In part 3 of our new series 'Notes On A Wedding',
Emma Woodhouse, aka,
 
The Wedding Reporter, offers advise on how to deal with the more sensitive and frustration inducing aspects of planning a wedding.  Avoid the need to feel you have to throw your own chair, by following her simple steps of advice…

For the majority of people who choose not to elope, they presumably invite a vast number of family and friends to their wedding because they want to share the experience and celebration. It’s fairly safe to assume that the majority of those esteemed wedding guests will be delighted and honoured to be part of the day.

And yet…

If you’re immensely unlucky, you might just find that you have one or two Wedding Whingers to contend with. These unassuming critics are entirely oblivious to the fact that their ‘observations’ can often be taken as outright insults by the happy couple. Sometimes it’ll be an elderly relative who have, quite literally, never experienced anything like your wedding before, other times it might be a work colleague who may themselves have recently tied the knot and use your wedding as a case study to show that they are now a wedding expert.

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Avoid the need to feel you have to throw a chair, by following these simple steps
Image Source Red Bubble, Via PInterest

Sometimes, the root of the problem is that weddings will make all of your acquaintances become headless chickens. You know the details inside out because it’s all you think about, but they barely glance at your wedding invitation to find out where you’re getting married or what they’re meant to select as their meal choice. We’re all just ‘too busy’ to pay too much attention these days.

I can’t save your feelings from being hurt – your adrenaline is pumping, you’re having the best time of your life, you don’t want to hear contrary – but I can offer some guidance on how to deal with wedding complaints and give those Marriage Moaners slightly less to find fault with. 

1. Not knowing where to go.
It’ll start as soon as you send out your invitations: a lot of your wedding guests will turn into morons who are unable to read instructions. It’s possible that the same people who text you on the morning of your wedding to ask you what time your ceremony starts, how they can get there and where they can park, will continue to be geographically confused throughout the day.

To avoid this, send out an email a week before the wedding to all your guests to remind them about all the finer logistical details. On the day, you can combat their confusion by making sure it’s not just the ushers who are in charge of directing people – charge your bridal party with becoming pointing people so that they can show anyone who asks where the loo is, how to get to the wedding breakfast, where the bar is, where they can hang their coats, leave their gifts, call a taxi… 

2. The Hunger Games
The old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time should have been coined about the dilemma of mass catering. There’ll always be someone who doesn’t like any of the menu options, or would prefer your mushroom & tarragon jus without the tarragon, or who needs to specify the exact way they like their veg cooked. I know, I’ve met them all.

My advice? Nod, smile, promise them the earth and then give them exactly what everyone else has. Unless they have real allergies, they won’t notice the difference.


Also, people will bemoan their empty tummies if not fed frequently. Wedding receptions are akin to third world starvation for some guests, it would seem. In this case, make sure there is the possibility to give them little and often, whether this is canapés and an ice cream stall during your drinks reception, popcorn cones after dinner or a rolling buffet of sweeties/cheese/pork pies/cakes throughout the evening. Giving them the opportunity to graze will certainly curb those rumbling tummies.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if the same people who stand at the back of your group shots whining that they are hungry are the same ones who proclaim, “I’m so full I simply couldn’t finish my meal!” after the wedding breakfast. Nod, smile, walk away…

3. Money, money, money
Here is a topic that divides popular opinion: whether to have a cash bar at your reception. Logic dictates that a guest should never presume and always bring a wallet stacked with ‘fiddies to get the next round in. Etiquette dictates that the bride and groom should stump up for an open bar as a thank you to people for joining them.

Unless you are so well off that you can afford to keep the booze flowing all night, some drunken wisecrack will make a quip about you being tight or suchlike. Never mind the fact that you have kept them fed and watered all day, all they’ll see is that they have to pay for their own Jägerbombs.

Here’s what you need to do:

•    Make it very clear what the situation will be beforehand, i.e. have a footer on your invitations that explains drinks after 9pm must be paid for, or wine & beer is free, for everything else you’ll need to pay.

•    If your venue has expensive bar costs, indicate this in advance as well. A friend told me she ended up speechless after a round of 4 drinks cost £70 and the bar didn’t take card payments. You can add this to the footer in terms of ‘The bar will be open from 8pm and beverages start from £11.50 for a spirit and mixer.’

•    Cut out the cheesy ‘We require your presence not your presents’ in favour of ‘Splash your cash behind the bar to get a round in rather than bring gifts.’

4. Climate Change
Wedding guests can be big babies about standing around in inclement weather for long. Too hot and they wilt; too cold and they perish. Rain? End of the world. Wind? Catastrophic for large hats and carefully coiffed hair-dos.

You can’t control the weather (sorry) but you can help your guests adapt to it. Comfort boxes that provide pashminas for chilly evenings or handheld fans to cool the brow on the hottest of days will not only satiate spiralling temperatures but also prove you to be the hostess with the mostest. And regardless of the season, if you’re getting married in Britain make sure you have a good stock of umbrellas at all times.

5. Ungracious Newlyweds
I tend to think in this day and age, most people realise that a wedding day is madness and it’s very unlikely that the bride and groom will get round to having prolonged conversations with everybody. On the day, you should attempt to make sure you talk to the members of your wedding party who have travelled the furthest, the ones you haven’t seen forever and your most elderly guests as they appreciate you making time for them.

Don’t get hung up about saying hello to everyone, but do use the opportunity between courses of your wedding breakfast to perhaps mingle amongst the tables and say hi where you can.

The very worst thing you can do is go off on honeymoon and never acknowledge the day you just had. Wedding Whingers like nothing more than subsequently telling everyone precisely how much they spent on your wedding present before triumphantly hooting that they never received a thank you card.

Your reasons may be fair and just, but you can’t scrimp on this duty. Make sure you send a personal note to every single guest to thank them for sharing your day (check out the beautiful thank you card offerings over at Artcadia, HelloLucky! and Emily & Jo), as well as any other contribution they may have made. It may seem like agony, but it is absolutely the done thing to prove that you are not also suffering from the Malady of Modern Manners.

Emma
The Wedding Reporter

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25 thoughts on Notes On A Wedding, Part 3 ~ The Malady of Modern Manners

  1. Ah yes… the free bar issue. I’ve already had comments on this one from friends who seem to have been expecting a free bar, but we simply can’t afford it. Luckily, our venue’s prices are very reasonable and we’ve also given guests the option to camp cheaply nearby to keep costs down – hopefully they’ll understand! I’ll be updating our wedding website with the bar prices now having read this though, so folk don’t turn up with empty wallets…

  2. Great post! Haha. Not getting married until May and we have already had wedding whingers putting a downer on our big day. Ready for the rant?
    My nan for one can’t understand why we can’t just get married in the local hotel or social club, she has stated her disgust for having to travel all the way in the countryside for our venue and has told us several times ‘no-one will come.’ Charming. Then there’s wedding food fuss pots ‘I won’t eat chicken.’ ‘But I will only eat chicken’. ‘I don’t like pimms’. ‘I don’t like soup’. Well guess what… the other 59 people might like it so deal with it – its a free meal (for you)! Can’t please everyone.
    Then theres money whingers, ‘This wedding is going to cost us a fortune’. Ok I get it, there’s the hotel, drinks and present to pay for but come on… its meant to be a privilege to be invited to the day time of a wedding right? Your not meant to make the bride feel guilty for it. The biggest shocker has been the bridesmaids, I thought they would be there for me, help me plan stuff, be excited…. nope. More moaning and pulling their faces because the fact I have paid for their dresses, hair decorations, shoes and hair do on the day is not enough. Asking them to chip in for a pre wedding hair trial went down like a lead balloon. Making time to come wedding dress shopping with me was such a strain for them that I went with just my mum in the end. Then there’s the issue of buying the b’maid dresses only to find out one of them is trying for a baby knowing full well the dress won’t fit her. What can you say?
    I’ve never been to a wedding where the bar is paid for. Maybe I haven’t been to any rich weddings haha. I wouldn’t expect to have my drinks paid for at a wedding. In my opinion we have spent so much money on food and drink for them anyway that should be enough. We’ve got reception drinks, wine on the tables at lunch and also our favours are mini bottles of spirit so I think we’ve got getting drunk covered haha.
    I think you just expect everyone to be happy for you but it doesn’t happen like that. Your on your own! I’m hoping nearer the time more people will be more excited. I’ll take some of your tips onboard! xxx

  3. Absolutely love this post- especially the part about fussy eaters. I have been really pre-empting people coming back to me with all sorts of requests and making myself ill in the process. The wedding is about four months away so I am starting to get a bit jittery but this has fully put my mind at rest! Thank you! x

  4. Great post Emma – as you said you just have to do what you think is right/fits your budget and you’ll find that the vast majority of people will end up happy bunnies.
    Great idea to ensure all the wedding party have details about timings and locations etc, – it’s also useful to designate someone as the “person to call on the morning of the wedding if you have a problem” and send out their mobile number (with their permission of course) either with your invitation or on the email you suggest sending a week before. Then turn your phone to silent and enjoy the preparations for a fabulous day!

  5. We had a certain amount of money put behind the bar but didn’t tell guests so they were pleasantly surprised when their first round of drinks were covered but once it was all gone they had to pay for it themselves. Yes we wanted their company but we weren’t having a wedding to feed and water our friends at £150 per head.
    Lovely post Emma. And yes, not sending thank you cards. Rude.

  6. “A lot of your wedding guests will turn into morons who are unable to read instructions” ha ha ha. Even though I have been that guest who lost the invite and wasn’t sure when to go at what time and so know how easy it is, I still feel different now the boot’s on the other foot!
    Ace advice :)

  7. Great post and I agree with most of it, I shall definitely make sure the whole bridal party know where to direct guests if need be, but I’m not going to wrap my guests up in cotton wool. If it’s forecast rain then they can bring their own umbrellas, if it’s going to be really cold they can bring their own coats. I don’t dress them any other day I’m not going to start on my wedding day! As for the bar, if anyone turns up to a 4 star hotel with no money then they can drink tap water as punishment for being so presumptuous.
    I doubt any of my guest would do those things but as you can tell I won’t be taking any messing!

  8. Good advice!
    We’re having a ‘pay as you go’ bar in a marquee in the middle of a field (god know where the nearest cash point will be) and I hadn’t even thought about guests not having cash on them, so will include a polite little note (along with lots of others taken from above)
    Thanks!

  9. Excellent advice! We are getting married in a restaurant and having a full menu available (4 choices for each course!) in the vain hope that it will keep people happy :)
    Like Sam B I don’t think I’ve been to any posh weddings either, a free bar is a new one on me! I think post ceremony drinks – a choice of 2 cocktails, wine, beer or soft drinks – plus wine with dinner is enough.
    Mind you, my dad is really worried about the fact that there is no draft lager in our venue. He’s trying to persuade them to get a couple of kegs in…sigh…

  10. Good plan! I suspect that sometimes people go to one wedding with a free bar once and expect it to become a precedent. I also don’t think they consider the cost of the meal, the wine, the reception drinks, canapes and toast champagne either, but maybe one day it’ll be their turn and they’ll suddenly realise how unrealistic their expectations were!

  11. Gosh, Sam, you’ve really been put through the mill haven’t you?! I might ask Annabel to re-title this post ‘Things Sam B has had to put up with’
    Sometimes it’s simply a case that certain people are never happier than when they’re moaning I’m afraid, but your bridesmaids definitely ought to be pulling out their respective fingers I think. For the money whingers, revoke their invitation. And for your lovely Nan – she sounds not dissimilar to mine – do what I did: annoy her even more. I put the speeches before the meal and had 4 of them (unheard of!) to really irritate her as I knew she would be complaining about it by then. Made me laugh, anyway.
    Good luck with your plans and try not to let the moaners get you down! We’re always here if you need to come back for a rant.

  12. Thanks Phoebe! We too had a small bar tab to begin with. In the end, my dad got hammered and kept adding to it and buying everyone else drinks as well, so I’m pretty sure not many people ended up buying their own booze, but I would never have wanted our guests to EXPECT that in advance.
    And yes, thank you cards, essential!

  13. No problem Jenny! I would really hope anyone invited to a marquee reception in a field would have the forethought to bring not only money but wellies, a tow-rope, waterproof overalls and antihistamines, amongst other things. If they forget their money they’ll just have to enjoy water gathered from the leaves of surrounding shrubbery…

  14. Ah, MissB! My husband was worried as our venue had only 2 lager choices and he didn’t like either. Funnily enough, by the time he’d stopped drinking all the booze provided and the ones people had bought for him, he was so blotto he didn’t even think to worry about his choice of tipple!

  15. Hello all!
    One of our guests decided mid-meal that she didn’t like her dinner, (despite us sending out beautiful Artcadia invitations asking for dietary requirements) and asked a member of staff for the a la carte menu, which she promptly ordered from.
    We didn’t know until we checked out the morning after the wedding and were presented with her bill. A small amount of money compared to the final cost for the day, but we were still a little surprised at her behaviour.
    You just have to smile and breathe deeply!

  16. Good on you Carys. Our wedding is not until next year and I’ve already been told by some that we can’t put details of B&B’s on the website without knowing whether they’re good. How am I supposed to review every single B&B in a 15 mile radius beforehand, I ask you. I’ve gone on trip-advisor and listed the best ones so the rest is up to the guests themselves.
    We’ve provided a list of local accommodation and we’re leaving it up to our guests to be adults and look into their own travel arrangements….
    We’re also having a pay bar because we can’t afford the astronomical bill of a free bar.
    But we will put something about that on the website for everyone to see, although bearing in mind that some of our guests have been unable to visit the website despite instructions and a link in the email, I don’t hold out much hope….

  17. Really?!? I’m gob-smacked! That is just rudeness beyond belief…. We’re having a buffet in a venue quite far from a restaurant so our guest will need to put up with it or go hungry I’m afraid…

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