Open Thread

by epi on January 1, 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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue LaPointe January 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I divorced my husband of 28 years but remain close to my (ex) sister in law and her children. My daughter insists I am no longer an aunt to the children, I maintain I am especially since the kids still call me “Aunt”. Is there a standard answer to this? Thanks

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Just Laura January 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm

While I understand you are no longer legally related to the children, I wasn’t certain if the term “aunt” could still be used as your title. I looked it up in the dictionary, and it appears you’re correct, Aunt Sue! The second definition is, “Used as a form of address for an older woman, especially by children.”

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Alicia January 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

Well technically you are an ex Aunt as you are no longer a member of the family by divorcing your husband. That said if you are still close with exhusbands sister and neices and nephews people have been called honorary Aunt for a whole lot less. I think you and your ex sister in law should both let the title go. Be an Aunt like presence in the kids lives but let them and time figure out what title they wish you to have.
But yes technically as you are no longer married to their uncle you are no longer an Aunt

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Joanna January 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

I’m an adult but in the same situation – a few years ago, my aunt and uncle – who had been married 30+ years – got divorced. Nonetheless, I still call my aunt’s husband “Uncle,” even now when he’s remarried and is REALLY no relation. It’s just a courtesy, really. How can you address someone and treat them as family for decades, and then all of a sudden say, “Oh well, you’re nothing now”?

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Chocobo January 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

An aunt is a social title, not a legal one. Even though you are no longer legally of any relation to the family, clearly you are still socially of great importance to them. Social titles are mutually agreed upon by both parties. In another situation you and a friend would mutually agree that you are called “Sue”, and not “Ms. LaPointe;” there is no rule that dictates how and when you are called another name. It is the same in this situation. If you and they feel that you are still an aunt and use the term out of endearment, then I believe even Miss Manners has no cause to intrude.

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Stacy January 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

My husband’s brother recently got engaged to his girlfriend who he has dated on and off for more than 10 years. She was my high-school friend before they ever met, and we no longer get along, although we are civil and polite in order to keep peace in the family. Out of obligation, she asked me to play a part in their wedding, as a candle lighter. I am 26 years old and feel a little old to be doing this but agreed anyway. She then announced that I am required to buy the full bridesmaid attire to match the bridesmaids and get my hair done (she is having us all pitch in to have a professional come to the church for hair). I feel a like she is asking me to spend more than necessary for the position. Then, she said she would be assigning me to assist with either her shower or bachelorette party. I did not volunteer to assist with either of these nor did she ask me. She TOLD me I would help. I know I should just be quiet and accept the role to keep peace in the family, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a way to get her to understand that she is asking too much? P.S. My husband is also the best man so will have to pay for the bachelor party and tux, and our daughter is the flower girl so we have to buy her attire as well.

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Alicia January 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

How about saying ” Candlelighters are not bridesmaids and I would not want them to get me confused as such. Candlelighters also typically wear their own tasteful attire so I was thinking it would be excellent if I wore my lovely dress which coordinates so well instead of the bridesmaids dress. ” There is no reason you should have to buy a dress to be a candlelighter.
Also there is an etiquette rule that immediate family ( which you are as you are the grooms sister) is not supposed to throw showers so you simply do not wish to throw the shower or bachlorette as you do not wish anyone to perceive her or you as tacky. You however will be absolutely thrilled to attend.

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Stacy January 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

That sounds great. I’ve got the dress part down. Do you have any suggestions for how to politely back down from my party planning duties without offending her? I agree with what you said about it being perceived at tacky, but she has never cared much about what other people think and may not care what the etiquette rules say.

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Alicia January 7, 2013 at 9:55 am

Just say that you do not intend to throw a shower as that would be against the etiquette rules but that you would be thrilled to attend if the bridesmaids or some other friends wish to throw her a shower. ( Now if you say this you do have to attend if invited to a shower but as sister of the groom you would do so anyways. )
You do not have any party planning duties unless you agree to them. Stand your ground with a polite and gracious spine. Smile and say No.

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Brockwest January 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Alicia’s remarks are correct on all points.
Candlelighters certainly don’t have to go the the expense of bridal gear. It’s a subtle insult not to ask you to be a bridesmaid, but to pay as if you were one.
NOBODY is allowed to demand someone throw them a shower. It really reeks to have a non-friend demand a non-bridesmaid to go to trouble and expense.
Family is not allowed (etiquette-wise) to throw the parties, so the bride is totally off-base. In addition to which, as nice as you were to make the party, as hard as you were to work, we all know she will be ungrateful and complain.
I suggest to politely bow out for yourself. Explain that you were not aware when you accepted the invitation as candle-lighter that she expected you to incur bridal expenses, so since the invitation terms were different than you thought, you’ll respectfully decline the honor.
As for you husband, there is no rule at all that best men pay for the entire batchelor party. It is very common for the cost to be split among the attendee’s with the exception of the groom.
I think it quite reasonable for you to pay for your husband’s and daughter’s attire.

In view of the strain in your relationship with the bride, I think it is best for you to just sit in the audience. Whatever you do will end up being wrong, so don’t put yourself in that position.

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Stacy January 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for the responses. I asked her about wearing my own dress and offered to make sure it blended in with the attire of the wedding party. She said she had never seen candle lighters wear anything but a bridesmaid dress and it was her wedding and that is what she wants. I have no problem paying for the tux and flower girl outfit. That is completely understandable.

I’m still working on how to possibly back of out the wedding party entirely. My husband is worried that she will take offense and my mother-in-law will be very disappointed. It is a delicate situation, and I don’t want to add unnecessary strain. I really would rather be a guest only.

Thanks again for the responses! You’ve been very helpful!

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Alicia January 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Talk to your brother it is his wedding too. But if you do not want to do it you can just decline and say you would rather be a regular guest. Non bridezillas should understand and be cool with it. She sounds a little unreasonable but that is not you creating the drama in that case.
Unless a candlelighter is also a member of the wedding party bridesmaid or groomsman their attire is not that of the wedding party typically. Actually I have never seem a candlelighter be an adult in my mind that is a job( not an honor just a job) that you give to some tween but is better handled by the alter servers. If she wants you to be in bridesmaid attire she should make you a bridesmaid. It kinda sounds like your brother may want you in the wedding but that the bride does not want you as a bridesmaid. The talk with your brother should clarify that.
Oh and if she is that into it she is likely following the KNOT website like a religion
http://wedding.theknot.com/groom-groomsmen/groomsmen-tips/articles/wedding-party-glossary.aspx
describes candle lighter as ( bolds are mine for emphasis )
Candle Lighter
In some Christian ceremonies, pre-teens aged nine to 12 light candles at the altar just before the mother of the bride (see below) is seated. Candle lighters may dress like the wedding party or not. Your choice.

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Chocobo January 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm

At this point, I think it might be best for you to say that you did not realize you would need to buy the dress and plan the parties, and unfortunately that is out of your abilities at this time. You may say gently that you appreciate her including you, but perhaps it would be best if you attended simply as a guest instead. When you offer to step down, phrase it in a way that makes it sound as though you do appreciate her thought, and you are really regretful that you cannot commit to such an honor, but you would love to attend as a guest and support her in other ways within your means.

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