Asking After Invitations

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

A friend of mine  her daughter had a wedding. I asked why I didn’t get invited. My friend said that I really wasn’t involved in her daughters life. So that’s why I was not invited to the wedding.
The daughter got pregnant on her honeymoon , and since the wedding the daughter has moved
Now the daughter is having a baby shower, and now I’m getting invited to the baby shower.
I just don’t understand the reasoning behind the whole thing. Nothing has changed since the wedding, I don’t understand why I’m getting this invite to the baby shower.
 I don’t want to go especially since it’s 1.5 hours away.
And what is my reason for not going? I keep thinking she told me I wasn’t involved in her daughters life. That’s why I wasn’t invited to the wedding. So why now the baby shower??
And should I give a gift?
I am friends with the mom of the daughter.

Confused About Invitations


Our Take

Jaya: So right, my initial suspicion is that her friend was making an effort to include her after she complained about not being invited to the wedding.

Who knows, it could be a blatant gift grab, but that just seems like the most likely explanation.

Victoria: Yeah, I think if you complain to someone about not being invited to something, they feel like they have to invite you to the next thing.

That’s kind of why you aren’t supposed to ask about invitations.

Jaya: Right. Like, are you asking because you thought you were involved more in her daughter’s life and wish you were invited? Or because you were under the assumption you had a place in the wedding no matter what?

Victoria: Yeah, I think also that as more and more couples are paying more for their weddings we’ve had a shift in the attendees to being more about the couple’s friends and less about the parents friends. But a lot of people don’t realize that and assume that because they are friends with the parents, they will automatically be invited.

Jaya: Exactly. It is what it is, and it’s just a good reminder that you should never assume anything.

Victoria: Ha, yeah, assuming invites to weddings is bound to lead only to heartbreak.

Jaya: Regarding the baby shower though, yeah, it seems like an olive branch given that the LW expressed her displeasure about not being invited to the last thing.

Victoria: Yeah, for sure.

Jaya: But the same rules apply–you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.

Victoria: Exactly!

Jaya: Do you have to send a gift? In the sense of you never HAVE to send a gift but it’s societally expected to send a gift?

Victoria: I believe that you don’t have to send a gift for a shower you can’t attend. A wedding is technically the only thing you are strongly “supposed” to send a gift for even if you can’t attend. Because it’s an honor to be invited? It’s a weird thing.

Jaya: Very weird.

But yeah, I think the ultimate lesson here is don’t be surprised if you get invited to more things if you complain about not getting invited to things.

Victoria: Hahaha yeah, exactly

Jaya: And, this is just me speculating, but it sounds like the LW is still feeling hurt and slighted about not being invited to the wedding. Maybe a good step would be to talk to her friend about their relationship and her expectations.

Victoria: Yeah!

Jaya: Any other thoughts?

Victoria: Not really. I realize that wedding invitations are super fraught, but there’s a lot that goes into wedding planning and honestly, you can’t take it personally if you aren’t invited.

Jaya: Exactly. There are budgets, and different sides of the family coming in with their own expectations and guest lists, and the couple’s ideas of what they want the day to be like. After planning a wedding, I will never be upset about not being invited to one ever again.

Victoria: I will, but silently.

Jaya: Hahahaha

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?


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.

All About Engagement Parties

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I just got engaged and a friend asked me if we’re having an engagement party and what is that?


Somewhat Unfamiliar with the Wedding Industrial Complex

Victoria: So an engagement party TRADITIONALLY was meant to announce your engagement. Your parents would throw it and it would be a surprise to all the guests.

Jaya: But now we have Facebook.

Victoria: Yeah, so, NOW, it’s a celebration of your engagement. And it’s totally optional and is just for fun. And people should know that they shouldn’t bring gifts, even though a lot of people might. It is totally not expected and you as the couple should not expect it.

Jaya: Yesssss. Though I mean people will absolutely bring presents.

Victoria : But I feel like it is my mission to stop people from feeling like they have to give engagement gifts as well as shower gifts and wedding gifts.

Jaya: I am into that mission.

Victoria: You heard it here first. But yeah, you can have any kind of party you want! You and Matt had a bunch of people come to a bar. And that was the best engagement party I’ve ever gone to!

Jaya: Uhh did I not tell you about the other engagement party thrown for us?

Victoria: Hahah yeah, you did.

Jaya: I mean, it was a fun time, but I’m still slightly worried. I feel like there is some relative who came to our engagement party who probably assumed we expected presents and now thinks we’re selfish for throwing that party when we didn’t even expect anything!!

Victoria : But you didn’t throw that party! It was thrown in your honor and thus you are absolved from any blame.

Jaya: Okay, but how much do we really think that now?

Victoria: I do!!!

Jaya: You are the only one.

Victoria: I mean, its pretty clear who is throwing the party, no?

Jaya: I feel like most other people expect the bride and groom to be the ones orchestrating things. Yeah sure my grandma threw it, but they probably expect that we requested it be thrown. The way that brides ask for showers and bachelorette parties.

Victoria: Ugh, yeah, well, one, brides should stop doing that because its obnoxious. And two, I can 100% tell a parent decided event vs a couple decided event. Our other friends’ parents threw them a backyard BBQ engagement party that was great. And definitely felt like a parent orchestrated event. And I mean, are that many people really ASKING for an engagement party?

Jaya: I’m honestly not sure, but I feel like it’s really hard to tell. I don’t know if all these “couples making gift grabs” stories are real or just the media harping on a couple instances.

Victoria: I THINK, given my generous nature, that it’s a few bad apples

Jaya: Yeah

Victoria: Like your “night before” party was all you guys, and pretty obviously so.

Jaya: Yeah, it’s just so funny to me. I think pretty much everyone accepts that this is exhausting to have this many parties, and yet we still do it.

Victoria: It’s silly! If you don’t want to do it, don’t (unless it is forced upon you). If our writer doesn’t want one, I would say to just tell those people “we aren’t having one.” But yeah, if you DO want to have one (and actually I can understand this more than the array of showers because it is early on when you are still SUPER PUMPED), you can have basically anything you want! I would say that it should occur somewhere in the first few months that you are engaged though.

Jaya: Yeah! I feel like if anything, an engagement party is way more fun, and then it involves both of you. Definitely agree about being on the sooner side.

Victoria: Like within 3-4 months if you are going to be engaged for a year+ or like 1-2 months if you are going to be engaged less than a year. Oh and one thing to point out, if it’s going to be a formal engagement party with parents and family and all of that, it should be HOSTED by someone, not just all the guests pay for themselves. (Your informal, lets get together at a bar thing is fine if that’s a normal thing in your social circle.) But the thing I have been seeing complained about a lot lately is people being invited to engagement parties/showers etc, bringing gifts, and then being told, okay, your share is $50.

Jaya: What?!?! Omg ew.

Victoria: Yes, right? And even if it’s upfront, its not really okay.

Jaya: Like okay, the only time I could mayyyyybe see something like that happening…Wait no, I can’t because if you decide to do an activity like camping or a trip or going to an amusement park that requires people to pay, then you recognize that that is your gift. And that’s more of a bachelor/ette party thing anyway.

Victoria: Yeah, and like, a shower can be split among several hostesses (which is common!) but they should be providing all the food and drinks and decorations and stuff. I mean, I can see a group of friends saying, let’s take the bride out to tea and call that her shower and we will all split it. And that seems fine but it’s more of a group decision than this situation where someone is deciding, “I am going to throw a party, but oh no, I can’t afford the party I want to throw. I know! I will just ask everyone to give me $20! and then we will be set!”

Do I Really Have to Buy This Bride All These Gifts?

What you don’t realize is that all these gifts are from one person. [Via Flickr user frostnova]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I am in this girl’s wedding in May. I assume I get her a wedding gift. I’ve also been invited to her bridal shower, that says bring a gift, and her bachelorette party, that says bring a gift. I assume that the bachelorette gift is suppose to be a gag gift, but I’m not sure. How many freaking gifts am I actually expected to get this girl? I cannot afford to get her 3 gifts.


Gift Fatigued


Official Etiquette:

Technically, yes, you should give a gift for both the wedding and the shower. But they can be small gifts! Bachelorette parties should not have a gift element unless they take the place of a shower. Guests should not be invited to more than one shower and if they are, they don’t have to give a gift the second time.


Our Take:

Jaya: How rude to demand gifts!!!!

Victoria Hahahahahahahahaha, this is a crazy situation and exactly what is meant when people talk about gift fatigue. Though, I assume no one is really demanding gifts so much as inviting her to parties that often have gifts. Except the bachelorette, omg, bachelor/ette parties should not be gift giving occasions.

Jaya: Yeah, seriously.

Victoria I wonder who is organizing the shower/bachelorette. If they are the same person, you could maybe talk to them.

Jaya:  Shower is bride’s sister, bachelorette is MOH (ED: maid of honor, fyi). The letter writer thinks the bride would understand if she was just like, hey, I’m broke and already spending money on hotels and dresses and stuff, which is definitely what I think they should do. Apparently the bachelorette is in another town so she had to pay for hotels for that weekend too.

Victoria Omg, I would just not go. I mean seriously, wtf kind of wedding is this?

Jaya:  Ridiculous, apparently the bride is totally normal and understanding, but her family is a little more difficult.

Victoria Hmm, yeah, I would talk to the bride. I mean, I would be MORTIFIED if I was getting married and found out these people were planning these kinds of things and demanding gifts from people.

Jaya:  Seriously.

Victoria So the bride could theoretically talk to the MOH and get rid of gifts for the bachelorette entirely and then I would get something small for the shower. And something small again for the wedding.

Jaya:  Or maybe split a gift with some other people, like we have done.

Victoria Yeah, although, then you run into the problem of the organizer being like, let’s buy them a $500 vacuum and that will come out to $100 each- hope that’s okay with everyone, xoxoxox!

Jaya:  Hahahahaha, oh god, just a Hey Ladies email.

Victoria Yep, like, just buy them a muffin pan and call it day. Write a nice note. The bride will understand.

Jaya:  I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of invitations specifying to bring gifts. I’ve heard of them saying “no gifts,” but not “yes mandatory gifts.”

Victoria Yeah, well, I assume here that with the shower, gifts are implied and the invitation included registry information. Which is allowed because the whole point of the shower is to shower the bride with gifts, so its really “not done” to come without one.

Jaya:  True.

Victoria:  And then I’m betting for the bachelorette, they were like, we’re doing blah blah in blah city staying at blah hotel and please bring a fun lingerie gift for the bride!

Jaya:  I don’t know, the way she said it it sounded a lot more explicit on the invitation. The bachelorette one just says bring a gift, not specifying like, a gag or sexy gift, just a gift. You could probably infer not to bring a toaster to a bachelorette party though.

Victoria Ahh well some showers are specific kinds of showers? Like they will be like please bring a bottle of wine to stock the happy couples bar. But yeah, that is not really okay for the bachelorette. Omg, trying so hard to believe that people aren’t being so outrageously rude!

Jaya:  In general it just seems like a lot

Victoria I think that people planning these things really need to keep the big picture in mind. Like, if you are having a big blowout out of town bachelorette, maybe no showers? Definitely no presents. If you are keeping everything small and local its fine to do a shower and a bachelorette. If you have out of town bridesmaids, please be extremely aware that they probably won’t be able to make it to anything except the wedding and you can’t guilt them about it. And for showers- you don’t invite the same person to multiple showers!! And if you do because they are a bridesmaid or the sister of the bride- they only have to bring a gift to one shower. And a very nice bride will mention that while she is opening gifts so people don’t wonder why sally didn’t get her anything

Jaya:  Yes! Yeah, I think people forget that sometimes one person will be going to four parties not to mention traveling to the wedding and buying a bridesmaids dress. It’s a lot to ask of a person and people need to be more sensitive to that.