Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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One of my husband's friends, the one who had spent a year in jail for torching his own car and then claiming the insurance, had moved out of his parents' home because he couldn't stand the bickering. He ended up with a new girlfriend - at least to him. She had rolled over the odometer, so to speak. They immediately realized that they could continue to collect Mothers' Allowance (welfare to us) if they would marry and produce another mouth to feed - them.

So the arrangements were made and the invitations sent out. My husband's friend's family was large, and everyone in it was either already married or long gone from the premises. Therefore, he expected that he, in turn, would also receive some cash donations, at least enough to pay for the wedding.

The trouble began when the service was to be held in a Methodist church. Nothing wrong with that to most people, but this family lived in a little enclave of European emigrants, all of whom took offense at the bride and groom's living arrangements. Many of them skipped the whole procedure. They were the lucky ones.

The bride's dress was very expensive, and to her credit, was not a maternity dress. The groomsmen were all her brothers. They had on dove gray tuxedos with bright pink cummerbunds. They were all bragging about having their hair styled that afternoon - at fifty dollars a pop, for a long haired Mohawk effect, only the rest was a buzz instead of bald. We should have realized how elegant this day was going to be when we further noticed that none of the bride's relatives, in particular, these groomsmen, had more than a half a mouth of teeth, and those who still had teeth didn't appear to have ever visited a dentist in their lives.

The ceremony itself was fairly normal, and then all involved went to a local ethnic hall to celebrate with a breaded chicken and some kind of Italian stuff dinner. Before we ate, however, the groomsmen, who by now had shed any illusion of sobriety, all stood up to "roast" the beaming bride. The groom was beginning to look nervous; almost none of his relative came, as they were offended by the church. He realized all too late that his big hopes for cash in hand were long gone. The first "roaster" held up a card, for all to see, and signed his name as he made many commentaries which may have been highly tasteful to him, but then, he was quite drunk. The card went on down the head table, and when it reached the bridal couple, it had about a dozen signatures and a ten dollar bill. Finally, when it was time to go, a limousine arrived, which the groomsmen had ordered to take the couple the half hour drive to a fancy hotel in Niagara Falls. Just as the happy newlyweds were deciding that it was going to be all right, as their friends had ordered a limo and a fancy room with a Jacuzzi, and other amenities, the driver approached the groom. It seemed that the party had only ordered the limo; they had no intention whatsoever to pay it. The groom hadn't brought his billfold, as it was in his suitcase - in the trunk of his car, back at the site of the reception. So he and his bride went in to claim their room, and found out that it had indeed been booked, but that someone had neglected to pay for it. The next morning, they managed to find someone to bring their car to the hotel so that they could pay the limo and the hotel bill. Later, the groom complained that there had been a lot of leftover food at the reception which he and his sweetie pie could have been eating - but the ladies who put on the reception at the hall were all wives of the club. They took it home. I guess by now you have already guessed: the bride and groom stiffed the minister, the reception hall, and the tuxedo rental place. They couldn't stiff the barber; he demanded cash. Their total earnings from the day of marriage: $10 from the head table, and $100 from my husband.     Gimmie0103-02

A few years ago I was the date of the groom's brother (now my husband)to a wedding that forever will be emblazoned in my mind. The couple had lived together for ten-plus years, but had begun attending a fundamentalist church whose minister apparently had summoned them into his office one Sunday and convinced them that they were living in sin. They decided to get married immediately and were married right then in the minister's office. Needless to say, their respective families were very disappointed that they were not able to witness the wedding.

Several months later, the groom decided that it was unfair that he and his wife had been "denied" a big ceremony and all the gifts that come with it, so they chose a date for a lavish, church wedding. The couple also decided that the restrictions of their fundamentalist church were too great, so they would find a church that did not make them feel guilty about what they did.

Despite his sister's objections that this kind of thing was against all etiquette, they insisted that there would be a bridal registry, showers, parties, invitations, etc. The bride picked out some of the most expensive crystal, silver, and china as well as some pricey appliances for her registry, but chose nothing for everyday use as they had been living together/married for over ten years by then and really had everything they needed. They had three showers - including one they threw themselves at their home - and acted in their planning as if no one ever had had a wedding as special as theirs was to be.

Neither of their families was well off, but the couple insisted that her family pay for everything as they felt that was the job of the bride's parents. Her parents reportedly put their proverbial foot down at this and told the couple that they would contribute only a certain amount toward the wedding and the couple would have to pick up the rest themselves. The groom pouted and complained about this for weeks. He finally demanded that his parents pick up the tab. His parents foolishly agreed to contribute an amount toward the wedding (almost double that of the bride's parents) so the groom was mollified somewhat. The brother told me that both sets of parents finally had given in to stop the couple's whining about the "unfairness" of the situation.

The bride selected a very expensive gown and made the bridesmaids cough up three hundred dollars each for their dresses. The groom's sister agreed to be a bridesmaid only to preserve peace. The ceremony was handled as if the couple never had never been married, and much ado was made of the father "giving" his daughter away. There were eight bridesmaids. How they managed to get so many guests to go along with the charade is beyond me.

After the bride threw her bouquet at the reception, the groom (with no fanfare or explanation) headed over to a table where presents had been placed, pulled up a chair, and started ripping open the gifts. The bride ran over to him; but instead of stopping him, also pulled up a chair and dug in. We all stood around uncomfortably watching as the couple held up each item, announced who had given it, then commented on whether they liked it or would exchange it. The amounts of checks or cash within cards also were announced. When they were finished, the groom smugly told us that if we thought all that "loot" was good, we should have seen the great stuff they got at some of the showers. I saw the groom's sister looking as if she would die from embarrassment. My date just rolled his eyes and said that that kind of self-centered obliviousness was typical of his brother.

The couple never sent thank you notes, and later complained that they had not received everything from their registry. To this day I do not think they understand just how crassly they behaved.  Gimmie0103-02

My now fiancĂ© was living with a couple who were my brothers' best friends since high school. We brought home the gifts from the wedding, and left the cards for the bride and groom to bring with them. The next morning they got home and the first thing they did was bring in the box and say "Let's see how much money we got". They proceeded to tear through the cards adding up their pot. Needless to say, 3 months later they were divorced. She kept the gifts, he kept the cash.  Gimmie0114-02

My husband's aunt recently wed her long-time, live-in fiancĂ©. Bear in mind that the last time he had seen this particular aunt was nine years ago at our wedding, even if she is two hours away by car. The wedding was simple; there was a potluck reception.  Eeeuuww! Everyone was very happy that the newlyweds had finally tied the knot.

DH's aunt refused to do a gift registry. We heard from my SIL that the bride wanted "practical" gifts. When asked, the aunt would give no suggestions for an appropriate gift. Just a question -- what "practical gift" would you give to a couple in their 50's that had been living together for many years, you didn't know well, and had no idea what they might want or need? Yes, I know, and we should have given cash. That was our first mistake.

After a lot of thought, I purchased very simple glass candleholders and two ball-type candles. They'd come in handy if the lights went out, were beautiful, and romantic. They came from a national chain, so they would be easy to return for credit or cash. Imagine my amazement to get the full force of the bride's anger when we presented her with a carefully wrapped, lovingly selected gift. "Is this practical?" I said, "I hope so, and I hope you'll like it." "Well, if it's fussy crap, it's going right back to the store."

My husband gave a gracious toast when the matron of honor asked if anyone in the group might have something to say to the happy couple. The bride walked up to him five minutes later and said, "You were a brat as a kid. I thought you'd end up in prison."

We made scores of reprints of the photos we took at the reception; we sent them to DH's family at the holidays. We have never heard even a "thank you" from the bride and groom for either our gift or the photos. Guess she didn't like the candleholders. gimmie0130-02

This happened to my parents when they were first married. My dad was invited to the wedding of a co-worker. Dad was a bit surprised, because he didn't know the co-worker that well, but he accepted. He and my mother got all dressed up to the nines on the big day and arrived at the church.

As soon as Co-Worker saw them, he handed Dad a camera and asked him to take the pictures! Dad was flabbergasted - he was no great shakes as a photographer, and it was fairly obvious that the only reason he'd been invited was to save the couple from having to hire a professional. So, the end result was that he didn't get to enjoy the wedding or the reception at all, because he was constantly taking pictures. My poor mother, who didn't know a soul, was left on her own for the entire three-plus hours.

There was a bit of poetic justice, though - Dad found out, long after the reception was over, that whomever had loaded the film in the camera had done so improperly. The camera jammed, and none of the pictures turned out. So, in their attempt to save a few measly dollars, the happy couple ended up with no pictures of their big day. Served them right, I think!  Gimmie0207-02

I was present when the bride and groom were opening gifts the day after their wedding. The bride opened up a gift of a veggie tray/storage container from Tupperware. Her comment was "Here's one for the garage sale pile" (They had recently moved into their new home and were planning a garage sale). Many people were in the room and heard her comment. I only hope the person who gave her the gift was not present.    Gimmie0317-02

While in college, I received an invitation to a bridal shower for a friend I had not seen since junior high. True, we had been best friends for about 2 years, but I had not heard from her since she moved away in 8th grade (i.e., over 5 years earlier). Since we had been out of touch, the hosts (her four sisters -- an etiquette breach in itself, since none was in the bridal party) didn't know where I was living, and made no effort to find out. They simply sent the invitation c/o my parents and assumed it would be forwarded to me.

The most prominent line on the invitation was the phrase "since Susan and Robert are students, and will not be setting up housekeeping for some time, cash gifts would be appreciated." If they don't want presents, why have a shower? Evidently, solely to rake in some dough. I considered sending a gift certificate to a housewares store, which they could save until they were finally ready to "set up housekeeping," but I was so put off by the naked greed that I just declined the invitation. And yes, I was NOT invited to the wedding.  Gimmie0625-02

A friend who attended my out of town wedding 3 years ago got married less than a month ago. Since I didn't see him once in the past year and a half and we live in the same city, I didn't think it was a big deal to miss his wedding (we were away that weekend). The wedding was on April 6. I have not yet gotten to the store they registered at to get a gift. They registered at JC Penney’s and Bed Bath & Beyond, neither of which are stores I can get to from downtown Chicago too easily.

On April 18, I received an email from the groom at work. He said he was going through his "cards" and didn't see one from us. "Since I traveled and spent the night for your wedding, I thought you might have sent a congratulatory card, that's all." This was 12 days after the wedding!! Since when does a groom start admonishing their friends for "cards" 12 days after a wedding. Now the question is do I still send anything??  Gimmie0425-02

I went to Uni with two girls from very, very wealthy backgrounds - "S" & "J". A couple of years down the track both of them become engaged at around the same time. J had her engagement party & wedding first - both very formal, expensive and opulent affairs - the kind of thing where no expense is spared. S followed a couple of months later with her engagement party, and an even more expensive party. You could tell from the expensive invitations and location that it would be a big deal.

Well J and her new husband, who only went through this recently themselves, turned up to the engagement party in jeans, T-shirts & sneakers (no socks). J told me she couldn't be bothered to wash her hair that's why it was in a greasy ponytail - she didn't feel like having a shower, after all she had just finished washing their new car and got wet doing that. And of course they "forgot" to bring a present, which has still not materialized. No one could believe it, and even now, 5 years later, the one thing people remember most from S's engagement party was the inappropriate attire of J and her husband. Even now when someone says "whatever happened to J?" it would always be followed by "remember what she wore to S's engagement party?".


Oh, so now engagement parties are another gift grubbing wedding event?  I don't think so. That's one faux pas J is not guilty of.


I am a bride-to-be and have been scouring the Web for tips and ideas etc. I came across this shameless money-making ploy on Some people have no shame:

"For a unique party favor my groom and I are giving out lottery tickets. Only $1 each.. I will have a note in the program stating the tickets were chosen because we are so lucky to have our family and friends with us on our wedding day.  I will also add a line that all winnings will need to be split with the bride and groom!"


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007