I Thought We Weren’t Friends, But I’m Invited To The Wedding

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Today I got an email from a person from college I’ve “broken up with,” by which I mean I haven’t talked to them in years and de friended them on Facebook because they are generally a NOPE person these days. This person just sent an email asking for my address to send their wedding invitation.

WHAT DO I DO.

I mean, there’s been no contact at all and I was sort of hoping they’d get the picture by now. Do I send my address and then decline the invitation to not ruffle feathers at this junction, or will that just seem to invite them to try to rekindle the relationship which DO NOT WANT. Or can I ignore it and hope I don’t have to ever deal with it and they get the picture without me having to be like “we’re not friends anymore please stop.” Because clearly I’ve been avoiding that talk.

Signed,
Ack

 

OFFICIAL ETIQUETTE

Miss Manners says that declining an invitation needn’t include any explanation as to why (for instance, because you do not want to be friends any more), and Emily Post agrees. However, most of the advice is for after you’ve received an invitation, and assumes you have slightly-fond feelings toward the person sending it.

OUR TAKE

Jaya: I know this is why the “friendship fadeout” is bad, so let that be a lesson to us all. Even though I’ll probably keep doing it.

Victoria: Man, this type of person will just not give up. I have someone like that from High School. He just repeatedly tries to get in touch and I am not having it.

Jaya:  I think the lowest-impact option is to just send your address (plainly, with no “oooh congrats, so exciting!” or anything), and decline the invitation when it comes. As much as you might want to, a wedding is not the time to have the “actually we’re not friends” talk. Though, if this behavior continues post-wedding, that may have to happen.

Victoria: I’d also consider not sending a gift or card.  Although, that might be a good reason to advocate emailing a “thanks but no thanks” since a wedding invitation generallllly requires a gift.

Jaya: A gift is a gift, not a requirement!

Victoria: Yesss, but in our culture there’s an idea that you should send a gift even if you can’t attend. The couple shouldn’t EXPECT it, but it’s a firm Miss Manners rule that invitation=gift.

Jaya: Yeah but that’s why we’re here, to discuss and dispel these rules. Anyway, I do think not sending a gift sends the intended hint that the friendship is over.

Victoria: Though it’s less strong if the person hasn’t been picking up on these hints in the first place.

Jaya: Right? It feels weird to say this, but in our modern times I think de-friending on Facebook is a pretty accepted hint.

Victoria: Back to the fadeout. I think it’s good for friends who are far away who you don’t want to keep in touch with. As much as it’d be nice to end things cleanly, those sorts of conversations can be really hurtful. But if it’s someone you see all the time, a direct conversation needs to happen.

Jaya: I don’t know about living far away. I have a lot of friends from college who live in different cities now, and sometimes we won’t talk for a while, but then we’ll see each other and it’s like nothing has changed. I think it would be easy to mistake an intentional fadeout with “oh we just don’t talk sometimes but we’re still close.”

Victoria: Yeah, although I think the de-Facebooking would be a pretty big hint. Ideally you can tell the difference with a fadeout in that the person will just not respond to you.

Wedding Invitations

Dare I say that this invitation seems more modern than what you would expect for a royal wedding? [Via Flickr user markhillary]

We’ve talked about what to do with a wedding invitation for a guest, so now we have the etiquette of actually sending out wedding invitations.

Save the Dates

Save the dates are a relatively recent invention— a pre-invitation of sorts. They should be sent out as soon as you finalize your date and rough location. These do not have to go out to everyone you think you are going to invite. They should mostly go out to the most important people and especially the ones that live furthest away and will need to make major travel plans. If you send someone a Save the Date, you MUST invite them to the wedding, no take backsies (with a few exceptions), thus you should be judicious about sending them to only the people you are sure you are going to invite, lest you wind up in a position where you invite 100 friends and then realize your parents had a list of 200 relatives and your venue only fits 150. I should note that Save the Dates are absolutely optional, but something that many couples find useful.

Invitations

The style of your invitation should match the style of your wedding. This helps guests have a hint of the style of dress to wear and what to expect. Never include information about gifts or registries, the invitation should be about your desire to have the guest attend your very important day, not about what towels you need. I do like a discreet wedding website URL on an invitation because then your invitation can be simple and elegant and your guests can get all the nitty gritty details online.

The great thing about wedding invitations these days is that the style can really represent your event any way you want. This is a far cry from back in the day when only engraved invitations on white, ivory, or cream paper (with no borders or other decorations!) were considered acceptable and all the old biddies would turn your invitation over so they could check for the slight tell-tale engraving indentation on the back. And don’t even get them started on mechanically-made embossing dies.

Invitation Wording

There are many ways to word an invitation. This is the very traditional formal version:

Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Humperdink

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Geraldine

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

The Church of the Holy Rollers

New York City

and afterward at

“The Snobby Club”

Now this invitation is worded for the parents of the bride as the hosts and at a church wedding. If the wedding is not at a church, you would substitute “request the pleasure of your company” for the words “request the honour of your presence” (honour is always spelled with a u in formal wedding invitations and is only used for a church ceremony). Also, traditionally in Jewish weddings, you write “the marriage of their daughter Geraldine and Mr. Dudley Smith” (using “and” in place of “to”).  On a formal invitation, you can put RSVP in the lower left corner. Dress code does not belong on a formal invitation, except, Black Tie may be written in the lower left corner. (But please, do find a way to tell your guests what the dress code is.)

The modern formal invitation often acknowledges the joint hosting by the couple and/or their parents and often includes both sets of parents regardless of who is hosting. A modern formal invitation would look more like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Humperdink

and Mr. and Mrs. Irving Winklesmith

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of

Miss Geraldine Humperdink

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

The Church of the Holy Rollers

New York City

and afterward at

“The Snobby Club”

If the couple is hosting on their own, the invitation would look more like this:

The pleasure of your company

is requested at the marriage of

Miss Geraldine Humperdink

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

 The Snobby Club

New York City

Of course, these days you are welcome to do almost anything with your invitations! You should, however, include:

  • That it is, indeed, a wedding. (or a commitment ceremony or whatever, just some indication of what kind of event you are having).
  • Who is getting married (including the last names somewhere [in the examples above, Geraldine is used alone only following her parents names—if she had a different last name then them, she would be noted as Miss Geraldine Smith).
  • The date and the time (the time is traditionally listed as when the ceremony starts, but you might want to give ½ an hour or so buffer so everyone is definitely there before you start.) And don’t feel like you have to spell the date and time out, numerals are just fine.
  • The location.

Some informal invitation wordings that I like are:

Geraldine Marie Humperdink

and

Dudley Michael Winklesmith

request the pleasure of your company

at their marriage

etc

Together with their parents

Geraldine Marie Humperdink

and

Dudley Michael Winklesmith

request the pleasure of your company

at their marriage

etc

Please join

Geraldine Humperdink

and

Dudley Winklesmith

at the celebration of their marriage

etc

See many more great examples here.

Addressing Invitations

In the interest of space, please see this post on forms of address.

If you are using both an inner and outer envelope, you can use the formal address on the outer envelope and then just use first names on the inner envelope. The inner envelope is also a great space to include the names of kids you are inviting—parents only on the outer envelope and then everyone by first name on the inner.

Mailing Invitations

Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks ahead of time, especially these days with the abundance of Save the Dates, the actual invitation is really more of a formality.

Response Cards

Technically response cards are against etiquette because including them insultingly implies that the guest doesn’t know to RSVP correctly (which is technically with a handwritten response on their own stationery). However, nowadays, many people don’t know how to RSVP “correctly” so I think they are a useful tool. If you do use them, make sure to include a self addressed, stamped envelope. And for your own sanity, make sure to include a line asking for their name so you know who is responding! Email, phone, and wedding website RSVP instructions are all perfectly acceptable as well.