Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: TealDragon on November 20, 2012, 04:14:51 AM

Title: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: TealDragon on November 20, 2012, 04:14:51 AM
DF's mom's side of the family is difficult. I want to try to keep this brief, I am sorry if I fail. I'm not sure what's relevant and what I'm just overthinking. Many of these people are not very rational or etiqutte-y, from what I am told, if that influences your answers at all.

BG: There was a lot of unhappiness/abuse in that side of the family by DF's grandparents which resulted in a lot of anger and problems (mental illness, alcohol/drug problems, some criminal activity) for a lot of their children. When DF's grandparents were dying, no one wanted to do anything about it so DF's mom stepped up and took control over the situation and got the family's finances back in order and facilitated many members of her family going to jail/rehab/therapy as appropriate. She was apparently seen as controlling and selfish and difficult for this and much of her family cut off contact with her after the grandparents died. It's been many years, things are on the mend, everyone seems to want to patch things up and get along and it's been going well. DF's mom even went on a vacation with her sister this past summer after they did speak for almost 10 years.

Now: DF and I have just received a wedding invitation from his cousin Jack. Jack's dad is DF's mom's brother and they have the rockiest relationship at this point. We would very much love to go to the wedding because I've only met most of these people once and DF hasn't seen his cousins since he was pretty young and people have babies now and it's all just very exciting. However, the wedding isn't until July but the RSVP cards are due back by Christmas. In theory, this is fine with us, but I have had some serious health problems lately. There is simply no way to predict the state of my health in July. Most likely, I will be fine for a small trip (it's about three hours away), however with certain chronic conditions, flare ups are often unpredictable and severe and the medication leaves me in a permanently immunocompromised state. The invitation mentions dinner and dancing to follow at the reception location, however no options for food, so that makes me think that it's a buffet, which I cannot eat at. DF talked to his mom and she thinks we should just call Jack and explain and see if there is a plated option for those with health concerns, however we are all aware that Jack's dad still feels that DF's mom is difficult and demanding and I've never met him but I don't want to have him think of me that way forever over this or have him get angry that DF's mom and her part of the family are being selfish and special snowflakes and whatever all else. I really don't want to strain their relationship any further either.

We genuinely would love to go to this wedding, so while we realize that simply RSVPing no might be easiest, we want to try all other options first. DF and Jack were very close as little kids and haven't seen each other since they were in high school and DF's great grandmother is coming from Russia and seeing her frequently is something that does not get to happen, so we'd love to be able to go for that reason as well.

Which option sounds the best?

1. RSVP yes and call Jack and explain my health situation and that we can't really give a for sure answer. We can RSVP yes and as long as things are ok about a month out, I should be fine, but if an emergency situation pops up the week before, we'll have to deal with that and cancel but we have every intention of being there and if it turns out we can't, we'd of course give every possible bit of notice. And then ask about a special meal for me. This risks the discord it may or may not cause if his dad hears about it.
2. Assuming I can go and am healthy, eat before and after the wedding and maybe bring a light snack in my purse to eat in the bathroom or something but not actually eat at the reception (I have to eat frequently). This would be slightly unpleasant for me but worth it if it doesn't start a family feud.
3. Call my doctor and see if I can have a one time buffet exception (Oh how I'd love it if she'd say yes to this!). This is unlikely but would be easy and make me happy. :P
4.  Don't go, too much potential for problems (although DF's mom thinks that not going would actually present another set of problems in that they'd think we're refusing to go because we don't like them or some nonsense)
5. Other option?
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on November 20, 2012, 05:16:10 AM
I think you should RSVP yes, because you do intend to go and it's not rude to cancel at the last minute for something like serious illnes.

Eating before/after and having some snacks with you might be best as well.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Bethalize on November 20, 2012, 05:17:42 AM
If you want to, accept the invitation but write that you have a medically restrictive diet which some people find strange so you will bring your own food. Say you prefer to do that as it's easier all around. It's not like you're doing it for fun, is it? People can bluster and blow but it's none of their beeswax.

Cancelling because you're unwell is allowed. However, I would make preparations for your DH to attend without you if possible, especially as it's his family. If DH is your nurse then of course that might be difficult but make what preparations you can. Would staying for a few days near the location be any help?

I do hope that you will (1) prioritise your own health needs properly (2) be assertive about what you need and give family the chance to make accommodations (3) ignore anyone who isn't kind towards you.

Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Two Ravens on November 20, 2012, 05:40:02 AM
I would RSVP yes and then make plans to bring your own food/eat before you come, etc.

I would also have plans in place so that if you are not feeling well, that you husband can attend without you.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: TurtleDove on November 20, 2012, 06:00:58 AM
I'm curious what is about a buffet that would be automatically off limits? But yes, eat before or after and don't mention it to the HC at this point. RSVP yes and if you have to cancel, you do. But I wouldn't preemtively state you are RSVPing yes but probably won't be there and if you are you will need specially plated food. (I keep getting confused on this because it seems like it would be the same food as the buffet?)
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on November 20, 2012, 06:41:32 AM
Rsvp yes. If you are unwell close to the date, then df can contact his cousin and explain. Also df should go even if you can't, since he wants to see his cousin and family.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Kaypeep on November 20, 2012, 07:12:05 AM
No pre-selected dinner choice automatically means 'buffet'.  9 out of 10 weddings I've been to did not have this option on the RSVP, and they were regularly plated dinners where we were presented a choice of beef, fish, chicken or vegetarian once we got there.

I say RSVP yes, and eat beforehand in case the food is not to your preferences.  Keep additional food in the car so you can eat afterwards or go outside and grab a snack if you must.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: rigs32 on November 20, 2012, 07:45:07 AM
Anyone can have a health issue come up after saying yes, so that's a non-issue.

I think knowing the reason a buffet is off-limits is necessary to advise you.  If you're gluten-free, then I'd ask that the couple see if the caterer can provide a GF meal.  If you have a phobia of serving spoons, then I'd advise you to just eay before you go or have DH make you a plate.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: o_gal on November 20, 2012, 07:50:10 AM
No pre-selected dinner choice automatically means 'buffet'.  9 out of 10 weddings I've been to did not have this option on the RSVP, and they were regularly plated dinners where we were presented a choice of beef, fish, chicken or vegetarian once we got there.

Or it could be the "alternate drop", which is not very common in the US but is fairly common in some other countries. With this, there are usually 2 or 3 plated entrees and person 1 at the table gets beef, person 2 gets chicken, 3 gets beef, 4 gets chicken, 5 gets beef, etc. There are loads of other etiquette issues with that option.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: cattlekid on November 20, 2012, 08:20:40 AM
I am not the OP, but I am awaiting a kidney transplant.  I have been told that buffets are off limits after I receive a transplant due to the immunosuppressive drugs that I will be taking.

I'm curious what is about a buffet that would be automatically off limits? But yes, eat before or after and don't mention it to the HC at this point. RSVP yes and if you have to cancel, you do. But I wouldn't preemtively state you are RSVPing yes but probably won't be there and if you are you will need specially plated food. (I keep getting confused on this because it seems like it would be the same food as the buffet?)
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Twik on November 20, 2012, 08:26:13 AM
Anyone can have a health issue come up after saying yes, so that's a non-issue.


Yes. While we might want to consider an RSVP sacrosanct, there are plenty of things that can happen that would make someone stay away. Illness, accident, job demands - few people can guarantee so far ahead that *nothing* could occur that would stop their attendance.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 20, 2012, 09:01:05 AM
I'm with everyone else.

Just RSVP yes. And if you get really sick that weekend, give them as much notice as you possibly can.

Bring food if necessary.

(And I've proofread a ton of real-life wedding invitations, and very few of them had meal choices, and all of them were plated food.)
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 20, 2012, 09:05:02 AM
Honestly in real life I have never been asked nor known anyone to be asked at time of RSVP what their dinner choice is - that is a practice I've only read about on the internet.  Buffets are very rare in my area/my circles.  99.9% of weddings I've gone to or worked at in my several years in the party industry the waitstaff verbally asked each guest what they wanted to eat from 2 to 6 options.  To me no dinner option listed on the RSVP tells you nothing.

I also think a December RSVP deadline for a July wedding is A) obnoxious and B) going to blow up in their faces pretty darn badly.

So that in mind I'd RSVP your "honest now at this time" answer.  And then when its a reasonable time frame out from the wedding (2-8 weeks prior) then you give them the updated "honest for the new now" answer as to your attendance.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: It's good to be Queen on November 20, 2012, 09:13:48 AM
I have been to weddings where there is no menu choice and it is not a buffet.  Everyone gets the chicken (or filet or whatever) and that is it.  At the last wedding I attended, it was a plated meal and everyone was served the same thing, a small filet and a piece of salmon.  My sister won't eat beef, so she and I traded.  She had two pieces of salmon and I had two pieces of beef. 

I would RSVP yes and let them know you have a restricted diet and just give them a heads up that you may need to bring your own food.  See if they offer soemthing else. 
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: mbbored on November 20, 2012, 09:36:59 AM
I would RSVP yes and let them know you have a restricted diet and just give them a heads up that you may need to bring your own food.  See if they offer soemthing else.

This is what I would do.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Yvaine on November 20, 2012, 09:46:40 AM
I have been to weddings where there is no menu choice and it is not a buffet.  Everyone gets the chicken (or filet or whatever) and that is it.  At the last wedding I attended, it was a plated meal and everyone was served the same thing, a small filet and a piece of salmon.  My sister won't eat beef, so she and I traded.  She had two pieces of salmon and I had two pieces of beef. 

Yeah, I have either seen this or buffets. WillyNilly's scenario of being asked at the table has never, ever, ever happened to me.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: stargazer on November 20, 2012, 09:51:53 AM
I have been to weddings where there is no menu choice and it is not a buffet.  Everyone gets the chicken (or filet or whatever) and that is it.  At the last wedding I attended, it was a plated meal and everyone was served the same thing, a small filet and a piece of salmon.  My sister won't eat beef, so she and I traded.  She had two pieces of salmon and I had two pieces of beef. 

Yeah, I have either seen this or buffets. WillyNilly's scenario of being asked at the table has never, ever, ever happened to me.

I didn't ask guests at the table, but I did have a spot on the RSVP card where they could check box for chicken, beef or vegetarian.  That way I ordered the right amount of each.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: rashea on November 20, 2012, 09:56:34 AM
I think you RSVP yes. Then, call them and say that you'd like to know when they need their final numbers because you do sometimes have health flare ups, and you'd hate to put them out. That way you can make sure your numbers are in in time.

I assume the issue is that having food that other people have handled is too much of a health risk. I suspect it wouldn't be too hard to ask that you be allowed to make up a plate (or have the caterers do so) before people go through the line. That's what we did for my Great Aunt at my sister's wedding.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Take2 on November 20, 2012, 10:49:46 AM
I would say you RSVP yes, no mention of possibly being too sick so far in the distance. I think that unplanned catastrophic illness is an accepted excuse for bowing out later, there is no need for pre-approval on that.

If you have no other diet restrictions other than "no buffets," I would have DH contact the cousin. "Hey, we are so excited to come to your upcoming wedding. We have kind of an odd question...because of immunity issues, my wife has been told by her doctor that she cannot eat from buffets. This won't keep us from coming either way, but can you let me know if the wedding meal is plated or buffet? If it is a buffet, we just need to know in advance so that we can bring an alternative meal for her. I am sorry to request such a random detail from you so far in advance, and if you haven't nailed that down yet, I can circle back with you closer to the date. Again, we can't wait to see you, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!"
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: JenJay on November 20, 2012, 10:57:51 AM
I think you should RSVP yes, because you do intend to go and it's not rude to cancel at the last minute for something like serious illnes.

Eating before/after and having some snacks with you might be best as well.

I agree
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: BeagleMommy on November 20, 2012, 11:51:07 AM
OP, I would RSVP yes, but not mention health issues until necessary.  If something happens you can always call the HC and express your regrets for not coming due to illness.  Only a total boor would get upset about something like this.

As for the food issue, let them know sooner rather than later that you have restrictions.  They may be able to have the caterer provide a special meal for you or you may be able to bring your own.  Please don't fell it necessary to eat in the restroom.  No one will think badly of you if you have to eat more often due to health reasons.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on November 20, 2012, 12:54:52 PM
I would RSVP. You want to go, your DF wants to go and all the family want you there. That's a good start! Like others have said, I would RSVP and if it turns out you have a serious illness nearer the time and cannot go, just tell them then (giving as much notice as is possible). It's not rude to cancel for a serious illness. If you are still worried, I would call your family and enthusiastically say you would love to go and can't wait but just so they are aware of the situation, just tell them what you told us - that you want to go, are most likely going to be able to go but that if conditions worsen, there might be a small possibility you will be unable to. I think most reasonable people would find that fine.

Regarding the meal, I wouldn't request a specific meal but say something to them along the lines of: "just to let you know, don't worry about counting me as a head for the buffet meal. I have a medical condition which means I can only eat certain things so I would just like to let you know to help you guys out so you don't have to spend any more expenditure than necessary". Be sincere about this. You really are helping them out. They can then decide if they would like to make gesture of enquiring if they can arrange a special meal for you or ask if there is anything else you could eat that they could accommodate. I know this is what I would try to do if a guest said the same thing to me. Regardless of this, perhaps take a large purse and take a wholesome snack or selection of snacks. Eat before and after the reception if you can and if the reception is in the same hotel you are staying in, you're most likely going to be able to nip upstairs to your hotel room or sit in the car for ten minutes to eat the food you need pretty easily.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: magician5 on November 20, 2012, 02:16:59 PM
Don't confuse the wedding with the reception.

You could go for the ceremony, but not attend the reception.

You could eat either before/after the reception.

Since the dinner and downtime ("why don't they GET ON WITH IT?") at the average reception is interminable, tell them you'll be there to congratulate them and dance, but not to eat ... then have something cold that fits your diet in your car, and duck out discreetly and without comment to eat, then return.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 20, 2012, 05:00:57 PM
If we were having a buffet at my wedding (which we aren't) and I was faced with the same situation I would talk to the caterers myself to make sure the OP got a plated dish. It would not be too much trouble at all.

But why do alternate drops have etiquette issues? We're having a salad and a risotto, then steak or chicken with cake for dessert. Anything bad about that?
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: SamiHami on November 20, 2012, 07:21:21 PM
If we were having a buffet at my wedding (which we aren't) and I was faced with the same situation I would talk to the caterers myself to make sure the OP got a plated dish. It would not be too much trouble at all.

But why do alternate drops have etiquette issues? We're having a salad and a risotto, then steak or chicken with cake for dessert. Anything bad about that?

I have not previously heard of the concept of "alternate drops" at a wedding reception, but it seems inherently...incorrect. So if you are having steak and chicken, that means that regardless of personal preference your guests are going to get one or the other based on where they happen to be seated? It seems to me that would result in lots of plate swapping, as surely there will be people who prefer one over the other. Or the servers getting tons of requests from guests ("No, no, I really would prefer the steak. Please give me that instead of the chicken" which could result in there being a shortage if one option is strongly preferred over the other). Either that or you'll wind up with guests who feel slighted because whatever the other people got to eat will be perceived as the "better" option. I'd think that either serving everyone the same thing or allowing the guests to choose which they prefer would be the more polite options.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: bonyk on November 20, 2012, 07:26:22 PM
I have been to weddings where there is no menu choice and it is not a buffet.  Everyone gets the chicken (or filet or whatever) and that is it.  At the last wedding I attended, it was a plated meal and everyone was served the same thing, a small filet and a piece of salmon.  My sister won't eat beef, so she and I traded.  She had two pieces of salmon and I had two pieces of beef. 

Yeah, I have either seen this or buffets. WillyNilly's scenario of being asked at the table has never, ever, ever happened to me.

Maybe it's regional?  Unless it's a buffet, I've always been asked at the table.  I've never had to choose ahead of time.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: katycoo on November 20, 2012, 07:32:42 PM
If we were having a buffet at my wedding (which we aren't) and I was faced with the same situation I would talk to the caterers myself to make sure the OP got a plated dish. It would not be too much trouble at all.

But why do alternate drops have etiquette issues? We're having a salad and a risotto, then steak or chicken with cake for dessert. Anything bad about that?

I have not previously heard of the concept of "alternate drops" at a wedding reception, but it seems inherently...incorrect. So if you are having steak and chicken, that means that regardless of personal preference your guests are going to get one or the other based on where they happen to be seated? It seems to me that would result in lots of plate swapping, as surely there will be people who prefer one over the other. Or the servers getting tons of requests from guests ("No, no, I really would prefer the steak. Please give me that instead of the chicken" which could result in there being a shortage if one option is strongly preferred over the other). Either that or you'll wind up with guests who feel slighted because whatever the other people got to eat will be perceived as the "better" option. I'd think that either serving everyone the same thing or allowing the guests to choose which they prefer would be the more polite options.

And that's exactly how we deal with it.  But no, you don't ask the waitstaff for another dish as that's not how it works. 

Its not odd or offensive when its the norm.  I've never been to a sit down wedding which hasn't been alternative drop, and I've never been asked my meal preference on an invitation.  Its only odd to you because its unusual.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: kudeebee on November 20, 2012, 07:55:04 PM
I have never been to an alternate drop wedding.  Most are buffets or choose at time RSVP.  Once or twice I have been asked at the table.

OP--RSVP yes and include a note not to include you--be sure that you are specific that it is just you-- in the headcount for dinner as you are on a restricted diet.  Then if the hc wishes to offer something else they will; if not you can eat before and after and stick snacks in your purse.   I would not mention your health concerns.  If you have to cancel due to medical reasons, that is acceptable.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 20, 2012, 09:20:53 PM
Alternate drop is the norm here, and I don't see any problem with it as long as the choices are not too strange and the people at the table know each other. Most peoole will eat chicken, most peoole will eat steak.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on November 20, 2012, 09:37:08 PM
What about vegetarians?
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: katycoo on November 20, 2012, 09:48:38 PM
What about vegetarians?

If you have special dietry requirements it is your responsibility to ensure the host is aware so accomodations can be made.  Special meals are served if required.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on November 20, 2012, 10:06:01 PM
What about vegetarians?

If you have special dietry requirements it is your responsibility to ensure the host is aware so accomodations can be made.  Special meals are served if required.

So you'd be told ahead of time if the meal was "alternate drop"?  I'd never heard of it before this thread so I am curious.

All the weddings I have attended have been either buffet or choose from menu options when RSVP-ing.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: sammycat on November 20, 2012, 10:32:48 PM
Alternate drops are the norm at Australian weddings where plated meals are served.  Other than buffets, I've never encountered any other type of meal service at plated weddings.  I'm sure some couples have had exceptions, but that's what they'd be - the exception rather than the rule.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 20, 2012, 10:57:53 PM
They'll be provided for and we know who they might be so we can ask. The only really dietary thing is my grandfather, who's diabetic. It's s small wedding, we know everyone.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: greencat on November 20, 2012, 11:47:17 PM
RSVP yes.  Call the cousin immediately and ask about the food plans with regards to your medically necessary dietary restrictions, as at this point, it's entirely likely that things are not finalized with the caterer anyway, so it would be easiest to accommodate your medical needs with the greatest advance notice.  Then, if you do end up being unable to attend due to having a flare up, it's also in the back of cousin's mind, "Oh, TealDragon mentioned medical problems when they responded to the invitation."
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: katycoo on November 21, 2012, 12:39:24 AM
What about vegetarians?

If you have special dietry requirements it is your responsibility to ensure the host is aware so accomodations can be made.  Special meals are served if required.

So you'd be told ahead of time if the meal was "alternate drop"?  I'd never heard of it before this thread so I am curious.

All the weddings I have attended have been either buffet or choose from menu options when RSVP-ing.

As Sammy said - its assumed here.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 21, 2012, 07:19:51 AM


So you'd be told ahead of time if the meal was "alternate drop"?  I'd never heard of it before this thread so I am curious.


No, you wouldn't be told ahead of time. You'd just get a plate set before you.

RSVP yes.  Call the cousin immediately and ask about the food plans with regards to your medically necessary dietary restrictions

Given that the wedding isn't until July, I wouldn't worry about the food issues until you get much closer--like 4 weeks out.

Then perhaps call and say, "Since my immune system isn't at its strongest, I'm not allowed to eat food from buffets. If you're having a buffet, is it possible to ask your caterer to set up a plate for me in the kitchen, before the buffet is set out?"
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on November 21, 2012, 07:39:52 AM
Thanks for the warning.  I've never heard of such a thing but at least I know now if I ever go to an Australian wedding.  I'm not a fan, though.
Title: Re: What's a wedding invite without family drama?
Post by: kareng57 on November 21, 2012, 05:36:01 PM
Agree with PPs to reply "yes" and verbally explain the situation at some point - that it's possible that your health might prohibit your attendance.  I understand that some HCs send invitations months ahead of time in order to avoid sending separate STDs, but I wonder why a caterer would possibly need to have the "final" numbers months in advance?

Re no meal being mentioned on the RSVP - it could still be a plated meal.  Buffets are most common at weddings here - however, the place where DS and his fiancee are planning for their wedding does have a plated-meal option.  The catch is - although they offer about six selections, everyone has to eat the same dish.  So there'd be no mention of it on the RSVP because there's no choice.