Part of the reason that people commit so many etiquette blunders is we enable them to do so by continuing to attend events that we know are inappropriate.
True, but there are times where family expectations or friendship trump etiquette.
-My sister hosted my bridal shower. It was a very small affair where only family or might-as-well-be-family was invited, because I don't have that many female friends. So it was proper. When it came time for hers, the guest list was much larger because my sister and her in-laws are far more social. My sister only had one other bridesmaid (the groom's sister, who is also a total tomboy with no
interest in anything wedding), and in both our families it is expected the bridesmaids host the shower. So the two of us threw my sister's shower. Into E-hell we go, but we would have gotten in much bigger trouble with our families if we'd said it wasn't appropriate.
-I got an invite for a babyshower for a friend hosted by her mother. I really like the girl, and thanks to busy schedules, don't get to see her often. I wanted
to go to her shower. Do I decline because it's not proper etiquette for the mother-to-be's mother to host the shower, even though I have no plans and really like the honoree? Or do I overlook the etiquette gaffe and chalk it up as an excited grandma-to-be and cheerfully go to the shower? Obviously, I went.
-I hosted a shower for hubby's best friend's wife. (I offered very early on, and she excepted.) The grandma-to-be really
wanted in on the hosting, too, because she was so excited and it's pretty common around here for the grandma-to-be to throw the shower (at least, as far as I can tell). The daughter-in-law refusing the grandma-to-be's good-intentioned hosting would have really upset grandma-to-be. She knowingly broke etiquette and allowed her MIL to throw her shower because adhering to etiquette would have offended someone who meant a lot more to her.
-I've seen many stories on Ehell about brides or mothers-to-be who wanted low-key affairs, no strippers, no drinking, or no games, only to have their wishes ignored by the hostess because it's not what the hostess envisioned. If the honoree is adhering to etiquette, she isn't that involved in the planning of the shower. So that note to "bring an addressed envelope!" or "bring a pack of diapers for admission!" might be totally tacky, but NOT the honoree's idea. If I had a friend who was normally very gracious and I got an invite from one of her friends for a third shower with tacky instructions, I'd probably give my friend the benefit of the doubt and blame the hostess
Etiquette is important (we wouldn't be here if we didn't think that), but I think letting etiquette trump all isn't always a realistic option. Sometimes we just bite the bullet because, when balancing etiquette and the feelings of the parties involved, the consequences just aren't worth following the rules.