7 Hours of Travel = $250 (gas or plane ticket)
2 Nights of Hotel Stay = $200
1 Gift = $100
1 missed day of work = $100
**And these are all conservative estimates that do not include if they need to rent a car, if they had to get you a shower gift, go to your bachette party, got their nails done for your wedding, etc.
I don’t mean to go all Emily Post on you, but these are your GUESTS. The definition of a guest is "One who is a recipient of hospitality."
My fiance and I are so honored that our guests love and care for us so much that they are willing to spend their hard earned money and their time to be with us. So, when we were making our budget, we thought about these wonderful people who want to share our special day with us. So yes, a big chunk of our budget is going to shuttles to and from the hotel and reception so guests don’t need to drink and drive, or stay sober!, or pay for a taxi. We are also going to have a room at the reception with a nanny service. Out-of-town guests should not be expected to pay $200+ for a 72 hour babysitter while they travel to attend our wedding. It would be lovely if the kids stayed home, I agree with Sweeney that many kids are bored to tears – but it should not be EXPECTED that my guests pay for them to be left at home.
Yes, all of these things cost money – so we have a lower budget for the flowers, I only spent half my dress budget because transportation costs got high, and I am not giving out favors that in my experience usually end up forgotten at the reception. All of that money is going into being HOSPITABLE to the guests that are important to us and/or our family and who want to be with us on this special day. It sounds like your budget is set, so take some of the wonderful advice and hire a nanny service to be at the reception and tell the parents that babysitting is provided and this is the cost per kid. Or find a kind friend to do it like the sweet bride who volunteered.
Treat your guests with respect, not as a burden to deal with. Think of all they are sacrificing to be with you. And as my fiance always tells me, weddings are about families. Our parents have been thinking about our wedding day for much longer than we have – this is not MY day – it is OUR day (and it is a fairly inclusive OUR).
Just one final note on the definition of HOSPITABLE (treating guests and strangers with warmth and generosity) as I anticipate it will come up – providing a meal and drinks does not make you hospitable if you INVITED them to dinner – that is merely providing them with what you had already extended an invitation for. Being hospitable is also not going into debt paying for what you can’t afford. Being hospitable is treating your guests with warmth and generosity – meaning you don’t expect things from them, including gifts, as they are your GUESTS.
**I did not intend to be snarky, nor was this intended as a personal attack on Sweeney who is always a great contributer. Rather, this is my pent up frustration towards lots of people (myself included) that get so wrapped up in the "wedding project" that they forget their manners, they forget what is important, and they forget what it was like a few years ago when they were wedding GUESTS… and soon, we will all stop planning, and go back to being wedding guests.