The Entitled Generation: Ch-Ch-Changes in the wedding industry

Working as a server, chef, bartender, and wedding coordinator for the wedding industry since 1998, I have seen some startling changes in expectations from brides, grooms, and guests at wedding venues.
  Having worked in various capacities at two wedding venues in Southern California since 2001, I have seen weddings change from understated, modest, religious affairs to overblown pretentious Vegas style blowouts. Any attempt at treating a wedding as a sacred, special gathering with just the bride and groom’s closest family and friends has gone the way of champagne fountains and balloon arches (just to make a reference to popular wedding trends when I started in this industry 16 years ago). Back when I first started, it was rare for a bride and groom to have lived together before marriage and even more rare to have children before marriage. Of course it happened, but it occurred about 20% of the time. Starting within the last five years, courtships last on average 5 years and include living together. About half the couples I see walk down the aisle have children old enough to be the ring bearer and/or flower girl. Before any of you chastise me, I am not trying to put today’s couples down. I am merely making a point of what marriage means to today’s couples. Many couples in the past would date for no more than two years and plan a special, intimate wedding with just their closest family and friends to celebrate their new lives together. They would be moving into their new place together for the first time. This attitude gave weddings a sense of being sacred and a way to spirtually celebrate the union of two people very much in love.
…..Flash forward to 2013: I just listened to the groom make a speech that went like this, “Jennifer and I have been dating five years. I was hestitant to ask her to marry me at first. But I’m glad we got to this point.”
This is what I like to call a “might as well wedding.” This is not the first speech of this type that I’ve heard and it certainly won’t be the last. The groom figures he “might as well” ask his girlfriend of five years (I’ve seen some couples say it took 8-10 years) to marry him despite his reservations because he isn’t going to do any better, she’s already putting up with him so it’s convenient, and he’s likely getting pressure from his family to make it official, so he “might as well” put a ring on it. Couples in this situation don’t look at weddings the same way. They see their wedding as an excuse to plan an extravagant blowout. They not only want to invite their closest family and friends, but anyone and everyone who has known them as a couple for the last 5+ years they’ve been together. Believe me, after that many years together, that’s a lot of people. They want their wedding to cater to their every whim. It’s like the sweet 16 party they never had. It’s like that trip to Vegas they should have taken when they were single, but they never got around to it because they had been dating the person they are now marrying. They feel as though singles trips of this kind would make them appear unfaithful to their partner. Instead, they have nights in with their live in love instead of having an occasional “girls night” or “lads night” like couples have traditionally done before the decision to live together caused a change in opinion of what it meant to be faithful. They never had time to enjoy the single life because most couples I meet have been dating since high school and spent most of their twenties living together and/or having children. They didn’t get to party like young people should be doing at their age. As a result, they don’t quite understand the purpose of their wedding. They want to act like teenagers at their wedding. Everything must be EXACTLY the way they want or there will be hell to pay. The bartender MUST keep serving the guests shots even if the guests are noticeably intoxicated. Having worked as a bartender for various So Cal wedding venues since 2004, I have seen brides’ and grooms’ attitudes completely change. Brides used to come up to me and ask me not to over serve the guests because they didn’t want guests to get too drunk and behave inappropriately at their wedding. They didn’t want guests to disrespect the solemnity of the occasion. Many brides requested that shots be off limits. I cannot even remember the last time I was requested by the bride or groom not to serve shots or over serve guests in general. I think it was at least 2007. Now if I or my coworker decide to stop serving someone who is obviously intoxicated (it’s against the law to keep serving them, by the way. The bartender can be fined $1,000), I used to be able to calmly explain the liquor laws to the bride, groom, and family and they would actually calmly reply, “I understand. I’ll keep that guest away from the bar.” Within the past three years, brides and grooms have treated me as if I was challenging them and trying to ruin their “special day” by cutting certain guests off from the alcohol after noticeable intoxication. I would explain to them that I am following the law and I am the one that will be in trouble with the A.B.C. if I serve someone who’s drunk. I can even lose my job. Now I honestly fear my partner and I can be fired from our venue as bartenders simply because we have the judgment, training, and common sense discretion to not allow our wedding guests to do whatever they feel like just because they feel like it. Welcome to the entitled generation. Just last Saturday, the groom demanded to know my name as well as my Co bartender’s name because we had to cut off two over served guests from the bar. He was angry and said he was going to leave a review online. He didn’t care about his guests driving home drunk. He just wanted to ensure that my partner and I were going to hand out the booze like it was candy to whoever demanded it for a whole six and a half hour shift. This is not the first time in the last 3-5 years that guests were upset that my partner and I would make this kind of judgment call to ensure guests’ safety and to serve responsibly. We’ve been trained to adhere to all current California liquor laws but seriously SCREW US for having the complete and utter gall to expect the rules of our venue to be followed. We’re trying to ruin their wedding and they will leave a negative review online saying how much our venue screwed them over.
This sense of entitlement not unlike a kid at a candy store does not just apply to bartending but to serving and managing also. A DJ demanded to speak to my boss when I told him that the door behind his set- up station does not open. He didn’t care that we had rules at our venue. His preference was more important. That is the shift in entitlement nowadays. Brides, grooms, guests, and vendors are actually guests at our venue. Instead, they act as squatters who take total control over how they want their experience to be. They tell my staff what THEY want instead of listening to my staff go over the safety rules to ensure their maximum safety and enjoyment. The father of the bride walked over to the air conditioner and turned it up. A few years ago, he would have asked a staff member to do it. A bride was furious with my boss that her dinner was served 15 minutes behind schedule. My boss spent half an hour (literally) explaining to her that it was due to the fact that she and her wedding party requested that they be allowed another 15 minutes to get ready for the grand entrance. The entire blame was on the bride, but she wanted it to be our fault. She then left a negative review online saying “No one was willing to talk to me or help me when I had issues.” So for some reason my boss talking to her for half an hour did not count. It was an untruthful review but yelp put it up on the list of recommended reviews and chose to “filter out” the positive reviews from real customers of ours as “not recommended” because our small company can’t afford to pay yelp’s extortion fee of $20 a month for the whole year to rearrange the positive reviews on top under “reviews that are recommended.” The other venue I’ve worked for wants to boycott yelp due to these shady practices. They have the contracts to prove the satisfied customers whose reviews are “not recommended” are real just like my other venue will. Between the changing sense of entitlement of customers for the reason I described, and the internet’s ability to post slanderous, untruthful reviews as “recommended,” (one called my bartender a “crook” because the bride and groom chose to have a cash bar and she wouldn’t allow a guest to have a free drink just because he wanted one) I fear the wedding industry is not the same place I signed on to work 16 years ago. Now I am not saying every bride and groom, family, and guests in Southern California behave this way. In fact, when I work weddings through my family business independently, the bride, groom, family, and guests are gracious and very nice. They wouldn’t dream of making the same demands that I see them do at the venues I work for other companies. But knowing that some people feel they have the right to do this makes me worry for the future.
By writing this blog, I was hoping to spread some awareness of what it is like to be on the receiving end of this constant abuse from customers and the reasons why I think it exists. If anyone working in this industry would like to chime in, I welcome your feed back (be respectful and professional, please).

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My friendship…you know you want it. But do I? (How friendship changes in your thirties)

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“People don’t make new friends in their thirties. I mean, who has time for that? What am I going to do, go out to lunch with some new girl so I can hear all about her battle with gluten?”

The first season of Whitney, a show that centers around the lives of thirtysomethings living in Chicago, Whitney’s friend Roxanne makes a very valid point about how friendships change once women hit their thirties. I could relate so much to the characters and am really bummed that Whitney has been cancelled, but I will save those feelings for a future blog (or maybe I won’t. You’ll just have to wait it out and see where this SydRocks crazy train takes you, my loyal follower).  Later in the episode, three good friends named Roxanne, Whitney, and Lily are in a bar sharing some beers and having serious talks about “the change”. In this case it is not about menopause (get your mind out of the gutter), but about how work and maintaining already established friendships and relationships with guys takes precedence over forming new friendships with girls once a woman hits her “dirty thirties” (my term, not hers). As the three of them are discussing this change, a girl approaches Roxanne and in a perky, friendly tone says, “Hey Roxanne, It’s Kelly from-” Right then, Roxanne cuts her off by shooing her away and proclaiming, “I’m 33. I’m at capacity,” as she gestures to Lily and Whitney in order to illustrate her point. Kelly then walks away very confused. And that, my friend, is how friendship works in your thirties. I couldn’t agree more with Roxanne and that has inspired this particular blog entry. In one’s teens and twenties it is very important to make friends that will go to the mall with you, the movies, or just gossip with about guys. It is essential that you give them a hug when you greet them or just link arms as you’re walking through Forever 21:

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You strive to have a connection like this. You are joined at the hip and can’t wait to call this new girl you just met and share everything with your “BFF.” As you hit your thirties, you realize that linking arms with another female friend will get people talking. It dawns on you that this kind of connection isn’t what you want or need with another female unless you happen to prefer the company of women (cue Jerry Seinfeld’s mantra “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”). But there is something wrong if you are both straight and are giving each other backrubs, caressing each other’s arms, linking arms, or holding hands anytime after the age of about 25 and at 30 fuggetaboutit!  It is, however, a normal part of social development in a girl’s teens and early 20s. To have that connection is everything at that stage. Brushing each other’s hair during ages 5-25? No problem. After 30? Creeeeeepy. After 30, you tend not to need another girl to gossip to about boys. You can either keep these thoughts to yourself, talk to family members about them, or be like me and write a blog about it. Suddenly pajama slumber parties with the girls gives way to staying home in your pajamas and drinking wine and watching T.V. which after a hard day of work is really all you have time for. Going out with your bestie is no longer as much of a priority. At this stage, it works just as well to have an acquaintance from work or high school to go grab a drink with. You don’t need to make new friends for this. Friends that you already have also work. In my particular scenario, I’ve made lots of girlfriends throughout my teens and twenties that I went out with up to three times a week, talked to about guys and any of our 99 problems to over the phone for hours on end, and shared clothes with. I don’t know about you, but that kind of friendship just doesn’t appeal to me anymore since I’ve turned 30 in March. These friendships rarely last and all the “work” put into to maintain them is just physically and emotionally exhausting. I rarely get back as much as I give. At this stage in my life, I am just as happy going out by myself to movies, the mall, or music festivals. I really don’t need “this” anymore:

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If I find myself needing to hang out with other women, I am just as happy to text an acquaintance from high school or coworker to meet up with once in a while, like let’s say once every two to three months sounds amazing. If I have people who are willing to hang out the rare times that I need them, that is just fine with me. I don’t need a bosom buddy or bestie at this point. I tend to want to put more distance between myself and other females whereas in my twenties I loved hanging out with the same girl multiple times a week. Now that is what I would term “Hell.” When my distant friend or acquaintance has to cancel plans or I have to, I am secretly relieved. Obligations increase in your thirties as well and one does not simply have time for that. It is just as fun to stay home and watch T.V. There must be better shows on now or something. In my twenties, I thought I was a social failure if I stayed home instead of going out. Now I consider it some great reward. In my twenties I would feel as though the spotlight was on me if I went to a bar or club by myself to meet with friends or “regulars” to knock back a few brewskis with. Now at 30, it ain’t no thang. Guys do this all the time. And really ladies, we need to get some damn confidence. As Jason Derulo says, it’s perfectly fine to be “Ridin’ Solo.” Now where did I put that new girl’s number? I’m about to text her and tell her I can’t hang out tomorrow. I’m filled to capacity. She can take that anyway she wants.