I bet you’re reading this blog for one of three reasons:
- You got invited to ANOTHER wedding. You’ve been to so many of those that you’ve secretly started to despise them.
- You got invited to your first wedding since you were a volun-told ring bearer in first grade, and you’re clueless as to what is about to come.
- Your name is Gail Mertz, and you read all my blogs. Hi mom.
As a 10-time wedding guest in the first three years of my college career, I understand how much of a struggle it can be to survive other people’s weddings. And now, as a future bride myself, I can also see the other side of the coin. Some of the ridiculousness of wedding culture is actually beneficial, like a meaningful venue or catering from the restaurant the couple went to on their first date. Other parts, like matching bridesmaid robes and $175 tux rentals, are not.
Here are a few pointers for getting through wedding season as a college student without going bankrupt, ruining your friendships, or turning into a celibate, wedding-hating monk.
Real friends pay friends for their work. Weddings are overpriced, yet expensive is the aesthetic many couples dream of. Most come to realize, though, that they must cut corners somewhere. That somewhere is not you. Weddings are community events, and it’s silly to refuse to help cut the cake or make the reception playlist. However, if you’re an entrepreneurial photographer, a culinary-arts graduate, or a budding professional musician, you aren’t obligated to give out hundreds of dollars worth of services for free. Your level of generosity is your choice, but it is never okay for anyone to just assume that your work—your art—is theirs for the taking. It’s okay to stand up for yourself as a professional.
If you’re in the wedding party, it’s okay not to buy a gift. The only thing that rivals the expense of your own wedding is being in somebody else’s. According to WeddingWire, being a bridesmaid can cost $1200 with an extravagant bride, but even in a basic wedding, a dress or suit rental alone can easily cost over $100. That’s a collegiate fortune. If you’re struggling just to pay for your wedding party obligations don’t feel guilty for skipping on another present. In reality, it would, in fact, be present number two because you are the gift. Ideally, whoever loves you enough to ask you to be in their wedding will understand your financial limitations and simply be grateful to have you by their side.
Communicate well and appropriately. I don’t care how old-fashioned you think RSVP cards are. Don’t text your friend to RSVP; mail the card in like everyone else. You aren’t special, and those tiny squares of cardstock aren’t cheap. But please, DO RSVP for every event you are invited to. Never assume they assume you’ll be there. The couple needs to know who is coming, and they have better things to do than hunt you down. College is time demanding, but so is wedding planning. Honor your friends by honoring their time.
Follow the rules, whatever they may be. In a similar vein, respect what is asked of you. If you aren’t extended a plus one, do not bring one. If the dress code is back tie, don’t show up in khakis. If the couple asks for a no-cellphone service or that people refrain from sharing photos on social media, accept their wishes with grace. Disrespecting someone else’s wedding style, however genuinely ridiculous you think it may be, is distasteful and potentially relationship-altering. Spare yourself and your friendships by doing the kindergarten thing and following all the rules.
A study conducted by The Knot claims that eight of the ten most popular wedding dates of 2018 are still yet to come. So, if you’ve still got a save-the-date magnet on your dorm fridge, fear not. Weddings can be complicated for everyone involved, especially if you’re still in college, but like marriage itself, the path to success is not paved with the absence of mistakes or offence, but rather with the presence of grace and humility. Forgive when you are wronged, be generous with your love, and refuse to let the difficulties that come with the wedding season harm your friendships or dampen your perspective on life’s most wonderful covenant.
Written by Savanna