Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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My husband and I planned a destination wedding in Palm Springs, CA.  As this is a very expensive place, we certainly didn't expect too many people to attend.  Our friend  "M" who is engaged and set to be married later in the year, attended without his fiancé'.  We were quite happy about this as no one cares for this girl at all.   This was a very informal affair and the reception was more about having fun with our friends and family.  Fast forward to the garter toss.  Our friend "M" was the only single guy there and willingly came forward to catch the garter.  You must understand that "M" and my husband have been friends for 20+ years.   Two months after our wedding, we attended the fancy engagement party of "M" and his fiancé' at her parent's home.  The fiancé' did not speak to us when we arrived.  No congratulations on our wedding...nothing.  Around 11 p.m. as we were in the basement enjoying our drinks and friends, the fiancé comes downstairs, takes the garter from "M" and tries to give it back to me.  I would not accept it and simply told her to throw it away, I didn't want it back.  She turned around, gave it to my husband and went back upstairs.   Very tacky.



I would like to reserve two spaces in etiquette hell for my DH's aunt and uncle.  DH's family has been nothing but welcoming to me with the exception of the previously mentioned.  They have a history of being passive aggressive, such as calling DH's cell phone three times to ask where he on Thanksgiving.  We told them on several occasions that we are spending the day with my family and the evening at their house.  This behavior has been extended to other family members as well. 

After our wedding, DH and I opened our gifts and cards in the privacy of our own home.  I never liked the idea of public gift openings the day after the wedding and I'm happy to be spared the embarrassment about to come.  We got so many lovely and thoughtful gifts for which we were so grateful.  We are truly blessed with loving family. 

Eventually I opened a card from aunt and uncle.  Out falls two checks.  The checks totaled a shocking generous amount of money.  However, one check was written out to DH and one check was written to me.  I thought that was a very odd thing to do.  DH took the checks to look at them and noticed something even stranger.  DH's check was for a rather large amount of money.  The check in my name was much much less.  Why would anyone give a bride and a groom two separate checks for such drastically different amounts?  If that isn't an insult, I don't know what is.



My aunt (dad's sister) married a man who was, well, a bit of a hick. His family owns a farm in the country. They are good people, but none of them are well-educated or sophisticated.

The wedding was held in the groom's family's farmhouse. The reception was to be held in the yard, and when the guests arrived for the ceremony, everything had already been set up for the reception, including food on a couple of tables outside. Since it was a warm day, the doors and windows of the house were open. My parents and I were sitting in the back, near the door. At one point during the ceremony, my dad looked out the door, and saw one of the barn cats on the table with the food, licking the wedding cake! There were also chickens milling about under the table, and a lot of flies (as there often are in farmyards). Needless to say, we did not eat anything during the reception, and left a bit early to find food elsewhere.

The moral, I suppose, is have the wedding in the yard and leave the food in the house!



   My boyfriend and I had been dating for about two years when I joined a church. Because he and I were dating steadily, I joined into the Couples Sunday-school class. There was also a very large Singles class. Several of the Singles were in the choir (which I also joined), so I got to know many of them and they became my friends.   One of the members of the Singles Class and the choir was a girl I will call Minnie. Minnie was a very quiet young lady, and a little odd, but she was friendly to me. She was dating Bernie, the son of the Sunday-school superintendent. I knew very little about Bernie, though he seemed to be an affable guy.   

By Christmas, my boyfriend proposed, and we became engaged. We decided not to announce the engagement at church until I got my ring in late January. As it happened, the very day we announced our engagement, Minnie announced her engagement to Bernie.   When I learned that Minnie had become engaged, I immediately went to her and congratulated her and asked to see her ring. It was an heirloom and quite pretty. Then she asked to see mine, and she said she liked it. (Please note that my engagement ring is small — I didn’t want my fiancé to go into debt for some Liz Taylor-type rock.)   At choir practices afterwards, Minnie and I compared wedding plans. She was going to be married that summer; my date was set for March of the following year, due to some extenuating circumstances. When the Singles Class sponsored a shower for Minnie, I attended and she even asked me about my wedding at her own shower — advising me to send my announcement to the newspaper in a nearby small town so I could get a detailed write-up, asking if I had chosen my dress and various other questions. I in turn asked her about her dress, and asked some advice about how she was going to handle certain details. We always seemed to have plenty to talk about.

Minnie’s wedding was held at 10:00 in the morning. I had never been to a morning wedding before and looked forward to it. Fiancé and I had to go out of town that day, so we could not go to the reception, but we attended the ceremony. (We did not have a specific invitation. All wedding invitations were printed in the church bulletin and anyone in the church could attend.) Minnie had told me she had to cut some corners and plan an economical wedding, but the wedding was very tasteful. Minnie’s dress was beautiful, the flowers were colorful, and the soloist did a wonderful job. Only two odd things happened — Minnie’s parents glared at everyone throughout the ceremony and on their walk down the aisle afterward; and when it came time to kiss, Minnie and Bernie went to it as if they were auditioning for the Playboy Channel. The SS Superintendent was his son’s best man, and he almost fainted from embarrassment!   

A few weeks after Minnie and Bernie returned from their honeymoon, another friend, Liz, told me that they were holding a “pantry shower” for the happy couple. A pantry shower, sometimes called a “pounding,” is a party held for a couple to give them staple items for the kitchen, bath, etc. Bernie did not have a job at the time and Liz wanted to make sure they didn’t start life together empty-handed.   I fixed up a nice little basket with all kinds of shower goodies: bath powder, fancy soaps, and other items, adding curled ribbons and a little note that said, “From the shower to the shower — for all your showers!” (Lame, but I thought it was cute at the time.) Liz and her husband Frank held the pantry shower in their apartment and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Everyone had a great time. One friend gave the couple flour and sugar; another gave bulk packs of paper towels, napkins and toilet paper. When Minnie and Bernie looked at the basket I made, Minnie said, “Oh.” And then she went on to the next gift. I didn’t think much about it.   

Soon it was time for my pre-wedding festivities. Liz and her mother and aunt sponsored a church shower for me, which was lovely. I had a gorgeous wedding, though I cut some corners, too. I made my own veil, ring-bearer cushion, flower-girl basket, bridesmaid’s headpieces, floral arrangement for the main reception table, etc. Everything was beautiful, and everyone was happy. It was a perfect day.   

About a year passed. Minnie and Bernie were now in the Couples SS class. My husband was the class secretary/treasurer, so he filled out the roll card every Sunday. (This is an important detail.)   One Sunday after church, Minnie came up to me and handed me a beautifully wrapped present. My mouth fell open and I said, “Minnie, what’s the occasion?” She said if I read the note, I would understand; she smiled, waved and ran to her car.   I got home and opened the note. Here, roughly, is what it said.   

Dear X:   The pastor’s sermon on forgiveness last week got me to thinking that I really need to forgive you and Y for the way you have treated Bernie and me. You are always rude to us and snub us. When we were looking at the roll card for the Sunday school, Y very rudely snatched it out of Bernie’s hand. We were only trying to put names to the faces; you know we haven’t been in the class very long. I know it’s all because you are mad at me because I didn’t give you a wedding present. So anyway, Bernie and I forgive you and hope you will like the wedding present we give you now.   Love, Minnie  

 I was shocked out of my mind. First, I didn’t know what in the world Minnie meant by the way I “treated” Bernie and her — I treated them no differently than I had before they were married. Second, my husband hasn’t a rude bone in his body, and he would NEVER have “snatched” the class roll out of Bernie’s hands. Third, I would have had to get out my wedding book to see who gave me what presents, if any — I only remembered a few given by close relatives and special people. I certainly didn’t sit in the choir loft on Sunday looking at the congregation and thinking, “Well, he’s a cheapo; he didn’t give me a present. Neither did she …” And fourth, I didn’t even remember if she and Bernie attended our wedding. (I had to look in the wedding book for that information, too — they did not attend.)   I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and I ended up doing both.   

A few days later I called on the preacher to tell him the story and ask him what to do. After all, I was being “forgiven” for some offense I had no inkling that I had committed. He immediately said, “Who gave you that note?” I told him I really preferred not to say. He said, “I want you to tell me.” When I reluctantly said it was Minnie, he sighed and sat back in his chair. Then he said, “I figured as much.”   He told me that he wasn’t at all surprised and that I would probably never know what I had done to offend the girl. Some suggestions, however, were offered:  

She was jealous that I had become engaged at the same time she did, thus taking away some of her glory as a bride. (My wedding was almost a year after hers.)  

She was jealous that I had a new engagement ring when she had to make do with a “used” one. (I have nothing against heirloom rings; my wedding ring is an heirloom.)  

She was angry that we didn’t attend her wedding reception. (No, we didn’t. I suppose that WAS a faux pas.)  

She either heard about my wedding or saw the pictures (I passed the book around to see if any of the church people in the wedding party wanted pictures) and thought I was trying to “show her up.” (Why would I have wanted to “show her up”? I had nothing against her.)  

She was jealous that we didn’t “have” to be given a pantry shower. (I couldn’t help it if we were both employed when we were married.) And further, she was angry at the gift I gave them at their pantry shower, as it implied that I thought they needed to bathe. (I wonder what she said to the guy who gave them the toilet paper?)   The preacher suggested I should write her a note, thanking her for the wedding gift, and saying that Minnie and Bernie were valued members of the congregation — which I did, and I never mentioned the incident to her again.   Minnie dropped out of the choir once she started popping out babies (thanks be to God I didn’t get pregnant before she did — that would have been another sin that needed forgiving). Later she and Bernie left the church. 

The last I heard, they had divorced and Bernie had custody of the children.   To this day, I can’t figure out what I did that Minnie felt led to write that bizarre note. All I know is that someone who was quite friendly to me turned out to be … well, not much of a friend at all.   The wedding present she felt compelled to give me — ostensibly so I would stop being so rude to her and Bernie — turned out to be two 5x7 picture frames. I appreciated them, I have used them, but she didn’t have to give them to me. Really, she didn’t.   I hope I never meet anyone like Minnie again.



My MIL, through no fault of her own, has always been the black sheep of her family. Because of this her parents never really did anything with her or my husband. When he was 8 they actually stole his allowance from him.

When we got married, we had a VERY small wedding with only about a dozen people in attendance. Our first shock was that they showed up to the wedding at all. The second was that they had brought a present. We weren’t expecting anything from them because of their history but they gave us an inexpensive toaster, the $7 Wal-Mart kind. What’s funny about it is that it wasn’t a new toaster, it was their old one. It had crumbs in the bottom and a cigarette burn on the side.

Because of the rest of this website, I feel like I should say that we really weren’t expecting presents from anyone and would’ve even been happy with a used toaster (it is still useful, after all), but if you’re giving someone something used, at least clean out the old crumbs! We found out later that they’d wanted a new toaster anyway so they bought themselves a nice, new one and wrapped up the old one for us.



I was invited to a wedding and being artistic, was asked to decorate the car with "Just Married" paraphernalia. The best man explained to me that I was to decorate the Mercedes parked near the church and when the bride and groom drove away, I was to follow them in my own car to a 'secondary location' a few minutes away. There, I was to remove the decorations from the Mercedes and re-install them on the groom's perfectly decent Honda Civic--so they could be seen driving away in a nicer car than the actually owned. . .tacky.   

At another friend's wedding I was asked to read a psalm during the ceremony and told when to show up for the rehearsal. The bride had asked me in advance if I could purchase the decorations for the hall where a party would be held after the rehearsal dinner (for which she reimbursed me) and 'help' decorate it. All of the wedding party members gathered at the hall so we could walk over to the church rehearsal together. A few other people pitched in and helped decorate the hall before it was time to walk over and it looked beautiful. After the rehearsal at the church I started walking over to the nearby inn for the rehearsal dinner and was stopped by the bride. Turns out I wasn't invited! I was to 'finish decorating the hall' and wait there until the rest of the guests had had their dinner at the fancy inn! I sat alone for 2 1/2 hours in the empty church hall admiring my pink and white streamers and flower arrangements until the happy and tipsy wedding party arrived. . .that same bride had a 'package deal' at a hotel that included Champagne and wine served to the wedding party but 'dry' for the rest of us except for a one hour cash bar at the beginning. It was a loooong night.  

The day we returned from our honeymoon, my husband's boss made it a point to tell him he and his pregnant wife had been 'starving' at our wedding because they 'don't care for salmon.' Nice. Thanks for letting us know that you were uncomfortable at our expensive menu/open bar/elegant candlelight wedding. Additionally, a guest, quite a close friend of many years, came up to me at the bar while enjoying an expensive Scotch he'd never before drank, toasted me and said, gesturing to a group of other revelers, " I told everyone to go ahead and order the most expensive drinks they have here--it's "open bar!" Hmm. As if I didn't know my own generous father was treating to fine Champagne and open bar all night. Another 'friend' made fun of the professional opera singer, a relative, and her choice of music (which, duh, was our choice of music. Funny, this friend choose one of the very same songs for her own wedding years later...)      



I recently wed the love of my life with no hitches...So this contribution is regarding the wedding of my older brother Shannon. 

One day I called the home of Shannon and his then girlfriend.  His girlfriend and I had always been a little past cordial, but still shy of friendly, so when I asked to speak with him, she tried to run interception by saying, "He's busy."  I explained to her that my call was somewhat urgent and said "I guess I can talk to his girlfriend [her] while I wait"  She corrected me by saying "How about his WIFE!?"

Apparently the two of them had gotten married 3 days before and no one in our family knew about it or was invited! 



A few years ago a dear friend of mine got married. She and I had gone through the engagement period together and my husband and I actually got married one week before she and her husband did. So we came home one day early from our honeymoon just so we could attend their wedding and be with them on their special day.

The ceremony itself was outside, which was uncomfortable due to the heat but I don't think that was really their fault. They tried very hard to make it comfortable for everyone and it really was set up beautifully.

We then went to their favorite restaurant about a half hour away for the reception. There was a lounge and bar to hang out in while we waited for the wedding party to show up. One hour goes by and we've all had a chance to have some cheese and crackers and a couple drinks. Two hours goes by and we're starting to get a little restless. . . . Two and a half HOURS after the guests arrive, the bridal party finally shows up. Apparently they took their sweet time doing pictures.

We finally all sit down to dinner at very cramped tables. One even collapsed from the weight on it! And this was a supposedly very nice and expensive place. By the time we got our food (it was steak) it was cold and chewy. The night dragged on from there and we ended up leaving after only a couple songs because it was just too much after hurrying home from our honeymoon that day to be there.

When we got married we were sure to get the pictures done in a timely manner and people still thank us and say it was one of the best weddings they've ever been to because of how fast we did everything for the guests. I couldn't believe we had to wait 2 and a half hours!



The first time around, I married young. Very young. I truly loved my ex-husband, but we both changed and grew...blah..blah. Anyhow, I was so proud of my engagement ring, even though it was a me it didn't matter. Neither of our families were very well of financially, so we planned a pretty, tight budget wedding that I believe everyone enjoyed. Several months after our wedding, ex took me to a jewelry store. He told me to "pick out my dream ring." We had fun window shopping, I showed him one I loved, and left it at that. 

Well, we were married for three years, and truly went thru way too much, and grew apart. We split very amicably, with no children, and remained friends. We talked to each other about people we were seeing etc. One day he called me, and asked me what the "legal age of consent" was in the state we lived in. I was appalled, and told him that if he even had to ASK that, she was TOO YOUNG. Well, it didn't deter him. He walked into our divorce hearing with this 16 yr old orphan Annie look-alike. I pulled him aside and asked how he could bring her. He told me that since she had a miscarriage 3 weeks before, she needed to be near him. ( I had 12 miscarriages while we were married) I was livid, not with her, but with him. 

Fast forward 3 weeks. I had pretty much gotten over the divorce thing, I was seeing the man who is now my fiancé, and very happy. My ex emailed me to tell me he was engaged, and he was happy. I was glad he was happy, but still shocked. I was glad he was happy, but so worried about this little girl! He was 27, she was 16. On top of that, he attached a picture of the ring he bought was MY ring! Then he let me know that he took out a loan for her ring, and their honeymoon...and promptly filed bankruptcy!! On top of that, she wanted to know if she could borrow my wedding dress that I had married him in to wear for THEIR wedding. I was so shocked, all I could do was dump that dress in a dumpster!! Needless to say, I have not spoken to them at all since. I am getting married in October to a WONDERFUL man that I love dearly, and frankly, he finds this story absolutely hilarious!! Thank God I escaped!! WHEW!!


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007