|Looking for that perfect bridal shower gift? Every
bride needs a commonsense guide to the etiquette that really
matters. Let Wedding Etiquette Hell: A Bride's
Bible for Avoiding Everlasting Damnation by Jeanne
Hamilton be your guide.
Several years ago I had two friends who were engaged to be married. After the wedding
date was set, the groom lost his job, the expensive reception was canceled and a new one
was set up at a country house 3 hours away. The country reception was much more
reasonable. The bride complained that with the wedding in the city and the reception 5
hours later there was no place to feed the seven or eight members of the wedding party. So
I volunteered to cater a small luncheon at my apartment to feed the wedding party after
the wedding and before the drive to the reception for 200 guests.
It became a nightmare. The seven guests became 20 which became 40 which became 140. I
said I couldn't handle more than 20 in my one bedroom apartment but was told it was too
late, everyone had been told I was giving a luncheon and it was too late to cancel.
I bought a lot of paper plates and cups and threw a lasanga and salad lunch (did I mention
I was a law student working my way thru school).
The guests complained of not enough food or wine because I ran out of both. I was
also scolded by the bride's mother for hosting a lunch I was ill equipped for. I
never made the country reception. I was later contacted and asked where was my
wedding gift. When I explained that the luncheon for 140 people was my gift I was
told that was not a proper wedding gift and I should please send one in asap. I
never did get around to getting a gift for them and I never got a thank you note.
Some years ago, I was asked to be maid of honor for the wedding of my friend Natalie.
Everyone was amazed and relieved that Natalie was finally getting married, as she had a)
lived with or b) been engaged to half a dozen different men prior to this one. Natalie was
a not a friend to whom I was particularly close, so I was really quite startled to be
asked to be her maid of honor. I didn't want to do it, knowing Natalie's "my way or
the highway" attitude about EVERYTHING in life, but I was counseled by friends and
family that there was no way to decline without looking like a bad person. So I accepted
the post. Within a few weeks of doing so, Natalie blithely informed me that she had only
asked me (instead of Rose, her best friend) because Rose was sort of a scatterbrain and
couldn't be depended on to do "everything required of a maid of honor." Warning
bells began to go off in my head, but we were off and running.
As maid of honor, I helped to plan and pay for a large bridal shower for Natalie. To
this shower, I wore a pretty dress and a strand of rose quartz beads. Natalie was peeved
and snippy with me all through the shower, and I couldn't figure out why. She finally told
me that she was angry because I was wearing a rose quartz bead necklace, which was
apparently what she had planned to give as a gift to each of her six attendants. Like I
was supposed to have divined this out of thin air. She harrumphed for weeks about the
trouble she took in returning my gift necklace to be exchanged for a similar necklace of
different beads. You can imagine how much I enjoyed wearing that necklace at her wedding.
The day of the wedding, I devoted myself to Natalie's every whim. I ran errands for
her, held her hand when she was nervous, yelled at her fiance for not doing something
she'd asked him to do (which I now can't remember), and on and on and on. At the church, I
helped her with dress, told her over and over how beautiful she was, calmed the two
attendants who had been drinking before the wedding, and kept the two flower girls out of
The wedding went well, and the reception was one of those boffo affairs with zillions
of food courses, a 30-person swing band, major bodacious floral arrangements, tons of
champagne, blah, blah, blah. We all had a wonderful time, and I was careful to check in
with Natalie half a dozen times throughout the reception to make sure she wasn't lacking
for anything. I thought everything was fine.
About two weeks after the wedding, I received a handwritten letter from Natalie. Silly
me--I assumed, before opening it, that it was a thank-you letter regarding everything I'd
done to help the wedding go smoothly. But it was not to be. No, the letter was absolutely
poisonous. It was filled with such hateful, vitriolic language and such vile accusations
that I burst into tears reading it. Natalie accused me of being a horrible maid of honor,
about not caring about her or the groom or their feelings, or the kind of wedding they'd
wanted. She listed all the things that she felt had gone wrong at her bridal shower,
during the dressing-room time previous to the wedding, the wedding itself, and the
She accused me of not caring about her and of not paying enough attention to her. She
accused me of making her mother do "all the work" for the bridal shower (and
just for the record, her mother did NONE of the work and paid for nothing at the shower).
Worst of all, she accused me of having been "drunk and rambunctious"at the
wedding (which many other guests, my parents ncluded, assured me was NOT the
case--although I knew I hadn't been drunk and rambunctious, I was so thrown by this
vengeful letter that I took it upon myself to check with others just to be certain). The
letter was several pages long and tightly spaced to enable Natalie to get in every last
little complaint and gripe she wanted to air. To top it all off, the postmark on the
envelope showed that Natalie had written this letter ON HER HONEYMOON. It astounded me to
think that anyone would take the time and energy during their honeymoon to sit down and
compose a hate letter--when surely, SURELY there were better ways to be spending their
After a week of being upset and bewildered by this horrific blow, I decided to do
absolutely nothing. I knew that I had been an exemplary maid of honor, and nothing Natalie
could accuse me of could persuade me otherwise--especially when everyone I talked to about
it was as horrified and mystified by the letter as I was. I am only slightly ashamed to
admit that when Natalie and her husband began divorce proceedings just eight months after
the wedding, I smiled smugly inside. ezilla0326-00
Love your site - I only wish there were more stories, as
I've already read everything posted at least twice.
A good friend of mine was marrying her live-in love, a man I am
not particularly fond of. As she was pregnant the wedding was going to take place in less
than 3 months. She asked me to be her MOH, and although I was living on the other side of
the country and putting myself through university at the time, I considered it an honour
and readily accepted. I explained to the Bride and Groom that as I was living out of town
I would not be able to fulfill most of the traditional MOH duties (such as throwing a
bridal shower), but they insisted that I was their one-and-only choice.
I flew out to the wedding 3 days in advance, after rescheduling
mid-term exams and spending every last minute writing term papers ahead of time as to not
fall behind on my school work. After giving the happy couple their first look at my
bridesmaid's outfit (I shopped on my own as I was the only bridesmaid), I was told by the
groom that I needed to buy new shoes as he didn't like the ones I'd chosen. Off to the
mall we go so I can spend $75 on a pair of shoes I will never wear again.
The groom's family had also arrived from out of town that same
day, and we all went out to dinner. After dinner, the groom's mother took me aside and
said she was appalled that I was not throwing a bridal shower for the Bride, informed me
that she would throw one the next evening, and said that I had better find the time the
next day to buy a suitable shower gift for the happy couple. I was off to the mall again.
The next day, the best man arrives from out-of-town for the
wedding. He and the Groom spend the evening watching strippers, while I attend the last
minute shower attended only by the groom's family and myself. They actually apologized to
the bride (in my presence) for the fact that her MOH didn't "bother" to throw
her a proper shower. Meanwhile, the bride and groom have still not written their
personalized wedding vows, and although the groom has promised to be home by 9pm to do so,
he doesn't stumble home until 2am, completely drunk.
The day before the wedding arrived, the vows were still not
written, and the Groom promised to pick the Bride up at 2pm so they could go to write the
vows. But somehow he conveniently forgot, and we were unable to find him as he was once
again out at a strip club with the BM. The by now quite pregnant bride was understandably
upset - and started to write her vows on her own so at least half of them would be done.
The rehearsal was at 7pm and the groom arrived home at 6pm half drunk. When he found out
that the Bride had started to write her vows without him, he yelled at her (in front of
her parents, her future in-laws and everyone else unlucky enough to be in their home at
that moment), she started to cry and locked herself in the bathroom, refusing to come out
as he banged on the door yelling at her.
I convinced everyone else to head to the rehearsal, and talked
the Bride into opening the bathroom door for me. She was wailing that she didn't want to
marry this jerk (and I was silently agreeing with her, although it didn't seem appropriate
for me to add my opinion of him at that time). She finally calmed down, and I got her to
the rehearsal 1/2 hour late - the groom in the meantime had written his vows and we did
the rehearsal thing and went off to the rehearsal dinner. I made a point of checking with
the Groom and the Usher who was going to MC the reception to see if I was expected to make
a toast. They assured me that I was not.
The big day arrived, hair and makeup were done, the dress was put
on, off we went down the aisle. The ceremony lasted all of 3 minutes (no joke!)!! I guess
when you only spend 5 minutes writing your own "personal" vows, then get a
friend who is an ordained minister (from the back of some magazine) to do your ceremony
there isn't much to it.
The ceremony was followed by a sit-down dinner, which the Bride
didn't want but the Groom's Mother insisted on (although she refused to pay for it and the
Bride's Mother ended up footing the bill). The Groom got up to make a toast, at the end of
which he said that the MOH (me!) was going to give the toast to the bride. What?!! I
managed a few nice words and a toast, whatever let's just get this over with.
The gift opening was to take place the next day at the Bride
& Groom's home, and was scheduled for noon. I arrived at 11:30am to find all of the
gifts already opened, and everyone enjoying an early lunch. Apparently, the Groom's family
arrived at 10am, and didn't want to wait around so they started without me and didn't even
bother to call my hotel to see if I could come earlier. Then the Groom's mother loudly (in
front of the whole group) tells the Bride's mother that it was a shame that "the MOH
didn't have the courtesy to show up for the gift opening, especially when she didn't even
bother to throw a bridal shower".
Then the Groom took me aside and asked why I had bought them a
gift when I knew they wanted cash instead of presents - he wanted to know where he could
return it to for a refund. After I had spent $400 on a dress, $75 for new shoes, $450 on a
plane ticket out there, plus 2 gifts, hair, make-up, manicure, hotel room - money that I
needed for university. To top it off, I didn't even get a gift from this couple for being
in their wedding party! I couldn't get out of town fast enough. ezilla0511-00
I love your website! This is not a wedding that I attended, but one that my parents
were invited to. It was the marriage of her best friend's (mine and my brother's
godmother) son to his girlfriend. Understand that it was originally intended that we
"children" (the youngest is 17) were to attend (I have known, and liked, this
family since birth) but the bride-to-be decided that "children" were a nuscience
and told my mom, who was throwing a nice shower, that we were no longer invited. This
might be forgiveable, except that things got worse from there.
My mother, being very close to the Groom, threw a wedding shower for the Bride-to-be at
our home. My mother spent numerours hours on food and invitations, footing the cost by
herself (more on that later) and was happy to do it. That is until the bride-to-be asked
that I not attend since she did not know me. I had planned on driving in from college to
assist my mother with the party, but after this refused to. I could not believe this woman
asked I not be present in my own home. After the shower, the bride-to-be and her mother
ran off with the bridesmaids to shop, leaving my mother and her friend (the future MIL) to
do all the cleaning. By the way, my mother never recieved a thank-you note for her
Later that night, the Groom's family took my parents and the bride-to-be and her
parents out to dinner at a very nice resturant. My parents, (aware that the Groom's family
was paying for most of the wedding since the bride's family could not) had one glass of
wine and a simple entree each, no dessert. The bride-to-be and her family each had two
cocktails while waiting to be seated, finished two bottles of wine between the three of
them, ordered an appetizer each, an expensive entree with a salad, and a dessert. None of
them offered to help pay the bill. It should now be said that our friend's family is
fairly well-to-do, and the son recently received his doctorate degree. The bride's family
comes from a simple family and they could not afford the wedding their daughter wanted, so
they asked the groom's family to pay for what they could not. In addition to all this, the
registry contained only high-end gifts. The china was $92.00 a setting, and the bride had
requested 12 settings. The least expensive item was $50.00. Apparently, she had expensive
tastes now that she could indulge as she had never been able to before.
The wedding was a massive affair that took place 1,000 miles away from where 75%
of the guests live, and of course, the bride's family footed none of the cost of flights,
hotels, or food. The grooms family was kind enough to invite the out of town guests to the
rehearsal dinner (again, the restaurant chosen by the bride but paid for by the groom).
The wedding went off fine, and after the reception, they flew off for their 3 week
honeymoon (again paid for entirely by the groom's family). Six weeks after they returned
came the Millenium new year. The bride said that she was not going to miss this
opportunity to party with her friends and left for Flordia a week before the New Year,
after letting the new groom know he was not invited on this "girls weekend". So
he spent the New Years in their new apartment alone while she spent a week and a half with
her college friends. I give this marriage 2 years before he tires of her gold-digging (she
had the gall to ask his father how much he was leaving the son in his inheritance) and
looks for the wife he deserves. Oh, we still have not received a thank-you note from her
or her parents for the shower, or for the wedding gift sent. Some people are
In December last year one of my long time friends getting married for the third time to
a man who was getting married for the second time. I also am engaged and was planning my
wedding when she called me to tell me that they were getting married about three months
prior to the event. They met while playing on a sports team and wanted to hold the wedding
at the place they met. She said her mother was giving her a hard time about this, I kind
of liked the idea and tried suggesting ways she could make it work and still hold to the
serious nature of the wedding.
Anyway, I found out three months before the wedding that she's getting married, then
during the middle of November (with all the holiday hub-bub going on) she asks me to be a
Bridesmaid (the wedding is now three weeks away), and I tell her I am pleased she asked
me, but with all that's going on and planning my own wedding I would just be happy
attending with my fiance. She won't take no for an answer (by the way I was in both her
first and second wedding also), and she insists on it as well as asking me to just go to a
local dept. store and buy a certain color dress, then tells me that I'm one of 16
Bridesmaids!!! Yes, 16!!!
And...that's not all..she's having 2 Maid's of Honor..well a Maid and Matron of Honor.
Her total wedding party was to consist of 2 Best Men, 2 Honor Attendants, 16 Groomsmen and
16 Bridesmaids, and 3 young men as ring bearers and 4 little girls as flower girls!!!! No
kidding! She said that in her past weddings she felt bad excluding people and was just not
going to do it this time...so she asked everyone...I mean EVERYONE!!! She has a huge
family and she wanted all her sisters, brothers, their spouses and children included. I
had no choice in this matter and I went out and bought literally a $19 dress because I was
so upset that I was being bullied into this.
Well, the day before the wedding came and while I was working I got a call on my
answering machine asking me to attend the rehearsal, there was no prior communication
about this, where and when it would be. So after work I arrived late at her house to meet
everyone and we were to carpool to the wedding site for the rehearsal...more than half the
wedding party could not make it and when we got to the site they had made no provisions
for us to gain access and have lighting...so we all had to squeeze through fence opening
and park our cars around the area with our headlights on! This was just a small taste of
what was to follow the next day.
The wedding was early in the morning, bad enough. All the bridesmaids had to arrive at
6AM to have our hair done by this man who was wild about BIG hair, and all the while we
are preparing it is pouring outsite...a total downpour. Now she has arranged to have an
indoor site in the event of rain, but is devastated that it's raining and her mother will
"get her way" if they don't have the wedding where they wanted to, so she's a
nervous wreck and crying all morning. The men all start to arrive and she sends them all
out to Home Depot to buy plywood and tools to cover the wet ground so we can still have
the wedding outside IN THE RAIN!!!!
It's time to leave and the limo arrives...of course it's not large enough to hold all
of us...so some get to go in the limo and others have to drive...I drove...and we get to
the site and it's just awful....guests are waiting in their cars so they don't get wet.
The limo arrives and everyone but the bride gets out...we all wait to start under
umbrellas. The officiant finally signals we must start as he has another engagement to
attend...and in less than 15 minutes we try to pull of what was poorly rehearsed the night
before and in the pouring rain. Most of the bridesmaids fell at some point trying to walk
in heels on the wet plywood covered with plastic runners, and basically the whole thing
was a huge disaster.
After she insisted on pictures at the wedding location, so we ALL huddled together for
the poor photographer who not only had to work in the rain, but try to fit a wedding party
of over 45 people into pictures (when she got her pictures back she cried over how bad
they were and said she wished she's chosen less people!). The reception that followed is a
whole other story in itself I will write another time...it was in her home...a small
apartment...with over 150 guests...no seating...notenough food...and no where to go
because it was pouring outside!
All in all, I learned everything NOT to do for my own wedding! Now it's almost 9 months
later and they are divorcing too! (Her own brother was taking bets at the reception as to
how long this marriage would last!) I also, have still not received a thank you note for
the wedding gift we gave them, nor did any of the wedding party received gifts for being
part of the wedding! ezilla0822-99