Dear Etiquetteer: My daughter plans to send formal invitations to her wedding and reception. My husband and I have received calls from people who cannot attend. (The save-the-date cards were sent out several weeks ago.) I think her plan is horrendous and simply looks like a ploy for more gifts. She assures me that all of her friends say it's "nice" and "people will be grateful to have them as lovely remembrances." She says people will like to see their names in calligraphy on the envelopes!
I say, "Balderdash." Can you back me up on this? My husband and I are hosting her rather wedding and reception, but she's got the stamped, sealed, invitations in her hot little hands.
Dear Mother of the Bride:
Deep in Etiquetteer's Perfectly Proper heart, Etiquetteer knows you are right. Why people would be "grateful to have a lovely remembrance" of a function they cannot attend mystifies Etiquetteer. And Etiquetteer can assure you that any pleasure at seeing one's name in elegant calligraphy is quickly shadowed by the suspicion that a wedding gift is expected.
Two paths remain open. A veneer, however thin, of Perfect Propriety can be maintained by including hand-written notes on these invitations to the effect that "Should your plans change, I would so much like to see you at the wedding." This puts the focus squarely on the presence of the guest in person, and not the guest's presents.
A compromise between you and your daughter may also be drawn. She knows her own friends as well as you know yours, and seems to think that her friends would want to see her wedding invitation. You and Etiquetteer agree entirely that your own friends would interpret it differently. Tell your daughter to go ahead and send out wedding invitations to her own friends who can't attend, but not yours. If your daughter later finds out that her friends all think she's a greedy bridezilla, that's her funeral.
In general, Etiquetteer is not a fan of sending out invitations to those who can't make a party. Many years ago Etiquetteer used throw a large party annually that included an involved, very funny invitation. After a few years Etiquetteer got weary of hearing "Sorry I can't come, but please keep me on the list. I love getting the invitation!" You can see how this might become tiresome. Etiquetteer lives to entertain his guests, but in person, not through the mails.