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Miss Manners: My sister-in-law seems to think wedding invites are transferrable

Dear Miss Manners: Ah, weddings. My daughter is getting married in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to a lovely occasion. The bride and groom adamantly insisted on inviting only people they knew, not every relation. No “plus-one” invitations were sent.

My sister-in-law approached the bride and then me, blithely suggesting she would bring her son’s ex-wife along to stand in for her son, who is unlikely to attend. She seems to think wedding invitations are transferrable. She basically wants someone there to tend to her 7-year-old granddaughter, who was invited by name on her father’s invitation.

My sister-in-law (a named guest) is welcome to bring her granddaughter (also a named guest), but the former daughter-in-law is a stranger to both the bride and me. We clearly told my sister-in-law that was unacceptable. She has now asked a second time, and I am worried she will invite her anyway.

The reception is a sit-down dinner with a seating chart. It will be awkward, and my daughter will be thoroughly annoyed at being flouted. (I do not fault the ex-wife, and I doubt she would knowingly crash a stranger’s wedding. I will go out of my way to avoid embarrassing her if she does appear.) Rather than argue with her aunt, my daughter asked me to handle it.

How far out of line is my sister-in-law? Are we out of touch with modern norms? Is this a clear social breach warranting a firm, precautionary phone call, or is it too petty to bother?

Much like most airline tickets, wedding invitations are not transferrable. Unfortunately, there are no monetary penalties to enforce it, only social ones. And as you point out, the ex-wife is probably not the one at fault.

Your letter indicates, however, that there might be a bigger problem at hand — a 7-year old on the loose — for which Miss Manners has a modicum of sympathy. You may have to choose between inviting the mother, procuring help and having a restless child at the wedding. There will probably be disruption with any of these options.

If you choose hired help over an uninvited guest, you may politely phrase it as: “If you are worried about Gigi’s care, we understand. We may be able to provide some outside supervision for the children. But otherwise, we are confining the guest list to only people we know.”

Dear Miss Manners: When we entertain vegetarians for dinner in our home, our menu is always all-vegetarian. When we dine out in restaurants with vegetarians, must we refrain from eating fish or meat out of consideration for their dining preferences?

Unless your companions have an airborne fish or meat allergy, a restaurant is a place where all diners are entitled to order what they like — without fear of judgment or rebuke.

That said, Miss Manners and your vegetarian companions would find it gracious of you not to order a huge slab of bleeding cow, or to choose a restaurant called “Meat Meat Meat.” Although she does hear it has an excellent salad bar.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

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