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.
Thanks,

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

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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?

More Wedding Guest List Woes

Not everyone wants a 500 person wedding!

Not everyone wants a 500 person wedding!

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

My son and his fiancé are adamant about keeping a tight rein on their guest list. They do not want a large wedding and they have a finite number they want to invite.  My husband and I agree and support their decision. 

One of my cousins desperately wants her son to attend and he’s just not on the list.  Now the suggestion is that he’s a substitute for someone else in the family who can’t attend.  How do I politely say there’s no substitution.  My son and fiancé have other friends they want to move up to fill the spot.  They are not giving automatic “plus 1” invites.
Thanks!

Groom’s mom

 

Victoria: As a person who has planned a wedding, why don’t you start?

Jaya: So, I think we can all agree that, while you might be disappointed at not receiving an invitation to an event, trying to coerce your way in, ESPECIALLY after one of the planners has said no, is just not a good look. And kudos to this mother of the groom for supporting her kid and backing them up on this.

Victoria: Yes!

Jaya: It’s hard, because it’s family so you really don’t want hurt feelings, but I think reiterating that they’re keeping the wedding small, and that while you’re very sorry, the answer is no, is about all you can do. And you may just have to accept that the cousin is going to be pouty about it for some time.

Victoria: Yeah, I think you don’t want to try to explain or make excuses. Just keep repeating, “I’m sorry, but we can’t accommodate him.”

Jaya: Right, making excuses just opens up more negotiating.

Victoria: Yeah, and hurt feelings of friends being invited over family, etc.

Jaya: And you want to make it clear this is non-negotiable.

Victoria: Aaybe once you repeat it a couple of times say “Cousin, I’m sorry, but I have already explained multiple times that we will not be able to accommodate your son. I will not discuss the subject further.”

Jaya: Yes. And yeah, weddings make emotions run high. You may be risking pissing this cousin off a lot, or the cousin holding a grudge for a very long time, but if your son has made that choice and you’re supporting him, that’s how it’ll be.

Victoria: Yeah

Jaya: It always baffles me, the lack of self awareness some people have about this stuff.

Victoria: I know.

Jaya: I obviously don’t know their family situation, but I’m not super close with most of my parents’ cousin’s kids!

Victoria: Hahaha yeah, me either.

Jaya: And just, the reaction that not getting invited to a wedding is the end of the world. And begging to get in.

Victoria: I’m interested to see if there is a shift when our generation are the parents of the couple, since we have seen a shift in weddings from being about the whole extended family and kinship/business circles to being more centered on the close relationships of the couple/the couple paying for a bigger portion vs the parents of the bride being the sole payers and hosts.

Jaya: Yeah, that will be interesting. Because right, for so long it was a party thrown for the bride and groom, not by them, and thus usually up to the parents who to invite.

Victoria: Yep, so all the aunts and cousins and stuff expected to be invited. Whereas when we are the older generation, we might not be as focused on that (but maybe it’s an old people thing, who knows?)

Jaya: Even within our generation it’s interesting to see the breakdown, between weddings where it seems like the couple got to invite a lot of their friends, or weddings where the parents got control of the guest list and there weren’t many friends.

Victoria: Haha yeah.

Jaya: It’s still such a cultural difference, depending on where you were raised, whether your family is all in one area, and your religions/traditions.

Victoria: Yeah, and even just individual family traditions.

Jaya: But even then, even if you grew up down the street from your 2nd cousin and have known him all your life, you’re still not obligated. This question is really sticking with me. I cannot fathom a situation in which, after being told that there is no room for me, I try to continue to make room for myself.

Victoria: Yeah, it’s absolutely mind boggling. Like, you just don’t try to negotiate invitations.

Jaya: Because then what, you’re there, and the bride and groom have in their mind everything you’ve done to get there when they’re interacting with you.

Victoria: I do kind of feel like with unreasonable people its probably better to just separate yourself from them, even if you are related. I mean, it depends on your family and blah blah blah, but by the time you are old enough to have a kid who is getting married, you probably aren’t going to be forced to interact with your cousins that much! Like, your grandparents and parents/aunts/uncles are probably dead or about to be, and those family ties tend to be easier to sever the farther apart everyone gets.

Jaya: Right. At some point those relationships pass to the next generation. And at this point, you’re talking about the relationship between your son and your cousin’s kid, who I’ll assume are closer in age. And if they haven’t forged that relationship on their own, that’s their business. This is also an instance where I hope, going forward, weddings become less of a *thing*. Treating them like the MOST IMPORTANT EVENT EVER makes people act crazy when they’re not present.

Victoria: Haha yeah, it’s weird, I feel like for a loooong time they weren’t a big thing. And then they became a HUGE thing.

Jaya: Right! Maybe that’s just because we’re in the thick of wedding age right now? But yeah, not getting in invitation turns into this huge personal affront instead of like, just not being invited to one thing.

Victoria: Yeah, I also have found it so freeing to turn down invitations. I have a rule that I am not getting on an airplane for someone I wouldn’t get on an airplane to see just for a visit.

Jaya: That’s a good rule!

Victoria: Yeah! So like limited to really close friends and my cousins/sister (who are awesome). Although, I suppose if it was a cool destination and a lot of other people I knew were going, that might make it worth it.

Jaya: Yeah, I mean obviously use your discretion. If it’s someone you like reasonably well and you can afford flying to Hawaii, go for it!

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.

Regional Wedding Traditions: Stag and Doe Parties

Previously: Cake Pulls and Cookie Tables

A stag and doe party is a regional tradition found mostly in certain areas of Canada. The purpose of the party is to be a fundraiser for the wedding.

The basic premise is that the bridal party (including groomsmen) will throw the party, which charges an admission fee, charges for drinks, and has games and raffles and things, also for a small fee. The funds raised should cover the cost of the party and leave plenty left over for the bride and groom. The guest list is open to anyone, not just people who are invited to the actual wedding.

Despite my general hatred of people expecting their wedding guests to give them lavish presents, cover their plates, pay for drinks at a cash bar, money dances, and all other kinds of greedy wedding hoopla, I…actually think this is a pretty great idea if it’s already common in your social circle and people know what to expect (ie don’t spring it on your New York City friends who have never heard of such a thing.) Here’s why: while the event is connected to the wedding, it’s not thrown by the bride and groom. Also, I imagine this kind of thing might be more common in areas where there’s not a whole lot of nightlife, so this is probably a good way to get out of the house, have some fun, have some drinks, maybe win a raffle. However, not all Canadians are fond of this tradition.

Of course, like anything, there are polite and rude ways to go about doing it:

  • The party should always be thrown for the bride and groom, not by them.
  • Use it as a substitute for other wedding events, not in addition to them (say do a Stag and Doe but skip the engagement party. People get burned out on attending many events for the same couple)
  • Make it a really fun event that people WANT to attend so they don’t feel like it is just about the money. Have actually fun games and nice prizes.
  • Charge for booze, but have plenty of simple food and drinks for free.
  • Keep the ticket price fairly low or make it by donation.
  • Thank people for coming- maybe even do a big announcement during the event
  • Only only only have such a party if they are already what your social circle does. This is not going to come off well to people who don’t know what it’s about.
  • By no means pressure anyone to come or to spend more money than they are comfortable spending
  • If you are attending the party, keep in mind that it is a fundraiser, so come prepared to spend at least a little bit of money. Don’t just pay the entrance fee and then gorge on the free food/music/dancing.

For places where Stag and Does are attending by the whole community, it seems like a really nice way for everyone to support the couple, even if they wouldn’t be invited to the wedding, while getting a fun time in exchange. And honestly, it sounds way more fun than a shower where you are also spending a bunch of money, but instead of dancing, drinking, and playing games, you are sitting around politely watching someone else open presents.

Please tell me about other regional wedding traditions! Either in the comments or victoria@uncommon-courtesy.com!