You’re invited, but only your money is welcomed

I’ve been exposed to a lot of financial craziness, but a recent question sent to The Washington Post’s Judith Martin, who writes the Miss Manners column, left me with my mouth open out of the sheer audacity someone was displaying.

Here’s the background: A bride-to-be wants to invite some of her sister’s friends to her wedding. But the bridezilla doesn’t actually want the friends to come to the wedding. She merely wants her sister’s friends to send her money for a wedding they aren’t welcomed to attend.

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To Miss Manners she wrote: “I am troubled as to how I can formally ‘inform’ friends of my sister about my upcoming wedding without specifically inviting them to attend the actual ceremony — just as an FYI, in hopes to receive a gift. I know that the intent should not be only to receive a gift; however, my sister (who is much older than I) has friends whose children are my age, and my sister has given financially to their children for several years over the course of their lives for other events, such as graduations, school fundraisers, communions, showers, etc.”

She asks: “Is there a ‘polite’ way in which to accomplish an ‘information only’ invitation?”

My first thought after reading the circumstances surrounding this question is that it has to be a fake letter. No one could really be this crass. Surely, someone was trying to make the point that it’s become an awful trend that wedding guests are invited with the hopes of profiting from their wedding. Right?

Martin was respectful in her answer: “Unfortunately, duty requires Miss Manners to inform you that there is such a thing as a wedding announcement, which is sent immediately after the marriage takes place, its purpose being to inform people who may (or in your case may not) be pleased simply to hear of the marriage.”

Good polite slam for this greedy bride.

More Wedding Greediness

Here’s another case of a bride behaving badly.

Huffington Post recently posted a Facebook message from a woman who was blasted by her friend because she dared to give the couple $100 as a wedding present.

The bride sent this Facebook message to her friend after the wedding: “I just want to know is there any reason or dissatisfaction of Mike’s and I wedding that both you and Phil gave 50$ each? In terms of the amount we got from you both was very unexpected as a result we were very much short on paying off the reception because just for the cocktail + reception alone the plate per person is 200$ (as per a normal wedding range with open bar is about) and Mike and I both have already paid for everything else including decor, photography, attire etc and didn’t expect we had to cover that huge amount for reception as well. As I know you both live together and work, so I did not see any reason for that amount, when it comes to your wedding hopefully you’ll know what I mean. I hope for the best as from what we receive is what we will give back.”

Again, if the message is genuine, who are these greedy, uncouth people?

And since when are people expected to give the equivalent of what it cost to attend a wedding reception? Do I really have to say there should be no value attached to the honor of being invited to a wedding or birthday party or any special event? If you can’t afford to host your own party then don’t party. But hoping or expecting guests to give you enough money to cover the cost of your reception is just wrong.

As if she has to defend herself, the friend justified her gift by offering that she just graduated from college with $40,000 in student loans, is working only part-time and gave what she could afford.

The Huffington Post asked readers what they thought.

One poster said: “I’d hope that I paid by check and that I could cancel it before it was cashed!”

Another wrote: “If you are insulted by a GIFT then you are at fault. A gift is GRATUITOUS! As in freely given not rightly deserved. Don’t invite people to your functions if you can’t afford to pay outright and don’t do it if you expect something in return. The nerve!”

Color of Money Question of the Week

How would you respond to a couple who thought your wedding gift wasn’t good enough? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Include your full name, city and state. Put “More Wedding Greediness” in the subject line.

Gift-giving Etiquette

On the other side of gift-giving is the giver who doesn’t get an acknowledgment from the recipient.

In a recent chat, Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax responded to a reader who complained about not receiving thank-you notes.

“I always have been prompt in sending a thank-you note or calling within a day or two of receipt, regardless of the size or nature of the gift. As a retiree on a fixed income, I am inclined to cease sending gifts and send only cards. Is expression of gratitude no longer in fashion?”

Hax’s response: “Short answer: Nothing has changed. Recipients owe givers prompt thanks in some form. Long answer: Everything has changed. While it is rude to not acknowledge a gift, and while there seems to be an epidemic of silence by gift recipients, I think it’s oversimplifying to add 1 + 1 and declare an epidemic of rudeness

I think something else important has happened that doesn’t get enough credit for the clear trend toward unacknowledged gifts: Stuff matters less.”

I think Hax is right when she says, “many kids — and even adults — are immune to their possessions. Despite the recession, Americans are largely staggering under the weight of their stuff.”

We all get so much that more just doesn’t register on our grateful meter.

Chat Canceled

I’m attending college orientation for my daughter, so this week’s live online discussion is canceled. I’ll be back online to chat next Thursday, July 18, at noon ET.

Paula Deen’s Food Empire Takes a Financial Hit

It was a swift kick down financially for celebrity chef Paula Deen after she recently acknowledged using a racial slur in the past, specifically the N-word.

A number of companies, including Sears Holdings and QVC have dropped Deen as a spokesperson. She lost her show on the Food Network. Ballantine, an imprint of Random House Inc., said it was canceling a multiple book deal, including an upcoming cookbook that was a No. 1 seller on Amazon.com and due out in October, reported the Associated Press.

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “Was it fair for some of Paula Deen’s business partners to drop her for racial slurs made in the past?”

“I am troubled by the roller coaster, out of proportion reaction to Paula Dean’s honest admission to using the ‘N-word’ years ago,” wrote Pat Schieffer of San Antonio. “I don’t particularly like to cook so am not a fan of her show and don’t speak from that perspective. I get the feeling that the companies are falling all over themselves to be politically correct.”

Said Susan Wheeler of Prince Frederick, Md.: “Fair is not the correct term. You are talking about a business decision. They jumped on the ‘Paula Deen’ rising star to grab some of her glory and then dumped her when she lost her star power. Just business as usual for Corporate America.”

Lorna Gilkey of Alexandria thought it was appropriate for Deen’s business partners to drop her. “It should be noted that it is neither about just the racial slurs nor is it ‘in the past.’ Even a cursory glance at the complaint filed by Lisa Jackson details a long sad history of serious abuse in the Paula Deen Companies, all with Paula’s full knowledge, and the worst of it ranged from 2005 thru August of 2011.”

Facebook reader Hailey Meyer Liechty wrote: “When the story first broke, she was very unapologetic ... They should’ve dropped her ages ago when she admitted to being diabetic, for years, yet kept demonstrating unhealthy, decadent food to her viewers. She is a big phony bologna, with a dollop of mayo. Bleah.”

Ilka @flypr tweeted: “Yes, I am so glad that companies feel they must sever ties with #PaulaDeen over this issue. Racism cannot be tolerated.”

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or e-mail michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.

 
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