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04.22.2004: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners
for real-world living
1 2 3

post-elopement reception ...
What is the proper way to have a reception after we elope?

A: Nothing to it -- just do it! It's generally deemed best to send out a wedding announcement first, followed by a separate invitation to the reception afterwards, as the wedding and the party are really two separate events. The first apprises anyone who doesn't already know that the wedding did in fact take place; the second is the invitation to a great ol' party to celebrate your new union. It's best to avoid doing the reception card and announcement in the same mailing, lest your guests read the message as "We got married without you -- come give us gifts anyway!" You can do formal or casual, whatever suits you fancy. Just make sure you bring plenty of photos, maybe a wedding video if you happen to have one, and plenty of stories to share with all the friends and family who'll want to know every wonderful detail of how your wedding went.

"and guest" etiquette ...
My brother and his live-in girlfriend are angry with me because on their wedding invitation I sent, I wrote "George Smith & Guest". What is proper?

A: So here's the bad news: technically, yes, there's not an etiquette book on the planet that doesn't pooh-pooh the "…and Guest" addendum. The idea is that if you know the invitee well enough to want them present on your special day, you should really take the time to just ask them whether there's someone specific that they would like to bring along to the event, and to then include that guest's name on the invitation. It looks more personal and reads as a whole lot more welcoming. And given that this is your brother's live-in girlfriend, and presumably someone whose name you were already pretty dang familiar with, it really would have been nicer to write her name on the envelope as well. I'm assuming, however, that you meant her no slight in addressing her as "Guest," and that you were simply following what you thought was the appropriate protocol. These things happen, and there's no sense in letting a bad vibe spring up between you and the two of them for something that's really pretty small in the grand scheme of things. The best thing to do is simply apologize. Explain that it was an honest mistake born out of your sincere belief that you were following the proper etiquette, and not some passive-aggressive jibe; let her know that you very much look forward to having her there to help you celebrate your wedding … because chances are good, that's all she wants to know anyway.

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