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Faux Pas of the Year

Stories which earn the coveted honor of actually making Miss Jeanne bust out laughing or cause some lower mandible rug rubs.

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This is my submission to the etiquette faux pas hall of fame.  This is a real email trail between the groom, my husband and me.

GROOM: Wassa happenin dude? Thanks for your attendance along with your wife, it was greatly appreciated. Is everything okay up there financially for you and the family?  I do not want to be rude but I did not want anyone to feel obligated to come with dough if they did not have it. 

What happened dude, did your wife get upset at your spending at the Bachelor party?  Did she get upset and say that my gift was you and your spending at the Bachelor party?  Was there any problems with your spending spree when you came down?  Let a head know what is going on. 

HUSBAND/WEDDING GUEST:    Bro, All's well.  Bachelor party spending was no trouble.  We gave a $50 check at the wedding.  -You didn't get it?   -was it not enough? THE GIFT POLICE!  

Come on now! 

GROOM: Dude not the gift police.  We did get the check and I thought by the gift that you may have gotten into trouble for your spending at Bachelor party.  I know you spent some dough, how much not sure but I did not know if it was too much.  Some people spent more than they thought when they awoke the next day and counted what was not there.  I am not trying to be a jerk, u know I can do this naturally, LOL.  I was just seeing if all was okay as per gift.  That check did not even cover 1 plate at our wedding let alone 2 bro.  If money is tight bro I certainly understand and that is why I said I did not want anyone to feel obligated to give dough if they did not have it available. 

WIFE OF HUSBAND/WEDDING GUEST:   I am writing this on my own.  You can take this up with Husband/Wedding Guest later, but I am done.  So, here is the story.

Yes it is true.  In January, Husband/Wedding Guest traveled to your Bachelor Party and spent a lot of money on buses, dinner and women.  However, the biggest reason he came to the party was to support you.  It was a long trip, a good deal of effort, but he did it for you.  In February, your wedding was scheduled on the same weekend our son's birthday and the beginning our vacation to Steamboat.  It would have been much easier for us to not come.  BUT, we raced to NYC on a Friday night to attend your wedding, then back Saturday night to be back for Son of Guests's birthday party.  On Son of Guests's birthday, we spent a good deal of money on a party for him, hosting 30 people.  At that party, Son of Guests received $140 in checks, comprised largely of $100 from my mother.  Needless to say, I did not then start invoicing my friends and family for the difference.  It was a party and we were celebrating, not fundraising.  On Monday morning, we left for a week in Steamboat where we threw down $400 on plane tickets, $200 on food, $250 on a car rental and $60 on t-shirts, and we got off this easy because our skis, lift tickets and lodging were compensated. We live in NH and make a 6-figure income.  But, know this.  We have two car payments, $40K in student loans and we own a house in New England, have a large mortgage and over $6k in property taxes annually.  We have to spend close to $6k a month just to cover our expenses.  Truth of the matter is that you caught me a bad time in terms of "free" cash, given your wedding so closely coincided with our son's party and our vacation expenses.  Sure, we make money, but the extra last month was spoken for.  Now, I feel humiliated for choosing to give $50, because YOU chose to make me feel that way.  But at the time, I felt that sum was okay, given Husband/Wedding Guest previous investment in attending your bachelor party.  Sure, I guess I could have swung $100, maybe $200, hell, maybe $1000 if I pulled it from our other cash accounts.  But, frankly, I felt we exhausted enough money at your bachelor party and effort (2 lightening fast trips to NYC) to not make giving more money worth it to me.  I manage the money in our house and this was my choice.  I am not sure what you gave our wedding.  I will look back at my records and check and I do apologize if the sums were not in parity.  At our wedding, we got $4k in gifts, comprised largely of $2k from my mother and my grandmother.  These are the types of checks you get from your family.  We are not your family.  We are marginal friends at best.  I am sure your wedding cost a fortune, but again, that circumstance was one of your choices.  You certainly could have hosted a much more modest affair.  But, keep in mind; a wedding is a celebration and an event to be enjoyed by family and friends.  Your guised email dressed up as concern for you poor and improvised friend does not fool me.  The truth is that you are pissed off and feel you were shorted some money, so you are trying to get your point across without being called on your real intention.  Well, I am calling you on it.    So, when did you write this email, after the emails you sent to people who RSVP'ed and then did not show up?  I bet they cost you more money than we did.  Were you pissed off that they did not send you a super duper blender, mixer, French fry maker?  Wedding etiquette says you have a year from the date of the marriage to give a gift.  I will be sure to direct our tax return to your address.  Wedding etiquette probably also says not to look the gift horse in the mouth, you miserable ungrateful bastardo.  You are rude and uncouth and the result of your actions has left you with $50 in hand and a lost friend in the bush. Good luck with the rest of your life.  Don't write me back.  You can take this up with my husband.

GROOM: I have now took the time to read the complete e-mail from Wife of Husband/Wedding Guest and certainly have not ever said nor thought that you guys were poor. I know what it is to have bills pile up and to make choices on how to spend money. You really do not need to preach to me about it. I am sure if I shared with you our living expenses it may even surprise you, so do not hint you are special for living in NE and paying what you pay up there as that is your choice to live there as it was our choice to have our affair set up the way it was. In regard to the thought that you had that we e-mailed or called people who RSVP'd to try and get gifts or money, we did not do that at all!!! Truth of the matter is that only a couple who would have been coming up from Atlanta did not show but they called and advised they would not make it, so all in all everyone who rsvp'd showed up, lucky us I suppose. You want to make this out to be a tit for tat thing, it can be done but I would tend to think that would be foolish let alone childish. You made the trek down as a couple of Husband/Wedding Guest came down solo a few weeks earlier, both trips were certainly appreciated as you can tell by the amount of times it has been said and the reaction you guys always receive when you are seen down here. Call the friendship "MARGINAL at best, Wife of Husband/Wedding Guest, no sweat of my back if that is how it is thought of. Just remember I made sacrifices with my wife, then girlfriend, to attend your beautiful affair as you made sacrifices to come down to NYC if you would like to go tit for tat. I will choose to end this e-mail here and pls try to take a step back and think for a minute and see what is being typed to you and know that everything was appreciated and if u could not swing a gift just say so with no explanation of house bills, college loans, vacation expenses, car expenses etc. See we have a car note as well, we have 2 college loans to pay let along my wife’s Masters education, car insurance, utilities, oh yeah out honeymoon which we left for the next morning. I can go on with no problems, get the point that we all have the same bullshit to deal with in life, expenses and bills we make for ourselves, they all have different numbers but the same issue, have to be paid on time!!! 

WIFE OF HUSBAND/WEDDING GUEST:  We are having this conversation because you were very very very rude to even question the amount of our gift to you, regardless of the reason. It is simply rude. It is rude beyond reason. I don't think I have ever encountered a more rude action in my life on this planet. You should have simply taken our check, cashed it and sent a thank you note. If you did, I am sure a lot less hurt feelings would have ensued. These are not the words of a friend, or a gentleman. By you words, it seems like you would have rather we gave no gift at all then insult you with our little little check. I quote: "Is everything okay up there financially for you and the family?" "Did she get upset and say that my gift was you and your spending at the Bachelor party? " "We did get the check and I thought by the gift that you may have gotten into trouble for your spending at Bachelor party." "That check did not even cover 1 plate at our wedding let alone 2 bro." "If money is tight bro I certainly understand and that is why I said I did not want anyone to feel obligated to give dough if they did not have it available." Advice from Be sure to accept and acknowledge every gift gracefully. We are paying for most of our wedding, which is quite lavish, and so far most of our guests have given gifts costing around $40 per couple. My sister's husband's parents gave us a $16 gift from our registry. Is this an acceptable gift? What is the etiquette for biting our tongues?  A. Bite hard. Although people generally do give them, wedding gifts are not mandatory. Their gift isn't necessarily of normal wedding-gift caliber but calling attention to that fact would be extremely rude. You don't necessarily know what their circumstances are; maybe they simply couldn't afford something more expensive. But even if they could, just let it go and send a gracious thank-you note. And remember that the amount of money you spend on your wedding -- and the amount the majority of your guests choose to spend on gifts -- has absolutely no bearing on what kinds of gifts you are "supposed" to get. 

GROOM: Who in the hell makes the leading authority in life in relation to events and weddings? I am sorry to see that you live your life or use different websites as tools for etiquette or party planning. I certainly do not pay attention to these sites nor does Cara when it comes to planning. If I would have used a website when it came to your wedding your gift would have been less but it was not at all. To me personally it was money well deserved for a friend of mine whom I went to college with for 4 years starting his new life with his wife and a new beginning. I certainly do not regret giving what I gave to you back in 2000, not at all. I actually wish we could have given more, but all was given that we could, $300.  (THEY ACTUALLY GAVE $200.  I CHECKED THE FILES.) Maybe I have been too nice about this as you have been incredibly rude to myself as well. Husband/Wedding Guest has ran behind your skirt instead of having this conversation with me. Something that I thought would never ever happen. I thought Husband/Wedding Guest would be able to say something and not have a spokeswoman for him. This whole debate will end now and I am sorry it ends this way. I am sure you feel differently about this. But when people start using websites as leading authorities I have to start questioning their decision making skills. It is funny how someone like myself can be genuine and ask if everything is okay and if nothing could be afforded b/c of everything going on. All that had to be done was make a phone call and say listen bro I do not have funds available as their is a lot going on. I would have said just come down if u can still and that would be fine. In the world of money we all spend it, some better than others.

By the way when I add up my expenses like you have done it comes out to over 6k as well, I am sure no one feels bad for us, do you? Definitely not!!!   

WIFE OF HUSBAND/WEDDING GUEST to HUSBAND:  Oh, my God. I can't tell you how much this has distressed and distracted me today. Unbelievable. You know, the thought never crossed my mind that our gift would cause this much trouble. It was not that we did not have funds available, its that I did not feel like spending any more money on THAT WEDDING, period. I felt we had spent enough in support of his wedding events already, i.e. expensive bachelor party. What gives? Are gone the days when you can give a gift and get thanked? And truly, GROOM is not that close of a friend to me, and as far as I can see, YOU now either. I have always found GROOM to be foul-mouthed and rude. Every time we speak to him, he breaks our backs about something. It never changes. He is a fool. And look at this....crazy! Maybe I have been too nice about this as you have been incredibly rude to myself as well. (Who is he kidding? His line of questions are as rude as they come!) But when people start using websites as leading authorities I have to start questioning their decision making skills. (Now, he is insulting me since I was clever enough to find a leading Internet source to tell him to stand down and notice that he is being rude?) Husband/Wedding Guest has ran behind your skirt instead of having this conversation with me. Something that I thought would never ever happen. I thought Husband/Wedding Guest would be able to say something and not have a spokeswoman for him. (Now, he is insulting YOU, calling you nothing short of p-whipped? My God! The only reason I am writing to him is that I wrote the check and decided what to give. Plus, I have a way with words and can get my point across very clearly. However, my decision making skills have already been called into questions...see above.) It is funny how someone like myself can be genuine and ask if everything is okay and if nothing could be afforded b/c of everything going on. All that had to be done was make a phone call and say listen bro I do not have funds available as their is a lot going on. I would have said just come down if u can still and that would be fine. In the world of money we all spend it, some better than others. (Again, who is he kidding? Who else do you know on the planet that would send a friend an email to question his money gift and assume that the friend must be having money trouble or issues with his wife being mad? I am curious to think what he thought may have been an appropriate gift, given the money you already spent on his bachelor party. Why not just cash our check and send a thank you note like a normal person? Maybe, the wedding should have required the purchase of a ticket, like the prom, to ensure all expenses for guests where covered. Or, we could have gotten our hands stamped at the door and been given drink tickets?) Truth is, I had planned to write a check for $100-$150, but while in the ladies room writing my check, I decided on $50, given that we had already spent quite a bit in support of the bachelor and travel. Plus, given our relationship in my opinion is less than "best of friends", I thought $50 would be fine from friends like us that he had not laid eyes on in 4 years. I guess I goofed. Maybe I should have consulted a web site to check before I signed the dotted line. Oh well!  


It's hard to keep track of the communication going on in these emails but the groom's presumption that he is owed enough of a gift to cover the cost of two dinners is positively breathtaking!  And he even blankets it in some mock concern for the well-being of his giftbearing guests!   If someone were in desperate financial straits, it doesn't help to burden them with guilt manipulations about their insufficient gift amount.

On the other hand, replying to the Beast was probably not a wise use of time.  Greedy cretons aren't motivated by logical arguments to change and it becomes a waste of time to even try.  Retain some dignity and merely let go of the lines to that sinking ship without another word.  It's genuinely fun to let some people stew in baffled isolation as they try to figure out why you never return their emails or phone calls.  


Dear Jeanne,

A good friend of mine was married recently, and I was one of five bridesmaids. Before she left for her honeymoon, the bride told us that she would like to take us all out for dinner to thank us for our support and friendship over the years.

She had booked a private room at a nice restaurant. When we sat down, the bride passed each of us a box. Each contained a fountain pen, a stack of blank cards, and a list of 70 guests, their addresses, and the gifts they had given the bride. Before we could eat, she wanted us to write her thank-you notes for her.

I thought for a moment, then said that perhaps the guests would be happier with a simple personal message from her, even if it were just something along the lines of, "Dear ___, Thank you so much for the ____. It means a lot to us that you thought of us. Love, Bride and Groom." She reassured us that she was personally writing the notes for those guests who would recognize her handwriting!

I think that all the bridesmaids were stunned, but nobody wanted to make a scene. We wrote, addressed, stamped, and sealed in grim silence for almost two hours before we could order dinner. As far as I know, none of us has spent much time with her since then.


 One thing that has begun to annoy readers of this web site is how frequently people display their complete lack of a backbone which results in them being used abominably by the ever increasingly dark side of manners.  Let's get one thing straight - the "scene" was already created/made by the bride and a reaction to her outrageous presumption would not be "making a scene" unless you flung the fountain pen across the room to embed it into a painting of the Marquis De Sade or flipped the box of notes in the air creating a stationery snowfall.  

No, it is quite possible to decline this lovely honor without making an idiot of yourself.  Here is one scenario of how it could be done:

Bridesmaid:  sits blinking at the contents of the box then gently pushes it away from her place setting saying with a sweet smile, "Thank you but I think I will decline the honor of writing these."

Bride:  "Why not?  Aren't you going to help me?"

Bridemaid:  "It is neither my duty nor obligation to express your personal thoughts of gratitude for the gifts your guests gave you."  Still smiling sweetly....

Bride:  "But there are so many! How am I supposed to do all these myself?"

Bridesmaid:  "One at a time is the usual method."    Bridesmaid then makes a mental note in her head to never host any type of shower for this person again and seriously considers never buying her a gift again.  After all, it would be very unkind to burden the bride with such an onerous duty to write her thank you notes.


My mother-in-law and I get along great.  We broke the tension by playing harmless (yet sometimes expensive) pranks on each other.  The first thing she did to me, before marriage, was to borrow my most expensive pair of stilettos heels and wear them at a family gathering (we both wear size 8 mediums).  To my horror, she "accidentally" stepped onto a piece of wood where epoxy had been mixed up earlier in the day.  She stepped out of my heels and ushered me into the kitchen.  She never said a word to me.  By the time dinner was complete, the epoxy had set up fast.  She then presented me the stuck heels and said, "Since you're marrying my son, I guess we're stuck together."  I about died!!!  She was trying to be funny.  Thus started the "shoe war".  I then drilled holes in the bottoms of her favorite pair of stilettos and laughed when her feet were soaked in the rain.  LOL.  She laughed also.  We pranked each other's shoes so much that we ran out of pairs to kill.  So, she started putting itching powder in all of my clothes, and I put bleach on all of her colors.  She red-socked my whites.  Etc., etc.  

Finally, the wedding day had come.  No pranks, except we both ordered size 7 Narrows shoes for each other for the wedding.  Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!  We went on our honeymoon, and I had a message from her at the hotel.  She said that she was glad that I'd been a good sport and all.  Then she stated that it's always been a tradition in her family to prank the bride's car while she is on the honeymoon.  She said that my car is safe from being stolen, since it has four flat tires.  She also asked if the slashes on the sidewalls were repairable.  My heart sank!!!  However, I guess that I deserved it since I egged her car at the bachelorette party. True Story!!!


If this is a true story then you and your MIL are playing a game of escalating vandalism with each other's possessions.  Pranks are harmless jokes on the unsuspecting.  Destroying property is a passive-aggressive statement of mutual disrespect which cannot be vocalized or overtly stated so it hides under the thin surface of being "prankish".  

How do you feel about this???  I have a cousin who lives in MD and is getting married this summer.  Yesterday, I received the following, in the mail from her sister-in-law.               

 _________and _________are getting married!       

Since we know it's hard for you to attend showers 
Here's your chance: Send your love and good wishes 
(and maybe some dishes)                       

To _______'s house
Where quiet as a mouse      
She'll gather them up and shout
OH BOY! EVERYBODY wishes you joy!                               

It's a Mail Shower!  If you would like to participate please mail your gifts                             by June 20 to:                           
________   _________  1010 Main St,  Anytown, MD   

_________ and _________ are registered at Crate & Barrel and Macy's. Check their choices out online at Crate and or, or use your own ideas.  All good wishes will be opened with ______ and _______ during a surprise party at the _______'s in June.         


I find this to be insulting, tacky, rude and ignorant!  I am relieved to find that my immediate family feels the same as I do.  I am trying to believe that neither my aunt or uncle have any knowledge of this.  I have always found them to have much more class than this faux pas would portray. Maybe, I'm a little "touchy", but I am hugely offended.  I am beginning to wonder if we will be invited to the wedding or merely asked to send a gift.  Oh, and by the way...I do not have a difficult time attending showers and I have NEVER sent online flowers to any prospective bride or new mother, in lieu of a shower gift.  I can only hope that my cousin, aunt & uncle were not aware that this was sent to out-of-state relatives (and who knows who else).     


Forget attending the shower.  That's too much work for the hostess to prepare her house and food for guests, it's just too much for the guests to take time from their day to come and we all know the bride would be greatly taxed to carry all that loot to her car and into the apartment.  Just send the gifts directly to her.  Not.


One girl here couldn't understand why her bridesmaid had lied to her about her bridesmaid's dress.

You were unkind and pretentious to demand that your bridesmaid wore a dress that was obviously out of her price range. When she didn't turn up to the fitting, you immediately thought it was because she couldn't afford it, so you must have been aware of this situation, but instead of being mortified at your own behavior, you seem to think she is behaving badly. The reason why she later didn't make the alterations and lied to you about it seems obvious: She couldn't afford it but was embarrassed to let you know, or kindly didn't want to "guilt" you into paying for her.

What did it matter that the dress looked slightly strange on your day? The guests to your wedding (and that is what your bridesmaid is) are not there to look good on your photos, but as friends who should be made to feel welcome. Anything else is a horrible breach of etiquette on YOUR part.

Your bridesmaid paid more than she could afford for a dress to make you happy. She deserves your gratitude, not your scorn.


Silly Story Contributor!  Did you really think I would condone lying and a passive-aggressive avoidance of a commitment as a suitable way to handle the issue of a bridesmaid being unable to afford the dress the bride picked out?  Were you expecting the bride to somehow be clairvoyant and supernaturally get your poverty vibes?  Grow up and learn to be behave like a well mannered adult who would know to speak to the bride privately about her concern that she must bow out of the wedding because the costs have become more than she can bear.  

I am a professional automotive technician who was trying to help a friend in need.

This friend of mine was someone I knew for about 15 years, and when I say "I knew" it’s because our friendship is no longer because of this story. Scott, “The Friend” had some major car problems and called upon me to help him out. I spent two entire weekends repairing his Toyota truck getting it running again. I replaced the clutch, head gasket, front brakes, and tons of other things to get this truck back on the road. Scott was a painter and did not have a lot of extra money to fix this truck so I did all the work for free as a favor to a friend. I even went as far as paying for most of the parts out of my own pocket.

After about 2 months after I had fixed his truck Scott called me up and invited me to dinner as a form of payment for all the work I had done on his truck, so I graciously accepted his offer to take me to dinner. Scott showed up at my place dressed up in very nice cloths and told me he was taking me to a very nice restaurant and that I should dress nice for the dinner.

I made one fatal mistake by not bringing my credit cards or any cash as I had understood he was buying dinner.

When we arrived at the restaurant I noticed he was not lying it was a very nice and very expensive Italian restaurant. Scott pulls up to the front door and insists on using the valet parking. I thought this was a little overkill but he was flipping the bill so I let it go. We sat down for dinner and Scott orders a round of Scotch for the both of us as we looked over the menu.

He then tells me the sky is the limit and I should order anything I want. Remember this was no cheap meal. After 3 rounds of Scotch and 2 glasses of beer with dinner I sat at the table very full and fairly buzzed from the liquor.  When the bill comes Scott tells me he would be right back and leaves the table for about 15 minutes. I started to wonder if he had taken off and left me with the bill so I started to get nervous because I did not bring any money. But to my amazement Scott returned with what he called good news. He had gone to the kitchen and had a nice little chat with the cook who was a friend of his and made a deal with him. The deal was that Scott and myself were to do dishes for the remainder of the night as payment for our dinner bill. I told Scott there was no way I was going to do dishes for dinner and I was not dressed up to get my cloths dirty paying for a dinner. I told Scott to just pay for dinner and take me home. He looked at me and said he could not pay for dinner and he didn’t even have money to pay the valet. I asked him to please hand me his keys so I may go home to get my credit card and end this mess he had got us into. He informs me that the cook was also the owner of the restaurant and that he had made this deal with him a month ago and he couldn’t back out. I ended up having to do dishes for 6 hours to pay for my meal. When I asked Scott why he didn’t tell me the arrangement he had made ahead of time he just laughed and said he didn’t think I would mind working for my dinner.


If I had a little image of a rotisserie, we'd put Scotty on it and let him slow roast his way out of Ehell.  Pass the BBQ sauce.   

I recently ran into an old friend whom I hadn't seen in months.  We always exchanged Christmas cards, but that was about it.  We chatted for a few minutes, then she said she had to go, but we just HAD to get together sometime.  "Great idea!" I said, "how's next Saturday?"  Her face literally fell.  "Um, next Saturday's no good," she stammered.  "How about the Saturday after that?"  "That's no good either.  Look, I'll call you, and we'll set up a date."  I never did hear from her.


I hate conversational gambits which people don't mean and have no intention of following up on.  Say what you mean and mean what you say!  

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007