– Ask Cheryl – Asking Wedding Guests to Pay for the Reception

In this week’s Ask Cheryl question, our reader wants to know if her friend (who’s getting married) should think twice about inviting her wedding guests to a restaurant after the ceremony and expecting them to pay the tab.

Hi Cheryl,

A dear friend of mine is getting married for the third time and it’s the groom’s second marriage. They are having a ceremony at the beach with no reception. She said we would all just go to a restaurant to eat after the ceremony and everyone would pay for their own meal. With family and friends, there will be 20 to 25 people attending. It does not seem appropriate to not provide any food for their guests. What do you think? She also said she is having a bridal shower and registering a few places.

Wedding bouquet on wedding couple background, kissing at the beach

Dear Kathy,

It does seem odd to invite everyone to a restaurant for what will naturally be seen as a reception and not pick up the tab. It sounds like your friend desires a budget, low key affair – which is fine. Even so, one should not invite guests to a wedding luncheon or dinner and ask them to pay. Whoever extends the invitation to an event is the host and the attendees are their guests. If there is a meal, it’s considered proper etiquette for the host to provide the meal for their guests. Her plan may cause confusion and I don’t know how the invitation could be worded to communicate her intent, unless she is planning to do it by word of mouth.

Even so, unless your friend is asking your opinion about the matter, there is really nothing you can do. If she does ask the guests to pay for their own meal, then the lunch or dinner should be completely optional.

Regarding the shower — hopefully she’s not planning to throw a shower for herself. That is definitely not appropriate. However, there is nothing wrong with her friends getting together and having a party for her, and nothing wrong with creating a gift registry. Friends and family will want to buy her a wedding gift (regardless of the wedding’s formality) and it’s helpful to many guests to have suggestions on what the couple needs or wants.

Whatever the reception arrangements, I hope you enjoy celebrating this special day with your friend.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length and grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.


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