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. Becky

    2 questions regarding addressing wedding invitations with inside envelopes.
    1.) Husband is elected supervisor of elections and my long time family friend (30+ years). Outside envelope is, of course, The Honorable and Mrs. FirstName MiddleName LastName. I know the inside address is applied similarly to salutations in letters. Ie The Honorable (outside) and Judge (inside). However, I’ve never known this elected position, much less this individual in the position, addressed as Supervisor LastName. So I’m a little torn on the addressing to use for the inside envelope. I don’t think repeating The Honorable is correct. Mr. and Mrs. may be best default. Or do I take advantage of our close relationship and use first names? Even if I use first names, I would like to know thoughts on salutation (inside envelope) addressing for similar situations where there is a formal title but not necessarily a formal corresponding salutation.
    2.) Episcopal Priest and his wife? In daily life, I address both as FirstName and he will be the officiant for the wedding. Occasionally addressed him as Father FirstName. Outside envelope – The Reverend and Mrs. FirstName MiddleName LastName. But inside…..Father and Mrs. LastName? Father LastName and Mrs. LastName?

  2. deborah hughes

    I would like to teach a etiquette class to a small group of inter city young ladies age 11-14 could you offer information on how would I go about that. We are a small church and our finances as well as my own will not allow for me to enroll into your classes so can you give me instructions on how to begin a program and what should be the first thing I should start with. Or if possible could you offer me a clear outline on how the program should begin and end. Should I have some to show them how to put on makeup, also how to dress and walk, set a table, fold a napkin, also what type of filed trips would be good for this. I am in Cleveland, OH and if you know of someone in the area I would like to talk to them. If I purchase the book on Etiquette will it offer all the information needed to start a excellent class.

  3. Anna

    Question for Peggy: what is the etiquette for including spouses in inviting friends to a co-ed dinner?
    Background: I’ve been with my husband for 8 years. Since just before we started dating, he and 4 of his high school friends (3 girls, 1 guy) have been getting together 5 times a year for dinner for each of their birthdays. Most of the time they say “no spouses”. It has always bothered me – though less so at first as no one was married then – and I’ve told him that. I have no problem with guys’ nights, but knowing that these girls – who are beautiful and funny, by the way – want my husband to themselves for a night doesn’t sit right with me. Let me say, though, that the girls are very nice people, are married, and most have kids at home. They really enjoy the nights “off” to be with friends. They say that they prefer no spouses because it’s too hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules. They also said that they like to gossip about people high school, and that spouses might feel left out. But my feelings are still hurt because I don’t know them that well and they aren’t making an effort to get to know me. It was tolerable while we were dating, but it really started hurting my feelings after we were married, worse when I was pregnant, and now it even worse now that we have children who see mommy be sad while daddy goes off with his girlfriends. If I were arranging dinners like this, I would make sure spouses felt included – at least invited – especially the wives of any of men involved. I don’t understand why they can’t do this. My husband understands that it upsets me and has subtly brought it up to them many times (to no avail – all have much stronger personalities). His solution is to just make sure spouses are included when it gets to his birthday dinner, and not attend the other dinners. And this makes me feel bad – I hate to pull him away from friends. I am the only spouse bothered by the no-spouse situation, even the other guys’ wife. But others, including my in-laws, agree with me that it’s weird. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill or are my feelings justified? What is the solution from my perspective?

    • Alicia

      Well let your husband go to the gang only 5 nights. But get to know the others by having them over your place with spouses and families in smaller groupings then the whole gang. Lets call the other four A, B, C, D. So have A and C with spouses one night, then B and D another time also with spouses. Also you should occasionally have a friends only night with your friends minus spouses. Just hang with C+ date and you guys at a wine fest maybe also bring G and date who are your friends, Go out with B and boyfriend to a movie ect. Slowly you will become part of the group or at least feel comfortable being on the edge of main group.

      Sounds like this group has not been very good about welcoming in partners.
      That said regardless of gender it is important to be able to occasionally hang out with just your friends minus the add on dates. So let the do their birthday tradition but incorporate them into your social lives on other events. Also I can tell you they absolutely know that you view them unfairly as a threat. That is hurting things becoming friends. So trust that your husband likely views these ladies closer to sisters and integrate them and you will all be happier.
      Being unfairly labeled a threat simply for being a woman friends with a guy makes it really hard to get friendly with a wife or girlfriend.

      So realize that gender does not make them a threat and mix up the friends groups.

      Oh FYI my best friend is a guy most of my close close friends are guys I do a sport that is about 20:1 guy:girl. So I have lots of guy friends and often will be the only girl hanging with a bunch of guys married or dating. I am always nice to the girlfriends and wives but when they have issues with me being friends with my buddies just because I am a woman it is a huge insult and usually makes me think a lot worse of the girl. I have by contrast had girls accept that I am just friends with their guys and ended up being a groomsmaid in weddings and godmom/ honorary aunts to their kids. Over time some of those women I have become really close to in addition to their husbands.

    • Elizabeth

      I can understand your feelings about the situation, but I think it is poor form for you to prevent your husband from attending these dinners. Do you really feel as though these women have designs on your husband, or that he would ever consider cheating? If so, then you have bigger fish to fry. But if not, then I think your attitude is actually somewhat sexist. Clearly your husband has been friends with these women for years, and it’s not clear why 4 dinners out per year should be such a threat (or why it’s different from him hanging out with other men). These are his college friends, and they have given very reasonable reasons why they prefer the evenings to be as they are. You should feel bad – you are pulling him away from his friends. I think you could pursue the course that Alicia has outlined, which is to try and get to know these women better. But – it is possible that your lives as married adults do not mesh as well as theirs did as single college students. My husband has a ton of friends from college and his early work life. They will get together for monthly poker games, they will occasionally go camping or other activities, but women are never invited. Their bond has to do with their earlier experiences, and a couples camping trip (with kids) would be really weird and awkward because we just wouldn’t all mesh. My husband and I DO have our couples friends that we do socialize with all together. But it’s never going to happen with his college buddies. So I wonder if these women and your husband realize that the transition to adult couples friendship would be too difficult, so they prefer to relive the glory days once per quarter. If it’s not a burden for him to go to these things (you aren’t left with triplet newborns at home alone), then I would let him go. And I would make sure that I got a similar deal – dinner out with my friends at a similar frequency.

  4. Procrastinating New Wife

    I have a tricky situation that I need some advice on:

    I’ve been to two weddings of friends of my (now) husband where we did not give them gifts before their one year anniversary (it’s been over a year, but under two years for them both). We always intended to give them a gift, regardless of how late it got, but never got around to it (terrible, I know). Now there is an additional wrinkle, aside from our own procrastination: we just got married last week, and both of these couples gave us very small gifts. Let me just make clear that that in and of itself is no problem, but I’m fairly certain that these choices were based on the fact that we did not give them anything for their weddings. Totally fair and definitely our faults for not being more prompt with our gifts to them.

    The problem is this: we always intended to give these two couple proper weddings gifts, but I don’t see how we can do it now without making it seem as though we are following through because we got next to nothing from them.

    How do I fix this problem our procrastination created?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You should give them gifts as soon as possible along with an apology for your tardiness. This is one of those situations where the longer you put it off the more awkward it will get so you should get it over with quickly.

      • ArthurBach

        I think the window for wedding gifts has closed. Giving them a gift NOW would be awkward for both couples. It will most likely be viewed as insincere because it seems reactionary (in response to the wedding gift they just sent) instead of thoughtful.

        By gifting them something right now, I’d be concerned about making them feel guilty because their gift wasn’t as nice. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they now need to make it up to me by buying an expensive gift on the next occasion.

        If it were me, I would wait until their 2nd anniversary to send them a nice gift. I’d be sure to acknowledge my lapse in etiquette by making a SMALL joke poking fun at myself/spouse. I’d segue that into my apology. I’d keep that part minimal and fill the rest of the note with well-wishes and memories of the wedding.

  5. Ashley

    I have an invitation question. How do you word the wedding invitation if you are paying for the wedding? I am older and although this is my first wedding I do not want my father paying for the wedding. I don’t think it is correct to put on the invitation that he “requests the honor of your presence” as my fiancé and I are paying for the wedding. Is there a standard for this situation?

    • Jody

      Ashley — I don’ t know what the “standard” is, but I think something like this would sound nice:
      Ms. Ashley Bride
      Mr. Joe Groom
      request the honor of your presence at their wedding on [date, time, etc.]

    • Nina

      Hi Ashley,

      Congrats on your upcoming nuptials. Jody’s suggestion is excellent, but if you worry about your parents feeling slighted or want to give them a small honour on the invitations, you could preface it with “Together with their families…”

      If that’s not the dynamic in play, though, totally fine to just issue the invitations from bride and groom, period.


    • Winifred Rosenburg

      The question you are asking is whom should be listed as host. Who is hosting and who is paying are not the same thing. Your father may still function as host without paying. So the question you have to ask yourself is who the host(s) is/are?

  6. Laurie Cameron

    My 23 year old neice, college grad, preparing for a Masters/Phd program said that in “her genertion” it is perfectly acceptable to attend meetings and work on email or play games on their computer during the meeting. Says her generation is much better at multitasking than mine. I have over 30 years of working in the corporate world and even though I left work six years ago, I can’t imagine that being acceptable. No employee of mine would have been allowed to do that. I told her it was disrespectable to the speaker and she completely disagreed and would not back down. Any comments about this out there???

    • Elizabeth

      You’re absolutely right. Your niece will not learn until she is publicly chastised by a higher-up (if she’s lucky) or until she’s passed over for promotions. There are numerous studies showing that “multitasking” is really just doing each activity much more slowly than if you just concentrated on one thing. Your niece should look in to those…

  7. Tara

    I have been invited to the wedding of my boss’s daughter. We live in a small town and have mutual friends. I am an acquainted with his daughter and her fiancé, but we are not friends. I have exchanged pleasantries with them but that is it.

    I really do not want to attend this wedding because, I really don’t know the couple or the majority of people who will be attending. Also, I really don’t want to see my boss outside of work (I am actively looking for a new job). He is not a bad person or inappropriate, it’s just that outside of work, I find him uninteresting (conversation-wize).

    So, how do I gracefully get out of this invite?
    CAN I get out of this gracefully?
    Or should I just gracefully and politely suck it up and attend?
    If I have to attend, when can I politely leave?

    Thank you

    • Elizabeth

      You can decline the invitation by promptly sending back the response card with your regrets. You are not required to give a reason. If, however, you think that your boss will ask you why you can’t come, you should have an excuse at the ready. You can say, “unfortunately I have a prior commitment that day” or “I have an family engagement that I unfortunately can’t miss” or “I will be out of town that day,” (be sure to be out of town, though!) or anything else.

      If you do go, you can leave after dessert has been served.

      I should point out, though, that as the father of the bride, your boss will likely not spend much time at all socializing with you at the wedding. You would most likely be conversing with your date (if you were invited to bring a guest) and whoever you are seated with. Your tablemates could be great company or terrible.

      • tara

        Thank you, Elizabeth. This was very helpful and also alleviated some of the stress from the decision by providing great game plans, being out of town (a secret long weekend!) or if I decide to go, realizing that there are other guest to socialize with who could be (or not be) interesting and after dessert, I can leave.
        I love this site.

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