Open Thread

by epi on June 20, 2012

Welcome 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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

karen June 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Daughter is getting married in October, it is a very small close family (40) event. Is it ok to invite close family friends to a couples shower if they will not be invited to the wedding?

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Just Laura June 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Generally speaking, people who are not invited to the wedding are not invited to pre-wedding festivities – particularly showers.* What it says is that “you are good enough to bring me presents, but not good enough to receive an invitation.” Consider limiting the size of the shower (since the wedding’s size is limited, this is logical), or think about enlarging the wedding to include a few close family friends.

*Showers thrown by coworkers are usually the exception.

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Chocobo June 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I agree, it is not appropriate to invite people to the shower if they are not invited to the wedding. It will insult your family friends in exactly the way Just Laura indicates: “I care enough to extract things from you, but not to have you attend.” Please do keep the shower limited to those who will be attending the wedding.

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Eileen June 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

Just to provide the opposite perspective, when I got married recently, my shower organizers did invite some close family friends who were not invited to the wedding. They knew they weren’t invited to the wedding, and overall I was told that they were so glad to have a chance to celebrate with our family. If they all secretly thought we were terrible, I don’t know, but if there’s understanding all around about the circumstances of the invitation, it could be possible, especially for close family friends who might be very happy to have a chance to be a part of something.

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Alicia June 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

If they are that close of friends they would be invited to the wedding. Inviting them to the shower only but not the wedding actually makes a point of their exclusion from the wedding. As a guest the only polite thing that they can do is to say that they are so happy to be invited to the shower and either accept and attend pretending to not be hurt or decline. There is no way to get a polite guests true thought. But think about it showers are a supposed to be for the more limited closest people not even all of the wedding guests just the closest ones who would want to shower the couple with the warmest wishes and lovely gifts. To invite someone who you do not care enough about to invite to the wedding to the shower is saying “You must love me enough to want to shower me with wonderful thoughts and gifts but I do not care about you enough to actually want you at the wedding” Yes even people who will cheerfully attend a shower and care about the bride and groom and are too polite to say that this is kinda insulting. No polite guest will ever admit that their feeling are hurt.

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Just Laura June 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

I’ve got to agree with Alicia. When you say that these friends were “very happy to have a chance to be a part of something,” it comes across negatively, as if one is suggesting these people were given a glimpse of something wonderful they wouldn’t have otherwise, and should be grateful for it. I am not saying this is what you meant, or what anyone in your family intended. I, however, am upset when I’m only good enough to come to the shower and spend my money, but not wanted at the actual event. Still, I would never tell the bride nor groom anything but how happy I am for them.

Pam June 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I agree 100% with Just Laura…other than workplace showers, it is not appropriate to invite people to a shower and not to the wedding.

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Vanna Keiler June 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Dear Friends,

I am unsure how to proceed. A friend of mine is moving out of state. Unfortunately, one of the reasons for this is due to financial difficulties. In the past she has happily accepted the occasional offer from me of clothes I was going to otherwise donate. I have also accepted the occasional clothing item she didn’t want. I met with her recently as she is in the process of moving, and presented her both with a gift card for a modest amount (presented in a card with envelope, with writings of my best wishes inside) as well as some clothing and jewelry. I was very careful in structuring my gift around “if you can use any of it”, and “please don’t be offended if it’s not your taste, I would just rather a friend have it than I donate it to a stranger”. She was very grateful for both the gift card and the clothing/jewelry and took most of it. Unfortunately, she lamented on about feeling like a charity case, as many of her other girlfriends had been lately “donating” clothing to her as well, which she has happily accepted. I suggested she consider us all “sisters”, as sisters often swap clothing they no longer need. She expressed her delight in this thought, and said she felt better. I suspect all her friends have given her used items in lieu of gift cards because we are all on modest budgets, not solely to clean out the excess in our closets. For my part, some of the items I gave her I was considering keeping but felt she could get more mileage out of them.

My current dilemma is that I could actually find more items to give her in my closet, but the desire to help her is diminished due to her reaction and whining about feeling like a charity case. I suggested to her that I may have more items to give her, although no promises were made, and she reacted enthusiastically. However, I am leaning towards closing the closet door and just visiting her on her last days here, empty-handed. I kind of want to wait until the end of the year and donate the clothes to a local shelter instead, which is what I have been doing. Thoughts?

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Just Laura June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I am a firm believer that donating is a deeply personal choice. A friend is in need, and you have extra and are willing/able to give. You may of course stop giving whenever you like for whatever reason.
I feel that you have handled this situation so well and kindly that I could not find fault if I wanted to. My opinion is that she was a little embarrassed in accepting everyone’s generosity, and this likely stemmed from other friends not phrasing the situation as delicately as you did.

Personally, I would stop giving to her if she were unappreciative of my donation. She does not appear to act ungrateful at all. Continue to give, or not, as you are comfortable.

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Lilli June 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Your friend is in a tough spot and her complaints about feeling like a charity case are more likely directed towards her general situation than her benefactors – she clearly appreciates the gifts. Take a hard look at the items you are thinking of giving her and decide if they are really her taste. I have a friend who is a size smaller than me so when I grow out of something I offer it to her and she has it taken in, but I only offer her the styles I know she would like or need (for example business suits). Whatever you decide to do don’t feel guilty – whether you give the clothes to a friend or a charity you are still helping someone in need!

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Vanna Keiler June 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you both for your responses. Ironically, time became the big decider for me: visiting my friend again this week would have shortened my available time to get some pretty important tasks accomplished. Therefore, I told my friend I was unable to visit her again before her move and we will chat by phone instead before she leaves. However, I realize that I probably would have found the time to see her again if things had gone differently in our last discussion. :)

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Rebecca June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Is there a polite way to handle “Internet beggers”? As times have gotten tough, I’ve noticed a number of people outright asking for money online, via Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. Some cases may indeed be legit, when parents are unemployed and children become ill, with no health insurance, things like that. But I greatly suspect many of simply using “the times” to hop on board and try to get some easy money. I am the first person to help out when I think someone genuinely needs the help, but I work hard for my money and don’t give it out blindly, either. Is there a polite way to ask for more information “proving” genuine hardship? Or, if it’s someone I know fairly well but don’t really believe they are in need, is it better to simply ignore the request than to outright state I don’t believe they are in need? Please advise, as this trend seems to be growing lately!

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Just Laura June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

There are a variety of opinions on this hot topic, but most people agree that pestering people via social networks is inappropriate. There is a world of difference between, “My Aunt Sally is having a benefit to help raise money for her cancer care. If you can stop by, please do!” and “Junior needs a 1st b-day party but since my hours were cut I can’t afford what he deserves. My REAL friends will help.”

I treat these requests two ways:
1) I offer something other than money (clothing, offers to look for jobs, etc.) If accepted, the person probably needs help. If they say they’d rather have money, then they probably don’t actually need help.
2) I ignore them.

Good luck!

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Vanna Keiler June 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I agree with Just Laura’s response. If I may quote another advice columnist, I think “Miss Manners” Judith Martin wrote a great article about beggars and modern society on March 11th titled “Everybody Has A Handout” http://www.buffalonews.com/life/columns-advice/miss-manners/article758051.ece

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