Guest fails to show up to wedding: so bride sends a bill

Bill for wedding no show

Jessica Baker, a mum from Minnesota in the US, had accepted an invitation to her friend's wedding, but had to cancel at the last minute when her childcare arrangements fell through. The bride was so angry that she sent her a bill for $75 (£61) - to cover the cost of the food that went to waste. So who was in the right?

Jessica was getting ready to go to the wedding when she had a call from her mum. She explained she couldn't babysit for her grandchildren any more, and because children were banned from the wedding, Jessica had to pull out.

She didn't think any more about it until a few weeks later, when she received the bill. It was accompanied by a note that read: "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."

Jessica shared her story on Facebook, where she broadly divided commentators between those who felt she had been rude not to inform the happy couple, or send a card afterwards explaining her actions; those who thought the bride was out of order; and those who thought none of this ought to have been shared on social media in the first place.

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What to do about wedding no-shows
Weddings are a notoriously expensive business. Last January we reported on the parents of a five-year-old who had been issued with a no-show fee, after skipping a birthday party and at the time our writer, Felicity Hannah, wholehearted supported the parents who had sent the bill. She pointed out that she wished she had the guts to send bills to those who had failed to show up for her wedding.

It's not just the wasted money, she said, but the missed opportunity to invite other people because of the need to keep a lid on the numbers. There's also the fact that there will be empty seats at a table - making it difficult for the other guests - and the risk that gossip about the missing guests will sour the joy of the occasion.

The proper etiquette is always to say no if there's any doubt as to whether you can make a wedding. There are a couple of exceptions to the rule - such as if you are heavily pregnant or in the military - but babysitters, affordability and logistics are not exceptions. If you think you'll struggle to make it, just say no.... nicely.

If things change at the last minute, then the right thing to do is to tell someone you are going to be a no-show. If you are going to have to let them down on the day, then they will appreciate a call. If you're worried about stressing them out on the morning of their wedding, then perhaps send flowers to soften the blow.

If there's simply no way of getting in touch before the wedding, at least make sure you send a gift and card - with a heartfelt apology. Bear in mind that Jessica received her invoice a few weeks after the wedding - so she was given every chance to apologise before then.

But what do you think? Is the bride's approach understandable - or is she showing signs of becoming a Bridezilla? Let us know in the comments.

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£20,983 wedding: where the money goes
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£20,983 wedding: where the money goes

This is the biggest expense, and accounts for 16% of everything couples spend on the wedding. There are endless dramatic places to splash the cash, and if you want to get married in a castle, on a beach, or in a major historic property, it’s all perfectly possible - for a price.

However, there will be those who wonder why the wedding can’t take place in a church or a smart registry office - and the reception in a village hall. These places certainly exist, and could cut the venue hire cost down to a couple of hundred pounds.

It’s not hard to see why couples fancy blowing a fortune on an incredible holiday, but it begs the question of whether it’s such a practical idea.

There’s no earthly reason why two such enormous costs have to be bunched together like this. Surely a wiser approach would be to get married, and then start saving for a great holiday. You don't have to be on a white beach in the sun for it to be romantic or memorable.

This is a huge sum for feeding a few people, and is often the result of the fact that when you are booking a venue, you will be tied into using their caterer.

It’s one reason why a fantastic way to cut costs is to find a venue that lets you do it yourself. That way you can choose between setting out a cold buffet in the morning on a shoestring, or hiring in a cut-price catering option, like a gourmet burger or pizza van.

This includes the cost of an engagement ring and two wedding rings. There will be couples who argue that this is something that you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life, so is worth investing in.

There will be others who highlight that by shopping around you can get the lot (including the obligatory diamond) for less than £400, and anything else is pure vanity.

This includes a heart-stopping £1,098 for the bride’s dress. Just to be clear, that’s a grand for a dress you wear once.

There are hundreds of second hand dresses on sale on sites like preloved if you’re after the big meringue, or you could get one made from scratch for a couple of hundred pounds. Then if you sell it on again afterwards, your dress could cost you less than 20% of this insane figure.

If you’re stuck buying the overpriced booze offered by a posh venue, you’ll easily bust the budget, and if you bring your own to a venue like this they’ll sting you for corkage instead.

A much better idea is to find somewhere that lets you bring your own - and after the first few drinks, ask a local pub to run a bar for you.

The argument in favour of spending a fortune on photos is that this is one aspect of the day that really will last, and if you skimp on the photographer, you won't have a beautiful album to linger over for decades to come.

That said, you'll probably have one hour of looking at your best during your wedding - from when you walk down the aisle, to the moment you have finished taking the obligatory formal photos. There’s nothing stopping you bringing in a professional for that hour, and then setting up a Facebook page for your friends to post all the photos they take throughout the rest of the day and night.

The live band feels vital for some couples, but ask yourself, when was the last time you were blown away by the live band at a wedding?

A far cheaper option is to make your own disco. It’s easy enough to hire some speakers and lights, switch it all on, plug an MP3 player in, and get your favourite music all night for next to nothing.

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