I’m a wedding planner. Here are answers to 10 questions guests are too embarrassed to ask.

Summary List PlacementAs a professional wedding planner, I've arranged more than 50 weddings, including my own. As a result, I've fielded my fair share of queries, ranging from sincere and kind-hearted to bizarre and unexpected.  So read on for the answers to 10 questions guests are too embarrassed to ask. Is it...


Summary List Placement

As a professional wedding planner, I’ve arranged more than 50 weddings, including my own.

As a result, I’ve fielded my fair share of queries, ranging from sincere and kind-hearted to bizarre and unexpected. 

So read on for the answers to 10 questions guests are too embarrassed to ask.

Is it ever OK to ask for a plus-one?

It depends, but in most situations, it’s best not to ask for a plus-one, if only because the average cost to feed a single wedding guest in the US is $70, and that’s before alcohol. 

However, if you’re a VIP at this event — like if you’re in the wedding party or performing some other kind of needed function — then it’s OK to ask, just do so with empathy and explain that you’d love a buddy for the day, if at all possible.

Use this same advice if you need a plus-one for accessibility reasons. The couple may not have realized this, and there’s no need for you to be unsafe or uncomfortable because of an honest mistake. 

Do I need to give another gift to a couple that’s already married?

wedding gifts

In the past year, many couples opted to legally start their marriage with a much safer and smaller event, moving the originally planned party to later.

As such, an increasing number of guests are going to 2021 or 2022 weddings that celebrate a marriage that they may have already recognized with a gift.

In these cases, you don’t need to buy a new gift, and although a card or other small memento is nice to bring to the celebration you’re attending in-person, it’s not required.

Any couple worth their salt would be aware of how you’ve supported them and the start of their marriage — if they need even more presents to know it, you might want to reconsider why you’re going to their wedding at all.

What if I can’t afford to attend someone’s wedding?

First off, shake off any shame. Weddings are expensive and you’re not a bad or unworthy person if you can’t afford to attend, particularly after the last year.

Instead, consider another way you can celebrate the start of this new marriage. 

The pandemic has helped normalize different ways to connect with people. A private video call the morning of the ceremony, a pre- or post-wedding vacation to see each other, and a heartfelt card are all excellent ways to honor the occasion without being there in-person.

Is it rude to ask what the plan is for health and safety?

It’s never rude to ask questions that keep yourself and your household safe, and this is particularly true this summer as we explore new territory when it comes to in-person gatherings like weddings. 

Ideally, the couple will be proactive in prioritizing the health of everyone who is in-person at their event — they’ll create a COVID-19 safety policy for their wedding and they’ll share it with their guests and vendors.

However, if that hasn’t happened — and in many cases, it hasn’t — feel free to ask. The alternative is that you get into a situation that you weren’t expecting and, in the worst-case scenario, actively endangers you and the people you love. 

So, if you’ve got a save-the-date or an invite for a 2021 wedding and have questions about who’s vaccinated, who’s going, and other ways the event will be safe, it’s OK to ask them.

Is it OK to decline an invite?

green wedding invitations

This question holds new weight during the pandemic because often people receive a save-the-date or invite for a 2021 wedding and their heads start to spin. How are they getting there? Where will they stay? Who else is there? Are they vaccinated?

These are very real questions with very real stakes, and if you’re the couple hosting the wedding, I recommend you get ahead of these queries by creating a shareable COVID-19 safety policy that’ll save everyone — including yourselves — a whole lot of heartache.

But if you’re a guest deciding whether to decline a wedding invite or change your RSVP upon learning new information, it’s not rude to set your own boundaries, but I caution you against lecturing the couple in question.

Perhaps you know that the event they’re throwing, depending on where they’re hosting it, is illegal, or at least unsafe, but whatever the situation, you’re not going to win this particular war. 

Decline the invitation, offer one or two sentences of context if absolutely necessary, and then move on. Chances are very good that the couple knows what they’re doing and telling them otherwise is only going to create a rift between you and them.

What do I do about my kids?

Whether or not to take kids to a wedding has always been a bit of a sticking point.

Couples often wrack their brains trying to find a polite way to word the typical “no kids invited,” while guests might wonder how they’re supposed to afford both a wedding and a babysitter. 

These days, kids and weddings have a whole new dimension because, as of this writing, children under the age of 12 aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you’re a guest and wondering what to do about this situation, check in with yourself and your applicable partners since you likely have well-developed opinions on what is and isn’t safe for your household, as you may have already done these mental gymnastics when making decisions about schooling.

Whatever the verdict, communicate with the fiancés. If your children are VIPs at the wedding, like ring bearers or flower kids, be clear about what boundaries you need to set to prioritize their health and make sure those are things the couple is both willing and able to do.

Talking sooner rather than later is ideal, because the more time a couple has to figure the situation out, the better for everyone involved.

Is it OK to take videos and photos during a ceremony?

Unless the couple’s told you otherwise, leave your phone alone during the ceremony.

Although it’s tempting to snap and record what is likely a joyous occasion, chances are good that the couple’s already paid a professional who’ll likely do a better than you at documenting the day. 

And even if there isn’t a professional photographer or videographer, don’t violate the sacredness of a ceremony by accidentally having your flash go off or your phone chime.

Challenge yourself to be present with the couple. You can always take photos during the party afterward.

Can I wear white to a wedding if I’m not the one getting married?

buttoning wedding dress

There are so many other beautiful colors in the world that I wonder why you’d even risk this, but sure, wear white if it’s the only thing that will make you happy (or if the couple took a page out of Solange and Alan Ferguson’s book by asking guests to wear white). 

That said, if one of the people getting married is wearing white, which is not always a given, do your absolute best to make sure your outfit doesn’t mirror theirs. If it does, you might just feel awkward the whole time.

Is it weird if I don’t give the couple a physical gift?

In recent years, more fiancés have registered for experiences or cash instead of the traditional slew of household items. This can sometimes throw guests for a loop even though it makes sense since many couples move in together before they get married.

When in doubt, believe the couple. Whether they offered a cash option on their registry or asked for donations to a beloved nonprofit, they know their own minds, so respect that and give them what they asked for. 

And if the couple didn’t register, consider what you know about them, such as the kinds of things do they like to do together or shared goals that a certain gift or financial contribution would help them achieve.

Should I be upset if I got uninvited or was never asked to attend the wedding?

No, you shouldn’t be but that doesn’t mean you aren’t. Instead, please do all you can in this situation to center the couple and not yourself.

In the vast majority of cases, the couple didn’t ask you not to come because they don’t enjoy your company. In fact, they might like you so much that they don’t want to risk your health to have you join them at their in-person wedding.

There may be other constraints as well, including but not limited to legally mandated headcounts or regulations that meant they had to choose to host certain VIPs over inviting more guests.

That said, I’d offer this exact same advice without the pandemic. More intentional guest lists have huge benefits for couples, vendors, and even attendees.

Not only are the people gathered the ones most likely to create a joyous occasion, but they’re also probably going to eat a heck of a lot better because the couple can actually afford to feed them.

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