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The Etiquette Grrls' Q & A Archive: Weddings

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I have two friends who are grooms to be. B. had announced his engagement in October and set a date for May 26, 2000. J. became engaged more recently, around Nov 15th. J. and his fiancée began looking for likely spots for the ceremonies and found a place they liked that was available on May 5, 2000. They signed an agreement for that date. Now B., his fiancée, and their families are upset and think that it was discourteous to set the date so close in advance of their own wedding. Is there a "rule" about this? I would understand being a little upset, that the wind will be taken from B.'s wedding's sails, but B., his fiancée, and his family act like this was bad enough to end very close friendships amongst all involved. What could be done to remedy this situation?

Respectfully,
Concerned Bystander

Dear Concerned Bystander,

Gee, the last time the EGs checked, Brides and Grooms weren't allowed to go around demanding, "Thou Shalt Respect My Wedding Month and Schedule No Other Weddings Therein!" We're sure that Planning a Wedding can be a Momentous Task, but everyone needs to realize, right now, that even if you are Getting Married, the Rest of the World can, and, indeed, will, Continue Avec Their Lives. We are absolutely sick of Those Who Are Engaged throwing tantrums, like Spoiled, Bratty Children, when some Tiny Little Detail does not Go As Planned. The EGs humbly remind everyone that a Wedding is a Solemn, Serious Thing, as well as a Festive Celebration, and that, in our Expert Opinion, way too many people forget the Former Aspect of Their Wedding. So what if someone else dares to get married a few weeks before B.! We're sure that B. and J.'s Social Circle will be More Than Happy to attend Both Weddings, and will be equally happy for Both Couples!

We think B. and fiancée need, simply, to Get Over It. If they're willing to Get All Persnickety about Something that is, in the scheme of things, Rather Inconsequential, the EGs think they've got Odd Priorities. B. and the Future Mrs. B. should apologize to J. and the Future Mrs. J. before this gets any More Childish, and they should attend J.'s Wedding (assuming J. and fiancée invite them, after this mess) and behave like Extremely Gracious Guests.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Please let me say how much I love your site--truly a light in the dark!!!

A close relative of mine is marrying this winter. My boyfriend and I would like to announce our engagement, but are afraid of stealing her thunder or making her feel like we are "competing." The situation is touchy, since she has become Quite Hyper almost a year in advance of the event, and various Grievous Breaches of Etiquette (showing photos of her wedding gown at a wake, telling all and sundry that she expects cash rather than gifts) have Set Teeth On Edge. Normally, we would wait, but we live abroad, and as grad students, can only take one trip home a year. (Our trip this year will be for her wedding.) This isn't something we want to tell our parents over the phone, but we don't want to wait another year either. Would it be terrible to tell everyone at a quiet family gathering a few days after her wedding?

Sincerely,
Lily

Dear Lily,

Thank you ever so much for your kind words about our site! Your question touches upon something the EGs simply deplore: the fact that many Brides-to-Be seem to feel as if Their Upcoming Nuptials allow them to Break All Rules of Etiquette. Showing photos of her gown at A Wake??? Dear Reader, one of the EGs recently Became Engaged, but you can Bet Your Boots she isn't planning to go around Discussing the Wedding Plans, and Only the Wedding Plans, with Everyone She Meets from Now until Her Wedding Day! And while cette EG is Unabashedly Thrilled about her Upcoming Nuptials, all may Rest Assured that she's not going to try to go over the Hors d'Oeuvres Selections avec Her Mother while a Wee Funeral is going on, either! But the EGs digress.

We would not worry, Dear Reader, about Stealing Her Thunder. We'd recommend telling your parents Right Away--there's no need to wait until the Rude Bride is off on her Rude Honeymoon. Perhaps it wouldn't be the Nicest Idea to stage an Elaborate Re-Enactment of The Proposal during the Ceremony (un peu inappropriate), but you should certainly not feel guilty about sharing Your Happy News with Your Family. And of course, Dear Reader, you're not going to be trotting around the Reception yelling, "I'M ENGAGED! LOOK, LOOK, LOOK AT MY RING! YEEHAW!" whilst High-Fiving Everyone In Sight, n'est-ce pas? It's perfectly proper to tell people quietly at any time. An Engagement is Happy News, and it is Certainly Not Cause for the Bride to feel Upstaged. As a matter of fact, she should be very happy that you will also be Getting Married! (However, we suspect that for Brides like this Rude Bride, the Wedding Itself becomes more important than The Fact That They Are Getting Married, and believe us, you don't want to get the EGs started on that.)

Best of luck to you, Dear Reader! Let us know how it goes!

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I simply Adore your website and your Book. Thank you ever so much for all of the wonderful knowledge that has now filled my brain beyond capacity.

My question is: What is the proper way to wear one's wedding and engagement rings? I was once told that one would wear the wedding band over the engagement ring, sort of "sealing" the betrothal. However, every single woman I have seen wears the rings in the opposite manner, band than ring above it. Is there a proper way to wear the rings? Or can one wear them as one wishes?

I hope that there is an answer available for this head-scratcher.

TTFN,

Miss T.Z.
P.S. The EG's Artichoke Dip was the hit at my office's Halloween Pot Luck Luncheon. Thank You!

Dear Miss T.Z.,

First, thank you so much for your Nice Words about us! We are particularly happy that the Artichoke Dip was a Big Success for you.

Now, we're pleased to answer Your Question. A woman wears her wedding ring at the base of her finger, with her Engagement Ring above it (if she chooses to wear her Engagement Ring after Her Marriage, that is). As we've heard it explained, the Wedding Band should be Closer to One's Heart. (For this reason, a woman wears her Engagement Ring on her Right Hand during her Wedding Ceremony, so that the Wedding Band may be put on in its Proper Place. After the Ceremony, she transfers her Engagement Ring back to her Left Hand.)

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dearest Etiquette Grrls,

I read your site regularly and I look forward to it. My fiancé has also become a fan of yours. Yay! We are getting married in two and a half weeks, and my family is outraged that his mother is wearing a white dress to our wedding (after I requested her not to do so). (My fiancé's family are not Etiquette Fans, to say the least.) She simply doesn't understand where I am coming from -- that you never ever ever wear white to a wedding. Unless you are the Bride, of course. Also, I am used to the idea of the Groom's Mother following the dress of the Brides Mother. In this case, my mother, who was hoping to wear gloves and a hat to our (Catholic) Church Wedding, has had to follow the Groom's Mothers Dress, which is an insult to my Mother. What may I do to give back this special moment of being the Mother of the Bride to my Dear Mom?

Bride Brushed Aside

Dear Bride Brushed Aside,

Oh my. We cannot imagine what the Groom's Mother is Thinking! Yes, Dear Reader, you are quite right -- wearing white is a big no-no at a Wedding, unless one is the Bride... and it is an especially big no-no if one is in the Wedding Party! Horrors! The Etiquette Grrls are wondering, however, if there is someone who might Prevail Upon Her to See Reason and follow your mother's example. Perhaps your fiancé could have a Good, Sit-Down Talk avec his mother? He could explain that it would mean a lot to him, and to you, and to your mother, if she could wear something else. You might try to win her over on the Gloves and Hat, too, but if that's a Lost Cause, we see no reason why Your Mother cannot, in perfect correctness, wear Gloves and a Hat to Your Wedding. After all, this is not a statement of Fashion, but a sign of Respect for the Church wherein the Ceremony will be held. But, Dear Reader, even if the Groom's Mother continues to be Rude, Stubborn, and Unreasonable, this cannot take away the fact that Your Mother is the Mother of the Bride. Nothing this other woman does, or wears, can diminish that. Thank you, Dear Reader, for visiting our site frequently, and we send you all good wishes!

Best of luck,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I was married in December and am unable to say that I have completed writing all my thank-you notes to all my husband's friends, relatives, and colleagues. How shameful is this? Shall I express any remorse for my tardiness in the thank-you notes? Please advise. Thank you.

A Belated Bride

Dear Belated Bride,

Oh, that is Shameful Indeed! So Shameful that the EGs are, as we speak, Tossing Back a Restorative G&T to Calm Our Nerves! While we understand that after an event like A Wedding, it is a Formidable Task to Take Pen to Paper so many times, it is of the Utmost Importance to complete one's Thank-You Notes in a Timely Manner! Yes, absolutely, you should Express Your Remorse--which should be Immense Indeed. And furthermore, Dear Reader, do we correctly understand that you have sent Thank-You Notes to your friends, relatives, and colleagues, yet you have neglected to send them to Your Husband's? That, Dear Reader, is Even More Shameful. Stop reading this Right Now, and Start Writing! We mean it! STAT!

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I am going to an engagement party this weekend and the invitation read, "no gifts please." I'm planning on buying them a wedding gift, but wondered what I should bring, if anything, to the engagement party? I hate going empty-handed. I was going to bring flowers for the hostess, but what should I bring the happy couple?

Flustered Guest

Dear Flustered Guest,

You need not Worry One Bit about what to bring. Gifts are Optional at all Engagement Parties. We think bringing flowers to the Hostess is a Lovely Idea, though--for the Happy Couple, a Lovely Card expressing Your Good Wishes, or, indeed, Those Good Wishes expressed In Person, will be Perfectly Fine.

As ever,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What does the word "RSVP" on invitation cards mean?

Jovie

Dear Jovie,

It means you should Buy Things You Need to Be Told, Our Book. Tee hee!

The EGs are just having a Bit of Fun with you, Dear Reader. "R.S.V.P." is not A Word. It is An Acronym for the French phrase, "Répondez S'il Vous Plaît." Translated, this means, "Please respond," so you are Bound By Etiquette to let the Hostess know whether or not you plan to Grace the Event With Your Presence.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Darling Friends,

I write to you again after recovering from a serious bout of the Vapors.

My friend, in whose wedding I am to be in later this summer, informed me today that she put her wedding invitations in the mail over the weekend and that I should expect mine any day. Indeed, when I arrived home from work, it was waiting for me (Crane's, of course--but that's another story). I eagerly opened up the inner envelope, not knowing what to expect, since I had not seen a proof of the invitation before she purchased them. When I pulled the card out, something stuck to the tissue paper and fell to the floor. It was a small white card. I picked it up, thinking that the couple had enclosed a parking voucher or a direction card of some sort. (In my own wedding next year, we are paying our guests' parking and will have to enclose their tickets, similar in size and color, with the invites).

I was wrong.

It was a bridal registry card. I gasped.

There it was, in black and white. The store name, the account number, and other information necessary to run out to the nearest galleria of kitchen gadgetries and purchase ostentatiously priced items! Are people supposed to now know what gifts are acceptable as admission items to this event?

I beseech you, What Was She Thinking?

As an aside, when she asked about the invitations and I mumbled a feeble, "They were lovely," she announced, "Crane's, of course. And you know how PRICEY they are--" (rolling her eyes around, making sure everyone in Starbucks heard her) "but I figured, if I can spend $3,000 on my dress, good stationery won't kill me."

It was all I could do to drag myself into the car and drive home.

1. How do I live through a weekend wedding with this woman? The Hamptons may not prove large enough for both of us.

2. What is the deal with the damn registry card? What should she have done to let people know where her stuff was listed, if anything?

I need a mint julep. Excuse me.

Shocked Yet Again In the Midwest

Dear S.Y.A.I.T.M.,

While you're making Mint Juleps, would you please Mix Up Two More? The EGs need a Restorative Drink too, after hearing Your Story!

Dear Reader, we do not know What This Girl Was Thinking. While the EGs often seem Rather Omniscient, we cannot understand What The Hell Was Going Through Her Head. To include Registry Information in an Invitation is Too Tacky For Words (T.T.F.W.)!!! And discussing How Much Things Cost is Even More Tacky!

Now, the EGs are not Mental Health Experts, but we oftentimes wonder if Those Folks who write the DSM-V ought to include "Pre-Wedding Bridal Psychosis" as an Abnormal Psychiatric State. If you are indeed a Very Good Friend of hers, you might Have a Word with her, but if she is truly Pre-Wedding Psycho, your words might go In One Ear and Out The Other. We suggest that you Get to Know the Other Bridesmaids--if you cannot reason with her As A Group, you can, at least, know that You Are Not Alone in This Trying Experience. As for what people should do to spread the word about Their Registry, well, it is T.T.F.W. for the Bride Herself to Breathe a Word about this to ANY guest, except if they Ask Her Directly. Otherwise, she will seem Greedy. At most, she should simply let the members of the Bridal Party Know, and count on them to Spread the Word if Anyone Should Ask.
Now, let's mix another round of Mint Juleps.

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Is it appropriate to wear a bright red dress to a wedding? The wedding is a formal evening affair, and the dress would be appropriate for any other formal evening event. It is flattering but not overly sexy (narrow A-line skirt, full-length, no slits, sleeveless with a scooped neckline that only shows the slightest hint of cleavage), but I'm worried it might be too attention-getting because of its bright colour.

Fashion Un-Conscious

Dear Fashion Un-Conscious,

Honestly, the EGs aren't so sure about this. Are we talking Glowing Scarlet? Like the color of a Bullfighter's Cape, or a Fire Engine, or a Really Ripe Tomato? If so, we think the dress might be Un Peu Too Flashy. We think it's very, very difficult to carry off Really Loud Colors, particularly at events when Your Outfit should not be Distracting (e.g., weddings, funerals, Art Heists, etc.). The last thing a Girl Wants, Dear Reader, is for someone to notice the color of your dress before they notice YOU-- and it's particularly terrible if someone notices the color of your dress before they notice, say, The Bride. We think a dress in the style you described might be okay (with the addition of a Nice Wrap for Your Shoulders, and assuming the neckline is more reminiscent of, say, Audrey Hepburn than of the St. Pauli Girl), but do ask a Dear Friend with Very Good Taste about the Color, since the EGs can't take a look at it ourselves. A more muted color in the red family, such as a lovely Burgundy shade, might be more suitable.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My husband and I are invited to a wedding. The Bride is the sister of a friend. We barely know the Bride and Groom. We are unable to attend the wedding because of a prior commitment. Are we required to send a wedding gift anyway? Please let us know.

Sending My Regrets

Dear Sending My Regrets,

No. If you barely know the Happy Couple, they should have sent you a Wedding Announcement rather than an Invitation. Inviting people one Hardly Knows to One's Wedding strikes the Etiquette Grrls as Fishing for Presents, which is Terribly Rude.

Yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Hello again. Thanks for your help last time! I love the response; it was what I was hoping to read.

Could you help me out with a quandary I have at the moment? What is the definitive answer on the length of time that one has to give a wedding present? I've heard one month, six months, and one year, but I'm not too sure. What do you think?

Many thanks,
Julia

Dear Julia,

Thank you, Dear Reader! We're always happy to hear that Our Humble Advice has Aided one of our Dear Readers! Well, we've heard the one-year business too, and we don't really get it. A year? An entire year? To send one gift? Why would anyone want to wait that long? The Etiquette Grrls, being From New England, are Rather Fond of Promptness. We think you should send gifts before the wedding, or bring them to the reception (most easily done when the gift is small, of course). We hope this helps!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First of all, thank you for creating an informative and entertaining site. Lord knows, the web needs more of those.

Second, I am coming to you today asking more for advice than an answer to an etiquette question. Since one of you is engaged, I thought that you might have some helpful, objective advice pertaining to my upcoming nuptials. I prefer to have a destination wedding, that is, I want to go to someplace away from home (i.e., Jamaica, Hawaii) to have my wedding. Destination weddings are a breeze to plan, and I am not too fond of being the center of a big production as I would be in a traditional wedding. My fiancé and his parents want to have the traditional wedding.

Friends and family tell me that it is "my" day, and that I should have the final word. I feel that it is "our" day, and that we need to make a compromise. It may also be noted that I have a feeling that I will be paying for it all. I would genuinely appreciate any comments or suggestions you may have.

Sincerely,
Engaged and Confused

Dear Engaged and Confused,

Congratulations! We'd be happy to put in Our Two Cents' Worth. The EGs think you're correct… a compromise would be in order here. Perhaps there are elements of the two kinds of Weddings that you might combine, pleasing everyone? You don't necessarily have to be the Center of a Big Production even if you stay in Your Hometown, and, likewise, you can have a very Traditional Wedding in, say, Tuscany. Furthermore, if you're worried about the planning aspect of it, we'd urge you to be careful of Destination Weddings… there often are a lot of Hoops to Jump Through regarding residency requirements, licenses, and that sort of thing, and it may be more of a hassle than you realize now. At this point, we'd recommend that you and your fiancé investigate all the options very thoroughly. What exactly do he and his family mean by a "Traditional Wedding"? What seems most attractive to you about a Destination Wedding? From your letter, it sounds like the ease of planning… but there may be a Nice Hotel in your area with an experienced Wedding Coordinator who could make things go just as smoothly as a Wedding Coordinator at a Resort in Hawaii… and you'll save on the long-distance bills. Then, once you have all the information, sit down with your fiancé and discuss the pros and cons of everything… at least then, if anyone is disappointed by what you two decide, you can truly say you've done your research and chosen, together, what you felt was the best option. Let us know what you decide! And thank you, Dear Reader, for complimenting our site. We're very flattered!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

A girlfriend who is recently engaged was told by her fiancé that he needs a break and wants to reconsider his proposal. How long is she to put her life on hold while he decides if he does or does not want to get married? Should she be expected to leave the home they share while they are on a break (the mortgage is in his name)? Lastly, is it appropriate for her to date others while on this break? Thanks for the advice, and your site rocks!

Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

A "break"? He wants to "reconsider his proposal"? The EGs are Aghast, Dear Reader, that your friend would tolerate Such Nonsense from a Boy! Let's just be Absolutely Clear, everyone: Your Engagement is not a 'Phone Call. You are not permitted to put it "on hold"! Either the Engagement is On, or it is Off--there is no State of Engagement Purgatory in between. If the Poor Girl were a friend of ours, we'd tell her to Run Like Hell--out of the Shared House, and, certainly, Out of the Engagement.

We're very glad you like our site, Dear Reader, and we hope our advice is helpful!

Most sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First, the good news... My fiancé and I have been shopping for engagement rings, and I found one I really want.

Now the bad news... Yesterday, I ran into one of his friends and he mentioned THE ring and the cost!

I'm VERY UPSET!!!! I don't think the cost of my engagement ring is a subject for public disclosure. I have already expressed my feelings to my fiancé and he agreed not to speak of the price to anyone else.

I don't even want to talk about rings and honeymoon plans right now because I'm so upset. I don't want to call off the engagement, but I don't know what to do. What is my next move? I don't think I can get the ring I want; I would feel uncomfortable knowing strangers know more about the ring than I would have divulged to them.

HELP!!!
Diamond Dilemma

Dear Diamond Dilemma,

First things first: The EGs definitely do not approve of people going around discussing How Much Things Are Worth. This is, indeed, Very Rude. We hear, Far, Far Too Often, "What a swell Vintage Coat! How much did you pay for it?" and we are always Rather Offended. So we think you were right to bring this to the attention of Your Fiancé. We also think that his response--of promising not to discuss this with Others--is appropriate.

However, Dear Reader, the EGs are rather troubled by the particular things you seem most concerned about. The EGs beg to remind you that Your Engagement is Not About Your Ring. No matter what Those Rules Girls would have you believe, this is simply not so! Do you want to Marry This Boy, or just Wear a Diamond? If it's merely a Pretty Ring you want, there's nothing Stopping You from trotting over to the nearest Tiffany's and plunking down your VISA! Dear Reader, the EGs are not trying to be Mean--we just think you need to Take a Deep Breath and Gain Some Perspective. You mentioned "Rings and honeymoon plans"--aren't you forgetting that Wee Thing called A Wedding that usually comes between them? And what about the Years of Marriage that then follow? If the EGs may, for a moment, impersonate Those Mysterious People Who Write the SAT, Your Engagement Ring : Your Marriage :: The Fact that You Have Nice Writing Paper : Writing a Thank-You Note. It's nice if Your Ring (and Your Writing Paper) are Exquisite. But it's not more important than the Latter Item in each half of the Analogy! As long as your fiancé keeps his word and doesn't discuss What Things Cost from now on, we think you can probably deal avec the fact that one person knows how much your potential Engagement Ring might be worth. Dear Reader, repeat after the EGs: IT IS NOT ABOUT THE RING. We hope you can Get Over This, and we wish you and your fiancé good luck and happiness.

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What does it mean if someone is invited to a bridal shower and not to the wedding?

Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

It means, "The Bride is Horrifically Greedy."

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

The girl broke off our wedding engagement. Do I get the ring back? Should I ask for it, or let her give it back if she wants to?

Jilted

Dear Jilted,

Yes, You Poor Dear, you get the ring back! No decent girl would dream of keeping a ring after an Engagement has Ended, especially if she is the One Who Ended It! (In fact, Dear Reader, we have heard that if you live in New York State, she is Required By Law to return the ring to you. But we're not the Free Legal Advice Grrls, so you might consult a Lawyer Friend.) If she is So Impolite as to Keep It, sure, go ahead and ask her for it.

Yours sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I received an e-mail from my daughter recently, informing me that she and her husband have registered at a local department store for their one-year anniversary. She has conveniently added a list of other possible choices in gifts that we might wish to pick from. Since when do people register for one-year anniversary gifts, and does this type of thing continue throughout a couple's entire marriage? Am I wrong in feeling that this is a rather greedy and uncouth request? After all, my husband and I did pay for her wedding one year ago. She has e-mailed this same request to several other family members and quite frankly, I'm embarrassed by her behavior. Please reply!!!

Mortified Mother

Dear Mortified Mother,

This crazy registering business has Got to Stop, Immediately!!! The EGs aren't sure when this Started, Dear Reader, but believe us, we do not Condone It--for a first anniversary or any anniversary thereafter. EVER. And no, Dear Reader, you are certainly not Wrong in considering your daughter's behavior to be Greedy and Uncouth. Even if for some reason she could have Convinced Herself that she Should Register, she should under no circumstances have Spread the Word to Her Family!! The EGs just abhor Greediness! We are very sorry, Dear Reader, that your daughter has behaved like this, but we have an idea for a good Anniversary Present for her. Just Follow This Link.

Best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Next week I will be meeting up with some Friends of my Grandparents (Lovely People) for Lunch or peut-être Un Café while they are Visiting my City. They recently got Engaged (at the Ages of 70 and 74!) and I would like to Congratulate them in the Appropriate Manner. Would giving them a Small Bunch of Beaux Fleurs be okay, or should I just express my Most Sincere Congratulations and enjoy the time I spend with them?

Merci!
Well-wisher

Dear Well-wisher,

Oh, How Sweet! Flowers would make a lovely gift, but if the couple is visiting your town, presenting them with flowers may be A Bit of A Hassle for them. If you take them to lunch, and they're planning An Afternoon of Museum-Going, it might be Un Peu Inconvenient to Tote the Flowers Around... or have to Drop Them Off at Their Hotel. Why not get them a Wee Something that will remind them of Their Trip? Is there a Local Specialty, like Maple Sugar Candy, that would be easier to Carry Around than Flowers? Or perhaps a Nice Book on Your City's History? If you want to do the Flowers, perhaps you could have a small arrangement sent to Their Hotel in advance of their arrival. We hope you have a Grand Time, and do convey the EGs' Best Wishes to the Happy Couple!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I love your site, and your book is great. I don't have an etiquette question, but I thought I'd share a story that my friend told me recently that's both appalling and funny. My friend's parents were invited to a wedding of a friend from work. Now we know that it's horribly tacky to include a registry card in a wedding invitation, but I must say that it's even worse to hand out "wish lists" at work-- which is exactly what this bride-to-be did. When my friend's parents attended this wedding (with an expensive gift from the request list in tow) they were shocked to see that they were the only ones dressed appropriately for a wedding! Everyone else was wearing jeans and other casual clothes, including the bride and groom! It gets worse. The reception was held in a cafeteria and the food being served consisted of cheap beer, soda, and the main dish, rice and beans. And the tables were called up one by one to get their food (they had to serve themselves...). Does this horrify you as much as if horrified me?

A Dear Reader

Dear Dear Reader,

In a Word, Yes!!! Arrrgh! Pitcher Number Two of G&Ts will now surely be Necessary! We have Had It Up to Here with the Greediness that Comes Out at People's Weddings! Now, we have no problem with Modest Celebrations, such as Potlucks, Nice Picnics, Barbecues, Garden Teas, etc. These can be Quite Lovely, and honestly, no wedding guest should expect anything more than the pleasure of Sharing the Joy of the Day with the Newly-Married Couple. In fact, the EGs will take a Simple Buffet Reception held in the Bride's Parents' Back Yard over a Big, Splashy, "Look at how much money I dropped on this party" Reception (complete with Champagne Fountain, Dove Release, Horse-Drawn Carriage, Eight-Foot Tall Cake, and some sort of Laser Light Show set to a Bette Midler Medley) ANY DAY! To this point, one's impression of an event is colored so much by what one thinks of the People Hosting It. If the Young Couple had Very, Very Limited Means, but put a Lot of Effort into creating a pleasant gathering for Their Guests, they could have served Lemonade and Cookies and everyone would have had a Smashing Time. This Young Bride, however, seems to care primarily about How Much Stuff She'll Net, and that attitude would make the Most Elegant Reception in The World seem Tacky.

The EGs have Said This Before, but we'll say it again, in case anyone was Napping. Putting Registry Cards in ANY invitation, distributing "Wish Lists," etc., etc., is just The Height Of Rudeness (THOR). The EGs don't approve of Greediness! Ever!

We're so happy you like our site and our book, Dear Reader! Perhaps it might make an Ideal Present for these Newlyweds, who clearly Could Use It.

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What is the correct way for a young gentleman to reply to a (very tasteful) wedding invitation that (quite rightly, perhaps?) lacks a response card (and stamped envelope, to boot!)?

Prostrate before your wisdom, I remain, sincerely yours...
An Invited Guest

Dear Invited Guest,

Back In The Day, invitations did not come with Response Cards. These are a Recent Invention aimed at Getting the Silly Guests to RSVP, Already!, and are not required enclosures in invitations of any sort. Many hostesses do find them Convenient, but should you receive an invitation sans Response Card, you should respond in the Traditional Manner. You do this simply by mirroring the form of the Invitation in your reply. For example, if the invitation reads:

Mr. and Mrs. Tripplethorn Wentworth III
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Miranda Smythe
to
Mr. William Knightly
Saturday, the twenty-third of September
at seven o'clock
Princeton University Chapel
Princeton, New Jersey

then you would reply:

Mr. Invited Guest
accepts with pleasure (or regrets that he is unable to accept)
the kind invitation of
Mr. and Mrs. Tripplethorn Wentworth III
for Saturday, the twenty-third of September

You should use plain white or ivory writing paper and dark blue or black ink, and you should center your reply on the page. (This may take some practice.) We hope this helps, and that (if you are accepting the invitation) you have a smashing time at the wedding!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My fiancé and I are getting married this October in Las Vegas. We're not really eloping, since we've told everyone. Many of our friends and family members are coming with us. Would it be rude to send invitations out, even though we're not having a full shebang wedding and it attending requires plane tickets and hotel rooms for everyone? We still would like as many people as possible to join us. Most of our friends and family members would have to fly to where we live now for a traditional wedding anyway. Why not make it more fun and have a half-a-shebang wedding in Vegas? What do you think? Should we make an announcement or just shut up?

Bride in Vegas

Dear Bride in Vegas,

Well, there's nothing wrong with simply getting married in Another City or, indeed, Another Country, and inviting Your Friends and Family to be there. In fact, it's Quite Nice of You to want them to come, and to be concerned about the expense for them. What, however, is a "half-a-shebang" wedding? It's still a ceremony and reception, right? We're just concerned that if you're planning, say, one of those Drive-Thru Weddings which one can indeed have in Vegas, your guests might feel un peu silly for having traveled any great distance to attend. We think it's OK for you to send out invitations as long as you are going to have something people can, in fact, attend and enjoy. If it is going to be a very, very small wedding, which many people cannot attend, you might choose to send invitations only to a very select group and announcements to everyone else.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First, thank you for your Lovely and Inspiring Column. It has been a Source of Joy for moi et mes copains. I have even linked to you on my website. But now I have a Dilemma that perhaps you can help me with.

Several weeks ago, I and mon tres cher ami sent a Gift Certificate to my Brother and His Bride-to-Be. It was sent express mail and did not reach them before they left for the Wedding; hence, it was eventually returned to The Shop.

The Shop called me sometime later to inquire how the gift might be delivered. I then emailed them to explain, sorrowfully, that while the Wedding took place as scheduled, four days later my Dear Brother passed away unexpectedly. They were So Sorry and credited my account.

What shall I do, dear EGs? My Dear Brother's Widow is in Pain. I do not wish to Trouble Her; yet, they were indeed married. I do not wish to ignore this fact by neglecting to give her something. And yet she is in No State to cope with Wedding Gifts.
Any suggestions, EGs? I await your advice.

Best wishes,
Sorrowful Sister

Dear Sorrowful Sister,

Let us first express Our Condolences to you. You have our Deepest Sympathy for the loss of Your Brother.

What a heart-breaking situation, Dear Reader. We commend you for trying to do the Right Thing... and we think thus far that you have. We agree that a Traditional Wedding-y Gift would not be Appropriate right now, given the circumstances. However, we do think that a gift presented to Your Brother's Widow in Memory of Him could be a beautiful and gracious thing to do. Perhaps you could make a Donation to Their Favorite Charity? Or purchase something that simply reminds you of Your Brother-- a framed photograph of a place that you associate with him, or a beautiful edition of a book you know he loved-- and give it to His Widow. You need not say it's in lieu of a Wedding Gift; you can just express Your Sympathy to her, and say, "I thought you might like to have this. It reminded me so much of my brother."

Most sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My son will be getting married in November. I am his birth mother. He is now thirty years old. I gave him up for adoption when I was sixteen. We were reunited six years ago and have flourished. Not only is he getting married, I am officiating as the Justice of the Peace.

I have two questions. His adoptive mother will also be there, of course. Our idea is for myself, my husband (not his father), and his adoptive mother to enter the reception hall together and be introduced as my son's parents--simple without a lot of complicated explanations.

Also, in this case, who should do the blessing before the meal? I feel it should be the oldest member present--either a patriarch or matriarch on either side. Does this sound right? Can't find any etiquette in the books on this one. Hope you can help. Thank you very much!

Birth Mother of the Groom

Dear Birth Mother of the Groom,

How do your son and his adoptive parents feel about the order of introductions as you enter the Reception Hall? We think that your instinct of avoiding "complicated explanations" is a good one--but this plan should be something your son favors.

Etiquette for blessing food varies. Without listing every possible situation, the Etiquette Grrls feel it would be nice to ask any Priest or Ordained Minister who might be In Attendance to Say the Blessing. Otherwise, the EGs are Big Fans of Honoring Our Elders, and we think it would be Peachy Keen to ask an Older Relative of the Bride or Groom to Say Grace. But do ask this person well in advance, and make sure he or she is In Favor of the Idea! It is Quite Rude Indeed to surprise someone, especially at a Large Event like a Wedding Reception, and ask them to Please Say Grace In Front of Everyone! Some people have Public-Speaking Issues, and some people just aren't comfortable in this sort of situation, so please make certain that Your Candidate for Say-er of Grace is Actually Happy to Take Part.

Best wishes to you and your son,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I am eleven years old, and I was just the bridesmaid in my parents' wedding. My parents have been together for thirteen years, and when I tell people about the wedding, they look confused. Do you have any suggestions for polite ways to deal with this problem?

Sincerely,
Maid of Honor

Dear Maid of Honor,

We're sure Other People don't mean to be Confused, but, as you probably have noticed, Other People can be Rather Dense. Our advice is to try to Ignore any Clueless Looks you might encounter. If you feel some explanation beyond "I was a bridesmaid in my parents' wedding" would help, we think the way you phrased things in your question was Perfectly Clear. However, please do not feel you owe An Explanation to anyone! No one should even DREAM of asking questions about Your Parents' Relationship, and you should feel free to tell them as much, or as little, as you want. Dear Reader, try to Forgive the Clueless People. It's a Shame, but they just Don't Know Any Better. We think it is Very Sweet that you're worried about how to Deal With Them, when they are the Rude Ones!

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I recently discovered your web site, and I am delighted by it! What a treat. Thank you. I think you are just the grrls to advise me about a dilemma I am having.

My briefcase was recently stolen. While it was terribly distressing to lose such valuables as my passport, checkbook, and keys, that was not the worst of it. My engagement ring, which I was taking to the jewelers for cleaning, was also in the stolen briefcase! My dear husband and I were both in tears upon realizing that the ring was gone. Months have gone by, so I believe the police will not find it. My husband, naturally, wishes to replace it.

My original ring was too wide to wear next to my wedding band, so I wore my engagement ring on my right hand after the wedding. Since we're going to replace it anyway, I decided I would prefer a ring that will fit on the same finger with my wedding band. My husband is fine with the replacement being something other than an exact replica. It then occurred to us that since our five-year anniversary is approaching, we could purchase an anniversary band instead of replacing the engagement ring (which, after all, is irreplaceable).

My dilemma is this: I had always considered anniversary bands tacky. I thought of them as the jewelry industry's version of Secretary's Day (and other such "holidays" invented by the greeting card industry). Is this just a personal pet peeve? Are anniversary bands generally considered tacky, or are they as acceptable as any other form of (nice) jewelry? Are there other etiquette implications when replacing a stolen engagement ring after one is already married? I eagerly await your advice.

Sincerely,
T.L.

Dear T.L.,

Oh, How Distressing! The EGs cannot even think How Distraught we would be to have Suffered Such a Loss! You Poor Dear! We do hope that despite the Amount of Time which has passed, a Sharp-Witted Officer of the Law will Crack the Case and Recover Your Ring.

The EGs, also, think the idea of "Anniversary Bands" is rather Tacky. We're always a little bit suspicious of Those DeBeers Ads. What's next, the "Birth of Your First Child Tennis Bracelet"? But we digress. Dear Reader, remember that what is Tacky about "Anniversary Bands" is only that they are Marketed as Anniversary Bands. Plenty of people had that same Style of Ring well before the Marketing People got their Grubby Little Hands on it and decided it should be called an "Anniversary Band." In fact, when EGL and Her Then-Boyfriend (Now Fiancé) were strolling through Jewelry Stores, looking at Rings, a nice salesman in Shreve's told us that the three-stone engagement ring has always been popular In Boston, and that he thinks it is a Bit Odd that it is now being called an "Anniversary Band." Formerly, he said, it was simply known as a Boston Setting. So, Dear Reader, we say, if you like the Style of a Ring, get it, and To Hell avec the Marketing Spin! And might we suggest looking at Estate Jewelry? That, after all, was made before Those Annoying Diamond Ads, and thus bears Absolutely None of Their Sleaziness.

Many thanks for saying such Nice Things about Our Site! We do hope this has helped you, Dear Reader--let us know what kind of ring you choose!

Most sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

One of my closest long-term friends has announced her engagement, and asked me to be her "maid of honor." I am delighted and thrilled to stand by her side as she takes her vows, but I'm not sure what else this position of honor entails, as I am a man, and have never attended a bridal shower (which I believe I am supposed to throw). I plan to assist with local arrangements, as she lives across the country but will be getting married here. What else should I expect in this otherwise traditional ceremony? (Don't be ridiculous, I am not wearing a dress!)

Mr. Maid of Honor

Dear Mr. Maid of Honor,

Sometimes the EGs think they have seen it all, but we have not seen a male maid of honor. Not yet, anyway. However, you must have a very special friendship with the Bride-To-Be, if she has asked you to take such an important role at an otherwise traditional wedding! We imagine that the Future Bride would be your best source for what to expect during the ceremony. While we could tell you what the general duties of a MOH are, the Bride may want to alter them slightly to suit her ceremony, so we recommend you ask her to go through the plan in detail. As for the shower, that is traditionally held by the MOH, but perhaps you might work with other members of the bridal party to plan it, as they will probably be more familiar with what goes on than you. You sound like a Great Sport to participate in Your Friend's Wedding, and the Etiquette Grrls send our best wishes! Do send updates!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I love the site! Maybe you can help me with yet another wedding question. My brother married his girlfriend of ten years last summer and I made it through the event without making any major faux pas, but now it is time for me to give them a first anniversary gift. I know there are specific gift themes for each year of marriage, but I have no idea where to find them listed. I saw some really cute things in tin, could that be the theme for year number one?

Please advise,
Sister-in-Crisis

Dear Sister-in-Crisis,

Thank you so much for your kind words! The theme for a first anniversary is Paper. Which means, of course, that one of the EGs' very favorite things, Lovely Writing Paper, would make a perfect gift.

Have fun shopping,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First off, thank you for maintaining such a wonderful site. It's become my Monday afternoon tradition to read your thoughtful (and often very entertaining) advice.

Now I would like to ask for a bit of guidance. I recently became engaged (and haven't stopped smiling since, although I've been trying not to make "I'm getting married!" the very first thing I say to people). My fiancé and I, having never been engaged before, are at a loss for what we should do now that we've told our immediate family and friends. Should we tell our distant family now, or just send them a wedding announcement when the time comes?

Also, my parents are separated and my father is in a difficult financial situation whereas my mother has retired and is doing quite well for herself. They get along very well, but I'm concerned that my dad will feel bad that he will not be able to help us out with the wedding. We're more concerned about *actually getting married* than having the elaborate niceties (although it would be nice to do something special, since this is the biggest party we'll ever throw)... My question (pardon my rambling) is this: can you think of some way that I can ask my dad to be involved in the planning process without in a way that the financial issue isn't an issue? I'd really like him to be a part of everything and I don't want him to feel frustrated.

Thank you very much, and again thank you for such a wonderful site and congratulations on your book! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Sincerely,
Jenn

Dear Jenn,

First, the EGs would like to offer you our Congratulations and Very Best Wishes on your Engagement! What splendid news, Dear Reader! And thank you ever so much for your kind words about Our Site and Our Book. We are very glad you visit us each Monday!

Regarding Distant Relatives, the EGs think you probably do not have to call, or write, to them all and announce your engagement to them. We do assume that you mean your second cousin, twice removed, who lives 3,000 miles away, and with whom you do not normally correspond or exchange telephone calls. If you do, perchance, happen to speak or write to this second cousin, you would of course share your news, but you don't need to do so just because you are Related. If, however, we're talking about your second cousin, twice removed, who lives 3,000 miles away but with whom you spent every single summer of your childhood at the Family Beach House, well, then, you might want to drop her a line. Then you would say something like, "Dear Priscilla, I know it's been ages since we've talked, but I simply had to write and share some Very Big News with you... I'm engaged! I so wish we weren't so distant, because I would really love to introduce my fiancé, Roderick, to you and your husband. We plan to be married next June 22... it would be really wonderful if you could be there, but of course I understand that it would be Quite a Trek for you. I hope all is going very well for you out in Portland... how is the New House, and how are things going at work?... etc." Of course, if your family is anything like that of the Recently-Engaged EG, the grapevine, led by the Etiquette Mom, will take care of notifying every single relative.

Dear Reader, we think there are plenty of ways you can involve your dad in the Wedding Planning without Hitting Him Up for Cash! We do think it might be a good idea to sit down, individually, with him and with Your Mom to go over the budget and, in the case of your dad, let him know that while you don't expect him to make a big financial contribution, you hope he will be involved with Planning the Wedding. (The EGs aren't terribly keen on discussing money, but in a case like this we feel it would be the best thing to do. It would be bad if your dad, say, took out a Second Mortgage or something silly like that just because you hadn't discussed things.) Does your dad like Music? Maybe he can help you select songs for the ceremony, or help you evaluate musicians' demo tapes. Maybe he could help you with the Seating Plan for the reception... or pick Readings for the Ceremony... we think that asking someone's opinion on Significant Issues is a nice honor, and a good way to make someone feel involved, even if they're not Writing Out Checks.

Best of luck to you, Dear Reader, in Planning Your Wedding, and we wish you and Your Future Husband Much Happiness!

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I just received a note from a friend stating how nice it was to have me at her wedding, which was about 10 months ago. She also thanked me for the forthcoming gift and assured me her and her husband would enjoy it. Yes, I have dragged my feet, but I also was under the impression it was acceptable to give a wedding gift within a year following the wedding. I saw my friend shortly after the wedding and made it clear I knew she hadn't yet received my gift, but I wouldn't forget her. Now, I feel like a scolded child and her expectance reduces any joy I have in giving the gift. I like to send something personal and I do take my time, but I've never gone over a year and I've never not sent a gift. Is it better to send a card right away and follow when I find the right gift to send? Or do I just resort to an impersonal registry gift? Furthermore, I know I need to have manners in this regard, so do I just dream about pointing out to my friend how rude it was to remind me to send her gift or is there a tactful way to let her know she hurt my feelings?

Un Peu en Retard

Dear Un Peu en Retard,

Okay, Dear Reader, first we need to Make It Clear that the EGs think the "You have one year to give a Wedding Gift" rule is A Bunch of Hogwash. What, we wonder, is so Incredibly Difficult about selecting a Gift, even if One Takes One's Time to find something Perfect (as one obviously should with Any Gift)? Usually, one knows about a Dear Friend's Upcoming Wedding well in advance, and we humbly suggest that if you for some reason feel you need four months to Shop, you Just Get Started Early. Note that we are Not Saying to just Pick Something Impersonal and Random from a Registry, or anything of the sort-- we just think that Procrastination is Never a Good Thing.

However, isn't your friend is being Quite the Snippy Little Newlywed! We think it is Extremely Rude and Greedy of her to send you a Gift Reminder. (Would she, perchance, be the Sort of Bride who made you Pre-Address the Envelope for Your Thank-You Note at Her Shower? Just Wondering.) She assured you that "she and her husband would enjoy it"? What a Catty Thing to Say! We think that the Best Thing that could come of this would be for both you and your friend to Change Your Ways and become, respectively, a Prompt Gift-Giver and an Unselfish Person. (To accomplish this, we recommend you both read and discuss a copy of This Very Helpful Book.)

Sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

This letter pertains to an altercation that happened between a friend of mine and me right after September 11. My friend was getting married on September 14, and I was slated to travel to Baltimore from my home in Brooklyn, N.Y., by car on Thursday night.

Due to the following circumstances, I did not attend the wedding. First, because of street closings, I was not able to get to my rental car as of Thursday night (and Friday was iffy). Taking a train to Baltimore was too expensive, and a bus was out of the question; neither option permitted travel with a pet, and I was not leaving my cat alone in my apartment (especially with the smell and the smoke wafting over my apartment). Plus, everyone and their brother was trying to leave NYC that week, so the bus and train stations were a tad crowded. On top of all this, my parents were strongly advising me to stay put since travel in and out of NYC was limited at best, and they could tell how absolutely scared out of my wits I was (I figured out later that I was passing under the buildings on a subway when the first plane hit). The bride's parents were already informed that I would not be attending.

The problem came with my friend when I told her I would not be coming. She didn't think she could forgive me-- this would be 10 times worse than when we were separated on the bus in third grade. She mentioned that others were renting cars and driving (finding another rental in NYC that week was next to impossible, not to mention expensive). I tried to explain what I was going through, that I was afraid to leave my house and how disturbing the whole experience had been to have survived a terrorist attack, but it was to no avail.

I have not heard from my friend since. My mother reported that everyone who attended the wedding asked how I was and understood my desire to not travel. The bride was the only one without sympathy.

I can see now that it is for the best that this ungrateful person is out of my life, but I still wanted your take on the situation. Interestingly, any New Yorker to whom I've related this story has been appalled; all others are just astounded at the level of selfishness displayed at such a trying time. I don't think bride-to-be jitters could excuse her callousness. I could see if she was upset at losing the money for the dinner, but since I gave her hundreds of dollars of free design work as a wedding gift, she made out okay. I was also at her first wedding (at which she was six months pregnant).

I love your Web site and support your efforts at making this a more polite and refined world! THANKS!

A Reader in Brooklyn

Dear Reader in Brooklyn,

Holy Mary, Mother of God-- this girl is being Completely Horrible!! Yes, skipping someone's wedding might be 10 times worse than getting separated on the bus in third grade, but you were only skipping it as a Direct Consequence of the Most Horrible Act Ever Committed on American Soil! That's a Little More Serious than ANYTHING that could have happened while you were on the School Field Trip to Old Sturbridge Village in 1985! What the hell is WRONG with her?? No, Dear Reader, nothing excuses Callousness Like This. Absolutely NOTHING. Even if others were driving down, your city went through an Unimaginably Terrifying Event, and not everyone deals with that in the same way! The EGs have some Dear Friends who wanted to Get Out of Town Immediately, and felt better doing so, and we have other Dear Friends who were Shell-Shocked, rendered physically and emotionally incapable of leaving their homes for Quite a While after September 11. And we understood that These Responses (and a whole Spectrum of Others) were Totally Acceptable. Oh, Dear Reader, the EGs' Hearts Break that anyone could be So Mean to someone who had just lived through Such An Atrocity! For Shame!

We hope you are doing well, Dear Reader, and we assure you that any person with the Merest Shred of Decency would have Understood.

Most sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

A friend is getting married in December in a suburb where everyone pretends they are old money. She and her groom have decided to make the wedding "black tie optional." Now, I think this is both ikky and a cop-out. First of all, it's not prom, and they're not the Royal Family. Secondly, either make it black tie or don't. If you want your guests to wear black tie, just tell them to wear black tie. My brother and some other relatives are threatening to go the pastel tux route (with black ties, of course.) Is "black tie optional" as rude as I think it is? What do I wear?

Thank you,
Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

You're right! "Black Tie Optional" is entirely silly! We think this sort of dress code just serves to make people feel either Conspicuously Overdressed or Conspicuously Underdressed, and we're not Big Fans of Making Your Guests Feel Bad About Themselves.

We think the origins of "Black Tie Optional" were probably In Good Faith, but we still think this needs to stop. Now. If you would like your guests to wear Black Tie, then say so. (Of course, the Etiquette Grrls dearly wished we all lived in a world where everyone simply knew that invitations for weddings, formal dances, etc., meant "Wear Black Tie" without anyone having to Say So, but, sadly, those days are Long Gone. Sniff.)

Dear Reader, you should really discourage your relatives from wearing Pastel Tuxes. While this would be funny, in theory, it's Un Peu Rude to Make a Spectacle of Oneself at someone else's Wedding. (Although between you, the EGs, and The Lamppost, we think that These Nincompoops Are Asking For It...) If you happen to own your own Evening Clothes, then fine, wear them if you feel like it, otherwise merely wear Your Best Suit.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Your site is truly excellent, and quite helpful. Your Random Capitalization and French-phrase peppering are an entertaining assertion of style and character.

Anyhow, here is my question: Assuming you're an average, employed late-twentysomething, neither rich nor poor, what is a proper amount to spend on a wedding present? Is there a sort of "schedule" of appropriate expenditure based on your relationship with the people who are being married?

For example what would you spend for: a family member vs. close friend vs. co-worker vs. friend in your group but you're not actually that close to said person?

Or is it totally just a case of "it depends on how you feel about that person"? I would appreciate your thoughts.

Perplexed Gift-Giver

Dear Perplexed Gift-Giver,

How kind of you to compliment us on our site! Merci beaucoup! We're glad you've found our advice helpful; we do so enjoy answering the Etiquette Quandaries of our Dear Readers.

As for your particular quandary, though... yikes! While the Etiquette Grrls are All in Favor Of Clear-Cut Rules, there are just too many variables here. All of the factors you've mentioned regarding the closeness of the relationship apply, but also, we imagine the appropriate amount to spend would Vary Widely depending upon Where You Live (are you in New York? or a Remote Small Town?), exactly what you mean by "neither rich nor poor" (very relative to the Circle You Move In), etc.

We would simply say that it is not the amount you spend but whether the gift accurately conveys how you feel about its intended recipient. After all, you could find lovely, yet inexpensive, Silver Candlesticks at a Flea Market, and they might be the perfect gift for a Very Dear Friend who happens to Collect Silver Candlesticks. Any bride who would care about how much each guest has spent on a gift sounds like a Rather Tacky Bride, in the Etiquette Grrls' opinion, so we would encourage you to enjoy shopping for gifts and not worry about the price!

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I discovered you through a friend whom I am visiting in New York. You helped her with a matter pertaining to ladies and ale. Needless to say, you are now the darling of the beautiful set in Australia. Much Congrats, you fabulous Creatures. I thought that I would ask about a certain quandary that I face. The other day I received a wedding invitation. The couple stated that in lieu of gifts, guests should deposit money into their bank accounts. I was horrified. There were many private attacks of the vapours. This horror does not end here. The Couple then called my friend in New York to tell of the gift arrangement. She did not say anything to them, but she felt mortified because she had brought them a beautiful American quilt, figuring that they would be delighted to receive a parcel from across the Atlantic. I don't think that she should have to send money to a wedding that she won't attend. Such Greedy People don't deserve anything. I know that I am all upset and therefore possibly un peu irrational, so we could both really do with the wise counsel of your good selves.

Yours in anticipation,
Horrified Guest

P.S. Why do people sit in the back of cabs here? It seems awfully unfriendly.

Dear Horrified Guest,

"In lieu of gifts, guests should deposit money into their bank accounts"??? Pardon the EGs whilst we toss back a Few G&Ts to Recover Our Composure. We think this is Unspeakably Rude! Any mention of Gifts on any Invitation is Bad Manners, but to Demand Cash is the Too Tacky For Words! What's next, asking for a Blank, Voided Check and the Routing Number of each Guest's Bank Account so that a Predetermined Amount of Money can be Directly Deducted? The EGs remind Our Dear Readers that Selecting Gifts is the Prerogative of the Gift-Giver, and no matter the occasion, you should feel free to give any gift you feel is Appropriate. The EGs wouldn't send this Couple One Red Cent, thank you very much. We think the Beautiful Quilt your friend chose sounds like the Epitome of Thoughtfulness, and we feel that your friend should definitely send it instead of Money (assuming she has not chosen to Sever Ties avec this Rude Couple due to their Horrific Behavior). If you decide to Forgive the Greedy Couple, you should also shop for a Real Gift--sending it, rather than the Cash They've Demanded, should Convey the Message that you've chosen to Ignore their Tacky, Selfish Orders.

Regarding your second question, that's just the way it works in the U.S., we're afraid. Plus, most cab drivers in New York are Rather Scary, and we'd rather not be seated in the front of the car when the driver plows into an Unfortunate Pedestrian (something we are always Sure Will Happen each time we take a Taxi). We bet Cabbies in Australia are Rather More Polite, and refrain from Burning Incense / Listening to Frightening AM "Religious" Broadcasts / Leering at the EGs, etc.--other reasons we've always been Thankful there's a Divider between Ourselves and the Driver.

Finally, thank you very much for Your Compliments, Dear Reader! We have always been grateful to have an International Audience, and, indeed, to Our Delight, have Corresponded with many Australian Fans. We hope that Your Circle will not hesitate to Contact Us with any Etiquette Questions they may have.

Yours sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I'm trying to plan a wedding for next summer, but my excitement is starting to wear thin. My parents are not traditional --my brother is getting married this September and they are splitting the costs with his fiancé's family. They were expecting to do the same with my fiancé's family for ours. The catch? His parents are VERY traditional and will only contribute what is their responsibility. (This is the answer they gave when we asked.) Our problem? What, exactly, is the groom's family's responsibility? The only thing we know is the rehearsal dinner. Other things vary from magazine to magazine. Some say limos, others the church costs, some even include flowers. We are at a loss what to expect --and it would help to know what we need to budget for. (You're probably thinking why don't we just ask them, but that is simply not done--don't ask.)

Thanks,
Seriously Considering a Vegas Chapel

Dear Seriously Considering a Vegas Chapel,

Well, honestly, we're not sure the groom's family has to contribute anything. Traditionally, there are expenses that are the responsibility of the groom himself, but we've consulted our favorite Old Etiquette Books, and about the only thing the groom's family really should do is throw a luncheon, dinner, or party for their son's fiancée to introduce her to Their Circle of Friends. There are several things that are, traditionally, the groom's responsibility; these could, we suppose, be extended to the groom's family, if they wished to help. Like the Rehearsal Dinner. We're sorry to be the Bearers of Bad News! However, the Etiquette Grrls wonder, if your fiancé's parents are truly traditional, why they haven't a very clear idea of what they expect they should pay for. We do hope that if you need their help, they'll offer to assist you, but if they do not, the Etiquette Grrls are sure you can have a lovely, elegant wedding, whatever your budget may be. And yes, Dear Reader, there's always Vegas.

With best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My ex-roommate (who dropped out of school in the middle of last year, though we remain friends) is getting married on April 7. She's sending me an invitation, but I won't be able to make it up to Washington for the event. I do, however, want to send her a gift to show that I wish her well. There are a few problems:

1) I can't stand her husband-to-be. I don't know where to begin, but basically he's one of those kids who uses his trust fund for evil instead of good. (Rockets for the side of your car? What are you, twelve???) I'm polite to him, but honestly, she could do better.

2) The second problem is that the reason for their marriage is Surprise! she's pregnant. I'm not a big fan of premarital pregnancy and hasty marriages in case of a "surprise," but it's happened and it's a little too late for moral objections.

3) Finally, taking into consideration that they're "in a family way," and they don't have any reliable means of supporting themselves aside from his fast-diminishing trust fund, I want to get them something useful. A book of love poetry might be nice and romantic to couples with a little more foresight, and a blender might be boring but useful, but what is the best, non-insulting thing to get a couple in this situation?

Now, I know that the EGs would agree with me that the whole affair drips with bad taste, but what's done is done, and another person's bad taste is no excuse for poor etiquette on my part.

Sincerely,
In Need of Advice

Dear In Need of Advice,

My, my, my. Dear Reader, you have Sent the EGs into Shock with your mention of a Boy avec Rockets on the Side of His Car. The EGs have never heard of such Ridiculous Antics! We wish to remind everyone that, no, sorry, you are not a Superhero, and you should therefore not have any Wacky Superhero Accoutrements on Your Car, in Your Home, or upon Your Person. Oh, Dear Reader, we think the world is Going to Hell in a Handbasket! But we digress.

Dear Reader, this affair is not merely Dripping with Bad Taste, it's a Veritable Tsunami Wave of it. Yet you are Correct, of course, that you are still obligated to Behave Properly. If you would like to get a gift for them, feel free to get something Practical. (We wouldn't, however, be Ultra-Practical and get them, say, A Baby Stroller, which would be un peu Insulting.) Something for Their New Home would be in Excellent Taste. A Blender would be Perfectly Fine (as a Matter of Fact, there are some absolutely Darling Retro-Style Blenders that the EGs would simply Adore... check at Williams-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel). Other ideas would be a Nice Set of Mixing Bowls, or Mugs, or Glasses.

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I'm 34 and getting married for the first time. My fiancé is 37 and this is also his first marriage. We've accumulated LOTS of stuff over the years. We don't need a bunch of towels, dishes, etc. We need cash or gift certificates. What's the best way to let gift-giving well wishers know in advance, tactfully?

The Intended

Dear The Intended,

Gee, are the EGs experiencing Déjà Vu? Anybody else heard this question here before?

For those new to EGs.com, we'll Repeat Ourselves. Dear Reader, there's No Way In Hell to do what you propose in Any Tactful Manner. Yes, you heard the EGs correctly: NO WAY IN HELL. And that, Dear Reader, is That.

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

 

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