How much is too much? Advice needed please.

kate38July 27, 2010

We are a couple in our late 50s. This is a second marriage for both. Our wedding will take place about 5 hours from our home, and each of our adult children will drive approximately 5 hours from their respective homes to get there. The wedding will be in the late morning, and we're planning a luncheon from about 12-2 in a lovely old hotel for about 16 adults and 6 grandchildren. About half the attendees are very close friends. We're paying for our kids' lodging and meals for two days but not the friends' lodging and meals. The luncheon will cost approximately $2500. No photog, flowers, music, etc. We want to commemmorate our special day, but not extravagantly. My soon-to-be-spouse thinks we should also treat everyone to dinner that night at one of our favorite restaurants, but that's going to cost another $2500 or so. I think we should tell them where we're going and say we'd love to have their company, but it's their choice (who knows, they may want to go somewhere on their own at that point). We would pay for our kids' dinner, though. The cost of dinner won't kill us, but it would hurt. If it were me, I wouldn't accept a free dinner after just having been treated to a beautiful luncheon the same day, but I don't know what our guests would do. It's kind of awkward, and I'd like some advice. Should we just bite the bullet and take everyone out to dinner, too? Will we seem cheap if we don't?

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Your friends are volunteering to travel 10 hours round-trip just to be there for you? Paying their own travel expenses, lodging, and meals? And you're carping about springing for a second meal?

Of course it will hurt! Do it right or don't do it. Cough up. Do this. You'll score big with your friends, of course, but -- more to the point -- HELLO! -- you will have avoided your first marital argument.........on your wedding night, about not being dense! Do it right. And talk to the restaurant owner before-hand so everything is perfect....and then tip big. It'll probably be more than 3,000 before you're done. DO IT!

Basically, if you're in you're late fifties and can't make a $2,500.00 decision of this simplicity.......I pity your wife.

This written by a nickel-squeezing curmudgeon not far from your age.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:24PM
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The wedding is in the morning, the luncheon is over at 2. I assume that because the wedding is in the morning, that necessitates spending the night before in a hotel at the location. But is it necessary to spend the second night? Why not just go home after the lunch at 2?

I'm not saying you, your kids and grandkids shouldn't stay. You're making a weekend of it, great. But the other guests, are they staying that second night? If so, why? Is it because they know that you are all going to make a weekend of it and feel that you want them to be a part of it? If so, then yes, pay for the dinner.

If they are staying because it's a nice area that they want to hang out in after the wedding, then I'd probably not even bother to invite them to dinner unless you are paying.

If they are staying and ask you what your plans are for dinner and wish to join you, then they pay for themselves.

So a lot depends on the exact circumstances. In any case, IMO, if you specifically invite them to dinner as part of the wedding events, you pay.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 8:28AM
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I agree with Lowspark. Technically, you have completed your social obligation by hosting the luncheon after the wedding. You are not obligated to have dinner with anyone that evening, but if you invite people to join you, then you should plan to pay. If a group of you informally decide to get together in the evening, then it would be dutch treat.

If your friends decide to stay in the area for another day, they will surely make plans to sightsee and do things on their own unless you told them it would be a wedding weekend, in which case, they will expect you to make plans for activities, but not necessarily pay for all activities. So, it depends on the circumstances.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:27PM
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Thanks sweetpea and lowspark for your level-headed responses. I was thinking that way but glad to have your rational thoughts. BTW, the wedding will be on a weekday out of consideration for as many work schedules as possible (some work weekends and a few have the day off as part of a school break). And, yes, some of our guests may need to go home that afternoon.
Asolo, Good grief, I was merely looking for a bit of advice adult to adult. I haven't done this for 40 years and wouldn't be doing it now if the good Lord hadn't taken my beloved spouse several years ago and somehow later sent another wonderful person into my life. I didn't need to be talked down to--and from a fellow curmudgeon at that! After all, I have managed to make it thus far in life with a fair amount of success which usually involves the ability to make a good decision now and then.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:23PM
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I agree with lowspark and sweetpea. And I am one who usually advocates for entertaining all the out of town guests almost all the time they will be around.

However, I think that asolo had a point, too, albeit rather vigorously expressed. If for some reason it's so important to your future spouse, that may be a reason to go for it. And maybe there is some circumstance we don't understand that makes it seem important to him/her.

Besides, I am wondering where you get your figure of $2,500 for feeding these non-related people.

You said you expect "about 16 adults and 6 grandchildren. About half the attendees are very close friends. ...(who knows, they may want to go somewhere on their own at that point). We would pay for our kids' dinner...."

I'm going to assume that you are not including yourselves in the 16 adults, and I'm going to assume that "our kids" includes your grandkids. I'm also going to assume that by "about half the attendees" you mean half the total -- although I'm guessing you really mean half the adults, not including yourselves, but I want to err on the conservative side, so I'll go with half the total of 22.

That equals 11 people. Where are you planning to go that would cost $2500 for 11 people? (Can I have the leftovers?) I'll do the math for you: it comes to over $225 per person.

Okay, I know that there are places that actually could come to that for dinner, once you include tax and tip and cocktails and pricey wine.

But if $2500 would "hurt," when you'd also happily be spending more than that for the rest of the group, I doubt that you are talking about a place that expensive. I think it's more likely that you were mixing up the total with the additional cost for the people you aren't already planning on treating.

And you also noted that they may want to go off on their own anyway, and, as others posted, they are very likely to go home anyway, rather than pay for another night in the hotel.

So although I still agree that there is nothing wrong with you not treating all the guests to dinner that night, I am just wondering (1) if there isn't some other issue here, and (2) if you might want to revisit this in light of a more realistic dollar amount, especially because it is so important, for whatever reason, to your intended.

Congratulations to you! It sounds like a lovely wedding, by the way.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 3:15PM
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You'll grump once when you write the check. The memories and friends go on and on. I still say do it......a little softer this time. : )

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:04PM
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We are including ourselves in the 16, plus there would be a charge, although smaller, for children. I'm guessing everyone will stay over that night, and we'll most likely invite, and treat, everyone. We need to be prepared to take the full group out. The place we have in mind is expensive and particularly special to us. We are including the cost of wine, the tip of 20%, and sales tax. We're at the beginning of our plans and want to make sure we cover all bases, and do the right thing, so I thought I'd ask for some opinions, and I appreciate them all.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:06PM
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So how many people are we talking about that you aren't already planning on paying for? 8, right? If it would cost an extra $2500 to treat them to dinner, that's $312.50 per person.

That is a very, very expensive restaurant. If it's worth it to you, then fine. But given that you are just fine treating everyone else to such an expensive meal, it is hard to understand how it would then "hurt" to invite 8 more.

But I don't need to understand. You can just not tell them your plans. Thank them for coming and wish them a safe trip at the end of the wedding meal.

But if this is important to your spouse, you do need to rethink this.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 12:52AM
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