Pre Wedding Parties | Let your Guests Know What’s Expected of Them

Look Back Lesson #17

… let me just continue from the title by adding, over and over and over… and over again…

restaurant bill with cashImage from ChicagoMag.com

The night before Rogue Bride's wedding, she had a pre wedding party. She called it a VIP dinner” and it was held at Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo. She sent an email saying as much. She didn't call it a rehearsal dinner or welcome dinner (she called it a pre-wedding dinner) and she definitely made it clear that everyone would have to pay for themselves.

And – must be said – this is an everyone-pay-for-themselves event. But I promise,the food, drink and company are well worth it. ;)
~June 7, 2012
 So why, after Rogue Bride and Groom announced that they were leaving and they had contributed $100 toward the bill, did everyone look shocked? Why didn't anyone bring cash or have a basic tally of what they had consumed? Why did the server have to divide the bill into 20 individual bills and deal them out like cards at a game of Texas hold-em? I mean Rogue Bride told everyone they'd be paying for themselves. (For full details, listen to the Podcast where we re-cap Rogue's wedding. Note: NSFW).
Yes, she did, but not enough times. Tradition and culture are powerful forces, and the fact remains that most pre wedding parties are paid by someone other than the guests. Even in this heady time, where couples are routinely throwing tradition to the wind, you still have to constantly remind, cajole, and otherwise beg guests into falling in lock step with your vision.
So let's back up and come up with a game plan.
Rogue gave plenty of advance notice (a week and a half) but didn't get enough reminders out. This is where a wed-site combined with email can be very powerful.

1 month out: Send a email about pre wedding parties and wedding day activities

Send an email to all wedding guests outlining the wedding weekend timeline. Include pre wedding parties as well as the wedding day timeline. Make sure guests know times, locations, dress-code, and whether or not they should bring cash for food, tours, souvenirs, etc. Have a corresponding page on your wed-site outlining in more detail each activity, including your wedding day timeline.

2 weeks out: Send a pre wedding party and wedding day outline

Send a reminder email. Break out all information into headings and sub headings so people can scan for information. Remind them to  visit the wed-site for updates, and encourage them to print your email for reference.

For Example, This:

Hello Awesome People!

[Rogue Groom] and I have a reservation on Saturday Night at Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo for 7pm, and we'd like to invite all of you to join us. They have my favorite beer AND my favorite food, so all that's missing really are my favorite people: You!
Anyone who wants to carpool from the Marriott Courtyard, meet me at 6:15 in the lobby and we'll sort something out between the cars available. And – must be said – this is an everyone-pay-for-themselves event. But I promise,the food, drink and company are well worth it. ;)
Chicken n' waffles!
I mean… see you Saturday!

Should be this:

Saturday June 16: Pre wedding Dinner
Where: Urge Gastro Pub
When: 7pm
Carpooling options: Convene in the Marriott Lobby at 6:15 if you want to carpool
Attire: Super casual. Ladies: jeans and tees work just as well as a pretty summer dress; it's you call. Gents: jeans and tees or a button down shirt will do nicely.
Best on the menu: Chicken and Waffles
BRING CASH! Just a gentle reminder that this is an everyone-pay-for-themselves event, and with 30 people, it's easiest to give the server cash.

Saturday June 17: Wedding Day…

{follow the same format as above}

Week of: Send individual email reminders for all pre wedding and wedding day activities

Send individual emails out for each event. The subject line should say something like “Final Details for Pre Wedding Dinner” and “Final Details for Wedding Day”

Keep the same heading and sub heading format, and add information like goole map links for directions, and (if it's handy and necessary) a map of the venue.

Again, remind guests of any monetary responsibilities they may have. Most people don't bring cash to a wedding and few bring it to wedding-related events. If your guests are responsible for pre-event meals, parking, or booze, let them know!!!