Behaving badly falls out of favor for millennial wedding guests | Wedding Zone Local

Behaving badly falls out of favor for millennial wedding guests

It’s a sloppy and unattractive visual that many have witnessed. A guest, be it at a bachelor or bachelorette party, a wedding reception or its after-party, has consumed too many drinks and is escorted out.

Where celebratory inebriation, egged on by films like “The Hangover,” was once thought of as a rite of passage, that sort of behavior is starting to change. Participants, planners and etiquette experts cite age, pervasive social media and a grudging new respect for responsibility and maturity as factors here.


Source: Alix Strauss New York Times


While these occasions are by no means “immune from wild nights and partygoers,” said Harmony Walton, owner of the Bridal Bar, a wedding concierge service in Los Angeles, they “are a bit more refined than they were a decade ago.”

“Millennials are marrying later, so fewer weddings are turning into rowdy college parties,” Ms. Walton said.

Lonni Kushner, 27, of Melville, N.Y., went to 11 weddings this year, and based on her experience, booked a spa for a health-focused bachelorette party. Recently at a bachelorette party in the Bahamas, she said, “the bride got so sick the night before that she missed all of the next day’s activities because she was sleeping it off.”

Ms. Kushner recalled a similar incident in Rhode Island: “It was July, and 80 degrees. We partied during the day and then had to pull it together that night and power through it for the bride, and that’s just no fun.”

Women are not the only ones trying to curb their cocktail consumption. Nick DeRosa, 30, a construction project manager in Manhattan, said, “When a group of guys are together for a bachelor party, we definitely fall into bad behavior.”

“There’s pressure to drink a lot, but that has tapered off a bit,” Mr. DeRosa said. “Once you pass the 30-year line, you don’t want to be that sad, messy drunk guy. It’s embarrassing.”

Environment helps govern behavior, and it shapes what is anticipated of us, said Karen Sternheimer, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. “People are choosing more mature and sophisticated places to have their celebrations,” Ms. Sternheimer said.

“Vegas advertises that you can do whatever you want,” she said. “It’s an equal embarrassment opportunity. If you go to a spa for the weekend, drunken behavior won’t be appreciated or tolerated. Getting tanked at the spa is just bad form.”

Then there’s the bounce-back phenomenon, which seems to have a cutoff age. “Many of us are realizing we can’t party like we’re 22 and recover by the next morning,” Ms. Kushner said.

To reduce the risk that her own bachelorette party would end badly, Ms. Kushner, who got engaged after she and her boyfriend finished the New York City Marathon, had her bachelorette party at the Lodge at Woodloch, a spa resort in the Pocono Mountains.

“I really loved the idea of a healthy weekend: high-end, but low-fat cuisine, fitness classes, treatments,” Ms. Kushner said. The event coordinator planned nostalgic playground games (ring toss, jumping rope) in a lighthearted but competitive style. “My friends were so surprised by how much fun they had,” she said.

The notion that Big Brother is watching from the web, along with the eyes of corporate America, is a reality that is also bearing down on millennials and others who are holding down jobs and are expected to perform in them.

As enticing and addictive as Facebook and Instagram have become, there’s also a pushback from those wanting to remain faceless and nameless. For these folks, being caught in compromising photographs in a posting on someone’s page that they didn’t O.K. is no longer acceptable.

“The problem with Instagram and Facebook is that they’re being used by career-minded people outside the original targeted audience — the college crowd — Ms. Sternheimer said. “Everyone is using it now, so smartphones are essentially monitoring our behavior,” she said. “People may be behaving better for fear of being captured doing something inappropriate without their consent.”

Ms. Sternheimer added that people are more careful about what they let others see, especially because they know that other employment opportunities can be hindered if they portray themselves negatively in either a work or social setting.

If the web is monitoring, it’s also educating us in good performance. “We get a lot of ideas from media,” said Anna Post, a co-author of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” and a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt. “The generation before the Internet watched movies and learned how to behave from them,” she said, pointing to the John Hughes cult film “Sixteen Candles” as one example. “People acted a little drunk and goofy.”

Today, Ms. Post said, “Websites and magazines portray a far more accurate, more realistic reflection of what’s expected from us behaviorally at a wedding, and therefore people are acting better. Most people really want to get it right.”

The way parties are structured is also changing. Today’s festivities start with the welcome party, which morphs into the ceremony the following evening, which flows effortlessly into the four-hour postnuptial gala, followed by an after-party. Expect Sunday brunch to close the weekend.

“People don’t want to miss that part of the evening, and thus they’re learning to pace themselves,” said Maureen Farley, director of hospitality at the Plaza hotel in New York, which hosts approximately 60 weddings a year. Eighty percent of those events have after-parties, she said.

“These parties are marathons, not sprints,” Ms. Farley said. “And if they consume too much at the wedding, they won’t make it to the next leg, which is where the D.J. and dancing take place.” The after-parties often start at 1:30 a.m. and can run til 4 a.m.

What is being served is also helping to control the impulse to overindulge. A growing foodie culture in the millennial generation is putting emphasis on the quality of the meal, craft cocktails and other specialties, said Ms. Walton of the Bridal Bar.

“Guests are eating more and enjoying the drinks longer, causing fewer to act poorly or get sick toward the end of the night,” she said.

Still, Ms. Kushner, who was married on Oct. 24, said not everyone is ready to put down the bottle. “Some of my friends are afraid to break the mold,” she said. “They’re not willing to give up the wild and crazy weekends.”


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