Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Tacky Invitations

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As a recently married woman, I can understand the stress that goes into planning a wedding. The expense, the impending life changes, stress, etc. etc. However, this invitation takes the cake.

For background, at the time of receiving this invitation, my now husband and I had been dating for 7 years, had been engaged for almost a year, and our wedding was only a few weeks off.

My husband received a wedding invitation in the mail. A very pretty and expensive looking one, with a nice picture of the happy couple, and an oh-so-classy inserted card stating where they had registered at four high-end stores. "Hmm," he said. "Who are these people?" What made it even more odd was that the invitation was addressed to "Mr. X".  No "And Ms. Y", or "And guest" or anything like that. Anyone that knows my husband knew that he was in a serious (about to be married) relationship. I was always taught that if you invited someone, and they had a significant other, you better get their name. Especially if they are engaged! The invitation had no RSVP card or phone number, and listed TWO receptions that you could happily go to and deposit your gifts, for your convenience of course.

So after much thinking my hubby realizes that he basically grew up at the same church that the brides' stepfather was a nursery bible school teacher in. Get that? So basically, he hasn't seen this guy in like 15 years, yet he gets an invite to his step-daughter's wedding. They took the time to find out his new address and send him this obvious gift-grab, yet couldn't bother to find out if he was even married or attached (in a few weeks he would have been).

I was obviously miffed, but figured, hey, it might not be the couple's fault, right? Maybe the Stepfather forced them to send it. I'll send them a nice card, using *my* return address with *my* name, and signing the card myself on behalf of us both. Since we have never met them I am in no way sending a gift, but will send good wishes.

Out of curiosity, a few friends and I looked up the happy couples' registry. At each store they registered for a bed set, as in a frame and head board, mattress and accoutrements. Four!!! Each was over $1,000 for the frame and headboard. Not only that, but each of the stores they registered at had a very well-known return policy for cash. So obviously this couple was hoping that people would snap up the very expensive (averaging $200-300) gifts so they could return it. For a couple of college students (as the invitation stated) I thought this was a bit much.

And to boot, the bride sent a lovely thank-you note to my husband for the card. It was addressed to "Mr. X" again, and inside thanked *him* for *his* lovely card (in I thought a very sarcastic tone. she went on and on about how nice the card *he* picked out was). UMMM, HELLO??? Who else signed the card? My now husband wouldn't let me write her a nasty letter to her back, saving me from being thrust directly into Etiquette Hell with this obviously senseless couple.

God bless him for that, this was probably one of the funniest invitations I have ever received. 


So I have a close group of 5 girlfriends, and we have all known each other since high school, some of us even longer.  We are all out of college and working in our respective careers, some in different cities, but we all still get together every summer for a vacation and keep in touch via phone calls and emails.

One of these girlfriends, "Emily," had been coming to the yearly vacation trips, but had been neglecting to stay in touch in between.  We were all very upset that she wasn't returning phone calls or emails, especially since she was always the prim and proper one.  Out of nowhere, we all got an email asking us for our mailing addresses.  Obviously, we all assumed she had gotten engaged and needed the addresses for invitations (why else does a girl ask for mailing addresses out of nowhere?).  We all replied, called each other, tried to call her, and got NO RESPONSE.  Thanksgiving came around, and once all the girls were in town with their families, we got together and called her again, and this time she answered.  She very reluctantly told the caller that yes, she's engaged, and to please tell all the girls there, as she doesn't have time to call us all individually.

Christmas comes, and I get a Christmas card from Emily.  Surprising, because I had never gotten one before then, the entire time I'd known her.  Christmas goes, she's still not returning calls or emails.  Actually, for the next several months, I heard nothing from her.  I figured at some point she'd call about the wedding or a bridal shower or something, but I got nothing, and none of the other girls heard a thing either.

One day in May, one of the girls, "Heidi," was at my house, and she sees a "Save the Date" card on my refrigerator and says "Oh, is that Emily's?  I got mine last week!"  I said, "No, that's from a friend at work."  We call the other girls and find out that of the five of us, only two were sent save the date cards, and later on, invitations to the wedding.  We all decided that it was really not nice to only invite two of the five, considering that when we hang out, we all hang out together.  Was she picking and choosing which of the girls she actually likes?  The two that were invited had no more or less ties to her than the uninvited ones.  So we collectively decided that the invited girls would not go to the wedding, out of principle.

Fast forward to July.  I get an email from Emily containing only her wedding photo and this one sentence:  "This is an email letting you know that my new last name is ________."  And what's worse, in the photo, she has 5 bridesmaids, and they are all girls I've NEVER SEEN BEFORE.  As far as I knew, the five of us were her oldest and dearest fiends, since we had all grown up together in the same town.  These had to be people she had met after college, when she moved to the city she now lives in, less than two years ago.  It was like she was saying "I didn't invite you to my wedding, and here are the girlfriends I've replaced you all with."

And it gets worse.  "Heidi," (remember was invited to the wedding but did not attend) gets another invitation in the mail around September.  This one was for a "Wedding Celebration Party" for "Guests from My Hometown Who Could Not Attend the Wedding."  And NONE of us got an invitation except "Heidi."  She did NOT attend (again), because she said it sounded like "a plot to get more wedding gifts."  So not only were we not invited the first time around, we didn't even make the cut for the "leftovers" party.  None of us speak to her anymore, even the one friend that lives in her same city.  The one-sentence email wedding announcement with the picture of the replacement friends was by far the most heinous thing I've ever received from a supposed "friend."



This is short but soooo sweet.

A thirty-something co-worker was planning her large wedding to a very wealthy man. She told each of us in this rather small section of a 250+ workforce that she was only inviting her supervisors and their supervisors because "otherwise she'd have to invite everyone."

Mind you, she was not well-liked.   Well, one week before the wedding, she walked into my office and asked me if I'd like to come because she had open spaces on the guest list. Unfortunately she could not extend the invitation to my fiance, who worked in the same office. She did not "know him that well." If I'd like to come, let her know because she had to have the plate count soon.

My office mates were also invited in a similar manner that day. Only one (a wedding fanatic) attended. The report was that there were many empty chairs at dinner.



Dear Miss Jeanne:   I found the following note included in a shower invitation:                     

Dear Friends and Family:   As you are aware, Philip and Marcia have been living together for the last several years.  The housewarming party was 5 years ago.  However, everyone has unplanned expenses.  Therefore, we are asking that you give a cash gift if you feel at all comfortable in doing so.  We know the Bride and Groom would love you for it. Love,   The Bridal Party.   

Soliciting cash gifts for a WEDDING is beyond tacky, but for a SHOWER?!?!  After admitting the B&G don't need anything?!?  So why are they throwing a shower?  I thought a shower was to set up housekeeping, not pay for the wedding!     Since Bride's mom is an old and dear friend, I sent a lovely traditional shower gift, for which I never recieved a thank-you note.  I also attended the wedding and sent another (still definitely non-cash!) gift, for which I recieved a thank you note, which made no mention at all of the specific gift, 6 months later.   Yeesh!  I know Mom raised her better than that!



My cousin, "Kathy," is getting married on a Caribbean island next month. She has never been a social butterfly, and part of the reason for this choice was to avoid all our large, extended family. However, she then realized that by having a destination wedding and only inviting her immediate family she would be missing out on presents -- and we have some wealthy and generous relatives!

In order to rectify this situation, she and her fiance, "Nick," decided to have a barbeque 2 weeks before the wedding, and invited the rich relatives. This is the exact wording on the invitation:

So you thought you were able to avoid attending a wedding? Come celebrate with us at xxx, on Saturday xx/xx/06, from 10.30 am till you're tired. Wear your best jeans. Presents are optional but will be appreciated.

This is real. And it doesn't get any tackier in my opinion!



I was the bride in this story, but I wasn't the one who misbehaved.

Then-fiance (now-husband) and I printed our own wedding invitations using our laser printer and blank embossed card stock from Target. They looked great. We hand-wrote the addresses and used sealing wax on the envelopes--overall, very classy, and we got lots of compliments. But because we didn't really need to know how many people were coming (we didn't need a head count for the caterer), we didn't enclose RSVP cards. I mistakenly assumed that anyone who wanted to let us know one way or the other would write us a letter or e-mail us.

We got one written RSVP.


Is letter-writing a completely lost art?



I guess you could classify this under tacky invitations. My brother and his wife were scheduled to get married this past January, however her father passed away in September and they had to, understandably, reschedule the wedding. Well, they were actually already married, having gone down to the courthouse in August, but they planned to have the big reception and ceremony later on, since most people invited to the wedding are unaware that they are, in fact, already married. Anyway, the invitations they had ordered previously for the reception included the names of both sets of parents, even though they're planning and paying for the wedding themselves, and even though they're already married. 

Anyway, soon after my sister in law's father passes away, her mother insists that since her brother is now going to be walking her down the aisle, they should remove her father's name from the invitation, and replace it with her brother's name. Apparently her mother threw a crying hissy fit while they were in the stationary store and made a huge scene about it, insisting they put her brother's name on the invitation since he would be "giving" her away. (Again, they're already married!) I told my brother that I thought they could word the invitation like, Mrs. So and So and the late Mr. So and So, since I thought it was an insult to her father's memory to be removed from the invitation, and that it would be a way to honor him. I know they had many discussions about this and my brother was adamant that her brother not be on the invitation, especially since they are planning and paying for their wedding themselves. Well, I guess my brother lost the argument because we got the invitation yesterday and the brother's name is on the invitation, (the father is not), along with her mother's name and my parents. How tacky!  


Sorry but dead people can neither host a wedding nor issue an invitation.  You cannot write, "Mrs. Smith and the late Mr. Smith cordially invite you to the marriage of their daughter...."

If the brother of the bride is not the host extending the invitation, he doesn't belong on the invitation either.  

Hello,   I have noticed that bad etiquette is all around. For example, when I married my husband (2nd for me, 1st for him), we registered at two places. More than a few people commented that I was already married and did people really need to buy those things for me? In other words, did they need to buy us anything at all? Meanwhile, every one of the people invited knew for a fact that my first marriage was very abusive, we were VERY poor, and we had no wedding and no reception, therefore no gifts. Everything I did own was thriftstore stuff of hand me downs, right down to the melted spatulas. My husband, meanwhile, had just moved out of his mother's house the prior year and was in the same boat as far as household items. Not to mention it was his first (and hopefully last) wedding, and he deserved to have everything I missed out on the first time. Was the problem that despite all of this, I shouldn't have registered? Was it that people who supposedly loved and cared for us didn't want to buy us a gift? They could have come anyway. Who were the etiquette offenders here?   

Also, keeping in mind my prior marriage (as mentioned above), my second pregnancy was a boy and I had only had girl things. My MIL threw me a baby shower, which I helped out with financially since we were both on the verge of poor at the time; It was held in my very small apartment, and paying for the cold cuts and veggie tray about did me in. You can see how desperately I needed help with diapers and baby clothes for boys. Meanwhile, again, everyone I knew, who I thought were my friends, also knew the situation, but guess what? None of them came. One lady from my congregation who I barely knew, who asked to come when she was not invited, understanding that I really didn't know her but really wanted to give the baby something, came and brought a gift, and graciously stayed for an hour despite that fact that we were in a practically empty room, the only people who showed up being one cousin who brought my grandma who couldn't drive. In other words, NO ONE RSVP'd, and NO ONE of my friends or the rest of my family came, or ever said a word about it to me.   

It's my observation over the years that generosity tends to shrivel up when giftgivers catch a whiff of the foul stench of greediness, self promotion or entitlement.  In contrast, people are very generous when the need is genuine and the recipient isn't grasping to obtain material goods.  Human nature isn't hard to figure out here...people love the idea of being the one to take the initiative to help others.  They do not like feeling like they are being coerced into generosity.

First, no one "deserves" to have all the culturally expected festivities and events associated with a wedding.  I'm not sure how one can even determine worthiness or "deservedness" anyway.  Use of the word "deserves" connotes a right one believes one is entitled to have which, if not met, can morph into a whiney demand.

The fact that you co-hosted your own baby shower in your own apartment does send a message, correct or incorrect, that you felt you deserved to be showered yet no one had really stepped up to the plate to host necessitating your own hosting of your shower.  In essence, you placed a wager that expending X amount of money on cold cuts and veggie tray would yield a greater return in the form of diapers and baby boy clothes and you lost that bet.  

I personally do not continue to gift people who cannot expend a little energy expressing a tiny bit of gratitude for prior gifts or who seem to engineer ways to extract gifts for themselves from their friends.  In the long run, it is a kindness to NOT gift these people since the acquisition of material goods seems to only perpetuate their greediness or rewards their lack of gratitude.  I try to not contribute to the character flaws of others and if my gift will either reward or perpetuate those flaws, it is a kindness to not place people in such temptation.  

You might want to examine your life for the past several years to see if there is any evidence of a smell of greed or entitlement which has repulsed otherwise normally generous people.  

I knew a young woman who moved here from out of state to marry an acquaintance of ours who met her online. Turns out, online isn't a great way to propose, because this woman turned out to be the most horrendous person I may have ever met. She is rude, obnoxious, belligerent, you name it. He married her anyway.  For the shower, some people (also friends of ours) graciously offered to give her a bridal shower, since she had no family and only one friend here. You might guess she eventually left here still having made no new friends. On her shower invitations, her friend wrote, "They way I see it, you should bring (insert food item here)".  That was, of course, so they wouldn't have to buy food for the shower. Needless to say, the people who did rsvp did so to decline.   

You prove my point I made earlier.  People are repelled by greed, self-serving, entitlement mentality and therefore decline to facilitate it by attendance at showers. 



I got home from work last night to find my helpful fiancé had posted all our remaining invitation envelopes. However, this included the unsealed envelopes without invitations inside, only maps and registry cards with no identifying names or contact details. This is after I had emailed him during the day, jokingly reminding him not to post the unsealed envelopes, certain he’d be able to figure out that detail for himself.

Fortunately I know which three people these envelopes have been sent out to. Two I was able to send emergency emails to, telling them to expect rude mystery envelopes containing only what appears to be solicitations for gifts. But the third person is someone I haven’t seen in years, who doesn’t know I’m getting married, and who I can only contact by post! It was too late in the day to go out, buy a stamp, and send her a letter in the same mailing explaining the mystery envelope she had just received. She will have to remain puzzled until we make some more invitations tonight and post them out ASAP.

Of course, I am friends with these people for a reason, and that reason is that they’re the type of people who will find this hilarious and think no more of it than a means to tease me.

My fiancé doesn’t really see what the fuss is about but says I can tell all my friends it was his fault. Dear, silly man.


 I'm appalled at people these days, including, unfortunately, my sister-in-law.   When I opened her wedding invitation, two little pieces of paper fluttered out.  I picked them up off the floor while my husband asked, "What's that?"  I looked at them and then looked at him in mute horror.  I held my hand out.  In my palm were two full-color, perfect little reproductions of "The Home Depot" and "Bed, Bath and Beyond" logos.




I have known a girl named "Mary" for a little over two years. The first year we met, Mary and I hung out frequently. By the second year, we weren't as close. Nothing "happened" we just slowly lost touch. When she got engaged, she sent me a save-the-date card. We ran into each other afterwards, and I told her I was excited to come to her wedding. A few months went by and we had not spoken to each other. Then, I received an invitation to her wedding. At that time I realized I could not attend. However, I felt bad just responding on the RSVP that I could not go without explaining why. I was concerned she would assume I was angry at her because we had not spoken. So, in lieu of returning the card, I sent her an email explaining why I could not go, but that I was sure the wedding would be wonderful and apologized for not attending. A few weeks later, I heard from mutual friends that she was talking to people about the form of response I had used to RSVP.

Saying things like, "I can't believe she responded via email" and complaining that I was rude. Here I was, trying to make sure things were ok between us, and she is complaining to people about it. Very classy.  


My husband's second cousin at age 18 became pregnant by her boyfriend and they had a son.  Last autumn, when the boy was about two, we received a wedding invitation that read something like this:   "Master Billy Jones invites you to the wedding of his parents..."   I never read the rest of the invitation - it went straight into the trash.  Having a two-year-old invite you to the wedding of his parents was the tackiest wedding invitation I have ever seen.



Here's my story: I was best friends with a girl in high school- let's call her Melissa. We had a little "clique" of 4 girls who were inseparable. After high school we drifted apart. By 2 years later we didn't have much contact with each other. Still spoke if we ran into each other, had no hard feelings or anything, but just never really made any initiative to call or meet up.

So I was surprised when, about 2 years after that, I received an invitation to her engagement party. I was flattered that she considered me such a close friend that I was invited out of respect for our history. I went to the party, and brought a gift (as is customary).

Note: It is not customary nor required by etiquette to bring a gift to an engagement party.  

The party was a fun event at a local hotel and I had a great time catching up with many high school friends.

Then time goes by. And more time. And more time. And by a year or so later I realize that Melissa has either already had the wedding, or split up with her fiancé.

Nope. I ran into them again a few years after that at a mutual friend's party. She was there with her husband. After the engagement party, there was a bridal shower and the wedding- neither of which I was invited to. Apparently there were many of us "old friends" who were invited to the first party then weaned from the list. I have to wonder if the "chosen ones" were selected by the size of their engagement gift!



I think by simply sending a copy of this invitation from my niece should pretty well say it all.  I received this E-MAILED Wedding invitation this morning.  This is actually one of the saddest things I've seen.  :


                        BRIDE & GROOM INVITING


   The honour of your presence

         Is requested of the marriage of

                Miss Jane Doe




              Mr. John Smith

                Invite you to share in the joy

            And celebration of their marriage

        On Saturday, the tenth of June

               At two o’ clock in the afternoon

                 Public Playground at  Smith Park   

                     Smith Falls , New York    




             Reception afterwards

                     At  1234 Smith St

                     Smith Falls , Ontario

                         At Four o’ clock

            Please bring chairs to sit and BYOB





Page Last Updated July 30, 2007