Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Gimme Gimme

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A couple I know, both getting married for the second time, decided to have a rather expensive wedding, complete with a very expensive bridal gown, a band, the whole schmeer. Oddly (at least to me), they sent out invitations that were created on a computer and printed out on a laser printer.

Tucked inside each invitation was a poem on a piece of lurid pink laser paper, obviously hand-cut with scissors:

We've got appliances galore,
It's not our first time as spouse;
What we'd really appreciate
Is cash toward a house.


Dress: $2,000 Invitations: $5 Laughter in wake of tacky request: Priceless

Gimme 0806/03

I have to give credit for this story to my coworker, whose husband works for the company in question. As soon as she read me the email he forwarded, I insisted that she send me a copy ASAP to post to Etiquette Hell - it was just too tacky not to share! So here it is . . . with the names of the guilty protected!

C. works for a company in San Francisco, which also has a branch office in Las Vegas. Last week, all the employees in the SF office received an email inviting them to a wedding shower, to be held in the Las Vegas office. It was a standard invitation with the date, time, potluck sign-up list etc. - but with an extra note inviting the SF office to "join in the fun" via WebX conferencing. I thought that was bad enough - who in the world would want to log in, via conference call, to a wedding shower for someone most of them have never met?

Then, a few days later, the postal service delivered the following "poem," accompanied by stamped envelopes for the SF employees to make their generous contribution. The note read as follows:

Money Tree

They have their dishes and towels for two
They have pots and pans and oven mitts too
So what do you get for the Bride & Groom
Whose house is setup in every room?
Their house needs repairs and some upgrades too
But you can not register for carpet and glue.
A tree that grows wishes is the way to go
So lets make it easy for all that know.
An envelope will be provided for those who have room,
To give a monetary wish to the Bride and Groom.

Gimme 0812/03

I recently received a wedding invitation worded as follows:

"Exciting News! Darla and Norton are getting married! Come to Anston Park Lawn Bowls club on Thursday 6 October to celebrate with us! Bring us a good present!"


Gimme 0813/03

I was invited to a bridal shower for my sister's stepdaughter (her husband's daughter from a previous marriage). Having been informed that she was registered at a national discount store, I stopped in and printed out her registry - it was about 15 pages long! She and her husband-to-be had registered for nearly everything in the store - even right down to a new litter box for her cat!!!! And believe it or not, her mother (not my sister) actually bought the new litter box and presented it as part of her shower gift. It was just too amazing!

Gimme 0820/03

My then-fiancé's sister's wedding was just a few months before ours, and she had two bridal showers (one traditional, one Pampered Chef) within two weeks of each other, with the exact same guest lists. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she had been pressured by her mother, MIL, and other female relatives into having both showers, so I attended both with a big smile plastered to my face, shelled out for an overpriced eggbeater at the Pampered Chef shower, and bought her a place setting of her china for the regular shower.

The day after the second shower, my fiancé and I went to her house for dinner. As we were getting out of our car, she burst out her front door and ran up to us in the driveway. We were really flattered--she must be really pleased to see us! And really touched that I was a part of her bridal showers! Sure enough, the bridal showers were on her mind. Before we even had a chance to say hello, she exclaimed, "Hey, guess what? I've been totaling up the costs of all the presents we got, and I think we got over a thousand dollars' worth of stuff! And that's from each shower! We haven't even had the wedding yet! I can't believe how much stuff people gave us!" Um... you're welcome? Excellent shakedown? What the hell do you say to that?

Gimme 0826/03

When my best friend Sandy got married her and her husband had a gift opening party immediately following the end of the reception. It was nice to see what Sandy and her husband Paul received, but I had to excuse myself after they finished opening the gifts and started on the cards. The reason why is because Paul announced who each card was from and how much they gave, and his mother was adding it up on a calculator, in front of about ten people! They were making guesses on how much each person would give, and what their grand total would be. I never heard Sandy utter a word of protest, and I was too horrified to say anything, I just left.

Gimme 0831/03

Slate's etiquette columnist "Prudie" wrote a column today in which she told a greedy pig bride who wanted cash-only gifts to include the following poem in her invitations:

We're having no showers or parties and such.
We've got all our "stuff," so our needs are not much.
What we could use most (and it's one-size-fits-all)
Is the check of your choice … and no trip to the mall.

It must be seen to be believed.

Gimme 0828/03

I offered to host a shower for my second cousin's stepson's fiancée. I figured we were so distantly related as to not really be related at all, thus avoiding my own seat in etiquette hell. My second cousin and I are fairly close in age and while we did not know each other as children, we have become good friends as adults.

My cousin "Linda" told me the guest list would be small, the couple lived several hours away, so it would be mostly local family and her friends. I started planning a shower to be held in my home when I received the invitation list, with SIXTY names on it. Fine, I regrouped and reserved a room at my club and kept planning. Linda calls me every few days to add more names to the list. Then she calls me to go over the list and explains who all the invitees are and starts telling me who probably won't come (about half the list). I asked her why they were all being invited to the shower (several of the guests are not close friends and live in other states). She tells me that she has been invited to so many showers and wedding over the years and that now is payback time. She and the groom's father expanded the guest list to include acquaintances who they figure will not travel to the out-of-town wedding. Most of these people do not know the Bride- or Groom-to-be. She actually said, at least I know they will send good gifts, probably money!

Gimme 0904/03

This is probably not so much a faux pas as an outright scam, but reading the Fundraiser stories reminded me of this incident, and I felt the need to share it.

During my wedding planning last year, I frequented the message boards where we had a whole forum to discuss the pros and cons of various places to register, the advantages of certain types of gifts, and similar topics. One day someone started a thread asking if anyone had feedback for a website where one could register for guests to sponsor various wedding elements. You could pay for a section of the dance floor, a centerpiece, two meals, whatever struck your fancy and fit your budget. It seemed horrifically crass to me, so I didn't even bother to click the link. I did however, check back in with the thread to see if anyone else had used such a service.

My, my, was I surprised at the turn the thread had taken. One of the other posters had visited the site out of curiosity, and noticed only one couple was registered there. When she set up her own registry and tried to make a donation, the money was credited to the other couple. She tried again, with the same results. It struck her as odd, so she did a little investigating, only to learn that the domain name was registered to the woman in the other couple, a Gina somebody. The last name started with a W, though. The poster who'd posted the link used the screenname iamginaw. Quite the coincidence, huh?

The mods felt it was an interesting enough coincidence that they soon locked and then deleted the thread. I don't know if any legal action ever followed, but I sure hope that one alert poster got her money back.

It's quite bad enough to use your own wedding as a fundraiser, but using other people's weddings as fundraisers is just way over the line.

Gimme 0923/03

I was asked to be a bridesmaid in my distant (both space and closeness) friend's wedding last year. Being that I lived a distance away, I was pretty uninvolved in the planning, and made sure she was aware of this prior to making the commitment. Here is her faux pas... She and her family invited everyone that they had ever EVER known to her shower and also to her Jack and Jill party. I thought to myself, WOW, how is she going to pay for all these people to eat at the swanky place she had selected for the reception. She had made several references to the fact that she had little money and how expensive everything was. I knew she had been contemplating cutting her guest list, so I wondered who she had cut since everyone from her first grade teacher to her mother's old neighbor from when they were 5 were coming to the pre wedding festivities. Here's how: Not everyone invited to the pre-events was going to receive a wedding invitation... In fact barely any of them were... The family made no attempt to hide the fact that the more people they invited the more gifts she would receive... RUDE and such poor etiquette that some anonymous person, not this writer, sent a note detailing proper etiquette for weddings.

Gimme 0926/03

My sister told me of a wedding she attended last summer. The groom was a former college friend of her husband. The groom had met his intended two months previous to the wedding, so as you can imagine, the wedding was rather hastily organized. Still, that's no excuse for how the couple treated their guests. They rented out a large, VFW-type hall and invited over 500 people. Yes, 500. The invitations stated "gifts are nice, but what we really prefer is cash". 

The wedding was held in July, on a sweltering 90-degree day, and the hall wasn't air-conditioned, so the choice was either to sit in a stuffy room, or sit outside with the mosquitoes. The reception consisted of a few appetizer trays, which were not nearly enough to serve the 400+ guests who managed to attend. Only two barrels of beer were purchased and of course, both ran out in no time. They then "passed the hat" to make a trip for more beer. The band was only scheduled to play for an hour, and again, they passed the hat to keep the band playing longer. All in all, the couple spent next to nothing on their guests, yet probably made a tidy profit from the loot they received by having over 400 people attend their "special" event. The worst part is, the couple divorced less than a year later. My sister recently received ANOTHER wedding invitation from this same "friend" who is marrying ANOTHER girl he has known only a couple of months. Again, the invitation states cash is the preferred gift. Apparently this friend has found a lucrative occupation.

My sister and her husband are declining to attend this "event" again, as are many of their mutual friends.
Gimme 1019/03

Just a week ago, my 17-year-old cousin - lets call her "Missy" - had a "shotgun" wedding. Now I know that this isn't so tacky in its self, but what happened after the wedding took place was so unbelievable. As the reception was going on, "Missy", her mother (now my ex-Aunt), grandmother, & sister went around with basket asking all of the guests (mostly family members) to help pay for the wedding! They said they couldn't afford it and needed the money desperately. Needless to say - all of the family was flabbergasted! But knowing this particular branch of the family tree - I shouldn't have been so surprised. I did bring a small gift for them however and just ignored the request for money.

When I talked to her father a few days later (which is my Mom's youngest brother and now divorced from the "Aunt") about this, he said that he didn't know that it was going to happen because they told him not to worry about the money they had it covered. Is this really a faux pas or just incredibly tacky? Thanks for reading and love your site!
Gimme 1109/03

My Long Island friend got married in the '80's. Now, on The Island I guess you DO NOT give wedding GIFTS, you are supposed to give CASH. Me, being from the boonies of Upstate had no clue. So, there I am, with my giant gift (tablecloth and wineglasses) and I say to the mother of the bride "where's the gift table"--she snorts and says: We don't HAVE A GIFT TABLE, we have a wishing well (eyeroll). So, natch, I try to cram the box into this butt-ugly lace "well" thing and I hear someone screaming in a Long Island accent: OH, MY GAWD! SHE'S BREAKING THE MONEY WELL! Little did I know that you are to PAY for your dinner (and your date's if you are so lucky)--and give a bit of cash to the bride and groom. (which, even in the '80's was about $100 plus).

Sigh. Glad that was my last wedding DOWN THERE!

By the way, I remembered to invite A LOT of my Long Island friends to MY wedding. I cleaned up! LOL

Gimme 1201/03

My mother insisted I register her at a certain pricey store. (I didn't)

The shower was lovely......everyone had a great time, the food was excellent, (I cooked everything myself) and the guests brought my daughter lovely, generous gifts. (Apparently they were able to handle choosing a gift without the help of a registry!)

My mom persuaded my sister to use the gift registry for her she wouldn't get "doubles" of anything. She didn't get doubles....she got TRIPLES. Either the store messed up, or else some of our older relatives were unaware of the fact that you are supposed to TELL the store when you purchase one of the items off of the it didn't work out too well.

I have never liked the idea of gift registries. I find them to be offensive, and these are some of the reasons why:

1) I find it insulting that the person inviting me doesn't trust me to choose a suitable gift for them. Do they think I have such terrible taste they have to TELL me what to bring? (and where do they get off feeling entitled to a gift anyhow? Of course, I ALWAYS bring a gift...but I do so because I LOVE them, not because they are entitled to it!)

2) Gift registries deprive the gift GIVER the pleasure of choosing a gift for their loved one. I enjoy selecting gifts that are unique ... creative, and special! ( I also enjoy giving gifts that I have made myself...or are personalized.)

3) Gift registries deprive the gift RECEIVER the pleasure of being surprised.......(It never ceases to amaze me that people even bother WRAPPING the gifts .......since the receiver and the guests already know exactly what the person is getting)

4) Gift registries are unnecessary because close friends and family usually know what you need and what sort of things you like ... If they DON'T know....they can always call you and ask.

5) Many people are greedy and list expensive items on their registries, and guests feel pressured to spend more money then they can afford.

6) I don't feel a gift shouldn't be demanded. A gift should be given willingly, from the heart......and accepted graciously. Otherwise, it isn't a gift at all. It's like being charged admission! A gift should be appreciated by the receiver regardless of the price tag.

8) I truly believe the stores provide the "service" of gift registries to lock in peoples business.....not for their customers convenience.

More thoughts on gift giving........

I love giving and receiving gifts. I don't care how much money someone spends.....I care how much thought and effort they put into it. I take great pleasure in choosing gifts for people, and I never expect anything in return, other then to see them enjoy the gift.

When I receive an invitation from a close friend or relative with a gift registry number...... I ignore the registry and bring a gift of my own choosing.

If this offends anyone, they never told me to my face. (In gifts usually get a lot of oooohs and ahhhhs!)

If I receive an invitation with a gift registry number from someone I am NOT close with, I politely decline their invitation, and do NOT send a gift.

Do you think I belong in etiquette hell for behaving this way? I know you are busy....but PLEASE answer if you have time!

Gimme 1211/03

Oh my goodness--someone posted on Ebay to help pay for their wedding--minimum contribution $1500

Gimme 1212/03