How To Throw A Polite Wedding On The Cheap, Pt. 2

Get all your drinkware at Party City! Plastic is not rude!

Get all your drinkware at Party City! Plastic is not rude! [Via]

Alright, we already discussed that Daily Mail article and some of the crazier ways people are saving money…sometimes by being really rude to their guests. But what can you actually do to save money on your wedding day while ensuring you’re not offending anyone? Here we are to break it down for you! (By the way, there are a lot of amazing guides about how to save money on your wedding in general. We’re just going to focus on parts that deal with etiquette.)

Guest List

Hosting a party means treating guests to anything they may enjoy within the party–meaning if you’re offering it, it should be free. That goes for food, drink, entertainment, knick-knacks, etc. [Uncommon Courtesy is split on the concept of pot-luck weddings. Jaya thinks they’re okay as long as you make it clear and are ready to field questions and concerns, Victoria thinks they’re terrible.] Yes, there are areas where cash bars and things of the sort are more accepted, so YMMV, but really we’re going to take a firm stance on this. Don’t invite 200 people if you can’t provide for 200 people. Don’t invite 5 if you can’t provide for 5 either. This might take some hard negotiating, but sometimes that’s what wedding planning is about.

Food & Drink

Most people think that the only way to have a “proper” wedding is to do a sit-down dinner (and then pass the costs onto your guests if you can’t afford it) but that’s just not true! You can host a brunch reception, or do cake & punch, or passed hors d’oeuvres. You can just do beer and wine instead of a full bar, or do a taco buffet. If you eschew a full sit-down meal, you can also often accommodate more guests. Just make sure that there are actually places to sit for the elderly/easily tired, or surfaces on which to place food. It’s never easy to drink with one hand and balance a plate of appetizers with another.


This is slightly related to food and drink, because the time of day you have your reception will influence what you serve. It’s generally considered polite to provide a meal if your reception is taking place during an assumed meal time, and since lots of people have receptions that take place from roughly 6-10, that means an actual dinner will need to be served. You do not have to do this, but if you  hold your reception during dinner time, you should make it extremely clear that a full dinner will not be served, and be ready for some people to bail so they can find pizza.

However, if your reception is from 3-6, that frees you up to serve some light snacks and drinks, and many venues will give you a discount for not using the space during “peak” times!


Similarly to the idea that you need a sit-down dinner, a lot of people assume you need fine china and flatware. Yes, it feels nice, and you don’t want someone trying to cut a steak with a flimsy plastic knife, but there are a lot of great looking plastic/paper utensils out there. As long as everyone has functional enough tools to eat, the rest is just a matter of taste.


Etiquette doesn’t care if you have a hand-inked suite with individual, foil-lined envelopes and tissue paper between each page. It used to, but it doesn’t anymore, because we’re all sane people who understand that paper costs money. Instead of an RSVP card, ask your guests to email RSVP. Instead of a separate card telling your guests about accommodations and directions, set up a wedding website and ask them to get the details there. Also, there are plenty of websites that offer gorgeous, customizable invitations without having to pay for a calligrapher.


Favors are not necessary! I will repeat this until it shines through everyone’s skulls like sunlight through a magnifying glass, condensing on the brain of that one aunt who is nagging you about jordan almonds. The reception is the favor–paying for food and drinks and entertainment for your guests is the thanks you are giving them for bearing witness to your marriage. They do not need to take home a jar of jam or a keychain with your names on it after that, and even Emily Post agrees that it’s not any sort of breach of etiquette not to provide them. Similarly, you don’t have to provide gift bags for guests in from out of town. Unfortunately, I think these customs have become so popular that people assume they will happen, and that you’re a bad host if they don’t. So please, help me in breaking the trend and saving yourself some cash.

How To Throw A Polite Wedding On The Cheap, Pt. 1

A backyard tiki wedding sounds AWESOME

A backyard tiki wedding sounds AWESOME [Via]

Dispatches from wedding world have been getting a little crazy. People are getting their weddings corporately sponsored. They’re asking guests to pay for their dinners, or putting bank transfer details on invitations. They’re yelling at guests for not giving them enough money. It’s nonsense, but it’s an unfortunate symptom of an industry that tends to conflate “fancy” with “polite.”

We are taught that providing the MOST at a party is the nicest thing you can do, so couples want to provide the MOST at their weddings, and when they realize that it gets expensive quickly, they decide that they should pass the costs onto guests…completely forgetting that whole “hosting” thing.

The bottom line is your wedding is about making whoever is invited feel welcome and thanked. This doesn’t mean you have to invite 200 people. This doesn’t mean you have to serve a sit-down dinner or have a top-shelf bar. This doesn’t mean you have to give everyone elaborate favors. You just have to make people feel welcome, and that is easier than you may think.

Recently, The Daily Mail outlined some ways couples are trying to scrimp and save on their weddings (though it doesn’t really cite anything). We discussed a few of them.

Asking Guests To Cover Their Meal

Jaya: “Bank details are often printed at the bottom of the invitation so you can pay for the meal in advance.” faints

Victoria: Okay! This is a Europe vs America thing- Europeans don’t use checks ever at all, they do everything through direct transfers. So basically its the same as expecting someone to send a check. Still tacky, obvs, but it’s the request for money, not the bank details.

Jaya: Still, the idea of putting any request besides for RSVP on an invitation! The only time I can think of it being okay to ask for wedding guests to pay for their own dinner is if you get a courthouse marriage and just ask everyone to join you at a restaurant after, where it is 100% clear you are not actually hosting, you’re just asking people to meet you for dinner.

Victoria: Do not ask anyone to pay for any part of a party you are hosting is my firm line. I mean, you can ask your parents but not guests.

Returning Registry Gifts For Money

Victoria: I think the argument there is that it’s disingenuous to act like you want all that stuff and never ever have any intention of actually keeping it.

Jaya: Yes. You don’t have to make a registry, or put a million things on it. If you just want cash, don’t make a registry and you’ll probably get cash.

Victoria: And then you can cash in all those toasters you do get with a free conscience.

Jaya: Exactly. Once you give a gift, it’s not up to you to judge how the person uses it (or returns it).

Email Invitations

Jaya: I see no problem with this.

Victoria: Yeah, I don’t reaaaaallly care about email invitations. I care a little, but not much.

Jaya:  The only time I can see it being an issue is if most people don’t use email, because then it’s not even functional. But if you’re not a sentimental person, and just want to get the information out, this is just fine. Go for it.

Victoria: Right, but that’s a different thing. it’s something I would raise my eyebrows at stylistically (similar to heavily themed weddings), but everyone has the right to do it as long as they aren’t also being rude. It’s more a matter of personal taste than etiquette.

“One of the newest tricks is covertly providing champagne for the wedding party – the bride and groom, bridesmaids and best man – but no one else.”

Jaya: Serving only champagne to the bride and groom and family and not everyone else seems weird, but then they mention the bride and groom getting top shelf champagne and serving everyone else something cheap. That just seems overly complicated.

Victoria: Yesss also, just obnoxious. Just get everyone the same stuff!!!

Jaya: Or just don’t serve champagne! I know the champagne toast is seen as this classic thing, but you can do it with wine.

Selling Your Wedding Supplies

Victoria: This is just SMART.

Jaya: Yes! So many wedding websites have little marketplaces for your excess candles and chair covers and whatnot, because you will probably never use them again.

Asking Friends For Help

Jaya: I think this heavily depends on who you’re asking and what you’re asking them to do. It’s totally acceptable, but there’s a line between asking people for help and asking them to become your employees for the day.

Victoria: And it depends on their tolerance for it. I think it’s a very “know your audience” sort of thing, though there are some things I think are never really okay- like making them clean up the whole reception afterwards, except in possibly very special circumstances.

Jaya: Yes. I think my personal line is making guests do any sort of work during the actual wedding or immediately after. Setup, sure. Asking friends to help with crafts in the months leading up, totally. But once you’re in party mode I think it’s really rude to ask people to remove themselves so they can break down tables. Also, you shouldn’t plan the wedding under the assumption that you’ll get this help. Like, be ready to make every one of those streamers yourselves if none of your friends want to spend a night crafting with you.

Uninvitations: “Brides who want to let would-be guests down gently send out Non-Invitations, which are meant to be a polite way of letting people know they haven’t made the cut.”

Jaya: Jesus fucking christ.

Victoria: It’s so unnecessary and potentially hurtful! People will know they are not invited if they do not receive an invitation!

Jaya: Yes! Also you do not owe anyone an explanation for this sort of stuff! Oh my god this is just too much.


And there you have it! Next up, we’ll be discussing some more ways you can save money while still having a beautiful and polite wedding.