— -- A Minnesota mother of two who missed a relative’s wedding because she and her husband could not find child care says she was “shocked” when she opened the mailbox this week and found a $75 bill from the bride and groom.
The total bill, a precise $75.90, came to the cost of two $30 “Herb Crusted Walleye” entrees plus a “Service & Tax Charge.”
“I just was shocked,” Jessica Baker said of receiving the bill, which included a note that, “This cost reflects the amount paid by the bride and groom for meals that were RSVPed for, reimbursement and explanation for no show, card, call or text would be appreciated.”
Baker, 33, of Andover, Minnesota, was planning to attend the Aug. 29 nuptials of a relative on her husband’s side of the family when Baker's mother, the couple's planned babysitter for their 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, called in sick.
“We were excited to have a night out and we got a call from my mom saying that my brother’s daughter was sick with hand-foot-and-mouth disease and my mom had been exposed and didn’t want to expose my kids,” Baker recalled. “She needed to be with her and she wouldn’t be able to make it.”
The invitation for the wedding of the relative, whom Baker declined to identify, explicitly said “no children” so Baker and her husband decided to forgo the wedding. They also chose not to call the bride and groom or any relatives to let them know they would not be in attendance.
“We had discussed if we should contact anyone and decided against it because, coincidentally enough, we’d had people RSVP and no-show to our wedding and I knew when I got married I didn’t want to be bothered with phone calls on the day of my wedding,” Baker said. “I just assumed, I guess, that we’d let them know the situation later on.”
Baker says she had no contact with anyone from the wedding until a few days later when the brother of the bride – with whom her husband has the closer relationship – called.
“He said, ‘We missed you at the wedding,’ and it was at that point that we explained what happened and that we were sorry we couldn’t make it,” Baker said.
"The bride and the groom are a couple that we’ve not heard from for the 12 years that we’ve been married, so I’m not very close to the bride and groom really at all," she said. "The bride's brother was the person we were closest to. There wasn’t a rift; it’s just extended family."
Baker's husband's conversation with the bride's brother was the last communication Baker says they had about the missed wedding until the bill arrived in the mail this week.
“I laughed a little bit and just kind of thought about it, that maybe there was something I could have done differently,” Baker said. “Obviously, they were hurt if they sent us an invoice, but I just didn’t feel there was a whole lot I could do to rectify the situation.”
Baker says she threw the bill away but took a photo of it first and posted the photo on her Facebook page. When her friends’ comments flooded in, Baker posted it on the Facebook page of a Minneapolis-St. Paul news station, where it quickly went viral.
“I posted it on the Facebook page of KARE 11 just because I had gotten so many responses from my own Facebook friends who were appalled that we would get something like that,” Baker said. “I thought maybe this qualifies as weird news and I had no idea it would strike a chord with so many people.”
An etiquette expert says both Baker and the unnamed bride and groom carry some of the burden of blame in this case.
“The bottom line is that when you make a commitment you stick to it unless there is an emergency,” Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, told ABC News by email. “If you have to change plans at the last minute, a host of any kind should show courtesy, respect and understanding toward their guests.
“Sending a bill is over the top,” she said.
The newlyweds, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News in a statement that they acted "on emotion."
"We apologize for not being tactful in expressing our disappointment in your absence. We waited three weeks after the wedding for any correspondence and received nothing, this along with your last minute RSVP caused us to act on emotion rather than logic," the statement read.
Though Baker threw away the bill, she says she may still follow the advice of a Facebook commenter and “repay” the bride and groom in another way.
“I thought the best reply was the suggestion that we write a check to a charity and send the bride and groom the receipt,” she said, “so I think that’s something we may do.”