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03.06.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 1
engagement party guest list ...

A: The etiquette books generally say that a couple should only invite people to the engagement party that they also plan on inviting to the wedding, advice Iíd certainly agree with if you were having a larger wedding where it would indeed be possible to invite all the people that are an important part of your lives. Given your circumstances, however, Iím thinking that an engagement party would be a fab way to let all your friends know that you really want to share in the celebration of your impending nuptials with all of them, even though you wonít be able to invite each and every one to the actual event. The key is just to spread the word that the wedding ceremony is going to be a very, very small, mostly family-only event, so that friends are aware well-ahead-of-time that though you may not be able to invite them to the big day itself, itís not because you donít think theyíre good-enough friends. To get around the potential tackiness issue of people thinking that youíre asking them for engagement gifts even though you wonít be inviting them to the wedding, just include a ďno gifts pleaseĒ on your engagement party invite.


shoe issues ...
Is it necessary, appropriate, or even polite to remove your shoes when invited into a friend's home?  I know in Japan, this is such a tradition that it is nearly mandatory, but the Japanese also have a large area inside their home where people can remove and store their shoes.  They also offer numerous pairs of slippers for their guests.  Most Americans do not offer slippers, yet many prefer that guests take their shoes off and walk around the house in their socks?

A: I grew up in a no-shoes household; if my mom or dad saw guests make a move to take off shoes, they would quickly offer a pair of slippers, but I donít think it would ever have occurred to either of my parents to actually force guests to go sans-shoes in our house. Youíre absolutely right that in certain cultures, itís expected that guests will automatically remove their shoes when entering a friendís home, since in these societies, no one would ever think of dirtying a clean house with whatever mud and grime and gunk might be stuck on the bottom of oneís street shoes. In countries like Japan in which this is the custom, certainly, it would be pretty much the height of rudeness to knowingly go against their expectations of whatís socially proper.  But in America, itís just not widely considered customary to walk around shoeless as soon as you enter an abode. So despite the fact that I personally prefer to pad around barefoot when Iím chez moi, Iím basically of the opinion that my guests should do whatever makes them feel comfortable (frankly this, to me, is one of my duties as a good host). As a good guest, however, I think itís nice to be attuned to the little things you can do to make your host happy Ė whether that means helping out in the kitchen, lending a hand with the clean-up, or simply noticing that the host doesnít wear shoes in his/her own house, and taking it upon yourself to remove your shoes as well. Which I guess means that in answer to your first question: Necessary? No. Appropriate? Maybe. Polite? Most definitely.

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