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Wedding Wednesday – A Lesson Heartily Learned

I have been reading this site a fair bit over the last few years, and always find it both entertaining and instructive. Recently though, when I’ve made the odd comment giving my opinion on the subject at hand, I’ve found myself thinking “would I have had the same reaction to this post five, ten, fifteen years ago?” It’s made me realise that sometimes I’m judging people from the privileged position of experience, and at least some knowledge of etiquette (most of which I’ve gleaned from this very site).

I thought it might be interesting to see if anyone else has committed crimes against etiquette and graceful behaviour in the past, which cause them now to look back and cringe at their former selves. Here’s my own story, which concerns my wedding.

My husband and I married about twelve years ago, in our mid-twenties. I’ll leave out most of the details so as not to get mired in unnecessary description. Briefly, it was a traditional church ceremony followed by a catered buffet reception at the same venue. We invited about sixty people, about fifty of who attended, a mix of family and good friends. Overall it was a lovely day, and we still occasionally get compliments on the relaxed and happy atmosphere, the ceremony (particularly the music), the venue, and my dress (£180 from Monsoon, for those in the UK. If only I could still fit into it!) The only “mishaps” were my BIL spilling water all down the front of his suit while moving a pedestal of flowers, and the fact that I preferred my bridesmaid’s bouquet to my own! Oh well.

And so straight to my faux pas, and I’m afraid it’s a major one. We included a “registry” with the invitations. Worse, that registry was what I can only describe in hindsight as a cash-grab. (I assure you I am wincing as I type this). I don’t have an excuse for this. It was an action borne of ignorance, and, if I force myself to be brutally honest, a bit of over-excited greed.

My husband and I had been saving up for our honeymoon throughout our engagement (sixteen months), and had booked it all about two months before our wedding. At the time, I thought one was supposed to receive gifts at one’s wedding; I thought that was just the way it was. And what we wanted was some extra spending money for our honeymoon (yep, still cringing hard over here). Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I was going to include the actual text from the dreaded “Gift List” in this submission, but I’ve just looked through my wedding memory box, and it isn’t there. I have copies of the save the date card, the invitation itself, the order of service, and the readings we had (the officiant read Song of Solomon 8. 6-7, my dad read a passage from The Fellowship of the Ring, and my best friend [my bridesmaid] read Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken). But I no longer have a copy of that dreaded gift list. I can’t say I’m surprised, as I had a vague memory of, at some point in the intervening years, having got rid of the wretched thing, and so I must have done.

So as accurately as I can reproduce from memory, it said something like “We do not expect gifts, but if you would like to make a contribution to our honeymoon, here are some ideas.”  There then followed a list ranging from “posh dinner out” at £80 / $150, through things like museum admission and cinema tickets, down to “public transit tickets for the day” at £5 / $9. (We’re British, our honeymoon was to the U.S., and at the time the exchange rate heavily favoured the pound over the dollar). It was printed in the same font and on the same type of paper as the invitation, on a separate piece of paper, but enclosed in the same envelope.

What were we thinking?! I’ll be as honest as I can. While we did believe at the time that it was usual protocol to provide gift lists, we were also pleasurably excited at the thought of receiving cash gifts that we would benefit from. And as I said before, I can really only put that down to greed on our part. Looking back on it, two things in particular about our gift list really stand out to me, aside from the incredible idiocy of including it in the first place: 1) The fact that we included “prices” in both pounds and dollars, which adds a rather special tackiness to the whole thing. 2) The wording that introduced the dreadful document. “We do not expect gifts, but if you would like to… “ As I said, I’m reproducing the wording from memory only, but I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate. And looking at it with wiser eyes, my own wording now says quite plainly to me: “We know we’re asking for something we have no right to, but we want it, so we’re going to ask for it anyway”. In other words: a greedy, thoughtless guilt-trip.

As a side note, it surprises me looking back that neither my mum or dad vetoed this. They are both the type of person to tactfully speak up if they think I’m about to make a mistake, they are both well-mannered and considerate people, and my mum in particular cares what others think, and has a horror of doing anything rude or gauche for no reason. The fact that they blithely posted these gift-grabbing enclosures along with the invitations can only suggest to me that they themselves had no idea there was anything wrong with it. I want to be clear that I’m not making excuses for my actions. Do I wish that, twelve years ago, someone had stepped in and told us how rude and tacky my husband and I were being? Of course. But I also know that we’re reasonably intelligent people who, had we stopped to think properly about what we were doing, would’ve known that we were doing the wrong thing.

Which is the main reason I’m so grateful for this site. The most important lesson I’ve gotten from it over the years is to always ask the question, often mentioned by Admin, “who does this serve?” In some cases, of course, I think it’s okay for the answer to be “me”, but that’s in situations that involve my ongoing quest to develop a polite spine. In the tale I just told, the answer should have alerted me to the mistake we were making, had I but known to ask the question in the first place. In the long run, I hope that asking myself that question has taught me to be a bit more gracious and a lot less selfish.

So this submission is in part a thank you: to the Admin for keeping up this site and for her often wise advice, and to my fellow readers and commenters for their experience and perspectives. I can honestly say that EHell has played a big part in teaching me, over the years, to become a more well-rounded and thoughtful person.

So does anyone else have any past etiquette crimes to confess? Awkward, tacky, or just plain heinous things they did in the past but would know better than to do now? I for one would probably feel better for hearing them! And if Admin or commenters are so inclined, I’ll gladly take my lumps for the gift list debacle. While it’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart, fresh eyes on the situation couldn’t hurt. There may be perspectives I hadn’t considered.   1208-16

You won’t get any recriminations from me!   In my own life there are life lessons that still make me cringe in horror when I’m reminded of them.   We learn to apply limitations on attitudes, expectations and behavior by having a well developed sense of propriety that cringes when we think of how we may have taken advantage of people for our own selfishness.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lkb September 27, 2017, 5:00 am

    OP, please don’t beat yourself up over this. While what you described is against the rules of etiquette, there is also the matter of local custom. I did something similar, putting registry cards in our wedding invitations, not having a clue that it could be perceived as a gift grab. However, ours was the second of 14 weddings I attended over a two year period(!) and to the best of my recollection, every invitation we received had them.

    Personally, when I see such a thing today, I just kind of shrug and move on. I’m sure your guests did the same. I daresay some of your guests may have been grateful that you provided ideas for them.

    Peace and blessings to you and yours,

  • Saucygirl September 27, 2017, 6:23 am

    When I got married I worked at a small company with less then 15 employees, so everyone was invited. One guy responded yes for him and his spouse. But they were notorious flakes. So I told him that if they didn’t show up I would be pissed cause it was a small venue and their two spots meant two other people couldn’t come (which means I’m also guilty of a and b lists) and I would charge him the $100 they cost me. To be honest though, it’s now almost 20 years later and I would probably still tell a flaky friend that they better show. I just wouldn’t add the rest ?

    • Victoria September 28, 2017, 7:42 am

      So, did he show?

      • Saucygirl September 28, 2017, 1:36 pm

        They did!

  • Girlie September 27, 2017, 7:19 am

    I didn’t send out thank you cards for my wedding presents. We had a small wedding, and it was generous with good food, good music, and good drinks. I have no excuse for not sending them, and I regret and am embarrassed that I did not do so. It was several years before I realized that I should have done so.

    Last year, when I had my child, I sent out a thank you note to every single individual who gave us something. If they sent us multiple items (such as one aunt who sent a gift for a shower and then sent a gift card after my daughter’s birth), they got multiple thank you cards. I made a promise to myself to get them out no later than the day after the shower, and you know what? I had several women commend me for both their timeliness and their content. It doesn’t ease my embarrassment, but I do hope it helps atone for my E-Hell sins.

  • Elizabeth September 27, 2017, 7:28 am

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, OP. My husband convinced me to have a “dollar dance” at our wedding, despite my mother’s trying desperately to convince me it was tacky. But, it was common at the time in our area, and (cringe) we were excited at the prospect of all that cash to use on our honeymoon. I wish I had listened to my mother, because I still look back on it with regret. Luckily, as I mentioned it was being done at every wedding at the time that we attended, so at the very least we didn’t stand out. Still!! Sheesh.

    • Mindblown September 27, 2017, 4:19 pm

      I always wonder —do you get much money from a dollar dance?

      • Victoria September 28, 2017, 7:45 am

        I had a dollar dance as well. My grandmother and mother insisted on it. It wasn’t planned, my grandmother found a little glass dish, set it on the head table, put $5 in it, and cut into my dance with my husband. Then my mother put in $1 and cut into that dance.

        We ended up with about $45.

      • Elizabeth September 28, 2017, 8:22 am

        We actually did, it was several hundred dollars!

  • Emmy September 27, 2017, 7:57 am

    I am glad I came across this site before my wedding. I was thinking about inviting people to a wedding shower without inviting them to the wedding. My idea was to keep the cost and size of the wedding down yet to include more people in the wedding festivities. Although it was not my intention, it would have come across as a gift grab. So researching that idea and asking on the discussion forum, I was quickly able to turn it down (as well as some other bad advice like my friend’s idea of a dollar dance). Makes me cringe that I actually thought of it now.

    There are people who are blatantly rude, but my own experience tells me that several other people may be clueless or following bad advice. Your ‘who does this serve’ question is helpful. When I asked about the shower idea (as well as anything else), I appreciated the people who answered honestly and respectfully.

  • Anon September 27, 2017, 8:24 am

    I think it is not necessary to flagellate yourself. People make mistakes! And I think you offer an important lesson: so often we hear of faux-pas like these and assume that their makers are doing so full well knowing that its rude, but are more strongly motivated by greed. Clearly that was not the case with you, and probably for a lot of people. Rather, people can be ignorant of etiquette, or simply have not thoroughly considered how it might come across. And your story does suggest that a close friend or relative might have been able to pull you aside for a kind word and perhaps successfully guided you to another course. Obviously it depends on a lot of factors, but if I’m ever in the position to offer that word of advice, I will be more apt to take it.

  • Kira September 27, 2017, 9:32 am

    This etiquette breach makes me cringe-my only excuse is that I was young. Two co-workers were getting married. My best friend (BFF) and her husband were invited, and I was not. Totally understandable as my relationship with this couple came through my BFF. My BFF’s husband had a work schedule change sometime between the RSVP date and the wedding, so BFF asked the bride if I could come as her plus 1. The extremely gracious bride then invited both my husband and I to the wedding, which we attended.

    Looking back, I am so uncomfortable that we butted our way in to a wedding we were not really invited to. But what a classy bride!

    • Dee September 27, 2017, 2:30 pm

      Kira – I don’t think you did anything wrong – your BFF asked the bride if she could take you as her plus 1, which is totally fine, and the bride then offered to have both you AND your husband attend. That was on the bride, not on you. You were polite, your BFF was polite, and the bride was both polite and generous. It seems as if it was a win-win for everyone.

  • Susan. Haverland September 27, 2017, 9:37 am

    Wow. I am surprised no one told you that is so inappropriate. Specially asking for this and that . ? What’s done is done . We all make mistakes, so
    I would let it go . Have happy memories of your wedding .

  • Michelle September 27, 2017, 11:11 am

    I think the fact that you realize it now is more than many people would do.

  • Theodora'sMommy September 27, 2017, 12:01 pm

    My biggest faux pas that I know of happened when I was about 17. We were invited to my cousin’s very expensive wedding. It was taking place in their hometown, about 4 hours from where we lived, and the bride’s father was even splashing out for hotel accommodations for out-of-towners. At that age I didn’t want to be away from my boyfriend for even a second, and made a huge stink about not wanting to go without him. I had, very correctly, not been given a +1. I have no excuses, I was just being an ignorant teenager.

    Here’s where my Mom made an even bigger faux pas… she called my aunt, and got her to let me bring him. I still cringe thinking about it.

  • Marie September 27, 2017, 12:04 pm

    This story speaks to me on so many levels! I need to think of a story that is suitable for this post and put it to words, but I definitely have moments I now cringe over in hindsight.
    As for my own wedding: I was already reading this site and very deliberately did not make any mention of gifts on our invitation. Our MoC knew that if the question arose, the official answer was: “the bride and groom feel that your presence at their special day is enough of a gift for them, but if you would like to give something, they would appreciate a contribution to their honeymoon”.
    With the money we received we bought some nice souvenirs. We travelled from Europe to Japan, so it wasn’t a quick honeymoon around the corner and we value those souvenirs a lot.
    Ironically, every single wedding or party I have received a written invitation for included the words “Tip for a gift: ” with a pictogram of an enveloppe behind it. On some occassions I obliged. If a couple that is already living together gets married and they’re saving up for something big or their honeymoon, it would only serve myself to be cross and not give money. In other cases, such as birthdays for people who have a good and steady income, I bring a handpicked gift. I think it serves no one to exchange money and then get it back again at my own birthday.

  • Amberly September 27, 2017, 12:16 pm

    My major, major wedding faux pas was that I never sent thank you cards. I get embarrassed and filled with regret every time I think of it, and we’ve been married 15 years. I bought the cards, I had the list of who gave us which gifts. We moved into our new house, things got shuffled around, I procrastinated. Awful, I know. I can only hope that most people are like me, and are actually surprised when they receive a thank you card, because they’ve already forgotten they gave a gift.

  • ladyv21454 September 27, 2017, 12:25 pm

    OP, I’m willing to bet that there isn’t ANYONE on this list that hasn’t committed an etiquette faux pas (or several) at some time in their life. I know I have, and like you, I cringe thinking about them – especially since I find myself imagining how horrified my very proper grandmother would have been! I don’t think Miss Jeanne will retroactively condemn you to Etiquette Hell for past mistakes – especially since you’ve obviously learned from them.

  • Phoebe161 September 27, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Hindsight is 20/20. The main thing is you learned a valuable lesson. And you are not the only one; I’m a etiquette walking disaster!

  • Dee September 27, 2017, 12:32 pm

    Well, I think it’s refreshing to hear a bride actually admit that their registry is primarily greed-driven. I mean, everybody knows it, but usually there’s an attempt to put some sort of altruistic spin on it. I’m glad for the honesty here.

    I’m curious as to whether OP ever attended family and friend weddings before she got married. The events one attends as a guest serve to instruct one on how to best to conduct their own event, keeping the focus on the guests. Preventing kids from attending weddings is the biggest reason, in my opinion, for the kinds of situations OP has highlighted here. If kids don’t grow up understanding what is a “normal” occurrence then they will learn it from somewhere else, and that may not be the best teacher. Not only nature abhors a vacuum, but the wedding industry does, too, and is more than eager to fill it.

    A polite spine isn’t just for the benefit of “me”, but is generally necessary for the convivial continuance of the relationship. Being the doormat in a relationship virtually guarantees the future implosion of that relationship. So, a polite spine is necessary and good for all, not just for the person who employs it. No selfishness there.

    I cringe about things I did in the past, and some I’m still doing today. If you aren’t committing faux pas anymore it’s likely because you’re dead. Check your pulse. Otherwise, it’s all part of the human condition. My wedding was my mother’s, really, and some of the etiquette standards she was adamant about in the past went out the window in her excitement . But our collective experiences held things together enough that we didn’t stray too far off the polite path. I would recommend, though, that all young brides keep their upcoming nuptials a secret from parents until just before the day. I wish someone had recommended that to me, 30+ years ago.

    How do you behave now, OP? Much can be forgiven if your actions since are in contrast to that wedding blunder. For me, if I get an invitation with registry info, that is a big, red flag, but I can proceed cautiously from that point to see if the couple really does only consider me a gift provider. If I receive a baby shower invite that looks like another gift grab, or if the couple never displays a giving nature to me (or others) after the wedding, then the earlier warning with the registry confirms that these are people not worth getting close to. But if their actions after the wedding show that muddle to be a onetime lapse in judgement, then the past mistake fades and becomes a non-issue.

    You can’t change the past, OP, but you are in charge from this moment on. If you’ve been doing your best to live a “giving” life since the wedding then put the “shame” to rest. It does you no good to dwell on it.

  • Chaka September 27, 2017, 1:33 pm

    When I was 7-9, I received pajamas from one of my best girl friends. I promptly spoke up and said”you are supposed to get me toys!” I thought my Mom was going to kill me there. I did apologize later for my bad behavior. My Mom never let me forget this, joking about it among family. I still cringe when I think about it and I am in my forties. Sigh….

  • Lindsay September 27, 2017, 1:56 pm


    When I graduated from high school, my mom threw a huge graduation party. Probably 100 people. Lots of them were her friends, who I really didn’t know that well, but a good time was had.

    My mother kept calling asking why her friends hadn’t recieved their thank you notes. I kept saying they were HANDLED and just back off (as 18 year olds do).

    I filled out, stamped, and addressed all of my thank you notes…. And then found the entire box of them 5 years later when I moved out of my college apartment.

    Y’all. I never took them to the mailbox. I was so embarassed (not to mention, I did not want to hear my VERY southern mother give me an earful) that I threw them out.


    • Mechtilde October 2, 2017, 2:27 pm

      I used to do that too- mercifully not on such a grnad scale though. I would also regularly buy, wrap and address parcels then remember to post them a week after the birthday. Which reminds me- I need to get some wrapping paper- Mum’s birthday is in a few days…

  • Ermine September 27, 2017, 1:58 pm

    When I was a teenager I wore a blinding white dress to my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding. His mother purchased it for me. The cousin was from her ex husband’s family. I had no idea it wasn’t ok to wear white to someone else’s wedding.

    • Anonymous September 28, 2017, 2:41 pm

      Since your boyfriend’s mother bought the dress, I think the faux-pas is on her.

      • NostalgicGal October 14, 2017, 12:31 am

        Definitely, it’s on the one that bought you the dress.

  • Pat September 27, 2017, 2:37 pm

    I like wedding registries – they make it easier for me to find a gift that I know the couple needs and likes. That being said, I think the faux pas comes in when the couple indicates they only want gifts from the registry, the registry only contains expensive items, or when cash is specifically requested or there are strong hints that cash is preferred. I think most people think that a registry is convenient.

    • Heather September 28, 2017, 5:58 am


  • staceyizme September 27, 2017, 3:49 pm

    Hosted a baby shower for SIL. Nice shower, good food. Bad form. Other moments from same day- “You should be a caterer!” juxtaposed to the fact that I managed to beat the cream into butter on try 1 for zabaglione. Never mind that the cream should have gone on TOP. It went right in. Oh, well…

  • It's Me September 27, 2017, 4:25 pm

    My etiquette faux pas occurred when I attended the wedding of my college roommate Carol. The wedding took place between first and second semesters of our junior year, so it was either at the end of December, 1970 or the beginning of January, 1971. In addition to me, Carol invited our mutual friends Jackie and Agnes, plus Agnes’ boyfriend. Neither Jackie nor I had a boyfriend at the time, and we were not invited to bring a guest. That was fine.

    When we arrived at the reception, we saw that it was held in an enormous room, so enormous that only half of the tables, in the half of the room closer to the head table, were being used. The other tables were empty. Oh, wait, that’s not exactly true – one table way in the corner, far away from the other half of the room, was for the four of us. It was a table for eight. No one else was seated with us. No, I would not have felt better if it had been a table for four.

    Here’s where my etiquette faux pas came in. I cringe when I think of it, but I actually said to Jackie, Agnes, and the boyfriend, “How about we move to another table?” They said no, and I certainly wasn’t going to move to another table and sit there all by myself, so I stayed put. Unfortunately, Miss Manners didn’t start writing her advice column until 1978, according to wikipedia, so I had no way of knowing at that time that she frowns on people willy-nilly changing their tables at a wedding reception. She says that it is horribly rude to do so, because the bride has spent so much time working on the seating plan. So my friends fortunately kept me from being horribly rude, but still, they heard me suggest doing something horribly rude.

    Carol walked around to each table and thanked the guests for attending. When she finally got to our table, she thanked us for attending. She didn’t say a single word about why she put us there, far away from everyone else, and at least I knew not to say anything about it. I guess she had her reasons, but I have no idea what they were.

    Obviously, Carol wasn’t my roommate after she got married, and, even though we had the same major in college, it just so happened that we didn’t have any classes together during our final three semesters in college. She sent me a thank you note for my wedding present. That was all the contact we had after her wedding. We never ran into each other on campus. I never called her, and she never called me.

    What hurt was that Jackie and Agnes suddenly stopped being friends with me, even though we had been friends since the beginning of our freshman year, September, 1968. I guess they couldn’t get over how rude I was in suggesting that we sit somewhere closer to the action at the reception. I’m just sorry that Miss Manners didn’t start writing her etiquette column sooner. If she had, I wouldn’t have been so rude at Carol’s wedding, and who knows, Jackie and Agnes might still be my friends.

    • Dee September 28, 2017, 11:03 am

      It’s Me – I don’t think you were rude at all! There’s no rhyme or reason why you gals would be stuck way out in the boonies, unless the bride and groom wanted to make you feel uncomfortable. Which you did, and so you spoke up to try to address the issue. You weren’t trying to get any better treatment than the other guests, or to be a pest, you (legitimately) felt the need to sit elsewhere. That’s not a faux pas. The faux pas (or deliberate snub) is on the bride and groom.

      What happened between you and your friends sure seems to have originated from this wedding, but who knows? I wonder if Carol and Jackie and Agnes were getting cliquey together and you didn’t fit into the dynamic, and the wedding was just an excuse to finally cut you off? In any case, they don’t sound all that great, starting with the way the three of you were treated by Carol at the wedding. I hope you found better friends since. They don’t sound like the most delightful of people.

      • Jane September 30, 2017, 5:13 pm

        Agreed! It’s me- It sounds like you were put in a strange situation by the bride and I would have been confused too! Moving tables might have been a faux pas, but you didn’t even do that, just suggested it. And you were so young, I’m sure in college I might have tried the same thing. Either way, I hope your friends did not stop speaking to you just because of your suggestion, what a crazy thing to end a friendship over. I would not spend any more time thinking that you have done anything wrong to end a friendship. If they DID end it over your comment they seem like people who are not worth your friendship in the first place. You seem like a good person, and as Dee said I hope you were able to fill your life with better friends who treat you well!

  • JD September 27, 2017, 4:27 pm

    OP, thank you for your honesty. It’s refreshing. I didn’t do any obvious etiquette mistakes at my wedding, except for forgetting to thank one girl who kept the guest book (do they do that anymore?), but I know I’ve committed so many mistakes since then. This site helps keep me straight and reminds me to check my impulses.
    It’s true that sometimes people just don’t know. I knew, and my daughter knew, but her friends who hosted her shower didn’t know, that you don’t invite people to the bridal shower if they aren’t also invited to the wedding. And her excited but clueless friends were sure everyone would want to come to the shower, so they invited our shower guest list but also invited quite a few people who weren’t invited to the wedding, even after my daughter asked them to not invite anyone not on the list, please. We were so embarrassed, because we felt sure most people assumed my daughter had asked that the non-wedding guests be invited to the shower.

  • Kelly Taylor September 27, 2017, 4:42 pm

    I think there’s a huge difference in terms of etiquette faux pas like “We had a money dance” versus “We charged people for their dinners and didn’t serve any food for three hours.” A lot of these icky ill-mannered things are fairly common, and worth a sigh, but not a loud berating and complete rejection of the couple and all associated with them.

    We had a cash bar at our wedding about 20 years ago. Even knowing the potentials, I chose to do this for several reasons. 1) We could not afford to pay for an open bar, not even for a “cocktail hour.” But my family is already severely etiquette-challenged, and wouldn’t think twice about something like an open as “tacky” and I knew 2) if no alcohol was available, they’d either skip the wedding, or bring in their own booze and get completely wasted. So 3) this way, I was able to control how much my various booze-abusing family could consume. But the biggest change is, back then, I thought it was important to have my family there. Now, I wouldn’t even invite all of the alcoholic cousins and uncles, and we would just have a great gathering with our friends.

    My biggest faux pas, though, was when I was 18. My father, who is a complete moron, insisted my brother and I go with him to his niece’s wedding. We’d never met any of the people involved, but my dad wanted to make a big show-off presentation of “his kids.” He begged and pleaded, and kept insisting “Of course it’s okay, it’s family!” While I certainly felt oogy about it, it never even occurred to me to question his reasoning, or think of the expense. Now, obviously, I’d full-stop tell him “No, we aren’t invited, and DON’T YOU DARE call anyone to get us invited, because that is the grossest and tackiest thing ever.” That probably wouldn’t’ve stopped him either, though.

  • Shoegal September 28, 2017, 8:22 am

    Let the person cast the first stone who didn’t do something cringe worthy in their lives!! I know it won’t be me.

    I was an avid reader of this site before I married. I didn’t put registry cards in my invitations and didn’t have a dollar dance – I knew better. But quite frankly – up until then I didn’t think anything was wrong with the dollar dance. It was a huge tradition in my family – everybody did it – since I was a kid. I dreamed of having it on my day. It seemed like a lovely tradition – and sweet. Everybody danced with the bride – and you got to talk with her and have a special moment and as the bride you had the opportunity to say some words to the people most dear to you. Near the end it got more emotional as she danced with her mother and father and then the groom whisked her away. It really didn’t seem like a money grab. Nobody forced you to go up there and give the money – and you got either a slice of wedding cake or a shot afterward. Never once did I think of it as a vehicle to beg more money from the guests – I thought of it as something special. Perhaps the way to do it now would be to ask if you want to dance with the bride – no money required.

    It was only later when I went to other weddings where it wasn’t done that I learned that some of the guests felt it was the most boring part of the wedding. They had to wait hours sometimes before the dancing started again. Once I started reading this site I also learned that asking for money was also huge no no. If I had to do my wedding over again I would have eliminated the box I had for cards and the gift table. I actually do cringe now at the thought of that box!!!

  • Dippy September 28, 2017, 10:57 am

    EVERY wedding shower invite I’ve gotten has had the couple’s registry information written in it.

    I don’t find it tacky, I find it helpful.

    • Shoegal September 28, 2017, 12:50 pm

      It is not an etiquette blunder in a shower invitation – that is what the entire party is for. It is helpful. But it is in a wedding invite. It is not a party to gather gifts.

  • Harry September 28, 2017, 11:24 am

    You are too hard on yourself. Life is a lesson in learning, and I’m happy to say that at age 56, I’m still making mistakes and learning from them. I’m sure the people who saw your list recovered and have gone on to lead full and productive lives. Why just recently we got a wedding invite and on the wedding website under gifts were two requests; one for a set of Teflon pans, and the other a request to donate a dollar amount to their honeymoon, so I made the online donation and life will go on. I am not condoning this by any means, but when presented with a social gaffe, it’s best to forgive and forget.

  • Reaver September 28, 2017, 12:44 pm

    The “Privilege” of Experience isn’t a privilege, it’s just a consequence of messing up 😛

  • Rebecca September 29, 2017, 2:18 am

    Hmm, I don’t think what you did was that bad, OP. Maybe unconventional. But I’m not married, and have been to some weddings in my time, and most had a registry, which was a suggestion, not a requirement. It’s handy to know what specific items a couple might actually want. Especially if there is a range of prices, so that even people with less money can pick something. I’d rather get someone something they could use than go out and buy some frivolous item that they can’t use or is not to their taste. And if it’s something they can use on their honeymoon rather than clutter up their home with unwanted objects, that’s great too. It seems to be different from just a request for cash, since you asked for specific things like transit tickets.

  • Margo September 29, 2017, 9:46 am

    OP, don’t beat yourself up. Strict etiquette says that you shouldn’t include a registry , you should only give it to people who ask. However, it is very, very common. In fact it’s quite common for Bridal magazines to suggest it, and it is so common that many people don’t realise that, strictly speaking, you shouldn’t do it. I think also that the ‘honeymoon registry’ asking for money is increasingly common, as people get married later, and after living together, so don’t need basic home goods as they did in the past.

    I think it is one of those things where strict etiquette and normal practice are out of step.
    I don’t think I have ever been to a wedding where information about where the couple were registered, or links to a website, were not included.

    As faux pas go, this is a pretty low level one.

  • staceyizme October 1, 2017, 11:07 am

    Reading the commentary with diverse opinions does make me wonder what a “modern wedding” with an etiquette “reboot” would look like?
    1. The traditional trappings that we see today juxtaposed to social media invitations, photos and virtual showers?
    2. A more secular focus on the day with a focus on festivities and not on the more traditional “forms” of white dress/ decorated church or hall/ vows?
    3. The traditional forms relaxed somewhat (less emphasis on colors, themes, venue, catering and other costly details) and more emphasis on gratitude (verbal and written thank yous/ other small courtesies) and celebrating in community?
    Just wondering…

  • at work October 2, 2017, 5:57 am

    During a visit to their town, I asked my cousin and his wife if they were going to have kids. The wife’s eyes opened wide and started darting all over and my cousin said, “I can live without them.” I answered, “Oh!” and went on to the next topic of conversation. About a year later I learned that they had had problems conceiving and were trying to accept that they could not have biological children. That, besides the fact that I was out of line asking such a personal question. OK, I was only 17 years old when it happened and I had no idea how rude I was being, but wow. No one ever said anything to me about it and it still bugs me that it happened. It was 0ver 40 years ago and I every time I think about it I want to tell them how sorry I am…

  • Lori October 2, 2017, 2:38 pm

    I provided piano music for a dear college roommate many years ago. At the reception some other college friends teased me pretty cruelly in a way that hurt and confused me for a long time after.

    Years later, I discovered why when I saw some photos of me at the wedding. I was horrified, mortified, humiliated to see in crispy Kodak color that I had worn an all-cream suit!!! I truly hadn’t learned until several years after that wedding that you NEVER wear white/cream to a wedding because you shouldn’t upstage the bride. I had completely forgotten about that suit! I had grown up in the Midde East, and such rules were foreign to me, but I paid dearly for it by my former college friends who punished me socially for it, plus how badly I felt when I discovered what I had done to my roommate, the bride. She, however, was the example of class and grace, and was nothing but lovely to me the whole day, and I love her all the more for it.

  • Tara October 4, 2017, 9:05 am

    I had a young cousin post on Facebook before her wedding asking if there was a way for her to ask for cash instead of gifts on her invitations because they already had most of what they needed. Her young friends were like sure, just say you’d really prefer cash since guests have to bring gifts anyways! I’ve got 30-some years of experience though, so I gently commented that’s it’s generally considered rude to mention gifts at all in a wedding invitation, because even though it’s customary for guests to bring gifts, it’s still rude to act like they’re expected. I told her that what she should do is simply not include a gift registry card at all, since that’s rude on its own, go out and register for a variety of items at various price points because some people refuse to give money and want to give a more personal gift, and tell her very closest friends and family (mother, siblings, best friends) that if anyone asks to tell them she’d prefer cash and then let them know where she’s registered. More distant guests will simply bring checks when there is no registry, closer guests will contact the bride’s family to find out what she wants. It’s fine to state preference when asked, but not before being asked.

    Anyways when I got my invitation there was no registry list included and no mention of gifts at all. I stuck some cash in a card for her and bought it to the reception.

    I don’t hold it against her that she needed to ask at all rather than just knowing how rude it was, since she was just barely out of her teens, and I hope that all people would be a little bit forgiving. Sometimes, even the people who we think are old enough to know better simply haven’t learned enough to know, or haven’t connected the dots that if x is rude in a situation, then y is also rude in a similar situation.

  • Mucey October 10, 2017, 8:42 am

    Honestly, I think the only issue was including the “gift list” with your invitations. I don’t see anything wrong with suggesting certain things–that’s why we have registries. My brother and his wife got married last year and they had set up a honeymoon fund website. (They’ve been together for going on eight years now, so they definitely had no need for traditional wedding gifts.) The key point is that they didn’t put the fund site out there with all the wedding info. They gave it to anyone who expressed interest in giving gifts. What’s rude about giving people who want to give presents an idea of what you want? It’s easier on the gift-giver. I, personally, hate trying to buy a gift for someone when I have no idea what to get them.