Billed for a wedding you never even attended? Sounds like a horror story straight out of Judge Judy, but it actually happened to Jessica Baker of Andover, Minnesota. The stay-at-home-mom and her husband were planning to attend a cousin’s wedding when their babysitter fell through at the last minute. According to ABC 7, Baker’s niece (her brother’s daughter) had contracted highly-contagious hand-foot-mouth-disease. The concerned mom didn’t want to expose her children to the disease. Her potential back-up sitter (her mom, grandma to the little ones) had also been exposed, leaving the RSVP’d couple without options.
Baker and her husband, related to the nuptial couple but not close, chose (under duress) to skip the ceremony and tend to the arguably more important task of caring for their children. They didn’t let the bride or groom know of their last minute change of wedding plans. Despite the reasons behind their decision to skip out on the ceremony, it was definitely a no-show.
The ditched couple was definitely less than amused by the wedding dissing, and they billed the absentee couple for failing to appear. The cost? Just under $76. Oh, and an explanation (call or text appreciated) for the perceived slight.
How would you react if you were the one billed for a wedding you didn’t attend? Who’s wrong? The truth of the matter is that an RSVP doesn’t constitute a legally-binding contract. It’s a matter of social etiquette, not legality. Weddings are expensive, and when people ask for a head-count, it generally has to do with more than wedding seating. It takes time and money to prep for feeding and entertaining all those guests. Some might argue, though, that when it comes to a wedding, empty seats are the cost of doing business.
For Baker’s part, she didn’t take being billed for a wedding she’d missed sitting down. She, like so many others, took her annoyance to social media, which is why you’re reading about this now.
Why didn’t Baker just bring her kids to the wedding when she was stood-up by her sitter? I mean, that could have alleviated the whole issue, right? Not exactly. In this instance, wedding guests were specifically requested to leave their kids behind. It was a “no children” wedding, which can be more fun for the adults in attendance, especially if the bar is an open one. Unfortunately for parents, wedding or no wedding, sometimes childcare plans fall through. Also, wedding or no wedding, kids come first. What if Baker’s kids had been ill themselves? I mean, it seems pretty unreasonable to think that parents are going to ditch their kids unsupervised to go to a wedding. Even to avoid being billed.
What is the proper protocol in this situation? Is it cool for no-show wedding guests to be billed for their “rudeness”? Is it better to bring your kids to a wedding where kids aren’t welcome if your babysitter cancels or to simply not show? Could this entire debacle have been avoided if the wedding no-showers would have given the bride/groom/RSVP phone number a call to let them know?
CNN reports that there are some wedding social etiquette tips to keep in mind if you want to avoid being billed for a wedding. First and foremost, if you’re not going to make it to the wedding, you should let someone know. We live in the communication age. A phone call, text message, Facebook post — even a 140-character or less tweet. This applies even if you’re an extended family member who hasn’t spoken to the wedding party in 12 years, which is how Baker describes her relationship with the bride. Sometimes the happy couple is content to know they were being thought of on their wedding day.
Send a gift, anyway. While this isn’t mentioned in Baker’s story, it’s hard to imagine getting billed for a wedding despite having already sent a gift to the couple. Once again, think of the couple on their special day and let them know you’re thinking of them.
If you’re planning a kid-free wedding, be considerate of your guests who have children. Come on, folks. Even on your wedding day, your guests have to put their kids first. If you’re super concerned about keeping your wedding free of children and having all of your invited guests make an appearance, consider working child care into your wedding arrangements. Even if you take those measures, be reasonable. Sometimes things come up, even on your wedding day. Even at the last minute. Even if you’ve already paid for the herb-crusted walleye.
Consider a phone call as an alternative to sending a bill. Come on, people.
If you do get billed for a wedding, resist the urge to blast the bride on social media. I mean, it’s annoying and even a bit rude to bill your absentee wedding guests. We get it. That said, does a Facebook rant make the situation any better?
According to Baker, she has no real intention to give the wedding couple any cash. She does want to rectify the situation and put it behind her, though. One of her social media pals wisely suggested that she write a check for $75.90 to a charity and send the receipt to the bride. Perhaps a charity that funds emergency child care would be appropriate for this no-show guest billed for a wedding.
[Image Courtesy: Larry Busacca/Getty Images]