Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


Main Page/Home

The Faux Pas Archives
Wedding Etiquette

Bridesmaids and Beastmen
Bridal Showers
Bridezillas and Groomonsters
Faux Pas of the Year
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Guests From Hell
Tacky Invitations
Wedding Rugrats
Just Plain Tacky
Tacky Toasts
Thank You Notes From Hell
Tacky Vendors
Wedding From Hell
Wicked Witches of the Wedding
Perfect Bride
Bridesmaid Dress Incinerator



Everyday Etiquette

Baby Showers
The Dating Game
Ooops! Foot in Mouth Disease
Funeral Etiquette
Gimme Hell
Holiday Hell
Just Plain Tacky
It's all Relatives
Every Day RugRats
Road Rage

Business Etiquette

Bad Business Etiquette
Merchants of Etiquette Hell
Bad Bosses

Faux Pas of the Year




Press Room/Contact


Faux Pas of the Year

Stories which earn the coveted honor of actually making Miss Jeanne bust out laughing or cause some lower mandible rug rubs.

Jan-Jun 2000 Archive
Jul-Dec 2000 Archive
Jan-Dec 2001 Archive
2002 Archive
Jan-Jun 2003 Archive
Jul - Dec 2003 Archive
Jan - Jun 2004 Archive


My husband is Regional Manager for a large corporation, and his boss was coming into our city for a few days' visit to the company.   He is always accompanied by his assistant, and I have gotten to know them both over the years.

I suggested that we have them to dinner in our home, and they accepted at once, for the next evening.   I also called and invited hubby's second-in-command, (Bob), apologizing to his wife (Connie) on the phone for the short notice, and saying that I hoped it was not too late for them to get a sitter (their sons were 8, 7 and 5).   She said "Oh, Yes,"  and said they were looking forward to the evening.

My Sis and BIL were houseguests for a few days, so she and I cooked a lovely dinner, made beautiful individual desserts, set the tables with my nicest linens and china, and all was right with the world.    Boss and assistant arrived, right on time.   We introduced our two teenagers, who chatted for a few minutes, then went out for pizza and a movie.  THEN:  Bob and Connie drove in,  with ALL THREE BOYS in the backseat.   They are really nice kids, and we've had them over for barbecues and picnics, and they DID really look cute in slacks and little ties...but I had not planned a kids' menu, I had not set a table for them, and they were NOT INVITED.       

Connie beamed at the boss, introduced her boys, and said to me, "I hope this is not too much trouble; I really wanted them to meet him."   I was already a bit nervous about entertaining the CEO and had tried to make everything run smoothly, taste delicious, and look beautiful, but I felt the whole evening start to unravel.  Sis and I spent part of the cocktail hour in the kitchen, setting  places at the breakfast table, and making some hotdogs.   We poured out a bowl of chips and poured soft drinks, leaving hubby to make drinks and conversation in the living room while we also tended to the last-minute prep of the REAL dinner.

When we started to sit down to dinner, I invited the boys to the breakfast room, and the middle one said, "I want to eat in THERE," pointing toward the dining room.  I said, "I've made your dinner in here,"  he repeated, "But I want to eat in THERE!", and when the other two joined the chorus, Connie said, "I'd better have them in here with me."

I repeated that I'd made arrangements for the boys at their own table, and she repeated, "I'd better have them in here with me."    Aside from shouting that there was no room, and that was NOT the plan, and this was supposed to be an adult evening and I DID NOT want those spilly children eating on my best tablecloth, what was I to do? 

So, at my lovely dining table set for eight, there were:   Boss, assistant, Hubby, Bob, Connie, three little boys and me, squeezed into a hastily-set extra place.  (I was NOT skulking off to the kitchen to eat, leaving CONNIE as the only woman at my table, playing hostess while I played maid, cleaning up the faux pas mess she had inflicted on me).    And before we could all sit down, she told the boys to go ahead and start eating, so they dug right in, two of them up on their knees in my nice dining chairs.  I don't mean to make too much of my "fine" furniture and other things, but I had taken pains to make a nice evening, and nowhere that I turned seemed to be in my control or according to any kind of plan.   

DEAR Sis and BIL, bless their hearts, gamely sat down to their dinners in the kitchen, jumping up from time to time to help me serve and pour. And it WAS too much trouble, trying to serve dinners in two places.  I DID go around before we sat down and take away the nice crystal wineglasses from the boy's places and replace them  with everyday tumblers from the kitchen.  They did eat their hotdogs (much preferred them to the lamb and asparagus), but when dessert time came, I made the boys sundaes in pretty dishes, only to hear, "I want one of THOOOOSE!!!" with gestures to the individual trifles.  I said they were for grownups, and Connie looked at me with a little head-tucked, smirky, beseeching smile, hoping I'd give in and hand them over.  Luckily, they contained sherry, and I told her so;  she said they couldn't have the alcohol. 

I just thank heaven for Sis and BIL, who helped and coped and made an uncomfortable situation so much better.   Hubby was at a bit of a loss as to what SHOULD be done; he just looked at me sympathetically and followed my lead--we couldn't very well send the boys away, we couldn't MAKE them eat in the kitchen, and short of shouting in her face, there was no way I could sway Connie's smiling, inflexible,  "I'd better have them in here with me."

I can't begin to get my mind around such obtuse ignorance of the smallest iota of social grace.  My brain won't encompass such single-minded, unheeding lack of any sense or observation.   She's raising three great kids; surely she had SOME sense that the evening was important to my husband and me, and of the amount of work I had put forth to make it nice.  And two adult guests eating in the kitchen while kids monopolized the dining table?  The woman couldn't KIDNAP a clue.

Hubby said later that he was very proud of how I handled the situation, and even used the word "aplomb."    Wow--better than jewelry.   And now, at family gatherings, we laugh and mock, "I'd better have them in here with MEEEEEEEEEEE!"


This story touches on one of my pet peeves.  I dearly love children, I have several of my own but there are children appropriate functions and adults only functions and there are parents who cannot seem to be separated from their little darlings for a few hours.  I've hosted dinners only to have the exact same thing happen, i.e. someone brings their children without asking and having never been invited.   Often I am not prepared to seat or feed toddlers and pre-schoolers and adult conversation becomes impossible because the children are dominating their parents' time.  These situations definitely challenge one's ability to be a hospitable and gracious hostess.   

But what can you do?  Toss them out of the house on their rumps?  No, we grit our teeth, quietly thrash a few times in the privacy of the bedroom or bathroom, got our attitudes into priority then resolutely march out to play the gracious hostess by extending kindness to the undeserving.  

I came across this tacky idea in a magazine recently :

"A Party Game That Cuts Stress - I love to entertain but try to keep the work to a minimum by making a game out of assignments for guests. I write out jobs for everyone on slips of paper and then let guests draw them from a hat. Among the jobs that are easily assigned: serving drinks, setting tables, clearing tables, and keeping serving dishes filled."


Oh, great!  "Abuse-the-guests-as-serving/cleaning-staff" game!   


To give a little back story on this email, my husband and I were scheduled to attend the wedding of a friend of a friend. She and her then-fiancé had come to our wedding a year and a half prior. On the day of her wedding I came down with a bad migraine and could not go to the wedding. I didn't want to bother her during her wedding preparations with a call telling her I wasn't coming, so I instructed my husband to tell them when he got there, which he did. It was already too late for them to change the catering count so I didn't think that a few hours would make much of a difference and I really didn't want to give her anything to worry about before the wedding. A few weeks after the wedding we sent them registry gifts, one place setting of fine china, and one place setting of everyday china (close to $200 in cost). I just received this email from her today:

"We received your gift in the mail the other day and I must say that we were quite surprised by it. There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind about the gift, and about the events leading up to our wedding. 

First of all, we don't understand why our gift to you for your wedding was not reciprocated in monetary form, considering we gave you both a generous check. 

Second of all, we understand that circumstances arise whereby a person cannot attend the wedding, and we are sorry that you were sick, however, we never received a phone call, which would have been an appropriate gesture, even though it would have been too late. The plate was already paid for, and each plate was a considerable amount of money. (I don't have to tell you that- you know how much weddings cost). 

Getting to the point- the value of the gift did not cover 2 plates, let alone 1. We seriously have our doubts about whether or not a gift was even purchased which was from the heart, which would have meant more to us, or whether it was bought out of guilt, due to the fact that it got back to (your husband) that we never got anything from you. A great deal of respect was lost when a gift was received that did not amount to the cost of one plate, nor was not the amount given to you at your wedding. You know as well as we do that we did not do that to you, nor would we. If money is tight, than the response on the invitation should have been a "no". 

We cannot contemplate now, or ever, the reasoning behind these events, but we are not the type to "let things go". We wanted to let you know our feelings about this. Not only are we upset, but disappointed as well. We have always gotten along well, and I cannot recall any time when I did something to offend you. More of a reason to not understand why you would do this to us. My instincts told me to tell you how we's more a matter of principle, which I was always taught to stand up for, then anything else. We appreciated the generosity of everyone who came because their gifts were sincere, which is why we are surprised by yours. If you want to write back, you can."

So if I am to understand her email, anyone who cannot afford to pay for their plates at a wedding should not attend the wedding... that would leave a whole bunch of very small weddings! Also, if she was so concerned about getting a gift "from the heart" then she should have graciously accepted what we sent her since I bought it based on the fact that I concerned about her getting all her china since I did not get all of mine for my wedding and my pattern was discontinued.

Oh, and btw, she only gave us a gift that covered about 1/2 the cost of her and her then-fiancé's plates at our wedding.


I think most of us go through life believing that people, in general, are good hearted.  And then you read something like this.   The newlywedded couple who sent the email have essentially distilled the concept of relationship down to how much each guest gave them for their wedding.  If you cannot afford the per plate cost of the wedding, don't bother attending because money matters the most.  Just how guests were supposed to divine this information from a wedding invitation remains a mystery.  

The newlywedded bride's speculations about motives of the giftgivers is beyond bizarre and evil.  She presumes the absolute worst and moves in for the guilt manipulative "kill".  And joy of joys, she announces with pride that she and her new husband are grudgeholders and only concerned for their own feelings.

Get on your knees and thank the good Lord above that someone has advertised their rude boorishness so thoroughly thus saving you and your husband the pain, confusion and heartache of trying to relate to this couple in the future.  


Last Christmas my then fiancé and I were invited to attend a wedding somewhat last minute (about three weeks before the wedding). The groom was a friend of my (now) Husband's from college who swore he'd only just convinced his fiancée to expand the guest list and invite a couple of his friends. He understood the short notice but it was very important to him that my husband attend. So we cut our holiday short and flew all the way across the country the day after Christmas to attend this wedding.

Upon our arrival the groom asked my husband to be in the wedding party as one of the bride's cousins had opted out last minute. My husband accepted and then our weekend from hell began.

When they went to pick up the tuxes the groom (always notoriously cheap) didn't have his credit card on him to pay the balance. As the rest of the wedding party was also suspiciously moneyless my husband charged all the tuxes (8) to his card.

That night at the rehearsal dinner (to which I was not invited) parents of the groom announced that my husband, as the Best Man (what?!), had agreed to pay. My easy going husband said that while he had not been notified he would happily pay and they should consider it their wedding gift.

Flash forward to the wedding. The bride requests that my husband not be in the wedding party photos because he is of a different ethnicity than the rest of the wedding party. While extremely offended he goes along and we are just biding time until we can fly home. Then the bride's family ropes me into setting up the reception space (mind you I've never met any of these people) and suddenly I realize I am alone in a church basement creating centerpieces out of left over Christmas decor while the rest of the family is having their pictures taken.

The ceremony goes off with only a minor hitch- the bridesmaid my husband was supposed to escort refuses to walk down the aisle with him (again because of his ethnicity).

We are the last people to get to the reception where I discover they are actually serving Christmas leftovers as reception food. They somehow expected the leftovers from a family dinner to feed well over 150 people?! The bride's mom hands me a wad of cash and asks me to run to Taco Bell because there is not enough food. I don't know what I was thinking but I call Taco Bell and pick up 200 tacos only to discover when I get there that she (surprise!!!) hasn't given me enough money.

To top it all the bride starts opening gifts as soon as the tacos get there. I hear someone ask her what the best man bought them- to which she replies "Nothing- the cheap Jew." AHHH!!!! This after we end up spending a couple of thousand dollars between airfare, hotel, rehearsal dinner, and tuxes (for which my husband was never paid back.)

I grabbed my husband, bid his friend farewell and explained why we were leaving (the ethnic slur was the last straw!!!) the groom was totally mortified and apologetic but we had had enough.

We never received a thank you note and no mention was ever made of the rehearsal dinner or tuxes (except we heard through the grapevine that the bride was still complaining about our "lack of a gift"). My husband- being the ultimate forgiving person- invited them to our wedding. They never RSVP'd but the friend later emailed and said they just could afford it! Ha! If the whole experience hadn't been so cruel it would be hysterical.


Burned once, silly you.  Burned twice, silly me.  Burned a third time,  really, really idiot doormat me.   People walk all over us because we allow them to.  


Hello. Just wanted to say first thing how much I enjoy your site, and how amazed I am more people either weren't taught to be polite or choose to believe manners are out-of-date. I have two stories I'd like to share.

The first involves a family wedding my fiancé and I attended last summer. His cousin "Annie" was getting married out-of-state and at relatively short notice (we were invited less than a month before hand). My fiancé's aunt apologized for the lack of notice, and said again and again how "it would mean *so* much to Annie" if he and I would come to the wedding, since he was her favorite cousin and she misses him so much. So we both rearranged our schedules, bought plane tickets, chose a gift, and headed halfway across the country.

After landing at the airport, we had to drive four hours to where the wedding would be the next day, with the help of directions that were not exactly correct. In fact they sent us north instead of south twice. The next morning it was another hour to the ceremony site, which was a lovely private house. The wedding was to be held at 11:30. The ceremony itself was nice, though my fiancé still complains about his cousin's dress (strapless and a good size too small) and what he refers to as "The Flash Gordon wedding music" (I wouldn't have chosen a synthesizer, but that's just personal taste). Afterwards, I was a little surprised there was no receiving line, but figured that with only forty guests, maybe they meant to go around to everyone individually. Instead, we all stood on the grass while the groom serenaded his mother and then the new couple had their first dance. My fiancé's aunt asked him to please dance with Annie's attendant, since there was no one else. He nicely did, and told me later that the first thing this young lady asked him was what he did for a living and, when he replied he was a nurse, wrinkled up her nose, looked away, and didn't say another word for the rest of the dance! Very odd, I thought.

The one dance was all there was, and we trooped inside for various munchies (bear in mind it was now about 12:30, we were starving, and the invitation was for a "lunch reception"). Instead we got a bowl of tortilla chips, some salsa, peanut butter and chocolate squares, and some soupy fruit salad. Neither was there room for more than half the guests to sit at a time. The bride and groom spent about an hour on pictures, after which they had their champagne toast, cut the cake, and left (presumably to get some lunch). At no point did they speak to any of their guests or thank anyone for coming, and we never got a thank you note.

What really makes me angry is that, after all the build-up my fiancé's aunt did about how important it was to Annie that he be there, she never even took the ten seconds to hug him and say "thanks for coming". He was especially hurt because they had grown up together and were very close when they were young. Now that our wedding date is coming up, the points he is truly adamant on are that we have a receiving line immediately after the ceremony and that thank yous are out the week we get home (well, that and no Flash Gordon music).


I would rate not talking with your wedding guests  as one of the top three most frequently mentioned wedding faux pas to this site.  

I don't know how or if this would fall in a category.  Perhaps I'm just overreacting to a fresh etiquette wound and if so please tell me.   I am currently in the planning stages of my wedding, which will be in 10 months.  Let me state first of all that my fiancé and I are planning a small, modest wedding, a reflection not only of our budget but also of the fact that neither of us enjoy "over the top" affairs and really just want to have a celebration with family and friends.  We don't want to mortgage our future and have decided not to go over our budget of $5000.   

Last night, I was out with several dear girl friends, and one asked me how the preparations are going.  I told them about the small church, the reception outdoors with hors d'oeuvres and spirits instead of a meal, that my mother is making my dress and that one of my friends who owns a craft store will be ordering supplies at wholesale rates for me to make my own save the date cards and invitations.  

One of these girl friends, M, made the following comment: "No meal?  No banquet hall?  Well, no present for you!"  I was too stunned to speak, and one of the other girls asked what she meant.  M went on to explain that a wedding gift is "supposed" to cover the cost of each guest's meal, so the larger the affair, the more expensive the gift, and furthermore than since I was "cheaping out" on my guests, that it would be selfish to expect gifts, or even to expect people to come to such a meager affair, suggesting it would be a waste of their time.  The other girls seemed to agree and looked to me for an explanation. So many things were wrong with this I didn't know where to start, but I managed to explain that I was not having a wedding in order to be showered with gifts; I was getting married to a man I love, and in having a wedding celebration I only wanted to be surrounded by people who I hoped would support my husband and me in our married life.  

Furthermore, as a hostess and the wedding being the first party my fiancé and I would host as a couple, my only concern was my guests' comfort; I'm not trying to "cheap out", I'm just trying to provide a nice time without paying for it for years to come.  And finally, I do NOT expect gifts, and not only because my fiancé and I are old enough to have already accumulated goods for our household (I am 24, he is 30); a gift is a gift, it is not a requirement.  

Still, this girl's comments stung, and unfortunately that wasn't the end of it.  She implied at several points during the evening that I'm not actually having a reception and that the small church is going to require my guests to watch the wedding by taking turns, among other snotty comments.  When she found out later that I have not registered at stores (nor will I), this was apparently further evidence of my complete ineptitude in planning my wedding.  The whole experience left me questioning myself, wondering if perhaps I really was going to be holding a crappy wedding. People seem to want you, as a bride, to throw these elaborate affairs with all the tackiness that follows; nothing this girl said will change my plans, with the possible exception of her invitation being, ahem, lost in the mail. Thank you for your wonderful site! 



Well, I'll admit, I'm not sure where exactly this goes.  I was to be a bridesmaid but had to back out at last minute, so I'm at fault.  But, here it goes...

An old friend "Melinda" was getting married to "Jake" on October 2nd.  Everything was going as planned.  I was going to be one of the 9 (yes, 9) bridesmaids.  The dresses were rather on the ugly side, but Melinda's a friend and I can live with an ugly dress.  They weren't as bad as some I've seen.

Thursday before the wedding - I was working.  I got bit on the hand by a very pissed off kitty.  It hit the joint on my left thumb.  I go to the doctor, get it cleaned out, get started on anti-biotics, figure everything is good to go...  My thumb was sore and stiff that night, but wasn't too bad.

Friday - I wake up with a 101* fever.  My entire hand has massive swelling.  I call my doctor and he tells me to get to the hospital NOW.  I go.  I get started on massive IV antibiotics and they schedule a surgery to clean out the bite.  Now, about then I catch on (yes, I'm slow) that I'm not going to be able to make the wedding.  My doctor explains to me that I'm not leaving the hospital until at least Sunday.  I call Melinda and explain to her why I'm not going to make the wedding and how sorry I was for skipping out at the last minute.  She wasn't upset with me on the phone, so I didn't think anything of it.

Fast forward to October 12th.  I get a bill from Jake for $1000.  It was for my meal at the wedding AND the last minute dress and alterations they had to get for his sister.  I call Melinda, trying to figure out what's going on.  She says that her MIL demanded the sides be even for the wedding party and that "Julie" couldn't pay for her own dress, so MIL said that I should pay for it, since I was so rude as to cancel at the last minute.  Melinda said that if I couldn't pay for everything at one time, I could make payments instead, but they have to have everything within 3 months.

I've not paid that one, nor will I.  I'm probably in the wrong, but there was no way I was going to be able to attend the wedding - I didn't get out of the hospital until Tuesday Oct 5th.


Melinda has presented her rear end to you and you have an obligation to boot it deep into the farthest fiery lake of Etiquette Hell.   I'd be sorely tempted to send her an Etiquette Hell check, too.  

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007