Miss Manners: Don’t fall victim to wedding gift extortion

September 20, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A co-worker is getting married again. In January he sent out “save the date” cards. I told him I had plans for that day, and to cross me off his guest list.

I do not have plans but will not attend this wedding. He is marrying the woman whom he was cheating with on his first wife. They had a secret child together, unknown to both his wife and her husband.

The cherry on this sundae: Her husband was his brother. (I know it sounds like Jerry Springer.)

The entire office has known for years, and he has even dragged co-workers in on it to cover his butt. When it went down in flames, they revealed to the brother that the girl wasn’t his daughter, breaking his brother’s heart, we’re sure.

Now he is marrying his “true soul mate.” This is why I do not want to go to the wedding. He still sent me an invitation. When I told him, “I told you to take me off your list,” he smiled and said, “Oh, well, since you got an invitation, etiquette says you still have to send a gift.”

Really?! Most in the office are not attending but are sending gifts so as not to cause extra tension around work. Should I, too?

GENTLE READER: Will it surprise you to hear that your co-worker is not an etiquette expert?

Of course etiquette does not consider a wedding invitation to be equivalent to an invoice. If a present were required from those invited to weddings in which they have little or no interest -- or, as in your case, actually find offensive -- greedy people would be inviting everyone whose address they could find.

Come to think of it, many of them are. Miss Manners often receives wailing queries from those invited to weddings of people they hardly know, asking to be told whether they have to respond with offerings.

No, no, no. A wedding invitation requires an immediate response, accepting or declining it. Anyone who accepts presumably cares enough to comply with the convention of sending a present. Those who also care but are prevented from attending may want to send something, but need not.

Those who are the targets of extortion, as you are, should not succumb. You may want to pass this word around the office.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Does a host have an obligation to disclose the guest list to a dinner party? We were invited to a holiday barbecue and were not happy with the guests who were invited.

Had I known who would be there, we would have taken up another invitation we got from family. I feel that this holiday should be spent with friends and family and not getting to know someone you will never see again. Our hosts felt differently and I left very disappointed. Thoughts?

GENTLE READER: That the hosts’ error was thinking that you might like to spend time with them and their friends, and that you were at least open to the idea that if you like them, you might like their other friends. As such is not the case, Miss Manners identifies the error as your accepting the invitation.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2011, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

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