News and Events
Wedding Q. and A.
Published: April 17, 2013
Ticket to Ride, but Who’s to Pay?
My fiancée and I have chosen a destinationlike wedding. The location
requires a ferry ride to an island. We had not intended to pay for our
guests’ ferry rides (it is simply not in our financial ability), but the
boat is owned by the restaurant. When placing our down payment on the
restaurant/location, we also had to pay upfront for all seats on the
We have asked the restaurant/ferry ticketing office if our guests
can still coordinate their ferry ticket payment through the office (to
be applied as a credit to our final bill), but we are waiting to hear if
that is an option.
If the ticketing office is not able to coordinate the guests’
payments, is there a tactful way to ask the guests to reimburse us
directly for the prepaid tickets? Or is there a means of establishing a
third-party payment system for these tickets so that it doesn’t seem
like we’re looking for handouts?
K. and M.
Hosts of a wedding or any other event cannot ask guests to reimburse
them directly for any of the costs involved in the event. It is unclear
to me if the ferry is used solely to access the restaurant, or if the
ferry serves the entire island and the ferry owner happens to also own
the restaurant. It makes a difference in deciding how to approach your
Typically, wedding guests pay for their own transportation, even to a
destination wedding. If the ferry is used to access the island, not only
the restaurant, that would apply here. Guests would pay the fare when
they board the ferry or pay ahead online or by phone. Since you have
prepaid, the restaurant should apply that money to your bill and no one
is the wiser. If the restaurant will do this, it would be a good idea to
post the cost of the ferry ride on your Web site along with any other
travel information guests might need to know. The same is true if you
are mailing travel information to guests.
It is unfortunate that the restaurant required you to pay for your
guests’ transportation upfront. If the restaurant will make no
accommodation to collect fares and credit your bill, then you have no
choice but to foot the transportation bill and limit your spending in
other ways. You could cut back on the number of guests or cut back on
the amount or type of food or alcohol being served. It’s very possible
that if the restaurant sees that its lack of cooperation will mean a
loss of revenue, it may come around and be more accommodating.
On the other hand, if the ferry just serves the restaurant — and there
is no other way to reach it — then the ferry cost is an integral part of
the cost of the location. As the hosts, it is incumbent upon you to pay
for the tickets. It’s unfortunate you weren’t told that you would have
to prepay this “access fee” when you booked the restaurant. Since it is
probably too late to book another place, consider the same options as
above to keep to your budget and either limit your guest list or find
savings in the menu or beverage service.
Invited Late? A Gift Is Still Usually Warranted
A friend of mine from graduate school is getting married next month
(we are both currently in school). We have been friendly for nearly two
years but do not often get together outside of school. I have known
about his wedding for a while but was not invited, which was fine with
me. (It’s a small wedding, and we are not especially close.) However,
today he handed me an invitation, explaining that some out-of-town
guests couldn’t make it. I would love to go (last-minute invite
notwithstanding), but I am going to be out of town on the day of the
wedding (a little over five weeks away). I let him know as soon as I
opened the invitation that unfortunately I would not be able to attend.
He acknowledged that he was not surprised, given that he had invited me
on such short notice. Am I obligated to get him a gift?
The standard answer is yes: When invited to attend a wedding, you give
the couple a gift whether you can attend or not. The usual exception is
when the invitee is not close to the bride, groom or their families, or
has been out of touch for a number of years, and sends their regrets.
The circumstances surrounding your invitation aren’t unusual, but have
understandably left you in a quandary as to whether to give a gift. I
don’t think the couple would think poorly of you if you didn’t give a
gift since the invitation was last-minute and you won’t be attending.
However, I encourage you not to act too quickly or to stand on
convention. Had your friend not been planning such a small wedding,
chances are you would have been on the original guest list. Even at the
last minute, you were at the top of the “gee, I wish I could invite”
list, and your friend took the trouble to hand you the invitation
personally. You say you would have loved to go had you not already had
other plans, and it does sound as if you appreciate his sincere wish
that you could be a guest.
Go with your instinct and do what feels right to you. If you want to
give him and his bride a present, then go for it. It doesn’t have to be
an expensive gift; you could probably pick out something within your
student budget by checking their wedding Web site for their gift
registry; or you could choose a gift on your own. Your gift will surely
be appreciated, and you, too, would probably feel really good about
sending something to wish the couple a happy future.
Peggy Post is the author of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition,” as well as a director of the Emily Post Institute.
The institute, in Burlington, Vt., provides etiquette and relationship
advice through books, business etiquette seminars and e-learning. The
business is run by fourth- and fifth-generation family members of Emily
Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to The
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column on the institute’s Web site, at emilypost.com/wedding.