Gift Grab: Are you obligated to give a wedding gift to someone you haven’t seen in years if you don’t attend their wedding?

Q. I know that you say if you receive an invitation you need to send a gift, whether you are attending the wedding or not. But I received an invitation to the wedding of my second cousin, whom I haven’t seen since I was 14 years old. My partner has never met him or his fiancée; we barely know them, if at all. The wedding is over three hours away, so we would have to get a hotel, but we have not been invited to the dinner (leaving us ‘free’ between the ceremony and reception for exactly seven hours!). Although I hate to say it, we both feel that this is a gift grab. Are we seriously obligated to send a gift? I find this rule a little strict; I have sent many gifts to weddings that I haven’t attended over the years and it’s getting annoying. My issue is definitely about principles, not finance.

A.  Yes, traditionally, an invitation to a wedding does require a gift. However, there is an exception. If you receive an invitation from a casual social or business acquaintance or a person you haven’t seen in years and you don’t attend the wedding, a gift should not be expected.

Chivalry and Children: How do you make it clear children are not invited to a party?

Q. We are preparing to send invitations out to an annual adult party we like to host, it’s a Kentucky Derby Party. We are wondering about the proper way to complete the invitations to specifically invite adults. The party includes alcohol and gambling, which we think is inappropriate for children. Most all of our friends have children. It seems people take their kids everywhere these days. Aren’t there adult functions anymore? Is there a proper way to address and complete the invitations? Is it clear who is invited by listing names on the invitation? Such as Dick and Jane vs. Dick and Jane and little Johnny and little Susie?

Thanks for your council. I hope I am not completely clueless and insensitive here. If I am I trust you will be direct with me.

A. We hope this response reaches you in time. If not, we hope you find the information useful for future reference.

It is understood that only those names appearing on the invitation/envelope are those invited to a party. If you fear some of your guests will nonetheless assume that their children are welcome, then you should be sure to request a reply, not a “regrets only” response, so that when they call you can say, “Oh, I am so happy that you will be able to be here. . .” Should they say their child(ren) are coming, you should feel comfortable responding that although their child (children) is/are adorable and you would love to include him/her/them, space just doesn’t permit and to make an exception for one family and not others would only cause hurt feelings, but you hope they will be able to come even though the children can’t be included. That is pretty direct and clear, without being offensive.

Unwelcome in the Wedding: What to do as the father’s girlfriend when I want to be included in the daughter’s wedding?

Q. I am the girlfriend of the Father of the Bride. He has been divorced from the mother for 10 years. He has been living with me for 7 months and it will be 11 months at the time of the Wedding. His daughter refuses to include me in anything. The shower is in a week and I was not invited, nor asked to help out. She told her father she didn’t care who he brings to the wedding that an invitation will come to Stephen S and Guest. I think this is so wrong and she is still angry over the divorce and could be doing this to spite her father. What should we do?

A. Saying anything to the bride could only make the situation worse and be perceived as interfering. Expecting to be included in the wedding plans, attending the shower, etc. is unrealistic. She may feel your presence may make her mother and other family members and friend uncomfortable. No matter what the reason, it is hers and her fiance’s choice. The best course of action is to accept her decisions graciously.

Whispering in the Workplace: What is the correct protocol?

Q. I work in an office with five women. The woman that is the supervisor of only one of us acts like she is the supervisor of everyone. She is the highest paid but only has one subordinate. She has taken complete supervisory over the part-time woman. The question is…This supervisor constantly whispers to the woman in the part-time position. They go back and forth to each others desk and lower their voices to a whisper. Sometimes, a loud laughter will break out so I suspect they may not be talking about job related issues always. A co-worker asked her once about the habit of whispering and told her she thought it was rude and unprofessional. What is the correct protocol on whispering in an open office with only half cubicles separating everyone?

A. Whispering and loud laughter is not only distracting and annoying. It is extremely rude and immature no matter where it takes place.

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What to Wear: What is the appropriate attire for a Bar Mitzvah?

Q. My 13-year old daughter has been invited to a Bar Mitzvah in May. She and her friends are extremely excited but have no idea what is appropriate attire. The ceremony is at 11 a.m. followed by a luncheon. That evening there is a black-tie optional dinner dance. Can you recommend suitable clothing for them? (We live in a southern climate.)

A. She could wear to the ceremony and luncheon what she would wear to any religious service such as a conservative dress, skirt and blouse, or pant suit. At the dinner dance, she could wear an age-appropriate party dress. If in doubt, it is always better to ask.

Open Thread

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.