Gracious Wedding Hosting

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As I was sipping my morning coffee today, a Los Angeles Times headline caught my eye – “This bride takes the low road.”  Intrigued, I read today’s installment of Ask Amy (see article below). Amy Dickinson highlighted an aspect of a Do It Yourself (DIY) wedding phenomenon that most people don’t ever think about, unless they are experienced at entertaining guests or are in the event business.

Poster by Ben Kimberly Prins "After party clean up"

When a bride decides to cater her own wedding, the advantages are obvious – save money, treat guests to her personal culinary skills and do something unique to let the guests know how much she cares about them.   Many DIY wedding experts advise brides and grooms to select DIY projects that are well suited to their skills and are something that the couple would enjoy working on. (The How-to of DIY Wedding and Are you a DIY Bride?

But it’s also important to consider the behind the scenes aspects of a DIY project – how will your creation get to where it needs to be, who will set it up and who will clean it up at the end of the wedding?  When a bride assigned one of her guests the responsibility of cleaning up at the end of the evening, including taking the trash out and moving tables and chairs, the guest was rightfully outraged.  While this particular bride was also rude in the way she asked for this favor, there is NO good way to do this.

Let’s talk about the concept of being a host and what it means to be hospitable.  Perhaps some brides and grooms don’t realize that in addition to being the bride and groom, they are also the hosts of their wedding, particularly now that so many are making their own weddings and paying for them, unlike the old days, when that responsibility fell on the parents of the bride.  As a host, it is their job to make sure that their guests are well taken care of.  A gracious host thinks about their guests’ needs and demonstrates care and thoughtfulness at every corner.  Hard to connect the dots between treating your guests to a memorable evening by enrolling them in the clean up crew.

Photo by Heater Kincaid

Well, someone has to do these things – the moving, arranging, putting out, taking away, returning, cleaning…. This is what caterers, florists, musicians, lighting crews, rental companies do.  Long before the first guest arrives and long after the last guest leaves, hard working people are taking care of things while the guests and the hosts enjoy themselves.   I have a strong opinion on this matter – you don’t invite people to your celebration and make them either work for or pay for it.  That’s Gracious Hosting 101.

My advice – think through your DIY project from start to finish, when you have plenty of time to make arrangements to hire people to help you so that you are not there in your wedding day finest moving and lugging things around.  No bride and groom want to do that.  Well, what makes you think that your guests will?  Of course, there is the budget to consider.  Another tip – reserve a portion of your budget for set up, delivery and clean up services so that you are not caught of guard at the end.

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From the Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2012

ASK AMY
This Bride takes the low road

Dear Amy:  My wife and I are attending a wedding next weekend.  We are friends with the bride and groom, but not best friends.  We received an email stating that we and another married couple have been “signed up” for the cleanup committee.

The bride is catering her own wedding and using a rental kitchen.  She just sent us an email saying she had assigned us to move tables and chairs, take out garbage and sweep the floor after the reception has ended.

The part that really gets me is where she gave reasons for asking us to do this task:  “You are responsible; you are part of a long-term committed relationship (so I won’t be preventing an inebriated wedding stranger hookup); and I trust you to wrangle others to help – you are kind of bossy, and I like that.”

She also say, “Feel free to decline this assignment with no hard feelings.  Just let me know.”

How does one respond to such an email?  Also, have you ever heard of a bride even doing such a thing?
Unsure of a Response

Dear Unsure:  This is a new one.  The bride’s primary mistake, at least in my mind, is the tone of her request.   I think she is trying to be wry and funny.  But, as I have learned, comedy is best left to the professionals.

When you are asking people to literally take out your trash, the best way to do it is to throw yourself on their mercy and basically implore them to forgive you for the request.  Instead, she chose to insult you.

You could call her on this by responding, “Wow.  What a lovely offer.  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to take out your trash?”

She is also giving you the opportunity to decline.  I could supply you with the answer I once received when I asked a guy I didn’t know well to attend a wedding with me: “Oh, I’d love to, but I don’t think I have the right shoes.”

By Amy Dickinson
askamy@tribune.com

 

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