Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Thank you Notes from Hell

After reading accounts on your site, I thought I'd drop you a line. One of the previous writers mentioned the "wishing well" idea where each guest writes her name and address on an envelope and places it in a wishing well. I went to a bridal shower where this was done. My sister-in-law (I'll call her Lauren) and I went to the bridal shower, but my mother-in-law (I'll call her Susan) was unable to attend. Upon arriving, we were told to address an envelope and put it in the wishing well; later, names would be drawn for door prizes. We thought nothing of it, and did as instructed.

We played games and then it was time to open gifts. Lauren, Susan and I had put a gift together ourselves. I should say that Susan, who couldn't attend, really did the work. She gathered the contents (wine, glasses, lingerie, etc.) and wrapped the gift beautifully. It was obvious that she spent much time and effort in making the gift very special and memorable. Of course, the bride was very happy with the gift and thanked us profusely. All the while we mentioned Susan's efforts so as to place proper credit where it was due. The party went long and we did need to leave before the buffet was served, so we wished the bride well and went on our way.

A few weeks later, I checked my mail and found a curious envelope with familiar handwriting--mine! It was the envelope that I had addressed to myself and inside was a thank you from the bride-to-be. How tricky, I thought. The next time I saw my mother-in-law, I asked her if she had received a thank you. Of course, she hadn't!! She did not attend the shower and therefore was unable to address her own thank you!! The bride never cross-checked the gifts and cards she received with the "entries" in the drawing!!! Susan, who had put so much care and thought into the gift was never thanked!!! If I had known what the envelopes were for, I would surely have put one in the well for her, even if that way of thanking guests is in bad taste. Susan would have at least been thanked and the bride would have done her "duty".

Susan, incidentally, put much time and effort into decorating for the bride's reception (as did our whole family) and was the "brains" of the operation. This was a pitiful oversight on the part of the shower hostesses and the bride! Thanks for the amusement your column provides. Even though I have done my fair share of etiquette no-nos (I'm always trying to do the right thing!), it never ceases to amaze me how many different ways people can flub up!


I am planning my own wedding and have been religiously searching the web for ideas. Last week I came across the most amazing web-site. They actually have a business of handwriting a person's wedding thank-you notes! All you have to do is supply this company with the name and address of the receiver (nick-names if preferred), gift description, and can add personal comments in. You can also pick the style of handwriting you like. Oh! And they will even send the completed notes back to you so they all will have your postmark.

I have never heard of such in my life! Imagine someone going to all the trouble to get a couple a nice wedding gift and the couple cannot even bother to write a few words of thanks on their own! The sad thing is that the business is probably flourishing, because some brides think it's the greatest idea yet!

I have a brief story for you. I don't know how many times I have given   wedding gifts and not gotten a thank you note. In one particular case I   casually mentioned I hadn't received his (I was friends with the groom) thank   you note. I periodically do this, as things do get lost in the mail. I was   assured that, while the notes had not yet been sent, they would be sent soon.   This occurred at least one more time...and no note arrived. And this was   someone I thought was a good friend of the family. We sailed with him, let   him stay at our house, etc. Arg.

The other amusing thing is when they send no thank you note, but then send  you a baby noticed, etc., presumably so one can send them another gift.

This is a blend of Thank You Note Hell and RSVP Hell. When my brother got married 9 years ago I bought a beautiful wedding frame which cost $50. At the time I was a single mom with two children and could ill afford such a costly gift, but it was gorgeous and I couldn't pass it up. The happy couple opened their gifts at the reception, at which time Debbie casually said, "Oh, another picture frame." and looked at me and said thanks.

Having not received a thank you note after six months I asked Debbie if she had sent them out and perhaps overlooked mine or perhaps mine had been lost in the mail. She looked at me as though I was stupid and said she didn't send out thank you cards, that she had thanked everyone at the reception. Well, what about the people from out of town who couldn't attend, yet sent gifts? She just blew them off.

A year later I got married. Many of my extended family from out of state didn't RSVP, nor did they send a gift. My mother said that it was because Debbie hadn't bothered to send out thank you notes. Bad manners DO have a domino effect on the rest of the family. I was very hurt that my dad's side of the family not only didn't RSVP, but didn't send a card to congratulate us nor a gift. I didn't EXPECT a gift, but I figured since my brother and sister BOTH received gifts from those family members that my husband and I would receive one as well.

I made a point of not only thanking each individual at my showers, but sent very personal thank you notes. It took me nearly three weeks to handwrite 150 thank you notes for wedding gifts. I made certain that Debbie and Bob's went out first!