Random Issues, Vol. 4, Issue 10

Dear Etiquetteer: My husband and I need some clarifications on the "proper" amount to spend on a wedding gift. Now that we’re in our forties, we don’t go to many weddings, so we may be a bit out of it. He thinks we should spend at least $100-150 on a gift. I think that’s a bit high, and that $50-75 should do, especially since we are on a budget. Am I just in a time warp (or a cheap skate)? Dear Gifting: This may sound awfully sentimental, but Etiquetteer thinks you should give what your heart dictates. When you find the perfect wedding gift for your friends, get it, whether it's $50 or $150, or even $1,500. The value of the gift is more than money, and one hopes that the Happy Couple will value it the more because it comes from you and your husband.

Dear Etiquetteer: I have a friend who just moved back to Massachusetts. Before he moved out of state, he and his partner had a commitment ceremony, which I attended and gave gifts. Now that they’re back, they’re planning an official marriage ceremony. Should there be another invitation, am I obligated to give another gift? At this point, I'm putting the cart before the rolling stone, but I was curious, and figured you'd be the right person to ask. Dear Generous: While the last Mae West was known to say "Too much of a good thing is wonderful," Etiquetteer will have to trump her with the more prosaic "Once is enough." Should you be invited to the wedding, attend with a Happy Heart and send a Lovely Note. Your social obligation will then be complete.

Dear Etiquetteer: A friend and I recently decided to go to a play. I offered to buy the tickets because I could get a special two-for-one discount and we could get better seats than we could normally afford. My friend forgot to show up for the play even though we had discussed a time to meet at the theatre the night before. My winter coat had a great fourth-row orchestra seat all to itself. Should I still follow up with my friend to ask her to pay for her ticket? We’ve discussed buying tickets to an upcoming show and an alternative would be to ask her to purchase two tickets at comparable price instead of reimbursing me for the show she missed. I’d appreciate your advice on how to handle this one.Dear Played:Your winter coat has historic company. J. Bruce Ismay, after he retired from public life once the Titanic inquiries were done, was known to purchase two tickets for concerts at the Wigmore Hall. That way he could keep his coat with him and no doubt avoid waiting in that long coat check line at the end of the concert.By all means your friend should fulfill her obligation to pay for the ticket purchased at her instruction. If the two of you agree that she should do so by purchasing seats for a future theatre night for the two of you, that’s Perfectly Proper. But should you prefer cash reimbursement, you are within your rights to insist on it.

Dear Etiquetteer:What do you think the conventional wisdom is regarding calling or e-mailing to ask about the status of a job application? I interviewed over three weeks ago for a professional position with a religious order and have heard nothing since then, even though I sent thank-you letters to the Mother Superior and the others with whom I interviewed.Any wording advice, if you even think I should? I don’t want to sound anxious or desperate, but I am interested in getting an idea of how much longer I’m going to have to wait for an answer.Dear Dangling at the End of the Rosary:After three weeks, Etiquetteer does not find it At All Improper to contact a potential employer with whom one has interviewed to find out the status of the search. You may telephone or e-mail, whichever is attuned most to their corporate culture. Etiquetteer encourages you to remember that companies only care about you in terms of what you can do for them and to tailor your communication accordingly, such as:Dear Sr. Olive Inamartini:It was a pleasure to speak with you three weeks ago about the position of Grand Panjandrum of the Cloister of St. Fistula, and I am e-mailing today to find out how the search is progressing and if I can offer any additional information to you or the search committee. I remain very interested in the position and look forward to hearing from you.

Find yourself at a manners crossroads and don't know where to go? Ask Etiquetteer at query@etiquetteer.com!

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