I have an etiquette quandary that has been nagging at me for some time. I suspect I’m already in eHell for prevaricating and not addressing it sooner but better late than never right?
Background: I live in the UK (therefore bear cultural and social differences in mind here) and received a 3rd hand word-of-mouth invitation to an event being held by the Masons. Apparently it is a Masonic ‘Ladies gala/ball/dinner’. As I have not received a formal invitation I can’t tell you the exact details but my understanding is that periodically the Masons host these ladies nights that are more ‘relaxed’ in terms of whatever strict invite protocols they operate under. Again, I may be misinformed. This has come 3rd hand after all.
The invitation (or lack thereof): So my Father’s Aunt’s Husband (Uncle by marriage and hereafter referred to as ‘Uncle A’) is a Mason of whatever degree and his daughter recently married a lovely man, B (her second marriage). Now Uncle A, being a Mason, can recommend others to join the Masons and he previously recommended his daughter’s first husband and now he’s recommended second husband, B.
Sorry it gets a little complicated but bear with me, you need the background.
So Uncle A has recommended Second Cousin’s Husband, B to join the Masons. As such, now Uncle A AND Second Cousin’s Husband B can BOTH invite non-masons to this Ladies gala/ball/dinner thing.
Following some minor family strife that is now resolved, my Father and his Aunt have reconnected and as a family we once again enjoy a close relationship with Uncle A, Aunt D and their adult children. I am glad of this as I am especially fond of Aunt D and both Cousin E and her husband B are lovely and we really enjoy their company.
The situation: My parents received a word-of-mouth invitation from both Uncle A and Cousin B inviting them to this ladies ball/gala/dinner thing. I BELIEVE (and I may be wrong) that they have not received a written invitation but only a verbal one via telephone. During the conversation it was explicitly stated that both my Sister and her Husband and myself and my fiancé are also invited.
The Problem: It costs money. A lot of money. The event is being hosted in a hotel a couple of hours drive away from where we live. Now a daytime event would probably be fine because we’d travel there and back in the day but the expectation is that following the dinner we will socialise (meaning drinks and dancing) with Aunt and Uncle, Cousins E and B, then stay at the hotel and meet the family for breakfast the next day and spend the day together. As alcohol is involved it is not practical for us to drive up, attend the dinner, then leave.
The dinner itself also costs money. There is a cost per plate, plus the hotel, plus traveling expenses (and I’m sorry America but if you think fuel is pricey in the US you want to try filling up your tank in the UK – I’d give anything to pay what you pay for fuel!). On top of this we have pets we would have to arrange accommodation for. A cat and 4 Rabbits which need to be kept separate until they are old enough to be neutered. So in addition to the £100+ for the Room, the £50 per plate cost and the £60 worth of fuel it would cost to travel to this event plus boarding fees for the pets, attending this event would cost Fiancé and I in excess of £300. We’d probably have to hire some formal wear for Fiancé too as he doesn’t own formal evening dress.
Sorry it’s so long but are you still with me? So the quandary I face is this: We’ve been invited verbally to an event that we have to pay a LOT to attend. We can’t afford to attend this event. My parents and my sister and her husband will be attending but we simply don’t have the money with the work we’re doing on renovating our house. As we have not received a formal, written invitation and our invitation to this event was passed on via my mother who spoke with Uncle A and Aunt E, where do I stand on RSVPs? My feeling is that because the event is not free and attendance is subject to essentially ‘buying a ticket’, I am not obligated to RSVP. I have verbally expressed our regrets that we are unable to attend this event to both Uncle and Aunt as well as Cousin and B. As they are not the ‘hosts’ and are merely using their ability to invite non-Masons to a Masons event do I owe them a formal RSVP? 0603-14
The type of RSVP one should give correlates to the type of invitation one receives. You cannot make a “formal RSVP” in response to an invitation you never received. And I would be very leery of 3rd hand invitations to any function. If the event is that special and important, the invitations would reflect that. You were, however, verbally invited to more than just the dance/ball, namely socializing afterwards with the families, and you did just fine telling them by telephone that you cannot attend this particular event right now.