RSVPs, Attire, Menus & More

June 17, 2020
Words by Elaine Hilbelink
Photos courtesy of Canva

Everything from not hearing if your guest is a “yay” or “nay” and travel logistics to overtly flirtatious groomsmen and attire outrage is covered in this issue’s Adventures in Etiquette. Below, we unpack how to navigate these sometimes treacherous situations and make it down the aisle unscathed and a little bit wiser.

1. My RSVP deadline has come and gone and I still haven’t heard from quite a few invited guests. Should I assume they are all a “no?” What is the most polite way to proceed? 

Any couple can sympathize when guests don’t respond to your invitation. When you get radio silence to your invite, you absolutely should follow up rather than assuming it’s a “no.” Partly because if they do plan to attend and just forgot to send in the response card, you could be left with an awkward situation at the wedding when they show and you are short a seat and a meal.

The best way to proceed is to follow up with a personal phone call or even a friendly text message. If some of the remiss responders are friends of your parents or future in-laws, you might delegate those phone calls to them. You will need to turn in accurate counts and meal choices to your venue and wedding planner, so you want to be certain about your numbers.

2. My fiancé and I are trying to finalize our wedding menu and aren’t sure how many options we should give guests. So many people nowadays have dietary restrictions – what’s the best way to handle this? 

Typically, three choices of menu options are more than ample. If you offer meat, chicken or fish, and a vegetarian choice, most people will be satisfied. Check with your food and beverage team to see if they provide any gluten-free or dairy-free meals if the need arises, but it is up to the guest to let you know if they require something out of the standard offerings.

3. A groomsman in our wedding party keeps making unprovoked advances toward one of my bridesmaids. It’s been an ongoing issue at wedding-related events. What’s the best way to let him know she’s not interested, without making future interactions awkward?

The most forthright way to deal with the ‘lecherous groomsman,’ would be to have your bridesmaid directly tell him that she is not interested. Directness is the only way to really squash the situation. Unfortunately, future interactions may become awkward, but the important thing is that this bridesmaid feels safe and that she doesn’t have to put up with being hit on at every turn. If she’s uncomfortable with the idea of confronting him or if, even after she tries to shut him down, he persists, your fiancé should speak to him.

4. My fiancé and I are working through the travel logistics for our destination wedding guests. Under what circumstances is it appropriate or expected for the wedding couple to provide transportation for their guests?

Traditional etiquette dictates that it is the responsibility of guests and the wedding party to finance their own travel expenses in regards to airfare or getting to the main destination. However, if you choose to help one attendant or family member and not another, word will get out and you could be faced with drama.

Hosted ground transportation for group excursions, on the other hand, can really help ensure a seamless transition for guests and it can help subsidize costs for your loved ones. It’s not expected per se, but is a genuinely appreciated gesture if provided. Many tour operators or travel agents can assist in finding affordable group transportation, so check with either your agent or wedding planner. 

When it comes to group transportation to/from the ceremony and reception, that should be hosted by the couple and clearly communicated to guests before the day of the event.

5.   I had a guest RSVP with a plus one, when they weren’t originally granted a guest. Should I just let it slide or tell them they can’t bring anyone?

How you respond to the unwanted plus one depends upon a variety of circumstances. If finances and the venue can accommodate the additional guest, you might just let it slide.  If you have constraints, you might call the guest and explain that your numbers cannot accommodate an extra. However, if a guest has a ‘significant other,’ it is customary to include that person on the invitation.

6.     My best man has complained that my fiancé and I are being too controlling about what the wedding party can and can’t wear on the wedding day. It’s going to be on the beach and we’ve told everyone they can’t wear sunglasses. What’s the most polite way to handle this?

This is your wedding, so you and your fiancé determine what you would like your wedding party to wear. Simply explain to the wedding party that they will be photographed not only for posed photos, but also during the ceremony and reception, so due to this – you would prefer if they kept their sunglasses off. Sometimes just the explanation is all they need so they understand you’re not being dismissive of their needs, but protective of the photos that will be with you for years to come.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do’s Fall/Winter 2019 issue.

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