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Tuesday, July 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: No etiquette precedent for making guests pay for dinner

By Judith Martin, Nichoals Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I got a Facebook invitation to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Since our children are in the wedding, we RSVP’d that four would be attending. Under the menu was “$30.”

I had never heard of a wedding party being asked to pay for their own rehearsal dinner. When I asked about it, she was furious: “Of course you are paying for your own meal! You really need to check wedding etiquette. We’re not going to pay for everything!”

Honestly, I thought I knew wedding etiquette. But I frantically searched the internet. I was hoping to smooth things over by letting her know that I was now up-to-date on my wedding etiquette, hadn’t realized what I was asking was in poor taste, and that I was just trying to budget. The best I could find was something called a “no host” party.

We had budgeted buying the kids’ clothes for the wedding, and for a gift. I don’t think it would be polite to skip the rehearsal, so now we’re also paying $120 for one meal. My husband says we should only give them a card, since we are paying for the dinner.

I’m left with two questions:

1. Is it new etiquette to ask a bridal party to “BYOD” – buy your own dinner?

2. Is my husband right in suggesting that we shouldn’t give her the monetary gift, since we are spending it on the rehearsal dinner?

GENTLE READER: So many etiquette rules are being violated here that Miss Manners hardly knows where to start. Suffice it to say, using the internet to validate rudeness disguised as etiquette is confirmation bias at best. She is relieved that you came to your senses and consulted her instead.

To answer your questions:

1. No. It was invented to allow people who want to have a party thrown for themselves to make others pay for it. As you point out, it is not only rude, but it adds to the already considerable burden of the guests. Always beware of acronyms that require large purchases.

2. Yes and no. A wedding present should not be monetary in the first place – another incorrect assumption created for personal gain. Presents are always voluntary. However, if you choose not to give one for your husband’s reasons, you would be validating yet another made-up rule: that the price of the dinner should be the amount spent on a present. Only in this case, you are doing it in reverse.

Your best recourse would be to give a small, token gift that you think the couple might like. And not to consult the internet.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter just moved into a newly developed neighborhood. Her neighbor, who moved into her new home only a few weeks prior, gave my daughter a housewarming gift. Should my daughter reciprocate with a gift, or just with a thank-you note?

GENTLE READER: Chronology takes precedence with housewarming, and since your daughter was the last one to move in, she is the more logical choice for the present. A thank-you note from her is sufficient, but a neighborly treat to accompany it, or an invitation to the house to visit, would be charming. As would, Miss Manners feels compelled to add, paying the gesture forward for the next new neighbor.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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