29 Comments

  1. Jerry

    The P.S. is so poignant because it highlights that the only sanction etiquette offers is the withdrawal (by the offended person) of support. That’s why the technical rules of etiquette are of less importance than rules in other areas — even if the offending party has technically complied with all of Emily Posts’s or Miss Manners’ rules, that doesn’t necessarily stop someone else from being offended by what (in their mind) was a serious breach. Need I remind anyone of the shoe on/shoe off debate.

  2. Chocobo

    This is the worst response I’ve ever seen from EPI. “This is obviously a situation with a very controlling and anxious bride and mom behind it”? Who wrote this? Please tell me I did not just read such an outrageous stereotype masquerading as advice from Emily Post. I thought we were past making ridiculous assumptions about people based on no evidence.

    I have trouble feeling sympathetic for either of these couples. The one couple is angry because they didn’t respond to a wedding invitation as late as another friend, and we’re supposed to think they are in the right? Spare me. It isn’t the host’s responsibility to hunt down guests who don’t care enough to respond to invitations. The bride and groom didn’t disinvite the letter writer, they assumed the couple wasn’t coming because they didn’t respond. The couple disinvited themselves.

    As for the friend of the husband, one would think he would have more flexibility, seeing how badly he has behaved in the past. But then, this is not his wedding. He may have had to give the news, but may not have made the decision. Considering the evidence of his flakiness in the past, I would not be surprised if the verbal confirmation the husband gave to him never reached the bride and groom.

    It sounds like both of these couples need to stop focusing on breaches in others’ behavior and start seriously working on their own.

  3. Rebecca

    I agree that this was an awful thing for the bride and groom to do, and yes, because of it, I’m sure the friendship is over.

    That said, the letter writer is very casual about the reason for all this drama – “It’s true that we were a week late, but…” If these friends were so important, LW should have complied the correct way in a prompt fashion. What, pray tell, was the reason for the delay? Hospitalization? Dire family emergency? I’m sure it was nothing, save a lack of promptness, period.

    Furthermore, it’s especially bad manners considering LW and husband just went through all this a short time ago themselves! It’s great that they were willing to be flexible, but that’s not an excuse to make things unnecessarily more difficult on other people trying to solidify their event plans because “that’s just the way it is.” Very poor behavior on their end, IMO.

  4. Jerry

    Am I the only one who read the entire fact pattern? What about the sentence that read “my husband had told the father of the bride (his friend) before the RSVP deadline that we would be coming”? Do you mean to tell me that the failure to return a reply card even though there was a verbal RSVP — in other words, the elevation of style over substance — means that the guest did not effectively communicate that they were coming? Only bureaucrats require people to file applications — as opposed to the oral response provided to the father of the bride! — to get into a wedding! (BTW, how much do you love that song?)

    I’d like you, Chocobo and Rebecca, to consider a slightly different fact pattern. Let’s say that the facts are exactly as above, but instead of not sending a reply card, the LW’s reply card got lost in the mail? Would you still argue that the bride and groom were correct to disinviting the LW? Because, according to your posts, the rule is that a bride and groom may disinvite a guest whenever the bride and groom do not receive a reply card. Remember, the bride and groom have no way of knowing whether the reply card was lost in the mail or whether the guest forgot to send it in; all the bride and groom know is that they did not receive a reply card.

    Ultimately, what this all boils down to is that the couple getting married decided to urinate on a twenty-year relationship because of some missing paperwork. LW is right not to continue her friendship with this family.

    • Chocobo

      I did read that sentence. What I saw was that the husband responded verbally to a relative to the bride and groom, whom apparently has a history of flakiness, and not responding to the bride and groom. I wonder to whose address those response cards, if there were any, were to be sent. I also saw that the writers are punishing their friend for what appears to be the couple’s decision: “It was he who got the task of calling and telling my husband he’s very sorry, but everything was fixed, the seating arrangements and all, and nothing could be changed, says the couple.” They appear rather eager to punish their friend and end a long friendship without any regard to whether it was even his decision.

      • Jerry

        I don’t know where you get the idea that the father of the bride has a “history . . . of not responding to the bride and groom.” The only flakiness from the father of the bride — that we are aware of from the fact pattern — came from the father of the bride’s RSVP to the LW’s wedding a year ago.

        I wonder who’s paying for the wedding? Also, I’m still waiting for an answer to my prior question — would it make a difference if the reply card was lost in the mail? (Your avoidance of this question is telling.) One of the many purposes of a wedding is to renew family relationships. By uninviting LW over paperwork, the couple proved that the relationship is just not that important. If anyone was “eager to punish” it was not the LW.

        • Nina

          Hi Jerry,

          Having just gotten married myself, I can offer another perspective on the issue of “paperwork.” A few of my husband’s relative’s mentioned casually in conversation with his mother that they were looking forward to the wedding or were sad they had to decline. She had no idea they meant this as an RSVP–she thought they were simply chatting. She is very responsible, but lives 100s of miles away from us and was not directly involved in most of the wedding planning–it didn’t occur to her to let us know what these relatives had said. She thought they’d already sent their RSVP cards.

          So there were a number of people we had no RSVP from. We didn’t disinvite anyone–that seems pretty mean and we had deliberately left time to call folks and ask what their plans were–but we weren’t very impressed that they hadn’t bothered to put a pre-stamped note in the mail and had assigned the problem to my mother-in-law, who wound up feeling bad about the whole thing when I really don’t think it was her fault at all.

          So in short, of course a verbal RSVP is valid, but make sure you’re giving to someone who understands that’s what you are doing, and will definitely report it to the folks planning the wedding. The OP doesn’t really give enough detail for anyone to say whether the verbal RSVP was handled well or not, but does leave some room for doubt.

          • Jerry

            Nina: We were married a few years ago, and I still have fond(ish) memories of tracking down those few guests who didn’t RSVP. One of the cards was delayed the mail (we received a card, postmarked several days before he RSVP deadline, a few days after the wedding), and a few guests were . . . inconsiderate.

            You’re right that you’d want some more facts in this particular case. What tips the scale, for me, is that the father of the bride was tasked with rescinding the invitation. That suggests, to me, that the father of the bride was fairly active in the couple’s wedding. In any case, couple had the last clear chance to avoid the fiasco. They blew that chance and are to blame for any rupture in the relationship.

  5. Winifred Rosenburg

    I agree with EPI’s answer. It’s courtesy to call the invitees who haven’t responded before striking them from the guest list. For all the bride and groom knew, one of the guests could have sent in a response that got lost in the mail. (For my wedding we called all the people we hadn’t heard from a week after the rsvp date, and it turned out one of the invitations got lost in the mail. The rest were just irresponsible, but it seems a lot better to make some phone calls then to lose a lot of friends.) If they called the guests and still didn’t get a response after a reasonable amount of time, I would understand them then assuming they weren’t coming.

    I would like to note that giving a verbal notification that you will be attending does not excuse you from having to send a written response. Formal written or printed invitations call for written responses (unless otherwise specified on the invitation). If nothing else, the written responses are much easier for the bride and groom to keep track of so they don’t have to remember if so-and-so mentioned they were coming; they can check what the person sent in writing.

    • Winifred gets my voice, as well as EPI. Sure, the way Jerry replies is more about the emotional actions taken. But indeed, the reason that formal written or printed invitations do call for a written response.
      Guess that somehow this friendship was not that deep rooted and it could have ended for any reason…
      Mariette’s Back to Basics

      • Jerry

        Jerry’s response was more about realpolitik — etiquette-in-action to coin a phrase — than technical compliance with a rule that not everyone knows. As a European, I would have thought you’d appreciate that.

  6. Christie

    I agree with Jerry and Winifred!

    I have to say that it is sad to see how many people destroying their friendship over a silly “protocol and paperwork” around wedding time!

  7. V.T. Reynolds.

    Weddings make people cray-cray (i.e., crazy).

    It sounds like you were not really good friends anyway, but if you were and you actually would like to maintain this relationship, give them some type of “benefit of the doubt” (I know this is stretching it a bit in your circumstance) and see if they come around and apologize. Otherwise, move on. Do you really want to be friends with people who have no manners?

  8. V.T. Reynolds.

    I forgot to add: Chocobo, props to you on your first response. I was about to write the same thing and then was relieved to find that you already wrote it.

  9. Clara

    I just re-read the question twice and realized that the couple who are disinivited from the wedding are friends with the Father of the Bride. I’m wondering how well the disinvited couple know the bride and groom, or if they were just being invited out of courtesy to the Father of the Bride. I know people who reluctantly invited their parents’ friends to their own wedding. Maybe the bride and groom jumped on the chance to strike people from the list who they really didn’t want to invite in the first place. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but just an added thought!

  10. Vanna Keiler

    I agree with many of the responses. Strictly from an etiquette perspective, the correct protocol is not “do onto others, what they do onto you…” but “do onto others what you would have them do onto you”. Translated to our situation: those invited should respond the way they were instructed by the invitees, for the hosts’ convenience in being able to continue planning and managing the event. A wedding is a particularly pivotal point in a person’s life, so the necessity to avoid infringing issues and other drama upon the couple and their organizers’s while they manage their time is of utmost importance.

    I think a verbal response would be a great “additional confirmation” to the expected written response/mailing. I do not think it is a great way to acknowledge that you are taking your participation seriously, by casually affirming in conversation you are attending. By responding back by mail, it is a clear cut decision on your part to attend, and for the organizers, a guarantee (barring emergencies) that the seat and dinner reserved for you will be filled.

    Obviously, the parties involved in this question had some friendship and mutual respect issues prior to it getting out of hand due to a wedding. Perhaps the wedding situation brought some of these issues to the forefront of their friendship issues. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the question poser was a little annoyed with getting a late response to the wedding, but for the sake of friendship ignored it. When the shoe was on the other foot, memory of the past etiquette transgression resurfaced, causing a double wound to the friendship. Alas, respect and courtesy is a two-way street, particularly with friendships. Let’s hope we can all keep the good ones.

  11. Ka'El

    I know I’m late to the party – was there an RSVP? Dear writer, don’t you think common sense and good manners were the order of the day here? It really sounds as if you wanted the bride to accommodate you on your terms only; your hosts have a hundred and one things about, so if you can’t be bothered to respond on time and then try to make excuses when you yourself could have informed the bride directly of your intentions. For heavens sake are you an adult or an infant? I’m having issues getting responses from my fiancé’s university friends, and you have no idea how upset he is because it seems like they “can’t be bothered”, and dare I say it that is is possibly how you came across. Ok, I have no intention of dis-inviting them but if they turn up then there is no seating, no meal, no drinks and no cake for them, simple.

    • jazz

      I agree! It is a honour to be extended an invite – especially to a wedding. You are being asked to be a special part of someone’s day, while being provided with a very expensive meal and alcohol. The very least you can do is respond YES or NO as to whether you are coming. A thankyou for the invite would also be appropriate. Not bothering to RSVP is totally selfish. Excuses such as forgetfulness or habitually missing it etc are not acceptable – use a reminder in your phone or calendar – you are a responsible adult.
      I actually don’t mind that someone can’t come and let’s me know or doesn’t want to come and says no. But it annoys me that I have to chase someone to get a some response!!

  12. Jenrosebakes

    I am currently struggling with this problem myself at the moment. There is 3 weeks to go until my wedding, and 2 of my 101 guests have not RSVPed. I’ve asked my Mother to talk to them post the RSVP date, because they are from Mum’s side. Mum has spoken to them twice, but on both occasions they did not give my Mother a straight answer. All statements said to my Mother have not been positive: 1) “We are busy most weekends”, “Not sure if husband can get work off”, “We are going away the weekend before and the weekend after”. The venue manager needed final numbers last week, and I was able to stretch that until this week. I ended up sending the wedding coordinator at our venue the guest list without those final 2 guests on it. The relationship with these 2 is distant, and I used to only see them at family dinners about 6 years ago, before I moved interstate. They were invited because their siblings and parents were. *sigh

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You are right to just count them as not coming. If I were your mother, when they said “we’re busy most weekends,” I would have said, “I’ll put you down as a no then.” That way it’s clear that you don’t expect them there. It sounds like they won’t be coming so don’t worry about it.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree. In absence of a firm ‘yes’, then you should count them as no – and your mother should communicate as much. If they do show up, you (or the venue manager) should apologize and say that since they did not respond with a firm yes, you were forced to count them as not attending, and unfortunately you do not have a place for them to sit or a meal for them.

      At this point, since your mom is having trouble getting a straight answer, I recommend that you call them yourself. If they say something wishy-washy, just be honest and say that you have to give the caterer the final numbers, and you will leave them off since it sounds like they can’t make it.

  13. Uninvited Too

    Last year my daughter got married and I invited my cousin & her husband. We did not get an RSVP back from her, but about a week before the wedding, we found out she and her husband were coming and bringing my elderly great aunt. I was so happy that they would all be there! Every person on the invite list was important to me or my daughter or my son-in-law, and we wanted everyone there that we invited, so when not everyone had RSVP’d we contacted them to find out whether they’d be there or not. My son-in-law’s brother & his family are Jehovah’s Witnesses and would not come to the service, but they “crashed” the reception, and we were very happy to have them there – that was the important thing. Fast forward, my cousin’s daughter is getting married in about a week. I had planned to go, along with two of my daughters, but one daughter’s fiance was not sure yet, so I kept putting off the RSVP. Lost the card. I am not “Born Organized.” I am not trying to be rude! Finally I sent my cousin a message telling her that we were planning to come, but I had one family member that didn’t know yet. She responded that we were welcome to the wedding, but that they’d had to commit a number for the reception a week before. So basically – we are uninvited to the reception. I feel very hurt about this. I bought a gift for the bride & groom, and will send it in. And I will probably invite her to my 3rd daughter’s wedding and be thrilled if she attends (whether she RSVPs or not). If she’d just sent me a quick message on FB when she had to commit, I would definitely have told her what I knew. It’s just the spirit behind it that matters to me. At least try to get up with the non-RSVP people. It’s people that matter – not rules. Of course, after a follow-up contact, that should be enough.

    • Elizabeth

      Usually, the hosts of the wedding will make a final phone call to those who haven’t RSVP’d in order to get a final answer. They shouldn’t have to do it, but they usually don’t want to have this situation that you all now find yourselves in. It’s bad form that they didn’t reach out, and it’s bad form that you did not RSVP in due time. It’s hard to imagine that it would be so difficult to add a couple of people to a large reception, but if you take her at face value, it apparently is. It’s a sad situation all around, and I”m sure she agrees that it is the “people” who matter, but it seems the reception venue is the one holding them to the rules.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree with Elizabeth and would like to add that for future reference if you lose the response card you can write out your own response and mail it.

      • I noticed “Uninvited Too” was able to send a message to her cousin to let her know they were planning to come – any reason why this same message wasn’t sent the previous week? Some venues are pickier about numbers of people than others (usually it’s a fire code/insurance issue). I hope in the future that “Uninvited” will let everyone know before the deadline, but it’s too bad this venue is one of the picky ones.

        • Uninvited Too

          I was waiting on an answer from someone in my party, otherwise would have responded earlier. I had lost the RSVP card, and did not know that the deadline had passed.

  14. Texas Bride

    My fiance and myself are paying for everything ourselves and our deadline for RSVP’s is coming fast and those that don’t RSVP will not have a seat or a plate if they decide at the last minute to show. Sorry! We have a minimum and a total head count, we are footing the bill so you snooze you lose. I don’t have time to call people to disinvite but they are all aware that if we do not receive the RSVP there simply isn’t room. My save the dates went out in February and invites in May, wedding in October. I paid for the postage, not hard to mark it and put it in the mail.

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