1. Nina

    Hi again, Friends,

    I’ve come across another etiquette puzzle in the process of planning my wedding. I queried a number of wedding-cake bakers about costs and availability. All responded politely, but upon further enquiry, one gave me a really hard time for not being very knowledgable about wedding cakes and for asking too many questions! I’m not sure why she expected me to know–I have never been married before–but she was quite snarky.

    Needless to say, we are going to another vendor–one that is happy to suggest a cake appropriate to our budget, venue, and guest list. I am happy with this choice, but I feel bad about the first baker. She runs a small local business that I know does good work, and I would have been happy to support her if she hadn’t made it so difficult. I would like to write her an email saying, “We won’t be using your services for these reasons…” and hopefully help her not alienate future customers.

    A few people have told me that that’s really not appropriate, and I should leave at, “Thank you for your time; we’ve decided on another vendor.” Is that really the only option?


    • Winifred Rosenburg

      The baker was extremely rude and a poor businessperson! I find that people don’t usually benefit from constructive criticism unless they are ready to hear it. The same rules apply to businesses. If you give them unsolicited advice, they will likely just get offended and not do anything to fix the problem. Unless they ask for feedback, you should keep the reasons to yourself.

  2. polite punk

    I have another wedding gift question: At the last minute, I have been invited to a colleague’s out-of-town wedding. What was initially intended to be a small and intimate wedding became much larger when the groom’s parents got involved at the last minute and booked a larger venue. Of course, many of the guests can’t make it and I was invited less than a month before the wedding. I have other obligations that weekend and am not able to attend (nor would I necessarily travel this distance for someone who I am not that close with). I know I should send a gift, but I’m wondering if a (smaller) donation to an non-profit organization in honor of the couple is sufficient.

    • I don’t support donations on behalf of someone in lieu of a gift for the following reasons:
      1) The giver receives the tax deduction
      2) The person receiving the “gift” may not approve of that non-profit.

      If you really know the person, then that’s a different matter. I’ve mentioned this before – I received a donation-in-my-name to Save the Manatees, a 501(c)3 with which I completely agree. I adored this gift (I received a picture of an injured manatee along with the letter). I’ve also liked donations to Arbor Day and the American Cancer Society. However, one time someone gave money to a group on my behalf that is doing good things, but since it’s religiously-based and works in other countries, I wasn’t excited about it. I really wish the person had just donated to one of my preferred charities instead.

      I suggest a modest gift and a card for your colleague, or a modest gift card.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I know some people feel anyone who is invited should send a gift, but I personally feel that you only have to give a gift if you actually go to the wedding. Especially in this case when he’s not even hiding the fact that you’re on the “B list,” I would just give a card. There’s a disturbing trend in weddings that couples will invite people who they know won’t come just so they can get more gifts, and I think if someone doesn’t want to give a gift for whatever reason the person should have the option of not going to the wedding and removing his or her obligation.

      • Country Girl

        To the point Winifred makes about inviting people you know won’t come, I actually have a little quandary of my own. I am currently making our wedding invitations, but a few guests who were on our guest list have already let us know that they will not be able to make the wedding. Am I to still send them an invitation so they know that they were officially invited and are still welcome to come if things change? Or in light of the fact that they have told us that they likely won’t make it, does sending them an invitation come off as gift-grabby?

        • Winifred Rosenburg

          I think you can send the invitation anyway and maybe include a note saying “We know you told us you won’t be able to come, but we thought we’d send an invitation anyway in case circumstances change.” I was referring more to situations where loose aquaintances are invited and have to think for a minute to figure out who those people are. =)

    • CC

      My husband and I have been in a similar situation on two occasions, and sent a gift (from the couples’ respective bridal registries). On both occasions, we did not receive a thank you note. (!!) Nonetheless, if this happens to me again, I would still give a gift. I figure, you can’t help other people’s manners, only your own. To me, the right thing to do was a give a gift, so that is what we did.

  3. Cindy

    I am the grooms mother and I am working on getting my addresses together for the brides family. My question is: How do I address the inner envelopes? I can not find the answer in the 2 Emily Post wedding books I have purchased. Since the invitation is coming from the Brides Parents, wouldn’t it be wrong to put “Grandma & Granpa” on an inner envelope?? If it is my son’s granparents? Should it be Mr. and Mrs. Smith? And the same for all other relatives and close friends?? I know the books I bought said to put this, but the bride’s parents don’t know them yet and don’t call them Grandma & Grandpa??? Please advise???

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Both are correct. If you would like to be formal, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is fine. Whatever your son calls them is also fine. They shouldn’t have a hard time understanding that your son is the one calling them Grandma & Grandpa, not the bride’s parents, even if the invitation is officially from the bride’s parents.

  4. polite punk

    Thanks, Laura. I was planning on donating to an organization that I know they support, but you make a good point about the tax deduction.

    • Alicia

      I guess I never think donations are a gift to the recipient. I think it is better to not give a gift at all then to give a donation. I support donating to good works all the time but I think that it is something best kept internal and private and not as a gift for others. I’ve been given lots of donations as gifts and never once did I feel like it was anything other then a lecture on how much better they were then me and how giving the giver felt in each case I would have prefered the giver to simply skip giving me the donation and donate or not on their own.

  5. Ashleigh

    Was just over on DA and I found the following post. Usually the advice there is pretty bizarro to begin with, this one didn’t even have any advice whatsoever (server glitch?). Anywho, its an EXTREMELY interesting question, and a problem that I’m sure many couples have unfortunately had to deal with. Thoughts on how to handle?

    “My grandson and his bride were going through their gift envelopes and found some with nothing in them. They don’t know if there was money inside and it fell out. If they thank a guest for a gift and there was none, it could seem sarcastic. If they don’t thank the person and there was money inside and it got lost — then what? What do they say?

    Also, there was a family (mother, son and daughter-in-law) who attended the wedding. The mother put in a check that was larger than she really could afford, while the son and daughter-in-law left a card with nothing inside. We don’t know what to do, because my grandson doesn’t know if the check was intended to be from the three of them. Abby, what’s the proper way to handle this?”

    • Here’s the Dear Abby answer for you:
      DEAR EMPTY ENVELOPES: Your grandson and his bride should write notes to those guests whose envelopes were empty saying, “We want to thank you for being part of our wedding day and helping to make it so memorable and meaningful. Your presence and the fact that you were with us made it extra special. With love . . . .”


    • Country Girl

      I know it is a sad fact that there even exists the possibility that money was taken from the happy couple.

      I, however, find it at least slightly unlikely that a thief would bother take a few cards, take money out of the envelopes and then be capable of resealing and placing it back with the gifts. (Most wedding thieves I’ve heard just take whole cards.) So unless these envelopes looked tampered with, I would guess it is really more likely that these guests simply gave a card. It would be nice for the couple to simply send a thank you to these guests for attending their wedding. That way, on the off chance that the guest DID give a gift or money they will obviously realize it was not received and can bring it up to the couple. But it is not for the couple to ask or assume.

      For the second part, again it is not for the couple to assume that the gift of money was meant to be from persons who were not listed on the card. They should send a card of thanks for the money to the mother who gave it, and another card of thanks for attending for the son and daughter in law.

    • Winifred Rosenburg


      Miss Manners is against writing thank you for attending notes. I would think if you send a thank-you note to the mother and none to the son, eventually they might notice and think it is odd if they sent a gift. (Thank-you note offenders usually don’t send them to some people but not others.) Most monetary gifts at weddings are checks, so they will also notice when the check isn’t cashed, and as Country Girl suggested it seems unlikely in this case that theft is involved.

  6. Karen

    Dutch Treat??
    A few months ago, December to be exact, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, (who have been divorced for 40 years) came to see my daughter in the Nutcracker. I was so busy with this but I had two house guests, one of which was also turning 70 that I threw a little bash for, and my parents were also in town. It was overwhelming to say the least, but one thing that really irritated me the most was all the food, wine, and dinners that we paid for, no less at Christmas.
    My daughter is in another production and this time, my parents are staying with us, and my father-in-law also. My parents are always good about pitching in and we never feel taken advantage of. However, my father-in-law is a different story. Last time, he sat at the back of the line when we would go to lunch and then let us pay. One night after the ballet performance, my husband picked up food from PF Changs, and yet again, he paid nothing. This go round, would it be rude to say Ok, take out night is Dutch treat? or lunch is dutch treat?? I don’t want my parents getting stuck with the bill especially when he spends the most (mostly on liquor) and after spending soooo mych money on meals, and ballet tickets, I don’t think it’s my obligation to keep shelling out cash. He definately has the cash.

    • Alicia

      I think you need to talk with your husband about if you are willing to host. Yes the nice guest buys the hosts dinners or whatnot but the gracious host takes on the obligation of feeding guests. Since he is your guest you took on the obligation and yes he should hacve been nice and offered to pay for a meal or two but he was under no direct obligation to do so.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      This is a tricky situation that could easily be a misunderstanding based on different family customs. In my family, for example, I know my parents always insist on paying when we go out to eat, but in many families it is different. When you visit them, do they pay for meals and other things that come up? When you pay for them, do they thank you? (Not being thanked would make me feel more taken advantage of than having to pay.)

      I would suggest keeping meal planning as casual as possible when you bring it up. Saying “please join us for lunch” makes it sound like they are your guests. Saying “We were thinking about going out to lunch later. Do you want to come with us?” makes it sound like you’re just coordinating. You can also help the convey the message by asking for separate checks. For that matter, in the future you don’t have to pay for the ballet tickets if you don’t feel you are being appreciated for doing so. You can say “would you like to come to Suzy’s ballet performance? The tickets are $X.”

  7. Charlene

    We are throwing a 90 birthday party for my mother. She is almost completely blind and will not be able to write her own thank you cards. Is it appropriate for us to have thank you cards preprinted and then we add her name in our handwriting? At that time we can perhaps mention any gift she may have received.

    • Zakafury

      How wonderful for your family to get together like this, and congratulations to your mother!

      Pre-printed cards with a signature are a couple steps down from a hand written thank you. The middle path is to have a printed message and a short handwritten thanks.

      Who actually writes the notes is not all that important. Everyone will understand that your mother cannot write all her own notes, and they will be forgiving of pre-printed cards as well. I would write the notes clearly in my own voice (Mom is really enjoying the…) and sign both my name and my mother’s in my handwriting. I think I would sign both our names even if not including a note.

      Have a wonderful party.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Would it be possible for you to sit with her and either write or type what she wants to say to each person? She obviously won’t be expected to handwrite the notes, but it would be nice if they were still in her “voice.” Preprinted cards lack a personal touch.

  8. Charlene

    Thank you all for helping me with my dilemma. I intend to sit with Mom and help her with the thank you cards. It never occurred to me to have her do it on her own. I was more concerned with who’s writing should be in the card. You’ve answered my question and I feel much better knowing my handwriting will be acceptable.

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