Dear Crabby, Wedding Dinner on You?

Dear Crabby, We’ve been invited to a wedding with a cash reception, where guests are expected to pay for their own meals, have you ever heard of this?

Sincerely, Chip Inornot

Dear Chip,

Great—another wedding question—it’s not your fault, people continue to amaze us with unusual antics revolving around the happiest day of their lives. I’ve answered several questions about weddings—attending them, paying for them, planning them—this one is odd.

It’s a long-standing tradition to offer free food at gatherings: Weddings, funerals, birthday parties, first communions, bar mitzvahs, etc. Happy and sad occasions and events where you take a gift should always come with food. It’s just an American custom.

Dear Crabby with a Laptop ComputerI remember a wedding, back when I was a young man, where the best man forgot to bring cash to pay for the limo ride from the ceremony to the reception. He asked a few of us to pitch in so the happy couple could have their luxury ride. We didn’t want him to look bad, so we helped him out—with the condition that we got to come along for the ride. Unknown to the bride and groom, they jumped into the limo with five single guys—the look on their faces was incredible—not a happy look at all. The best man announced we “needed” the ride to the reception, the door closed, and the extra-long caddy was in motion. Too late to turn back now. We put a serious damper into their first romantic moment as a married couple. Nevertheless, the best man learned a valuable lesson and we all had a first-class car cruise to the reception hall.

Back to your issue. I’ve never heard of such a thing—guests expected to shell out their own money at a wedding reception. While cash bars and tip jars at weddings are tacky, a cash reception really takes the wedding cake (maybe you have pay for that too).

Here are your options as I see it. First option–don’t go. Second option–go, pay for your meal, but do not take a gift. Third option–give the invitation to your version of a Mrs. Crabby and let her decide whether you chip in or not.

Good Luck Chip,

Dear Crabby


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