Open Thread

by epi on July 16, 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.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashleigh July 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

One of my cousins is getting married soon and we just received the invites. Our household consists of: myself and my boyfriend, brother x and his girlfriend, brother z, and my parents. Brother y is away at college. My parents invitation was addressed to parents, brothers x,y,z. Brother y won’t be able to make it as his school is about 17 hours away. I was curious to see what people’s thoughts on bringing brother x’s girlfriend in his place were. I said that they shouldn’t just assume that she can attend in brother y’s place for any number of reasons. Thoughts?

Reply

Chocobo July 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Ashleigh, you are correct. Your family cannot substitute one guest for another. Your cousin invited Brother Y, they didn’t issue an empty spot to your family. If Brother X’s girlfriend was not invited by name, she may not go.

As a side note which is not really relevant to the girlfriend: if you are all of-age adults, your cousin should have issued separate invitations to each of you, not all squished onto one envelope, regardless of whether or not your all live together. If you are still teenagers, then it is appropriate that you were included under your parents’ names. Just a little factoid.

Reply

Alicia July 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Subbing one guest for another is never good. The girlfriend was not invited she should not be brought.

Reply

Elizabeth July 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

That’s true, but it is also true that social units should always be invited together, and in this day and age that means couples who cohabitate. One can imagine that girlfriend x would be pretty peeved if her live-in boyfriend attended a social function like this without her. In this case, unless you’re close enough to ask for clarification, then brother x should decline the invitation. (I’m assuming everyone here is an adult and we’re not talking about teenagers. That might be a different scenario.)

Reply

Pam July 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Alicia is correct, only those who were specifically invited may attend. You never know, the bride and groom may call on their own and welcome you to do that once they see that your one brother is a “no.” I wouldn’t get your hopes up but you never know. Are your brothers all around the same age?

Reply

Ashleigh July 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm

They are both 21. They have been dating for about a year, living together for around 6 months. Cousin has never met the girlfriend and might not know that she is even in the picture. My follow up thought was would it be rude to reach out to cousin to see if this swap would be agreeable? My opinion is that cousin might feel guilted into saying yes even if she doesn’t want someone that she has never met before at her wedding.

It is so fantastic to have a group of etiquette-minded people who don’t think I’m a complete lunatic for questioning this kind of thing!

Reply

Pam July 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I agree with Elizabeth. Since etiquette prevents us from calling people up and asking to have someone else invited, it would be best for Brother X to decline the invitation. I did this recently with a family baby shower (both genders invited). My boyfriend of 9.5 years was not invited (he was invited to the same couple’s joint bridal shower) so I just sent my regrets. If your cousin had not invited any of your significant others, I might think that budget constraints prevented her from doing so, but the fact that invited you with your boyfriend kind of highlights the fact that girlfriend x was not included. Regardless it basically comes down to the fact that a request for a swap is not a good idea.

Reply

Elizabeth July 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

I really think it depends on the specific family relationships that differ family to family. For my sister’s wedding, my cousin (with whom we are close) reunited with her boyfriend and asked if she could bring him, and it never occurred to us to say no. Of course we were thrilled to meet him and have him there. (Luckily there were no space or money issues.) If the cousin doesn’t even know that brother x has a live-in girlfriend, maybe he (brother x) should call cousin and tell her! He could say, “Cousin, Girlfriend and I have taken our relationship to the next level – we’re living together – and while I do really appreciate the invitation to your wedding, I really want to come, I just can’t see me coming and leaving girlfriend at home.” Cousin might say, “oh no problem we have room, bring her!” or she might say “I’m sorry to hear that, let’s get together for dinner after the wedding so I can meet her.” It’s incredibly bad manners just to assume that girlfriend could come, it’s bad manners to demand that she comes, but I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with gently asking.

Reply

Chocobo July 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

That really depends on the relationship between Brother X and his cousin. If they are very close he might say something, but unless they have that kind of relationship asking would only put the bride and groom in a very awkward position. The only other thing I can think of is possibly asking aunts and uncles (i.e. your parents and the parents of whomever is related, the bride or groom) to speak with one another, using the family grapevine to see if it would be okay.

Whatever the answer is, it must be accepted. I don’t agree that Brother X should automatically decline the invitation, unless he can’t possibly bear a few hours without his girlfriend. That his girlfriend wasn’t invited is not a slight, especially if she is not known to the family, as you say.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: