DEAR MISS MANNERS: I went to dinner for the first time in the home of a fellow artist friend and her husband. It was immediately apparent that entertaining was not her forte: Hors d’oeuvres consisted of two bags of chips and two tubs of dip opened on the kitchen counter.
As we sat down for dinner, the hostess tripped on her way to the table and dropped the dish of chicken and potatoes, the entire contents of which landed on the carpet. I offered to help rinse the food, but she just placed it back in the dish and set it on the table.
I was appalled, but not wanting to be rude, I politely ate the food, fighting back a gag reflex. What would you have done?
GENTLE READER: Likely the same. However, Miss Manners is amused by the implication in the first part of your letter. It appears two-fold: that your hostess somehow deserved her fate and that in the wake of it, there was nothing decent to eat.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the second wife (of four years) to a man whose first wife never remarried, isn’t dating, and now lives a town away. Their daughter was invited to be a bridesmaid and plan the shower for the wedding of her longtime friend, whose parents used to be close with my husband and his ex-wife.
Both the bride and her parents know that we are a couple. We were informed that my husband and his adult daughters would be receiving invitations, but that I would not.
We found this to be incredibly rude, but also incredibly strange, as there is no animosity. The parents of the bride giving this lavish event can certainly afford to invite a substantial guest list – and it is quite substantial. These aren’t people who ever typically lack in manners; they’re highly educated medical doctors and genuinely nice people.
The parents of the bride were very close with my husband’s family for decades, and seem to have planned for everyone (the parents of the bride and my husband and his ex-wife) to all be together at this event “like old times.”
While this is fine, circumstances have changed; he is no longer married to her and hasn’t been in nearly seven years. I put my confused and hurt feelings aside and said, “Don’t ask them why they did it, and don’t dare dampen the day. Just go and have fun and celebrate the wedding.”
My question is, though: Is it normal to invite only half of a couple to a wedding?
GENTLE READER: No; it is rude. Particularly since you were told beforehand that such was the intent.
However, if you want to emphasize your utter graciousness without appearing to be petty, Miss Manners recommends that you send a note afterwards to the hosts saying, “Jacques and the girls had such a wonderful time at the wedding. Thank you for inviting them. I trust that I will get the chance to know you better at another occasion.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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