Tuesday, December 27, 2005

DON’T EVALUATE YOUR GUESTS’ RELATIONSHIPS--AND IF YOU HAVE TO, TACT AND CLASS MUST BE IN YOUR CORNER (PART II)

If you think that my first post is unrealistic, I offer you a second piece of advice:

If you absolutely HAVE to resort to categories (as Heather did with her “groups” of desirables and “groups” that were simply not), or even a random guest-cutting tactic that you believe will surprise or hurt those that are invited, then handle yourself with the proper decorum and grace that you would expect and hope that others would give to you.

There was no phone call from Heather before the invitation reached my mailbox, no email, no cellphone voicemails. If I had heard from her before the invitation reached my mailbox, and she had explained to me why TallGuy was not invited, then perhaps I could have been more understanding.

A personal explanation BEFORE the fact is a rational, reasonable way of addressing an uncomfortable and potentially offensive situation. Particularly when you consider someone a good friend. I would have respected Heather's decision much, much more if she had had the courage to face me before the fact. And, if she had, I am sure I would have been much more gracious and at least open to accepting what she had done.

As much as I had wanted to immediately hit delete when I received the email days after getting the invite, I restrained myself. I knew it would be good to have a record of that email in my inbox, just so I could keep both a tangible reminder, as well as something to file in the back of my mind. Even more than that, though, I wanted to make sure that I responded and didn’t forget to write back. I certainly was not going to ignore the message, and I would have much preferred to send back an abrupt email, conveying my disappointment and anger.

However, I decided to take the high road (sort of). “Heather: Thanks for your email. No worries at all, I'm totally fine with it, and understand.... Looking forward to your wedding. My hours are really good at work, so I'm available to meet up whenever you have time. Good luck with the planning.... The Wedding Fairy”.

While the email was certainly short and sweet, it made no bones about the fact there would be no soothing language to address her rationalizations, no comforting words and long message back to her in order to assuage her guilt.

I think that the reason she didn’t get in touch to begin with, and the reason I did not hear from her post-email exchange, is that she knew that she was wrong.

The lesson to be learned here is that if you’re going to do something without thinking, at least know after-the-fact that it was a thoughtless action that deserves explanation.

If you can’t even do that for someone, then don’t bother inviting them--then at least they won't feel like they will have to sit at the leftover single’s table like Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie did at Brooke’s wedding in the first season of Sex and the City. Remember Bernie Turtletaub? No one wants to sit with him.

The above may be harsh, but so was the above scenario. Not only are you doing your potential guests a favor, but you will be thanking yourself later. A friend of a friend, who invited many of her guests sans-dates, ended up apologizing years later for what she then realized/perceived was a major faux pas. Don’t end up having to be in that position.

In order to properly wrap this up, I’ll share a small anecdote from a good family friend, which was recently relayed to my mother. Tim had been invited to a lavish four-hundred person wedding in Chicago (he lives in New York City). He knew the groom very well, as they had been in and out of touch since high school (at which time they had been very close friends). Tim, now 28, received the invitation--without a guest. As a guy, Tim didn’t really read as much into it--until Tim’s friend asked him to speak at the wedding. Tim declined (rightfully so), and decided he’d still go to the wedding, despite the snub of not having been invited with a date (I should also mention that at the time the invitations had gone out, Tim had been dating someone for a couple of months. Though even if he hadn’t, wouldn’t common sense tell you he should have been invited with a date anyway?) When his mother told him that he should spend a lot less on a wedding present that he would have before receiving the invite, he told his mother something that I thought was PRICELESS (literally): “I am the gift.”

Always remember that your decisions do not simply end when the stationers lick the postage stamp and place the invitations in the mailbox.

You are responsible for your actions, and be advised that no matter what the etiquette books say about the matter, making across-the-board decisions, or even decisions that seem to be absolutely without thought, can come back to haunt you.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, now I'm confused?! Perhaps you can give me a little advice...I am only inviting immediate family (aunts/uncles and 1st cousins) and close friends to my wedding. However, a couple of my cousins (who are approx. my age) have younger children. I am inviting younger 1st cousins of mine, but I was not planning on inviting these 2nd cousins. I have been nervous for months about my 1st cousins' (the parents of the 2nd cousins) reactions. Do I need to invite them because I have categorized them out of the wedding? There's only 3 children...will this start a war without words if I don't invite them regardless of them not being in my initial "immediate" family plan? Help a girl out!!

Anonymous said...

So are you suggesting that EVERYONE should be invited with a guest? In the case of most people I know, that would mean that they can no longer invite some of the people that they actaully know and like because they have to invite these "guests" of their single friends/relatives and they can't possibly invite everyone. This seems horribly insensitive to the bride's family who can only invite so many people.

the wedding fairy said...

Anonymous - that is not what I'm suggesting. What I'm suggesting is that brides-to-be should be cognizant that HOW they choose WHICH significant others are invited will be something that may hurt guests' feelings.

I DON'T think it's acceptable--in any case--to not invite a guest without her significant other (whether married, engaged, or just dating) if the guest (and that significant other)--at the request of the bride, who intimates that the significant other will be invited to the affair--pushes back an overseas vacation to be there.

My friend was in a wedding in rural Virginia (she lives in New York) -- she was one of eight bridesmaids. Each bridesmaid was dating/married, and invited with a significant other. My friend--who was single--was not. Can one really make a blanket statement in this situation that only married/engaged couples apply?

Making blanket categories in order to simplify who's invited--and who's not--may be one way to go. However, each circumstance is different--and exceptions should be made on a case-by-case basis.