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05.29.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 1

more wedding guest blunders ...
I recently moved in with my boyfriend, who works in Politics and who is very intelligent.  However, I was shocked to find old RSVP cards from wedding invitations that he had received from friends - he had never RSVP'd to the wedding, and he believed that "because he didn't go to the wedding he didn't need to send a gift."  I was SHOCKED!  I've tried to explain that this is in poor taste and he shrugs it off as being a guy thing.  Until I find something in writing that I can show him (to prove that he is CRAZY!) it is my word against his.  Can you help me?

A: I like to fancy myself a reasonably understanding sort of person, and am generally the last person to get her knickers in a twist when someone unintentionally commits an etiquette faux-pas, particularly when the consequences of the violation are pretty much nil in the grand scheme of things. But as someone who’s gone through the stress of planning a wedding, I have to say that it is a very, very, very vexing thing indeed to have to chase down guests who are too damn lazy to just pop that RSVP card in the mail and provide a timely response. I mean, seriously, how difficult is it to fill out that card and throw it into a mailbox? They’re self-addressed and pre-stamped, for god’s sake! So, sorry, but “guy thing” just doesn’t cut it for me. I can think of no reason whatsoever that anyone could provide for not RSVPing to any event where a response was specifically requested, barring “I’m a lazy, rude person who can’t take the two seconds out of my apparently monumentally busy life to fill in my name, check off the “can’t make it” box, and leave the card for my mailman to pick up.”

For me, there’s a little more leeway regarding the necessity of giving a gift when you’re not attending a wedding, as I don’t think gifts should ever, ever be required of ANY guests – I know it’s cliché, but when it comes to inviting friends and relatives to a wedding, I really do think presence is so much more important than presents, and any bride/groom who feels put out because they don’t feel they get the gifts they deserve is completely missing the point. However, assuming you actually care about these people who have been so kind as to invite you to join in the celebration of their important day, I do think it’s nice to take the time send a gift, or at the very least a card wishing them all the best, even if you can’t make it to the event itself. Not out of any worry about getting on the bride and groom's bad sides or anything, but just because it's a thoughtful thing to do.

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