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The Reception Field Guide

There’s no doubt a few of your (obligatory) invites could throw a wrench in things at your wedding. We’ve seen it time and time again. That’s why we’ve created a manual for identifying—and taming—the wild cards on your invite list.

The Party Train Conductor

Back when you were 20 and hung out with this up-for-anything pal, you liked that the night could end in any number of ways—dancing with rock stars, crying at Whataburger, sitting in jail. This is a much less fun prospect at your wedding.

The Habitat: In the immediate vicinity of the open bar; easy to spot thanks in part to the tambourine and fedora she’s taken from members of the band; barefoot.

Call of the Wild: “Should we do shots? We should do shots.”

Taming Strategy: Talk to your wedding planner, and let her handle these party animals during your reception. Says Beth Murray of Two Girls in Pearls Events, “We try to keep a close eye on all guests, especially those we notice going to the bar quite often. We also work with reliable and trustworthy bartending vendors who will let us know when a guest has been over-served and cut them off.”

The Dress Code Dodger

No matter how many ways you stress that you’re having a black-tie wedding—engraved on the invite, voice to voice, via skywriting—this guy will show up in khakis, a short- sleeve button-down, and maybe a tie if he happened to have one lying around in the car.

The Habitat: Inserting himself in every single group wedding picture he can find so he can infuriate you for years to come.

Call of the Wild: “Guess I didn’t get the memo about tuxes!”

Taming Strategy: Let it go. Per wedding planner LaKisha Wells of Renee’s Eventi, “You can stress a thousand times the expected dress code, and there will always be guests who will not dress accordingly. Don’t make a big issue about it. Just remain in the moment—I promise, it will pale in comparison to your most lasting memories from the night.”

The Social Media Spammer

She’s always rolling—posting lengthy footage and tagging everyone in her wake. She’s excited about all the possible content your wedding day will generate for all 137 of her followers.

The Habitat: Good luck getting this gal out of the photo booth.

Call of the Wild “I guess I would call myself sort of a documentarian?”

Taming Strategy: Consider making your wedding a “social media-free” event, and give your guests fair warning. Have your planner reiterate the plan at the wedding and reception. “We’ll create signage and have the officiant make the announcement that this is an unplugged event, or we might even have the couple state it in the program,” says Kimberley Vines of Two Girls in Pearls Events. For those who don’t get the, well, picture? “We’ll have a word with the offenders if necessary,” she says.

The Long-Winded Uncle

A proud Toastmaster, this guy has never met a dais he didn’t like. And while you’re not especially close, that hasn’t stopped him from crafting a 20-minute comedy set and accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

The Habitat: Doing vocal exercises just “off stage.”

Call of the Wild: “I’m still workshopping my closing line.”

Taming Strategy: Give this aspiring stand-up some idea of your expectations—length, subject matter— well before he arrives for showtime. “Make sure your wedding planner knows about his propensity ahead of time, too, because it could have a huge impact on the timeline and flow of the day,” LaKisha says. “Your planner can also stress what’s expected of him and the time limit right before he goes on.”

The Hot Mess

This always-tardy train wreck’s superpower is going from dignified to disheveled in a matter of seconds—holes appear, straps break, and stains manifest, seemingly out of thin air. For some reason, you’ve chosen to make her a bridesmaid.

The Habitat: In the ladies’ room, desperately trying to tape the hem of her dress back together.

Call of the Wild: “Do you mind calling my phone? I can’t find my purse.”

Taming Strategy: Organization is the name of the game here. “Keep a group text going between the bridesmaids, and have your maid of honor stay on top of her,” Beth says. “We also keep an emergency kit around for last-minute sewing, injuries, and so on. We’ve been known to run little trips to get things— especially when the walking disaster happens to be a family member.”

The Party Crasher

Not only did your cousin neglect to RSVP, he also forgot to mention that he’d met someone he thinks is “pretty cool,” and anyway, he knew you wouldn’t mind if he brought her to the wedding.

The Habitat: Inexplicably searching for their names and table number at the reception entrance.

Call of the Wild: “I don’t actually know anyone here.”

Taming Strategy: It’s irritating, sure, but don’t let it ruin your night. With good planning, no one will be made the wiser. “Unfortunately, this happens more and more now,” says Kimberley. She recommends always having an additional table, just in case unexpected people show up. “You don’t want to embarrass anyone by calling them out or making them feel unwelcome,” she adds.

The Amateur Party Planner

This is her ninth stint as a bridesmaid, and she feels obligated to share her very strong opinions on your centerpieces, entrée selection, deejay, wedding cake design and flavor, and your dress.

The Habitat: Criticizing the quality of the champagne during the cutting of the cake.

Call of the Wild: “Please tell me you’re not going to do your first dance to Adele.”

Taming Strategy: Give her a duty that will make her feel useful. That could mean emceeing the toasts, taking care of another bridesmaid (see “Hot Mess”), or regularly delivering you and your betrothed drinks and/or snacks. “This will occupy her time and thoughts and make her feel special,” says LaKisha. “Remember, your loved ones want your wedding day to be perfect, so they don’t really mean any harm.”

The Never-Ending Networker

This busy businessman has plans. He’s done some minor stalking, and he’s ready to talk shop, broker some deals, and plan some future golf outings at the club with your dad and all of his successful friends.

The Habitat: Working the tables, handing out business cards during your seated dinner.

Call of the Wild: “I almost went to HBS.”

Taming Strategy: It takes a village to stop this hotshot. LaKisha advises letting your coordinator know about this guy so she can also alert the serving staff. “They can kindly
ask the guest to have a seat so that everyone can get served in a timely manner and enjoy the food,” she says. “Hopefully, after dinner, he’ll be distracted by an evening full of fun, and it’ll keep him from networking the rest of the night.”

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