Open Thread

by epi on December 7, 2011

Amazon Order Emily Post Etiquette 18th EditionWelcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa December 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

I have recently started dating someone. It is going pretty well. I am unsure as to whether I should purchase a Christmas gift after such a short time of knowing one another.

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Alicia December 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

Depends on how recently and how seriously. How about doing something token or event oriented. Ie take him or her out for dinner or a christmas event or make then a batch of cookies. But keep it low key on the first potential gift occasion of a relationship.

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Scarlett December 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

I agree with Alicia that you should keep it low key. Maybe also consider a gift certificate/card of some sort – Starbucks, iTunes, movie tickets, a favorite lunch place, etc. Nothing expensive. It would be very sweet to show that you pay attention to what this person likes, but be careful to avoid anything too personal (like an item of clothing, cologne, etc.) at this stage. Merry Christmas!

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Winifred Rosenburg December 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I don’t think a gift certificate is the best idea. People are always self-conscious about how much they spend, especially on the first gift of a relationship, and the drawback of gift certificates is it says right on it how much they spent!

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Scarlett December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

This is a point well taken and one that I should have anticipated in my original comment. I realize the risk of the giftee knowing the amount; however, I still think $10 or $15 for Starbucks, iTunes, etc. is acceptable, especially if given in conjunction with something homemade as Alicia suggested, or another small gift of unknown demonation. I don’t think most people expect these types of cards to have a high dollar value. A cute way to play down the value aspect would be to write, inside the card accompanying the gift, something like “have coffee/lunch/download some apps on me.” I personally love getting these and would be interested in knowing what others think, too. (Maybe it’s just a Midwestern thing.)

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Jerry December 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Oh for the love of all that’s good, a gift card to someone you’re dating? Cash — financial instruments of any kind really — is the type of gift you get from your uncle. (Seinfeld did a really good episode on this, BTW.) It just screams “thoughtless gift, thoughtless gift, you don’t care at all!” There is nothing more impersonal than a gift card. And if a girl I was seeing gave me a gift card in lieu of a present, I’d be pretty turned off that she didn’t put more thought into things.

Alicia’s ideas are great — homemade cookies are really personal, show you’ve put some effort into it, but are also low key. Some other ideas off the top of my head? A book that you think he or she would like is small, but requires some thought; a mix CD; a regular CD; the same bottle of wine you shared on your first date. And I literally took 60 seconds to think of these . . .

Do you really want to give someone the gift of experience? Fine, give them a certificate to do one thing in particular. A gift certificate to go on a particular site seeing tour with the gift giver? Fine. A gift certificate so that the recipient and “a guest” can take one of a suite of tours within X time period and within Y price point? Impersonal.

(Oh, I have lived in the Midwest for 10 years [after growing up on the east coast and having been sent to the South for a short while]. I don’t think that it’s a Midwestern thing. I asked my wife once why anyone gave gift cards — she told me that gift cards were really the gift of shopping. But unless you know someone actually really likes to shop, I’d steer very clear.)

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Elizabeth December 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

My only advice would be this: if you do get your new beau a gift, make sure that you give him a heads up about it. So if you see each other a few days before the holidays and you plan on giving him the gift, you should definitely let him know in advance of the meeting: “Joe, I’m so excited to see you tonight, I got you a little something for the holidays.” That way he knows to get you a little something too and he won’t be embarrassed at showing up empty handed if he didn’t think to get you something.

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Pam December 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

My boyfriend and I started dating exactly one week before his birthday. We met in a poetry class and our first date or two involved discussing literature. So, for his birthday I gave him a card and a little Everyman book of Robert Frost’s poetry. Nine years later, he still has it on his shelf. It was a little gift, but it was thoughtful. Think back to your conversations on your dates and what you have already learned about him and what he likes. Even a small gesture will be appreciated.

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Just Laura December 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I certainly like this answer. Such a small, but meaningful gift lets the person know you’ve been listening, without coming across as a creeper (as if you’re pressuring the relationship).

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Jody December 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Lisa, I definitely disagree with Jerry. Gift cards are *not* necessarily an impersonal gift. When I get one, it tells me that the giver knows I would enjoy something from that particular shop. A Starbucks card is a great idea, or maybe a card to a bookshop if your boyfriend likes to read. A gift card is an especially good idea early in a relationship, I think, because you might not know all of your boyfriends tastes/preferences.

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Lauren Smith December 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

When my, now husband, and I started dating, our first Christmas came a few months later. I gave him two tickets to see one of his favorite comedians, the show was 3 months from Christmas.. he told me not only did that show I was paying attention to his interests and looking for fun things to do with him that he would particularly enjoy, but that I was also showing him how I would want to continue seeing him. He was SO ecstatic when he opened the box and saw that we had third row seats to his favorite comedian… And I was a super star girlfriend! :D

He was a little more elaborate.. and gave me a beautiful ruby ring.. ha ha, I was shocked! That showed me he wanted to continue seeing me For Sure! :D

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Jerry December 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

But you’ve got to have some idea of his preferences. Did you guys talk about travel? Coffee drinker? A fw pounds of a really premium roast and a personalized mug. There are so many more thoughtful things to get than a gift card . . .

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Country Girl December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm

While watching an old FRIENDS episode, I came across an etiquette dilemma which I have actually experienced. It goes to the effect of: Ross moves into a new apartment building, only to be (nearly immediately) asked to pitch in $100 for a gift for the building’s retiring handyman. I had nearly this same situation happen to me when I began my current job. A few days in, I was asked to contribute $15 to a gift for a woman having a baby, whom I’d met briefly and just once. In his case, he said no on principal and his neighbors resented him. In my case I said yes, pitched in, and in all honesty felt bitter about it since I never saw or heard of this woman again, as she quit to stay home after having her baby.

I am wondering how others have or would react to being asked to contribute to a gift for someone you don’t really know. Do you say no and risk not looking like a team player, or do you give in and say yes and pitch in money to a gift for someone you have really no connection with?

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Elizabeth December 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I think my reaction would depend on the size of the gift and how directly I was asked. If I’d received a mass email that was sent to everyone in the department, I’d feel better about just ignoring and letting it slip by. If someone came to my desk with their hand out, it’s a little harder to say no. But I feel that the people doing the asking should be cognizant of the situation and should hold back from asking the new person for a contribution. Also, I’d feel a lot better about chipping in $10 than I would $100.

But don’t feel bad about the $15 – chalk it up to karma, your goodwill is repaid in other ways : )

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Just Laura December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I am the person who says “no” if I don’t know the person well, and don’t anticipate getting to know him/her better (if the person quits as you stated, or is moving far away).

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Pam December 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm

This happened to me too!! I was a brand new member of a professional board and the first meeting they decided to collect for another member who was having a baby. I couldn’t believe it, I had never exchanged 2 words with her. They suggested $10, so I decided to pass in $5. I was glad to give something, it showed I was a team player but I really couldn’t bring myself to contribute a full $10 to someone I did not know. If the employee had not quit then you probably would have felt happy that you contributed. You handled it well.

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Jerry December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Judgment call. For $15 I would suck it up and pay. For $100 I would probably laugh in the guys face. You have to decide whether the goodwill you buy is worth $15. As a matter of pure etiquette, I don’t think there is a right answer.

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Jerry December 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Urgent question (i.e., moderators, please post this one quickly).

A friend’s father died suddenly last weekend. Funeral is coming up this weekend and the family has asked for donations in lieu of flowers. What is the etiquette here? Do I send flowers anyway and make a donation? Or do I make a donation only? Well thought out responses would be greatly appreciated.

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Country Girl December 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

It seems the family has made their wishes pretty clear, they would prefer donations instead of flowers. There are various reasons they may wish this; perhaps plenty of flowers have already been aquired for the funeral, maybe they don’t wish to worry about dividing up flowers among family members, a family member could have an allergy to flowers, or possibly they don’t have any space for them. I know you wouldn’t want your kindness to become more of a burden in this time. I would simply do as they have asked and donate the money you can reasonably afford, and would have put into flowers anyway, and give a card only.

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Jody December 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Jerry — If your friend’s family has specified donations in lieu of flowers, I’d make the donation and avoid flowers entirely. Hopefully they specified a charity (or charities) for the donations.

If you want to give flowers or a plant, maybe send something to your friend well after the servcies for his father are over. That’s what some friends did when my father died — they sent a donation as preferred by our family, but then sent me a small flower arrangement later. That gesture was very much appreciated.

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Just Laura December 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I agree with both excellent answers, as wishes have been made clear.

Just so you know, the moderators post questions as soon as they are seen/read. No one is holding out on you. :)

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Alicia December 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Send a donation and a card full of warm memories of the friends father or if you know only the friend heartfelt sympathys for friends loss.
If they say in lieu of flowers they do not want flowers.

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puzzlemuse December 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm

my new york times paper carrier left a holiday card in the today’s paper. i have never seen her but she put her name and address on the envelope. am i expected to mail a tip to her? I was a paper carrier when iw as young, but we knocked on doors to collect $ and people usually tipped then. is it strange to send a cheque to a stranger?

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Elizabeth December 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

You’re not expected to tip, but that certainly is the suggestion. It seems like nowadays we have less and less contact with those we might have formerly known by sight – like the mailman, the paper person, etc. To send a tip is totally at your discretion, and your carrier would not find it strange at all to receive a check from you.

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Country Girl December 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I agree with Elizabeth completely.

To add, here is an interesting little article regarding holiday tipping :)

http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/tipping.html?si=1

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Winifred Rosenburg December 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

A related question for the one above: what is the standard for tipping superintendents? I live in a condominium where there are multiple buildings so I’m not even sure where I should send a tip to my super if at all. Frankly, I haven’t been very happy with his service. Every time we call him, he ends up yelling at us. In one incident our front door was jammed and our upstairs neighbors and we were trapped inside (obviously a safety concern). When we called him to ask him to come fix it he yelled at us and said it wasn’t his job. We then called the fire department and they broke the door to get us out so we called him to tell him he needed to replace the front door and he yelled at us some more. Eventually he did replace the door when we complained to the condo manager. You can see why I’m reluctant to reward him for his less than stellar work. What should we do?

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Jerry December 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Don’t tip him. Also consider looking up the rent abatement laws in your jurisdiction.

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Lauren Smith December 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

In-laws can always be tricky, but my concern is with a future in-law… I recently got married (10/15/2011), and my older brother recently got engaged (5/22/2011). I’ve always been very close to my family, especially my brother, due to our closeness in age. Over the last two years, I was absent due to going to college, and he started dating someone, 9 years younger, He’s 28 she’s just turned 20. Due to my family closeness, I had her added to our wedding party, it only seemed right since she’s going to be family too, right? I also invited her Parents to the wedding, due to the fact that they are a bit “back woods” and I wanted to extend an olive branch to them as a family.. They are a bit dysfunctional when it comes to extended family.

During the rehearsal run through at the ceremony site, she complained that her shoes were sinking, she was cold, why did she have to do this… Prior to the Rehearsal dinner, we had a professional family photography shoot, being that both my family and my groom’s family were all present. By that point everyone was hungry, well, she and my brother walk into the theater where we were taking photo’s, with Chick-fa-la sandwiches and ate them in front of everyone. (I was mortified!) While taking photos, that I had her in as well, being that she’s engaged to my brother, she was complaining and under her breath hissing, “ugh, why are we doing this?!” All my Bridesmaids and Groomsman, as well as both my families heard her, again mortified, I looked at her as she stood next to me and told her to stand there and smile. During the rehearsal dinner, which was at the same restaurant that she is having cater her wedding, she continued to speak about her wedding, in a way that inferred she wasn’t enjoying mine… while sitting one seat away from me… On top of that, she insulted our best man by pointing out, loudly, how much he was drinking, and then snapping at, and giving my groom Huge attitude. By that point, it was just her, my brother, my groom and myself at the table, I looked at her and said, “Enough, I don’t want any more of your attitude, If I have to deal with it for the rest of my life, I will, but not this weekend.” From appetizers until halfway through the wedding, she didn’t even look my way or say a word to me. (NO exaggeration.)

A little background information, She’s lived a very sheltered life, and when my brother told me he was interested in her, I started inviting her to lunch, or coffee, or just to come over to my parents house to visit and get to know one another. I put her in my wedding and invited her to all the special parties and events leading up to it. Being that I lived away from home, any time I was in her area I would reach out to her, only to be rejected repeatedly.

My problem; She’s marrying my brother, Neither my sister or myself are in the wedding, when her whole family is. Neither her nor my brother are very etiquette wise. and although I have continually tried to be nice, and patient with this girl, she can’t stand to be in the same area with me longer than a dinner, and would die before having a one on one lunch with me. I understand its ultimately my brother’s choice as to whom he marries, but I honestly think he’s making a huge mistake.

My husband and I live 17 hours away from my family now, and we are flying home for Christmas. Which means we will all be at my grandmother’s house, and with the number of people, we will be rather squeezed in living space..
My etiquette questions are:

1. When People, first/second/ third cousins, ask what I think of her, being that this will be the first time any of them meet her, what do I say? I don’t want to sound mean, but I want to be honest, and they saw how she was acting at the wedding (from a distance) so they know she’s rude.

2. I will be home for two weeks, and would like to confront my brother about my concern with him marrying her, how do I go about that? Their wedding is planned for May 20, 2012.

3. I’d like to talk to her about the way she treated me and my husband at the wedding, and her attitude during the weekend. My desire is to gain understanding as to why she was so rude, and constantly complaining. As well as wanting to gain some insight as to how to interact with her, without her becoming defensive and/or withdrawn to and from me. (I almost feel like I’ve done something to offend her, but I can’t for the life of me guess what it is~ All I’ve been was nice, welcoming and supportive of their relationship, when so many family members were praying against it.)

How would you recommend me going about this Holiday season? I’m desperate for some guidance.

Thank you!

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Just Laura December 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Oh my.

My problem; She’s marrying my brother, Neither my sister or myself are in the wedding, when her whole family is.
It doesn’t matter if she was in your wedding. They are two separate events. She may choose whoever she’d like, just as your brother may choose whoever he would like. I do agree it was nice of you to include her.

1. When People, first/second/ third cousins, ask what I think of her, being that this will be the first time any of them meet her, what do I say?
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. This old saying holds true here. They will be able to form their own opinions soon enough, it seems.

2. I will be home for two weeks, and would like to confront my brother about my concern with him marrying her, how do I go about that?
Why didn’t you voice your concerns when they got engaged? Or were dating? He may believe it is a little late now.

3. I’d like to talk to her about the way she treated me and my husband at the wedding, and her attitude during the weekend.

Why? You already did at your wedding when it happened (which was smart of you… better to speak up about something like this than let justifiably resentful feelings fester).

I’m a bit uncomfortable with your labeling her family “backwoods” and bringing up the dysfunctional extended family bit. It really has little to do with her (and little to do with the story), and I’m not sure what it has to do with your inviting her parents to your wedding. Few of us have a perfect, loving extended family, and I’d like to think that my crazy aunt with a gambling problem is not a reflection on who I am and what I’ve accomplished.

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Lady Antipode December 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Firstly, well done for putting your foot down before your wedding.

Secondly, you can stop reaching out now. Sometimes people just don’t get along, and that’s OK. You don’t have to be her best friend, as long as you maintain civility and small talk.

As to your questions:
1. If you can’t be nice, be vague. Tell them that you’re sure your brother will be very happy, or that she makes him happy and they’re content and that’s marvellous.

2. You’ve said you’re very close with your brother, and so you are best placed to know how to approach it. Either a blunt “Bro, what are you doing?” or gentle and non-accusatory “tell me about her. Why are you marrying her? What are her good qualities? How does she make you feel?”

3. It’s good that you’re looking for understanding, and not to punish her. You might start by asking if she was OK that weekend and that you were concerned about her. She may well shut you down, in which case you might have to let it go. Pursuing it will make her withdraw.

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Lauren Smith December 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

Just Laura,
I understand its two separate events, But I come from a very Italian family, where siblings are expected to be in a place of honor in their sibling’s weddings. They aren’t having bridesmaids or groomsman, because she has shunned every girlfriend she’s had. (Which is what my brother told me.) However, they are having her siblings who are 6, and 12, along with cousin’s of mine who are no older than 7 (and they haven’t seen my brother in two years) in the wedding. It is just a slap in the face.

I have asked him about her… in a quite way. When they got engaged all hell broke loose on their relationship. Her family was demanding that she not get married earlier than the beginning of May 2012, and if they did, her family would pull out their blessing on the relationship and the financial backing, and the dates that she was choosing would have meant that my youngest sister would be unable to attend our only brother’s wedding, and Hannah (the bride-to-be) told my parents straight up, that if she couldn’t make their wedding they’d understand, and she wouldn’t be offended.. When all of that was going on, I went to my brother and asked him why he would want to marry someone who doesn’t care if his family is there, and could it be that she’s the right girl and its just the wrong time, or the wrong girl? He assured me that she was the right one, and that it was the right time.

When I say dysfunctional, That’s how she describes them. To be honest, they look like a really nice family from the outside, but dig a little deeper than skin level, and you will find so many things wrong. From what she’s shared with my parents, I’m surprised my brother hasn’t run for the hills.

Lady Antipode,
She was raised with a mother who told her to not waist her time making girlfriends, that they would just stab her in the back. So she has never had any really close friends. When I brought her into my wedding, and all the events and preparation, She was surrounded by loving, caring, excited young women. My prayer during the whole thing was that she’d see how wrong her mother was, and how beautiful and beneficial girlfriends can make you life. It breaks my heart that she continues to hold me at arms length. We were discussing wedding details, and I told her she could use anything from my wedding, all she need to do is ask. When we were talking about center pieces, she’s doing her own and I asked if she had anyone in mind to help set them out, she has an early wedding and that could be stressful to get everything together. She sat there and couldn’t think of anyone to help her, when I offered myself and my sister’s aid, she looked me square in the eye and said, “Oh, I totally forgot that you’d even be there.” It took everything in me to not ball my eyes out. my heart was literally squashed.

I have literally never been more hurt in my life, and I don’t know the etiquette on this. There will be a toast at my Uncles house on Christmas night, for their engagement, just as there was one for mine last year, and I’m fairly certain that my Uncle will ask me to propose the toast.

I feel haunted by what to say. How do I propose the toast then tell my brother 3 days later, ” I don’t think you should marry her.” I’ve been praying for healing in my relationship with Hannah, because I’m clueless as to her resentment of me. And it will look odd if I don’t give the toast, since that’s kinda how our family works.

I understand that its their life, and I live half way across the country from them, so small talk and holidays will more than likely be the extent of it. But this is 100% contradictory to what my brother and I have always said about how we wanted our adult friendship as siblings to be. And now, here we are, and his fiance is totally not what he ever said he wanted. I guess its more disappointing than anything else, I just don’t know how to handle this properly, and still be true to how I feel.

I think I will stick to, If I can’t say something nice be Vague.
Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Lady Antipode December 8, 2011 at 2:00 am

This must be very distressing for you, Lauren. Based on her ‘I totally forgot’ comment, her sheltered life and lack of girlfriends, perhaps she also doesn’t have the social skills to avoid putting her foot in it. Or, if I were to be uncharitable, I might say that she’s jealous of your relationship with your brother, and resents that you’re a happy, open person who can make emotional connections where she can’t.

It seems like it’s really important to you that she’s part of your family, so not reaching out isn’t really an option for you. All I can suggest is try not to take her comments personally, even if they do cut your heart out.

Can you talk to your brother before Christmas? Tell him that you’re anticipating making the toast but that you’re haunted by what to say. Let him know the concerns you’ve written about above, that she’s not what you imagined he wanted in a partner, and see if he can help you understand his choice.

Strict etiquette says suck it up, cut her down with a withering look, or cut her loose. It doesn’t help your emotional concerns, I’m afraid.

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Alicia December 8, 2011 at 10:38 am

For the toast. A toast is a possitive wish. You have lots of possitive wishes for your brother and his future wife. A simple ” To my brother and his future wife may they have a long and loving life full of all the joys that family and love can bring” sip some wine.
You can keep it to yourself that you hope the future wife is someone else. But even if he doers marry her you want him to have a long happy life.

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Elizabeth December 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

I agree with everything that Lady Antipode wrote, but also wanted to add this:
Her behavior is not about you. If you were a different, nicer or better person (you sound like a perfectly good person!) – it wouldn’t matter. She’s been taught from infancy that other women are dangerous, they’re competition, they’ll hurt you. So basically she’s been taught to be all of those things right from start. She’s never had any girlfriends, she doesn’t know how to interpret your goodwill – it sounds like she’s suspicious of it! And she also has never had to develop the skills of social negotiation, so all her little comments at your rehearsal dinner and photo shoot were her experiencing all of the normal little annoyances of having to stand still while cold while wearing uncomfortable shoes – but her NOT knowing how to say to herself, “but I have to just suck it up for a little while longer, because I care about the bride and really want to participate in her day.” She’s never had to compromise for a friend, never had to put someone else’s needs before her own, if even temporarily. Unfortunately, this is not going to be the SIL you always dreamed of.

My advice to you would be first to not take it personally even though it may seem very personal. Second, don’t be so put off by her that you turn into one of those women her mom warned her about. If she catches wind of you trying to break up her engagement – well, you will have proved her point. Third, maintain an air of cordiality and mild friendliness, and she may one day learn that her mom was wrong.

I think it was a bit of a mistake to go so far out on a limb for someone you didn’t really know (ask her to be in your bridal party, offer her your favors (??), etc), especially for someone who doesn’t operate under the same cultural and social rules as you do. Pull back and just give her space.

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Just Laura December 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

But I come from a very Italian family, where siblings are expected to be in a place of honor in their sibling’s weddings.

She isn’t your sibling. Your brother is. Perhaps you should redirect your ire toward him. It is his wedding too, as Alicia stated.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

Coming from an Italian family as well, I understand your hurt feelings on not being in the bridal party. I’m certain my mother would have disowned me if I hadn’t made my sister and sister-in-law bridesmaids at my wedding. (My husband doesn’t have any sisters but I would have certainly been required to include them if he did.) Honestly, I don’t really understand why everyone doesn’t follow those guidelines. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my sister, but I still made her maid of honor because she’s my sister and it makes my family happy. At the end of the day it’s just a title and doesn’t do any harm giving someone a title just for being family even if you’re not that close, but I digress.

As far as confronting your brother, you cannot tell him you don’t think he should marry her unless he asks your opinion, and even then you should proceed with caution. In all the times this has been tried, I don’t think it has ever gone well. Usually it has the opposite effect one hopes for because if the person isn’t ready to hear the advice they’ll just be stubborn and try to prove you wrong. You can, however, mention to him that you don’t think she likes you. If you say something along the lines of “She doesn’t seem to like me. [Give a few examples of less than warm behavior, but frame it in a concerned rather than angry tone.] I hope I haven’t done anything to offend her! I really want us to get along!” Hopefully, your brother will relay the message to his fiancee and make her think she should make a little more of an effort. This probably won’t result in a request for you to be a bridesmaid, but it might make her think before she speaks.

For the toast, you can’t give a toast to a marriage you aren’t in favor of. If you’re asked to give a toast, say you get nervous speaking while people are staring at you, you have a sore throat, anything.

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Zakafury December 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

So, Lauren Smith,

I’m sorry for your troubles, but you’ve put yourself in the middle of something and are paying the consequences.

It’s a terrible shame that she seems to have such a low opinion of women, but the only way you can alleviate that is by not stabbing her in the back. So…are you really going to bring this up with your brother after a long engagement?

Trying to stop your brother’s wedding again will surely get back to Hannah, who will only become more incensed.

Perhaps you should have a talk with your brother and then with him and Hannah about how you never meant to offend anyone, and that you’re really looking forward to supporting their marriage. Leave out how you think they’ll need a whole lot of support.

If you get your brother to admit she knows you already spoke to him about why he would want to marry someone like her, then it’s time for an apology and to hope for the best.

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Alicia December 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

She is not family yet and you had the choice to make her or not make her a bridesmaid. You could have had her as a guest as you were clearly not close to her. But you and your husband made a choice aof wedding party and your brother and his girlfriend get to make theirs. If your brother wanted you in the wedding party he could have you and your sisters in the wedding party just as easy as grooms maids if he wanted. Not having you in the wedding party is equally his choice.
To answer your questions
1. when asked you say.” I love my brother very much and I hope that he is happy in his marriage and life.” Then if you do not want to say mean things and since that is the extent of your obvious positive comments about her you change the subject. You do not want to speak bad of her it will only make runour mills and come back to bite you.
2.Confronting your brother is not a good idea. He made the choice for this woman. Let him know you will support him no matter what if he goes through with teh marriage or if he calls it off. But think how you would have felt during your engagement if he had suggested kicking your husband to the curb you would have not heard it in a constructive light you would have dug in heels and gotten more firmly on your path. He will do the same. So just let him know you are in his corner no matter what.
3. Confronting her about her behavior at your wedding will not solve anything. What could she possibly say. There is nothing useful that will be gained. Move on from your wedding. Just move past it. You will seem more gracious. Instead start slowly talking to her about non wedding related family traditions. Clearly she comes from different family traditions and her attitude about family and friends is different. In a non wedding way discuss say the holiday traditions she grew up with vs the ones you grew up with. You will gain understanding of who she is and maybe by incorporating some family tradition on her family into your family can show family warmth that will help her feel actually connected as she clearly does not feel connected to your family. If your family has been lobbys agaist her she has no reason to feel warm towards you guys yet.

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Lauren Smith December 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Alicia,
Your right in regards to the toast.. I do wish my brother and his future wife a long and happy life. And I can leave out the rest of how I feel..
I do intend on telling him I support him either way, I did talk to him about my husband, and asked his opinion on him prior to marrying him, because as my family their opinion is second only to my own. He however, has not asked anyone in our family their opinion, I can only imagine why. But I will let him know I will support and pray for him either way, that whatever he chooses he may be blessed.

Elizabeth,
I was praying about this too, not becoming the woman that her mother spoke of. And just to clarify, she chose her own shoes, I didn’t care what shoes the girls wore, I suggested flats or wedges since my wedding was on a lawn, and she chose open toe stilettos, and Mid-October can be a bit cool and she wore a very thin dress (again her choosing).. but I digress.

And I didn’t have a choice in putting her in the wedding. I was Hounded by my mother for 5 months to put her in, due to their pending engagement. I waited to put her in until she was actually engaged, just incase my brother changed his mind. If it were up to me, She wouldn’t have been in the wedding, and the day of, I almost excused her from it completely due to her rudeness and offensive behavior. (Which my mom refused to.)

Just Laura
She has told my family.. in a joking way, that my brother has very little say in what goes on in the wedding. I later confirmed that with my brother, and didn’t say anything when he agreed to her comment.. I was slightly shocked.

Winifred
Your right in that I cannot give my opinion unless asked for, that’s why I haven’t up to this point. When my husband proposed, after I said yes, and all the excitement and shock slimmed, I asked everyone in my immediate family if they thought he was a good fit. One thing that was critical to me was that he enjoyed my family, and they all agreed he was perfect, with no reservations.

Zakafury
I don’t see how I’ve put myself in the middle of anything, and having to pay for it, all I’ve been is nice. When my family was praying for my brother to change his mind on proposing, and spewing negativity behind their backs, I told them to knock it off, that their gossip was rude, and pray for God’s will..

I have a date planned with my brother, and I intend on asking him, what about Hannah he sees as qualities she possess that would make her a good wife for him. And if he asks my opinion after that, then I’ll share with him how I feel. Closeness in our family, is rooted in honesty.

In regards to Alicia’s last post:
Confronting Hannah.. If I had behaved the way she had, during my wedding, my mother would have pulled me aside and told me to get my act together and loose the attitude. Being that Hannah is as manipulative/ controlling as she is with my brother, my parents tread lightly around her, and her misbehavior is never addressed, on many occasions. My parents dismiss it to a poor upbringing, and tell us to let it go. As she has made numerous offensive remarks about our family, culture and my sister’s and my drive to make a difference in the world. (she’s rather anti-feminist). But being that she will be family, I fear, I am going to have years of misbehavior and rudeness thrown at me if I don’t address her, and let her know how hurt and offended I was by her actions. She does come from a different family, and molding into a second family that is so different from her own, I understand that it may be difficult and awkward for her at first. But being rude and offensive is not acceptable, and will end her up isolating herself from our family, and eventually isolating my brother from us as well. I know he has a choice in that, but if a man’s wife spews negativity about his family.. over time that will win over.

I have full intentions of addressing her, I’ve already sent her a letter, wishing her a happy birthday (end of Nov.) and asking if we could get together after Christmas and clear up the misunderstanding from the wedding. Because it is very apparent to me that she feels like the victim, and resents me for putting her in her place at the Rehearsal dinner.

Thank you all for your input.
Some of it was encouraging, and reassuring being told that I was right in standing up and stopping her during the dinner before my wedding. As well as seeing how Ethnic culture played into whom was in our bridal party.
Some of it was great advice, in how to handle the toast as well as addressing my brother.

Family dynamics differ from home to home, and I understand that.. All of your input has benefited me tremendously. This was the first time I’ve been on http://www.emilypost.com, I have the 17th edition of her book, and will utilize this Open thread if ever I need advice on handling sticky situations again.

Thank you again.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I don’t see that it’s strange that your brother didn’t ask his family’s opinion. I hope for the sake of your husband that even though you asked your family’s opinion before marrying him that if they had said they didn’t think you should marry him you wouldn’t have let that stop you. Ultimately, the only opinion that really matters is your brother’s. I’m a believer in the idea that if you don’t want the answer to a question you shouldn’t ask it. If your opinion won’t affect his decision, which it shouldn’t, why should he ask?

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Lauren Smith December 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Good point, when it comes down to it, yes the only opinion that matters is the two getting married. However, it would have allowed any of us to voice concerns that we may have, and he could either look at them and say, “we’ll work through it,” or “you must have misinterpreted what she said/meant.” But being aware of tension/ rough spots, I feel is better than being surprised with it later when there’s nothing really he can do about it.

I see these warning signs and it worries me for my brother, and I would hate myself for Not saying something if their relationship turns out not working and a covenant is broken.. I just don’t want to have any regrets in the matter.

Thank you.

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Katie December 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

A young friend just got married. I am friends with the whole family. I did not receive an invitation to the wedding, but spoke a few days before the wedding with the mother. When I asked when the wedding was she told me & then said, ‘You can come if you want to.’ I was uncomfortable & thanked her. I did not feel I could attend the wedding, because I did not receive an invitation other then verbal, so I did not go. I did send a gift to the bride, because I really wanted to give a gift. Did I handle the situation the correct way? If I am asked about why they missed me, how should I answer without making then uncomfortable?

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Elizabeth December 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm

This is an easy 0ne – they’re not going to ask you why you weren’t there after such a lukewarm invitation. On the very off chance that they do, just smile and say, “Oh, but I thought you were just being polite. I had a previous commitment anyway, and couldn’t have made it. But I want to hear all about the wedding! I bet Susie looked amazing in her dress…”

Once they see that you don’t mind not being invited, they won’t have anxiety about the clumsy way the “invitation” was made. Just get them talking about the wedding itself, and your absence will no longer be at issue.

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