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Wedding Wednesday – The Gift of Labor Is Very Expensive

A friend of mine, J, has recently become engaged to her partner.

I previously worked as J’s personal assistant. She is a wheelchair user and hired me to help with tasks like washing up and laundry, which involved standing for prolonged periods. At the time, J was very clear; she wanted a very firm line between employee time and friend time, and it was very important to her that she pay me or other PAs for the hours worked.

I stopped working for J several years ago. I am also friends with her fiancé, who introduced us.

Shortly after announcing her engagement, J sent me a text asking if I’d be up for taking an hour or two to help her with the catering at the wedding. They’re planning a two-day extravaganza.

Puzzled, I asked if she and her fiancé were doing most of it by themselves. She told me that they weren’t; they’d hired professional caterers for the first day, but planned to be ‘entirely self-catering’ for day two. They have one friend coordinating, and they’ve asked everyone to pitch in and help. She also mentioned that her fiancé, who struggles with anxiety, finds catering relaxing, as it takes the pressure away from social events, and she had hoped that I’d find it similarly soothing.

While J and her fiancé are lovely people, I’m really surprised that they’d decide to throw a bigger wedding than they can afford and ask people to fill in as staff. I’m particularly surprised considering her views on PAs. I’d think of it as the same issue; if I’m a guest, I’m a guest. If I’m staff, I’m staff. I’m much happier with those restrictions than with blurred lines! I also don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask for help rather than to wait for it to be offered.

Finally, while my partner and I are invited to both days of Wedfest, some people are invited only to the wedding or only to one day of the event.

I’ve declined to help, on the grounds that I’d struggle with the distinction between staff and guest, and citing how much I agreed with her firm line between PA time and friend time, especially since she was describing doing something for her and her fiancé, not with them. I’ve not heard from her since – two months now – though we do regularly have periods where we don’t communicate frequently.

Ehellions, what would you recommend here? Was I too harsh? How would you bring this up? Would you at all? 1127-15

I’ve found over the years that situations such as this are the result of brides having an unrealistic expectation that their friends are there to serve at the wedding…as if their friends owe them and have a duty to make the wedding exceptional.   It’s an epiphany moment when you realize that your value to the bride isn’t for the friendship but rather the commodity of labor you can bring to the wedding.   You can offer your labor as a gift but that kind of gift, a very expensive one btw, is given at the initiative of the giver.  No bride on the planet should ever presume to believe she is owed this gift or worse, actually asks for it as if she expects it to be given to her.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mustard September 21, 2016, 6:21 am

    I think you did well to decline the invitation to help; I’m not sure I would be sufficiently on the ball to do that. As you say, you’re either a guest, or you’re not. Presumably at some point on Day 2 you would have to put on your apron and assume an attitude of servitude, then at the end of your shift become a guest again. How wierd…

  • kgg September 21, 2016, 6:22 am

    I roll my eyes at people now who expect their weddings to be these monumental events that the world is looking forward to – like those people who celebrate their entire “birthday month.” OP, I don’t think you did anything wrong. Don’t have a two day wedding if you can’t pay for a two day wedding. And, honestly, a two day wedding is asking for a lot from guests. I’m guessing it would take up a Saturday and a Sunday. Sorry, but weekends are pretty precious to me. If I’m off for the weekend, I don’t want to spend one day at a wedding and the following day working at a wedding!

    • Miss-E September 22, 2016, 10:42 am

      I hate that birthday month thing too. My friends fiancee turned 40 last year and literally every weekend was scheduled with birthday month activities. She had a running countdown for an entire year! And she would not stop posting on social media about it. It annoyed me to the point that I hid her posts from my newsfeed.

      • LadyV September 23, 2016, 8:13 am

        Kind of makes you shudder to think what the wedding is going to be like. She sounds like a major Bridezilla in the making.

      • NostalgicGal September 23, 2016, 11:06 pm

        Some people don’t take Big O birthdays well. That is why the Red Hat Society came into existence, someone had a friend freaking off that she was turning 50… so they gave the friend a red hat. From there the whole concept was born. The true mark is if 41 is done with as much fanfare or more as 40 was…

        • Rebecca September 27, 2016, 1:16 am

          Never heard of a birthday month!! That’s crazy. Nobody is that excited about anyone else’s birthday. The only exception is if you have multiple people who really want to take you out for your birthday, who don’t know each other and/or can’t all do it the same day. I’ve had my mother want to take me somewhere, but also a friend, but also a sister who lives out of town….and then the birthday seems to spread out over a longer period, but….it’s not something I’d ask for, post about on Facebook, or expect others to get excited about.

  • Dominic September 21, 2016, 6:39 am

    Wow! It’s one thing to ask a couple of friends to help out, say, by decorating the hall, or getting together to make centerpieces. Or for a friend who decorates cakes to OFFER to make the wedding cake. But to outright ask “everyone to pitch in and help” by putting them on a schedule to be servants during the festivities? Nope, never, not gonna happen.

    I think Admin’s description of the guests’ value as a “commodity of labor” is spot on here. And there are so many other icky things going on, including the underlying going overboard with the wedding (two days?), and the potential for hurt feelings in having separate guest lists for the events. Perhaps OP will report back on how things went … stay tuned for episode 2.

    • Liz September 21, 2016, 2:33 pm

      Exactly. Many moons ago, a close friend got married shortly after graduation. I flew cross country for and the day of, myself and several others did the table decorations for the reception. That was it. and they were easy, and pretty. She had 3 votives with candles, and wove ivy and a few red roses in the ivy in the center of each table. Not fancy, and didn’t take long to do. Then we all enjoyed the wedding and reception!

    • Lenore September 22, 2016, 12:55 am

      A now ex-friend asked myself and my then boyfriend to “help” decorate the hall for her reception. We ended up doing *everything*. Blowing up and hanging balloons, draping white material on the ceiling (for a tent-like effect), arranging the tables, dressing the tables etc. Didn’t even get acknowledged in the thank you speeches at the reception. Definitely not going to do that again!

    • Kali September 22, 2016, 7:58 am

      OP here.

      I declined my invitation to the wedding after receiving an email reminding people that they really needed everyone to sign up for a shift, though it was completely optional, of course. What really got me was the attached gift registry, in which they expected people to pay for both their honeymoon and “minimoon”. We’re no longer in contact.

      • Angela September 22, 2016, 9:06 pm

        What is this minimoon you speak of? 55 years old and that’s a new one.

        • Ann September 23, 2016, 7:28 am

          I had to Google it also. It sounds like a small trip of just a day or so, or even a “staycation”, in place of a blowout honeymoon. Most opt for one or the other; not both. My DH and I went on a “minimoon” but didn’t call it that-just two nights in a hotel, and then we had to move and he went back to work. We didn’t go on a honeymoon of sorts for seven years.

          • NostalgicGal September 25, 2016, 12:34 am

            Nearly forty years now and we never did have a honeymoon or a minimoon… still just as married.

      • Just4Kicks September 23, 2016, 12:23 am

        I agree with your statement in your post which says “If I’m a guest, I’m a guest….if I’m the staff, then I’m the staff.” That in my opinion sums it up perfectly.
        I think your “friend” is abusing your kindness. Good luck to you! 🙂

      • LadyV September 23, 2016, 8:15 am

        So in other words, instead of having a wedding that they could actually afford, they wanted their “friends” to subsidize it, with labor or cash or both. You’re well rid of this so-called “friend”.

        And I’m with Angela – what the heck is a “minimoon”?

      • Becca September 23, 2016, 12:06 pm

        Holy gimme pigs…I’m glad you backed out of that one!

      • Rebecca September 27, 2016, 1:20 am

        Ugh, I’d have declined that invite too. I opted out of attending a wedding years ago, after the bride to be (a coworker) suggested getting together for dinner after work. So I went for dinner with her, and she spent the whole time with her gift registry suggesting what I should get her for a gift, and telling me, “This is a little pricey, but really, that’s kind of considered minimum for a wedding gift.” I’d already accepted the wedding invite by this point but after that, oh dear, something came up and I won’t be able to attend after all. I dodged a bullet it seems; after the wedding none of her bridesmaids were speaking to her and she owed them all money.

  • PhDeath September 21, 2016, 6:47 am

    I agree completely with Admin; well said.

    I was struck by this line: “She also mentioned that her fiancé, who struggles with anxiety, finds catering relaxing, as it takes the pressure away from social events, and she had hoped that I’d find it similarly soothing.”

    Maybe I’m misreading, but I feel this implies that, perhaps, the OP finds social events anxiety-inducing. I struggle with anxiety issues and have, on a few occasions, had “friends” try to leverage it against me to push me into a support staff role at functions: “Well, I know you hate stuff like this, so you can just help out in the kitchen/play with the kids in the backyard/take over the grill.” Presumptuous, annoying, and insensitive.

    Thanks, but NO THANKS!

    • Joshua K. September 22, 2016, 8:39 am

      Maybe J (the bride) was merely trying to make the catering sound like a pleasant experience — sort of like how Tom Sawyer made whitewashing a fence sound like great fun, and thus got his friends to do his work for him.

      • Angela September 24, 2016, 3:12 pm

        My dad has a saying that might work here “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me I stuck oil” (He didn’t say pee though).

  • stacey September 21, 2016, 8:16 am

    A simple “no” would have sufficed. You went past that boundary to judge your friend. Asking a good friend for help the second day of a hosted event isn’t necessarily either presumptuous or appropriate. So much depends on how well it’s organized, the enthusiasm of her circle for such activities and the spirit in which she asks. But you’ve conflated her Day 2 events with the wedding day and with your bad memories or bad opinions of other brides and their condict. To me, you merit a turn in Ehell for being sanctimonious and for having communicated this to your friend unnecessarily.

    • DancerDiva September 21, 2016, 9:31 pm

      Umm, did we read the same letter? How do you know that she’s conflating anything? LW didn’t mention anything about bad memories or opinions of other brides. I didn’t take this as judgment of the bride, but rather keeping their relationship consistent. I thought she was very appropriate and not sanctimonious at all.

      • Ai September 22, 2016, 10:54 am

        POD. The friend wasn’t asking OP for a little bit of help. She was asking OP (and her other guests!!) to essentially cater a 2nd day of wedding activities. OP was not out of line for declining, nor did her reasons seem judgmental. In fact, what I find most insensitive was that the OPs’ implied anxiety was used as an excuse for asking her to be staff! That’s on entirely on the bride.

    • Kali September 23, 2016, 11:49 am

      OP. Not really sure what you’re talking about. I don’t have any bad memories or opinions of other brides. Not really sure what you mean by ‘conflating’ the second day of a wedding with the first day either. Mostly just baffled. :/

    • Michelleprieur September 24, 2016, 1:36 pm

      Maybe we found the bride??

    • Library Diva September 28, 2016, 11:25 am

      I agree with you, Stacey. We’re getting a very filtered perspective here, and I have to say that this almost seems like Ehell-bait, given the site’s overall disdain for massive wedding festivities and for asking guests to help. But we know almost nothing about what the second day consists of. OP did mention that not everyone’s invited, which to me implies that it would at least be smaller-scale than the wedding. The “second day” could simply be a backyard barbecue-style thing that would allow the bride, groom, and some out-of-town guests to catch up in a more intimate setting.

  • abby September 21, 2016, 8:16 am

    “I’ve found over the years that situations such as this are the result of brides having an unrealistic expectation that their friends are there to serve at the wedding”

    This drives me up the wall. I had to actually stop visiting this wedding planning board I was on while planning my own wedding because the brides to be were so ridiculously entitled. The number of times I read posts on this forum from angry brides who were seriously contemplating severing a decades old friendship because their friends weren’t willing or able to spend hours addressing invitations, creating centerpieces, running errands for the bride, spending thousands of dollars on out of town bachelorette parties, etc. was staggering. It’s like people really believe that since their wedding is the largest event to ever happen to them, if everyone else in their personal lives *really* cared about them, they’d bend over backwards offering every resource they have, at the Bride’s beck and call.

    OP, this was a really nervy request and I don’t blame you for declining. She may be pouting, but hopefully after her wedding is over she’ll realize how over the line her request was.

  • Michelle September 21, 2016, 8:17 am

    I do not think you were harsh. Either you are there as guest or (hopefully paid) staff. “Entirely self-catering” actually means having your friends serve because the cost of two days of catering service is probably quite pricey. Why pay when your friends can do it for free?? (to be clear, that is sarcasm).

    What exactly about being asked to be a server at the second event is supposed to be soothing to the OP?

    I think it’s odd that they are opting for a two day event, considering her fiance struggles with anxiety. My son has anxiety and he would dread a two day event where he was the center of attention. Of course, it’s their wedding, their choice and maybe two smaller events is easier for him.

    I have periods where I don’t communicate everyday with friends, but it’s usually not just after I decline to be a server at the second day of their two day wedding extravaganza.

  • stacey September 21, 2016, 8:17 am

    Conduct, sorry

  • Startruck September 21, 2016, 9:20 am

    You should have the wedding you can afford. If you can’t afford catering for that many people don’t have a big wedding. If she was offering the op a job, then it would be different . But to expect her to work her wedding instead of being a guest is kinda tacky to me. My husband I were invited to his brothers wedding out of town . He asked us to come two hours earlier then the invites said and I wondered why. I found out when we go there, as he immediately recruited my husband to work the grounds (it was an outdoor wedding ). Keep in mind this guy is loaded. He was just too cheap to hire any help. We weren’t affered anything to drink after hauling chairs back and forth , and by the time the wedding started we were sweaty and I didn’t even want to be in the pictures, as my hair and dress was sticky. Your guest are GUEST , not hired help. Maybe I’m being harsh but a wedding and reception is really just a party since You don’t need them to be married. So if you have to make your guest work , you need a cheaper ceromony .

    • Startruck September 21, 2016, 12:10 pm

      Sorry I meant we weren’t offered not affered 🙂

  • Huh September 21, 2016, 9:38 am

    I’m confused by them having a 2 day wedding event, and some people are only invited to 1 day, some people only invited to the wedding, and the groom suffers from anxiety. And only catering one day. Just why to it all?

  • Lacey September 21, 2016, 9:51 am

    SO not ok. Good for you, OP. Admin is spot-on.

  • helen-louise September 21, 2016, 9:56 am

    A TWO-DAY wedding? Is this normal in some parts of the world?

    Honestly, as a person with disabilities which affect my energy levels, and who has to use a wheelchair outside of the house, I’d be worried that your friend is setting herself up for not being able to enjoy her own wedding. Obviously disabilities vary tremendously and she might not experience pain or exhaustion as part of her impairment, but weddings are hard work. We had the shortest ceremony allowable by law with 15 guests, and it involved months of tiring planning followed by what felt like an extremely long day.

    I went to another wedding where some of the guests were travelling long distances, since we had all met online. Since they are Quakers, everyone who usually worshipped at the Meeting House was also invited. They had a reception with photographs, cake and non-alcoholic champagne immediately after the ceremony, followed by an informal meal for everyone who was not local. This seemed like the perfect etiquette solution – everyone was invited to the reception, but the purpose of the meal was to ensure that friends and family who had travelled got fed.

    I dunno. I’m so flummoxed by the two day situation that I can’t really give advice. This whole situation seems weird to me.

    • Anon September 21, 2016, 3:41 pm

      Actually in a large part of the world weddings are actually four-day events! I traveled to Pakistan to attend the wedding of a friend of mine, and wedding celebrations are multi-day extravaganzas with both the bride’s and groom’s family hosting different nights, which grow increasingly complicated and fancy. It was quite an experience!

    • NostalgicGal September 21, 2016, 8:22 pm

      As a teen I was at a three day wedding. The ceremony was about 10 am on Friday morning and it rolled on to about sunup on Monday. That was the cultural norm and it had been a while since one like that had been held stateside but they did. And the HC couldn’t leave until the party was over with….

    • Tracy W September 21, 2016, 11:30 pm

      @Helen-louise: out of interest, what were you doing in your wedding for 15 people that took months of tiring planning? (I mean I get spending ages planning a wedding if you enjoy the process – I very happily tried on lots of wedding dresses and taste-tested cakes, and my Dad’s approach to wine-selection is the stuff of family legend – but it sounds like you didn’t.)

      • NostalgicGal September 22, 2016, 9:05 am

        If you did a bunch of DIY stuff for the wedding and stuff like sewing your dress, it could take months. Still, a short ceremony and 15 guests shouldn’t have that extensive or effort laden….

        • helen-louise September 24, 2016, 6:30 am

          You haven’t met my family 🙂

          • NostalgicGal September 25, 2016, 12:36 am

            True enough. That makes sense.

      • helen-louise September 24, 2016, 6:29 am

        Mostly, fighting with my dad. The now-husband and I were in our thirteenth year together before we could even bear to consider marriage because of how overbearing my family are. Every time I thought about enduring a wedding, I got stomach cramps. We decided we were old enough to pay for our own wedding and have it as small as we liked – after all, it was just tidying things up legally. My father didn’t like this idea for various reasons and kept offering us the full cost of the wedding if only we did it the way *he* wanted and invited all of his family, including people that my husband had never even *met* in the 13 years we’d been together. Of course, we kept refusing, because it was *our* day, not his.

        Also my parents’ place is like one of those TV programmes about hoarders. This is all a big secret from the family. So both of my parents insisted we couldn’t possibly get married in the town where we actually live, and we had to find alternative venues which were far enough away that no one could invite themselves to my parents’ home afterwards. We had to find venues which were wheelchair accessible and near wheelchair accessible public transport, since we planned to get there by train and/or bus. (We live in London and believe strongly in not owning a car in the city).

        This all took months and was very, very stressful.

        • NostalgicGal September 25, 2016, 12:38 am

          If I’d been closer, I am ordained and I have done a lot of ‘you want to get married’ marriages in some strange places at strange times because of it. It does sometimes make it easier if one or both of the HC have mobility or other issues, to be able to hold a ceremony if they can find an officiant that will travel to them. Glad in the end you got it worked out.

  • Noel F. September 21, 2016, 10:26 am

    You certainly have right to say “no” to helping but I never think it’s wrong for a friend to ask for help. I certainly don’t expect my friends to magically know that I may need help and I certainly don’t want to go through the process of talking about how much work I have to do and how hard it will be to try and elicit offers of help. Frankly, I’m less likely to offer if that’s happening, my close know they can just ask and granted my friends are not the type to take undue advantage.

    There have been several occasions where I’ve been asked to help a friend at a wedding sometimes in advance and sometimes unforeseen situations pop up and I can’t say I’ve ever felt slighted. It’s always seems more like an honor to help the bride and groom on their wedding day and an offense. That could just be culture of my family and social circle.

  • Elle September 21, 2016, 10:33 am

    Not overly harsh, but possibly too frank. It might have been a situation that called for less disclosure. It could have been handled this way: “Oh, thank you for thinking of me and wanting to involve me, but I can’t. I have something else that I will be dealing with that week — I’m not ready to talk about it publicly — and it’s really all I can manage to attend your events as a guest.” Then refused to disclose the issue that you’re not ready to talk about. Let the other person think another friend is having surgery or something. The issue you’re not ready to talk about is the friend who expected you to serve as free labor.

  • JD September 21, 2016, 11:26 am

    I totally agree with admin and you on this and, while J may be mad at you, hopefully once her “bridezilla” stage passes, she will get over it. Or, maybe she’s not mad, just busy and will get back to you. Whichever, I think you did the right thing.

  • HB September 21, 2016, 11:34 am

    Am I the only one who smiled at the bride’s hopes that you’ll find catering her wedding ‘soothing’? So really she’s not expecting you to work, she’s actually doing you a favour ?.

    I think you were quite right to decline, the happy couple’s expectations are not reasonable. Mass catering is hard work whether you’re coordinator, cook, waiter or on the tidying up team. They should be having the wedding they can afford and inviting people to different parts of the event has potential for hurt feelings written all over it.

    If she’s going to pull back on your friendship because you wouldn’t do this, then that’s her loss, not yours. Presumably you’re still planning on going to the wedding? Please keep us updated!

  • Dee September 21, 2016, 11:40 am

    Don’t you have to be an egotist to consider asking your guests to spend two days celebrating your wedding? What guest would want to do that? That’s the first red flag for me.

    I love how OP declined the “invite”. Good job. If she’s lucky she won’t be invited for the circus as a result. If she is still invited and chooses to go, I would recommend being on high alert for manipulative behaviour designed to put guests to work. Have excuses and other plans ready and be prepared to leave at the drop of a hat. Or just don’t go. Surely there is something better to do that day, like washing the cat?

  • Lisa H. September 21, 2016, 11:48 am

    Good grief! J is certainly self- entitled. Good for you for using your spine and saying NO to the absurdity.
    Hubs and I have a friend who is a chef, and he OFFERED to cater our small backyard wedding (we paid him of course) and he took care of all food related issues, but we would never have expected him to provide his services for free…. What cheek.

  • LadyV September 21, 2016, 12:31 pm

    OP, I don’t think you were harsh at all. In fact, you showed the proper polite spine in this case. Basically, your ex-boss – who was so firm about the line of demarcation between employee time and friend time – wants you to be unpaid help, instead of relaxing and enjoying the wedding. To me, that says a lot about what your “friendship” means to her. Have you already been invited to the wedding? If so, attend and enjoy it as a guest. If not, although I’m sure it will be painful for you, you may have to accept that this was not much of a friendship to begin with.

    On a side note – what is the deal with having wedding celebrations that take more than one day? In this case, I’m assuming the actual wedding (and reception, since there will be professional caterers) is on Day 1 – so what the heck are they going to be doing on Day 2? I won’t even go into the sheer tackiness of inviting people to only one day of “Wedfest” (I love this term,by the way).

  • NostalgicGal September 21, 2016, 12:49 pm

    You’re not wrong, OP. If your friend doesn’t get back to you, shrug it off and continue on your way. Send a nice card to your friend and be done with it.

    There’s an archive one where a couple asked friends to bartend and they agreed and it turned into a lot more than bargained for. Instead of standing and pouring a few drinks for an hour or so they got sent several pages of prep work, aka be full fledged bartenders. Plus it turned into a legal issue so they declined and the HC had a fit. This isn’t nearly as bad, but, it could quickly escalate to being far in over your head. With the clearly defined lines in the past of PA and friend, you are not wrong to decline in this case. Precedent has already been set. If she doesn’t get back to you, don’t fret it.

  • clairedelune September 21, 2016, 1:28 pm

    I think you handled this very well, OP. Though I do love that she suggested that you might find it “soothing” to work for free at her wedding. That’s a new one.

  • Shoegal September 21, 2016, 3:51 pm

    I’m not sure if I’m entirely clear the reason for the 2nd party. There could be several things going on here. If you think about it – alot of weddings more than a 2 day event. In that – there are showers, bachelor/ bachelorette parties, engagement parties, rehearsal dinenrs etc. Some weddings conclude and then there is an “afterparty” in a bar or someone’s hotel room. For myself – I was thinking that my sister hosted a brunch the day after my wedding. My mother had done the same thing for my other siblings. This is not so off the wall. There was one after several people’s weddings that I attended. It isn’t meant to go all day long – it’s a chance to give the out of town people something to eat and continue to visit before departing.

    I think J probably wants to have a brunch on the 2nd day – and she’d like to do this herself and probably thought she could ask for some help for it. Unfortunately, it would be hard for her to host this, do everything for it and visit. She actually needed someone to host it for her – but this isn’t something you ask anyone to do for you. I can see why she wanted help – she just got married the day before!!

    The OP has the right to decline working the event. Yes – there are blurred lines there. Is there a right way to ask for help with this party? Her only recourse is to host it – and pay for the help if she isn’t willing to do everything herself.

    • Devin September 21, 2016, 8:08 pm

      I with you on not understanding peoples outrange at *gasp* 2 day wedding!! Most weddings I’ve attended have had activities on multiple days, rehersal dinner the afternoon/evening before, wedding the reception, and often some sort of breakfast/brunch the day after for out of town guests who stay the full weekend.
      That being said, your friend should plan accordingly for the day 2 activity and either pay for catering again or make it a casual backyard bbq event that her husband can cater himself. I’d go ahead and attend the wedding as a guest, since catering is already planned you shouldnt be hit up for work then. If they try and wrangle you into ‘volunteering’ for day 2, suddenly have some other place you just have to be. Good luck!

      • Dee September 22, 2016, 12:35 pm

        I, too, know of multiple day wedding festivities in some cultures; the difference here, though, is that the OP and the bride and groom are seemingly not part of any cultural where this is tradition. With cultural weddings, everyone is invited to all the ceremonies. There are no “A” and “B” events with separate guest lists. People come and go as they can and enjoy what they can, with the whole kit and caboodle paid for by the bride’s parents and no further expectations of the guests. It is considered an honour to host the events for relatives and village members.

        Modern weddings pretend to duplicate this but by having multiple events that different people are invited to. These events usually cost the “guest” a fair bit (showers, bachelor(ette) parties, spa nights, etc.) and are considered mandatory. Other than the time factor there is little else in common with lengthy, cultural weddings. In the case of the OP, she is being asked to work a wedding she is supposedly “invited” to. There’s no cultural tradition backing this up. It’s a crock.

    • NostalgicGal September 21, 2016, 8:29 pm

      The day after I got married was any other day including it was a Sunday and I had an apartment to clean up after my aunts left it a mess. A brunch would have been possible had I had the food on hand and gotten up to put it together. So not as big a deal. The real difference the next day was I now had a different name to sign and a permanent roomie. (after almost four decades we’re still roomies… heh) Cleaning up after my high school prom was an all day thing but that was a huge gym heavily decorated. Anyone with time off (studyhall) had to head down and do their share of clean it up and by an hour or so after school it had been done, all the wires down and everything. After my wedding? About four loads of dishes and scraping the frosting off everything.

  • PM September 21, 2016, 4:29 pm

    I really hate it when people come up with fancy-sounding, pseudo intellectual terms that translate to “other people do all of the work without being paid.”

    • Startruck September 21, 2016, 10:49 pm

      Yes yes yes!!! Agreed!!

  • NB September 21, 2016, 7:51 pm

    I come from a culture that 1) has multiple day long weddings (but it is a blast, and people tend to know what they are getting themselves into) and 2) where immediate family members (and maybe super close friends) do help out with running the wedding. However, that is because aunts, uncles, and cousins see the wedding as that of their daughter/sibling and act as such. That being said, that appears to not be the case of what is going on here, so OP had every right to decline the “invitation.” While I initially was more sympathetic to J given my cultural background, as some others have mentioned, the “I hope you find this similarly soothing” also rubbed me the wrong way. It seems like J knows she is out of line in what she is asking, but justifies it by making it sound like she is doing OP a favor.

    • NostalgicGal September 22, 2016, 1:00 am

      Like some years ago I was doing award ribbons, and it was spring and the Quinceanera season started in earnest, and in a few days I had fielded several irate families that wanted decorations that looked similar to wedding pew bow decorations, 24 to fit the church, and some with fresh flowers…. and have me LOAN them ‘for exposure and advertising’. $2400-4000 a set. AND be upset they couldn’t pick them up the next day (um it’s 40 hours of work, probably 80, and I have to order in the supplies to make them so six weeks minimum run-in). One asked me then to be a sponsor (and give $4000 worth of pew bows with fresh flowers) to the event. I didn’t even know them or that they had a daughter before 20 minutes ago, uh no. It took going to the Padre and he had some words with the congregation to get them to lay off me and the flower shop. You want to spend $30k on the quince, fine, but you better be ready to pay for it yourself. Being a sponsor is an honor, and should NEVER be a shakedown.

    • Becca September 22, 2016, 10:10 am

      I am right there with you on all this. I’m actually quite removed from a big wedding culture, my family is a bunch of hermits who marry late in life and don’t really care for celebration. However the idea of others having two, three or even a week long celebration doesn’t blip on my radar, I know it’s very much ingrained in some cultures and I respect their traditions.

      It’s that “I hope you find this similarly soothing” remark thrown in there that was the foul. I have had someone use my anxiety in that kind of similar manner to get me to do some sort of task for them. My response is “No, not even a little bit.” Classic manipulation tactic right there.

      Calling and saying “I need some help, would you mind?” is always okay in my book as long as you take “Sorry, I can’t.” as the final answer.

      • NostalgicGal September 23, 2016, 4:00 pm

        Much younger, friend had a baby. She thought that everyone would be just as joyed over her little bundle and sit him all over and she could continue to be a carefree party girl. One week and she’d run through anyone that would watch the kid for an hour and she was stuck with motherhood. She still kept trying. Kid reached about 4 months, and I don’t sit babies, never have, never will. She calls me to whine over she just can’t find ANYONE to sit the kid that evening, she’s tried EVERYONE and… it’s thick and heavy about she wants me to say the magic words. I didn’t. She tried a few more passes. I wouldn’t. I deflected her or other wise agreed about I couldn’t think of anyone that could sit if she’d already tried (several mutual friends named off). She never did come out flat and ask if I would sit, she tried everything else and finally hung up in disgust as I would NOT cave. I wish I’d been able to record that call, it was so blatantly over the top. Nope. I wasn’t going to sit the baby. She ended up not being able to go to the party….

  • Ant September 22, 2016, 2:52 am

    I would say that the point about help being at the “initiative of the giver” is a bit wrong… I don’t see any problem with asking for help. In fact I don’t believe I know anyone who would find a reasonable request for help rude. But this is not a reasonable request and I see there are 2 problem with the request for help in this case (1) they are not in struggling or in dire need of help, and so the couple should only really ask for help with tasks that are unburdensome (taking several hours out of your weekend to wait on people is a real burden compared to say addressing 50 envelops over the course of a week (which is something I have done for a friend’s wedding)) and (2) the request for help seems to read as “payment” for being involved in the wedding. Really in this case the couple should either trim down the duration or reduce the “expense” of the first day to spread out their money more

  • Mojo September 22, 2016, 3:26 am

    Sometimes it can work. Many years ago we threw a wedding for a young couple from our church. They had less than no money but desperately wanted to be married. So together with some of their out-of-town friends we decorated the church hall (soft lilac and cream, very tasteful) and prepped a buffet lunch for about 60 people. Their parents provided the supplies, we provided the labour.

    On the wedding day we set up the food and drink, while another friend was taking photos outside. Everyone pitched in. It was more like a huge family party than a formal occasion. I found that working together was a great ice-breaker and I got to talk to more people than I would at any formal event.

    It sounds counter-intuitive, but putting in the effort was fun, and the room felt full of warmth, genuine friendship and love, something no amount of butterfly boxes and candy carts can supply. The young couple are still together, now with two fine teenagers, and proof that you don’t need an expensive wedding to create a rich marriage.

    That said, I’m not sure we’d have been so delighted if they’d have had an expensive, catered formal wedding the day before! Unless everyone’s chipping in, you were probably wise to bow out.

    • admin September 22, 2016, 4:42 am

      I once coordinated and catered a wedding at cost for a couple from church who we all thought was financially too strapped to have a nice wedding. I, and others who volunteered to serve, found out at the rehearsal that the mother of the bride was hosting a very nice, catered, sit down dinner at a hotel for 60 guests that evening. We had not been invited.

      • Mojo September 22, 2016, 8:33 am

        Ouch, that must have hurt. I’m sorry you fell foul of one of the gimme pigs.

      • Michelle September 22, 2016, 8:55 am

        Some people have no shame.

    • Kali September 22, 2016, 8:06 am

      OP here.

      I think the event you’re describing is what J was picturing and wanted, but she didn’t realise that it had to be pushed by the community rather than pulled by the receiver.

  • Laura September 22, 2016, 10:49 am

    My FSIL did not want any kids at the wedding, but my brother did. eventually they did invite the kids of family and wedding party only. My daughter had hoped to be a flower girl but of course was not. FSIL did invite her to “come along for all the photos at the park”, saying she thought it might be fun for a 10 year old to watch the photos (not be in them). I declined on her behalf, then found out that what she really wanted was for my daughter to come along to help entertain the daughter of one of the bridesmaids during the photo shoot. So she wasn’t good enough to be wanted at the wedding but could be used as free babysitting.

  • Lara September 22, 2016, 4:49 pm

    I guess I’m wondering what “catering” means. Where I’m from it’s very common to have “punch and cake” type receptions after a wedding, and it’s considered an honor to be asked to serve something. It’s like asking someone to be an usher in your wedding. It does involve a certain amount of work, but the fact that you’re there shows that you’re important to the bride and groom. I served punch at a friend’s wedding years ago and had a great time. But if catering means waiting on tables, or working back in the kitchen to heat and prep food, etc, then I think that’s an unreasonable request to make of your friends, not to mention a logistical nightmare. Imagine all the lists of instructions and explanations you’d have to write up to make sure that everyone in your every-changing shifts of non-professionals knows exactly what they’re supposed to do and when to do it. And what if someone doesn’t show? What will you do then?

    Also, that comment about “we think you might find catering relaxing” is really kind of insulting, since it seems to suggest that OP also suffers from anxiety, or is socially awkward. Even if both those things are true, don’t say it!

  • Just4Kicks September 23, 2016, 12:33 am

    My mom used to be a designer in a flower shop years ago.
    She loved doing arrangements for friends and relatives, as long as the materials were paid for by said friends. She never expected payment, although most folks would pay her for her time as well.
    One such friend, whose daughter was getting married, asked my mom to please make the bride’s bouquet as well as the “throw away” one to all the single ladies.
    She gave my mom the money to purchase all the materials, and the day before the wedding came to my mom’s house, with bride in tow, to pick up the flowers.
    Moms friend gushed about how beautiful a job she did etc, and thanked her profusely.
    The bride, also said they were lovely and then looked expectantly around the room and asked “where are all the centerpieces for the (14) tables?!?”
    My mom and her friend were very confused and said she was asked to only make the two bouquets.
    The bridezilla pitched a HUGE fit and started yelling “what the hell am I going to do for centerpieces?!? The wedding is TOMORROW!!!”
    My mom was really angry and the bride’s mom was embarrassed beyond belief that her kid was acting this way.

    • NostalgicGal September 25, 2016, 12:51 am

      See my entry about pew-bows. I totally know this one. I normally do NOT do silk flowers but years back a good friend was getting married, I had known them before I moved… and found out her sister lived near me. The sister paid for the silk flowers and I made the bridal and bridesmaids bouquets, the corsages and boutionnieres, the hair clips for all the bridal party ladies, the flower girl’s basket, and some table arrangements (five). As my gift. I raided HobbyLobby heavily and it ran over $600 just for the supplies, the sister was a trooper over it. I also helped the bride choose her colors off DMC embroidery floss, then tell everyone what the colors were. The outfits coordinated beautifully because it was easy and cheap to buy a few skeins of floss no matter where you were to match things up. I seen the pictures, everything turned out beautifully and they had it and the reception at a pavilion in the park. His mother had extreme social anxiety issues so she didn’t attend, but I made her a mother’s corsage anyway, and I was shown a picture of her wearing it. They went by her place after the reception to give it to her and bring her some of the food, and she was so grateful to get the corsage… That was offered not asked, that I do the flowers.

  • Cat September 24, 2016, 7:15 pm

    I believe I would have happily accepted for the first day and regretfully declined for the second day, citing other plans already made.
    If I had wanted to volunteer, I would have offered. Never assign me to volunteer.

    • NostalgicGal September 25, 2016, 11:56 am

      This. My DH and I are separate entities and one can not volunteer the other to do things. If I say I will show up with pickup to help you move, you get me. Not him too. I’ve surprised several with stuff like that. A male friend was going to go on a trip and I offered to help him give his car a go over, change sparkplugs, wires, distributor cap, change the oil, change oil and air filters, bleed the brakes, top his air. I can do all of this, I’m not the fastest, my DH is the better mechanic. However it was me that offered and the friend brought car over and we got to it. It took longer, yes, but it was done correctly. DH said he came out and peeked in the garage window to see how we were doing about midway through…