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Bridezillas can bankrupt wedding guests -- Page 2

Guests also can get blindsided. "You just have to look your best so you throw caution to the wind on your close friend's special day," adds Meehan, who listed such things as manicure and pedicure; makeup or facial; shoes, new or dyed; photos, film and processing; car wash.

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"My pet peeve," says paralegal Wallace, "is about photographs. I was a bridesmaid at one wedding, so I couldn't take snapshots of my own. I had to go to the official photographer to select the prints I wanted, at $12 to $24 each."

Here are the events at which the landmines are planted:

The engagement party
Once hosted by the bride or groom's parents, today a best friend often assumes the responsibility and the tab. If you're hosting the bash, watch out -- a casual gathering of friends and family at home can expand into an event to rival the wedding ceremony.

In addition to the expenses of food, games, prizes, drinks and entertainment are the costs in time and effort to plan and invite and clean up afterward. Cost: flexible, but a strain on the budget because even an impoverished friend will spend everything she can. For the guests, it's gift-giving occasion No. 1.

Bridal showers
Once a single get-together at someone's home, today it has mushroomed to three separate events. Although most brides won't expect you to attend all three showers, some just may. The first is hosted by the bride's mom, which will include mom's friends, some of the bride's acquaintances and maybe a few female relatives. If you're a close female friend of the family, you're likely to be invited. Gift-giving occasion No. 2.

The second is for friends of the bride, including those from the bride's workplace or college. The most important shower is for the closest friends, who are usually roped in as bridesmaids. If you're a good pal, count yourself in for Gifts No. 3 and No. 4.

Rehearsal dinner
Guests are usually immediate family, wedding party members, the wedding officiant and spouse and some out-of-towners. Traditionally, it's hosted by the groom or the groom's parents, usually at a restaurant or country club, but a close friend or relative of the groom increasingly agrees to grab the tab. You've not only got the dinner tab for 30 to 50 people, but an evening of toasting can help the booze flow freely. Cost to host: $1,000 to $3,000. Hidden costs? Gratuities and possibly cleanup.

Guests, of course, will face approximately the same costs they do for each of the showers, but usually can attend this without bringing a gift.

The Jack and Jill
Also known as the "Doe and Stag" or couples shower, it can bleed your wallet white. The best man and the maid of honor usually collaborate on this matrimonial mugging. They rent a hall -- at their cost, not the bride's -- and sell tickets, usually for around $20. If you're invited, but not planning to attend, you're still expected to buy a few tickets. Just about everyone invited to the wedding gets roped into this one.

There's a no-host bar, where a glass of wine costs $5 to $10, plus a series of gambling games and raffle drawings. If you win a prize, you're expected to donate it to the happy couple. Win $50 at roulette, you're supposed to hand that over, too. The entire bar profits, raffle proceeds and admission-ticket money goes to subsidize the honeymoon.

If that's not enough, upfront and center in the hall is an artificial tree, the Money Tree, to which guests are expected to fasten envelopes full of cash and checks for the honeymoon.

Hosting a "Jack and Jill" shower can run into big bucks, says Meehan. Expenses include the venue itself; the vendor who provides the gambling operation; decorations and food and drinks. And don't forget bartenders, door prizes, parking valets, traffic control, cabs for the inebriated and cleanup.

Bachelorette weekend/bachelor bash
For the women, it could be a few days in Hawaii or Las Vegas -- a major expense for many when you count in travel, food and drink, mementos, new clothes and grooming. For the men, ditto. A golf weekend in Palm Springs or perhaps gambling in Atlantic City. Many bachelor or bachelorette parties consist of just a single night on the town, but even there the cash can flow out of your pocket freely -- on a good meal, drinks and even adult entertainment. It can get much worse when you consider the hidden costs such as gag gifts, ruined clothes, limo, big tips, lap dances and morning-after aspirin.

The Wedding
Bridesmaids, we all know, get socked on this one with the required dress, shoes and coordinated jewelry. But, of course, they are obsessed with looking their best, and those hidden expenses can mount quickly for hair, facial, makeup, manicure, pedicure, new dress and shoes. Count this as the most important gift-giving occasion.

The men get off lighter. They can rent a tux if need be (about $125), but usually end up purchasing a gift from the registry that can include anything from a $500 barbecue to savings bonds. No coasters or toasters anymore these days. Modern brides want luxury items. One couple specified "Figurines -- Royal Doulton only."

But the wedding gift isn't the end of the gift-giving opportunities. Something called "The Money Dance" has also become very popular. The bride circles the floor as guests pin cash to her dress. Or they may use a "Wishing Well" or "Money Cake" -- usually located on the gift table at the reception, where guests are encouraged to donate cash or checks.

"And then there's the morning-after brunch," adds Meehan. "It's primarily a way to say goodbye to guests who traveled some distance to attend, but some bridezillas invite everyone who came to the wedding.

"While it's not really expected, close friends and relatives would rarely be turned down if they tried to press a few greenbacks into the happy couple's palms to help with the honeymoon," adds Meehan.

Paul Bannister is a freelance writer based in Oregon.

 
 
-- Posted: June 8, 2005
   

 

 
 

 

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