Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Just Plain Tacky



A couple years ago, I was invited to my close friend's sister's wedding. The bride and groom are not wealthy people, so they decided to have the reception at a cheap hall that is attached to a strip joint. The reception was to start at 6:00 p.m. The bakery dropped the cake off at 4:00 p.m. By the time that the Bride, Groom, wedding party and the guests had arrived, half of the cake was missing. Turns out that some of the bar flies had stolen it and smashed it in the middle of the street! If this didn't upset the bride enough, the Groom proceeded to get completely trashed and came onto some of the guests. When one of his victim's boyfriend politely asked him to back off, he(the groom) started a fight that ended up outside in the street. Needless to say, he was hauled off to jail for the night.

I'm not sure if this is firsthand by your definition, since I didn't attend this wedding. I work for a catering company in Minneapolis that caters many functions, including weddings of all sizes. Several weeks ago we catered a wedding reception at which 60 guests were expected, but the convenors only ordered enough food for 35. This was deliberate; their instructions specified that the wedding party was to go through the buffet line first, and that the food was primarily for them. What made it particularly egregious was that this reception was held at about 6:30 PM, prime dinner hour! Those of us who work in the kitchen stood around shaking our heads at the gall of people who would invite friends and family to a reception, and only let some of them eat.

First off let me say - LOVED your page!! Its unreal how some people are. Here's one for you: At my wedding reception my husband and I received a set of crystal candle holders. The woman (who was my husbands boss's wife) said that she bought two incase we ever split up that both of us could have one.

Thanks again for the great laughter!

When we got married 13 years ago, my husband I received some beautiful home-made gifts and some lovely, expensive, store-bought pieces and everything in between. But one gift really sticks in my mind...

David & Gail had been married about 3 months before us. We invited them to the wedding because they are my husband's cousins, but we didn't know them well. They came late and left early so I still didn't get a chance to meet them. They left a gift behind. When we opened it the following week (after the honeymoon), we started with the card, "Congratulations Dee & Tom" blah, blah, blah. Then we opened the gift. Then we opened the card inside the gift, which said "Congratulations David & Gail" blah, blah, blah.

Now I know that many of us "recycled" a few of our wedding gifts. But hopefully we managed to take out the original card!!

P.S. My sister has been banned from returning items at one of our local department stores because she has returned so many gifts that her children had received but that she decided they didn't like!

I feel funny writing on this taboo subject, because it is not necessarily a breach of etiquette (maybe in some unspoken code somewhere it is), but rather a horrible judgement call...

My mother went to the florist one day to see whether or not she should purchase a corsage for the bride of a bridal shower she was hosting.  She wasn't too sure if hostesses did that anymore...anyway, the florist commended her for at least asking, the woman that had come in before my mother was interested in purchasing a balloon bouquet. The florist asked the woman what colors of balloons she wished to purchased and the woman mentioned that she was getting the balloons for a child's funeral! The florist picked her jaw up off the floor and informed the woman that her gesture would be very tacky. The woman then proceeded to ask the florist, "Well, would black balloons be ok?" The florist immediately ordered the woman out of her store.

I've been enjoying your web page but it reminded me of an incident at my own wedding that I thought you might like to hear.  

My wife (fiancée at the time) attended the wedding of one of her best friends. We gave the happy couple a nice marble cheese tray with glass dome and knife. We received the appropriate thank you card and all was as it should be. When we tied the knot ourselves about a year later, what do we get from this "friend"? The same cheese tray, not an identical one but The Same One, still in the box, complete with the tape marks from the wrapping paper.

How's that for a way to save money using your unwanted gifts?

A few years ago, my grandmother, father, and I flew completely   cross-country, coast to coast, to attend my cousin's wedding. This is my  only cousin, my father's only niece, and my grandmother's only grandchild  other than myself, and since we live so far apart we do not get to see each  other very often, so this was a special treat as well as a considerable  special expense for us. The wedding was lovely, and we were invited to a  post-wedding brunch the next day with the rest of the family, put on by the  groom's family.

We had not met the groom's mother and stepfather before this time, but they  had seemed nice enough. We, especially my grandmother, enjoyed attending  the brunch and visiting with our far-flung family (and we did not consume  very much, as we are not breakfast eaters). Meanwhile, the groom's family  had quite a party at the other end of the table, laughing up a storm and  knocking back mimosas. The party was winding down when the groom's  stepfather came up to my dad and whispered to him that more people had come than he thought, and the party had ended up costing more than he expected, so could we please slip him some cash?

My flustered father would have paid him, but my aunt, the mother of the  bride, was furious. (The bride's other grandparents, my aunt's own family,  who had also made the trip, were NOT asked to pay.) She insisted on giving this boor his money for us, while I just sat there and helplessly stewed.
We would have understood if we had been asked to contribute ahead of time,  but I found it amazing that this man would single us out, after we had spent so much money, time, and trouble to come and attend this wedding -- and grandmother and uncle of the bride at that!!! -- to reimburse him for his own indulgence and lack of foresight.

My cousin is now divorced, however, so at least none of us is related to this tacky man any longer.

My sister-in-law of 4 years is not easy to love, but we all try. We are used to sharing our super parents with others, but haven't seen a takeover bid like this since Turner & Murdock.

She decided to throw a party for our Dad's 75th Birthday. We were included...on the guest list! Our Mom was not consulted on the guest list, and many much-loved friends and family members were left off.

Poorly done computer-generated invitations were sent out in ill-fitting envelopes using e-postage, and address labels. About as personal as a mailing from Visa.

We decided to include ourselves, using the "great-idea!-we'd-love-to-help" ploy. Did not go well. She invited all her neighbors (unknown to Dad) and their small children; wanted clowns, play equipment, and rock music. We flinched, as the man next door to her would be home only one day after coronary by-pass surgery.

Party day arrives. In retaliation for our involvement, when we arrived with our contributions in hand, she had done nothing. No set-up, no housekeeping. Good friends pitched in before others arrived to put together food trays and set up tables. One even took the laundry off the sofas and hid in a room. 60 people we have known all our lives were greeted by a surly sister-in-law, who answered every question with a shrug. She didn't know where anything was, in her own home. Her son, walked unattended, in nothing but a disposable diaper.

The crowd's average age was 55. She ordered Cajun\peppered beef, and no one could eat it without suffering burns. The bar turned out to be Coleman coolers with canned drinks, set on the ground 20' from the food and tables. Glasses had to be sent out for, and there was no cutlery. Ever get a good handful of potato salad? Baked beans through a straw?....if we'd had straws... She brought out a cake that had his company logo on it, and before we could rally to sing to him, she presented and cut it. It was chocolate. She changed the order to her favorite --and his least.

We are still apologizing to our friends and forgotten invitees. Our Dad hopefully remained clueless. He seemed to enjoy the gift he got from all of us...except she chose that, too, and signed our names.

Glad you weren't there. All the drinks in coolers? Too bad she 'forgot' the ice.


Last May, I was invited to attend the wedding of a young man I had known since his infancy.The groom's parents are lovely, gracious people with a wonderful sense what is appropriate. However, the bride's family was putting on the celebration...

The ceremony was a formal one and was to be held at the bride's family church. This turned out to be a small (stress on SMALL) historic building in a rather backwoods town about an hour away from the large urban center where I live. My husband and I set off in what we thought was plenty of time for the 6:30 PM wedding, but had trouble finding the place.

We arrived with only moments to spare. But I didn't worry too much, there were still plenty of people in the parking lot, including my sister and her husband in formal attire. We joined the crowd of 15 or so people standing outside and I asked my sister why was everyone outside? Her beautiful velvet evening gown was trailing in the dust of the unpaved lot. She smiled and said through clenched teeth,"The church is full."

What? Why did they invite so many people if the church couldn't hold them all? We thought surely they must be moving people around inside, perhaps adding some chairs to make room for the guests. But no. It was full and no more were to be admitted. To underscore the point: One of the ushers left the church to speak to the bride's party (yes, it was so small and "historic" there was no "bride's room" and the poor thing had to cross the parking lot and stand outside until it was time for her entrance) and one of the wedding Nazis (AKA wedding coordinators) refused to let him back in! Not being allowed into the church caused a lot of hard feelings among some of the guests who had come from out of town to attend the event.

I heard later the reason for the crowd was twofold. Being a small town, several of the locals with too much time on their hands decided that weddings are public events and it would be okay if they attended the ceremony, as long as they didn't go to the reception. Additionally, most of the bride's invitees did not bother to RSVP so there was no accurate headcount. The MOB simply had no idea how many were actually planning to
attend when they decided on the church. I should mention that every last RSVP card was returned on the groom's side... and the MOB was terribly impressed. "How'd you get 'em to do that?" she reportedly asked.

At least the weather was pleasant and the ceremony mercifully brief. The reception was held nearby in an old house that had been renovated to be a party site. It was located on a wooded lot and boasted an additional outside pavilion, beautifully decorated with candles and flowers. Since it was rather close inside the house, most of the guests at some point or another made their way to the pavilion - only to be regaled by the sight of a two-seater outhouse, door open, facing the pavilion not 20 feet away! Yes, guests got to sit at a table with a white cloth, in the glow of candlelight and gaze into that...relic of a bygone era. Since there was indoor plumbing, I presume this was someone's idea of a decorator touch. I really can't understand why they at least didn't close the door!

There were other signs of tackiness, such as the fact that the father of the bride had three wives, past and present, at the wedding and his toast to the couple was something along the lines of "Hope y'all are more successful than I was!" And the mediocre food, poorly stocked bar, etc... Much of which might have been cheerfully overlooked but which became glaringly obvious once the theme had been set. The mother of the groom was completely mortified, almost to the point of tears but like a true lady she put the best face possible on the situation. We all agree it is the kind of thing that one day she will look back on and nervously change the subject!

Hope you can find something to use out of this long epistle. Love your site. People just never cease to amaze me.

Dear E-Hell Webmistress,

This evening I will be attending my friend's buy-your-own "groom's dinner". The wedding agenda which was mailed to all wedding participants stated, "We will be paying for appetizers only. Any other food and drinks are on you." It was also stipulated that "if you can't make it, don't sweat it" as there will be a run-through on the wedding day. I've taken a poll on this matter and absolutely everyone insists this is TACKY.

And how does the tacky-meter rate pets (dogs) in the (indoor) wedding ceremony? Let me also add that the wedding invitation was addressed (with a sticky label that did not match the color of the envelope) only to me; there was no mention of my live-in love.

Gratefully yours,
Always a pall-bearer, never a corpse.