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Should wedding guests pay for their meal?

Family and friends may not be receptive

By Karen Datko Sep 14, 2009 9:13PM

How tacky is this -- or is it? You're invited to a wedding and reception, and you're expected to pay for your meal.


We've never encountered this, and neither has Mike at Clever Dude, although he considered it briefly before he got hitched. However, a friend of his was invited to a wedding for which she was asked to pay for the meal and also bring a gift.


Not cool, Mike said: "The wedding is for YOU (bride and groom). The reception is for US (friends and family)."


He added, "If I'm going to plop down $50 to $150 on a present, the least I should expect in return is a decent meal."

It's tradition, sure enough. But in these economic times, can't we all tweak our expectations a bit?


What did Clever Dude readers think?


Many said that if they were expected to pay for their meal, they would decline to attend. Plus, there are alternatives if your wedding budget is tight.

  • "The couple should have downsized their reception to something they could afford even if it was just cake and punch," reader "Bucksome" said.
  • Another option is a potluck reception meal. "I'd totally be down for that ... and bring a bag of chips or PB&Js," "J. Money" said. (We think he's joking about his selections.)
  • Or, friends could chip in by helping to cook and baking a cake. But that would take the place of a gift, reader Lily said.

Reader Gisele wondered if destination weddings to fancy resorts aren't more of the same -- paying for your meal and then some. "Basically, the guests are paying for their transportation to Mexico, the Caribbean or wherever, plus their accommodations -- which includes all their meals, so yes, the guests are paying for their own reception," she said.


Only one reader saw the bright side of this. Steve Sherron said it would irritate his wife so much that she'd insist they stay home, "and I would not waste a day of my life for the Frugal McDougals. The money I save would be used for extra beer and maybe pay-per-view."


"LAL" at Living Almost Large agreed: "Hell, no, I wouldn't go. And it would be a great excuse to not go."


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