Rude Things You Will Do While Planning A Wedding

We talk a lot about weddings here, because for many adults it’s the first time the World of Etiquette descends on them in such a massive way. I’m having a wedding tomorrow. I’m sure it will be lovely, and I used much of Victoria’s and my own advice in planning it in as polite a way as possible.

But I have a secret for you–even if you’re the editor of a minor etiquette blog, you will fuck up. You will do some tactless things and commit some faux pases. Some will be out of thoughtlessness, and some will come after you’ve thought everything through and said “fuck it,” and you will not know if it goes unnoticed but you also will not care. Here are a few things we did:

  • Got overexcited and emailed a bunch of friends for their addresses with the hint that it was for invitations, before we were solid on how many people we could invite, and then didn’t invite some people on that list.
  • Threw an impromptu “engagement party” by inviting a bunch of local friends to a bar, including people who were ultimately not invited to the wedding. (I justify it in that it was clearly not an Official Wedding Event.)
  • Had an engagement party thrown for us (by my grandmother) which included guests not invited to the wedding. (This was an Official Wedding Event, but we did not have control over it.)
  • Asked people to turn of their phones/not take pictures during the ceremony (which some people think is rude but Victoria assures me is not.)
  • Invited people and not their spouses or long-term partners.
  • Invited some people within one “tier” of relation and not others.
  • Had a B-list.
  • Not had seating charts, which is apparently Not Done if you have over 50 guests. The justification is that we went to a wedding of 120 with no seats and everyone figured it out just fine.
  • Not realized we had to actually tell people our plans about day-after breakfast or afterparties or anything.
  • Ignored emails with helpful “suggestions” from family members.

More than the actual rude actions though, there have been rude feelings, which I hope you know are okay to have. It’s okay to wish that you could spend the day drinking and partying and not having to say hi to every person. It’s okay to realize that after a year of planning, if you had to do it over, you might not have a wedding in the first place, but accept that that would be impossible feel that way without having planned it already. It’s okay to not have a vegan cake option (sorry, Steve). Make every effort to ensure people have a nice time, but remember that you can’t please everyone. Just don’t apologize for not having wedding favors.

How Do I Decide Whose Holiday Invitation to Accept?

Get it? Because multiple invitations feels like a tug of war! [Via Flickr user futureshape]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I’m trying to come up with some sort of question in something resembling eloquent English about holiday parties and invitations and respecting RSVP and how do you handle roommate/friends/family invites. Also, if you have multiple invites (lucky child) what is a good way to decline or accept or whatever. You covered parts of this in your “RSVPs are for real, yo” thing, which people know for weddings, but tend to forget/be more lax about when it comes to holiday dinners and then if no one shows, boy your friends are jerks and now you have an entire turkey and a vat of creamed corn and it’s just sad. But basically, if your friend invites you to a holiday dinner first but then your brother invites you, does family trump friends? If your roommates parents have invited you to dinner 8 times and it hasn’t worked out, at what point do you make that plan a priority over all other plans? Help.


I Don’t Know Where I’m Going



You still have to let people know if you are or are not coming to everything you are invited to. Especially holiday dinners. Etiquette has no say about where you go, you have to make that choice for yourself.


Jaya: This is one of those times where I wish I were a kid again. When you’re a kid you just go where your parents go. No need for decisions.

Victoria: Yeah, I guess it’s lucky in a way that I don’t have close-by family, so my sister and I just hang out at home and make some food and watch some movies on Thanksgiving. And I just go to my parents’ house for Christmas. But I think we are in agreement that your family trumps friends for holidays. If someone invites you, you just say, “I’d love to but I have to do family things, so sorry.”

Jaya: I think in general yes, but also, everyone’s family is different. My mom has always said if I wanted to do Christmas with friends or just go on vacation elsewhere, it would be totally fine. But we’re pretty lax about holidays in general. Divorce does that. So just, know your audience.

Victoria: I mean, family trumps if you want to/it’s important to hang out with your family.

Jaya: If you know it would mean a lot to your friend, and your family is cool without you, then go hang out with your friend.

Victoria: I guess by trumps I meant more like, if you can’t come to a friends house for a holiday because of a family thing, they should understand.

Jaya: Oh yeah, definitely.

Victoria: But then again, you don’t really owe anyone an explanation for why you are or are not able to come.

Jaya: Right, but I think it’s understood for holidays that you may have family obligations. But also, even if it is your family, you should give a firm RSVP.

Victoria: Totally! Especially if its not JUST your parents.

Jaya: If you tell your mom the day before that you’re not coming, then that screws them. And even if it is just your parents, that might mean your parents are having dinner alone!

Victoria: Ahhh yeah! So sad (though maybe not if you have siblings). Your single child privilege is showing, JAYA

Jaya : Oh yeah, cause that’s a privilege. WORRYING ABOUT YOUR PARENTS EATING ALL ALONE ON CHRISTMAS. Showing your sibling-ed naivite, Victoria.

Victoria: Yesssss.

Jaya: Let’s talk about for situations with multiple RSVPs.

Victoria: Sure.

Jaya: There is something that I’ve been dealing with recently. If you know about one event first, but don’t receive a physical/official invitation to it until after you’ve been invited to something else on the same day, which do you go to?

Victoria: Okay, so the rule about RSVPing is not that you go with the one you were INVITED to first, you go to the one you RSVPd yes to.

Jaya: Ooooooh.

Victoria: So if you get two invitations before you have a chance to respond to one, you get to choose!

Jaya: Good to know!

Victoria: You just can’t change your RSVP to, “I got a better offer.”

Jaya: Though what if you RSVP’’d to one event and your sister all of a sudden decides to get married. I mean it sucks but people would probably understand?

Victoria: That’s why I really like save the dates for weddings, or sending out invitations for other events on the early side. But in that case, it’s basically a family emergency, as long as it’s not the day before or something.

Jaya: Also your sister is annoying in that case.

Victoria: So she also asks about prioritizing an event you’ve had to reschedule like, 8 times, and I definitely think after a couple of reschedules, you should pretty much drop everything to make it happen- if its important to you to have dinner with your roommate’s parents, or whatever the situation is. Otherwise, you end up looking really flaky, which is not a good look.

Jaya: Right, especially if it’s been your “fault” every time. Though if you’ve rescheduled a bunch because you just don’t want to do it, maybe just come out and say that.

Victoria: And if you are flaking to get out of doing it, then maybe just own up to it. But in general, just try to make things a priority the best you can, and stick to your RSVPs whenever they require action on the host’s part.

Jaya: Whether that’s cooking you Thanksgiving dinner, saving you a seat at a wedding, or telling a bartender how many people you’re bringing.

Can I Ask Why My Parents Weren’t Invited to This Wedding?

Not Invited copy

Hey Ladies,

My question is actually sort of similar to the one y’all just posted about wedding invitation snubs, but a little different. Okay, so one of my oldest friends is getting married, and she initially told me at least one side of my family (Mom vs Dad) would be invited, but maybe not both because they are divorced. I told her they are fine in the same room, and by the end of that convo it sounded like both would be invited. Since both parents have known this friend basically her whole life, they were pretty much expecting to be invited. I received my invitation a month ago, but neither of my parents received one. Everyone is a bit disappointed and hurt, and I don’t know what to tell them. I should also note that my sister falls under both my mom and dad, so I assumed she would be invited one way or another. For all I know all of this is actually an oversight, but is rude me to ask my friend if that’s the case? Is there a way that I can find out what happened without stressing out my friend and making her feel bad? Also, should I ask about my sister specifically?


Confused About Invitations



You can’t assume you will be invited to a wedding until you receive a save the date or an invitation. Note for brides and grooms- don’t go around willy nilly verbally saying you will invite people to your wedding until you are SURE that they will be on the guest list. It is also generally considered rude to ask about invitations.


Victoria: Ok, this question is basically “My friend said she was inviting my parents to her wedding and then didn’t.”

Jaya: Right. Oy. So, anyone getting married, do not say someone is invited unless they are 100% invited! Like, I’m sure she thought it was 100% and it turned out not to be.

Victoria: Yeah, I feel like this is a major rookie mistake.

Jaya: Haha “rookie.” There’s an etiquette league.

Victoria: Yes and we are the refs. But just to act like “of course they are invited” and then boom there’s no room, is a pretty big mistake. I asked the writer for a follow up and it turns out the bride ended up not being able to invite anyone’s parents.

Jaya: Oooh interesting. So yeah, this seems like she had an idea of what her wedding was gonna be like, was very vocal about it, and then circumstances made it not possible. Which happens.

Victoria: And I think thats fine mostly. I mean, do people really enjoy attending weddings of random people? Like your kids’ friends?

Jaya: I mean, it sounds like they weren’t random. And omg they do.

Victoria: You know about all this now!

Jaya: Everything I’ve heard from my fiance’s family friends is that they LOVE attending the weddings of their friends’ kids. I mean, weddings can be fun, I get it, and this seems like they’re super close family friends? It at least sound like the reader’s parents have their own relationship with the bride.

Victoria: Yeah probably.

Jaya: But anyway, as much as this sucks, there is not really anything to get upset about. Because even though her parents thought/assumed there was an invite coming, they were never formally invited.

Victoria: True! You just have to be gracious.

Jaya: You can get upset that you weren’t invited, but it’s not like the invitation was rescinded. And no one is obligated to invite you to their wedding. And while it’s not rude to ask about it, I’m not sure asking the bride about it is going to do any good.

Victoria: She says she ended up not even having to ask because it came up in conversation at the bachelorette party with everyone. But yeah, and I wouldn’t do it with someone I wasn’t so close to, but if you are a bridesmaid, I feel like you have a bit more leeway as long as you frame it as being curious, not accusatory.

Jaya: I think on all sides, don’t talk about things like invitations a lot unless you’re entirely sure you’re invited, or the other party is invited. Even if she made it seem “very likely,” that is not a guarantee. And don’t ever expect invitations to things like this. It is so personal. Unless you’re like, the groom’s mom or something. And even then maybe your son just wants to elope!

Victoria: LOL

How to Deal with a Wedding Invitation Snub

This kitten is sad for you. [Via Flickr user Mourner]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I recently found out that I was not invited to the wedding of someone I had considered a close friend for the past seven years. Knowing that wedding planning is very stressful and tricky, I’m hurt, but understand that there could be any number of reasons for being left off the list. Do you have any advice for avoiding friendship awkwardness in this situation?


Hoping to Keep Things Smooth

P.S. Just to add, I’m planning to send her a congratulatory card, but any additional advice would be appreciated!


Miss Manners strongly promotes the idea of having a less fancy wedding so as to include as many people as possible so as to avoid these kinds of situations. Official etiquette always dictates taking the high road and not expressing anger at a snub like this.


Victoria: So I totally get the hurt- I’ve been mildly disappointed in not being invited to super old friends’ weddings who I definitely wouldn’t expect to be invited to. And I’ve been really thrilled to be invited when it was an old friend I hadn’t seen in YEARS. I think, if it’s someone you see frequently, the best you can do is just smile and hope they don’t talk about it too much.

Jaya: Yeah, it’s rough realizing that you’re maybe not as close as you once were. But that’s also only one possibility, right? Like, maybe this person just has bitchy parents and a small venue?

Victoria: Yeah, there could be a million reasons why they couldn’t invite you. Although, it won’t be much consolation if they’re having 500 people. In that case, maybe re-evaluate how much effort you are putting into the relationship v. what you are getting back.

Jaya: Definitely. A Practical Wedding had some great posts on this, about how friendships are relationships like any other. And even though there’s no cultural narrative about how to end them, they need to be re-evaluated and ended sometimes, just like any other relationship. If she feels like this girl is a super close friend but she didn’t get invited, yeah, take a look at how the friendship has played out.

Victoria: What’s that old romantic relationship advice? Don’t make someone a priority when they are making you an option? I just Googled that.

Jaya: I love that we can just Google sage relationship advice.

Victoria: It sounded way more poetic written in my high school notebooks.

Jaya: But that totally goes for friendships too. And as for how to act, I think sending a congrats card is totally fine, and then maybe stand back and see if this friend steps up post-marriage.

Victoria: Yeah, exactly. The card is above and beyond and very sweet. I personally just like to comment on the photos on FB about how beautiful they look.

Jaya: I mean, I don’t know their relationship, but if this is someone you thought was your BEST friend–like someone you talked to every day, shared everything with, and watched this relationship grow–I think you’d be justified in asking about it?

Victoria: Yeah, that’s a very good point.

Jaya: Maybe not saying “Hey, why the hell wasn’t I invited!?,” but I think it’s a decent catalyst for a conversation about your friendships. Especially if there was no discernible falling out. For instance, if you didn’t invite me to your wedding, and your wedding was a normal-sized, friends-invited affair, I might ask.

Victoria: There’s always the very TINY chance your invite got lost.

Jaya: True, but you probably would have gotten a phone call about an RSVP.

Victoria: Yeah, you’d have to be very sure. Maybe if the bride was talking to you this whole time as if you were invited, you could ask about that.

Jaya: If you feel like your relationship was close enough, you can maybe ask about it. But “closeness” is so subjective, and you have to be prepared for the option that this person didn’t consider you as close.

Victoria: I think this also might be a good time to remind brides and grooms that their wedding is still a party and maybe you shouldn’t be sharing all the details with your coworkers/acquaintances if you don’t want to invite them.

Jaya: Yessssss. I’m trying to be pretty aware of that with planning my wedding, but it’s so hard sometimes.

Victoria: Part of that is that people do like to hear these details, even if they know they’re not invited.

Jaya: Totally. I try not to put anything on facebook, because there are definitely people I’m not as good friends with who maybe think we still are? I hide behind Facebook a lot

Victoria: We all do.

Are These Engagement Gifts Totally Weird?

You don't even have to invite them if they got you a crystal bathtub. [Via BornRich]

You don’t even have to invite them if they got you a crystal bathtub. [Via BornRich]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Help, engagement gifts are making me uncomfortable! My fiance and I just got engaged, and people keep sending us engagement gifts. If it were close family members or friends that would be one thing, but these are all coming from family friends of his that either a) he’s never met or b) met once or twice, most likely at least 5 years ago. Of course we’re thanking them, but is this weird?


Weirded Out By All These Bowls


The short answer is that, traditionally, engagement gifts are not given. In the olden days, when you got engaged, you would tell your parents, and then they would host a dinner or something with close friends and announce your engagement at your engagement party. Since it was a surprise to all the guests, obviously they wouldn’t have brought gifts. And with engagements being far shorter in the past, by the time anyone sent you anything, it would clearly be considered a wedding present. However, with longer engagements these days and engagement parties celebrating the engagement instead of the announcement, engagement presents have started to crop up as a thing. Engagement gifts should really just be a token of your affection for the couple: a bottle of champagne, a pair of toasting flutes, or a nice picture frame. Still, you are absolutely not expected to send/bring anything at all.


Victoria: Obviously these rules about what the expectations regarding engagement presents are all well and good until someone completely ignores them and sends you a lavish gift anyway.

Jaya: Yeah, this is one of those situations where everyone says “oh, how thoughtful,” but actually it’s not that thoughtful of them! Ok, it’s a little thoughtful, but not in the way you’d like.

Victoria: I think the only thing you can really do in that instance is accept the gift in the spirit of generosity in which it was offered and send a nice thank you note immediately. And don’t feel any pressure to invite a random person to your wedding just because they sent you a gift!

Jaya: Right! I think a lot of people hear a couple got engaged,  get them an expensive crystal bowl or something because it’s expensive and “nice,” and then they think they’ve done this great job. Meanwhile, the couple is probably freaking out thinking that now they have to invite this person, or their parents are saying “they were nice enough to send you a gift, can’t you make room?”, and they have no idea how to use this gift and just feel guilty that someone spent upwards of $100 on something they didn’t even want.

Victoria: What a mess.

Jaya: Is there any way to stop the madness?

Victoria: I think the only thing you can really do to discourage it is to hold off on setting up a registry and if someone asks just say “oh, it’s all so new, we haven’t even begun to think about presents yet!”

Jaya: Yeah, and in general people need to consider their relationship to the couple. If you’re their best friend, go for it. If you went to high school with the groom’s mom and keep in touch with her but haven’t seen her son since he was in grade school? A gift is probably not necessary!

Victoria: Maybe as a safeguard you COULD revive the tradition of sending out wedding announcements AFTER the wedding, in which you have a nice card printed the basically just says so and so were married on such and such a date. It’s just a nice way to let people know that you did get married, and it has no expectation of gifts.

Jaya: But a pre-wedding announcement doesn’t have an expectation of gifts either!

Victoria: True, and there is the danger that people might feel compelled to send you ANOTHER gift. But, hopefully, these people are considering these “engagement” presents to be a wedding present too and are just getting it sent early?

Jaya: Yeah. But it’s so easy to read into it another way. Sending gifts is a wonderful thing, and it may come from a genuine place, but weddings are so fraught with tension and meaning, that sometimes a simple “We’re so happy for you” is more appreciated than anything.

Victoria: Absolutely.

Jaya: But yes, write them a thank you note, figure out a way to use/return the gift, and hope that it’s not a secret ploy for a wedding invitation.

Victoria: When in doubt, write a thank you note.