Disney adults are riling people up online again. The source of this latest wave of ire is the result of—what else?—a Reddit AITA (Am I the Asshole?) post in which a bride wonders why all her wedding guests hate her for choosing an appearance by Mickey and Minnie Mouse over serving food at her reception.
In a since deleted post (though screenshots survive) she writes:
Background-my fiancée and I are huge Disney fans, and we travel to Disney World as much as we can throughout the year. Disney is such an important part not only to us, but also our marriage.
The issue was with our decision to not offer catering services/bar services at our wedding due to routing the money towards having a wedding Minnie and Mickey make appearances at our special day. The cost to have both Minnie and Mickey for a good chunk of time (30 minutes) was almost exactly what our parents allotted for our catering budget, so we scheduled an appearance during our first dance and our wedding photos, forgoing served food (though there were PLENTY of facilities at the venue where people could eat…).
While her parents were supportive, she says that soon the passive aggressive comments started popping up on Facebook. She adds that the guests were warned and that there were plenty of vending machines around the venue. Sure, it’s the couple’s special day and in theory they should be able to do what they want, but aren’t there unspoken rules about feeding your guests at weddings? To get to the bottom of it, we reached out to author and modern-day etiquette expert Lizzie Post. (She also happens to be the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post.)
Right off the bat, Post assures us that there is no one correct way to serve food at your wedding.
“Technically at a wedding you do not have to serve a big meal to everybody; it does not have to be a three-course meal or huge buffet,” she says. “Sometimes we call them punch-and-cookie receptions or just serve lemonade and cake, that kind of thing.” Forgoing a seated meal for heavy hors d’oeuvres is also not out of the question.
But no matter what you choose to serve, you should make it very clear to your guests what they can expect, either in an insert that you include with the invitations or as an easily visible notification on your wedding website. And that clear indication is even more essential if you, like the Reddit AITA couple, are not serving food at all, but rather encouraging guests to purchase their own food at the venue.
“You need to actually say, ‘We won’t be providing a dinner, but you can purchase one,’ not just, ‘Food will be available,’” Post says. “You definitely want to structure the timing of the event so that it doesn’t look like you’re going to serve people a dinner and host them for hours upon hours and not feed them anything, but expect them to dance and be lively and be happy and all of that.”
You’re probably going to want lively and happy guests, so your best bet is to just avoid this snafu altogether by serving something, anything to satiate your wedding guests.
My parents always told me that the cost of a wedding gift should at least equal the cost of your meal at the wedding. By that logic, if a wedding reception presents guests with a paltry or nonexistent spread, should that be reflected in the gift you buy?
“I do not want to be disrespectful to your parents at all, but that’s ridiculous,” Post tells me (sorry, Mom and Dad). “You should have no clue, absolutely no clue what someone spent per head on the wedding. Why on Earth would you try to base your present on a number that you’re taking a guess at?”
And this logic applies to all gift-giving: You should be able to give gifts within your means without worrying about gifts being tit for tat. Gifting is about a spirit of generosity, not about evening the score. That being said, guests may end up feeling slightly less generous if your wedding leaves them hungry.
“It shouldn’t affect the gift you give, but I tell ya, it definitely isn’t going to leave people with a good taste in their mouth,” Post says. “No taste in their mouth, in fact.”
“Take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘What is going to make me feel married on this day?’ and start from there,” Post says. If that means you need Mickey and Minnie at your wedding, so be it—but then start cutting costs elsewhere to make sure your guests can also enjoy themselves at the event. Chances are they’re not going to care about what color your napkins are or if your flower arrangements are ornate enough, or even if you do your own hair and makeup instead of paying someone to do it for you. And if those things aren’t important to you either, you can funnel that money into your food budget instead.
There are even cost-cutting measures you can take on the food and drink itself. Maybe, as mentioned before, you opt for a punch-and-cake reception. Maybe instead of an open bar, you have a dry wedding or just offer a champagne toast. If you do want to provide a meal, consider going vegetarian instead of springing for meat entrees.
“There are so many wonderful ways that you can tweak a wedding and allow for something extravagant and meaningful to you, like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, that other people might not understand, but still not confuse or upset your guests,” Post says. “Even though you are an honoree and you’re the couple being celebrated, you’re also a quasi-host (or your extended family, if they’re the ones paying or hosting), and it’s important to remember that hosts provide for their guests, they make their guests’ comfort a priority.”