1. Amy

    Good afternoon,
    I have a question regarding an invitation I recently recieved. We are new to our neighborhood and were invited to an annual cookout hosted by a neighbor who hosts it every year. We responded that we would love to attend well within the limits of the RSVP date on the invitation. Yesterday the host reminded me that I hadn’t yet told her what dish I would be bringing to which I responded with “I’m so sorry I must overlooked that on the invitation, I am happy to bring a side dish” Later in discussing this with my MIL I was informed that traditionally when responding to an RSVP one should ask “what would you like me to bring?” While I understand the offer to bring something I feel it is rude to expect guests, let alone guests you’ve just met, to bring a dish to a party you are hosting. The invitation did not state the party was to be a potluck. I was raised Southern and traditional; we have recently moved to New England, and my MIL states the rules are different here. Have I gone crazy? As a Southern raised woman I expect to provide food and drinks to any guests attending a party which I will be hosting, knowing that close friend will bring specialties, but aren’t expected to. I also feel if one wants to have a potluck, that should be indicated on the invitation. I hope I haven’t been the rude one here.
    Warmest regards,

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Amy,
      I think your confusion is understandable. This kind of party is tricky – it may be that this woman hosts it every year for the neighborhood with the understanding that it is a collective endeavor. Neighborhood events are a little different than hosting for one’s friends – one cannot pick and choose who will be invited, and presumably this person is not great friends with everyone in the neighborhood. So, she hosts as a kind of service (maybe she has the biggest yard or the shadiest deck) and everyone chips in with food and drink, as is common with neighborhood events. It sounds like it’s more like a “block party” and is “organized” rather than “hosted.” It is understandable that you would have a misunderstanding, not having attended before and not understanding the custom. If this is an annual thing, it is probably understood that it is a potluck and as such is not expected to be on the invitation. I would just go with the flow and enjoy meeting and spending time with your new neighbors.

    • Lilli

      I agree with Elizabeth that this situation was a little tricky, but normally you are correct – unless it says potluck on the invitation the hosts shouldn’t expect you to bring anything, although it is nice to offer. I’m a born and raised New England gal myself and can assure you that the rules here aren’t any different when it comes to hosting.

      • Rebecca

        I also live in New England, and my personal experience – both with gatherings I attended with my parents as a child, and now in my own adult social circle – has been to never show up empty-handed, but never ask or tell what’s being brought ahead of time. In other words, the host or hostess can expect to get a potato salad or a coffee cake to add to the spread, but he or she won’t know the specifics til the actual moment. Thinking about it now, I do agree that can get rather confusing and also counter-productive at times, as you might end up with 5 desserts that no one eats, but that’s been the custom. So I’d certainly imagine that things vary area to area, and no one should “assume” anything.

        • Amy

          Hell0 – I am also from New England and my family and friends have always had the sort of gatherings in which everyone brings something. And yes, we specifically ask people we know to bring certain dishes (ie can you please bring a salad – and let them be as creative as they like with what sort of salad they bring). However, that would never extend to people we barely know. I wouldn’t invite a new neighbor to a party and tell them to bring something. If she asked what she could bring, I’d thank her very much for being so thoughtful and tell her we’d be grateful for anything she’d like to bring and also say she most certainly does not have to.
          When I moved to Scotland for several years, they do NOT do this, ever, and my mother-in-law was deeply offended that I offered to bring something. My family would be deeply offended if you told them not to bring something. Customs are funny. My MIL thought she was being the ultimate hostess. My family feels it is warmer and friendlier to have everyone participate – and show off their cooking skills. 😉

  2. Vickie Foster

    Wedding Shower Etiquette:
    Question: My son is getting married. He met his bride at college and she is from another town about 2 hours away. They are now living in another state. They are coming back to have their wedding mid-way between our towns (about 45 minutes from each home town). They are having a small wedding of approximately 100 guests. Our family would like to have a Pampered Chef shower for them. My question is concerning the invitations: As I read through your earlier Q & A’s it looks like to me that we should not invite guests to the shower / party that will not be invited to the wedding, correct? We have always lived in a small town and belonged to a small church of which I would like to invite people of the church, extended family and neighbors to attend to meet the Bride and welcome her. Is there no way to do this properly without seeming rude (or seeming to ask for a gift)? A letter could accompany the Shower / Pampered Chef invitation to explain to them about the small guest list for the wedding out of town and that at the Party / Shower they can choose to buy their own Pampered Chef item for themselves if they wish (or purchase one for the Bride), would this be improper?

    • Elizabeth

      Personally, I do not think that this would be appropriate. Pampered Chef and other kinds of organizations are in effect sales parties. You ask your friends to come to a party with the expectation (or hope?) that they will buy something, and you essentially use your own social connections to boost business. Some people have an issue with these kinds of “parties” to begin with. Here, you’re conflating two events: a sales party with a wedding shower. The message gets even more confusing: come to a sales party and buy something from me – and buy something for my son and his bride! So, not only are these people expected to give them a gift, but you’re asking them to buy that gift FROM YOU – essentially making a profit on whatever they buy. You’re kind of getting them both coming and going, no? I find this to be in bad taste. It’s enough of a stretch for you to host the shower, and also inappropriate to invite people who will not be invited to the wedding – but then to ask people to buy stuff from you to give to your son – it’s simply in poor taste. It’s like you’re trying to make a profit on your son’s wedding. (I’m not saying that this is your motivation, I obviously don’t know you and I’m not trying to offend.) This has the potential to leave such a bad taste in so many people’s mouths – just avoid, avoid, avoid. That’s my advice. Keep business and family celebrations separate.

      • Vickie Foster

        Maybe I didn’t explain some the details correctly. I’m not the Pampered Chef consultant and I have only met this consultant recently. And it would be several people (two cousins, and a sister of the groom and me having the shower/party for them. The only reason we are considering this is because it has been done before by Pampered Chef consultants and a little different than the traditional household showers that other families have. My dilemma was whether to invite guests that were not going to be invited to the wedding or not.

        • The difference between a Pampered Chef Shower (or a Premier Jewelry Shower, or a Tupperware Shower) and a traditional shower is that in a traditional shower, guests bring a present entirely of their choosing: Guests may being cash, a special book, or something from the bride’s registry which may be anything from towels to lingerie to tableware.
          In a Pampered Chef shower, the guests’ decisions are narrowed to a specific genre and a specific vendor. Of course this has been done by other Pampered Chef consultants – they are the ones making a profit from it.

          No, guests shouldn’t be invited to pre-wedding festivities if they aren’t invited to the wedding.

        • Alicia

          A typical sales “party” people feel slightly guilted into attending and then buy themself stuff or they hate those sorts of selling enviroments and decline. They are not parties so much as social sales pitches. Some folks like this many folks hate this. By making it a shower it ups the level of guilt that people feel and the social pressure to attend the sales pitch and then buy stuff for the guest of honor. Basically it is treated them as open wallets. For a normal shower I tend to buy the gift on sale with a coupon and getting cash back(I’m one of those good shoppers who often pays 50% or less) I also buy from the full options of things that the couple might want. If the couple wants a kitchen with nothing but pampered chef stuff I might buy that but I might also buy them something for a different room of their house as I view it as overpriced for the quality. If invited to a pampered chef shower however I would feel obligated to buy and likely spend much more then normal. I would also be offended to the point of it hurting my relationship with the couple and the hostess of the shower if I was then having been shaken down at the shower not deemed good enough to attend the wedding. I would probably always have it in the back of my head that the hostesses and the couple were greedy and selfish. The hostesses would be deemed greedy and selfish because the hostesses on that type of sales event get cash baserd on how many people they peer pressure to buy stuff.
          If you want to have a shower please do so. If the bride and groom like pampered chef stuff please have them register for it. But do not make it exclusively that one vendor or a pampered chef party but instead a regulkar shower where one of the places registered is pampered chef if that is what they like. But no sales event at the shower and other options possible.
          Also everyone who is invited to the shower must be invited to the wedding.

        • Elizabeth

          Thanks for following up. The general consensus here seems to be pretty negative toward the idea of a sales-party-as-shower, and I was just curious what the positives were in your mind? What attracts you (and the other prospective hostesses, if you could speak for them) to the idea? I’m just curious. I haven’t had too much experience with these types of things, as I naturally tend away from them. I would appreciate any insight you may be able to provide.

          • Vickie

            Several consultants offer this in our area. The Bride goes through the book and make selections of the items she would like to have ranging from $.99 to ? (kind of like registering). The consultant makes a board with the pictures cut out, the price and page it’s located on. The Bride gets all the hostess credits and any gifts that are purchased for her. The guest can purchase for themselves or someone else (with the bride getting the hostess credits from their purchase), or they can pick a gift off the board that the couple wants. In today’s busy times some people like not having to shop for a gift out of convenience ( or lack of time). And since you have made your own food for the party, then there are no food dishes for the consultant to make and usually no sales pitches. The consultant will be there and have a display of product out for people if they want to look but usually everything that goes on is like a regular shower. The Bride will be having other kinds of showers by other people and this was just an option. The main reason for my post was to find out about inviting people. Thanks.

      • Elizabeth

        Yes – in the other thread there was a nice alternative suggested – hold a tea or luncheon to introduce your DIL to your local family and friends. I’m sorry not to have offered a positive suggestion.

        • Rebecca

          Just jumping on the bandwagon to say that I personally would be really offended if I got an invite for a party like that – i.e. having to buy gifts on the spot and from the mother to boot. IMO that’s really tacky, both because of making a commission and also because the mother is registering personally just how much each guest choose to give, which puts many in an uncomfortable spot.

          • Vickie Foster

            See my reply to Elizabeth above. I am not the Pampered Chef consultant and do not have any connections to her. And the shower / party would be from several family members, not just me.

          • Alicia

            Hosts make commisions on this type of party as well. So even as not the consultant you and the other hosts would be making money off of the sales based on the pampered chef website http://www.pamperedchef.com/host-a-cooking-party.jsp you would get $215 for people buying $650 or about 33% of what is spent. If you truly have no connection or incentive to do this sort of sales party why make it a sales party rather then having the couple if they like the stuff register for some of that and whatever else they like.

    • Lilli

      Why does every party have to be a “shower”? Take all of these people that you want to meet the new bride and invite them to a regular, no-particular occassion party. Don’t mention gifts (even to say that they aren’t expected), don’t try to sell anything to your guests, and don’t mention the upcoming nuptials on the invitation. Everyone will get to meet the bride and will be welcoming to her on their own without the hosts telling them that was the intention of the party. A regular party will also allow the guest of honor (the bride) to relax and enjoy this new extended family she is entering. Trust me, everyone will be thrilled to be able to meet her and congratulate the couple even if you don’t call it a shower; they will also be thrilled that you invited them to a social event because you care about spending time with them and not just because you see them as a source of gifts or other income.

  3. Kayla

    My fiancé & I are getting married next year & the ceremony will be held at his family’s church which is very small. We have a lot of family members and friends that we want to invite to celebrate with us, but we just don’t have the room at the church for everyone. Several people have mentioned to me to only invite family to the ceremony & invite everyone else to the reception, but I feel like that is very rude. Is this acceptable?

    • Elizabeth

      There is something unseemly about inviting people to celebrate a marriage that they are not invited to witness just because they won’t all fit. Perhaps you could explore some alternatives: marry on the grounds outside of the church so you can have more seating; or, ask the minister if he would perform the ceremony at an alternative location – perhaps he could marry you either at your reception venue or at a the closest church of the same denomination?

  4. Marisa

    I called off my wedding about 1 month before the ceremony. My ex-fiance is demanding that I repay the hotel and flight costs for his family. Is that my responsibility? I and my mother have absorbed the rather significant costs of the actual wedding that didn’t take place, and I am assuming that most of the hotel costs were refunded and airline credits were given. I have already returned the gifts we received. I feel badly that people spent money (much of my family did too but none have asked me to repay them).

    Insights are appreciated!

    • I am sorry that you had to make a difficult decision. If you were the one to call off the wedding, then the only thing you owe your ex-fiance is the engagement ring (if he called it off, then according to the laws of most states, you may keep it).

      You have already returned the gifts and have absorbed the costs of the wedding. You are not required to repay any travel costs from your ex’s family. Technically, they can still use those tickets, or at least change them (for a fee).
      I wish you the best.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Sorry to hear about your troubles. The real question here is whether or not you are looking for legal advice or etiquette advice. It is true that many states are treating breaking engagements the same as a divorce, that is to say, it could be a no-fault scenario or a fault situation. Of course, EPI has always suggested returning the ring for example. I personally like to take the high road wherever possible. If you do have the means to compensate the groom’s family for the actual expenses they incurred, with minimal discomfort to you, you might want to consider doing so. You can claim the high road, and get this painful experience behind you ASAP. You could also offer a compromise and just reimburse those who were actually part of the wedding party. You are also not out of line, in this case, since this is a lot of money, to ask to see receipts for any expenses you are being asked to cover, to verify that these costs were actually incurred. On the other hand, it is unclear what you have said if, even though you ended the engagement, if your ex-fiance engaged in conduct of an immoral nature and you were justified in breaking the engagement. In this case, you would be justified to offer no reimbursement. The bottom line, you are generally not obligated to reimburse for travel expenses, especially when giving 1 month notice, but it may ultimately work to your advantage. If these are significant expenses for you, and your ex-fiancee will not relent, you may want to consider talking to a lawyer.

  5. Amy

    I am having guests from overseas for two weeks. They are very close friends. I will, obviously, clean my house to within and inch of its life beforehand, and the guest room is full of nice bedding, fluffy towels, empty drawers and closets, plenty of hangers, little nice toiletries, water carafes, reading material – the works. But there is one thing that puzzles me. Do I sneak myself into their room to give it a quick clean, towel and bedding change and vacuum a few times in the 2 weeks? I’d never leave my own bedding or towels for 2 weeks, and their room get furry because they are pet lovers who will lure my dog and cat in to sleep with them. (That’s absolutely fine with me, but it will get hairy.) Or is it an invasion of privacy to be entering their room? Thank you, Amy

    • Jody

      Amy, that’s very nice of you to host your friend for two weeks. With respect to bedding change, I’d go by how you change your own linens — once a week, every 3 days, whatever it might be. You could say something like “I usually change my own bedding and towels on X day; let me know if that’s convenient for you.” You could also say something like “let me know when it’s convenient to slip into your room and run the vacuum/dust.” That will give your guests the option of saying “oh let me help out by doing that” (ideal situation) or “whenever you want to do it is OK with me.” I wouldn’t slip into the room without them knowing you’ve been there.

  6. Country girl

    That is very thoughtful of you to consider this. I think the best solution would be to ask your guests on the one week mark. “hey sherry, I’m washing a load of sheets today and would love to freshen your’s up if you’d like.” They may take you up on the offer or not. other than that and possibly a quick run by with the vacuum if there really has accumulated a lot of hair, I think you should be good. Too much cleaning might come across as you are implying your guests are being dirty/messy, and I wouldn’t recommend sneaking into the room, though it is yours without their permission. You want the guests to feel like they have a safehaven in your home that isn’t up for inspection. :)

  7. Amy

    Thank you both for your excellent replies. I agree with you, Country Girl, about not wanting to make anyone feel like they are so messy I just have to slave over a hot vacuum cleaner because of them! Yes, you are both correct, I will just say that I am doing laundry and ask when it’s ok to vacuum and let them answer however they want. Thank you again.

  8. Shirley Murphy

    I have been doing events for 25 plus years and this, I have never heard of this. I mentor and one of my students had a small wedding yesterday for about 60 people. This morning she received the call from the Groom saying that they were sure they were missing 5 gifts. The Event Coordinator was astounded because she trusts her small staff and they helped the Groom put everything in the trunk of his car. She asked if it was boxes or envelopes? He replied that he didn’t know, but he went down the guest list and saw that there were no gifts from 5 people and they were important in his life, so he was surprised. He is going to call these people to see if they left something or not. We are both aghast! What do you think?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      No, he definitely shouldn’t ask them. However, it’s not the event coordinator’s place to tell him so. If he wants to be rude to his family, that’s his and his family’s business.

    • Alicia

      I think that it would be very rude to call these people. Most likely these 5 people mailed the gifts to the house or are planning to do so. I’m aghast as you are but not at the lack of gifts but at the entitlement of the groom

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