Open Thread

by epi on August 15, 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.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie August 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

Hello,

I received an invitation to a 5 p.m. wedding with “formal cocktail” dress code. I have not heard of this before. Will you please explain ormal cocktail attire.

Thanks.

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Alicia August 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

There is no real such thing as formal cocktail attire. However a 5pm wedding with the words formal cocktail attire means your friend is trying to convey the message that they want you to dress up a bit but do not need a long gown. I would wear my knee length blue silk dress to the occasion and get my guy to wear slacks with a tie and jacket with the idea that if he wants to remove the jacket later he could.
You should wear a dressy fabric knee length dress.

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Kristine August 15, 2012 at 6:01 am

I have recently become estranged from my best friend of over a decade. The primary reason was his extreme flakiness/unreliability and an overall lack of interest in our friendship on his part. I attempted to contact said friend multiple times (SO many times, I felt like I was being desperate) and gave up when none of my texts and calls were returned. Soon after we stopped speaking to each other, I became engaged and began the planning process for my wedding. As we have mutual friends that are involved in the wedding, my ex-best friend probably hears about all the plans from them and can see various pictures/postings on Facebook about the festivities. He “likes” many of these pictures/postings, so I know he is being nosy and looking at my profile and such. I don’t like the fact that ignores me and is unfriendly in real life and carries on in Facebook as if nothing happened between us. I feel like if he’s not a participant in a friendship, then he should not be privy to what’s going on in my life. I didn’t unfriend him when we stopped talking (honestly, it didn’t even occur to me to do so). Would I be childish/tacky/petulant/bitchy in unfriending him now? Is it wrong to ask our mutual friends to refrain from speaking to him about my personal life? If not, what is the best way to ask them to do so?

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Alicia August 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

If you are no longer friends and do not want to be friends go ahead and unfriend him.
You can not or should not tell your friends what they can or can not discuss. You have no reason to believe that they are anyway. So relax on the conversation topics and go ahead and unfriend on facebook if you want. However, it actually spunds like you miss this friend in your real life in which case what harm does him knowing the vague details of life posted on facebook matter. Maybe you will reconnect later

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Just Laura August 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

I agree with Alicia’s advice. Additionally, if you don’t want to unfriend, Facebook has some nifty little features that allow you to hide your post/photographs/status updates from certain people on your friend list (this option is located in the same place as the permission for making your posts public, friends-only, or friends-of-friends).
However, maybe you just want to issue a blanket block on certain people without unfriending. Here is a site with step-by-step instructions on how to handle that.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

I had a similar experience. I had a best friend who I realized never called me; I was always the one to call him. At some point, like you, I felt my behavior was desperate so I waited to see if he would call and he didn’t. I’m still Facebook friends with him, and he’ll occasionally like or comment on one of my posts but that’s the extent of our relationship. You are within your rights to unfriend him on Facebook and ask your friends not to tell him. Of course I don’t know your friends, but these things have a tendency to slip out anyway and giving instructions to your friends may only increase the drama of the whole situation. I think you should try to minimize drama as much as possible. It seems like your former friend isn’t especially concerned about you. (By the way, I don’t think reading your Facebook statuses constitutes being nosy as it likely shows up on his newsfeed as public information.) I suggest you return the favor and not worry about him. Think of him as an aquaintance whose feelings about you aren’t a matter of concern for you.

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Pam August 15, 2012 at 11:29 am

Thank you to Elizabeth and everyone who answered my question yesterday about my friend who comments on appearance. This is not the same friend who is depressed, but both have been my friends since we were little. I thought people were going to tell me I was being oversensitive about my friend commenting that my eyes were glassy. I feel like my friends have many good qualities but there are other issues that cause me stress. I try to be easy going and let it roll off my back but it still bothers me. Thanks again for your suggestions.

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Pam August 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

I have another question! I received an invitation yesterday to my friend’s (the one that said I had glassy eyes) 30th birthday party. It was sent from her parents to myself and my boyfriend. It was actually addressed to me and “Guest.” My boyfriend and I have been together for over 9 years . Shouldn’t his name have been on the envelope instead of “Guest?” Regardless, that’s not my actual problem. My friend’s parents are lovely people, but I am extremely uncomfortable around her extended family and friends. We have been friends since we were 8, but do not have mutual friends. Over the years, at all stages, I have tried to be a good sport and attend parties and other outings that involved her friends. I always end up thinking “I am dying and want to get out of here.” We are very different people but share a similar sense of humor and obviously we go back very far. I even went to a “Sex toy” party that she had just to be a good sport and I ended up in tears when I got home. Her friends tend to be unfriendly, in your face and obnoxious. Her extended family can be the same way. The party is at a restaurant over Labor Day weekend. She already texted me yesterday to ask if I received the invitation (I hadn’t yet). I already laid down some groundwork in the text by saying “what is the date as I am going to be away in early Sept.” I know she is going to be very disappointed if I can’t go, but I can’t help but think of the past with things like this…she was almost an hour late to my graduation party, and during her sweet 16 she cried b/c some friends didn’t show up, and instead of appreciating those of us that were there, she was upset about those who left her out to dry. Anyway, I know I can’t use past things as justification not to go, but I have tried over and over again and always end up regretting doing things out of “feeling bad.” We are much better one on one than with her friends (except for the whole commenting on appearance thing, haha.) Should I suck it up and go to her party?

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Just Laura August 15, 2012 at 11:48 am

It appears to me that you won’t be in the area over Labor Day weekend, as you’ve made other plans. Therefore, your problem is solved. :)

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Jody August 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I think that you are under no obligation to attend the party. You’ve attended several events for (with?) this friend and it’s not just a one-time fluke that you were uncomfortable. I’d respond as soon as you can with a “not able to attend” answer. If your friend pushes you, you can honestly say that you have other plans for that evening/weekend.

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Faun August 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

If you’re not married or engaged, there’s no formal obligation to address the envelope to anyone other than “guest.”

The second part of your screed is not an etiquette question. If it is, then a simple “no” on the RSVP should suffice without any explanation necessary.

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Chocobo August 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

That’s technically true, Faun, but I should think a friend would know the name of one’s long-time partner after nine years, if she meant to invite him.

Pam, I agree with Just Laura, it appears you are busy that day. What a shame! Politely decline and remember you do not have to give a reason why, since getting pressed for details seems to be par for the course nowadays.

In all honesty, a birthday party with formal invitations for a 30-year-old strikes me as a little odd.

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Pam August 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I’m sorry if my “screed” offended you, Faun. We come to this site for support from each other, and sometimes that involves giving a little background information. Other people have written their own “screeds” and I have happily tried to help them, along with everyone else who comes to this site. It certainly was an etiquette question, as I was wondering if skipping the 30th birthday party of a lifelong friend was in bad taste. People often want to know why you are not coming to their special party. Things are not always black and white and it becomes difficult to apply even basic etiquette rules to these situations. My friend will not necessarily just accept a “no” to the RSVP.

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Elizabeth August 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I sort of said this in another post, but I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus – you do not need to put yourself through a miserable time to “support” or “be there” for your friend. Both of the friends you were having issues with are long-time or childhood friends, right? I think one of the hardest aspects of having friends for that long and through different life stages is figuring out how to “evolve” the friendship into something that aligns with who you are now, as opposed to who you were when the dynamic between you was first established. Best friends from childhood often turn into … something else in adulthood. They can still be someone you trust, someone with whom you have a deep bond, but they aren’t necessarily the person you first call with news or a problem, or who you want to spend happy hour or brunch with on a weekly basis. You may find that the activities you used to enjoy with them are no longer fulfilling. It sounds like some redefinition of your relationship is in order with this person. Since they are a long-time close friend and simply discontinuing the friendship is not a desired option, the question then becomes: what kind of relationship do you WANT to have with this person? What will acknowledge and honor your past while also being palatable to you in the present? That for me is the big-picture question you seem to be asking.

Winifred Rosenburg August 15, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Slight correction: in addition to married and engaged couples, couples who live together are also entitled to all the perks of being a social unit including getting invited together with both names on the invitation. I don’t know if that’s the case with Pam and her boyfriend, but even if it’s not I agree with Chocobo that they should have used his name anyway. I believe every host should try to create the feeling of a personal relationship with his/her guests and writing “and guest” is the height of being impersonal and should therefore be avoided.

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Pam August 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

Elizabeth, you are 100% correct. Thank you for your post, it really opened my eyes. I still call my one friend my “best friend” because that’s what we were as children, but that isn’t really an accurate description. It’s almost like she’s a cousin, someone I feel a bond with b/c we have been friends for so long but not someone I see that often. Thank you so much for your advice, it was truly helpful.

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Chocobo August 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I agree. If the friend had wanted to invite the boyfriend, she should have either included his name on the invitation (if they live together), or issued him a separate invitation.

That said, since the parents are issuing the invitations, perhaps friend should get a pass on the invite snafu, as it might be their faux pas and not hers.

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Larry August 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

My wife and I have been invited to the 60th birthday party for a prominent local businessman and his wife. The dress code was described as “summer elegant attire”. Can anyone help me with what I should wear? Thanks in advance.

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Alicia August 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

This is why I hate it when folks make up dress codes.
Sounds like right dress would be blazer nice shirt and nice pants for men and nice summer dress for women.
Wear what you would wear to a summer outdoor wedding.

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Amanda August 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I am working on the invitations to our wedding. We are having our wedding at an old world country club. The Club rules state that gentlemen must wear a jacket and tie during dinner and that cell phones are not appropriate on premises. As the host I am required to pass these rules along to our guests. I have already listed the dress code as formal but feel inclined to include these club rules on a separate card to avoid any confusion. I have not been able to find any advice on including rules on wedding invitations but feel it may be necessary. Any ideas?

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Country Girl August 17, 2012 at 12:59 am

I would double checked with the club about the rules for your reception. Often, country clubs will enforce a “no cell phones on the course” rule, but I can’t imagine trying to ban phones from the entire premises. That seems like both a strange request to make of your guests and a difficult one for them to enforce as well. I would assume you’ll have guests in attendance with small children at home who will need to have access to their phones.

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Amanda August 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

It is definitely not a ban on phones completely, just the USE of them in public. The staff at the club will ask guests to move to the phone booth if they are on their phones in public areas, which could be awkward if they do not know of the rule. I may have over simplified the rule for the question.
“The use of cellular phones and other hand held electronic communication devices is not appropriate at the Club and their use will be limited to the following areas only: guest room or guest house, clubhouse phone booth, or inside a covered vehicle. This policy applies to the entire club property including grounds, outdoor recreation areas and parking lots. It is a member’s responsibility to advise their guest of this policy”
I know it seems a bit strict but it does make for a very nice atmosphere. No ring tones or loud one sided conversations while you are enjoying yourself. Having your phone on silent/vibrate to be accessible by your family is perfectly acceptable. The very fact that my question wasn’t worded correctly is helpful though. Maybe I should say “The use of cell phones is limited to designated areas” ????
I appreciate your help.

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Elizabeth August 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

I think your abbreviation of the rule is good. If someone is really concerned about it, they’ll ask a member of the staff when they arrive where those designated areas are. I wonder if it might be helpful to have a sign near the entrance that spells out the particulars that people can see as they arrive?

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Chocobo August 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I think your abbreviation of the rule is good, but I would refrain from putting it anywhere near your invitation. There is something about sending an invitation with rules that strikes me as offensive and pretentious. It is not your fault, but basically it sends the message: “Please do not come if you cannot behave yourselves.” Really, all the club is doing is creating a rule so that they have the power enforce proper behavior that should be expected. Sad that cell phone manners are so bad that policy has to step in where manners have failed, but there we are.

I think a better way to deal with it is to have your officiant, emcee, or band make an announcement right at the beginning of the wedding along the lines of what you have written above. It takes the heat off of you, and will seem more like a reminder than a warning.

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Elizabeth August 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Well, I think the problem is that unless people are notified about the dress code in advance, they could run the risk of showing up not meeting it, and then they would not be allowed in. About the cell-phone rule, it sounds to me like the club’s rules go above and beyond normal courtesy. They actively restrict where one can even use a cell-phone. This isn’t something that someone could know in advance, however well-behaved they were. That’s why a sign near the door to the club would be handy – it’s clearly the club’s rules, as you said. I also like the idea of the emcee reminding people in a gentle and upbeat way.

Another way that it could be dealt with is to say something on the invitation like: “Our venue has asked us to pass on their website information, where dress code and other club regulations can be found. please go to countryclub.com for additional information.”

Amanda August 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I feel like it may send that message as well, which is why I asked. I would hate a guest to show up without a jacket and tie or to use their cell phone and have to be corrected by the staff. I may just try to spread the rules around by word of mouth and hope that, if corrections are made, our guests understand and don’t feel embarrassed. Thank you all so much for your help!

Chocobo August 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I understand that the jacket rule is something you have to address ahead of time, but I think Amanda has already addressed that. The best you can really do there is state “Black Tie” and hope everyone has a jacket. And if one person doesn’t, what is the club going to do? Bar them from the entrance for the great crime of not being able to own one? I certainly hope they aren’t so pretentious as that.

I do like the idea putting the club’s additional rules and information on the website, and directing them there. Like the registry information, the degree of separation takes the sting off.

Alicia August 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Just at the bottom of the invite in smaller font write. Keep it on the same card as enclosure is unlikley to be refered to later near wedding day but folks keep the invite itself and check it again.
“Swanky Country Club requires men to wear jackets and tie during dinner and requests cell phones are not brought into the club. Thank you.”

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Jan Kouvoussis May 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I received an e mail from my brother to “feel me out” My nephew is getting married in September. He and his bride have a lot of friends and family and they are making their guest list. They want to know if I will go or not.

This is the first time I have received a “Feel Out”

I replied that it would be more appropriate for them to have their best friends and family with them on their big day.

Do I send a gift to my brother or to them – I don’t know where they live…or do I not send a gift at all ??????????

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Cyra May 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I think–although not everyone agrees–that you need only send a gift if you are attending. Some people think you should send a gift if you are invited.

But if you’re not invited, you definitely don’t need to send a gift. A note of congratulations/best wishes would be totally sufficient.

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Just Laura May 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

I agree with Cyra. There have been times when I was invited and barely knew the couple. I did not send a gift. Other times, I knew the couple was having an intimate ceremony to which I was not invited. I sent a gift anyway, as they were my good friends. Please give as you see fit, and give within your financial comfort zone.

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Elizabeth August 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

According to the couple of movies I’ve seen that include this situation (admittedly not a great source), the club would have a few extra jackets on hand and ask that the jacketless guest put it on. I don’t think they would be admitted without it. I think the rules are there for a reason, and it sounds like, from Amanda’s description, that they do enforce them. That’s why I think it would be better to be more explicit upfront than to be vague and have an embarrassing situation at the actual wedding. I think it’s kind of stretch that people would get offended at a small note: Please be aware, club regulations require all men to wear a jacket, and the use of cell phones is limited to designated areas. It just doesn’t seem that controversial to me. But I suppose Amanda knows her guests and whether this is likely to offend.

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Alicia August 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Black tie is actually a lot more formal then guys please wear a jacket. That would basically be telling all the men they need to rent tuxes and the ladies that they need long formal gowns whern the rule is simply jacket. A nice blazer would do fine. I would think that almost all men own at least a blazer and that even if they do not it is cheaper to buy a blazer then to rent a tux.

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Amanda August 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I like the way you stated that. “Please be aware” gives it a more informative sound rather than instructional.
Thank you all for the advice, I will be finishing the invitations very soon!

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