Should I Supplement My Wedding Gift by Giving Money for the Reception?
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusively from the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas. (Have an issue you want help with? Send in a question today.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
Recently a distant cousin of mine became engaged. I'd only met this cousin recently, and had not expected to be invited to the wedding, which is out of state. He sent me a message asking if I would attend, and I said yes I would if they had room on the invitation list.
A week or two later, I received my invitation and I sent back the rsvp. In the meantime, I planned on bringing some money for the reception but I wanted to send a gift ahead of time. I asked for his address, and then he proceeded to tell me (over text) how expensive the wedding was going to be and that it was amounting to about $53 per head. He was really emphasizing how he was looking for cash and hoped his guests would gift money.
I don't pay $53 for dinner anywhere, for any occasion. I feel as if I am expected to cover the price of my seat.
Is this expected or required? I have my travel costs to get there and the gift I already had custom-made for them. I was planning to bring $25 to the wedding as an additional gift. Now I'm questioning whether I should go, or should I rescind my RSVP?
"Why were you planning to supplement your wedding present by bringing money for the reception?
Miss Manners is reminded of the old joke about the lady who is asked if she would sleep with someone for a million dollars. When she laughs and says yes, or even that she might, the next question is whether she would do it for ten dollars. That provokes her to say indignantly, "What do you think I am?", to which the response is, "We've established that. Now we're just haggling over the price."
Where is your outrage at the idea that guests should pay for their refreshments? Your $25 means that you are questioning only the amount.
Ordinarily, accepting an invitation is a commitment that should not be altered except for an emergency. But this has been put to you as a business proposition that you accepted before you knew the price. Miss Manners gives you leave to back out, apologizing that you hadn't realized what it would entail. But do send that custom-made present to show your good will."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
My husband just recently was arrested for DUI. This was a major event in our lives. My husband lost his prominent position with his employer, among all the stresses of no insurance, embarrassment etc.....
When I talk to my mother about this tragic life event, she will say, "Things will get better...you will be ok....." She doesn't have a clue of the impact this has made on our lives. Then her next sentence will be, "What are you bringing to the barbecue tomorrow?"
She drives me insane and I have chosen to quit talking to her. Is this going too far?
"Reading the subtexts of behavior does not seem to be a family skill. Miss Manners, who has never met either of you, will have to interpret.
Your mother is trying to be delicate. (If she had always been emotionally distant, you would have characterized this as the most egregious instance, and your own reaction as finally having given up trying to get through to her.)
Realizing that there is nothing she can do to improve the dismal situation, she is trying to spare you more of the pitying and moralizing that she presumes that others have heaped on you.
Of course she equally misread you, who did want to talk to her about your problems. But your ceasing to speak to her at all will only suggest that what little she may have said was resented, or even that her body language had said too much. It would be more helpful of you to tell her that you have few, if any, people to talk to confidentially, and that you would like to open up to her."
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author of Miss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. They have two perfect children, of course.
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