Does Pot Have A Place In Weddings?

At the risk of sounding like a total fucking square, I want to talk about the pot article in the New York Times this weekend. No, not the one where they make a well researched and reasoned argument for the legalization of marijuana. The one where a bunch people consult professionals over what strain of weed to serve at their weddings. While visiting my parents this weekend, I woke up early and found myself reading this article on the porch, trying to stifle my laughs, make sense of the world, and wondering whether I was finally out of touch.

The gist is that, in states where pot has become legal, people are finding ways to incorporate it into their weddings. The ideas range from reasonable (have a box of joints available near the bar for everyone’s use) to slightly ridiculous (naming your tables after different strains, like Grape Ape and Skunk 1–potheads should never name things).  And given that we’ve written about both pot and weddings before, this seems to be right up our alley. So let’s discuss.

As much as I wanted to dismiss this whole thing, if you use the logic of “pot is no worse than alcohol,” a lot of this makes a lot of sense. If it’s legal, and thus gaining social acceptability, why not have a few joints or e-cigarettes available with cocktails? If people are getting their friends to brew them craft beer for their receptions, why not have a friend who grows make you a special strain? “We’ve got to get to the point where smoking is classier than drinking,” said one “budtender” (UGH) in the article, and it’s true that lighting up isn’t quite as sexy as sipping a martini, but it’s not hard to see how it would get there.

However, where I personally draw the line is turning pot from an available item into a “theme.” I feel this way about alcohol “themed” weddings as well. It’s one thing to have an open bar, but quite another to insist that drinking be part of everyone’s experience, and it’s no different with pot. Having pot brownies instead of a cake, or giving away pot plants as favors, suggests that this is more of a mandatory activity.

As with alcohol and liquor licenses, there are also logistics to consider. Unless you’re in a very well ventilated place, you’re encouraging a lot of secondhand smoke (and secondhand highs), and even if you’re outdoors it’s hard not to smell pot. You risk guests going back to states, and jobs, where marijuana isn’t legal, and possibly getting busted on a drug test.

In our recent theme of sobriety, also remember that, like any other drug, pot isn’t for everyone. The article quoted a lot of people saying how relaxed pot makes everyone, how loving and emotional and kind. And that’s true for many people! But it can make others paranoid and quiet and antisocial. Weddings are parties, and your goal at any party is making sure your guests feel comfortable and provided for (without driving yourself crazy or having it turn into something you don’t want). If, for your group of people, that means pot at every table then go for it. Just make sure you’re not going to alienate anyone by making it the focal point of your day.

Also don’t ever catch yourself saying sentences like “The Space Cheese itself lent a giggly buzz to everyone while we rehashed the day’s events.” Potheads! Get better at naming things!

How To Eat From A Cheese Cart (Chariot de Fromages)

This is the second time I will have discussed cheese etiquette on Uncommon Courtesy, because it is a subject near and dear to my heart, and it’s half my website, and I’ll do as I please. But first, let’s have a moment of appreciation that in many fancy restaurants it’s still the style to label things in French, and in French the name for cheese cart is fucking CHARIOT DE FROMAGES. Just breathe, let this sink in, picture the glory.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s all remember that your waiters will not actually be racing cheeses by your table in fancy little armor getups. A chariot de fromages is a method of serving a restaurant’s cheese course. Instead of bringing you a plate of pre-selected cheeses, a cart full of cheese will be wheeled to your table, the cheeses explained, and you will have the ability to choose whichever you like. It’s the most glorious thing, and I really hope we get with the trickle-down trends on this one so that I can go to a Denny’s and have this experience.


Your waiter will have a few ways to explain the cheese selections to you: by milk (cow, sheep, goat…), by region, or by style (hard, soft, runny…). Choose about four or five cheeses–any more will come off as a bit greedy, and may overwhelm your palate. Of course the only time I partook in a cheese chariot, I did not know the etiquette and probably took about eight. So maybe just pretend you didn’t read this and pig out.

Ok, now that you have your cheeses (and any paired snacks, such as honey, chocolate, or jam), you want to eat your cheeses from mildest to strongest, i.e. don’t start with a blue cheese and end with a brie. The cheeses will be arranged on your plate in order of flavor, clockwise, so just follow that. You should also have a bite of bread in between each cheese, to cleanse your tastebuds.

It’s absolutely fine to let the fromager choose an assortment of cheeses for you, but it’s nice to give him or her some direction before you’re not going to choose them all yourself. If you know you like one style of cheese, or cheeses from a particular region, ask them to select a few based on that, or perhaps ask for one of each style. But remember–it is not the server’s goal to shame you. If you know nothing about cheese besides the fact that you like it, say so, because the server is there to help.

Do not ask for American cheese from a chariot de fromages.

Hostess Gifts

We have talked a lot about always bringing a hostess gift when you are attending an Event at someone’s home (a casual party isn’t quite the same thing, just bring something to contribute). And everyone always says wine or flowers and those are lovely sure. But also boring and obvious. Be the fun, cool guest who brings something different. And these are all relatively affordable unlike some magazines I could probably name that think that people are spending $50 on a hostess gift.

A cute cookie cutter


An air plant in a fun planter


Homemade Jam

Homemade Jam


A teensy bottle of truffle oil- it’s only around $10 and lasts FOREVER and feels incredibly fancy


Bubble Bath/a bath bomb (Lush has amazing bath bombs for about $7)


Nice tea or a bag of coffee beans


Cocktail syrups or artisinal bitters


Cocktail napkins


Fancy salt


A cool pool float (obviously best for people who have a pool, but…)


Art Magnets


Playing cards


A great book or at least a classic with a great cover


Pastries for the host’s breakfast the next day (Jaya inadvertently did this for me once and it was the best!)

The best hostess gift I ever got was an Ouija board. It wasn’t INTENDED as a hostess gift, I don’t think, but someone left it at my apartment after a party and said I could keep it, so there we are. Have you ever gotten or given a hostess gift? What was the best one?

A Few Thoughts On How To Not Be A Jerk To Your Sober Friends

russian-poster-no-drinkingWhen I was a teenager, I considered myself “straight edge.” This basically meant that I was not cool enough to be invited to parties where drugs or alcohol would be present, so I pretended it was on purpose. Then, I went to college, and now drinking alcohol has become a regular part of my life.

However, sometimes I cringe at just how much of a default drinking has become, especially as more and more of my friends have given up substances for one reason or another. Bars are common meeting places for everyone, parties are labeled BYOB, and I’m sure we’ve even said here that it’s a polite gesture to bring wine to a house party. But here are some thoughts on how not to alienate those who do not drink in your life.

Firstly, every reason why someone doesn’t want to drink is valid and should not be pushed. For every person that’s hit rock bottom, there’s another person who has a family history of alcoholism, or is on medication that doesn’t interact well with alcohol, or who doesn’t like being drunk, or who just doesn’t like the taste. Never question or pressure anyone into drinking (or any other drug) who doesn’t want to.

Secondly, do not feel uncomfortable if you are drinking. I’ve seen so many instances of someone saying they’re not drinking, for one reason or another, and the person offering them a drink launches into a long-winded apology or justification of their own drinking habits, or reminding the non-drinker that they “don’t drink that much.” No one cares! It’s good to be aware of your own habits, but if a person who doesn’t drink has knowingly put themselves in a situation where there will be alcohol, chances are they are okay with it and understand the offer is just a polite gesture. Offer them a soda or something else instead, and let it go.

Speaking of soda, make sure there are non-alcoholic options available at any party you host, and that you make it clear which things do contain alcohol. The Caron Foundation says, “While some non-drinkers will drink non-alcoholic beer and wine, most recovering alcoholics prefer beverages that don’t look or taste like the real thing. Stock your bar with sparkling water and cider, soft drinks, and juices.” Also, give a heads up with any food cooked with alcohol.

If only it were as easy as that, right? The people who want to drink get to, the people who don’t won’t, and everybody gets along. As always with etiquette, you need to know your audience, which occasionally will include someone who just isn’t comfortable around alcohol. I’ve come across quite a few forums in my research of people wanting support for having dry weddings, or lamenting that their social life has basically ended because being in a bar is too tempting. This is a good time to maybe reflect on how big of a part alcohol plays in your social situations. Is every get together at a bar? Do you have sober friends and family who are noticeably absent from most gatherings because there is alcohol present? If your sober friends have expressed that they’re uncomfortable, ask them for suggestions and take them up on them!

If you are sober, make sure to make it clear to your friends what you can and can’t handle (i.e. maybe them ordering wine at dinner is fine, but spending every weekend in bars makes you uncomfortable), and take the initiative to plan a few outings that don’t revolve around drinking. Your friends should get the hint, and since they love you and want you to feel comfortable, you can find ways to socialize and enjoy both your lifestyles. And if they don’t get the hint, or refuse to find a compromise, then maybe it’s time for you to reevaluate the relationship.

Phew! Ok, that’s a heavy subject. Let’s celebrate by watching John Mulaney’s bit on giving up drinking because it’s hilarious.

If you are going to clutch your pearls…

While we try not to be too pearl clutchy here at Uncommon Courtesy, we do occasionally run across situations that leave us grasping at our college-graduation-gift strands [Ed note: Or our inherited ones, Victoria. – Jaya]. And if you are gonna clutch them, you might as well know something about them.

Are they real?

Grab your pearls. Now open your mouth and rub them gently across your teeth (this won’t hurt them!). Do they feel a bit gritty? Or are they smooth? Real pearls feel gritty on the teeth and fake pearls feel smooth. If you see me out and about in pearls I will let you put them in your mouth, it’s such a neat trick. BTW, a lot of fake pearls are really good, so if you can’t afford the real thing, don’t feel bad about wearing fakes.

What is a pearl?

A pearl is a bit of crud covered in oyster spit. Fortunately for us, oysters have magical spit that turns into a shiny hard material. Nowadays almost all pearls are cultured, which means a small bead is artificially inserted into the oyster and left to get covered in nacre (they even have a fancy word for oyster spit!), which is a much faster and more efficient way of getting pearls. The alternative is hauling up millions of oysters and hoping you might find a few pearls.

Are all pearls the same?

No! There are several different types of pearls:

  • Akoya: are your basic white pearls
  • Freshwater pearls: are the cheapest kind
  • Tahitian pearls: are what people usually refer to as black pearls, because they are black
  • South Sea pearls: are giant pearls
  • Baroque pearls: aren’t really a type, but a shape. They are the ones that are all lumpy.

How do you take care of them?

Fortunately for pearl clutchers, the oils from your skin are good for pearls, so it’s great to fiddle with them. They will also dehydrate if you leave them in a drawer forever, so make sure you wear them frequently! However, stuff like perfume and hairspray are very bad for them, so they should be the very last thing you put on and the first thing you take off. Store them where they won’t get tangled and scratched by your other jewelry (I keep mine in the box they came in, outside of my usual jewelry box.)