Putting together a wedding guest list can be a major source of stress. Unless you have endless resources and a huge venue, there are bound to be long discussions about who gets the invite and who gets cut. After all the compromises and discussion, you finally put together a list everyone can live with. With all that effort, it’s understandably frustrating to have someone show up to the reception who didn’t make the list. Here are a few types of uninvited guest or wedding crashers, and ways to deal with them without wrecking the day.
You can discourage parents from bringing their children in ways subtle or more direct: address the invitation to just “Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. Osbourne and Family;” indicate there will not be child care services; hold the reception later in the evening. But whether it’s inability to find a sitter, ignorance of etiquette, or just plain pig-headedness, there’s a good chance a child or two will end up crashing the proceedings.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead for the inevitable pint-sized crasher; have a few sets of crayons and scribble pads at the ready. Have your wedding planner or friendliest bridesmaid remind the wayward parents that they’ll need to take the child out if they’re being a distraction during the ceremony, then let them be the parents’ responsibility at the reception. If another parent who left their kids with a sitter asks how come the Osbournes got to bring their kids, just tell them they weren’t able to find a sitter and brought the kids without your say-so.
The only people invited to a wedding are the ones listed on the invitation. If the invitation says, “John Linnel and Guest,” Mr. Linnell is welcome to bring his girlfriend. If it only says, “Mr. Linnel,” he should come solo. It’s a simple rule, but it’s not a rule everyone knows, and you may end up with a few girlfriends, boyfriends, or best friends tagging along.
Try to keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you have to squeeze an extra chair in at the venue. But you’re not obligated to accommodate an uninvited plus one farther than basic hospitality. Don’t stress if the guest has to make do with a seat far away from his date, or doesn’t have his choice of meal. Whether he has a perfect good time or not is not your responsibility.
Finally, we get to the one uninvited guest you’re free to ask to leave. If your reception venue is a hotel or country club, you may get a hotel guest or two wandering in to sample the free food and drink. If you spot someone who you know isn’t on the guest list, ask your most charming groomsman to let them know they’ve been found out and tell them they have to go. If the conversation gets heated, don’t hesitate to involve the venue security, but most of the time a crasher will be quick to dash once he knows he’s been caught.
Of course, if the uninvited guest is charming everyone, keeping the dance floor full, and keeping Uncle Bob from hitting the bar too hard, you might want to introduce yourself, thank him, and let him carry on.
Unlikely as it may seem, some of the folks you’ve hired to make your wedding day perfect can start to sabotage it when the reception rolls around. Sometimes the people you’ve hired to work at the party forget they’re not just attending a party. We’ve heard tales of wedding bands helping themselves to the hors d’oeuvres and photographers getting tipsy at the free bar. Not only are these wedding crashers costing you money, they’re also costing you and your guests some valuable fun because they’re supposed to be the professionals.
It’s an uncomfortable situation; it may seem high-handed or snobbish to remind your vendors that they’re working for you, not partying on your dime. But for the sake of your actual guests, it needs to be done. Again, this is something you should delegate to a groomsman or maid of honor–you concentrate on enjoying your evening and let them deal with it. They should gently remind the wayward vendor that the cocktails or the buffet are for the guests, and remind them of the job they’re there to do.
Uninvited guests are one of the many reasons that there’s no such thing as a perfect wedding. As long as you delegate handling the intrusion to your wedding party, there’s no reason an uninvited guest has to bring the ceremony to a screeching halt. With a little forethought and a little diplomacy, your wedding party can smooth out these little bumps in the road.