Separate Thank You Notes for Shower and Wedding Gifts?

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Do I need to write two thank you notes if a person gave me both a shower gift and a wedding gift? What if they arrived very closely together?

Sincerely,

Doubly Thankful

Official Etiquette

Separate events, separate gifts and separate thank you notes.

Our Take

Jaya: So do you need to write two separate thank yous?

Victoria: Yep. That was easy!

Jaya: Really? I think if you’ve already received both gifts you can put them on the same note.

Victoria: Hmmm, I supppppose.

Jaya: Unless one is explicitly for the bride and one is explicitly for the couple.

Victoria: Which, technically the shower implies (Ed: Traditionally shower gifts are specifically for the bride alone). But these days its not so much.

Jaya: But if you got a towel set at the shower and a toaster in the mail a week later why shouldn’t that be both in one note?

Victoria; Haha yeah. Thats a good point. Just semantics, I guess. Two events, two notes. Like people who have birthdays close to Christmas- it’s nice to have the division.

Jaya: Right. it’s whether you see it as two events or like, all tied to one big event.

Victoria: Yeah, I mean, to an extent often, the shower is just the women, so if the woman was part of a couple, you’d be thanking her both for the gift and attending the shower. And then thanking the couple for the wedding gift.

Jaya: Umm single people give gifts too, Victoria. Jeez.

Victoria: As a single person, I know they do, lol.

Jaya: Nah I bet you’re rude and never give gifts.

Victoria: I mean, I would probably still send two, but you are also probably fine with one. I might also posssssibly change my mind depending on the age of the gift giver. Younger people probably won’t care as much as older people, so if it was like a 60 year old friend of your mom’s….then probably two notes. It’s kind of rude to do that, have different levels of thanking, but I see it more as peacekeeping.

Jaya: Ehhh, hopefully future generations understand that one note with lots of thanks in it is intent enough. That’s not politeness, that’s expected custom.

Victoria: Yeah, true. I would say, in generally, go with your gut!

Jaya: Yeah!

Victoria: If you are afraid that person is going to whine to your mom that you are the RUDEST if you don’t send two notes, send two notes, otherwise, one is probably fine. IF the gifts really did come THAT close together.

Jaya: And then maybe don’t invite them to future things.

Victoria: Haha well, politics and blah blah blah. But once you are married you probably don’t have to worry about another big event

Jaya: Good point.

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Don’t Send Your Bridal Party to the Poor House

I feel like this will be my most used image.

I feel like this will be my most used image.

I read this recent post over at A Practical Wedding with my jaw dropped and my pearls clutched. Basically, a reader wrote in that she had agreed to be a bridesmaid in her friends wedding and when she found out that the dresses the bride had her eye on for the bridesmaids were $7,000-15,000 she told the bride she couldn’t afford that and would bow out of being a bridesmaid, the bride flipped out and disinvited her from the wedding altogether and ended their 15 year friendship.

Regardless of whether this rings true or not, this is appallingly bad behavior on the brides part. The letter writer did the right thing 100%- she brought up her budget and said that the dress wouldn’t work for her and that if the bride was set on the dress, she was happy to bow out. She could have even suggested a cheaper option and still been fine.

It is absolutely not okay for a) a bride to pick out a dress without taking her bridesmaids budgets into account, especially given that one option could easily account for 1/2 of someone’s take home pay and b) berate that bridesmaid c) end a friendship over someone having to drop out of being a bridesmaid for financial reasons.

Honestly, if a $15,000 dress seems like a reasonable expense to you, you should pony up and pay for your bridesmaid’s dresses yourself!

Frankly, the bridesmaid has dodged a bullet. Can you imagine what the bride would have wanted for her bachelorette???

What’s the most unreasonable wedding expense that has ever been asked of you?

How Many Wedding Gifts is Enough?

BridesmaidsDear Uncommon Courtesy,

I know that the wedding gift question is always done to death but since it is such a quagmire I thought I would throw another one in the mix. I am a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding for which I will have to travel a few hours. I have also traveled for her bridal shower and her bachelorette evening. For both events, I helped pay for the events themselves and bought small gifts (lingerie and coffee mugs). The wedding websites tell me that I am also expected to buy a wedding present and I feel like my friend is expecting one. I am not married and not expecting to get married which is making this whole experience feel very unbalanced. I have already spent a ton of money on my friend. How do I politely get out of purchasing yet another thing for this wedding?

Sincerely,
Broke Bridesmaid

Victoria: Okay, so first let’s talk about how ridic this all is

Jaya: Hahahah

Victoria: Like, bridesmaids shouldn’t have to plan and pay for BOTH a bachelorette and a shower.

Jaya: Yeah, like here’s a rundown of the average bridesmaid expenses now: dress, shoes, travel/accommodations to wedding, possible travel/accommodations to bachelorette party, AND gift? I know this is the “norm” now but let’s go on the record saying it shouldn’t be.

Victoria: It should not be! And if we get any questions from any brides asking how can they kindly ask their bridesmaids why they didn’t send a gift after doing all this stuff, we will very politely discuss how they are incredibly wrong and selfish and then mock them (just a heads up).

Jaya: Hahaha, of course.

Victoria: So my advice to this bridesmaid is to not send a wedding gift. Write a very nice and heartfelt card instead.

Jaya: Yes, that sounds good. Okay, so the tricky thing is that no, you are never obligated to give a gift at any point, no matter what your relationship to the wedding, but people have weird expectations now.

Victoria: That’s true, but I mean, honestly, the only way we are going to get past this is by just not doing it.

Jaya: Yeah

Victoria: If bridesmaids would just put their stylishly-clad-in-matching-shoes feet down and say, “I’m sorry, but attending both your wedding and your bachelorette in Vegas and your hometown shower is too much for me”…then people wouldn’t start getting all these expectations.

Jaya: That’s a good point! And it’s hard! Weddings are an emotional time, and nobody wants to be the one to hurt the bride’s feelings. So I think a lot of times the wedding party just becomes total pushovers.

Victoria: Yeah (and trust us, this is hard for us too!!!). I’d love to see more brides sitting down with their maids and being like, look. “My wedding is out of town for all of you, so I don’t want you to plan any kind of out of town bachelorette or shower or anything.”

And grooms, too, I guess.

Jaya: Right. I think half of this is people not even knowing that their expectations are out of line, just because they see what everyone else has. Like, blogs show you fun bachelorette parties in Vegas, and you assume a bachelorette party in Vegas is the standard. When that might not work for your circumstances.

Victoria: Yesss, like, maybe I should create some kind of spreadsheet? Like with formulas of: your friends estimated incomes, the estimated expense of the dress/shoes, estimated expense of travel/lodging for the wedding, and the total shouldn’t be more than like .25% of the bridesmaids estimated income?

Jaya: Victoria, why are your solutions always spreadsheets?

Victoria: Lol, because I am a neeeeerd.

Jaya: I think just better communication can help, and more understanding if your bridesmaids just aren’t the type to be able to afford/want to pay for a big trip or a designer dress.

Victoria: And really listen to what they are saying! If they seem less than enthusiastic, back down, way way down!

Jaya: Yes! If you’re the one getting married, they probably want to make you happy, but you don’t want that to make them go into debt.

Victoria: Or from the beginning, ask them what they think a reasonable price for the BM dress is (and stick to it!!)

And like, everyone’s always saying “oh tradition…”

But TRADITIONALLY, the brides family was supposed to either let the bridal party stay in their home or pay

for their lodging. And no one does that anymore. And yet now brides get showers AND bachelorette parties.

Jaya: Right, and TRADITIONALLY the bridesmaids planned the bachelorette party without the bride saying “hey let’s all go to the Bahamas”

Victoria: Haha yeah. Or the one super rich bridesmaid suggesting that.

Jaya: I always think of the movie Bridesmaids with that, where everyone else can afford Vegas and first class and Kristen Wiig is stuck in the back.

Victoria: Yeaaaaah, that’s no bueno.

Jaya: And I liked a lot of that movie, but also I just wanted to be like MAYA RUDOLPH, YOU KNOW YOUR FRIEND IS GOING THROUGH HARD TIMES, GET EVERYONE TO TONE IT DOWN.

Victoria: Seriously!

I mean, things should be toned down anyway, probably.

Like do you really need to spend an entire weekend?

Like, how about a nice dinner and some drinks?

Especially the older you are…its just not as fun to go clubbing and wear penis hats as when you were 23.

Jaya: So, back to the issue at hand. Let’s say the LW takes our advice and sends a nice card and then, worst case scenario, the couple is like “where is our gift?”

What do you say?

Besides “fuck off”

Victoria: You could passive aggressively send them an uncommon courtesy link!

But also I would say “Sally, I went to considerable time and effort and spent a very large amount of money

being in your wedding, planning and attending your bachelorette and shower, and buying gifts for those parties. I would have hoped that you realized that that WAS my gift to you and frankly, I am a little hurt that you don’t consider it to be enough.”

Jaya: Just to wrap it up, you’re not obligated to get a gift, especially if you’ve spent your money/time on doing other wedding stuff, and anyone who tries to make you feel guilty for that can shove it.

How To Announce You Aren’t Changing Your Name

Your DJ works for you and should follow whatever script you give them. [Via ]

Your DJ works for you and should follow whatever script you give them. [Via]

Recently, A Practical Wedding had a question for a reader about how to let her vendors know she wasn’t changing her name and how she and her husband should be announced at the reception. And like so many etiquette and wedding questions, the solution felt obvious to me. For the vendors, you simply tell them (although, most of them won’t really need to know as they are doing most of the work prior to the wedding?). They are people you have hired and should therefore address you as you prefer.

For the wedding and reception itself, during the ceremony, you can always skip the “I now present Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName” part. And as for the reception, personally I find the big boxing match style introduction with much clapping of hands and stomping of feet to be tacky (especially when you pair up the bridal party and announce them as couples when they are not and make them run in doing some stupid dance or cheer…), but that is a personal preference and it certainly not wrong by etiquette, so you can skip it if you want to skip the whole issue. If you DO want to do a big entrance to the reception, you can have the MC say something like “the happy couple!” or “the Bride and Groom!” or just your first names. It’s your wedding, everyone knows who you are, so no need to get formal with last names!

Of course, none of these options are informing your guests that you are keeping your last name. You don’t HAVE to make an announcement, simply just keep using your name they way you like it. You can give strong hints by using a return address sticker or stamp with your full names on it. Or perhaps include a little card with your thank you notes that says something like “our marital address” with both your full names and your address (this is especially good if you weren’t living together before the wedding or if you are moving shortly after.) You can also just correct people as things come. Like, getting a check addressed to Jane HisLastName when you are Jane YourLastName- call them back and be like, oh, by the way, I’m keeping my last name, luckily the bank was very understanding about depositing the check.” Or just be a little abrasive and say, “Hi Grandma, I’m soooo sorry, but since my last name is Jones not Smith, the bank won’t take the check you sent…”

Now, the be perfectly honest, you are probably going to have to fight assumptions for a few years unless you happen to have really awesome friends and family. Just be firm and consistent with correcting your name and they should get it down eventually. (And you will definitely still get junk mail addressed to the wrong name, but just throw it in the trash and get your anger out!) Or not- my grandma still calls my mom by her childhood nickname that she hates even though she has been going by another name for 30+ years, so.

Your Ultimate Guide to Plus Ones

Bring a boy band to a wedding

People are really opinionated about plus ones (+1s, whatever) at weddings. I’ve heard that it’s mandatory to give every single guest a +1. I’ve heard of friendships torn apart because a guest didn’t get one. I’ve heard of people having an awful time at weddings because the couple told them they had to bring a date and they spent all night babysitting a stranger instead of hanging out with their friends. Like many etiquette issues, it’s a place where people assume there is one rule and that they know what that one rule is.

You do not have to offer +1s to anyone at your wedding–that is a rule. But if you want to, it can get tricky to figure out who should and should not get one. I’ve found that it helps to have a few things in mind when offering +1s to your guests.

  • Is your guest dating anyone? If they’re dating someone seriously, they shouldn’t get a +1, but rather an invitation to their actual significant other. Where to draw the line on significant others, though? Only married couples? Engaged? Living together? Dating for over six months? Whatever you decide, be consistent. No one will appreciate if they couldn’t bring their boyfriend of a year and find another guest got to bring someone they met on Tinder the week before.
  • Does your guest know other people? One of the biggest arguments for +1s is for guests who may not know anyone else, as it’s no fun to show up to a giant party by yourself. Sometimes you need a buddy, and offering a +1 to that friend you know from work who has never met any of your other friends before is a great way to ensure they’ll have someone to talk to. On the other hand, if you have a group of single friends who’ve all known each other since high school, it may be more of a burden for them to bring a date and make sure that date is having a good time than to just come alone and hang out with their friends. This goes double for a destination wedding. It’s one thing to drive an hour to a party where you don’t know somebody, but quite another to fly to Mexico for it. If you’re friend’s not the solo adventurer type, offer to let them bring a friend and make a vacation out of it.
  • How many people are going to be at your wedding? If you’re having a 500 person wedding, you probably won’t a few +1s you’ve never met before. However, if you have a 20 person ceremony and an intimate dinner, cousin Betty’s girlfriend of two weeks might be an awkward addition.
  • Are you comfortable with strangers around? Offering +1s means you’re giving your guest sole discretion as to who they bring. You may give one thinking your college friend will be bringing her new boyfriend, but she may bring another friend, or her mom, or her yoga teacher. The nature of the open offer is that it’s up to her, so make sure you are comfortable with that.

Similar consideration should go into choosing whether or not to bring a guest if the invitation is extended. Is your guest the type to mingle and make friends quickly, or are they going to need to have you by their side all evening? If ten of your best friends will also be at this wedding, is a guest necessary? If you know nobody else there and are bringing a guest, are they a person you can have fun with?

Remember, you should not stand for people demanding to bring guests, or demanding to bring more guests than they were allowed, or asking to swap out one guest for another. And if you RSVP for yourself because you don’t have a plus one, you’re not allowed to add one after the fact, even if your original invitation offered you a guest.