Weddings and Invitations, Vol. 4, Issue 16

Dear Etiquetteer: My cousin, whom we shall call Gladys, is the youngest of a large, close family. Seven years ago, Gladys was married in a large, extravagant ceremony, with all family members in attendance. She had a large bridal party and wore a formal, white gown with a veil and chapel train.Sadly, that marriage ended in divorce. Gladys is now engaged and is planning to marry again. Much to my surprise, she is marrying just six weeks before my first wedding and, much to my further shock, is planning a large wedding with six attendants at a destination resort area. My query is twofold: Is it not somewhat inappropriate of Gladys to plan her wedding so very close to mine? And, is it not somewhat inappropriate of her to have such a large extravagant affair yet again? I cannot afford to travel to her wedding, as I am saving for my own. Further, I do not wish my family to suffer from "wedding burnout" by virtue of the fact that they are now subject to the expenses of two weddings within six weeks of one another. Dear First-Time Bride Second in Line: Etiquetteer always finds it so cute when brides think everyone should obey them and think about them first before making any decision whatsoever. Etiquetteer can just picture you, fluffy with rage that another bride has penetrated your Super Bridal Forcefield. Think of the dueling weather women in that terrible Japanese move Weather Woman (1995). Yikes!So while Etiquetteer shares your chagrin that Cousin Gladys scheduled her wedding when she did, Etiquetteer is compelled to remind you that it’s not all about you. Nor are you responsible for Gladys’s decisions, so don’t change your own wedding plans. Etiquetteer thinks your family can handle it. Etiquetteer just cannot find super-sized second weddings in the best of taste, mostly because of the national debate over the last 18 months about protecting the sanctity of marriage. Why underline that the sanctity of your first marriage meant nothing to you and that you feel it’s OK to disrespect it by marrying again with another Cecil B. DeMille Production Wedding that’s even being Shot On Location? Much better to do so in the chapel of your family church or even in your parlor, with only your close friends and relations present. You may be comforted to know that most people, when faced with a scheduling conflict, choose first weddings over second weddings. Etiquetteer wishes all of you well in your married lives.

Dear Etiquetteer: I just finished recommending to a friend who is planning her wedding and is looking for etiquette-related tips. As I was perusing the site, I came across your column from February, 2003, discussing reply cards for wedding invitations. When my wife and I sent out our wedding invitations, we did not include a reply card. Unfortunately, reply cards have become an expected part of a wedding invitation, and a rather significant number of our friends and relatives asked us, "You didn't include a reply card. How are we supposed to tell you that we're coming?" Our reply was some variant of "You just did. I'm delighted." Dear Uncarded: You are absolutely correct, as usual, and Etiquetteer could not agree more. What Etiquetteer has learned since then is that reply cards are necessary when they require more information than who’s coming. For bridal parties providing child care, you need a blank to know how many children to expect. For multiple entrée choices, you need multiple blanks (though Etiquetteer doesn’t really approve of giving a choice; the best entrée to serve is "Shut Up and Eat"). But when this sort of information is not required, a reply card is technically Not Perfectly Proper, because people are supposed to know that they respond in kind with a Proper Note.

Dear Etiquetteer: Who should be invited to wedding rehearsal dinners? If the answer is family, would that include great aunts (who are invited to the wedding)? Dear Rehearsed: Rehearsal dinners, traditionally held the night before the wedding and hosted by the parents of the groom, generally include the wedding party (attendants and clergy; musicians need not be invited unless personal friends). Technically it's given for the wedding party, but Etiquetteer thinks it Perfectly Proper and Very Hospitable to include out-of-town guests and extended family.But two other factors are at work here: the type of function and its size. Not all rehearsal dinners are dinners any more. This function can be anything the groom's family wants it to be, from a picnic to a black-tie dinner dance. Not to typecast anyone, but Etiquetteer can't see his own great-aunts (may they rest in peace) having much of a good time in a billiard hall, dive bar, or picnic ground. And generally rehearsal dinners are smaller than the weddings they precede, or verymuch larger. In other words, it's best not to be offended if you don't get invited.

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