The Vow

'A wedding is the most expensive party you'll ever host, I understand why a bride sent an invoice to no-shows'

Weddings shouldn't be all about money, but unless your betrothed is an old billionaire with a bad cough, it will be a very big consideration.

So when I heard of an American bride, who sent her no-show guests an invoice for their $75.90 dinner this week, part of me (the highly irrational part I admit) appreciated the gesture.

The internet has been alive with the story of Jessica Baker and her husband, who were getting ready for a Minnesota wedding, when her babysitter fell through at the last minute. The couple were shocked to then receive a bill from the newlyweds this week for the dinner they missed out on.


Jessica was so surprised in fact, that instead of sending their apologies and a wedding gift in the intervening weeks, she choose to tell the world about the couple’s granted very rude and bitter move, by posting a picture of it to her Facebook page.

“This cost reflects the amount paid by the bride and groom for meals that were RSVP’d for, reimbursement and explanation for no show, card, call or text would be appreciated,” a note alongside the invoice read.

I have to admit I can understand the bride and groom’s frustration. Over the last 24 hours, commentators have been queuing up to crucify the actions of the bride (even though the groom also had a hand in it), but posting about it on Facebook was hardly the appropriate thing to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no way condoning it, but saving for a wedding can be tough. Regardless of what size a party you are planning, it will very likely be the most expensive shindig you will ever host.

From the very moment you sit down and scrawl your first draft of guest list (and forget at least 20 people), you become a dab hand at multiplication.

But if squirreling away a few thousand euro in order to treat your near and dearest doesn't appeal to you, then maybe choose the less costly option of carefree co-habitation instead.

In recent years, the etiquette around money and weddings has been lost. Perhaps it was simpler in times when a bride’s father footed the bill and the couple were gifted toasters, electric carvers and the like.

These days, some couples will take a punt and hope, against the odds, that if they invite a certain number of guests to their celebration, the monetary gifts they receive will then cover their costs.

“After 150 guests, it's cost neutral,” one newlywed I know recently informed me. That may be so, but it is still a dodgy bet.

You will have those who like to buy gifts instead of giving money; you may even have some who will not give anything at all, believing that their presence is enough of a present, particularly if your big day is a costly affair for them in terms of travel and accommodation.

It's no wonde so many people consider wedding invites as tantamount to a court summons.

My advice? If you can't afford to take the hit on paying outright,  have a smaller wedding. Or better still, none at all.

And if you are a guest who has RSVP’d, but can’t make the wedding, a thoughtful heads up and a follow up gift seems like the classy move, not a public Facebook shaming regardless of whatever newlywed-zilla behaviour you encounter.


What The Wedding Expert Bláithín O'Reilly Murphy says:

“There are some weddings where a couple will say outright that they would love to have lots of guests at their wedding, but simply can't afford it. In these cases, there is either a pre-organised contribution or guests will pay for their own meals, but that's a very rare scenario.

"If that was the case for the Minnesota wedding, then invoicing them would have been okay. In more traditional cases, however, invoicing your guests is just bad taste. Equally, not informing the bride and groom or somebody close to them that you will not be attending is also to be frowned upon.

"However, couples should swallow the bitter pill and pay the cost of the meal rather than invoicing after the fact, a wedding is only one day you must remember. Presumably you liked these people enough or had close enough friendships with them to invite them to your wedding in the first place, so you have got to think about the impact of your actions in the future. There is a lot to be said for a little etiquette in these situations.

"Couples should also be mindful of guests’ situations. Even attending a wedding these days can be a massive financial commitment, so to add a gift on top of that is quite a lot and could mean that they are limiting themselves in other areas of their lives just to attend your wedding. The expectation of a lavish gift or guests giving a lot of money that would exceed or cover the cost of your meal nowadays is just unrealistic and a bit unfair."

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