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Coming to an invite near you: Pay-to-eat weddings

  • ‘Weddings shouldn’t come with a cover charge!’ These days, brides & grooms are upending age-old wedding traditions
  • HLN asked several wedding and event planners their take on the latest nuptial trends
Coming to an invite near you: Pay-to-eat weddings

We’ve all been to that wedding: The groom, palms sweaty, eagerly waits at the podium down front. The groomsmen, even Zach Galifianakis, all are on their best behavior. And the bride, ah, the bride. The beautiful bride waltzes down the aisle with the certainty of a caribou in a shopping mall.

After the cute but reluctant toddler as ringbearer cartwheels down the aisle and the couple says "I do," well, it’s time to eat -- but did you pay? That's right: PAY. 

A recent story in the Daily Mail says that pay-to-eat receptions are one of several wedding trends on the rise. But before you pull out your credit card, here's what a few wedding and event planners had to say on the matter.

Wedding and event planner Terrica Skaggs of Cocktails & Details, based out of Georgia's St. Simons Island, told HLN that pay-to-eat weddings may be a thing, but they’re definitely not a trend.

“Fortunately, this is not a trend we are seeing with weddings in our area, but the fact that it is gaining traction doesn’t really surprise me," Skaggs said. "At first, brides were having cash bars for their weddings and now this -- it’s definitely in poor taste. Weddings shouldn’t come with a cover charge! You certainly don’t invite someone to your home for dinner and charge them for a fork and knife.”

In other areas, though, people look at the issue a little differently.

“The pay-to-eat wedding is a little atypical for a lot of couples, but in many areas, specifically in Quebec City, it is considered normal,” Veronica Fazio of Veronica Wedding and Events, based out of Ontario, told HLN.

“It’s kind of taboo in Ontario, but my fellow Canadians don’t mind it at all. You’ll find in French Canada, we do have it and it is considered normal.”

Wait, what?

Fazio said it works like this: A groom and bride will send you a wedding invitation, you know, so you can send your RSVP. “But then it would mention that there’s a $50 pay-per-eat charge.”

"For many weddings, they’re doing it to control the guest list,” she said. "The cost may be something like $70, which you’ll put in your RSVP." 

Read more: Free wedding? The catch: Logos EVERYWHERE

Fazio said the meal won't really cost as much as shown on the invite. “So what they’ve done is they’ve added $5 or $10. Of course, they’re offsetting the costs for the food.”

Fazio also said many weddings are all about the money nowadays, too. "Most weddings in general now you are expected to give cash, especially in Italian and Greek cultures, that is considered the norm. It’s known in the community that you don’t walk in the wedding with a big gift-wrapped gift, even if it cost $3,000," she said. "How it works is you’re going to cover their food, and give them a little bit extra. If the plate costs $150, you’ll put in the envelope about $300.”

Kellee Khalil, CEO of, said pay-to-eat wedding receptions aren’t mainstream -- yet.

“While many newlyweds definitely hope to receive cash and may even set up a cash registry, most are just happy with whatever guests choose to give them,” Khalil said by e-mail.

Ah, so there we have it: Pay-to-eat weddings are not a trend, but a thing. A thing which could be coming to a wedding hall near you! HLN readers, would YOU attend a pay-to-eat wedding?

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