Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Bridal Showers

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My cousin became engaged to her fiancé and planned to marry in two years, once he had finished his obligation to the Marines.  They were very young, 18 & 19.  Well, about a year and a half went by and while visiting him at the base, "Suzy" got pregnant.  She was 20 and "Matt" was 21.  They were married in January by a JP at Suzy's home w/ immediate family and friends present.  My aunt had a catering company come in to do a lovely dinner and the MOG was a florist, so the flowers the bride carried were beautiful.  Suzy wore a very pretty off white prom gown that looked like a glamorous '50's evening gown.  It was a very nice celebration, and my husband and I gave them a check as did all my other relatives.  Suzy would live at home while Matt finished his final tour of duty.  Sadly, he would be away when the baby came in August.

Well, we all figured the evening at home wedding and supper would be the end of the festivities. We couldn't have been more wrong!

In February, I received an invitation to a "bridal shower" for Suzy & Matt. My aunt wanted nothing to do with this, but Suzy's MIL convinced my cousin & aunt that they deserved to have a shower like any other couple.  It was held at a very nice function hall with a sit sown luncheon for ladies only.  OK, time for another gift. So my sister and I went to one of the 4 stores the happy couple registered (keeping in mind Matt still and 12 mos to serve, and Suzy would be living w/ her parents for at least that long).  We buy gifts and tote them to the party.

In March there is yet another shower in Suzy's honor, given this time by Matt's mother's friends (many of whom were at the shower in Feb).  OK, well my sister & I figured we couldn't show up without a gift and we didn't want to hurt my cousin's feeling by not showing up.  We bought a small gift for this party.

Now June rolls around, and Suzy is graduating from beauty school.  Yes, there is a party, and my aunt tells us that Suzy really wants gifts or money to set aside for the baby.  I wrote a check so she could do whatever with the money.

July means it's time for the baby shower!  Not just 1 shower for the girl, but 3!!! One given by her mom, one by her MIL and one by Suzy's young friends.  I put my foot down and only went to the one my aunt hosted.  Another gift, but OK; it's for the baby.

August, and the beautiful baby girl arrives.  Suzy decides she wants a "welcome home baby" get together at her mother's house so everyone can see the new arrival.  My sister & I bought a sweet frilly girly dress to bring as a gift.

A few weeks after the baby was born, we get an invitation to a "Welcome Home Matt" invite.  He was released early from the Marines.  His parents were hosting this at their home and included a note to say the young couple would be getting an apartment soon & could use cash.  I bought a photo album for them so they could start recording their family's life.

September arrives and yet another invite.  This time it's to a WEDDING RECEPTION!!  The MIL somehow (and apparently, easily) convinced my aunt & uncle that Suzy & Matt shouldn't have been "gypped" out of a fairytale wedding.  They were going to "renew the vows" and have a full blown reception at a posh hotel with a band.  The real kicker to me was my cousin had purchased a wedding gown, complete with gloves and veil.  She said she always wanted to be a princess bride and saw nothing wrong with these proceedings.  I wanted to ask her if she intended to carry the baby in lieu of a bouquet when she made her grand entrance.  Anyway, my husband & I went and gave a small check.

October came and went without a request for cash or gifts, but at Thanksgiving we were informed Suzy & Matt would be moving into a house because the apartment was too small.  My aunt must have been bitten by the greed bug because she informed me that she'd be helping "the kids" set up a housewarming party. In addition, she thought it'd be sweet if all the female relatives and girlfriends got together around Christmas time to have a decorating party so we could all bestow holiday ornaments and the like upon Suzy, Matt and Baby.  Her reasoning was "after all, they're a young couple with a baby, and don't have money to buy the nice little extras."  My sister, my mother and I are just at a loss for words.  No one gave me or my sister or any of my other married cousins this kind of fanfare (nor did we want the greed-fest).  We were all young couples just starting out too at one point!  Take responsibility and buy your own damned stuff.



This may not be bad enough to make it in your site, but it put a damper on my day, so I figured I would share.   My bridal shower was something I was (of course) very excited about.  My friends and family had all been asking my best friend where I was registered and she was telling them.  About a week before the event, I realized that I had not told her that I would also welcome lingerie as I have not had any disposable income for getting such honeymoon frills.  Of course, now it's too late to mention, so I was not expecting any.   But lo and behold, a very dear friend (and a few other folks) just went ahead and got me lingerie and I was THRILLED.  Anyway, the sister of the groom was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME and kept saying "eeww ew ew....gross!" every time I opened one of these very tasteful and classy pieces of lingerie.  And she would turn her head away as if the sight of silk were going to make her gag.  Now, I don't mind that she was thinking that- it's her prerogative.  But sitting directly beside me and saying it (seemingly for my benefit) was just terrible.  Here I am, thinking how great these will be on the honeymoon and she is basically saying that for us to DO anything together is disgusting to her.   My advice: Listen to your Mom- if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!    Along these lines: there was one guest there who was snippy about a game we had to play.  She was really quite rude about it (all she had to do was ask a pre-printed question) and it REALLY upset me cause I knew how hard my Maid Of Honor had worked on this shower.  If you don't want to play shower games and be nice about it, you can respectfully decline the invitation.  Whoever planned it spent a LOT of time getting it just so and to get snippy about an aspect of it is so incredibly rude- just keep the commentary to yourself!  



This is a story from one of my own showers.  My husband and I were being given an elaborate shower by several members of his church.  All the older women who were hosting just adored my husband to be and were delighted to meet me and throw a big party in our honor.  The ring leader of these women is a paragon of etiquette and grace, I'll call her Mrs. M.  She is polite to a fault and pays great attention to the details.  The party was being called the social event of the season and I must admit it was great, except for one tiny happening.  My husband-to-be and I were seating in the formal living room surrounded by presents and people.  We were opening gifts and talking with guests and having a great time.  People were mingling and visiting while the food was being set out in the dining room.  All of a sudden we hear a commotion in the kitchen.  Then to our great surprise we see Mrs. M's dog, roughly the size of a small horse, tear through the immaculately decorated living room with a mouth full of stolen food.  Even more shockingly, Mrs. M, that pillar of manners was running at top speed right behind him screaming at the top of her lungs for someone to "head him off at the pass."  It seems that Mrs. M had opened the back door to put some garbage out and the dog had managed to sneak in, spied the food and made a grab for it.  It was amazing to see all these people watch the dog fly by, watch Mrs. M fly by and then continue in their previous conversations as though it had never happened.   



My friend Anne was getting married and asked me to be a bridesmaid. Her MOH lived hundreds of miles away and somehow the "honor" of hosting her bridal shower fell on me. She had invited about 40 people and I waited for the RSVPs. Hardly anyone RSVPd so I had to assume everyone was coming and prepared for 40 guests. Money was very tight at that time, besides having to buy the dress and shoes and other things for the wedding. I worked my tail off to get this shower together and I spent a lot of money on food and drinks and snacks for 40 people. Eight people showed up. The shower went okay, but I swore I would never EVER do that again.

So a few weeks later was the wedding day. For my gift to the newlyweds, for whom money was tight as well, I got them a nice suite in a hotel for their wedding night. To make it fun I kept everything anonymous and made it like a treasure hunt. I was dropping clues in the mail to them, telling them to pack light and hints on where they were going.

A few weeks later the bride asked me if I had been the one to get them their room. I admitted it was me. Then she said, "You didn't get me a shower gift so I figured it was from you." I must have hid my anger well, because she didn't even flinch as she said that. All that work and money I put into her shower and she didn't appreciate ANY of it.



I recently attended a bridal shower for a co-worker.  I had never been to one before, but it seemed quite nice.  With the possible exception of the bride's mother.  My co-worker is a very nice, polite, reserved person.  Her mother on the other hand is something else.  She was loud, she dominated her daughter's occasion, took notes and provided continual commentary on every gift unwrapped, from the fry pan to the bath salts.  The continuous comments and wheedling as to how soon she could expect grandchildren and polling the guests who had children on home remedies for having a boy or girl got to be a bit much.  The bride to be has the openly stated preference of not having children. Also, from what she's mentioned in the past, her future in-laws are going to get along just dandy with her mother.  Either that or they'll hate each other on sight.  I have no idea which would be worse.  She and her fiancé have apparently found a safe refuge in each other from their respective relations, and I wish them well.



My mother’s friend was hosting a bridal shower for me and my fiancé and dates/husbands were included.

The crowd was basically all of my parents’ friends and the wedding party.  I had another friend who couldn’t make it to the friend shower, so I invite her and her boyfriend to this one.  Her boyfriend tends to bring a joint with him wherever he goes, so I figured that I had to make it clear to him that pot was not welcome.  My fiancé smokes pot occasionally, but is very aware of the “time and place” for it, knowing being around a bunch of prim and proper 55 year olds, including my parents was not the place.

He told me after that my friends’ boyfriend did in fact bring a joint and as we were walking into the party (we arrived at the same time), the boyfriend tried to convince my fiancé to “take a walk” with him.  And then again, while we were opening our shower gifts, he whispered to my fiancé that he wanted him to again, “take a walk” with them.  As if no one is going to smell it on them.  

Obviously, they didn’t go.  I just found this to be very rude and inconsiderate.  I would think that most people would be smart enough to know that that wasn’t the time or place for that kind of thing without having anyone to tell them, but to do it after being asked not to, that’s just in poor taste.


My cousin got married about 20 years ago, but the bridal shower held for his fiancée still makes us shudder.

The bride was opening presents, and the MOB gleefully announces, “This is my present,” as she hands Sandi a present.  Inside were 2 pillows that MOB had had specially commissioned.  The “artist” had taken photos of David and Sandi, and each pillow was adorned with a full size portrait, one of the bride-to-be and the other of the groom-to-be.  Yes, they were full size portraits, but they were also nudes.  A silence fell over the room as we silently contemplated the color rendition of my cousin’s pudenda, and the “artful” way Sandi’s pubic hair had been depicted.  The MOB (who was more than a little weird) kept giggling inanely.

My aunt (MOG) said, “Oh, pillows,” in a flat tone, her smile looking pasted on.  My mother had been talking to a distant cousin of hers and hadn’t seen anything yet.  My mother turns around brightly and says, “Oh, let me see.  Where are my glasses?”  She scrambles around for her glasses as the spooky MOB positions the pillows right in front of her.  My mother puts on her glasses and looks up with a cheerful smile at the painted crotches of the happy couple.  To my dying day, I will always remember how the smile drained from her face, to be replaced by repugnance as she said (in tones of horror), “Oh, my GAWD!”  She whipped off her glasses and dived into the potato chip bowl like she was dying for salt.  Sandi had a sour look on her face, and knowing (now) how straightlaced she is (even more so than my mother), I can only wonder at her relationship with her own mother.



Well, there are many people in this tale that should be thrown into Etiquette Hell. This past weekend my Mother, Grandmother and Aunt held a surprise bridal shower for me. This is my second marriage. The shower was a "personal" shower. It was held at a lovely, upscale restaurant, the decorations were tasteful, the food was excellent. I was completely surprised and moved to tears at everyone's thoughtfulness.

Then the gifts. My Aunt gave me a "goodie bag" of "adult" items that she badgered me to hold up so she could take a picture. Truly humiliating. Lotions, potions, phallic items. Horrible stuff.

One of my Aunt's had given me a box of household supplies, groceries and cleaning items, truly a month's worth of staples plus all the necessary items to set up proper housekeeping. I was truly touched. the restaurant hadn't provided a large trash bin and a large box of trash bags had been included in my gift so I opened it and we used one to bag up wrapping paper and trash (this info is important in a minute) Then my Grandmother wanted a piece of cake, or rather demanded a piece of cake, to take home. Being that we were in a restaurant, my Mother said she would take the cake home, wrap up a piece and bring it to her later in the week. Again my Grandmother demanded a piece of cake, and added she wanted it "now" to "take with her". My Mom is getting miffed at this point but stated she has no paper plate or plastic wrap or foil to put it in. My Grandmother tells my Mother to use something from the gift box I was just given! Saying "well, ~my name~ just got a bunch of that stuff!"

My Mother calmly replied that that was a gift to me and she couldn't take anything to use. Grandmother says, "well, ~my name~ used one of the trash bags!"

Hope there's some elbow room in E-Hell when we all get there.



My husband, while looking for work, is the stay-at-home parent and I work at a bank to pay most of our bills.  One of our customers owns a local restaurant and was in need of a waitress for a weekend.  Since she was in a bind and we need the money, I offered to help her out.  My first day there I met two cooks.  Both were very nice.  One was a young man, James, with dreams of a musical career, and from hearing him singing in the kitchen, he really is quite good at it.  The other cook was a lady we’ll call Darlene.  At our first chance to break, I found out that she was getting married the next weekend.  Darlene is a 40 year old woman with six kids and an 8 yr old grandchild.  I don’t know the specifics of her new relationship, but she filled me in on her elaborate cake, how she was debating between two dresses and if she should choose the dress that covers her tattoos (her children had told her to go with the one that didn’t) and that James was going to sing at her wedding.  When I said that would be beautiful, she said, “Oh, I must invite you!” 

I was shocked because I hadn’t known her for even a day yet.  But after working the weekend with her, I was tempted to go…I really wanted to see James sing. That Monday, the owner asked me to come in for another day.  As I am pregnant, and have another job as well, my husband said he would do this shift, so I could get some rest and be able to spend some time with our daughter.  So he went and came home with what we thought was a wedding invitation.

We opened it and it was an invitation to a wedding SHOWER.  The “given by” portion was scratched out and the words “shower directly following ceremony” written in!  And this is what EVERYONE got, not just us.  She didn’t give out invitations to her actual wedding - that was done by word of mouth. But she made sure to plan a shower afterwards instead of a reception, and invite everyone to that!  While of course we would have taken a gift, had we gone, we laughed so hard at this.  We didn’t go, because we didn’t want to “feed the animals”, as we have read on this site.  But if we had, I am SURE there would have been other stories to submit!


I recently received an invitation to a friend from high school's bridal shower.  Her mom and sister are hosting, and it's supposed to last for 12 hours.  It begins with a cruise on a large lake in the area for which we are expected to chip in $20 which includes one complimentary drink for the three hour tour departing at 2:00 in the afternoon.  This is followed by the personal shower at the sister's house where dinner will be served, games will be played, and gifts will be opened.  (They were kind enough to include the gift registry cards in the invitations.)  In addition to the $20 for the boat ride, the shower gift, and a box of Kleenex (huh?), guests are asked to bring their own lawn chair for sitting around the fire after the shower portion of the evening.  Bar hopping will take place in the local dives which close at 2 am following the fire pit sitting.  While I enjoy spending time with my friends from high school, monopolizing an entire Saturday for a shower seems more than a bit ridiculous.  



Longtime reader of your excellent site -- in fact, I was reading the Faux Pas Of The Year page when my sister called with this tale of Bridal Shower horror!

My sis, "Lisa," has a group of close girlfriends from high school days (they are pushing 30 now), including "Carrie" who is getting married in about a month.  Carrie has alienated the friends somewhat since she got engaged 18 months ago to "Jake," who moved into Carrie's house when they first started dating and has monopolized her time ever since.  He's not cruel or abusive, just dull and unambitious, with friends (and their GFs/wives) who invite themselves over frequently.  Carrie was a big overachiever, got a master's, etc., but since meeting Jake has "settled" in more ways than one, staying in a low-level job, becoming a homebody with Jake and his buddies, etc.  Despite this the group of old friends still gets together and of course all were invited to the wedding, showers, bachelorette, etc.

The bachelorette was hosted by Carrie's older sister and bridesmaid, "Denise," at her home about an hour away from where most guests live.  The plan was for a "reception" at the house, followed by a night on the town, barhopping and dancing.  To keep the drivers safe, a van was hired to shuttle guests from a central location to the party, to the bars, and then home -- at $25/head for the night.  Lisa and friends agreed, and this is somewhat common in their area.  Then, a few weeks before the party Denise called each guest and asked her to bring "some kind of alcoholic beverage, and a dessert" to share, thereby turning the "reception" into a forced potluck.  Again, Lisa agrees -- she makes cookies, buys a bottle of Carrie's favorite liquor, etc.

The clincher is the event itself.  There are old friends, coworkers of Carrie, her sisters and cousins, and the wives and girlfriends of Jake's buddies, who do not mingle with anyone else.  There is no food or drink other than what the guests bring, which turns out to be plenty.  Then Denise asks everyone to gather together for what Lisa assumes will be the gift opening.  Oh no -- a mysterious woman appears and opens up a huge display of sex toys!  This is not a prudish group, but most of the guests are stunned -- it's all for sale and they are being pressed to buy lots of it.  Lotions, massage oil, candles, costumes, a wide variety of appliances, you name it -- including "the Mercedes-Benz of vibrators," how tasteful!  Lisa and her close friends resisted the sales pitch, and felt badly for Carrie, who was not amused but recovered once they took off for the bars.  The other guests, however, opened their wallets, and the saleswoman did

pretty well.  Nothing against this type of home party, but as a surprise?  At someone's half-baked bachelorette party?!  Way to go Denise, the hostess with (let's hope) the mostess... 



I was fortunate enough to have had three bridal showers.  One was a couples shower for my fiancé and I in my home town thrown by my dad's girlfriend and included most of my extended family, a second was thrown by a co-worker and included only the girls from my office, and a third was to be my "main" shower - thrown by my mom, and was to include my close friends and mother-in-law and a few family friends.  My mom outdid herself, she had it at a really hip, fun fondue restaurant in a swanky area in our city - so it was going to be great. I gave her my guest list, which was not huge, but probably included 10 or so close friends and a couple of my fiancé's friends' wives.  She mailed out the invitations about 3 weeks before the event, with an RSVP by date clearly on the invites - she also made it clear (tactfully) that she would be treating, so nobody would think they would have to pony up any money for an expensive meal (some of my friends are single moms and struggle with money).  About 3 days before the shower was to be held, my mom called me all upset.  She had to turn in the final head count to the restaurant the next day but NOBODY had RSVP'd at all.  She didn't want to come off as rude by calling them if for some strange reason, they had already told me they were coming and not her - so she called me first and was so sad to break the news to me that NONE of my friends had responded to the invite.  I was very shocked, and I didn't know what to tell her - I hadn't heard from any of them either.  So she gave every one of them a quick call to find out if they would be there.  ALL OF THEM SAID NO.  None of them even offered an excuse other than "I have something else that day."   So my shower consisted of my mom, my mother-in-law, and two of my mother's close friends.  I didn't receive a gift, card, phone call, nothing from ANY ONE of them.  To this day, I have not heard from any one of those "so called" friends.  


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007