Metro-East Living

Reception no-shows should not be charged

Q: A girlfriend said there was something on local television about a couple who missed attending a wedding because a baby sitter didn't show up and then they received a bill for $70 or more from the bride and groom to pay for the meal they missed. I know weddings are expensive, especially when you have a sit-down meal, but is it proper to charge guests who do not attend? Is that what is being done these days?

A: I must have missed that television segment as well. But to answer your questions: No, it is not only very improper, but extremely rude, for a bride and groom to send a bill to a guest who does not attend their wedding meal. It is not the norm of what is being done, nor should it be done.

Any bride and groom should understand guests respond or accept their wedding invitation with every intention of attending. However, situations can occur for a guests on the day of the wedding or the night before that will preclude them from attending the wedding and/or the reception. Having a baby sitter cancel or not show up, a sudden illness, an accident, a death in the family — any number of unforeseen events can occur resulting in empty seats.

The guests who cannot attend are already disappointed and upset. To charge them for not attending would add further insult and embarrassment to them. A bride and groom should be able to withstand this cost as part of their overall wedding budget. The same applies to whoever is paying for the reception.

Whenever a guest cannot, at the last minute, attend a wedding, that guest almost always has already sent a wedding gift or will do so after the wedding. According to the average amount of money spent on a wedding gift, that gift is well over the $70 or whatever was quoted in this instance. That’s another reason it would be very, very rude to send that guest a bill for his or her missed meal.

It is so unfortunate when a bride and groom, or their parents, become so focused on money that they forget the true meaning of having friends and family witness the joy and love of a couple getting married.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to