Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guests in exile, or, is brunch worth a plane ticket?

Econo Boy and I tend to be of one mind on almost everything. It's actually kind of disturbing. Sometimes I worry that we'll end up like those couples who dress alike and speak in unison and basically freak everyone out with their scary identical-ness.

Because we're so similar, it tends to take us aback when we discover a point of disagreement. For example, what kind of wedding we should have.

I can't remember where I read this, but I remember reading at some point that Sunday brunch receptions tend to be much less expensive than Saturday night dinner receptions. I love brunch, so I immediately pictured us saying our vows at 11am and heading in to a scrumptious buffet.

Hello, delicious! Image from

But when I floated this idea by Econo Boy, he was less than enthusiastic. Actually, he was appalled. "We can't ask people to come to Colorado just for BRUNCH!" he said, his eyes wide with horror.

I could see he had his heart on Saturday night dinner and dancing and I gave way, but I remained completely baffled by his insistence that a brunch reception was an unacceptable slight to our guests. (This is a man who thought it would be "no big deal" to choose a ceremony site that didn't have enough seats for everyone!)

Today, Meg at A Practical Wedding (one of my two favorite wedding blogs -- if you haven't, definitely check it out!) wrote a post about a 1927 wedding that elicited much commentary about how much simpler weddings were before World War II. It's true, most of them were! And I think the shift has been in large part due to the increasing number of out of town guests at most weddings. Back In The Day, more people spent their entire lives in the same area, if not the same town. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends almost certainly lived nearby. Since few had to travel a great distance to the wedding, I think there was less pressure to do anything beyond cake and punch or a wedding breakfast.

But now, with so many people who go to college out-of-state and/or move far from their parents, it's much likelier that our friends and family are scattered all over the country, if not the world. The idea that your nearest and dearest are plunking down a big chunk of change for airfare and hotels in order to be with you definitely ratchets up the pressure to "go big."

Personally, and I say this as an airport-hating out-of-town-guest veteran, I think a lot of couples (and, apparently, Econo Boy) put too much weight on "making it worth the trip." "Will the party be big enough to justify the cost of my plane ticket?" has honestly never entered into my decision about whether to attend a wedding.

But I do think if your guest list contains many people who are coming from out of town, it's good to be thoughtful about the fact that travel is a hassle and do what you can to make it easier for them. Some of my favorite out-of-town-guest gestures are:
  1. Maps. I have no sense of direction, so I love it when couples include Mapquest directions with the invitations, on the website, or in out-of-town guest bags.
  2. Booking blocks of hotel rooms. This is so much easier than researching dozens of hotels in an unfamiliar city and trying to figure out which ones are closest to the reception site.
  3. Inviting OOT guests to the rehearsal dinner. This one's a bit controversial, and I'd never be offended if I wasn't invited to a rehearsal dinner, but I usually fly in the day before the wedding and it's lovely to have a meal already planned and people to talk to!
Some things I think aren't necessary:
  1. "Activities" to fill the time. I'm a grownup. I don't need you to book me a bus tour of San Francisco in order to keep me entertained.
  2. Out of town guest bags. They're a lovely gesture, and I do like it when maps are included, but if putting them together means lots of extra expense and stress, skip it!
  3. Putting yourself into debt to throw a party you can't afford.
What does everyone else think? Does inviting out of town guests obligate you to throw a huge party? Or will people be happy to be there regardless?


Meg said...

Agreed on out of town bags. People always say things like "but if we don't have out of town bags how will we give them maps and tell them where to meet up for the rehersal dinner?" And I think "I donno, just leave them the maps and a note about where to meet up at the front desk?" I mean, do they really need cr*p snacks and tealight to go with the maps? That stuff just makes me feel guilty for throwing it out.

But on to the brunch discussion. Our brunch was decided because it's the one time we could get our awesome cheap venue, even booking 1.5 years in advance. So, done, and we're working with it. I was nervious at first, but people keep saying things to me like "oh thank god. Why don't people do daytime weddings more often these days?" So, I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm going with it.

Further! I would, in general, rather fly across country for a wedding that reflects who my freinds really are. So often when you arrive your friends seem to have disappeared and have been replaced with carbon copy bride and grooms from every other wedding you've ever been to. I always find it odd.... and to think, they did that because of my 'expectations'? No good!

Bride in Exile said...

Speaking as a guest, no, we don't need the snacks and tea lights. At all. And those cute little personalized bottles of soda? Yeah, we can't take those on the plane with us. Thanks for the thought, though! (I feel the same way about most wedding favors, but I digress.) My guests will probably get a folder with maps and maybe some brochures from local attractions.

I think brunch weddings are due for a comeback, and I hope more couples are bold enough to break with the recent trend so less adventurous couples know it's OK to serve omelettes and danish!

Sweet T said...

This is something I've wrestled with a lot since we decided to get married in New Orleans-- none or our guests (nor we) live there, so I felt early on that I had to make the trip 'worth it' for people. The Boy and I fought over the rehearsal dinner (his parents are hosting and have a strict budget that wouldnt allow for all our guests- lots of tears and no compromise on that one, even when I offered to chip in), planning a brunch, you name it. As we're a month out, I'm feeling a lot better though I wish we could do more. Like, we still can't afford to pay for a brunch for everyone the next day, but we can pay for coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, so we're doing that. Our 'welcome dinner' which was going to be pay-your-own way is now small enough so we can cover most of the cost (maybe not drinks but at least all the food). And frankly, I'm not doing anything extra for those events besides making the reservation and showing up! Free evites, printed information along with other OOT info, and that's it. We can only do so much, ya know?

.. wow, I rambled!

Bride in Exile said...

Sweet T, coffee and beignets sounds divine -- I've never been to New Orleans, but after all I've heard about how amazing beignets are with a cup of hot coffee, when I finally get there Cafe du Monde will probably be my first stop.

Sweet T said...

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