DEAR MISS MANNERS: When you have guests, must you offer a full bar or no bar at all? We don’t typically have anything on hand but martini fixings and scotch, but we do stock beer and wine for guests.
GENTLE READER: While good hosts make reasonable efforts to see that their guests enjoy themselves, you are not running a bar. Neither etiquette nor Miss Manners imposes any requirements about the contents of the liquor cabinet, any more than we require a menu of dinner options.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been with my boyfriend for a few years. He has an 18-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son from a previous relationship.
My boyfriend’s uncle is getting married; this isn’t his mom’s or dad’s brother, but an “uncle” through his mother’s cousin’s family. When we received the wedding invitation, it directed us to an RSVP website where I marked our names as, “Yes, we will attend.” My name and my boyfriend’s were the only ones listed, both on the website and on our invitation.
Once I let my boyfriend know, he thought there must be a mistake, and that his uncle must have forgotten to invite his kids, or at least the 18-year-old. I said, “Maybe they don’t want anyone under 21 attending. I think it was deliberate,” horrified at the idea that he would think a wedding invitation would be sent so frivolously and without the proper guests being invited.
Weddings are expensive and planned out with care. Dinner costs a certain amount of money per head, and I’m positive there is a budget and this was all figured out already. Also, the invitation literally said, “Join us for a night of debauchery, dancing and drinks!” which clearly seemed to imply that it was adults-only.
I told him as much. I’m not sure what he didn’t understand about this, but he went ahead and called his uncle! His uncle was gracious and said, “Yes, she can come.”
Maybe it’s not a big deal, but I think it was incredibly rude to ask to invite another guest to a wedding. He did get his way, but wasn’t it uncouth? Am I just stuck being stuck-up? Sometimes I feel he lacks social grace and awareness, and this seems to be a glaring example. Please correct me if I’m wrong!
GENTLE READER: You are correct that invitations are not to be thought of as an offer to negotiate more generous terms. But Miss Manners is concerned how you plan to use her endorsement. You are only a provisional member of your boyfriend’s family. For now, his judgment has precedence in matters regarding interactions with them – if only because he knows them better. Perhaps he remembers that the uncle is forgetful and is close to his older daughter.
That, at least, is the theory. In practice, it sounds like the uncle merely acquiesced.
The good news is that your boyfriend is only a provisional member of your own family. Explain why you would not have put your own family member in such an awkward position. How he reacts may provide useful evidence as you decide whether your provisional relationship should become permanent.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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