Etiquette Daily and Everyday Ethics: A Natural Fit

by Daniel Post Senning on September 8, 2009

At the Emily Post Institute we insist on looking at Etiquette as the application of the principles of honesty, respect, and consideration to questions of proper conduct.  The types of questions that we look at every day here are often problem solved by simply applying these principles to a given situation.

EverydayEthics is a blog on the website that examines the relationship between the thousands of small choices that we all make every day and the larger values that inform and guide those decisions.

Today I am part of a guest post over at EverydayEthics about etiquette.  I look forward to inviting Hillary and Paddy to return the favor by bringing some of their insite and perspective about larger ethical questions to bear on some of our tougher and less traditional topics.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

mary mooney September 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

Is there ever a number too large to invite to a party? We have not had one in a long time, want to reciprocate and include people we see through our childrens school, our club and church.


Graceandhonor September 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

When composing a guest list, there are a number of factors to consider:
1. Are the different groups invited likely to get along and enjoy one another and have something other than you in common? You don’t want them congealing in separate corners. Would it be more meaningful to entertain them separately? There is certainly nothing wrong with mixing groups, if you think it will work.
2. Are you, the host, going to be able to spend sufficient time with each group and individual to make them feel welcomed and special?
3. Is your home or venue, conducive to handling the number of people you want to invite? Are traffic patterns open? Are there enough chairs and sofas? Is there enough room to stage food and prep for it?
Is there enough parking without inconveniencing your neighbors?
4. If children are invited, as I gather they would be, you’ll need plenty of room for them to roam. If people from your club and church arrive sans children, you might want to think about this.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of invitations that were evidently one size fits all, and while they are fun, they are not always reciprocal in the fashion of the event they attended in our homes. This is fine a lot of the time, but if it becomes a habit, eventually one party will end up feeling slighted.


Leslie Nelson March 8, 2011 at 5:51 am

This is my second time being mother-of-the-groom. I admit, some of my views may be old-fashioned, but with regard to bridal showers, I was under the impression they should be more intimate events. However, the last several I have been to have been huge events (50-80 ladies)! In my mind this is rude and borders on mercenary. I don’t feel inclined to comment except when I’m the mother-of-the-groom, and then I am directly associated and I feel it reflects on me. Am I way out of line? Do I have any obligation or polite avenue of appeal?


Alicia March 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

The hostess or the hostesses determine the guest list at the shower. The only hard and fast rule is that everyone invited to any prewedding events must also be invited to the wedding. I agree that huge showers are significantly less fun and less nice however as long as all the guests are also invited to the wedding and the hostess or hostesses truly hosts the event it is not rude. Perhaps you can suggest a smaller eventbut as you are the mother of teh groom and not a hostess it does not reflect on you.

Congrats on your sons wedding!


Graceandhonor March 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

The guest of honor at a shower also has input on the guest list. She is ultimately the one looked to for approval by the hosts and it is up to her to apply the brakes as necessary. It does indeed reflect negatively on the groom’s family.


Leslie Nelson March 11, 2011 at 1:57 am

Many thanks to both Alicia and Graceandhonor for your wonderful advice! I hope to keep focused on the joyful fact that this is a wedding, a celebration of the joining of two lives, and not get hung up on the less important things. Your input has been very helpful. Blessings to you both!


Graceandhonor March 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Leslie, these mega showers are indeed unseemly. As you realize, though, voicing you opinion is dicey. Should you be asked to supply your list of people you’d like to invite, you can demonstrate restraint while commenting you find smaller showers more congenial, etc. That, and let’s hope your sons can influence their brides to be less materialistic.


lorraine treadwell January 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

What are the rules regarding inviting people to affairs (family ) and they never attend. They always send gifts but give lame excuses for not attending. When do you stop inviting?


Alicia January 12, 2012 at 11:29 am

Lorraine- What would the inviters response be if they did show up? If the response is glee and joy that they could make it then go ahead and keep inviting.
If the response would be, ugh they actually showed we just wanted them to send a present ,then do not invite.


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