Carolyn Hax: Greedy brides and pushy guests — ahh, it's June
Advice columnist Carolyn Hax answers questions from a frequent wedding guest who wonders whether she really needs to "cover the cost of her plate" and from a bride-to-be whose friend isn't grasping the "no-plus-one" concept.
DEAR CAROLYN: Lucky me — about half a dozen of my good friends are getting married in the next three months. I would love to express my happiness for them through lavish gifts, but I'm in my mid-20s and have a limited budget. I have set some money aside the past year, but I'm worried I haven't saved enough.
Many of the brides-to-be and friends have said that in giving a gift, the guest should "cover the cost of her plate." Is this true?
My boyfriend and I are giving cash because it seems most couples prefer this. But now I'm worried I don't have enough to cover both of our plates. I'm also not sure what goes into the cost of "the plate." Should I include drinks? Cocktail-hour hors d'oeuvres? The entertainment?
— Love and Marriage Are Breaking the BankDEAR LOVE: Don't forget the cake, the post-wedding brunch and the little tulle baggies of Jordan almonds. I was going to edit your letter to end at "Is this true?" — but then I realized the point-by-point exposure shows how ridiculous — and grabby, and rude — the cover-your-plate requirement really is.
It's also not a requirement at all, just a corrupt little myth. You are under no obligation to reduce your love and support for your friends into a quid-pro-quo with the wedding couple and their caterer.
That you spent months carefully setting aside money to give to them strikes me as more than these plate-centric brides deserve. For their sakes and yours, I hope they appreciate you.
DEAR CAROLYN: My fiancé and I would prefer a smaller, more intimate wedding, and we're paying for it ourselves.
I sent an invitation to "Donna," one of my close-knit group of college girlfriends. She emailed me, saying she "wanted to bring a plus-one if that's OK," because she figured everyone would have dates (an inaccurate assumption).
I thought her email was pushy and manipulative. I emailed back saying how excited I was that she was coming — because I am — but also, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid we can only accommodate you for the wedding."
Today, my fiancé and I received Donna's RSVP card, on which she had written, "Donna Jones and guest."
I'm having a really tough time taking this well. And, honestly, I feel disrespected. Is it possible she doesn't understand what I'm trying to say? Or does she get it but is trying to wear me down? In either case, what should I do?
— Plus-One PushbackDEAR PLUS-ONE: Her write-in guest was pushy and manipulative, but you're being tough on her for the initial ask. Just a tone-check.
Because: She's enough of a friend to attend your "smaller, more intimate" wedding, so she's enough of a friend for you to just call her. Ask what gives.
She's also not enough of a friend, apparently, for you to feel comfortable doing that without asking me first, and she's not family and her "and guest" ploy was particularly obnoxious — so it doesn't sound as if you have a whole lot to lose by holding the line on guest-list creep.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com and