Open Thread

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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.


  1. Josh

    I have a question about the use of the title “Professor.” I was recently in a class where one of the two instructors had just graduated in the last two year and was really just an assistant to the professor who was teaching the class. He nonetheless asked that we address him as Professor. I thought to be called “Professor” you had to actually have been appointed to a professorship by a university. It seems like every adjunct or otherwise who teaches a class at a college wants to be called “Professor.” Where is the line?

    • Alicia

      Any teacher at a college can be called Professor. In general it is a good idea to call people what they wish to be called and thus show kindness and respect.

    • In the U.S., teachers at the collegiate level are called “Professor.” This is not the case in the UK and some commonwealth countries, where that title is reserved for the head of department, or a teacher otherwise deserving of the distinction.
      There are many sources for this, but here’s one you may like.

  2. Anonymous

    I have a question regarding wedding etiquette.
    My fiance and I got engaged 4 months ago after dating for 3 1/2 years. We are having a large destination wedding 3/8/14 as more then half our guests would be flying anyway.
    A few weeks ago, my fiances sister got engaged after dating her current boyfriend for 4 months.
    They have just informed us that they will be having their wedding by the end of this year…
    Their wedding will also require almost all guests and family to fly to.
    While in now way do we expect people to put their lives on hold, we do not think it’s unreasonable for them to wait to get married until after our wedding, which is 7 months away. We feel that many family members are going to only be able to attend one wedding or one bridal shower etc. They did not speak to us about their decision or ask if we thought it would create any conflict with family and our already scheduled wedding events. This will also require us several flights and trips in a very short amount of time while we are trying to save/pay for our wedding and honeymoon.
    Is there any etiquette regarding siblings and weddings? I am not sure, but to me it just seems wrong, and rude. Whats the etiquette here and the best way for us to handle this gracefully? Thank you!

    • Alicia

      Send out Save the dates. That way people can plan for your wedding. There is no rules about timing of weddings and siblings. They were not rude not to consult you given not the same weekend. These are months separated events. Yes some people may have to make a choice in attending but that is often true anyways.
      Handling gracefully is dropping the subject and sending out your own save the dates so that people plan for your wedding. Your wedding is not till next spring there is no requirement for your siblings to wait till then to marry if they wish.

    • Anabelle

      From my understanding, your wedding and her wedding are separate events. She should not plan her life events around yours, and vice versa. She can have her wedding whenever she pleases. It is not OK to ask her to change it, or to expect that she will change it, based on your wishes. Send out save-the-dates, and be excited for your day. But don’t expect them to revolve their plans around yours.

  3. Annoyed mom

    My daughter recently graduated from High School, therefore, we received many announcements from kids that I have known since she’s been in school. We received an announcement from the associate helping us pick out my daughter’s senior pictures for her son’s grad party. I’ve know the mom on a casual basis and her son not at all. I felt awkward about receiving this invitation but felt like I had to go. In turn, we sent an invitation to my daughter’s party. We went to the party and gave a monetary gift. (I have yet to receive a Thank you note) They did not come to our party nor did they send a gift. All they said was “i’m sorry i couldn’t come to your party”. I thought this was extremely rude. Is this acceptable to do this or just rude and ignorant? I want this person to know how I feel, but don’t know how to address it. Are there specific rules on gift giving and reciprocating on this subject?

    • Alicia

      Invites require neither attendance nor gift. All they require is an rsvp. Nor were you required to send invite to daughters party. They did nothing rude by rsvp no and not sending gift.

        • Elizabeth

          Hey, knowledge is power! I had a situation somewhat like this – right when I was getting married, one of my mom’s good friend’s daughters was also about to have a wedding. This was someone I knew as a child, but had had no contact with for years – decades, actually. For some reason she invited me to her wedding, and I felt like if I had gone to hers then I would have felt obligated to invite her to mine. (Both the weddings were large, so I couldn’t use that excuse.) So, I simply declined and sent her a nice note wishing her well, and that was the end of it!

          • Becky

            just had a related experience. A couple we are acquainted with (but aren’t particularly close to) got to know a couple who are our very good friends from out of town. The acquaintance couple has now invited us and the out of town couple to their wedding. I was surprised that we would be included since we aren’t close, but strongly suspect we were invited so they didn’t “friend-jump” to invite our out of town friends. We don’t really care much for this couple or have much interest in buying a gift and attending….but since the out of town couple is attending and will stay with us, I’ve felt obligated. I’ve given a modest gift (their registry was printed with the wedding invite! aghast!) and replied affirmatively. I honestly think we would have done them a favor by declining, but just didn’t feel like we had a ‘good way out.’ AND to add to my guilty feelings, we will not be able to reciprocate with an invitation to our November wedding.

    • Ruth Peltier

      This may not fit this situation but it brings up a point that is important to me. I really wish that people would ALWAYS include a spoon in any place setting. My hands often shake so there are many foods I have to use a spoon for that others use a fork. You can imagine how embarasing it is to have to ask for a spoon and explain why.

  4. Ruth, I feel the same way about a knife! In general, I think it’s good to provide a fork, knife, and spoon for any meal to avoid exactly that potential awkwardness for guests.

  5. KC

    I use the services of an upscale hairstyling school for my hair cuts and coloring. The students who work on my hair are well supervised, and I have always been very pleased with the results. The cost, however, is significantly reduced from what a regular salon would charge. I feel I should tip the students who work on me, but I’m not really sure how much. Usually a cut costs between $10 and $12 depending how far along the student is in her/his schooling. These students work very hard, and I know that most of them work to pay for their tuition.

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