Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Tacky Invitations

Jan-Jun 2000 Archive
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Here is my invitation from hell story, or should I say the lack of one.  This one came from a friend that I will call “Julie”.  Julie and I have been friends for 9 or 10 years, we met when I first moved to a small town and she was the first neighbor to introduce herself.  Our children were the best of friends and we did everything together as families.  As time went on Julie and her husband and children moved but we kept in touch, when she moved across country to New York we still called and spoke.  As the years pass unfortunately like many couples both Julie’s marriage and mine end in divorce, but we move on with our lives and stay friends.  During one of our conversations approximately six months before my second marriage I call to tell her my good news and she lets on that she has good news too and she is getting married in two months!!  Well, with me knowing Julie’s finances are tight I call one afternoon and tell her that I found the cutest guest books and would she like to see it?  I would love to help contribute to her wedding in some way, especially since I live across country and could not attend any type of bridal showers.    I send her the website and tell her if she likes one then let me know and I will order it and pay for what ever she chooses.  A week or two pass and I haven’t heard from Julie so I call and ask her if she has looked at the website yet, instead of getting any kind of answer I get passed off to the person who is helping her plan her wedding!!  Well I speak to “Jane” and she proceeds to tell me that “we” are not having that kind of a guest book and that they have already picked out a frame mat for people to sign.  My response is okay, is there anything else I can help with?  No they have it under control, is Jane’s reply.  

A few weeks go by and I receive an email and it tells us to “Save the Date” Julie and Brian are getting married.  With that information I start looking at hotels and flights across country.  I call Julie and ask for more specific details, she tells me the wedding is small, it is on a Sunday, and in the afternoon.  I explain that Sunday is tough and I probably could not stay late, as I will have to get a return flight.  Well time passes and I never receive an invitation in the mail, the wedding date passes, still nothing, five days after the wedding I get and email “now its eight!”  Well they got married, I respond to the email what a lovely family, unfortunately I never received an invitation but I understand.  Her response to me is that since I “bitched and moaned” and they had a BUDGET she didn’t send one to me.  Now isn’t that nice?  I am sure her registry list will arrive any day now though. J



My mother received a wedding invitation from a young woman she barely knows (the three of us were in the same volunteer organization several years ago).  The young woman is a real up-and-comer in Los Angeles politics and so is her husband.  When my mother opened the invitation,  she called me on the phone and said,  "You have to see this for yourself."    Needless to say, I drove over immediately.

The invitation was large and lavish, and included a bizarre listing of the bride's "sponsors" -- a passel of local politicians, lobbyists, officeholders etc. -- as well as a full list of the wedding participants, caterer, florist, wedding planner, etc. But the real kicker was the small card that said, "In lieu of material gifts, cash donations will be appreciated."

My mom decided the best way to respond to this card was to take it at face value.  She did not attend the wedding, but sent a lovely note of good wishes to the bride and groom, mentioning that she had made a "cash donation" in their names to a charity that she was sure the bride would approve of!



There was a couple at our church that were planning a wedding.  First of all, they were extremely annoying always talking about how "stressful" all this wedding planning was etc.  The thing was is that they were both in there forties and were the kind of people that think everything is stressful.  The kind of people that don't like kids and have really bad taste, but are inflexible.  You know the type?   Well, we did not receive an invitation to the wedding even though we were invited to a shower.  Now I know in some circles that is acceptable, but it still bothers me to be invited to a shower to purchase a gift for someone when they don't even want to invite you to the wedding, BUT anyway the worst part is yet to come.   

One week before the wedding we are having the "coffee hour" at church and lo and behold the groom comes up and says, "Hi!  What are you guys doing next weekend?"  I said, taken aback," Uh, I don't know... umm.."  He says (and I quote) "Well, we had some of the people that we invited to our wedding back out, and we were wondering if you would like to come to the wedding and the reception... kids are not invited."    I had absolutely no idea how to kindly respond.  I was extremely offended by this horrible behavior-- to be told to your face that you are the "B" list or even "C" list, to be asked in such an "on the spot" manner, and not even given the time to think or respond.  So, I said, "umm.. sure, I guess I will need to get a babysitter then."  Well, I was still steaming about it... the more I thought about it the madder I got.  I couldn't believe I had said yes, but I was unable to think of anything else.  In hindsight, I should have said, "Thank you for thinking of us, but I am not sure I can find a babysitter on such short notice or we have plans etc...."  But I didn't.  I said yes.   Having had a very simple wedding myself, I can understand budget constraints, but I feel that it is more important to never make anyone feel overlooked than to make your wedding some sort of exclusive event (tacky event that it was).  So as the week progresses, I did something that was probably even more rude.  We stood them up.  Completely... Never sent a gift... Never apologized... Nothing.  And you know what, I don't even feel guilty about it.  To be honest, I had never had someone be so incredibly rude to me (at least under the guise of being polite).    Either invite or don't invite, but don't make people think that you are being thrown a bone.  In other words, don't EVER say, "Umm... the people we originally invited can't come... soo.... we were wondering...."



Like most brides do, when I mailed out my wedding invitations, I included a self addressed stamped envelope to contain the simple RSVP card I had enclosed.  Despite my attempts to make it easy for those invited to provide me their response, I still had several invitations unreplied to two weeks before the wedding.  One of the couples, I'll call them Marty and Holly, that we'd invited weren't close friends, but were friends nonetheless and traveled in the same social circles.  They had invited us to their wedding but we had been unable to attend due to it conflicting with a vacation that we'd planned months before the invitation had arrived.  We'd sent a gift from their bridal registry, a crystal goblet that cost more than $80 per stem.  Their thank-you consisted of a pre-printed thank-you card with the line, "we would like to acknowledge the receipt of your gift and thank you for the (fill in the blank). We have purchased a new home and it will make a nice addition.  Here is our new address......."  I was told by another friend that only people who attended the wedding got a handwritten thank-you note.   

My wedding was fast approaching and I saw Marty and Holly at the party of another mutual friend.  I still hadn't heard anything from them as to whether or not they were planning on attending, I asked them if they had received their invitation to my wedding.  They replied "Yes".  I then asked if they were planning on attending since I hadn't received an RSVP.  Here's how Marty responded, "Well, since we hardly know you, here's the deal-- we have season tickets to (their alma mater's) home football games.  If it's  raining, we'll go to your wedding, if you look outside and see sunshine then don't count on us." He chuckled and gave me a condescending pat on the shoulder.  Keep in mind that he said that he hardly knew us yet had invited us to THEIR wedding.  Luckily, my wedding day dawned bright and blue and those boneheads decided to cheer on their team.  The topper is when I ran into them at a party almost a year later.  Holly told me to hang on that she'd had my wedding gift bouncing around in her trunk for almost a year.  She went to her car to retrieve it and as she handed me the plain white box she half-heartedly apologized for not having time to wrap it.  Gee, almost a whole year with no time to wrap a small box.  Inside was a single fork from my every day stainless pattern. Retail value 8 dollars.  Why bother? 



I have a coworker that I enjoy, though we do not socialize outside of the office. "Shelly" decided to move out of state and her friends threw a going away party. The invitation requested that I bring a gift that is associated with a bar in our hometown (for example, bring a gift to remind Shelly and her fiancé of Bar X). I called to RSVP that I was unable to attend.

After six months, Shelly has decided to move back home which is all good as she is welcome back at our place of business and her wedding will be here as well. I then received an invitation for her bridal shower. I have never heard of a "bar stocking" bridal shower. I was explicitly instructed to bring 750 ml of a brand vodka and a bottle of merlot. I emailed to RSVP that I was unable to attend.

I recently received her wedding invitation (with typos, unfortunately) and felt as though I should go given that she and I are working together and I did not have a decent excuse not to attend. She then informed me that she will be paying $50.00 a head and is spending so much money on the wedding. Now I feel pressured to spend an equal amount of money for the gift for a coworker that I do not know well. Ugh.


A very good friend of mine from high school was engaged to be married in the spring of 2002.  My wedding was in October of 2001 and she attended our wedding.  Her gift to us was a card with $20.00 and an invitation to her wedding stuck in the card.  Needless to say, we didn't attend her wedding and gave her back the $20.00.



Here’s a tacky request that was on the wedding invitation (4th marriage of course) ….

Having an already established household, the bride and groom have not registered at a department store.  In lieu of wedding gifts, they would appreciate a monetary gift.

We were initially planning on giving them money as a gift, after reading this request we went out and bought a very tacky wedding clock personally inscribed (non-returnable) that hopefully will hang on their wall for years ;-)



I've been enjoying your site for a few years now.  It is just too fun to give up.  This wedding announcement was received by me 4 years ago, it was tucked amongst some pictures and found it again this week.  It's from a friend of mine and in addition to the "schedule of events" that included golf, a spa day and a wine tasting tour, the pre-invitation announcement contained this paragraph: 

The Princess Bride 

Once upon a time, in the very near future, there will be an event you will not want to miss.  On Friday, March 30, 2001, in a land far, far away, our fair Princess Kandy and our handsome Prince Brad will be joined in Holy Matrimony.  A small Italian villa in the heart of Napa Valley, California will host this magical event.  The Smith and Jones families will be hosting a magnificent celebration in honor of this momentous occasion.  An occurrence this significant cannot be contained in just one day, therefore it will be held over an entire weekend of March 29 - April 1, 2001.  The pleasure of your presence will be requested to be a part of this wondrous occasion so start planning now so you are not left kissing a frog at midnight. And everyone lived happily ever after!!

I kid you not, this is the exact wording (spellings, bold, underline, everything).  Also interesting is neither of these people, nor anyone in their families, lived in California.  They thought we'd all take two vacation days to attend their wedding.  The invitation arrived later with four registries to choose from and the prices for golf, etc.



My friend is getting married for the second time and wanted to be somewhat low-key this time around.  She planned the wedding in about 4 months, nothing fancy, and no fuss, but her friend from work insisted on giving her a "couples shower". 

The girl planned a rather informal (cheap) shower and ended up running out of invitations before completing the mailing.  So she rushed out to the store and bought similar invites to complete the mailing, but instead of buying the same cards with a heart design at the top (the store was out of them), the new invites had a baby carriage design at the top.  It gets better....

This girl actually sent the invites to the remainder of the guest list with an arrow drawn pointing to the baby carriage and a handwritten note (in ballpoint pen ON the invitation) that read: "Pretend this is a heart".


I thought this story was just too good to be left out of the Ehell archives.   Bride and groom were planning a wedding on a limited budget. Instead of going with their initial plan, which was a low-key, family-and-friends catered affair, they sent out invitations stating that in lieu of gifts, the guest would be required to pay for their meal at the reception, as they couldn't afford it otherwise. Anyone who couldn't pay could not attend the reception. The actual amount was mentioned in the invite.   To compound this awful, awful etiquette sin, they also: -posted very similar invitation information (minus the cost, payment details and location) in a public blog to anyone who cared to come along - heartily abused (along with their friends) anyone who commented that this was not really the done thing for weddings - held their wedding in a different city to that of many of their friends and family, who would also have to pay for their airfare and accommodation to attend   I've never seen a wedding invitation so jaw-dropping!



I don't actually have an ehell story (yet anyway), but I have almost made my own faux pas, so I can understand how some of these incidents could have happened.

I am getting married in 2 months and just mailed out our invitations.  We are both in our 30's and each had our own separate households.  Meaning that we already have 2 of just about everything that you would normally register for.  We discussed a couple different options, one of which was the honeymoon registry.  I have never been married before, so when I saw all these different websites and travel agents that offered the honeymoon registry I thought what a great idea - we can go on a great honeymoon and only have to pay the difference between what people gave us and the total cost.  Sounded good to me.  After talking to several people, most agreed that the idea was a little tacky, so we decided not to do that.

Next, we went to the store and registered for various household items that we could use.  While at the store, the service person who was helping us asked how many we expected at the wedding.  Approximately 100 people.  She told us that we needed to register for 200 gifts (!!!), since most people would give us at least 2 gifts - and the more we registered for the better.  I thought that sounded a little odd, but since when I give shower gifts, I do usually give a couple smaller gifts rather than 1 large gift, that sounded reasonable.  Then she gave us 100 cards with our registry number on it to include in the invitations.  That seemed tacky to me, so I didn't - for which I am grateful after reading some of these stories.

Unfortunately for those of us who have no experience with weddings and invitations, we rely on the people helping us in the store to tell us how such things should be done. 

Thanks for a wonderful site that will probably give me nightmares for the next 2 months till I'm done with my own wedding.


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007