In light of all the spring gatherings – from horse races, to weddings, to graduation celebrations – let’s pause for a minute to consider the bane of my existence, the pest of the party business – the crashers. The point of this column is very short and sweet. If you’re not invited to the party, don’t go. And don’t ask for an invitation either. Whew. There. It’s been said.
There’s nothing more frustrating for me than a wedding crasher (or any party crasher, really). Sure, the movie was cute. A couple of guys get together, study up on the latest society weddings in town, dress up in tuxes, show up as alternate personalities, win over the crowd and score with the girls. Sounds like it should be fun right? Well, not if you’re on the other side of the event.
There are certain downtown venues at which, whenever we have parties or weddings there, we can count on crashers. In preparation, I usually warn the bartenders and the rest of the team about what is likely to happen, and we have a specific question that we can ask a potential crasher to see whether he or she belongs at the party. Sometimes the phrase will have to do with the bride or the host of the event. Nevertheless, some smartypants will try to circumvent the system by claiming to be “with the band” or there to pick someone up. I’m on to you. I know who you are. You show up at events without being asked. And you wear jeans to black-tie functions. It’s so obvious.
But beyond the obvious crashers, there are the subtle crushers. This is where I may lose friends or alienate clients. The subtle crasher is substantially more coy. These are people who know they’re not on the guest list but find a way to wrangle an invitation. This social pressure is typically evident among women (men simply crash the party, wearing jeans). These ladies, with probably very noble intentions, offer to help with a pre-event party or loan decorations or other items in hopes of ensuring a spot on the guest list.
I’m reminded of the high school prom, where girls accepted invitations from boys they wouldn’t regularly go out with simply because they couldn’t miss “the” party.
Haven’t we figured out yet – by the time we are adults – that another great party or event is just around the corner? Or, conversely, that it’s OK to stay home?
Not being invited to a wedding or pre-wedding party usually comes down to one of two reasons: budget or relationship.
If it’s a budget issue, no matter how much finagling you try, you really should respect the host. Weddings, in particular, are very costly. Recently published figures show the national average for weddings to be $31k. And yes, that’s the average cost around here, too. For 130 guests. That means that, per guest, hosts are spending over $200. Knowing that fact, do you see what crashing is costing? Indeed, the meal cost may be significantly less per person, but there are other costs, too. Like table linens and bar items and centerpieces. So many factors go into creating the guest list – from size of the facility, to style of the event, to number of available chairs – that you can be sure you weren’t left off a guest list without cause. The national average shows the cost of weddings increasing with the guest count going down (the average used to hover around 150). The philosophy of “the more the merrier” is wonderful, if you know the hosts can afford to invite everyone they know and love (or barely like).
Which leads me to the second reason the guest list is leaner. Brides and grooms are no longer “tolerating” having their parents’ friends and acquaintances at their weddings. Modern couples want to know the guests at their wedding in more than a cursory way. When assisting clients with their guest lists, I often help them sort out the level of the relationship to the bride and groom. If you think of the bride and groom as the core of the onion, the outer layers are people they may not know personally. The names are familiar but only because the couple’s parents know them.
I try to encourage families to have these conversations together. A wedding (or graduation party) is a time to celebrate and it’s understandable that some people may be meeting for the first time (like the groom’s uncle meeting the bride’s aunt). But this is not the time for the mother of the bride’s work colleague to first meet the bride. So, even if you are the bride’s mother’s best work friend, if you weren’t invited, kindly offer your best wishes without hinting around for an invitation.
Now that I’ve expanded the definition of party crasher, I hope most of our readers are amused and can see the point I’m trying to make. If you haven’t received an invitation to THE party of the season, please relax. Consider your relationship to the host or guest of honor and what the cost of the party may be. Then consider what else you could do with your weekendand what other fabulous party is just around the corner.