did. I tried to talk to the people at the table. I tried going over to my friends. I tried spending some time walking around outside alone. The couple was too consumed to chat with. I was just not having fun and so I selfishly left and I wouldn’t do it again because it was rude. [In my defense, I really tried to come through in other ways like at the bridal shower and I gave what I thought was a very thoughtful wedding gift (even though they probably just wanted something off of their registry).]

    Aside from confessing, I wanted to make a point. Unlike most other parties, a wedding often hosts a whole array of people of which the only thing everyone has in common is you and/or your partner. The event can bring radically different people together, suddenly your conservative grandma is in the same room with your every-other-word-is-a-swear-word friend. The couple may do as much as they can to accommodate all the guests, but you can’t please everyone. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because leaving the wedding early does not equate to them not loving you.

    • Heather G

      See, I know I’m totally in the minority here, but I don’t think I’d be upset with you for leaving early. I wouldn’t want someone to stay who wasn’t having a good time and who doesn’t know anyone.

      I also don’t think it has to be all or nothing, but I think Miss Manners would have my hide for saying that (and maybe also my mom?).

      I agree with you 100% about the only thing that they have in common is the couple. I once went to a wedding solo where I knew the bride and only the bride. It was in another state, my guy and I could not afford for both of us to go (plus he had only met her once). I stayed for a long while, but I’m an outgoing person and can talk to a wall.

      However, I have a couple of friends who would be uncomfortable in that situation. They would want to see the ceremony and then would feel best leaving as soon as it got awkward. And having gone to a wedding solo, I noticed just how much empty time there is when you don’t know anybody. So, bottom, line, if these people left, I just don’t think I’d be miffed. I would assume they had a good reason and that they still love me and I would be glad they shared the ceremony with me. We have a relationship that isn’t made better or worse by how long they stay at my wedding reception.

      Now, if I had people stand up, announce they were leaving (as in Meg’s case), I would be like, “yeah, that was weird and not nice.”

  • SMW

    I’m not set on a position either way on the guests leaving early issue. I feel like we had a very small percentage of guests come and tell us they were leaving but I know a lot of them did! I even saw a few sets of people heading out the door and while it bothered me to a certain extent, most of the time it was people who had a good reason (not a close friend or has a new baby at home [or in their arms]). So I wasn’t hurt by it and in fact, in some cases I was actually grateful I didn’t have to go through the “thanks, bye, thanks for coming” and hugs because by the end of the night I was pretty SPENT on all that. :)

    The one thing I would throw in is that if you are the guest who leaves early, you can avoid any awkward conversations later or misunderstandings/hurt feelings by just shooting the bride/groom a quick email or letter. Just to say something like, “Hey, Bride/Groom, just wanted to let you know I had a fantastic time at your wedding. X, Y, Z was amazing, you looked beautiful, etc. Sorry I had to duck out early but we had to relieve our babysitter. We can’t wait to catch up when things have settled down for you again.” Eh?

  • Caroline

    Regarding leaving – I am all for staying a respectable tie, in all but the most extreme circumstances.But I loved my hugs as people left. I can’t imagine slipping away, except in really big weddings.

  • Jess

    So, with all this talk about reception length, I have to ask:

    Our wedding will be happening in two parts.
    1) a ceremony in the apple orchard at a local farm, starting around 4pm. At the farm we will have a glass of champagne and some light snacks and play lawn games until around 5:30 (the farm closes at 6pm).
    2) Then we’ll drive about 20 minutes to the hall where cocktails and appetizers will start at 6:15, dinner around 7:15… which should go until, what, like 8:30 at latest?

    At this point I’m a little fuzzy on what we’re supposed to do. We will have a pie buffet for dessert… do we serve this right after dinner? Do we do speeches, then serve the pie? Do we ask the band to play a first set while everyone is still there? We’re paying enough to have a band at all, that it would kind of suck if people took the cue to leave before they’d even started… although I guess during would be just fine.

    I guess I just don’t want people feeling like this is the day that never ends and checking out right after dinner at 8:30…. any way to avoid this?

    If you were invited to a wedding like this, would you find the time-line too long?

    • Laura

      The majority of weddings I’ve been to have involved a ceremony starting anywhere between 12 and 2pm, and a reception starting around 5 or 6pm at a different location. Between the ceremony and reception, guests are expected to entertain themselves – go to a friend’s place, to a pub, go home for a few hours, etc. At these weddings, I’ve found that people typically start leaving in droves by 9:30 or 10pm. Of course, this is just my experience.
      Being that your “time-line” is not as long (i.e., starts at 4pm as opposed to 12pm!), I would assume people would have the stamina to stick around for at least a couple hours after dinner, with the exception of guests who are elderly, have small children, etc.
      I think it will work out fine! (And, I think the farm and lawn games sound lovely!)


      Our ceremony was at 2. We had a cocktail hour from 4, and served dinner just after 5. The party then went until midnight. To our surprise, about half the guests left not long after dinner, after the band played their first set, and these were mostly 20-somethings, who all knew each other, and had no children to go home to. I think people may have thought the night was over, given some of these comments about how American wedding receptions work. In Europe, the party pretty much goes as late as possible.
      The other half stayed and had an amazing time until we had to leave at 12. I think cultural expectations have a lot to do with when people will leave. I wouldn’t find your timeline too long at all as I expect a wedding to be an entire day shennanigan, but perhaps others would think so? In hindsight perhaps we should have had the band make it more clear that they were just taking a break…!
      Really though, I don’t think there isn’t a way to avoid this – if people want to stay and party they will, if they don’t, they will leave when they want. Hopefully those who stay will be the ones you’ll have most fun with anyway :)

    • Caroline

      I’ve lived in Europe for a while now, so I am getting used to longer weddings. And having just been through mine, I cannot imagine leaving early. BUT, if I was an average, not just been through the battle? I would still stay until at least 10-11. 6-7 hours of people’s time is not a lot to ask, for such an awesome day.

      Plus, lawn games at a farms sounds awesome!

      • Jess

        Thanks Ladies! That’s really good to hear. Really appreciate your feedback.

      • Class of 1980

        I know it’s totally different in Europe and they find American weddings a bit abrupt.

  • bumblebee611

    Delurking with my first question, which is somewhat related to all this. We’re getting married in October and our venue is in a hotel. There are three rooms above the venue room, and if you want your party to go past 11 PM, you need to book those 3 rooms. Of course, you’re welcome to stay in one of those rooms and have some of your party animal guests stay, as well–they’re yours to use as you please. Still, it’s a nontrivial chunk of change. We are planning to officially start our ceremony (at the same venue) at 5:30, follow with a brief cocktail hour and then dinner and dancing (thanks, iPod!). I don’t want people to feel like they’re getting kicked out early, so I am leaning towards saying we book those three rooms and let the party last as long as people like. But if I can expect people to feel like leaving before 11 anyway, maybe it would just be a waste of money? On the one hand, some significant fraction of the guests will be traveling from the other coast and it will feel late to them; on the other hand, there won’t be many older people or people who need to leave super early for child-related reasons, and the traveling guests don’t have to drive home either. What does the APW readership think?

    As for the advice sought, I really don’t have a lot to add that’s new, but thought I would note that I have spoken with two florists in planning my wedding. Both gave me detailed quotes and neither one charged me for it. I was completely upfront with each about the fact that I planned to talk to the other. I’d be pretty annoyed if someone said they couldn’t give me a quote or an estimate because then I’d shop around — I mean, that is why we have antitrust laws — because our form of capitalism is predicated on the customer being able to get full information and make a rational choice to go with the most competitive business.

    • sarah

      I would say pay for the rooms (especially if you can use them or could offer them to people traveling from far away) and let the night have a life of it’s own. I feel like if you have to have the party end at 11 you will be stressed about people leaving on time and making sure the room is clear but if you have the rooms above reserved the party can continue until people drop. Maybe not everyone will be there till the end but those at the end will probably be your closest friends or at least awesome party people! Also since people are traveling they might want to let loose a bit more since they don’t have obligations to return to that night. Just my two cents :)

      • bumblebee611

        Thanks, Sarah! That is a great way to put it–the last thing we want to be doing is worrying about quieting people down and getting them home (or migrating to a nearby bar or whatever), so it’s best to just find party animals who can make use of the rooms.

    • Mallory

      I think too that it just depends on knowing your guests. For example, my family and close friends are VERY social and will likely stay as late as our venue will let them. And then most of my friends will probably continue a party elsewhere until the wee hours of the evening. I would have to physically drag them out if we needed to leave at 11.

      However, I’ve been to weddings where the majority of the guests are family members that are clearly less into the drinking and dancing part of weddings. Those weddings happily ended at about 11pm with little guest disappointment.

      So just think about your attendees and the kinds of social outings they attend on a normal basis. Or if you think a minority of the guests might like to stay out later perhaps see if there is a bar nearby that you can recommend to your more social guests. And mostly, if those rooms are out of the budget then they are an unnecessary addition, if people want to continue to stay out they will likely find somewhere to do so.

  • G

    Ten years ago I was slinging drinks in San Francisco, dating a variety of men and having no intention to marry soon. My friends back east settled down right after college. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I flew back and stood up in six weddings, despite being broke and dependent on tips to pay rent. Since then I’ve often thought that I could have given them a better present, or had a better attitude about it all.

    Fast forward a decade and I’m getting married. I have a different set of everyday friends, but many of those old pals are still around through e-mails, texts and phone calls. Most are still married with two and three kids. I didn’t think they’d make it out for my wedding in July.

    Lo and behold, those old friends are leaving their families at home and planning a West Coast girls’ weekend to watch me get hitched. My point is, people are more understanding than you think, if they believe you gave your best effort.

    The people holding that wedding probably understood your anxiety disorder and your need to leave early. They appreciated that you made what was obviously an extra effort to come.

    I’m somewhat appalled at how I acted toward some of those weddings. But I see now that my friends understood I was broke and couldn’t relate to their situation at all, but I was there because they needed me.

    I hope someone reads this, Ask Team Practical is quite popular today!

  • Sarah

    We don’t want to leave our wedding until the very end so as to maximize our time celebrating with people we love. So I was thinking I would put something on the program that we won’t be leaving and that people should leave when they need to. Is that a good idea? good manners?

  • Elaine

    A quick search shows that Miss Manners has directly answered the question of when it is appropriate to leave a wedding. She says guests should stay through the “ceremony and the meal or reasonably long reception that follows.”

    You can look up her whole response in “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior” p. 425 on google books. Agree or disagree, but you might as well get information from the source.

    • whitelotus

      I agree.

      If we’re all about non-traditional weddings, well, there is no guarantee that the couple will “leave” before the guests do (and miss out on the reception you put so much time, effort and money into?) and no guarantee that there will be a cake to cut. One can’t assume that these moments will happen, so making a rule based on them is kind of silly if you ask me.

      Miss Manners has a much more reasonable approach – leave at an appropriate time after the meal when the length of time you stayed is reasonable.

  • Class of 1980

    I’ve been to plenty of weddings in my life, but the last one was over 10 years ago since I moved away from everyone I knew. But at age 52, thanks to the Internet, I’m getting the idea that we are witnessing some kind of breakdown in social expectations.

    I have NEVER been to a wedding where a guest skipped either the ceremony or reception on purpose, or left right after eating. Unless a person was ill, no one would have even considered that you could go to one, but not the other.

    I read a blog written by a California woman a couple of years older than me. When her daughter got engaged, there were girls who came to her bridal shower without a gift. Then when the gifts were being opened, they started to look uncomfortable.

    The whole purpose of a shower is gifts, but these girls seemed to genuinely not know this, or to think gifts were optional. Even worse, some of them got plastered at the shower and spilled red wine on white sofas.

    At first, I wondered if it was a laid-back California thing. But reading APW, it seems to be everywhere. I wonder when simple etiquette and common courtesy left the building? If someone can’t comprehend the meaning of “Reception following ceremony” then common sense has left the building too.

    This new standard of behavior is a real mystery.

    • My bridal shower was just last weekend, and several of my mid-20s friends from college made remarks to the effect of it being the first “real” shower they’d been to. I grew up attending the showers of my aunts and older cousins as they got engaged and married (at 24 I’ve probably been to about half a dozen showers, and the bride was a blood relative at each one – my friends have barely started marrying yet), so I’m no stranger to shower etiquette, but if you don’t have older siblings/cousins, or if they have weddings/showers that are adults-only, and your first exposure to a shower is when you’re a college graduate and your mom’s not there planning the gift and signing your name to the card and reminding you that showers are supposed to be a surprise, how on earth could anyone be expected to be familiar with what’s supposed to happen at a shower or how you’re supposed to behave?

      I blame it on an increasingly age-segregated society, where we expect kids to only spend time with, and only be capable of spending time with, their peers, and only in “kid-friendly” situations. You can’t just take a kid who has always been excluded from adult society and expect her to suddenly know how to behave in adult situations once she turns 18.

      • Class of 1980

        I never went to a wedding shower until my friends were getting married either. Generally, the guests were friends of the bride around the same age and some mothers were there too.

        But still, I don’t recall the mothers having to explain anything! It was general knowledge and no mystery at all.

        It seems like a lot of stuff isn’t getting transmitted to younger generations somehow. I just can’t fathom someone not knowing the purpose of a shower is to “shower the bride (or couple) with gifts.”

        So when your friends said it was their first “real” shower, were they confused about anything? Or did they pretty much know what to expect?

        • You know, I suppose I should ask. There was no obvious confusion that I could see, they brought gifts, they participated in the games, they were polite and gracious. But I could see otherwise polite and gracious people just not being familiar with showers, and, for example, not bringing a gift, because they didn’t know they should.

      • Well, showers aren’t ALWAYS a surprise, and I think the surprise thing is becoming less common. Mine weren’t a surprise, by my asking. (Yes, I had two … not my choice, but I didn’t want to tell people not to throw me a party.) I said I wouldn’t interfere with the planning of the showers except that I didn’t want shower games (I play them at other showers because that’s what a good guest does, but I don’t care for them myself), and I wanted to know when they would be so I didn’t make other plans for those weekends. Plus, the people planning the showers needed names/addresses from me for invitations. :)

        • Yes, I know – my shower actually wasn’t a surprise, either. I work weekends sometimes, and had to know when to take off! I was just talking about how society passes on knowledge of how things generally go in certain situations.

  • Re: Bartering –

    We bartered for our wedding cupcakes, but we didn’t initiate it. The baker showed us the flimsy little cupcake stands they rented out to display the cupcakes on, but my husband told her that he was making a display stand himself. A few weeks after we placed our order, he went to show them his design, and they said “make a square one as well as the round one and give them to us afterwards and your cupcakes are free!”

    So we (he) did! Wheeee! I still go get cupcakes there. I have vivid dreams of the scrumptious jumbo lemon cupcake we cut at our reception…

  • We had some people at the ceremony that didn’t make the reception and I was sad I didn’t get to talk to them more or get pictures with them, but there was this blizzard thing that day and there was a mountain between our reception and their house.

  • Stephanie

    My parents and aunts are in major guilt of not attending receptions. Usually it’s because alcohol will be served. And my mother hates weddings with a huge passion.

    I’m terrified all my family will leave early from my wedding. My mom said she will not attend if we have alcohol or dancing. Stupid religious restrictions!!!

    • Class of 1980

      I have been to a couple of wedding receptions that bored me to tears. However, once you’re in, you’re in. Their wedding wasn’t about ME.

      If your family objects to attending a reception because it doesn’t conform to their personal values, they should let the couple know before the wedding that they will only be at the ceremony.

      Then there are no hurt feelings because of being surprised.

    • Emily P

      I just got married on March 26th and the majority of my husband’s family left right after our ceremony (ceremony and reception were in the same location). It was for religious reasons as well. We knew they probably wouldn’t stay all night when we chose to serve alcohol and have a “rock” band, but we definitely didn’t anticipate the mass exodus that early. It was really hurtful and we’re still trying to get past it, but the wedding was amazing regardless. I think it’s just one of those things where you have to make the decision that is right for you and then be ok with whatever decision other people make for themselves, but that’s so much easier said than done.

  • Anna

    When my parents got married in the 70s it was understood that NO ONE was to leave until the bride and groom exited. Being the fabulous selves that they are they faked an exit at 10pm so all the elderly people could leave and then they went back and danced all night. They were the last ones there!

    (they also invited everyone in their town because it only cost 30 cents a plate! Ahhh…. Simpler times)

    • Class of 1980

      That’s a good one! ;)

      And you are right. It was understood that no one left before the bride and groom. And prior to my generation, brides used to change into a “Going Away Outfit”.

      But that was before receptions that went on until 1:00 a.m.

      • whitelotus

        Yeah, we didn’t leave until 2am. Actually, technically we didn’t leave at all. My husband sort of collapsed on a couch in the hotel lobby (site of the afterparty) and I partied on until we all sort of wandered back to our rooms.

        We were actually the very last people to leave our reception along with my parents and our attendants, who helped us clean up.

  • ML

    My mom’s a travel agent, specializing in destination weddings. she requests $50 deposit to NEW clients only, to deter people from using her as a research monkey and then booking themselves or giving the info to their own travel agent to book (you’d be surprised by how many people do this..).

    But that booking fee is collected after several lengthy conversations where my mom feels out what clients are looking for in locale, budget, amenities/priorities and more. At that point, she takes the $50 deposit and comes back with heaps and heaps of options that meet the client’s needs and desires, and is within their budget. If they book with her, the $50 is applied to the vacation or wedding.

    But she would never ask for $50 just to answer the phone and say, “You want a destination wedding? I’d love to talk more about what you want and what I do, but I’ll need $50 before we go any further.” That’s just bad business.

  • whitelotus

    Sometimes you have a sort of unplanned reception as we had – we cut the “cake” (not a cake, but close enough) super late because we honestly just forgot and purposely had no MC pushing us to do whatever-whatever. We didn’t do toasts until after that (so getting on 10:30pm). We had no bouquet tosses and only one dance at the beginning. We had no other special events during the reception: just music, dancing, a buffet, alcohol.

    Some people – my grandmother who retires early, guests with children, who were also there and who likely got cranky by 9 – left before that.

    I just refuse to accept that they were “rude”. It was our wedding and we happily feel that nobody who left before the “cake was cut” was “rude”. They were doing the best they could and just had to leave earlier. They didn’t chew&screw, but left well before we did. On the contrary, it would have been bad form for us to get upset about this considering we did have kids and the elderly there and it did run late (and we didn’t stick to any sort of schedule or have ‘moments’ or ‘events’).

    But hey. We didn’t leave until the venue closed at midnight (we had to clean up), we had no “departure” or “getaway” and we stayed at the afterparty until 2am. We paid for half of that collossus of a wedding and goshdarnit we were gonna get all the time and fun we could squeeze out of it.

  • Anna

    I’m coming to this thing super late, but anyways…

    I understand the disappointment of people leaving early, really I do. But I keep thinking, I didn’t want anyone at my wedding who didn’t want to be there (and as such made a decision to not say anything if someone was unable to make it) and by extension, I didn’t want anyone there if they didn’t want to be there any longer.

    Yes, it’s rude to leave early. My very Southern mom would be SO DISAPPOINTED in me if I left a wedding early. But, if all that’s keeping you at my wedding (party, whatever) is social norms, go home! Go enjoy life! That’s really not fair to either of us.

  • BW

    For goodness sake. You don’t get $100 to write a proposal/gather a quote. You get a glimmer of hope. May not pay the bills but it’s essential to running a small business.

  • Don’t worry about those guests of yours. I think it is difficult to say why they did such a thing. Probably their reasons are not enough. Just remember the great time you had at your wedding since that is mostly important and not the guests who just went to the great stuff of the big day.

  • Any use of the word *ss-hats makes my day. I’ve definitely been the person who “skipped” the ceremony before. The last wedding I went to, in fact. And it was largely because I was driving a long distance and hit hellacious traffic. It’s true though, there’s no accounting for good taste in guests, if they need to bail because they are thoughtless *ss-hats, so be it. The party goes on.