Wedding crashing is the act of attending a wedding celebration without an invitation, particularly when the crashers who show up have a significant impact on the event. This concept was popularized in the 2005 movie Wedding Crashers starring Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn; however, when wedding crashing happens in real life, it is usually no laughing matter, as you’ll see in the examples below.
In this post, we’ll explain some of the most common motivations behind wedding crashing, provide some examples of real-world wedding crashing incidents and wrap up with 7 tips that you can hopefully use to prevent wedding crashing from happening at your wedding.
Motivations for wedding crashing
It’s useful to understand some of the many motivations behind wedding crashing so that you can be better prepared and know what to expect. Wedding crashers are looking…
- To steal money or gifts from the bride, groom, or guests.
- To witness a person they know, such as a relative, friend, or ex get married, even if they were not invited.
- For something that is offered at the event, such as free catered food or drinks. Some who crash do so only to eat the hors d'oeuvres. Crashing only for the hors d'oeuvres enables the crasher to eat all s/he wants while blending in.
- For the simple thrill of deviating from social mores & etiquette or defying the culture.
- To get revenge, such as if the bride or groom is an enemy of the wedding crasher.
- To attempt to “win back” the bride/groom who was a former lover and/or current romantic interest of the crasher (such as in The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman).
Examples of wedding crashing
It’s important to understand that wedding crashing isn’t always fun & innocent, like in the famous 2005 comedy – it often leads to major thefts occurring. For this reason, wedding crashers should be identified and ejected from weddings as expeditiously as possible. Below are some real-life examples of why you should have a zero-tolerance policy for wedding crashers:
In February 2019, KTLA reported that a well-dressed wedding crasher stole a box filled with cash gifts worth an estimated $10,000 from a Monrovia, California-area wedding.
In October 2018, Erie News Now reported that a woman walked into a wedding reception in Erie, PA, and stole the couple’s wedding card gift box. Before the theft, the woman spoke to several people inside the reception and made herself appear as though she belonged there.
In September 2018, a serial wedding crasher from Eugene, Oregon pleaded guilty to felony charges of aggravated first-degree theft. Brian Keith Starr stole $18,737 worth of items from five Oregon-area weddings that year.
In July 2014, in Norristown, PA, another serial wedding crasher was sentenced to 4 to 8 years in prison. Joseph Patrick Franzone Jr. stole an estimated $15,000 in cash gifts from multiple Pennsylvania-area weddings. Franzone also stole items of sentimental value and precious moments that can never be replaced.
None of the above examples indicate that the married couple had a wedding liability insurance policy in place, but it certainly would have been advisable to have one.
Tips to prevent wedding crashers
Let’s now review some of the main things to keep in mind in order to prevent crashers from successfully infiltrating your wedding:
- Awareness is the key to swiftly identifying and ejecting wedding crashers. Share an article such as this one with your friends, bridesmaids and/or relatives so they’re all aware of the wedding crashing risk and know to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.
- Do assigned tables and a guest list, so you know right away who doesn’t belong, e.g., setup a table at the door with a hostess or doorman where guests will provide their name and then be assigned to their table. If they're not on the list, they don't get in. OR ask all guests to carry their wedding invitation with them.
- Relatives of the couple should actively identify guests they don’t recognize and strike up conversations with them. Ask how they know the bride/groom and other questions and if the person struggles to come up with some answers, they’re probably a crasher.
- Don't post exactly when and where you're getting married online. OR make your wedding website password protected, including the password on the “Save the Date” or similar deliverable that you mail out to invited guests.
- Often, crashers will be “accidental”… they may accidentally walk in, looking confused and slowly creep toward the bar to see if it’s an open one. Inform the venue bartender(s) to be suspicious of such people.
- Don't get married in a venue with multiple reception spaces. The more reception spaces there are at your wedding venue, the more likely it is that other party guests will knowingly or unknowingly wander into your wedding area. For this same reason, also don't have your reception in a venue with a restaurant attached.
- If it is possible to hold a smaller wedding reception with fewer guests, then that should also reduce the likelihood of wedding crashing and theft, as it will be much easier to notice wedding crashers and kick them out.
Buy Wedding Liability Insurance
Under Front Row’s Wedding Liability Insurance policy (Canada), policies start at $105 CAD (subject to change).
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