The Sweet Christian Bride

When Guests Leave Early

by admin on November 14, 2011 in Guest List, Logistics, Reception Traditions with No Comments

Unmet expectations make a great weapon against joy.  Especially at your wedding that has been a long labor of love, you would hope that your planning pays off in the ways that you anticipate.  Sometimes, however, things just happen, and your expectations miss the mark. 

In the same way that no-shows can throw a bride off and steal some of her joy, so can guests who leave early.  I wish that I had been warned of this so that I was not jolted by the unmet expectation that everyone would want to stay until the end.

It seems so strange to think that someone who has just received over $100 of feasting and celebrating would want to cut short his or her stay.  At the very least, even if they weren’t thrilled to be there, you’d think that they would recognize the courtesy that is appropriate in staying to the end of an event so significant to the hosts. 

Nonetheless, people leave early.  The bigger the wedding is, the more people will leave before the send-off.  I must say, I too have been guilty of the early exit. 

As a bride, however, I had some moments of shock and sadness when I realized that the dance floor had emptied out and so did the chairs around the tables.  We had barely even served the cake let alone had the send-off.  The only people left were close family, bridal party, and some out-of-town friends.  The last memories of my wedding were of absent people.

The more that I considered why so many guests had left early, and the more that I considered other weddings I had been to (including those from which I left early), I realized that early departures usually have nothing at all to do with the wedding.

People get tired.  People who find dancing awkward can only face that discomfort for so long.  People are busy and have other legitimate issues or plans to attend to.  People are so indoctrinated by the culture of the city that they relish in leaving events early so they can avoid traffic (Los Angeles sporting events can corroborate that).  People have kids who are having melt-downs and need to be taken home.  People are older and not used to long, late parties.  People prioritize the ceremony and consider their attendance there as the important thing.  People on your guest list who are fringe guests don’t know the bride and groom well, so they don’t feel like their presence will be missed.  People follow the crowd, so if everyone else is leaving, then they will too.  Valid reasons or empty excuses, the list goes on.

Hopefully your wedding will be an exception and all your guests will stay to the end.  If they don’t, however, do your best to remember that your guests do love you and they did have a good time.  Their early departure is not about you or your wedding; it’s about them.  And the benefit to having people leave early is that those who remain are the intimate crowd who don’t consider the reasons to leave as valuable as the reasons to stay.  They are most likely the ones whom you cherish anyway.

Your send-off, cake-cutting, last dance, or whatever conclusion to your reception will be all the sweeter for those in your intimate core of relationships who are gathered with you.  You will have a chance to see all their faces individually rather than be sent-off by a mass, giving you a personal moment with those whom you love dearest.    

You might have close friends leave early, who you wished were still there with you, but try your best not to assume the worst.  Everyone has a reason, and theirs might be totally legitimate. 

No matter who leaves or who remains, at the end of the day, you are married!  Your send-off, whether small or massive, is the beginning of your married life together!  Let that joyous realization be the last memory of your wedding.

By Lindsay

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