Open Thread

by epi on January 18, 2013

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.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Tarah January 18, 2013 at 12:54 am

Hello,
I am a co-maid of honor for a friend’s wedding. The bride and groom would like a couples shower. In this situation, should I also ask the best man to co-host? We are all mutual friends.

Thank you!

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Country Girl January 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

You can certainly ask the best man if he would like to participate in co-hosting, so long as you go in with a full understanding that, while he may well be thrilled to contribute, he is also well within his rights to decline any or all aspects of the hosting duties (as hosting a shower is something that is offered, never expected). Just because a bride or couple wants a shower, or wants it a certain way, doesn’t mean demands can be made upon others. He may not have the available funds or time to co-host, and that is ok. Just as you and your co-maid of honor are under no obligation to host this shower, neither is he.

Traditionally, men have not been involved in showers so it would be nice to give him some options upfront of ways he could contribute, if he so chooses. Ie. arranging activities for the men, pitching in for snacks, bringing beer, etc. It would be nice to make him feel comfortable that he may choose to do all, some, one, or none of these duties and simply attend as a guest if he wishes and that would be fine. Good luck and happy planning!

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Joanna January 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

While it may be true that men were not traditionally involved in showers, it’s also true that there was never really such a thing as a couples shower til fairly recently. Thus, the roles of responsibility are changing. I’d say it’s fine to ask the best man to contribute, both in terms of finances and in planning.

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Country Girl January 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I respectfully disagree. The roles of responsibility for a shower, single or double-gender, remain the same in that no person (male or female) is ever required to host/co-host/contribute.

Asking anyone to co-host or contribute to a shower you’ve offered to throw is identical to asking them to pitch in on a gift you have decided to give. Simply because you have decided to increase the number of recipients for your gift does not suddenly put a new onus on anyone else to contribute. Just the same, there was no requirement for Tarah/her co-maid of honor to agree to host a couple’s shower if it was outside of their financial or planning abilities. (Couples are not permitted to dictate what type of shower is thrown for them, rather it is something offered or agreed upon by the generous host(s) if he/she desires to do so and it is within their means.)

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Rev. Svend la Rose January 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Suppose that my female colleague is being presented at some official function representing our organization, where she is entitled to precedence as a matter of law. Suppose, further, that she is obligated to remain there no matter how much disrespect is dished out to her. Suppose, finally and hypothetically, she is received with the secretarial pool instead of according to her rank equivalent to Lt. Colonel. What should she do? What should a young executive do in the analogous case of being received as an intern instead of by his rank?

In other words, how should young executives and entrepreneurs of rank handle ageism?

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Karen January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

In both of these cases, a complaint to the organizers of the official function (or perhaps to their supervisors) is in order, especially if the law, and not just etiquette, is on your side. At the function itself, I don’t think either of your colleagues could graciously do much, except perhaps introduce themselves with their titles instead of just with their name when given an opportunity.

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Tina January 19, 2013 at 8:32 am

I am a step-mother in an A-Typical situation, my husband’s youngest daughter is getting married (we have a child together who is in the wedding and she is very close to her sister) as my husband is very close to his two older children as well. We have co-hosted an engagement party (with the Mother of the Bride and the step-father) and all four parents are splitting the bill for the wedding (except rehersal dinner). My problem is another party is being hosted by the Mother of the brides friend, which we are invited to and three wedding showers are being hosted (2 by friends of the mother of the bride and 1 by the mother of the groom). 1. Do I have to buy a gift for any of these three showers? 2. Do I have to attend all 3 of these showers? My daughter (junior bridesmaid and baby sister of the bride) will be getting her sister something, but her father and I are paying and setting up the entire reception (food, wedding cake, and servers for the food). This whole wedding seems to have turned into a royal affair that I feel is way over the top and asking way too much of people during these economic times. Advice is much needed.

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Elizabeth January 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

You are never required to attend anything. That being said, you’re a stepparent not a college friend, so unless you have a real conflict you should attend these events. However, that doesn’t mean you’re required to give a gift at each one. A creative person would think of a three-part gift and give the bride one part of it at each event. But there’s nothing wrong with giving one gift at the first one and have that be it. Since you are paying for so much already, let the gift be rich in thoughtfulness rather than cost. Also, try to put aside any misgivings about the wedding’s ‘proportions’. The bride likely did not ask for all of these parties, but people have enthusiastically offered. Etiquette allows that immediate family and bridal party be invited to more than one shower, but friends and other relatives should not be hit up more than once. (if there is a coworker shower or a shower just of her peers, you might ask the bride: “it sounds like its going to be all you kids there, maybe you girls want to have fun without me crashing?” Maybe she’ll give you an out.

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Chris January 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I have a question for someone out there that may be able to help me.
My ex wife and I have a 20 yr old son together. He has set a date to be married. In the wedding party, both he and his future wife want his 17 yr old step sister in the wedding. After trying to get everything situated, my ex, decided to step in, (against everyones advice) and has since created a big problem.
My question is very simple, i am just not sure that I have the correct answer. At any time is it ok for the mother of the groom to stand up with his soon to be wife as a brides maid? If not can someone explain to me why?
Thank you

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Elizabeth January 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Yes, you are correct, it would be very weird and unseemly.
In a wedding party, everyone has a job to do and role to play. Bridesmaids are usually the bride’s friends or same-generation relatives, they are there to help and support her. They often help her get ready, etc. The MOG has a different job. She is one of the hosts of the wedding (usually). She must be there to greet guests. She might have to deal with last minute issues with the caterer, etc. During the ceremony, it is expected that she’s going to be emotional, as it is her son up there getting married. Further, usually seating is divided with the groom’s side on one side, and the bride’s on the other. Now, if the MOG is up there, standing up on the bride’s side, probably crying, that’s going to be weird. She should be sitting with her nearest and dearest on the groom’s side. She should not stand up for the bride because she is the mother of the groom, and she has THAT role to play. Arguably, MOG is a more important role than bridesmaid. It’s a proud moment in a parent’s life, and to try and play another role at the same time would be a big distraction – not only for her, but for other people who are going to be very confused seeing her up there. This is another way of saying: it’s going to cause a stir and take away focus from the wedding itself. If stepsister doesn’t want to be in the wedding, it’s no problem. There’s nothing saying that the groomsmen and bridesmaids have to be even.

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Dan January 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hi,

I have an etiquette question. My girlfriend and I visited my sister and her husband for a couple of days over the holidays. They live in Philadelphia, and we live in Chicago. My girlfriend left her coat there, and I left some other, smaller items as well. We asked them to ship the stuff back to us and they insisted that we cover the postage. Thoughts?

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Dan January 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I need to add that three weeks after we had still not received our belongings, we inquired as to when my sister and her husband were going to send them, and it was only then that they requested we cover the cost of the postage. So, it took them three weeks to send our stuff back.

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Just Laura January 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Why wouldn’t you offer to cover the postage? This is an inconvenience for them. They have to store your items for 3 wks, then hunt for a box in which to pack them, then actually pack the items (so they’ll need bubble wrap or newspaper), then take them to UPS or the Post Office and pay to ship them back. I don’t know what type of coat your girlfriend has, but nice coats are generally bulky and heavy. This could cost $50 to ship, not to mention any packing supplies or insurance costs. If the coat is lightweight, I suggest a Priority Mail Large Flat Rate box, as that costs less than $20.

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Jody January 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I think it’s perfectly fair for you to cover the postage. Shipping one or two small things free is one thing, shipping a coat is another. As for the 3-week (?) delay, that’s explainable. Your sister and BIL could be extremely busy and it might be difficult to get to the post office or other shipping facility.

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Alicia January 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Clearly these items were not so important as you left them. Honestly getting to post office is a huge hassle as at least near me only open during work hours. I think that anytime they send the items to you prior to the next time you see them is a kindness and thast you are being unfair to expect them to take up your slack and care about your stuff that you clearly did not care about enough to look around and pack.

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Joanne January 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm

My son is marrying in October. I have been TOLD how much I am to spend on the rehearsal dinner, by the brides mother…. what if I can’t afford it?

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Elizabeth January 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

The rehearsal dinner is none of this woman’s business. You should arrange it according to what you can afford (and what you wish to host!), in consultation with the bride and groom. (Naturally, they would have some input on the guest list, is anybody a vegetarian, etc.) If the MOB brings it up, just smile and say “don’t worry, we have it all taken care of.” If she keeps on, “it’s going to be a lovely event, please don’t spend another minute worrying about it. have you tried the bean dip?”

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Country Girl January 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Elizabeth is correct, if you are the one planning the rehearsal dinner then politely inform her that you are working with your son and future daughter in law on a nice dinner within your budget.

Is this the case, or is the bride’s family is planning the rehearsal and you’ve agreed to give money? If so then it is important to be straightforward with your budget before any reservations/plans are made. It is fine for you to say “I understand our children are interested in some specific things for the rehearsal dinner, however I have budgeted $xxxx and am not able to go over that number. So we have a couple of choices. 1) I can either give them that money which they can use to supplement the party they want or 2) I’m sure we can help them find some nice alternatives that fall within the budget.”

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Brockwest January 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

1) MOG as BM: Obviously this is wrong, but it makes me wonder if somehow she was left out of the seating, or felt her place challenged by the step-sister. It is totally up to the bride to determine her bridesmaids, and unfortunately it’s important to begin setting boundaries now or she may have a MOG as part of her marriage.
2) Sending forgotten items: It seems fair to pay postage to have items returned. It seems horrid to demand that postage be paid before a relatives items are returned.
3) MOB demanding Rehearsal dinner costs: The MOB has absolutely no role whatsoever in the determination of the place, attendees, cost of the rehearsal dinner. It is up to the Groom to ask his Bride to tell the MOB to back off. If needed, an etiquette book could be shown. IN PARTICULAR in this situation, the MOG can’t afford it, and a MOG by definition has no obligation at all, normally it would be FOG.

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