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Wedding…Um, THURSDAY! Once Those Guests Are Snagged Into Attending, Soak Them For A Grand Reception

I recently attended a small, impromptu wedding. The bride’s mother was visiting from overseas, so the couple decided to quickly plan a small wedding. The couple created a Facebook event and sent out invites through that. In the description, they started off saying it was a NO HOST dinner/reception. I didn’t know what that was, so I googled what a no host dinner was: essentially it’s every person paying for their own meals and drinks (going dutch). I’ve never encountered such a wedding, but okay, my SO and I would go anyways, celebrate, we’ll just stick to a budget.

A week later the bride announces, also on Facebook, that they’d like monetary gifts and will be setting up a money tree. I was shocked by that, since the guests essentially were paying for the reception.  My SO and I already RSVP’d so it’d be rude not to show up. This made us discuss that we’ll order small and give a monetary gift. Note: in my culture monetary gifts are a norm, but we also never expect the guests to pay for their own meals. If the gifts help offset the costs paid, great, but we don’t expect others to pay for our weddings.

When we get to the restaurant, the tables are still being set up, and quite a few people are looking over the menu, and I could hear some discuss splitting meals as this was a steak restaurant.

Once the tables are set up, we all find out that each place setting has a prix fixe menu: each table gets a calamari and beef tenderloin over rice starters, then each person chooses a soup or salad, and one of four entrees. Soft drinks are included. I asked if the waitress can bring me and SO a separate check, and I was informed of the following: the set menu is about $40/ person, with all the guests being added to a main bill for the party, and every bottle of wine opened will also be added to the main bill. Then, it’d be split evenly by the number of guests. I was beyond shocked. My SO stepped outside to calm down.

I then see some of the family starting to order wine and talking about refills. I wasn’t about to subsidize their drinking. I asked the waitress to put $40 on the bill for me as my contribution and gift to this wedding, told my SO to stay outside, and once I signed my receipt I left.

The bride sent me a text about 10 minutes later asking if we left. I told her yes because I didn’t expect for this arrangement nor for a bill I had no control over. I congratulated them on their wedding and wished them the best.    0113-15


{ 157 comments… add one }
  • Cat April 21, 2017, 9:42 pm

    Sounds more like a shake-down than a celebration to me.

  • Sarah April 22, 2017, 3:19 pm

    You’re nice to have left $40. I would have left – period.

  • Arwen April 23, 2017, 10:56 am

    When we were first married, my inlaws, who are divorced, used to tell us they each wanted to “take us out” for our birthdays. These dinners were tortuous because they aren’t very good conversationalists and we would mostly just sit quietly. The check would come, and they would sit ignoring it until we picked up the tab for everyone (since DH had younger siblings still living at home, and both parents were remarried, the bill was often upwards for $200.) I finally told my husband that we really couldn’t afford to spend $400 each birthday on these dinners that we didn’t even want, and that ate up any gift giving budget we had for each other! Happy birthday, you get to spend 5 times your birthday budget on a dinner out with the inlaws who don’t like you at a restaurant you don’t get to choose! Enjoy! He finally realized how ridiculous it was, especially when I pointed out that when it was their birthdays, they would invite us and we would still have to pay for them all and give a gift on top of it! We started turning down their invitation for our birthdays and did our own thing instead. For their birthdays, we’ll go out with them, but made it clear that we only pay for the birthday person’s meal, not everyone’s.

    My FIL still gets ticked off every year and sends a passive aggressive handwritten letter in the mail about not getting to “plan” his son’s and grandchildren’s birthday parties.

    • Rebecca April 23, 2017, 10:26 pm

      That’s really quite incredible. Who does that?

    • Anonymous April 24, 2017, 11:10 am

      Arwen, I just noticed that you said “birthdays,” as in plural. I would have put an end to this after the first outing.

    • livvy17 April 24, 2017, 1:48 pm

      Wow. Tell your FIL that he can plan them when he pays for them!! Crazy.

    • Marozia April 27, 2017, 3:05 am

      My husband and I were at a restaurant for a friend’s birthday when the ‘pass the tab’ happened. Each looked at it and passed it onto the next. We looked at it and passed it on as well. It got back to the head of the table who sighed, took out his Visa card and payed for it.
      When we were next invited to a birthday, I commented that if we were going to pay ‘pass the tab’ again, we’ve got no money and would be unable to pay for it as well as buy a birthday present.

      • NostalgicGal May 10, 2017, 4:05 pm

        Say What?!?!?!?!?

        The bill was for the whole table and passed around, expecting someone to pay it?

        The words “Separate Check Please” spring to mind very quickly!

    • PJ April 27, 2017, 9:00 am

      “My FIL still gets ticked off every year and sends a passive aggressive handwritten letter in the mail about not getting to “plan” his son’s and grandchildren’s birthday parties.”

      Huh. I think you stop getting to ‘plan’ your childrens’ birthday parties when they’re not children anymore. And it certainly isn’t on the FIL to plan his grandkids’ birthdays!

  • Lex April 24, 2017, 4:55 am

    Wow… I’m shocked at the gaucherie of these ‘hosts’… If I had turned up to an event under the understanding that I could choose my own food and budget accordingly, then to find there is no choice and the cost is double what I expected, I would have left without even leaving a gift. This isn’t a ‘wedding reception’, this is a gift grab. I would have offset whatever I might have been willing to give as a gift against the costs incurred to travel to this farce of an event. If one of the party had then contacted me and asked me where I was, they would have been told that I am unable to accommodate the costs of the event as I did not have sufficient notice.

    I would then have distanced myself from the couple in question.

    I think the OP was more generous than the hosts had any right to expect.

  • NoviceGardener April 24, 2017, 5:17 am

    Hoo boy! What a cheek. I think you handled the situation very adroitly, OP, and I would probably have done something similar, if I had my wits about me. The only way I would’ve stuck around and gone with it would be if the bride or groom were a very close friend indeed, and if that were the case, I would at any rate be very careful about double-checking the parameters of any events they hosted in the future. Whew!

    I can’t help but feel a tiny bit of pity for the bride (and to a lesser extent, the groom, as it tends to be brides that are held responsible for this kind of screw-up). Not saying there is any way this behaviour was remotely okay, but it smacks of cluelessness as well as greed, maybe. If they’re otherwise good people, there’s every chance that they’ll look back on this debacle in a few years and bitterly regret their behaviour.

    In any case, hats off to OP for refusing to be a doormat and handling the situation with spine and class. I bet there were a few other people there who wish they’d had the guts to follow that example.

  • Pat April 24, 2017, 9:50 am

    Wow, just wow! So basically, you had absolutely no control over the amount you would “owe” at the end of the evening. You might have been on the hook for your entire month’s food budget depending on how many people showed up and how much they drank. I’m speechless!

  • JHB April 24, 2017, 4:58 pm

    I applaud how the OP handled it. With the right circumstances, I’d have been fine with the no host dinner but definitely not the way that one was handled. Had it been informal, group of friends, REASONABLY-priced restaurant – all good.

    I’m a big proponent of keeping wedding costs to what’s affordable and focusing on sharing the event with friends. For my own, we had an afternoon church wedding with cake & punch reception in the church parlor. About 150 attendees. Those were the “official” wedding activities. It was lovely, memorable, and quite affordable.

    Much later that same night-well after the dinner hour-we had an informal party at our house with music, drinks, appetizers. Very casual, not considered a reception at all. Everyone was invited. Those who wanted to come, did. (Our travel plans began the next day, and we wanted a chance to actually talk to people and visit with out of town friends/relatives.) There were a few who couldn’t make the ceremony but came to the party. It was just easy for everyone.

    • at work April 25, 2017, 8:05 am

      I like what you did. Good idea!

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