STAGE OF LIFE       Share Your Story       Coupons       Education Resources
Sign Up Now!

Brushing up on wedding manners...

Etiquette for Weddings

Meet our resident etiquette expert on StageofLife.com

Wedding etiquette adviceStage of Life is pleased to introduce etiquette expert, Jay Remer, to its team.  Below you will find tips, advice and articles from Jay on important etiquette topics specifically tailored to brides and grooms for pulling off the perfect wedding. 

But wait...

Ask Jay a wedding etiquette question ...ask us an etiquette question now.  If you're planning a wedding and have an etiquette question, contact us and we'll post your question and Jay's reply here.

Read below for real-life etiquette advice submissions about weddings from our users, and don't forget to check out all 10 of our etiquette advice pages for the other stages of life.

Wedding Etiquette Articles

Not Invited to BBQ After Wedding

Is it wrong that my nephew did not invite more family to the bbq that he is throwing the day after his wedding and reception even if many of us are traveling from far away? 

Dear Jay,
My nephew is getting married. There is a beautiful ceremony and a reception following planned very soon.  I come from a large family.  However, we have found out there is a BBQ the day after the wedding to which only one aunt was invited. No one else in the family was invited. Is this appropriate?  It is an 8 hour drive to the wedding reception and I have already sent my rsvp in that I would be attending along with my husband.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  The host controls the guest list. It seems odd that the guest list would not be more inclusive, but it’s not your place to say a word about it. I hope this helps.

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Aunt's Creepy New Husband To Be

How do I tell my aunt that her new husband to be is not welcome in my home and I do not want my daughters around him ever? 

Dear Jay,
How do I tell my Aunt that I don't want my daughters in her wedding or around her soon to be husband? My aunt is mentally challenged and so is her soon to be husband. They are both using each other. She's using him to help pay her bills, and he's using her for a place to live. I don't care about this; they are adults. My problem is that he creeps me out by the way he stares at my young daughters (2 & 4). He's also dirty and smells terrible. He's never done anything to any one that I know of, but my gut feeling warning bells ring very loudly whenever he's around. 

He also takes any chance he gets to tell my children what to do. He will repeat things I say to my girls immediately after I say it to them. (Ex: I say "girls don't jump on the couch" and before they can even react he's running over to them yelling "STOP jumping on the couch!" In my own home.) This whole wedding thing is a circus. She wanted the bridesmaids and flower girls to wear pant suits and the groomsmen to wear dresses because her fiance likes to wear women's clothes. She can't decide on her colors and the wedding is only a couple months away. How do I tell her I'm not comfortable having my children in her wedding as it’s not being taken as a serious commitment, but as a fun dress up game? Also how do I tell her I don't want her soon to be husband around my children or at my house?



Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is very simple. If you feel intuitively that your children may be facing a safety risk, tell your aunt your daughters will not be in the wedding and exactly how you feel. Honesty is the best policy. Secondly, do not invite your aunt and her fiance to your house, ever. Have no feelings of guilt. Just keep your children away from them. This is potentially very serious. I hope this helps.

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Facebook Etiquette for Engagement Announcement

What is the proper way to announce an engagement on Facebook? 

Dear Jay,
I would like to announce to all my friends on Facebook that my 2 oldest grand -daughters recently became engaged. How do I do that? Is there any particular way or format to do that eloquently? Thank you.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If this engagement has been announced on FB already, I suggest you share that announcement on your page. If this has not been announced on FB, resist doing so until the grand-daughters do it themselves. I highly recommend sharing their announcement rather than creating your own. I hope this helps.


-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Returning Wedding Gifts After a Short Marriage

Does a couple need to return their wedding gifts if their marriage was short-lived? 

Dear Jay,
Should wedding gifts (money too) be given back if the couple separates 7 weeks after they marry?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Seven weeks is a short amount of time. Yes, all gifts that are in tact (including cash) should be returned with a hand written note. Both spouses should participate in this exercise. It is a sad time. Not everyone will expect their gift returned, and no one should ask for their gift to be returned. It’s simply the right thing to do. I hope this helps.


-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Sister Taking Over Wedding Guest List

Do I need to invite my sister's adult step-children to my daughter's wedding? 

Dear Jay,
Do I have to invite my sister’s adult step-children to my daughter’s wedding? They do not know my daughter, and I have been around them very little. My sister is saying I need to since these are her children.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  This is your daughter’s wedding, not your sister’s. You invite whomever you want. Your sister should not try bullying you into changing your mind. I’m sure you’ve given this matter plenty of careful consideration. I hope this helps.


-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Guests Can Stay Here, But I Can't Look After Them

Is it okay for me to allow people to stay at my home when my daughter gets married even if I can't really provide them with food, etc. while they are here because I will be working on the wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My daughter is getting married next year and we are having the wedding in our garden. All guests will be from out of town. We have room to put up four couples and the rest will have to see to their own accommodations. I do not want to be cooking and looking after eight extra people for food etc. because I am doing most of the planning of the wedding .

How can I tell the people staying in my house they are responsible for their own food, etc.?

I will be 64 years old and I don’t have strength nor inclination to be running after people.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I understand your position and would advise that you be sure those people staying with you know of this arrangement before they accept your invitation to stay. This way they have the option to stay in a hotel if they’d prefer. I hope this helps.

 -Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Proper Wording for Signs at an Outdoor Wedding

How do I politely word signs at my outdoor wedding to let guests know they may not enter the home on the property? 

Dear Jay,
I'm planning a backyard wedding for Oct. 10, 2015. The homeowner wants signs placed on all doors to the house stating that wedding guests may not enter. There will be a tent, catered food, drinks, a fire pit, games, D.J. and a dance floor and deluxe port-a-potties - everything I think a guest might need. I would like a few suggestions on how to politely word signs that will go on the doors of the residence. I want to respect the homeowners and be hospitable to the guests.
Thanks so much!

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is a great question. I find a sign that simply says PRIVATE usually does the trick. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Invitations for Weddings

Who is allowed to invite people to a wedding? 

Dear Jay,
Is it proper for grandparents to be able to invite their friends to their granddaughter's wedding?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  No one can invite guests to any party without the host’s OK. For a wedding, the invitation should be issued by the host. Unless the grandparents are hosting the wedding, they must follow this protocol. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Money for Wedding Gifts

Am I expected to give monetary gifts at my grandchild's wedding? 

Dear Jay,
Is it expected for a Grandparent to give a monetary gift at a grandchild’s wedding?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  No gift should ever be expected. There is no rule of etiquette describing who should give what sort of gift. I recommend that if a cash gift is an option to ask the bride and groom, if you are wondering what they’d like. Grandparents are not treated any differently than other guests in the gift department. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Dilemma Over Pre-wedding Guests

How do I break it to my daughter-in-law to be that I would prefer to have my sons stay in my home the night before the wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My future daughter-in-law wants to stay at our home with her bridesmaids the night before her wedding. I would like my two sons (groom and best man) to sleep in their own home the night before the wedding, but don't know how to tell the future bride. Any suggestions?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Have your son deal with this. He can tell her. But you must first have a conversation with him about why this is the case. You two must come to an understanding. This should not be a complicated matter to solve. By the way, how does anyone get away with inviting themselves into your home with guests? Your home is your castle, you make the rules. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Dad and Daughter Need to Work it out

What should I do about the uncomfortable situation between my husband and my oldest daughter? 

Dear Jay,
My dear sister and brother-in-law are hosting a "family" bridal shower for my niece and her fiance. My sister expects about 60 people, and I have offered to help her with some of the food. Our eldest daughter (over 30) is the matron of honor. She has been completely estranged from her father for about a year due to an incident that she believes endangered the life of her daughter (now 17 months). I was present at the incident along with four other of our children and don't agree with this perception. There has been bad blood between daughter and father through the years, but also periods of peace. She has now asked me if he will be attending the shower, and says that if he is going, she will likely not attend because: "I don't want to cause a scene. And we don't want our daughter anywhere near him." 

Currently, I believe both my husband and I will go. I have not shared any of this with my husband, because I frankly think my daughter is out of place to put me in the middle of this battle. Not only that, but if she can't show up to an event without causing an outburst I believe that she should stay home. Do I have an obligation to share with my daughter our plans of attending?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  A discussion is long overdue between your husband and his daughter, perhaps using a good mediator to assist. Your daughter never learned the skill of civil conversation. In all likelihood there is some level of joint responsibility for this rift and apologies from both sides will be necessary. A mother’s concern for the safety of her child cannot be overestimated, so if her perception is incorrect, someone needs to convince her otherwise. You are smart to stay out of this whole mess. It is up to your daughter to let her host know if she will or will not accept the invitation, not you. Frankly, your daughter needs to learn how to behave civily at important family functions. They will occur. If she must, she can find a sitter for her daughter. Since your daughter asked you the question, you should answer it. But you do not need to take any responsibility for her reaction to the news. She’s an adult. Hopefully she learned how to take responsibility for her feelings and actions as a child. If she didn’t, now is as good a time as any for her to start. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Sister-in-law Stuck with Bridal Party Duties

What do I do when my sister-in-law didn't ask me to be in her wedding, but I am taking care of everything a bridal party member should do? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I have been together since his sister was 16 years old (ten years now) and she is getting married this fall.  She has asked her step sister, two cousins, her fiance's sister, a couple of college friends, my husband (groomsman), my daughter (flower girl) and my son (ring bearer) to all be in the wedding party, but not me.  

It doesn't bother me that she didn't ask because I understand having set numbers for your wedding party, but I am still expected to do all of the things that her bridesmaids should be doing but aren't! None of them even attended her bridal shower and now I am making the bridal bouquet made from bows for her rehearsal. I had to dig the bows out of the trash because her mom just threw them all away! I am starting to feel slightly under appreciated or looked over and don't understand why. We have always gotten along and regularly do things together with the kids even when my husband is gone and it is just the two of us, so I know it isn't because of tensions.  I am just wondering if I am reading into it too much and should just continue to do what needs to be done to make her big day as special as possible or should just step back letting her continue to do everything on her own and what doesn't get done just doesn't get done?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  The question I have for you is why are you involved in these arrangements at all? From what you write, it sounds as though you may be meddling, although you are doing a great job of picking up the pieces. The answer is for you to step back and let her bridal party handle things. Perhaps a word with the maid of honor would be helpful. Otherwise, remember it’s not your wedding. Release any responsibility you may feel. I hope this helps.



-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Stuck with the Bill

Was it wrong of my brother to stick me with the bill? 

Dear Jay,
My mother was recently re-married, and I flew in from out of town to attend the wedding. The night before the wedding, my brother and I co-organized a small pre-wedding dinner for my mother, brother, myself, and my fiance at an expensive restaurant.

When the bill arrived, my brother and fiance proceeded to argue (in dramatic and funny fashion) over who would get the bill -- and when my fiance won, he turned and handed the bill to me!

To be fair, I'd previously told him I intended to pay for my mother's portion of the dinner, but said nothing about paying for my brother and his wife (who cancelled at the last minute, with no warning).

I paid the bill, but felt I was put in an awkward and unfair position. Am I being unreasonable, or did they commit a faux pas?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your brother is confused about what’s funny and what isn’t. I always advise that you do not spend someone else’s money without their permission. Your brother is in the wrong. It sounds to me like you will absorb the cost this time, but I would be sure to be more clear in the future. This is not a laughing matter. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Kids Not Invited to the Wedding

How do I handle my sister not inviting my two well behaved kids to her wedding when other unruly kids are invited? 

Dear Jay,
My sister just called me to say my children (who are 9 and 10 and very well behaved), are not invited to her wedding. We live in NC and the wedding is in Seattle. We have already bought our plane tickets and booked our hotel. She said it was because if they don't allow kids then they can have another table free to invite adults. BUT, get this, my other sister’s daughter and our brother’s daughter who are both under 5 years of age and unruly ARE invited!  Say WHAT?  Our Dad is highly offended!  Her husband to be's family is pretty much planning the whole thing. Our Dad, the father of the bride isn't even allowed to bring his girlfriend. Please HELP before I lose my mind!!!!!

Jay's ANSWER...
A: If you had received an invitation that included your children, you have a legitimate gripe. If not, your assumption may wind up resulting in awkwardness. You have no choice here but to follow your host’s  plan. People don’t always make sensible decisions. It is unusual for the groom’s parents to arrange the wedding. If you and your sister can’t work this out, you will need to find a sitter for your children. I would be upset, too, but in such a bizarre situation, you just need to do your best. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Bridal Shower Guest List

Is it okay if I don't want my mother to be invited to my daughter's bridal shower if I am hosting? 

Dear Jay,
My daughter is getting married soon and I am hosting one of her bridal showers. I have decided, in order to keep the peace and have the focus remain on her and not feel uncomfortable, not to invite my mother. We split the showers between families. The one I'm hosting is mostly for my father's side and my sister's in laws. My father recently remarried and my mom is still in love with him. Every birthday party and get together is now extremely uncomfortable, because my mother makes it uncomfortable. I don't know how to tell her and she's extremely offended and says she's going to come to the shower because it's proper etiquette. But what is proper etiquette with extended family and lots of ex wives and half siblings and step siblings?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Showers are traditionally attended by women only. You cannot be responsible for controlling people’s behavior. In any event, if you are hosting a party, you control the guest list - period. Omitting certain people may cause trouble, for which you must be prepared. I advise, as uncomfortable as it may be, that honesty is the best policy. Your relationship with your mother is not something new. There are patterns entrenched in your lives that are unlikely to change much. Blended families can be challenging and complicated. As a general rule, be as inclusive as possible. In the end, this is a very generous gesture on your behalf to host such a shower. You should not be the sacrificial lamb. By removing yourself from the role of peacemaker, you will have a much less stressful and more enjoyable time. I hope this helps

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding Dress Dilemma

Should I be concerned about my mother of the groom dress being much more formal than the mother of the bride's dress? 

Dear Jay,
I am the mother of the groom. I have a dress picked out for the wedding and I was waiting for the bride’s mother to get her dress. She's a size 6 and I'm a plus size, there are not a lot of choices for me. Her dress is very plain and office attire-ish. Mine is more of a cocktail dress. Is it going to be a problem with our dresses being on two different levels of formality?  I am losing sleep over this because I don't want to be the fly in the ointment, but I don't want to wear a dress that looks like just a house dress on me.


Jay's ANSWER...
A:  As long as what you choose to wear is in keeping with the dress code for the wedding, you do not need to concern yourself with what anyone else is wearing. You will not be a fly in the ointment. This wedding is all about the bride, not anyone else. I hope this helps.
  - Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Paying for Out of Town Wedding Guests

Who is responsible for paying the airfare for out of town wedding guests? 

Dear Jay,
My sister's daughter (niece) is getting married, but my parents can't afford the plane trip which will cost around $750 for both. Not that I can't afford it, but I thought the bride's parents are responsible for paying out of state family members transportation to the wedding?  Am I missing something here?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: It is not the responsibility of the bride’s parents to cover such costs. They can pay for it, but it is not an obligation. Financial considerations are very private and should be handled with compassion, gratitude and humility. You offering to pay for your parents’ air fare would be appropriate and much appreciated, no doubt. I hope this helps.
 
- Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Angry Over Other Brides Stealing Her Thunder

What should I do about two other brides close to me scheduling their weddings before my wedding date even though they knew what my wedding date was? 

Dear Jay,
I set my wedding date for October. Shorty after I set my date, my fiancee’s best friend’s fiancee decided they were having their wedding a month earlier! Then my fiancee’s brother’s fiancee decided to have hers a month before that in August! I’m frustrated, because it is a lot to ask financially of our families not to mention selfish of the other brides to be. I am at the point of postponing mine 6 months to a year. I am bummed out and overwhelmed...the thought of going to their weddings angers me. What should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I’m afraid you will have to accept these unsettling (to you) dates as matters of fact. These people have just as much right as you have to plan their weddings whenever they wish. You are not paying for these weddings, so the financial burden is not your responsibility. My advice to you is to focus on your wedding, and be joyful, not pissed off, that these other weddings are taking place at all. This is a time for gratitude, not sour grapes. I hope this helps.
 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding just 3 days after college graduation

What kind of gift should I give for my grandson and his fiancee who are both graduating from college and then getting married 3 days later? 

Dear Jay,
My grandson is graduating from college and so is his fiancé. Three days after they graduate, they are having a wedding in the Mormon church. What is the appropriate graduation and wedding gift from Grandma (me) for both graduation and the wedding? They are both graduating from college with their engineering degrees.


Jay's ANSWER...
A: How exciting! I think the best way to handle this one is to write them a check. Explain in a lovely note that the check is a combined gift. This is totally understandable and acceptable given the proximity of the two events. I hope this helps.

 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Friend's Daughter Wants our Home as a Wedding Venue

How do we tell our friend's daughter that she can't use our home for her wedding and reception? 

Dear Jay,
My friend's daughter wants to use our house for her wedding/reception.  She is rude, obnoxious, and just not a nice person. The groom wants to wear a dress to "his" wedding!  Obviously, there are issues with this couple and we want nothing to do with either one of them. How do we gracefully decline without sacrificing our friendship with parents?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If the parents can’t see the flaws here, they’re not your friends. Simply tell the daughter that your house is not available. No explanation required. I hope this helps.

 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Disapproval of niece's wedding

Do I have to attend my niece's shotgun wedding just because I was invited? 

Dear Jay,
My 18 year old niece "accidentally" got pregnant with a guy she’s been dating for less than a month, and she is inviting me to the wedding. Should I attend her wedding or just let my parents attend it?

I want to encourage my parents to not go as it is not a blessed wedding.

What should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You have two choices here. You can either accept the invitation to the wedding or you can regret it. What other people do is their business, not yours. If this wedding doesn’t sit well with you morally, you can simply send you regrets. Otherwise attend, take a lovely gift, and enjoy the festivities. Your judgement about the situation is your own. Follow your heart. I hope this helps.
 
Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding and Shower Date Disaster

Do I have a right to be angry that my nephew's bridal shower is on the same day as my son's wedding even if they knew the wedding date well in advance? 

Dear Jay,
My son is the first one to be engaged and set a wedding date of my siblings.  My nephew became engaged shortly there after. He contacted my mom to confirm the wedding date so the weddings were not on the same date; however, the maid of honor is hosting a bridal shower on my son's wedding day.  Invitations were sent out 4 weeks before her invitations were mailed.  Now my sister and her family will be attending the bridal shower and not my son's wedding.  I was disappointed that my nephew or his future bride allowed the maid of honor to schedule the shower on this date. The maid of honor sent an invitation to the grandmother but not to me, knowing my son's wedding was on this day. I sent my nephew a message letting him know I was disappointed that the shower was on my son's wedding day. Is that inappropriate of me?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Not at all! I would be fuming. The shower should be rescheduled. If not, trust me - the guests will know what the right thing to do is. There is nothing to do at this point except to be gracious if they come to their senses and change the date for the shower. Have compassion for them and for yourself. We all do stupid things. I hope this helps.
 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding trip hijacking mother-in-law

Are we under any obligation to visit with or stay with our family while in my husband's hometown for a wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My husband is the best man in a wedding in his hometown this summer.  We have 5 children and live on the other side of the country so this is actually our first visit out east.  We have arranged to stay in a condo for all but a few days despite his mom’s insistence to stay with her.  I know her feelings are hurt, but my husband simply can't stand the thought of even a couple days at her house.  Now she is trying to "force" interaction between my husband and his brother (who also lives in the area)). The brothers don't really get along, but she's acting as though my husband needs to reach out. My question is whose responsibility is it to initiate a get together?  Is it rude for neither brother to try?  Is it ok not to contact them when we are there or are WE being rude? Thank you.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  No one is under any obligation to contact anyone. Your mother-in-law has no business involving herself in this affair. You are grown ups for goodness sake. This behavior has been going for years, no doubt. You are not being rude. From your brother-in-law’s perspective, he may even view your keeping to yourselves as considerate! I hope this helps.
 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding Duties

What should I do to help out in my sister-in-law's daughter's wedding? 

Dear Jay,
I would like to know my duties in my sister-in-law’s daughter’s wedding. What do I need to do or help with for the wedding?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You have no responsibilities per se unless specifically asked by the bride to be to be part of her bridal party. Then you have a role to play, just like the other bridesmaids; otherwise, you have no role to play other than as a guest at the festivities. I hope this helps.

 Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Not Included on Wedding Guest List

Is it proper etiquette for a father to get remarried but not invite some of his children to the wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My father recently married the woman he had been living with for 23 years. My brother was invited to the wedding and so were her children. When I found out on social media about the wedding I asked my father why was I left out of the loop to which he didn't answer at the moment, but his new wife did. She called me a depressed, jealous, little child. My question is: Was I wrong on even asking or showing them my feelings had been hurt? Is it proper for parents to get married without letting some of their children know, assuming there is no bad blood between them?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are definitely not wrong for expressing your feelings. People do get married very quietly with absolute minimal attendees on a very regular basis. Is it proper? It’s not particularly traditional, but with time, traditions fade and change. Your father’s new bride sounds like a real treat. She does not like you for some unknown (to me) reason. I would just steer clear and have as much compassion for her and for yourself as possible. I hope this helps.
 

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Who should be on the wedding guest list?

What is the proper etiquette for inviting relatives to one's wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My husband’s nephew is getting married. Should my parents be invited, or is this  not proper etiquette?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: There is no hard and fast rule here. The host of the wedding decides the guest list. This can hinge on many factors, none of which are your concern. If the wedding is small, they may well not be included. If the wedding is very large, perhaps then they would be. The choice lies with the host. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding Guest List Sparks WWIII

How should I handle my brother not inviting my husband's children or my husband's mom to his wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I recently married. We invited my brother's girlfriend and her daughter and mother to our wedding. Six months later my brother is now getting married to the same girl and did not invite my husband's children (we are a second marriage) nor his mother.

I am so hurt for my husband. I am very angry with my brother. It is pretty disgusting to me. I can't even tell my husband this, and I don't even want to go to their wedding anymore.

I believe my brother is completely wrong and only doing what he wants. He is
going to start WWIII now. This is a terrible thing to do to family.  Especially when we bestowed this kindness upon him and he was not even engaged at the time.

I am truly seeking the right thing to do.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I hate to tell you, but you are 100% in the wrong here. To explain this in simple terms from an etiquette perspective, the host of any party, event, or celebration of any kind has complete control over the guest list. When you and your now husband decided to invite people to your wedding, this rule applied. It still applies. Your brother has every bit as much right to invite who he wants as you had. Just because he is not following your model does not mean he is wrong. And, I will add that you should be comfortable enough with your thoughts on this matter to share them with your husband. This whole situation hinges on responsibility. It is not your responsibility to decide who does and does not attend your brother’s wedding. Nor is it your responsibility to protect your husband from any of this. If you truly want to do the right thing, allow your brother to enjoy his wedding on his terms, and allow your husband to deal with his own feelings around this matter. He can handle it. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Upset and Used Grandmother

Should I even go to my granddaughter's wedding when she and her mom just use me but don't include me? 

Dear Jay,
Hi Jay, I am so confused.  I have always been there for my daughter and her six children, paying her bills and helping out.  My daughter keeps my grandchildren away from me when she doesn't get what she wants. I put my foot down 2 years ago. I was not kissing her butt to see my grandchildren. It has been two years with many nasty letters and phone calls. Now, my oldest grand-daughter is getting married. Every time she wanted or needed something over these 2 years, she called me. For this wedding, however, she has not included me whatsoever.  Should I still go to the wedding when I feel I do not want to go?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: If you receive an invitation to the wedding, then you have a choice to make, but not before that time. If you do not receive an invitation, you cannot attend. You have created a bit of a monster in your daughter. I have seen this happen too many times. My advice is to stop supporting her financially unless she is destitute. She has six children. These six children were all choices she made. She has responsibilities. If you keep bailing her out, she won’t learn how to manage on her own, nor will she be able to pass this important skill onto her children. As much as you think you may have been helping, you have been enabling inappropriate dependency. Stop the nasty communications. You need to “do the right thing”. Lead by example. Part of being a good mother is letting go of responsibilities that are no longer yours. If you don’t, you are doing everyone a gross injustice. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Too Late to be a Wedding Guest

Why did my niece not reconsider having me as a guest at her wedding even though I replied late that I changed my mind? 

Dear Jay,
I have PTSD, I get anxious when I leave my home, and I just had a triple bypass surgery 5 months ago. I was uncertain and nervous, and I declined a wedding invite from a niece.  After thinking more about it, I asked if I could still come, but she said she already gave a headcount to the reception dinner people. I also offered to pay the per plate fee for my husband and me, and she still turned me down. I thought she would cut me a break because of my anxiety disorder.

When one plans a wedding surely you have to add a few place settings for surprise guests or relatives who show up. If you can't do that, then you should have planned a backyard cook-out.

What are your thoughts?

- Very hurt in VA

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I can certainly understand your feeling hurt. However, I do not know the circumstances around the reception, and it is quite possible that they have reached capacity. Anytime you host an event, especially a wedding reception, and the limit is being reached, the frustration levels can get high. In the end, the host has the final say on the guest list. This decision should not be challenged, except on rare occasions. You must let this go as gracefully as you can. Send a gift and a card letting them know how you missed being a part of the ceremony, but you wish them the best in their future lives together. This is an example of taking the high road. Try not to take this irritation personally. The chances are very good that the decision they made was beyond their control and therefore not a personal statement of any kind. Give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s never easy not knowing all the facts and back stories. We often jump to inaccurate conclusions in so doing. Be sure to avoid this trap. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Mother of the Bride Wants to Be Involved More

How do I get my daughter to understand that I should have a bigger role in her wedding planning? 

Dear Jay,
My daughter was recently engaged. Her father and I have been divorced for over 15 years and we are both remarried. She has been living on her own for several years. I assumed that the mother of the bride had a huge role in the wedding and thought that she understood that as well. She is wanting to include the step mother in a great deal of the planning. She is even considering having the ceremony at one of the step mother's family’s homes, after we had discussed having the ceremony at our home. She feels she has to do what her father wants or he won't pay for the wedding. These actions by her hurt my feelings and I've told her this. She gets upset and voices to me that she wants me to put my feelings aside for "just one day", but she doesn't voice those same feelings to her dad or step mom. I just feel that her wedding is a bonding experience between the two of us and some of the planning should be just between us and not include the step mom. How can I get her to understand this?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: I do not think it advisable to “get her to understand this”, nor do I think she would have the slightest interest. She has her idea of what her dream wedding process is, and you have yours. She’s the bride, so she gets to make that decision by herself. In my opinion, she is well within her rights, and her common sense, to carry on as she sees fit. I understand where your pain is coming from, but as she requested, “just one day”. Your first mistake appears on line one above - “I assumed that the mother of the bride had a huge role…….” That was an invalid assumption, and things continue down hill. My best advice is for you to step back and allow your daughter to make her own choices about her most important day. I hope this helps.
 

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding Day Date

Should my goddaughter's mom be allowed to invite her new boyfriend to the wedding and have him usher her down the aisle? 

Dear Jay,
My Godchild is getting married in 6 months. Her mother has been separated from husband number 2 for at least 10 years, no divorce and no contact. Her biological father passed away about 2 years ago. Her mom has secretly been dating a married man for 2 years and has just decided to tell her daughter because she wants this man to be at the wedding. She says he should be separated from his wife by then. What is the proper etiquette for this man to attend?  The mom wants him to escort her down the aisle and sit in the front row with her.

Jay's ANSWER...

A: The man must be invited by whoever is hosting the wedding. It is up to the bride to decide who “makes the cut” (is on the invitation list). There should be no pressure applied by the mother, unless of course she is paying for the wedding. In that case, some leeway should be expected. It is not up to the mother to decide who walks her down the aisle or where she should sit. There is standard protocol for this and any wedding coordinator should know the rules. Essentially the mother does sit in the front row, and her partner would sit next to her. However she will more properly be escorted down the aisle by one of the ushers (groomsmen) - i.e., a member of the wedding party. The partner would walk to his seat before the mother of the bride and sit by himself in the front row until she is escorted in. This wedding is for the daughter. There is no reason to draw attention to the mother, especially by her trotting in on the arm of a “new man”. Allow the daughter to have this be her day. Just follow the standard rules, and everything will fall right into place. I hope this helps.
Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Avoiding company

Is my fiancee's behavior appropriate when I have guest over? 

Dear Jay,
Is it rude of my fiancee to leave the room and sit by herself in the bedroom when my friends come over?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: If you and your fiancee have invited your friends over jointly, then yes, it would be rude. If you invited them on your own, no it is not rude. She has no obligation to entertain your friends. She has as much right to do what she wants as you have. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding dilemmas from bride's real mom

What is the wedding etiquette for including a mom who lost legal custody when her daughter was 7 years old? 

Dear Jay,
Due to a drug addiction and brain injury from a car accident, I have raised my sister’s daughter as my own. I gained legal custody of her when she was 7 years old. She is now engaged to be married and her mother is somewhat back in her life. There is friction between them since my sister wants to be her mother again and be more involved. My husband is walking our daughter down the aisle and I already see problems arising regarding the wedding (since I am not the actual mother of the bride and so on). Family gatherings have become very uncomfortable for everyone.  My sister doesn't have the relationship I have with her daughter and tends to try and force it upon her.  At almost every gathering my sister is in tears regarding her daughter. What can I do to make this better?  What is the etiquette regarding her wedding day?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: The etiquette suggests that this wedding day is all about the bride. Her wishes should be followed by all involved. This has nothing whatsoever to do with mothering. You and your sister need to back off and let your daughter/niece choose how she wants her day to unfold. On another note, there is serious need for family counseling here. I would consider contacting Family Services and getting some professional help to guide you through this transition. You may want to go by yourself initially. Anyone invited to counseling must agree to go; they cannot be forced. Have compassion for your sister and for yourself. Take the high road and put the needs of others ahead of yourself. I hope this helps.

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wicked bride to be

How do I approach my soon to be daughter-in-law about her excluding all of my son's family from their wedding and holidays? 

Dear Jay,

I'm stunned that my son's fiancee has told me that I may not bring anyone -even another family member to accompany me to their wedding which will be held in another state. This leaves only one person from my son's family attending: me, his mother. 

Her family numbers about 25 or so. Relatives and friends say this restriction is really weird - especially considering she has never met any family members. I cannot help being offended; I'm a business professional and never had any sort of cross word or behavior issues with this woman or anyone else for that matter to prompt this sort of exclusion. Friends and family are confused and offended as well. She has also recently dismissed her friend as maid of honor and told my son that he no longer needs his best man to attend(!?).

My son seemed surprised at her suggestion,but seems to go along with her. While I'm concerned at this odd treatment and relatives press me to persuade my son that this is disrespectful to me, somehow I don't believe anything I do or say would not be construed as meddling however stymied we all are about her strange behavior.  I have never had a cross word with her and bite my tongue even when she vents. What is the best way to handle this? 

Thanksgiving was the same scenario; come by myself or don't come at all - that even excluded my own brother who was in town for the holiday! Do you have any constructive advice as to how to best handle this?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: Your son is about to marry a bully. Unfortunately for him, he is going to be spending a lot of his time defending this monster. You have three choices as I see it. One, accept her unconditionally because she is your son’s choice for his wife. Two, have a private chat with your son and explain to him how this behavior makes you feel. This has nothing to do with meddling; this is a personal affront against your family. Your son is the “man for the job” in this case. Three, take off the gloves and confront her as the spoiled inconsiderate child she appears to be. Explain to her how her actions make you feel, and that in your family this is unacceptable. You may even go so far as to say you won’t be going to the wedding under these conditions. Your son and his fiancee will need to join forces on this decision and come to an agreement. If they don’t this marriage is doomed, and frankly you are better off not being a part of it. Perhaps your son is unaware of most of the emotional dynamics at play here. When he is informed, he may get to the bottom of this and take his rightful role. I hope this helps.
 
My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Fending Off Flirting

How do I let men who make advances know that I am newly engaged? 

Dear Jay,

I am newly engaged and struggling to find an appropriate and effective way to fend off men who make advances. I try very hard to always be kind, knowing that the men who make advances are putting their hearts and egos on the line when they do so. However, I encounter these situations quite often, and my sweet fiancé has expressed some distress over this. Is it appropriate to treat these men in a friendly manner and try to let them down gently, or should I be more cold and direct in order to placate my fiancé?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: Without knowing the nature of the advances, it is difficult to give you a definitive answer. However, no real advances are appropriate and by simply stating, “Please don’t do that”, they should get the message. If they persist, be more clear and introduce them to your fiancé. Do not think of this as placating. It’s the right thing to do in a committed relationship. If you’re worried about bruising egos and breaking hearts, you need to give your head a shake. Hearts and egos are not your responsibility. Respect for your fiancé’s feelings comes first. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Name Not on the Invite

Whose name should appear on an invitation? 

Dear Jay,

I do not know if it is just me. I am married and whenever my husband gets an invitation to an event from his friends, the invitation only has his name on it. These friends know that he is married but always do this--a perfect example would be when he got invited to a friend's wedding, and it was only addressed to him. I told him to ask the individual if the invite is only for him or is his family invited as well--the host responded the invitation is for him and his family. I am very irritated by this, and I just wanted to know as a married couple is it rude of people to send out invitations with only one spouse name on it?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: This bizarre practice is not so much rude as it is simply wrong. It would be rude if it were intentional. Everyone who is invited to the party should be included on the envelope. If it’s the whole family it could be simply addressed to “The Smith Family” unless for a formal invitation in which case the name of each person should be included: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, followed on the next line with the eldest child and so on, line after line. Boys are addressed as Master until after the age of 10, after which they are Mr. Girls are addressed as Miss until they become adults and can shift to Ms. if they so wish, or once married can take on Mrs. This correct information is readily available in any etiquette book.  I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Responsibilities for Wedding Guests

How much will we be expected to provide for my sister-in-law's out of town wedding guests? 

Dear Jay,

My husband and I live in a different state than his parents and siblings. His sister recently moved to the city we live in. She met someone and is now engaged to be married to him. She has sent the wedding invitations, but did not include a hotel suggestion or a block of rooms as is often seen for weddings. 

Since my husband's entire family is from out of state we fully expect to receive requests to stay in our home as my sister-in-law and her fiance have a very small house that would not accommodate guests. While we do not mind helping people with providing them a place to stay, we simply cannot afford to have people helping themselves to the food and beverage in our home. 

Is it appropriate to ask them to contribute or purchase their own when they arrive? Additionally, we live on an acreage outside of the city and expect the majority of people to fly in. Who is responsible for transportation for all of these people? What is the proper etiquette for a homeowner in this situation? And how do you convey the correct thing to your potential guests without upsetting anyone or seeming as if you do not want to help out during the wedding time?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: What a great question! So many people can relate to this. First of all, your house is your castle. Anyone who is an invited guest to your house needs to be aware of house rules. In this situation simply state well in advance that people need to be responsible for their own provisions. Perhaps you might mention you’ll be happy to provide and launder the sheets and towels. This is not an unreasonable request, so state it kindly as simply a matter of fact. You’re just conveying information. If they don’t like it, they will know ahead of time to find other arrangements. As for transportation, that it their responsibility. If you are in a position to offer a lift in one direction or another, wonderful; if not, they can rent a car or hire a limo. Finally, you need not worry about upsetting anyone. It’s your house. You call the shots. It’s all about the Golden Rule. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Tours of our unfinished home

Should I feel obligated to give tours of our home even if we haven't really finished unpacking from our move? 

Dear Jay,

My husband and I are newly married. It is a second marriage for both of us. I have moved into his home and we are not yet settled. My husband always feels like he has to show every part of our home to everyone who comes to visit. I personally, do not want people looking through my home because it is unfinished. We are still unpacking, painting and re-purposing many parts of it. Am I obligated to give guests a "tour" of my home when they visit?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: This is a classic case of a lack of communication between partners. There are going to be lots of times when we differ on what we do and do not like. Unless we make these differences clear, no one will know what to do. In your case, use finishing each room as an incentive to open your house up more and more to guests. You are not obliged to give a tour of your house ever, although people are naturally curious. Most guests are respectful of “closed doors”. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Etiquette's Purpose

Do we really need etiquette in our modern world? 

Dear Jay,

I am very curious to know, as you answer so many of these questions, do you believe that social etiquette is necessary? I personally do not. I believe it is a part of a stupid never ending game in which people lie, cheat, and loot. As an example I have seen that many people do not appreciate directness, preferring what, I don't know. I believe that if you wish to communicate it should be directly, without paying attention to how the person may feel.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I do believe that social etiquette is necessary. What I hear in your question is a great deal of anger. I do believe in being direct, but not rude. Learning to communicate in a respectful way has helped me to form deeper and more meaningful relationships with my friends, family, and business associates. Developing such skills can require professional help. I hope you can find a way to release your anger. Perhaps then you may begin to shift your perspective.

 My best,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Enough is Enough

How many gifts do I need to give my sister for her second marriage?   

Q: My sister recently remarried (this is her second marriage). I gave them a generous wedding gift. They are getting ready to move into their new home in the very near future. My sister has mentioned having a house warming shower with people bringing gifts, covered dishes, and has talked of possibly having a money tree where people could tape gifts of money to. My question is since I already gave them a generous wedding gift am I required to give her another gift for her home as well? For her wedding I did as much as I could to help with the wedding, paid for my own dress, shoes, etc as I was her matron of honor.  Also, my son was in the wedding and I paid for his clothes as well. I realize this is common practice now, so that was perfectly fine. Money is tight for me and my family as we have a son going off to college in the fall. What are your thoughts on this?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: As a rule, people should avoid asking for gifts - period. For a second wedding, having a shower is redundant and smacks of being a money grab. I would give her a card, or at most a small token gift. Enough is enough, after all! I hope this helps.

My best,
Jay


Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Don't Just Assume

Should I assume what my out of town guest wants to do while in town?   

Q: I have a friend that is visiting me from out of town.  I live with my fiancé and have only lived here for a year.  Although my friend is coming to see me, I am sure that she would like to spend time with my fiancé, too (as we are newly engaged).  My fiancé just informed me that one of his friends is having a birthday celebration at midnight on the weekend that my friend is in town. He wants to go, but I do not believe that my guest will want to attend. What is the proper etiquette in this situation?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: It's always dangerous to make assumptions about what people will or will not want to do. I would find out from the host of the party if she would be able to attend the party with you as a guest. If yes, then extend to her the invitation and allow her to decide for herself. I hope this helps.

My best,
Jay


Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Message from the Editor – August 2013

Is it OK to rent one’s wedding dress?

The question was recently posed to me on how I feel about rented wedding gowns. Is it OK to rent one’s wedding dress? What about other members of the bridal party? What about mother of the bride, etc.?

Traditionally this would not have been an option. There were no places to go to rent clothes for brides. Tuxedos were available to rent, but it was far more difficult to find a place that had dresses one would want to rent.

Not so today! There are many fine shops that specialize on renting designer gowns and dresses at a small fraction of the cost of purchasing. Given the escalating price of hosting a wedding or any special event, anywhere one can cut costs is generally worth considering.

From a practical point of view, unless there is a dress that has been passed down in the family and happens to be your size, renting a dress makes a lot of sense. Remaking a family heirloom, when possible, adds a bit of sentimentality and a lot of tradition to the mix, but this is not always possible.

Bridesmaids’ dresses are somewhat more problematic as they should match and often need to come in a wide range of sizes. These should be bought new, but consideration should be given to their future usefulness. I puce full-length dress is tough to use again; whereas one with a slightly more neutral color can be very useful over time.

What has your experience been with brides and wedding dresses? Have you ever suggested a rental shop? Have you a list of such shops handy for your clients?

Send me your wedding questions and quandaries. I look forward to answering them in future blogs here!

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

The Guest List

Is a stepmother still family?

Dear Jay,

My first grandson is getting married. Very excited! But yesterday my daughter, mother of the Groom, informed me that her stepmother was going to be in town visiting her friends. My daughter informed me just yesterday that she had invited her to the wedding. My daughter said, "after all, she is family." Well, my heart just sank. I will suck it up and be civil for all of the family. My question is this: is she a member of the family?  I divorced my daughter's Dad when in our late 40s. Our children were grown. Subsequently, he married the woman he had been having an affair with. Now is the stepmother still a family member since the children's Dad has passed away?

--Mrs. Hertenstein



Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Mrs. Hertenstein,

This situation is awkward and I understand your shock. Being the lady that you are, you are quite right in taking the high road by 'sucking it up', as you so eloquently put it! The focus is on the marriage of your grandson and his fiancee, and has nothing to do with the guest list. If a mother/child relationship has developed between your daughter and your husband's second wife, she may as well be considered "family". You need not engage with her at all, and you are well within your rights not to! Civility is the order of the day. I'm sure she may be just as happy not to engage with you as you are. Keep your eye on the ball and as they say, "This too shall pass."

I hope this helps.

Kindest regards,

Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Who Gets the King Bed?

Should a married couple get the king bed on vacation?

Dear Jay,

My son and I are going to Fiji for a holiday. I am a single parent and we have a two bedroom apartment booked and paid for. The apartment has a king bed in one room and two single beds in the other. 

Today, my sister told me she and her husband are going to come with us. Do I have to give them the king bed, even though I have paid for the accommodation? My son and I can share the king bed and still be more comfortable than in a single bed each.


--Nicole



Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Nicole,

Thanks for asking this excellent question! Technically, no - if you are paying the bill, the choice is yours. However, logic would dictate that a married couple would be offered the king bed. They may well prefer to have the twin accommodation or better yet, they may ask which you prefer. In any event, the hotel may be able to make a change for you, such as joining the two twin beds together for you and your son, thus creating exactly the same sleeping space as a king.

Try to always take the high road when dealing with such situations. Since your sister and her husband are your guests - presumably you had some choice in this matter - then putting them first is the correct thing for a host to do, but not to the detriment of your own needs. I hope this is more of a help than a hindrance.

Kindest regards,

Jay


Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

International Wedding Crasher

Is it rude to ask the bride if we can bring an extra family to the wedding?

Dear Stage of Life,

My cousin's wedding is this Saturday, and it is a 125 people wedding.  My husband's cousin is coming to visit us from another country this weekend too. 

What would be the "correct" thing to do...ask my cousin to let us bring my husband's cousin as an added guest to his wedding, or ask my husband's cousin to look for something to do while we are at the wedding?

Please advise.  Thanks!


--Bebe


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Bebe,

I would strongly advise against asking to bring your husband's cousin as an added guest to the wedding. It would not be the 'correct' thing to do at all. I'm sure your husband's cousin will understand.

I hope this is of some help.

Kindest regards,


Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Wedding Invite List Etiquette

Is it okay for a bride and groom to selectively invite some family members to a wedding but not others?

Dear Stage of Life,

My nephew is getting married.  None of the first cousins on my brothers side (my nephew's father) are invited. The youngest is 14yrs old.  However, ALL of the cousins on my nephew's mothers side are invited. 

My sister and I are refusing to attend the wedding when it is blatant that our children aren't invited, but my nephew's cousins on his mother's side are ALL invited.

What are your thoughts?

Thank You.


--Colleen


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Colleen,

From the point of view of traditional wedding etiquette, the guest list is in the control of whoever is hosting the wedding. There must be limits to the number of guests invited for many obvious reasons. It is not their obligation to explain how the guest list is assembled.

However, your feelings are valid and since this is a close family concern, some open communication needs to be established here. You need to speak with your brother about your hurt feelings and see if perhaps there has been some sort of mistake. No matter what the answer or explanation, you always have the choice to accept or regret any invitation - again, with no explanation required.
 
Now, from the point of view of a social commentator (another hat I wear), here is another perspective...

Families are complicated.

Without knowing more (which I am not asking to do), I suspect there is a back story here within which lies the framework for the real answer to this dilemma. If there is some unresolved issue(s), this occasion is hardly the appropriate venue for it to be exposed. It is important for the health of extended family relations for your feelings to be voiced - without being in a state of anger.

Regretting an invitation to an important family function, such as this wedding, is a big statement on your part. You and your sister need to understand that there will likely be consequences. Fighting fire with fire is never a good idea. Remember, too, that your actions (all of them) are examples from which your children will learn to navigate the world and pass along to their children.

I would advise taking the high road here (as I always do) and accept the invitation; go to the wedding - with a gift; and redirect your anger into compassion. That of course is easier said than done, and impossible when angry. Air your feelings with your brother. Find out what exactly is going on and respond only after you have that information.

I hope this is of some help.

Kindest regards,


Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

In-Law Etiquette

What is the protocol when entertaining your out-of-town in-laws for the first time?

Dear Stage of Life,

I would like to know what are the etiquette rules when inviting your in-laws for the first time to your home?


If they are not from the same city where I live, and it was agreed that I will receive them at my home first, then can you answer these questions..

  • Should I take them out to dinner in a restaurant?
  • Or...should I serve them at home...and if so...what should I serve them when they first arrive?
  • What kind of beverages should I serve?  Does it differ according to the weather (winter or summer)?
  • And when it comes to the restaurant, should I ask them what is their favorite restaurant or pick a local favorite and surprise them with my choice?
Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,


-R



Jay's ANSWER...

Dear R,

How excited you must be to welcome your in-laws to your home.  Remember first and foremost that it is your home. Be welcoming. If they drink Champagne, that would be a nice drink to offer them, but be prepared for them to perhaps like a cup of tea.


Winter or summer makes no difference; perhaps in the hot summer iced tea or lemonade might be nice, but people rarely turn down a celebratory class of champagne.


You should choose the restaurant yourself and plan to pay the bill. Pick a restaurant you think they would enjoy and that you can afford. You are the host. Do so with conviction and grace.


Kind regards,


Jay


Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Reader Question: Party Invitations

Event Invitation Question

Jay/StageofLife.com,

An event is being held in a private home. Who is listed first on the invitation, the homeowners or the host of the event (wine tasting)?

Thanks,

Marc


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Marc,

Thanks for asking this good question. The host is listed on the invitation. The homeowners are providing the venue. It would read something like this. Mr. John Doe cordially invites _________to a wine tasting on (date), at the home of (or residence of) ____________. RSVP_______________.

Invitations carry information, pure and simple. If the homeowners are also acting as hosts, then we have a different situation than the one which I address here. Feel free to clarify if necessary. Thanks, Jay


Etiquette Question - Ask StageofLife.comIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

--StageofLife.com

Reader Question: Holiday Etiquette

Travel Etiquette for the Holidays

Jay,

This will be my first holiday season in my own apartment with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. As excited as I am to decorate, bake and enjoy the holidays as an adult, I am a little concerned about how to handle some of the holiday activites.

We are going to see our entire family (his & mine) on Thanksgiving. Is it wrong of us to want to spend Christmas Day in our own home this year instead of hiking from house 1, house 2, etc.? My family has a bit of an old mentality, and expects us to be there since we are 1) not married yet and 2) are not hosting the holidays ourselves.

Should we suck it up and travel all day during Christmas, or enjoy a couple's Christmas in the place we worked so hard to obtain?

Thanks,

Laurel


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Laurel,

Thanks for asking this really good question. I have found myself in this position both as a single person with a significant other and as a married person.

My experience tells me that parents usually do want their children to make the trek, sometimes even if they are burdened with kids, but I can totally identify with your position of wanting to spend Christmas in your home with your beloved.

My advice is to be as compassionate to yourselves and to your families as possible. This means being accommodating when possible, yet protecting your private time as well and without feelings of guilt. I think family traditions become traditions because most of the time they work well. If you step and back and look at the big picture, you in fact may be the most flexible; in which case you would be appropriately expected to bend more. 

This in no way diminishes your desire to spend a quiet private Christmas in your own home. The symbolism which surrounds that is very strong and important. It is also resilient. My advice is to follow your instincts and "suck it up".  Be grateful that you have two families to visit on such an important holiday.

I hope this helps, Jay

RSVP Etiquette

Etiquette about Wedding Invitations and Replies

An invitation to a wedding is one of the most personal invitations we receive. In most cases a lot of care has gone into the design and wording. For this article, we'll focus on a ‘traditional’ family where the bride’s parents will host the wedding, the groom’s parents will host the rehearsal dinner, and the Maid of Honor or bridesmaids will host the bridal shower. The groomsmen are off the hook thus far except for the bachelors’ party but in my personal experience, more often than not, proper etiquette and decorum is circumvented at such occasions (including bachelorette parties) so we’ll leave them alone for now.

The formality of the wedding usually dictates what sort of wedding invitation one sends. For large formal weddings of over 100 people....read full article on wedding invitiation etiquette...

Don't Ignore an RSVP Request

RSVP Etiquette

I have noticed that the RSVP on invitations in certain instances is ignored. Most invitations ask that the recipient RSVP. This is a simple but very important request. The translation of RSVP, the French expression ‘Respondez s'il vous plais’, is simply ‘please respond’ or ‘please reply’.  The RSVP is the means for the host to gather essential information to complete the party or function arrangements. The RSVP clearly indicates how many people will or will not attend the event. It lets the host/hostess proceed with ordering food and beverages, creating a seating plan, hiring the correct number of wait staff and other obvious considerations in planning a successful occasion.

I have noticed that most people do in fact reply to private party invitations. Once you decide to accept an invitation, it really is important to show up, especially if a sit down meal is being prepared and served. Last minutes cancellations with a very legitimate excuse are acceptable. But ‘no-shows’ are inappropriate and extremely rude. Likewise, last minute replies are thoroughly disrespectful. If you are so late in replying that the host/hostess phones you to see if you are planning to attend a function, you ought to realize your gaff immediately, and apologize for your faux pas and any inconvenience which may have resulted. Apply the adage of walking in someone else's shoes and imagine yourself in the position of hosting a party without a clue to the number of people who will be attending.

For public or institutional affairs it is equally important to reply to invitations. These events require a lot of planning and a head count is crucial. Many times, people think RSVP means ‘regrets only’. It does not. If I am invited to an opening at a museum and there is an RSVP, I call immediately to let them know one way or the other. And, I might add, that no one is exempt from replying. Many times public figures are invited to special events as a sign of respect and courtesy. They must reply to such invitations for exactly the same reasons everyone else must.

At these large public gatherings, if you have not replied to the invitation, do not just show up thinking your host will be thrilled to see you. I have been to many such events where there is a list of who has replied. If you’re not on that list, you may well not be admitted. You are less likely to be turned away at the door for a non-profit group. Because these organizations cannot afford to offend anyone, protocol is broken or stretched. But keep in mind that you are still a guest and ought to return the courtesy of the invitation and hospitality that has been extended to you. Be prepared for a solicitation for a donation or request for volunteer help with various projects. These are some of the ways non-profits remain in existence doing good for the community.

There are various schedules one follows when mailing invitations depending on the kind of event or party. However, one should reply within 48 hours of receiving any invitation if possible. Unless otherwise stated on the invitation, replies should be in writing. In today’s fast paced society, most invitations have telephone numbers or emails for quick reply. Some contain a reply card to indicate the number of people attending and perhaps a card for choosing an entrée. Whatever the method of reply, do it promptly. Always put yourself in the position of the host or hostess.

Invitations are very clearly addressed. If the invitation is addressed to Mr. John Doe and Guest, then he is invited to bring along a guest – any guest of his choice. I heard recently of a wedding invitation where a gentleman was invited to bring a guest. The bride found out who the guest was and announced that the guest in question wouldn't be welcome. The bride did not want to be upstaged by the extraordinary beauty of the lady who was to accompany the invited guest.  Once you have sent an invitation there is no taking it back-that just does not happen in polite society. Once a person RSVPs, the host/hostess accepts whatever decision the guest has made without further stipulation or regulation.  How ludicrous! What a peculiar and cruel way for a bride to behave. That was a first for me.

If the invitation is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Doe and Family, that refers to immediate family, i.e. children. If the invitation does not state “and family”, do not ask if you may bring the children or others. Your asking this of a host/hostess puts him/her in an awkward position and makes you look foolish. However, in the case of an informal party, such as a pool party, as it’s a family kind of affair, it is acceptable to call and explain that you have house guests and ask if they might be included. More often than not extra guests are welcome.

RSVPs are one of the most essential parts of an invitation. Please respect them and respond as quickly as possible. This is one way that you as the guest can contribute to the success of the party and help ensure less stress for the host or hostess. This small gesture is always a winner.

Say Thank-You, Often

Thank-You Card Etiquette for all Stages of Life

The very first thank-you notes I wrote were for Christmas presents. My mother, sister and I would sit down the day after Christmas with our boxes of note cards and lists of gifts and who had given them to us. Everyone who had given us a gift received a hand written thank-you note.

This at first seemed like a daunting task for an eight year old, but as the years rolled by it became a routine which we looked forward to. Learning to compose a note that had some personality was the challenge. Penmanship was also important. Cards with mistakes had to be discarded and begun anew. In this day and age where actual hand writing has unfortunately taken a back seat to the computer, penmanship is atrocious. Teachers take note! Even students in high school can barely write their names in a legible way. Nonetheless, I have received numerous heartfelt notes from students which meant a great deal to me. And because they were so personal, I know the gratitude that the students felt was sincere.

There are many times when writing a note of thanks is important. There also is a certain feeling of warmth that one gets from writing them. You should send a thank-you note when you are given a gift, sent flowers, asked to lunch or dinner, invited for a weekend, asked to a concert or performance of some kind or when someone does something nice or helpful in a business or social situation such as an introduction or letter of reference. I write far too few thank-you notes. However, I do make a point of phoning whenever I am invited to dinner. People appreciate knowing that the effort that went into cooking dinner and the camaraderie of the time spent together with friends was genuinely enjoyed.

There is an excellent book which was recently published by a colleague of mine entitled 101 Ways to Say Thank You. In it Kelly Browne gives excellent examples of what to actually say in such notes. It has great tips on buying stationary, superlative words to use in a note and many helpful suggestions.

Imagine the delight in receiving a thank-you note. I find that it strengthens friendships and relationships, especially in business situations which are just budding. Whenever someone extends themselves to celebrate a happy occasion, lend a helping hand, make an introduction for you or acknowledge a difficult time you may be experiencing, take the time to write a note. It takes only a few minutes. In some cases notes with “Thank-you” can be purchased at a stationary store or at local gift shops. Some of the highest quality stationary is sold by Crane & Company in the US. They have an excellent website and have a wide variety of cards and stationary which can be personally engraved if required. You can buy note cards at the Dollar Store as well, so there’s not a lot of expense required to accomplish this mission.

In business situations, thank-you notes can be sent via email. It is a matter of discretion however and a hand written or typed note may serve your purposes better. Whatever you decide, be sure that the note is sincere and includes a reference to the purpose of your meeting. If you are sending a note to an interviewer from whom you want a job, be sure not to send a gift. In most companies as well as in government, there are policies against accepting gifts.

In the case of weddings and the tremendous joy and love and support you receive from friends and family, thank-you notes are essential and absolutely must be hand written. And there is no reason why the bride needs to be the sole writer. The groom should share in that responsibility. Be sure that as you open your presents at showers that someone records the gift and the sender. For wedding presents which arrive in the post, one trick which comes in handy is to cut off the return address from the package and attach it to the gift or gift card. Again be sure you have a list and as each thank-you note is written, check it off the list.

The most important thing to remember is to say thank-you often. There are so many more occasions to verbally express your gratitude to another person than there will be reasons for a hand written note. Use the phone if you want to. Speak directly to the person to whom you are grateful. I know of no one who says thank-you too often. Say it with a smile on your face and make direct eye contact. This will go a long way to show the respect you have for others and for yourself.

Planning the Perfect Wedding

Using a Wedding Planner Can Help With Stressful Details

There are so many details to look after in the planning of a wedding, that the protocol and etiquette surrounding these grand affairs can be complex. A wedding is one of the most important events in one’s life. It can also be and usually is one of the most stressful events in one’s life even if it is well organized.

In this column I will address some of the elements involved in a traditional marriage ceremony where the bride and groom are marrying for the first time.

Every detail revolving around any wedding exists to achieve one goal – the happiness and joy of the bride and groom on their wedding day...read more....

Meet Stage of Life's Etiquette Coach

Meet Jay Remer - etiquette expert on StageofLife.comOur Etiquette Expert

Why Jay?  It's simple...Jay knows etiquette. 

For years Jay has planned and managed royal, corporate, political and social events and parties, some of them for up to 500 people.  As a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, he offers workshops on business, social and dining etiquette, as well as international protocol for a variety of audiences.  From teenage students to corporate clients, Jay teaches everything from the basics of a handshake to the subtleties of developing a business relationship during a networking dinner.  His course on self-esteem in youth, in particular, has been encouraged by Dr. Piet Forni, founder of the Civility institute at Johns Hopkins University.  Originally from Delaware, Jay now lives in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada  where he has written a weekly etiquette column in the National Post and is a current columnist in New Brunswick’s Telegraph Journal.  He is a Social Etiquette and Good Manners expert on allexperts.com and has answered over 1,000 questions from people around the world...and he's now ready to answer your questions here on Stage of Life. 

Just let us know your question, your stage of life, and we'll post your question and Jay's official etiquette response on this page.

Ask Jay a Question

You can read more about Jay on his website, EtiquetteGuy.com

Find Us on Facebook      Follow Us on Twitter     Read our Founder's Blog

StageofLife.com was launched in 2009 as the premier destination for people of all ages to find information, coupons, and stories about one of ten key stage of life transitions:  high school, college, on my own, wedding, married without children, having a baby, home ownership, parenting, grand parenting, and empty nest/retirement.  Nearly 1 million visitors come to the site each year to find information about their stage of life.  Stage of Life users (teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) can also share and archive their life stories via their Stage of Life profile page.  Specialized content includes statistics, quotes, videos, financial tips, coupons, news, writing contests, and more tailored to each of the 10 life stages featured.  My Life Rewards® is the free discount program for all Stage of Life users, readers and writers dedicated to providing printable coupons and coupon codes tailored towards each stage of life.

Terms of Service and Privacy