Wedding guests and bridal party members are invited to several pre-wedding functions, including wedding showers and engagement dinners. Figuring out just who should foot the bill can be confusing for any couple. Expecting guests to pay for their own meal at a wedding shower luncheon isn't uncommon, but it also isn't very traditional.
Traditional Etiquette for a Bridal Luncheon
Although wedding traditions, etiquette and formalities vary among cultures and have changed through the years, a few rules are standard. It's generally understood that all expenses for a bridal luncheon will be paid by the bride's family. If the couple is having a coed wedding shower luncheon, the two families should work together to pay the food costs. Often the bride's family will splurge on a special cake, gourmet cupcakes or other fancy desserts, and the groom's family will pay for the main course.
Look to the Hosts
Because more than one wedding shower may be held for some couples, look to the hosts to determine who will pay for the function. If a family member for the couple is hosting, that family usually pays for all expenses, including lunch. If members of the bridal party are hosting, they will pay for rental of a party room, decorations, invitations and often the meal. Read the wedding shower luncheon invitation closely. Some events include light appetizers, a signature drink and cake served in a relative's home, so there's no worry about who will pay.
Luncheon Invitation Etiquette
If you're planning a wedding shower luncheon and you expect guests to pick up their own tabs, make it clear on the party invitation. After listing the restaurant name and location, include the menu with prices and add a sentence or two indicating guests should be prepared to pay for their choices. For example, "The restaurant offers a traditional Italian menu with pasta, salads and sandwiches ranging from $10 to $15 per plate." This information lets guests know the type of food and an average cost per person.
Attending the Shower
Guests traditionally pay for their own expenses related to the actual wedding day: travel to and from the event, lodging, meals and a gift for the couple. Because wedding shower luncheons occur well before the big day, guests should plan to take care of the expenses to travel to the event and attend the luncheon. When in doubt, ask the host for more details about the luncheon, including where to see a copy of the menu so you can plan for the expense.
Angela Tague writes marketing content and journalistic pieces for major brands including Bounty, The Nest, Lowe's Home Improvement and Hidden Valley. She also provides feature content to newspapers and writes health and beauty blogs for Daily Glow, Everyday Health and Walgreens. Tague graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications in 1999.