Food Assignments For Reception (Or “My Guests Are My Caterers….Not”)

by admin on February 25, 2014

I am hoping that you could help me out with how to deal with a very strange wedding.

A friend of mine is getting married at the end of March. He and his fiance have just issued an open invitation via Facebook, linking to their website with all the wedding details.

The website has details on the time and place, as well as information on the Bring & Share Meal. The website includes instructions to bring only cold food, preferably already on a plate and clingfilmed. All plates should have name stickers on. There is also a list of suggestions for the meal (soft drinks, whole joints of coca cola ham, cheesecake, sushi, a VARIETY of flavoured crisps, etc.)

Then there is the gift list (or if you prefer you can donate to the honeymoon fund).

The whole thing has made me very uncomfortable, as I don’t know what I should do. It’s not my place to say anything, and I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable suggesting anything to the couple at this late stage!  Should I ignore it and not go, as no formal invite has been issued? Should I go, but bring only food OR a gift? Should I just attend the ceremony, as it would be lovely to see them married?!

I have never been in this position before, and I have never heard of a wedding like this! I feel very out of my depth! I’d like to hear your take on the matter!   0222-14

I realize modern technology has made invitations easy but public invitations to the whole world are impersonal and cold, imo. It’s as if the hosts are ambivalent about my presence at the event and couldn’t be bothered to extend a personal invitation.    So,  I would be inclined to not attend the wedding if I became aware of such a public cattle call for everyone to come.

As for the sign ups for food, I ignore these.   Either I am a guest or a caterer but not both.  If you want to go to the wedding, then by all means go and do so with no guilt feelings about your lack of food offering.  It appears from the web page you sent me that people have already signed up for everything already thus relieving you of the false sense of duty to play caterer.



{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Valb February 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I have a feeling that if you choose not to attend and ignore this “invite” altogether, you can expect to be cc’d on group messages from the bride frantically insisting that everyone let her know if they will be attending. They can’t be bothered to formally invite anyone, but will soon see the downside to not getting the formal RSVP’s that normally follow. People can sign up for snacks all they want, but how can the couple be sure that there will be enough for everyone? Like, if 75 people show up but only one person brought a case of water bottles, they’ll be gone before the first hour is up. And what about chairs and favors? But maybe they just don’t care.
My sister in law told me about a wedding she attended where the couple didn’t have regular wedding parties, they just told all kinds of people that they were on “team wedding” before assigning tasks. How nice for the couple, they have most the duties doled out and save themselves the trouble of buying bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts!


AS March 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm

@Valb: I don’t think that not having wedding party should be considered uncouth. Hubby and I didn’t have wedding party either – but not because we didn’t want to “take the trouble of buying bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts”, but because we didn’t want to trouble our friends who lived all around the globe. We had two ushers; and a lot of family members helped out with quite a few stuff – but hubby and I did most of the preparation.

If the couple you are talking about just doled out duties to all the guests, then that can be bad. In our case, we didn’t know what “duties” people have, except hosting showers and other parties – which we didn’t want (I ended up having a bridal shower hosted by some friends anyways; luckily, not many presents were involved!). Everyone who helped did get gifts (other than the favors for all guests). I don’t think that just not having wedding party is bad. Expecting ALL guests to perform “duties” can be get out of hand. Also, was your SIL assigned a task? If not, I don’t think that she necessarily knows whether everyone who helped in the “team wedding” got a thank you gift individually or not. Also, if done nicely, lot of people feel more involved if they are requested to do tiny tasks for the wedding – like some friends transporting little things, someone taking care of the vendors delivering things the morning of the wedding, etc. Why should the onus be on just a few people for months at a time to “help” at the wedding – just for a bridesmaid or groomsmen favor? If I attend the wedding of a close friend/relative, I’d rather take care of a few minor tasks the morning of the wedding than constantly having to think of it for months in advance.


AS March 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I think the wedding in the OP’s post is over the top. But my reply above is specifically to Valb’s comment.


Ashley February 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Is it wrong that whenever I hear about weddings being thrown like this one, I always secretly hope they will run drastically short of food? I’m aware it might make me sound a bit spiteful but it just blows my mind that there are couples out there who think it’s okay to make requests like this of their guests.

I suppose if your aunt owns a catering company, and actually knows how to do the math for things like this and has access to a kitchen that can prepare that much food, it’s a little different. But I think about my tiny little kitchen and how I wouldn’t even know where to start on how to figure out how much of this or how much of that to buy.


jen a. February 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm

What scares me is that even if this is the OP’s first time hearing about this, it’s not mine. I’ve been invited to three potluck weddings, and it’s come up on this site before. I love potlucks, and I know some people really feel that it works at a wedding, but I’m not 100% down with it. And can we please, please, please stop with the facebook invites to weddings? It never feels personal. Facebook invites work for informal parties, demonstrations, and fundraisers, but not for weddings.

I know not everyone might agree with this, and I get there can be nuances, but can we just agree that asking people to pay for your honeymoon is super cheap?


La February 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm

If I were organising something like a wedding I would put up a Facebook private event, but in addition to formal invites. Could be useful for getting out important information like “the reception pub caught fire, we’re now at [less flammable location]” or seeing if your friends and family have advice on things like caterers, or if they have problems or queries about the wedding (“your great uncle broke his ankle polishing the curtain rails* and his tuxedo doesn’t fit over his cast, is it OK if he isn’t dressed up completely?”).

* Based on the real-life adventures of my then-89yo grandfather


jen a. March 2, 2014 at 9:41 am

Yeah, facebook events would be more appropriate to keep everyone informed. There are also a lot of free sites out there that allow you to do the same thing. You can register information about the area the wedding is in, accommodation info, and anything else that doesn’t really go on the invitation.

Oh dear, your poor grandfather!


Library Diva February 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

I’m on the fence about the whole honeymoon thing. I agree that it’s not a good look to say “Donate to our honeymoon fund!” Not sure how I feel about the honeymoon registries. I know that some of them just give people the cash in a lump sum (with their own fees taken out), so they’re free to remodel the bathroom with the money while people think they’ve bought “lunch at local markets” or whatever, which is sort of deceptive. I’d feel more duped if I gave $50 towards a honeymoon that never happened, than if I’d just slipped it in a card for the couple.

At the same time, though, society is changing and traditional wedding gifts will have to change with it. Fewer and fewer people are going from their parents’ home to their marital home. Most people at least have a stop at a dorm room or college apartment in between. Others have been cohabitating for a while, living independently, or living with friends. They may not need as much in the way of cookware and towels. A vacation, though, is a true luxury. I guess I’d say it’s nice to contribute, but tacky to ask.


jen a. March 2, 2014 at 9:43 am

Very true. It just feels weird, though. I guess it doesn’t really matter as most people have everything already.


ddwwylm March 17, 2014 at 3:46 am

Back when I first heard about the honeymoon registry thing, oh maybe 10 years ago, I thought it sounded lovely. You could gift the couple with something a little extra and fun on their already planned and paid for honeymoon, like to have a bottle of champagne waiting for them when they checked in, or a massage on the beach. Somehow it’s morphed into this pay into this acct directly so I can go on a honeymoon, or I’m going to pretend you bought me that bottle of champagne, but really I just took the cash and put it in my wallet. You’re right that it’s deceptive.


JamieC0403 March 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

I’ve been to several potluck weddings (it’s more or less the norm at my grandma’s church), but that said the church ladies organize the meal and make sure there’s more than enough for everyone. It’s a small church so everyone helps out and it usually works out for all the families.

We had a friend of the family cater our wedding, we paid for the food and she did the prep as a wedding present.


clairedelune February 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Ham, cheesecake, and sushi??? I’m not sure I’d even want to attend; it sounds like a stomachache waiting to happen!


Lakey February 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm

“Ham, cheesecake, and sushi??? I’m not sure I’d even want to attend; it sounds like a stomachache waiting to happen!”

You left out the crisps, which I believe are potato chips. Strange menu.


La March 3, 2014 at 8:48 am

Crisps are potato chips, and yes, that does sound like a strange menu.


Kimstu February 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Usually I hate wishy-washy suggestions to handle an etiquette issue according to “whatever you feel comfortable with”, but in this case, I think the OP really can play it however she wants. As long as you mind your own manners and politely refrain from pointing out to the bridal couple the etiquette mistakes they’re making, you are not being rude.

Personally, I feel that if I accept an invitation to a potluck event, even if the organizers are rudely claiming the privileges and status of hosts, it’s better to go along with the potluck spirit and bring a dish. If you’re going to overlook the tackiness to the extent of actually attending, might as well try to make it as enjoyable for everyone else as possible. You are definitely excused from warmly congratulating the “hosts” on the delightfulness of their “hospitality”, though!


Lo February 26, 2014 at 7:42 am

I think this is a disaster waiting to happen. If you attend, bring a snack because I doubt you’ll get much to eat.

Easier not to attend though because technically you aren’t really invited. An open invite for a wedding? Why bother to have a wedding in the first place if you’re going to be so half-assed about it.

I know people for whom potluck weddings are part of a family culture. They are highly organized events where family comes together to make the wedding meal happen. They don’t involve flaky invites and impositions on one’s guests. This sounds like a joke.


Library Diva February 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

I agree. This isn’t going to work out for the couple the way they’d hoped.

If they wanted to introduce a “potluck” aspect, they could do what I did and borrow the Pennsylvania tradition of the cookie table. A few weeks before the wedding, we spread the word that anyone who felt like making some cookies or other baked goodies could bring a plate of them for a cookie table. We had a cake, so that if our guests universally thought it was a dumb idea, no one would miss the cookies. As it happened, this was a fairly popular idea and doing it this way didn’t require people who didn’t know each other to attempt to cooperate.


InNM February 26, 2014 at 11:17 am

The problem with this, aside for the facts that the Admin mentioned and it sounds like a full gimme pig experience (bring your own food, a gift, and help us pay for our honeymoon!) is that every person who shows up with a dish is going to multiple my opportunities to get a violently ill food sickness. I have food sensitivities that result in everything from itching and scratching to hives, vomiting and diarrhea; and these are usually a result of poor food hygiene. When you host a potluck, you can’t guarantee that everyone has the same food preparation levels of cleanliness and safety. Do all the guests wash their hands after using the bathroom? Do they use different sides of the cutting board (or better yet, different boards) for meat and veggies or is it a cross-contamination dream? Will they list every ingredient to make sure that no one has an allergic reaction or is it a guess what is the secret ingredient in that cold plate? I also suspect that the request for cold plates will also mean that they have no real temperature control for any of the food and you’ll be lucky to see an ice bath to regulate the temperature.
Maybe your stomach is like my husband’s and you can eat anything. Me, I’d politely decline.


admin February 27, 2014 at 1:55 am

Good point about food safety. I know of churches that hosted large potlucks only to have dozens of people fall ill to food poisoning, some people taken to the hospital which then initiates an investigation by the Health Department and lawsuits. At our own church’s potlucks, I have witnessed some appalling examples of poor food handling including the discovery of a cooler with about 20 pieces of fried chicken with no ice whatsoever…it had been sitting in the kitchen for several hours before being served. Too many mayo based salads carried from home with no proper refrigeration during the transport and left on a counter for hours.


Mer February 27, 2014 at 5:23 am

Yup, this is real risk. As a guest first, of course I don’t want to have stomach bug but also I definitely do not want anyone else fall sick from my food. Transporting food without proper means is quite risky.

Often those, who are not professionals and are not allergic themselves don’t realize what kind of pit falls there might be about ingredient. Who would think that some sausages/wieners have nut in them as spice and tell that to allergic person who asks about your potato-sausage salad.


CookieWookiee February 26, 2014 at 11:59 am

…What is Coca-cola ham?

Also, very tacky all around. If you choose to go (with the informality of the “invitation” and no RSVP required, I think you could even wait to decide if you felt like going all the way up to the day of), I’d suggest bringing a card and small gift only. And eat beforehand.


clairedelune February 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

It’s basically a glazed ham, wherein Coca-cola forms the base of the glaze.


another Laura February 27, 2014 at 10:04 am

Apparently it’s ham basted in Coke before cooking:


Taragail February 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

Ham basted or slow-cooked in Coca-Cola. Makes it very sweet. Did it one year for a holiday meal.


JC February 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

There’s a few ways of preparing it, but basically it’s exactly what it sounds like; a ham whose preparation involves Coca-cola in some way.

The way I know is to boil the ham in it and let it sit before glazing and baking. This makes for a moister ham that isn’t as salty. There’s another way that involves baking the ham with the cola that I haven’t tried, but if you Google the phrase you should find a bunch of recipes.


tSubh Dearg February 28, 2014 at 8:38 am

It’s ham boiled in coke and then the leftover liquid is boiled down to make a glaze for baking. It’s recipe made popular by Nigella Lawson and is supposed to be quite tasty, though I’ve not personally tried it.


CookieWookiee March 1, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Thanks, everyone, for explaining it. Learn something new every day!


Harley Granny February 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I grew up in poor farming communities where potluck weddings were the norm so I’m not going to look down my nose at them.
Again do what you are comfortable with but I’d take something…but again that is the norm where I grew up.
I’m one of the ones that like registries…and while the donation to the honeymoon IS tacky, I probably wouldn’t think twice about seeing it. After all you are looking at that website to learn about the wedding.
I will look down my nose at the Facebook invitation tho.
Physical invitations don’t have to be that expensive…heck type something out, copy it a hundred times and mail. It doesn’t have to be on fancy paper.


Kimstu February 27, 2014 at 10:33 am

@HarleyGranny: “I grew up in poor farming communities where potluck weddings were the norm so I’m not going to look down my nose at them.”

I get you, but I think there’s an important difference here. You’re talking about an established local tradition where the whole community takes it for granted that a wedding is a community responsibility. (As, indeed, most festive/social events have always been in most societies, where no one family had the resources to feed the whole village at the same time.)

The OP is talking about a bridal couple in a community where such a tradition ISN’T the norm, trying to have it both ways at once. They want to be deferred to as the “hosts” and be able to dictate all the details of the event, while they delegate to their “guests” the labor and expense of providing the food.

That’s pretty tacky, especially if a number of these “guests” have hosted this bridal couple at their own weddings or other non-potluck events. There is no community tradition or social norm where it’s okay to say, “I’ll happily accept YOUR hospitality, but when it’s MY turn to be hospitable, I’ll have a potluck instead”.


Harley Granny March 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Technically we don’t know that it isn’t the norm….maybe it’s just the OP that hasn’t been exposed to this tradition yet….this is why I think this…

“I have never been in this position before, and I have never heard of a wedding like this! I feel very out of my depth! I’d like to hear your take on the matter!”
A whole lot of “I” in this entry…I don’t see any “We”.

We know nothing more than what the OP wrote. We don’t know that they have accepted other’s hospitality and is not mooching food for their own.
Now if the OP wants to come back and clarify this part of it, I would change my opinion.


Kiki March 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

If that were a true cultural norm in their area, they wouldn’t need to put it in an invitation as everyone would already know about it.


Library Diva March 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm

My husband’s family had often done potluck weddings, as it’s quite large. That was a whole different scenario. Everyone had been working together for weeks on various aspects of the wedding and were in good communication. In most cases, they’d done so many of these that everyone already knew Aunt Becky was going to do the ham and cheese casserole, Aunt Lisa would do her famous artichoke dip, etc. and there was plenty of food and no overlap. I suspect that’s how most potluck weddings are run. People are asked to sign up so that others can at least see what’s already being brought and plan accordingly, and so that people close to the couple can help fill in any gaps.

Organizing something loosely via social media among people who don’t know one another with a suggestion to just “bring whatever” for an undefined number of people without signing up for it is just asking for twenty loaves of bread, a case of bottled water, fifteen trays of potato salad and ten containers of napkins for 100 people.


Em February 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

The only issue with not bringing anything is everyone at the wedding will constantly ask you what you brought.

If I were in this situation I would probably find myself bringing the world’s worst grocery store veggie tray. $10 worth of dried-out carrots for all.


Lakey February 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Honestly, if you can’t afford an expensive meal, spring for some nice platters from the local grocery store deli, trim your guest list, and you are good to go.
Our local stores offer sandwich trays, cheese, meat, and cracker trays, fruit trays, vegetable trays, and more. Have the tables set up ahead of time with dinner ware. At the start of the reception have relatives help set out the food trays.
I’ve seen people who are short on funds supply food for nice receptions without imposing on their guests. Some nice decor can make it all look good.
I don’t know if people here know what Queen Ann’s Lace is. It is a wild flower/weed, but looks very delicate. For one of my cousin’s weddings, my aunt got some cheap bud vases and ribbon. She went into a field early the morning of the wedding and cut a lot of Queen Ann’s Lace and placed them in bud vases that already had little ribbons tied to them. They looked really elegant.

People can manage to put on their own reception without imposing on their guests if they want to, but they will continue to impose on their guests as long as the guests play along.


Wild Irish Rose February 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I seriously cannot get a grip on the entitlement behavior of marrying couples. The very idea of asking your guests to cater your event is just mindboggling. I wouldn’t attend the wedding, if this were me, simply because, like Admin., I would wonder if I were actually being invited given the open invitation to the free world. Unbelievable. As for contributing to a honeymoon fund, I firmly refuse to have anything to do with such things. A nice setting-up-house gift is what they can expect from me, and they can pay for their own vacation, just like I have to do.


April Damon February 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I’ve attended a wedding before where specific teams were set up with the understanding that their job was to call people up in the church community, whether they had expressed attending or not, and inform them of their assignment for the wedding. This was just before Facebook was popular so a mass invitation was issued to the church in the bulletin. My parents were called up and informed that they were “in charge” of cleaning the bathrooms for the wedding/reception site. They declined. Of course many people were given food assignments but that seems preferable to bathroom assignments. Funny enough, my husband and I received an actual formal invitation and were not given an assignment. I guess that meant we made the first tier guest list.

There is so much more I can say about this wedding but I’ll refrain in order to retain my joy. It ended up being a circus of embarrassing proportions.


Lo February 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I cannot imagine a theoretical wedding between any two people in my life that I would clean bathrooms for the privilege of attending.


Redblues March 26, 2014 at 12:43 am

Your parents were invited by phone, not by the couple but by some friend of theirs and *assigned* to *clean the bathrooms*!?!?!?
‘Gee I’m sorry. I already have a job. I wasn’t looking to moonlight as a janitor. But I can recommend Company X. They only charge $80 per hour for janitorial services.’
And they sent you a formal invitation, which your parents would be sure to see, in case janitorial duty didn’t tip them off to their lower status ‘invitation’. Classy. How exactly do you know these ingrates? Have they been shunned yet?


Gena February 27, 2014 at 9:28 am

I got married in my back yard, very casual. I ordered sandwiches, shrimp platters etc from the local store. This was 2nd wedding for both us, so we had no gifts.

I did ask my best friend to make a special pasta salad that she knows I love, and for some reason I cannot seem to make it as good as she does. I bought all the ingredients and she arrived at the house in time to make it.

I recently attended a wedding of a couple that were both “established”. They had set up a honeymoon fund, but you didn’t just contribute money, you actually paid for specific things. Like a parasailing trip or something. I thought that was a little more personal, so now they can think of me while getting massages!


daphne February 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I would treat this as a big keg party, hog roast or family reunion/picnic where instead of playing a game of some sort like softball, the activity will consist of a marriage ceremony. In other words, the bride and groom don’t seem to care about decorum or social convention so if you really want to attend, neither should you. And if they are the type of people who are aghast over the fact you didn’t bring a full cooked ham or a truck load of potato chips to their wedding, well, what have you lost (in terms of friendship) anyway? At least you’ll have a good story for the rest of your life!
In other words, if you really want to go, then go. And give a gift that YOU feel good about. 🙂


Marozia February 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

“Unable to attend due to prior committment” sounds good to me.
Better still, just don’t attend.


RedDevil February 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I think the Facebook Invitations are just a sign of the current technological age we live in. Just like calling someone on the telephone replaced sending telegrams, and emails replaced posted letters. Whilst we may not be comfortable with it, times are a-changin’ and we can either huff and puff about things not being done ‘the right way’, or understand that the generation that comes after us will do things differently.
I’m sure if we could talk to our grandparents and great-grandparents they would tell us several things we do now which aren’t ‘proper’.

There is still however, no excuse for asking your guests to fund your wedding breakfast.


Kimstu February 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

@RedDevil: “I think the Facebook Invitations are just a sign of the current technological age we live in. Just like calling someone on the telephone replaced sending telegrams, and emails replaced posted letters.”

MAJOR difference: Telegrams, letters, phone calls and emails are all forms of INDIVIDUAL communication. A host delivers an invitation to a particular telegraphic address/postal address/phone number/email address in order to invite a particular guest PERSONALLY.

An open Facebook invitation, such as the OP describes, is not a new version of the personal invitation. What it IS a new version of is the bulletin-board flyer or other publicly-posted announcement, which is intended for anybody who happens to see it, not for a chosen group of individuals that you want to invite because you care about them.

It always has been and always will be rude to “invite” guests to your wedding via indiscriminate public announcement, no matter whether that public announcement is a notice in the newspaper, a mimeographed sheet on a church bulletin board, a graffito scrawled with a marker on a restroom wall, a flyer taped to a telephone pole, or an open posting on Facebook.

That is essentially saying to your friends and family, “I don’t care about you enough to go to the trouble of letting you know individually that I would like to have you at my wedding. Whatever’s good enough for acquaintances and strangers is good enough for you.”


RedDevil March 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Kimstu, I agree with what you’re saying.
I actually meant Facebook Invitations as a tool as and of itself. I did not mean to imply that mass invitations (in any form) are acceptable.


daphne February 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Except that telegrams, phone calls and emails were also never accepted as correct forms of invitations to weddings. I mean, I don’t get the big deal about weddings, (we eloped, and I’m glad we did) but just know that when you invite someone to your wedding by email or facebook lots of folks are going to think that’s tacky, not just your grandparents. 🙂
And here’s why: As long as there is an industry that can profit from something (like expensive invitations vs. free internet invites) they will do their best to convince everyone that any other way is inferior. So unless the billions of dollars wedding industry wants to come up with a way to charge an arm and a leg for e-vites, I’m afraid the idea of a mailed paper invitation being the proper and preferred form of invitation to weddings will stick around.


Redblues March 26, 2014 at 1:06 am

A written individual invitation need not be engraved or printed. It can be, and has traditionally been, a hand written letter on plain paper from the hosts. Paper, envelopes, and stamps are not inventions of the wedding industry. Nor are hand written invitations. Parties arranged and paid for by the hosts are not some tradition recently adopted by the wedding industry either. Begging, and ordering guests to work at a reception are, and have always been, rude, rude, RUDE!! just like tiered guest lists. Soon, their friends and relatives will be writing in to complain about shower fundraisers, birthday fundraisers, house painting ‘parties’ and other events that the couple can’t afford but feel entitled to enjoy anyway, at other’s expense. With any luck, they will drive away more people, until they are down to just the few people they can afford to host.


Wren February 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Weddings used to include inviting people to celebrate with you. Now you invite them so that they and their contributions will allow the couple to celebrate. The guests have become free helpers. So sad.


JWH February 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Hrm. If your wedding is tiny (say, 15-25 people) and you’re holding the thing at your home, is it really that bad to make it a potluck lunch? Or to ask a couple groomsmen to help you carry some chairs to the backyard with you?


admin March 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

Are you saying you are so poverty stricken that you cannot possibly afford to be a gracious host and provide refreshments to what I assume are close family and friends?


JWH March 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I’m saying that I don’t think it’s the end of the world.


kingsrings February 28, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I also don’t have a problem with Facebook wedding invites if it’s a small wedding, such as that of a couple of friends of mine who got married at the groom’s house last year. They got married only a couple of months after being engaged, so there really wasn’t time to send out formal, snail-mail invites. To me, setting up a private, invite-only Facebook event for such isn’t a big deal.

Another invite for another wedding I got was not for the wedding itself, but for the reception only. The couple were getting married in the bride’s parent’s backyard and thus it was a small ceremony with only family and close friends. The rest of us friends were invited to the reception, which was a very casual (jeans and t-shirts totally acceptable) event held in the backyard and home of the couple. Again, another private, invite-only Facebook event sent out for that. However, we were asked to potluck the food the reception, which I found a bit off-putting. That’s the first time I’d ever been invited to a potluck wedding reception. There was also a link to the honeymoon registry on the invite, which was also gauche as we were just being invited to the reception, thus we didn’t have to etiquette-wise get a present. However, the couple are just the sweetest, nicest people ever.

As for honeymoon registries, I don’t really see why that’s a no-no etiquette-wise. How is it different than a regular registry for household items? To me, it’s the same, and I don’t understand how one is acceptable while the other is not.


admin March 1, 2014 at 8:34 am

The wedding where the friends were only invited to the reception, not the ceremony, but still asked to potluck strikes me as using people. They are not good enough to witness a most important ceremony yet are called upon to provide food for the guests who were privileged to attend the ceremony.


kingsrings March 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Well, everyone was asked to provide something, including the guests who attended both. So it was both sets of guests, not just one providing for the other. Both the wedding and reception were held on the same day, a few hours after each other. And it was kind of funny, because what turned out happening was that the couple surprisingly had so much food left over from the quick wedding lunch there was that they just brought it along to the reception, so there actually wasn’t a reason for us guests to have to bring something after all!

Admin, do you think the couple was in the wrong for not inviting everyone to the wedding? It was a space restriction reason, as it was in a backyard. And I guess they thought that since the reception was so casual, it was an “invite everyone” kind of deal. I’d never really heard of that being done before, so I wasn’t sure what the etiquette rule was on that.


wintershere March 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Isn’t it very common NOT to invite everyone to both things? Not saying I agree with it (as far as I’m concerned if you’re good enough to invite to my wedding, you’re good enough to invite to my reception, haha) One of the biggest problems I have with it though is that it’s confusing as to who is invited where and when. We (hubby and I) were once invited by the “couple” (which was really just the bride and her mom) to a wedding only but not the reception. The groom came up to us a few days later saying he was “disappointed” we hadn’t come to the reception. While my husband kept his mouth shut, I very quickly pointed out that we had not been invited. He said what are you talking about? I said we had gotten the invitation, but there was no “little card” telling us anything about a reception. I guess he went home and things hit the fan. Not fun. We weren’t friends for long with that couple I’m afraid.


Redblues March 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm

The small private ceremony, followed by a larger reception isn’t strange or impolite. Sending those invitations on Facebook? Rude. Potluck? Rude again. Honeymoon registries are rude. Asking your guests to provide you with a reception and give you money (which is what a honeymoon registry is) is a straight road to e-hell. And yes, I would be very put out if I also had to work at the party. If I showed up dressed for a party and got there and was told to carry chairs or set up I just wouldn’t do it. I can be a guest, in which case I will show up dressed like one, or I can be an employee, in which case I will show up dressed like one and expect to be paid like one. Ne’er the twain shall meet.


another Laura March 1, 2014 at 11:49 am

I got married 3 months after getting engaged. I still had plenty of time to design my invitations, have them printed, create a mailing list and hand address and mail over 100 of them. Just curious why your friends thought they didn’t have the time unless most of the prospective guests were overseas.


kingsrings March 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I don’t know, other than perhaps poor time-management skills and maybe money. First they said we would get snail-mail invites too along with the Facebook event invite, but then they never got around to doing the snail-mail ones.


Enna March 1, 2014 at 9:26 am

I don’t like the open invite – that seems a bit of a gift grab to me. Also there have been horror stories in the news about parties going wrong because the party was an open FB event – so it could go badly wrong, it’s not safe. I have noticed on the book club group I’m in on FB that there is an “invite others” option” – would a closed group/event have such an option? If not gatecrashers could ruin it. Also for an event you can see who is and who is not going.

We have had one story of a woman who did not want to attend a realtion’s wedding and had pressure put on her to go. This could cause some problems as person’s choice would not be “private”. Okay people can still ask you if you are going but it’s not as open. People can also change their minds between “attending” “maybe” and “not attending” which could make things difficult to cater for and oragnise.

I would say at a push that personal invitations sent as personal messages to people would be okay: for example if the guests live in different countires and a postal invitation might take too long to get there. Emails and postal invites could be in the form of a “round robin” which would be just as tacky as an open event on FB. Maybe it’s not the kind of media used that is the problem but what and how the invitation is phrased and worded?

I am a Quaker and hace attended a Quaker wedding which was simply: the married couple to be’s wedding was annonced at the end of the meeting by the Clerk. The couple asked people if they can let them know if they were coming and asked people to bring a dish along and they did not want gifts. This may not be a traditional invitation but it still was personal as all we had to do was tell the couple in private if we were going – no show of hands or anything or pressure. There had been informal talks before about the wedding. Again this is a case of how rather then what is said and the couple were not expecting presants.

I have attended two different Quaker meetings in 2 different countries and they both pratiased the “Shared Lunch” which is like a pot luck – the wedding meal was like this but it worked quite well for this wedding: we were careful with the food so no one got food posining. The food was mainly vegietarian stuff but there was the odd meaty dish. It might not be suitable for all weddings as they are very personal things and it is fun to have variation.

What I don’t like is they couple are asking for guests to provide their own food and provide gifts – that does sound a bit cheeky to me.


been there done that March 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Registries. What a minefield.

The original purpose of a wedding registry was to register a _PATTERN_, not individual items. The bride would register a china pattern and a silver pattern with a store. Thus, if the gift-giver wishes to buy china or silver, they don’t just buy one plate of some random pattern, but one plate of the desired pattern. The store would keep track of how many of each pattern was purchased, so as to give guidance, upon request, to the gift-giver. (“She’s already got enough dinner plates, but needs teacups.”)

If the couple does not see themselves needing china or silver, then registering a quality stoneware pattern or stainless steel utensil pattern is perfectly acceptable.

If the gift-giver wishes to buy something other than dinnerware, then they might have a look at the registered pattern to gauge the bride’s tastes in décor, then buy something that more or less goes along with that style. If the bride has registered an Art Deco china pattern, I might buy an Art Deco clock, for example.

Registering a pattern addresses the issue of different gift budgets. The deep-pocketed, generous gift-giver could give several entire place settings. The penny-pinching student might buy a single fork or dinner plate. All who buy anything from the registered pattern has contributed to the entire china/silver setting on the bride’s dinner table.

Retail stores have, since, morphed this simple notion into a giant marketing scheme. Why register just a pattern of dinnerware when one can register for anything the store sells, including a bathroom toilet brush or a set of socket wrenches? Give the couple a code-reading gun and let them go on a giant shopping spree! Then, give them little cards to put in the invitations directing the guest to the retail store, which is much more cost-effective than the usual advertising assortment of junk mail flyers, TV ads and newspaper inserts.

But, why let department stores grab all the wedding loot? Now, we have cash registries to pay a mortgage or go on a honeymoon or pay off student loans, and many people think that’s perfectly acceptable.

So, why register for cash? If I am a wedding guest and if I want to give cash to the couple, I CAN GIVE CASH TO THE COUPLE. I don’t need some icky-poo website to make me feel better about giving cash to the couple. I do it out of the goodness of my heart, not because the couple has guilted me in to paying off their student loans.

If I want to direct that cash for a specific purpose, I can put a check in an envelope and write on the outside “For your honeymoon” or something like that. Thus, the couple gets 100% of my money, without a slice being taken by a website. I might also call the honeymoon hotel and ask that $X be applied to the couple’s final bill. I can do that if I wish to help pay for the honeymoon.

If you, an engaged couple, really want or need cash as wedding presents instead of tangible gifts, the best thing to do is not register anywhere. When someone asks “Where are you registered”, then you can respond “No where. We like surprises.” or “Since we are leaving for a five-year missionary assignment to Antarctica immediately following the wedding, we don’t need the usual household goods.”. The smart guest can read between the lines.


Mer March 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Personally, I thought that one reason USA had honeymoon websites because those provided easy way to transfer money from person to person. I’ve never yet seen one around here (northern europe) but electrical money transfer between private persons is trivial matter, as well is making personal accounts which number you can give to those who do not wish risk bringing bills to wedding. (We on the other hand do not have checks as USA has.)


EJ April 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Fair warning on not registering…my cousin and his wife went that route, for many of the reasons you stated and since he is a TV reporter figuring they would be moving a lot. (At the time he was a junior reporter which does not pay very well and she was a grad student so cash was hoped for of course). HUGE backfire, they wound up with heaps and I mean heaps of hand me down, I had this in my kitchen cabinet and never used it bowls, appliances, towels etc. Everything seemed newish but definately was not freshly purchased. Out of 200 guests they wound up with $200, from my mom who couldn’t make the wedding so she sent a check. They wound up needing a friend to help them get it all home and wound up donating 80% of it. Their guests had the ways and means but somehow got the impression that since they were being open to ‘any’ gift that they would appreciate literally anything.


wintershere March 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I am unclear of the “cattle call” comment here. Whether someone “cattle called” her guests or not, I would choose to come based upon our friendship level rather than how she had placed her invites. Sure, I don’t agree with open facebook invites to nearly anything, but besides that, I go/not go because I want to be there/not.

As for the food, well, again I say if that’s what she wants to do, let her. But I can still choose to participate or not, but there ARE definite reasons why I would –if I knew the family well and knew that finances/health were an issue, if we were close friends and I wanted to gift them with a food item, if someone OTHER than the bride/groom family were arranging it (i.e.: friends got together and said let’s do this cause we know funds are short for them)


Cheryl July 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Here is where you do not go. I am so exhausted by people who are in all essence doing a gift grab and expecting guests to provide their own food and drink. This was fine in the 70’s where parents and relatives would hold the wedding a one’s house and everyone would bring something to help out but this was decided upon before hand who will bring what so that the bride and groom could calculate what they need to buy in the end. Nor is it the 70’s or 80’s where the internet and Google do not exist so that bride and groom are unable to look up proper ways to host a wedding. Either wake up and put forth the effort or do not be surprised if no one shows up. Do not go and if they ask inform them that you didn’t receive an invitation to the wedding, you saw the website but nothing formal.


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