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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Most favors are forgettable, and other real talk from a frequent wedding guest

Still from Sony Pictures' "Jumping the Broom" (2011).

Photo via IMDB.

Still from Sony Pictures' "Jumping the Broom" (2011).



We've heard from the four-time bridesmaid. We took notes from wise brides. Now let's hear from the other important member of the wedding day experience: the constant guest!

Times writer Tia Mitchell was invited to six weddings in 2014 and has attended dozens in her life.

What gets people on the dance floor? A certain kind of music, copious alcohol, activities?

Although it seems like anything less than a wide open bar is frowned upon by the wedding-going masses, I'm not one to get drunk at weddings. Mainly because no one wants to be the drunk guy/girl at the wedding because people never forget. What gets me on the dance floor is good music, plain and simple. The smartest wedding DJs start out the night playing tried and true line dances like "The Electric Slide," "The Wobble" and "Cupid Shuffle." Segue into some old-school hip-hop or R&B (think Biggie's "One More Chance," "Candy" by Cameo or "Poison" by BBD and you have yourself a party!

What's the best wedding favor you ever received and why?

I've received LOTs of wedding favors over the years, most of which are forgettable (and therefore a waste of the couple's dough). Most recently I attended a wedding and the favors were essentially hangover survival kits (Alka Seltzer, B12 powder and Advil), which is practical for those who over-indulge on the open bar.

But the wedding favor that I found most memorable was a sign of its time. About 10 years ago my sorority sister gifted CDs she burned with the couple's favorite love songs. There were some classics on that CD that I still play (albeit now downloaded onto an iPhone). I don't know if a wedding favor like that is practical anymore. I also love the photo booths at weddings that print out a strip for you to take home as a keepsake and a duplicate strip for the couple to put in their scrapbook.

What do you wish you saw more of at weddings?

I strongly believe weddings should be personal. So I should see what the bride and groom want us to see, which should be them doing whatever it is they want to do. I'm OK with that. I will say that as a frequent wedding guest, I am weirded out by how many pictures the bride and groom are expected to take.

So many pictures and videos during the ceremony (who is even going to go back and watch all that footage stored in dozens of smart phones?), followed by formal pictures after the ceremony with official photographers. But then the couple gets to the reception and their guests badger them the whole time for photos so they can barely dance, mingle or enjoy themselves. I know it comes with the territory and most brides and grooms are super gracious. But it makes me feel bad for them and sometimes seems to take away from guests, you know, actually enjoying the celebration. I have no idea how I would handle it if I were on the other side of the camera other than ensuring someone was constantly powdering my nose and hoping my smile doesn't look forced after several hours.

Do you like it when ceremonies are a little unexpected? What can rub guests the wrong way?

I like it when ceremonies are unexpected in ways that show the bride and groom have put their personalities into the day. But there is a line of "too much" and I've seen some couples (OK, let's be honest and blame it on the brides who control most of the decisions) cross it. Even then, however, I have to tell myself this is her day and about what she wants so who cares if I don't like it. That being said, you did ask what rubs me the wrong way so I'll say weddings that start way late (more than 30 minutes) and long waits between the ceremony and the reception. You tell me cocktail "hour" and I'm putting you on the clock.

What do you care the least about at the ceremony/reception?

Again, I realize the weddings aren't about me as a guest, they're about celebrating the bride and groom. So I take everything about the day as part of a reflection of who the happy couple is and how they want to launch their union. To that effect, there is nothing I care about enough to be annoyed.

I will say one thing I see becoming more and more pointless: making the single men in the room gather around to catch the wedding garter as a prediction of who will be the next to tie the knot. At 90 percent of the weddings I go to, the garter drops and the men literally run from it until one guy breaks the awkward moment by sacrificing himself to pick it up off the floor. It's the total opposite of the women literally fighting and ripping apart the bouquet as they struggle to reap its magical properties (is that just the weddings I attend?).

At the most recent wedding I attended the wedding planner had an interesting fix for this: the garter was wrapped around a basketball signed by Dwyane Wade. Believe me, the men were all on the dance floor fighting for that one.

What else, what else?

I know its not proper wedding etiquette, but I actually don't mind it when couples make it clear they prefer money or gift cards as wedding gifts. Saves me the hassle of shopping.

I struggle with balancing the rising costs of attending weddings with the pressure to give good (expensive) gifts. Some brides and grooms probably think I'm cheap as a result. I feel bad but it is what it is. Heck, they are the ones who invited a journalist to the wedding! They need more doctor and lawyer friends.

Stop inviting people to bridal showers that aren't invited to the actual ceremony. That happened to me a couple of years ago, but I don't think it was the bride's fault. Rather she had friends who wanted to throw her a shower and just invited everyone she know without considering the protocol. I didn't mind because she's a nice girl and I was happy for her but, no ma'ams. (I know that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite since I just said I'm OK with breaking wedding taboos, but *shrugs*.)

Wedding Week Recap:

Advice from Times brides

Wedding advice for the girl who has not been planning her wedding her whole life

Bridesmaid advice

Questions to ask a wedding caterer

How to dress for any wedding

Brides, be yourself!

Send us your questions!

[Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2014 5:04pm]


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