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Quid Pro Quo Nation August 3, 2010

Posted by frrobins in Manners, Personal.
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Today I saw an article on CNN about whether or not cash bars at weddings are tacky. What surprised me was the amount of people who insisted that not serving alcohol at a wedding was some serious crime. Their reasoning? If they shell out money for travel, a hotel room, and a gift to go to someone’s wedding, they are entitled to alcohol.

Now I have seen brides and grooms reason that if they serve a lavish dinner at the reception that costs $200 a plate then the guests should bring a present that reflects that amount. I think that reasoning is seriously flawed, reaks of entitlement, and is terribly insensitive. Weddings are not thrown to get as much gifts and money as possible. The couple being married should not expect to break even on it. And if they can’t afford to shell out $200 a plate per guest, then they either need to invite less people or tone down their wedding.

Yet it appears that this attitude goes both ways. In the comments section, several people said that they based the value of their gift on the amount that the couple would be spending on them at the wedding. This made me wonder how they knew in advance how much the couple would be spending. Frankly, it’s rude to ask.

What bothers me is how an event that should be about family and friendship is whittled down to ‘how much is being spent on me?’ Are people really basing their worth on how much people spend on them now? Considering the hard economic times, you’d think people would know better.

Personally, when I got married I did not want to break of the bank on it. I’m rather nontraditional and don’t particularly like weddings. While we served wine, there was no bar, and there was plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available, for free. If some guests were upset that I didn’t go all out for them, then tough. My husband and I didn’t expect anyone to go all out on us. We’d already been living together for years and had everything that we needed. I did not have a bridal shower because I did not think that the wedding should be about gifts and because we did not need a lot. There were friends who came to the wedding sans gift, and my husband and I were fine with that. It was nice to see them. And if the value of your friendship with someone depends on much they spend on you, then you have some screwed up priorities in life.

Several other people made the claim that while the wedding is for the bride and groom, the reception is for the guests, so alcohol should be served. I think it’s time to coin a new term, Guestzilla.

Guests lists range drastically, but planning an event for 50 to 200 people is hard. And frankly, the couple is not going to be able to please everyone. While some people like to drink, other people are uncomfortable around others who are drinking. Should the couple cater to those who expect alcohol, or to the ones who are not comfortable with it? Oh, I get it! There should be two receptions held! One that serves alcohol and another that doesn’t! Do you see how crazy this could get? Or what if the bride or groom has family members who have an alcohol problem, and their drinking would cause a commotion that would make everyone at the reception uncomfortable? This was a concern at my wedding.

While the comfort of the guests should be kept in mind, the couple is ultimately the one throwing the party and has final say in what is served. That means that guests with food allergies, dietary restrictions and needs should be served something that they can eat. Last I checked, alcohol was not a necessary part of anyone’s daily diet. As long as plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages are served for free then the guests’ needs are being met. That said, if the couple does decide to serve alcohol, it should be free to the guests.

And everyone, bride, groom, parents, and guests should examine their reasons for having/attending a wedding. If you’re throwing a wedding expecting to break even on gifts, then elope. And if you’re attending a wedding just to get free booze, then stay home. And while you’re at it, think about the value of the relationships with your friends and family.

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