The Myth of The Engagement Party Gifts or “Don’t Feed The Vaals”

by admin on December 20, 2011

I was invited to an Engagement Party being hosted by the future groom and bride’s good friend by that infamous “E-vite” invitation. I really did not appreciate that for a variety of reasons:

1. It takes away the personal touch a mailed invite has when it arrives.

2. Etiquette should not be thrown out the door because you are too lazy to send out an invite and want to abuse technology.

3. I almost did not see it in my email inbox because I do not often check my computer.

4. What would they have done if I did not have a computer or email address? My Mom and a few of her friends are the few people in this world who do not have a computer.

The host of the party we will call “Sheena” has a gorgeous multi-million dollar home at the beach where the Engagement Party will be held. I was not surprised that the bride had asked Sheena to host the party as the bride is quite superficial on things like this but never has the money to back up her materialistic dreams. So I asked Sheena if the couple is registered. Her reply was, “They would like help paying for the engagement party.”  My reply was, “What is costing them the most?” She says, “Food.” I find out that the bride got a high priced caterer, hired a bartender, and will have a live band. I tell Sheena that this is too much for the bride who struggles financially to handle and demanded to know why she allowed her to do this? Sheena confirms that she had nothing to do with the planning only that she would provide the house. I ask her how many people are expected. She tells me just over 90 people.

I called the bride and asked her what was going on about the costs for the party. Did she need some help with the food? Could I maybe help her to find a better alternative than having a caterer? I have a lot of experience with party planning. She swore up and down that everything was fine. She had it all handled and that Sheena was being paranoid.

Fast forward to the day of the party. The party was to be from 5pm to 9pm. We arrive on time and the place is already packed with lots of family. 30 minutes later the place was so jammed packed that it was uncomfortable and this included outside. I never got to talk to the bride and groom.

The food were some crackers and cheese; package meatballs on a tooth pick; small frozen quiches; and a big tray of vegetables with ranch dressing. The cake was so small that it would not have fed more than 30 people and it did. They passed around the $2 wine from Trader Joe’s which they ran out of too. We came expecting dinner. We got one cracker and that was it. All other food and drink was swiped when the waiter walked out of the kitchen.

I had a second to talk to the sister of the groom. Luckily she was drunk and told me all the gory details. Apparently, the family and very close friends were served a nice catered dinner. Also, the live band played during their dinner. She told us all the food we were served were store bought which I did not have a problem with regardless that I did not have any but when she told us that the bride told the caterer, “Here is $65… feed the rest of my guests with whatever you can make.” It made me feel like a second class citizen. Our music was a blaring stereo music on a radio station.

For a gift, I got the couple a Tiffany & Co silver frame with the couple’s name and date etched on it. Knowing that this is a “brand name” I knew that this should please the over-materialistic bride, I was shocked to get an email the following weekend with, “Thank you both for the Tiffany frame. I like it but I need the money to pay for the caterer from last weekend. Can I have the gift receipt?” 0920-11

While there are faux pas galore in this store, the letter writer shares some responsibility for perpetuating an increasingly common myth. That is, that an invitation to an engagement party means the guest is obligated to bring a gift.    The typical bride in the United States is already well endowed with a plethora of gifts from multiple bridal showers and wedding day gifts.   Having an expectation that an engagement party is the first of many gift getting events on the wedding calendar is just over the top greedy.

Is anyone old enough or geeky enough to remember the original Star Trek episode, “The Apple” in which complacent tribal villagers must feed a large, serpent headed machine named “Vaal” every day?   That is what I think of when I read or hear of brides with overly ambitious designs on their friends and family’s wallets and generosity.   Pitiful guests dutifully march to registries and stores and  mindlessly feed the bridal “Vaals”.  To not feed Vaal is to awaken the beast with terrifying results as the growling hunger pangs reverberate across the bridal landscape.


Of course, it should go without saying that having anything to do with the planning of an event which is specifically designed to honor oneself is mucho tacky.   But we have to say it because most people have lost all sense of humility and propriety and therefore think nothing of planning parties in which they are both host and guest of honor.   The invitation was a dead give away that this engagement party was an etiquette train wreck and should have been declined.

And then there are the obvious A and B list party guests.   *twitch, twitch*  The prospect of further guest humiliations would compel me to not attend any further wedding related events for this bride, including her wedding.   Don’t feed Vaal!

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

jen a. December 20, 2011 at 5:45 am

Wow, if I didn’t like someone as much as the OP obviously dislikes the bride I wouldn’t go to all the trouble she did. It takes a lot of energy to get so worked up about something, especially when you factor in calling up a hostess and demanding information, finding drunk people at the party to get the dirt on a situation, and coming up with a point-form on why evites are a bad idea. This is just the engagement party! There are still stagettes, wedding showers, and the actual wedding to go to. You’re in for a wild ride, OP. You’d better decide now how much you want to really deal with. Unless, of course, you’re actually enjoying the drama.

On another note, I didn’t know that engagement parties were such a thing. When I got engaged my engagement party was my mother inviting my in-laws over for brunch so they could get to know each other. There was no thought to gifts. I’ve only ever been to one engagement party and I didn’t bring anything. Was that an etiquette faux-pas?


Redblues December 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

No. Gifts are not expected, much less required at an engagement party. In fact, the only ‘traditional engagement gift’ is the ring given to the bride-to-be.


lkb December 20, 2011 at 6:15 am

Okay, I get the point of the story but there were two things about the OP’s actions that I wonder about:
1. Where does the guest get off asking the hostess about the financial aspects of a party? How is it the OP’s business? Why didn’t the hostess bean dip the questions about it?
2. Why did the OP leave the event without greeting the bride and groom? Yes, I know it was crowded but this was an engagement party. Pretty much the one duty the guest has is to greet the happy couple — or risk looking like a mooch by those who did not see the gift.

Nobody came off well in this story, except the poor hostess whose house was probably trashed as well as any reputation she may have had as a good hostess.


LovleAnjel December 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

They probably treated it like a wedding, where it is the couple’s job to greet each guest.


Ally L December 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

“2. Why did the OP leave the event without greeting the bride and groom? Yes, I know it was crowded but this was an engagement party. Pretty much the one duty the guest has is to greet the happy couple — or risk looking like a mooch by those who did not see the gift.”

It’s funny that you say that, because at a wedding, isn’t it the couple’s duty to circulate amongst their guests to make sure they’re having a good time? We see many stories of horrid bridezillas who won’t leave the head table to thank her guests for coming. An honest question here: Is this different for an engagement party? Because I really thought that a host should in general provide for the guests, and a guest has certain duties like sending an RSVP, being curteous, and thanking the host for the invite.


lkb December 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Okay, I mistyped (misspoke). Yes, it is the host’s and the happy couple’s job to greet each guest but it seems to me that its the guests’ job to ensure that it happens. Not just eat and leave.


The Elf December 20, 2011 at 7:50 am

I’m just thrilled you mentioned Star Trek.


Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 9:52 am

Original series, ftw!


--Lia December 20, 2011 at 8:46 am

Am I the only one who got a chuckle out of “Luckily the sister of the groom was drunk and told me all the gory details?” I’d have been curious in that situation too so I don’t blame the OP, but if we’re going by strict etiquette, guests aren’t entitled to know the behind-the-scenes story. She makes it sound like Sheena and the bride were rude for not spilling everything. If you didn’t know what was going on with the finances, the only etiquette errors were the emailed invitation and the dreadfully tacky thank-you note. A party at a large venue with radio music and store-bought food isn’t necessarily an error.

Or rather, those are the only etiquette errors on the part of the hosts. When the OP asked “what is costing them the most,” it may have come from a helpful place, but it really wasn’t any of her business. It set the stage for the erroneous belief that the guests are expected to pay a share of cost of the party. The she called the bride with helpful suggestions! No wonder the bride took a “we’re all in this together” attitude.


Another Laura December 20, 2011 at 11:30 am

“A party at a large venue with radio music and store-bought food isn’t necessarily an error.”
no, but not having enough food to serve the guests you invited is. And asking for a gift receipt to trade in an expensive, personalized gift so as to pay for a caterer when the OP didn’t even get any of the catered meal is.


Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 9:54 am

Can you even turn in a gift once it has been engraved with names and dates?

And the guests went *expecting dinner* and only got crackers. That’s definitely a faux pas.


GroceryGirl December 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

I have a genuine question (so be nice): where does one draw the line for invitations? This party was obviously a more extravagant thing but when my sister got engaged she just had people casually gather at her place and hang out (no gifts, of course). Everyone was invited by phone or e-vite. In general when my friends have birthday parties and the like we usually use the facebook event thing and it really isn’t a big deal to me. Of course, for a wedding or a shower or some big event we still use real invitations but what is the general opinion about e-vites as we move ever deeper into a paperless world?


jen a. December 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I like e-vites. I think (but I could be wrong) that for formal events the etiquette is a paper invite, but for anything informal phone, email or evite is fine. I know some people really feel that everything should be paper because that’s what etiquette dictates, but I have to wonder how long this will last. It’s pretty common for me to receive e-vites for showers of any kind and certainly for get-togethers. I’ve gotten a few internet invites to weddings. I think that in the future no one will think twice about it – it’s cheaper, easier to keep track of, and there’s not really a risk that it’ll get lost. It’s more a matter of everyone getting used to it.


chechina December 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

My personal rule about invites is to invite someone by their preferred method of communication with you. So if Josie communicates primarily by e-mail, e-mail her. If Jim invited you to his last party with a paper invite, send him one. And if you don’t know the best way to reach someone, ask. If that seems like too much trouble, you probably don’t enjoy that person’s company that much anyway and need to ask yourself why you’re inviting them.


Enna January 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

I was going to make the point that sometimes things can get lost in the post. I like Checuhina’s personal rule of contacting people by their preferred method of communicaiton. Some people may not check their their emails often others do some people lose their paper invitations – there is so much individual variation. For me so long as it is written formally for a formal event I don’t mind if it is by email or post.


NOPH December 20, 2011 at 9:42 am

Much love for the orginal Trek reference!! I have often used the term “Vaal” to describe particular things, circumstances, or people that fit. btw, I’m in my early 30s. Trekkies know no age..


Nicole December 20, 2011 at 9:45 am

It was also rude of the writer to concern herself with the finances of the party. It is rude to inquire how somone is paying for the party. SHe should not have concerned herself with that unless she was going to offer to host herself.


LovleAnjel December 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

I saw the picture of Vaal when scrolling and got all excited! What a perfect analogy, admin. Luckily most bridezillas do not have poisonous darts in their bouquets.

I sincerely doubt the bride-to-be could have returned a personalized item. I hope the OP lost the gift receipt.


Terri December 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

Aside from the obvious faux pas on the part of the bride/groom, why does the LW feel that she/he (never really knew which was which) was entitled to “demand” the cost of the caterer from the hostess? And why would she call the bride to talk about expenses for her party?

I suppose she felt justified when the hostess said the couple really wanted help paying for the party but still…how rude.


Kendra December 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Actually, Sheena started it…

“So I asked Sheena if the couple is registered. Her reply was, “They would like help paying for the engagement party.” My reply was, “What is costing them the most?” She says, “Food.” ”

The OP just asked where she might find a gift for the HC. However, once the OP latched onto a “juicy story” she wouldn’t let go. Also, the story is a bit fishy to me as others have mentioned. I have worked for years in catering, and that isn’t how catering works. The contract is worked up well ahead of time. Everything from what is served and when to how many servers will be required and an approximate number of people served (the final head count is expected closer to the event) to set up and tear down times are all worked out in the contract. Though it is possible that a “mom & pop” type catering company might be more “flexible” no professional caterer would accept “Here is $65… feed the rest of my guests with whatever you can make” . If it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t happen. So, either someone was having one over on the OP or, I hesitate to say this, but maybe the OP embellished the story a bit.


MonkeysMommy December 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

What likely happened is when the bride said “here’s $65.00…” the caterer probably told her to kick rocks. A family member or friend probably rushed to the local BiLo, publix whatever and bought a few cheapie appetizers, cake, & wine.


Lucky December 20, 2011 at 10:22 am

“4. What would they have done if I did not have a computer or email address? “

Presumably, she would have snail-mailed you one, but since you have an email address, this wasn’t an issue, was it?

I agree that paper invitations are better manners, but I also think it’s poor manners to go out of one’s way to be offended by other people’s lack of polish.


MellowedOne December 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

First off, my compliments to the admin for her excellent taste in TV shows. 🙂

Secondly, is this story for real? I’m trying hard to figure this out. From the story, this is what I gather

-A large number of family (and some friends) enjoyed a nice catered dinner, bar, and live music.
-The start time of the OP’s invite was 5pm and they were on time.
-The OP was clueless as to the nature of paltry food and drink until a drunk guest told her.

From this, my questions are:
-How could a dinner of such large caliber be so completely wrapped up by 5pm that newly arriving guests could not tell it happened?

-If a band is hired, would not it be for the entire event and not by the hour, as would be implied by the band being completely gone by 5pm?

-The OP said, ” ……she told us that the bride told the caterer, “Here is $65… feed the rest of my guests with whatever you can make.”—-First, that is not how catering works. You pay in advance for a specific head count, the caterer does their job, cleans up, and leaves. They do not do extra work for guests not covered under the catering contract. Secondly, since there were no signs of catering having been done it stands to reason they were gone before the OP showed up…if such catering actually took place.


Meegs December 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm

This is exactly what I was thinking, thank you for saving me the trouble of typing it out! I don’t know about this story….


Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

I think the A list had a luncheon.


MellowedOne December 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

Even so, the story does not make sense when one considers the contracting of a caterer.

For example: A couple selects a caterer, makes food selections, and signs a contract for a specific number of guests and $$, taking into account everything including appetizers and beverages. The week before the event, the guest count is finalized and that is what is to be paid. Even the number of staff required affects the contract. Caterer shows up, does all food prep, set-up, service, and take down, and when meal is over they clean all their dishes and pack up and leave.

The couple does not decide how much to give them ($65..), ask them for impromptu appetizers, or expect them to stick around and wait on guests arriving later.

Perhaps this story did indeed take place, but I think I would be leery accepting as absolute truth what a drunken guest reports. And how would she know what the bride told the caterer anyway?


Orwellian December 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

Yes, I remember that episode well. 🙂

I’m a guy and while I’ve been best man four times, I didn’t go to many weddings as a child; how long has the ‘bride as pretty pretty princess’ thing been going on? It’s insane that people spend the equivalent of a down payment for a home on one day, except that it’s now one day and several engagement showers and bridal showers and rehearsal dinners and bachelorette showers.


Cat December 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

Wait until the bride finds out that you cannot return a personalized gift and that she is stuck with that frame.


Lola December 20, 2011 at 11:21 am

Agree with Admin on all counts (and would add a few more about OP’s rudeness and presumptiousness, but others have already done so) — except for one. “The invitation was a dead give away that this engagement party was an etiquette train wreck and should have been declined.” Why all the hating on Evites? Admittedly, I’ve never sent one, but they seem innocuous enough. Plus, bitching about the format of an invite instead of being grateful for being thought of, to me is the height of rudeness.


admin December 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I “bitch” about Evites quite frequently. So does Miss Manners who refers to the site as “hostile to hostesses” due to the option for guests to RSVP with a “maybe”. Read the Evite privacy policy sometime. They “share” the information gleaned from hosts and hostesses about their guests with as many as 64 “partners”. I intensely dislike my real name and address attached to a valid email address given to a company that will “share” it with unspecified business partners without my consent.

Not to mention that the one wedding I was invited to via Evite, the officiant referred to the invitation process as a “fiasco” due to many guests not receiving any email notification of an Evite invitation when their spam filters blocked the email. We actively block sites like Evite at the server so we never see the emails in the first place.


GroceryGirl December 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I’ve never had an actual Evite (until this moment I didn’t know it was a site, I thought it was a general term to being invited somewhere via the internet) but the facebook events site gives the option to keep it all private and it doesn’t get e-mailed, it just goes to your facebook page so no risk of spam folders.

I know online invitations seem tacky but snail mail is going the way of the wind. I totally agree for formal occasions a real invitation is necessary (like a wedding) but I think eventually even that will be obsolete. Don’t you think that someday the standard of etiquette will have to be readapted?


Colleen December 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm

That’s what I was thinking. Eventually we’re going to have to come up with a more formal, ‘official’ way to send invitations that doesn’t involve paper and the post office.

Holograms would be cool. 😉


Allie December 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

How about owls? They seem to be very reliable, in the Harry Potter universe anyway. They were very persistent in trying to ensure that he received his letter of acceptance to Hogwarts and list of school supplies.

Jennifer December 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

Why are you supposed to bring gifts to an engagement party? How many presents are you supposed to give someone just because they are getting married. I honestly don’t care if I get any presents for getting married (I’m getting married in May). Why would you care? I’m not even really in to birthdays so I don’t understand gift grabs.


Redblues December 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm

You’re not, unless you want to.


C December 20, 2011 at 11:33 am

Hmmm… I know two e-hell wrongs don’t make a right but I would be sorely tempted to give “A & B” tiered wedding gifts to folks who send A&B list invites.

I wouldn’t be able to “find” that gift reciept. I normally include them even if I’m giving a gift from a registry, as some store policies have gotten very restrictive. However, if I get a registry card with a wedding invite, or other obvious gimme strategy, I will get a nice gift that is not from a store on the registry card and will not include a reciept. Probably too subtle for most people to get but I refuse to capitulate to obvious gift grabs.


Allie December 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Subtle, but well played. My grandmother always refused to have anything to do with gift registries, preferring to choose a gift on her own that she felt was tasteful and appropriately priced. I was never sure that was correct until I started reading this site and learned that a gift is always optional and at the complete discretion of the giver.


Mary December 20, 2011 at 11:37 am

I probably would have responded to the bride asking “Why do you need help paying for the food from the party? Cheese and crackers doesn’t cost that much!”


Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

Oooooooh! I like that.

Let’s see her come up with a reply to that one.


Margaret December 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

Not only can you not return a personalized gift, but Tiffany’s doesn’t take gifts back for cash — just for store credit.

This story doesn’t sound right — details re catering, etc. don’t add up, and a Tiffany engraved sterling frame — $350 up – for someone she obviously doesn’t like?


Guppy December 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I agree. But, frames are available in a pewter finish for much less and they have the Tiffany imprint. Maybe she bought one of those.


Angela December 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

” I was not surprised that the bride had asked Sheena to host the party as the bride is quite superficial on things like this but never has the money to back up her materialistic dreams”. If you feel this way about a person, maybe you should use that e-vite to reply “No, thanks but I hope you have fun”.
I have mixed feelings about e-vites but they have an advantage: you can link them to a map to their destination.


Ellen CA December 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

So much I won’t go into here, except to say that the OP is perpetuating one of my pet peeves: calling an invitation an “invite.”
When did that become accepted verbiage and how can we stop it?


Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

As Calvin said – “Verbing weirds language.”


ArtK December 22, 2011 at 12:26 am

It’s been in use since 1659, so I doubt that it’s going away any time soon.


Guppy December 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm

An engagement party in my circle is a dinner party at which the engagement is officially announced. Toasts are made and congratulations offered. It is the two families involved often meeting for the first time. Very close friends, only, are also sometimes there. Godparents and the like. It serves as the first event leading to the ceremony. No gifts are given because no one “knows” as it were. So, what we have as explained by the OP, is yet another gift-grab by a know-nothing bride. And, the bride-to-be is obviously out of her depth if she thinks Tiffany will take back an engraved gift for a refund or exchange.


Sarah December 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm

It is hard to imagine that the seated catered dinner was so secret and imagine it was more a lunch and therefore well over before the guests arrived or started mid-afternoon 3 or 4 pm? As for the band they may have been hired for lunch/early afternoon and left free to take an evening engagement as well.
I was feeling sorry for the OP until I came to “Luckily” – then things changed! How was she lucky? She was fishing for scandal and finally got it?! That one word betrayed her true feelings and lack of class! Also she mentions how expensive the house – not “A large and beautifully appointed house” but “multi-million dollar”, so I am not sure that she is not also a little materialistic!
Could anyone explain to me the meaning of the sentence “all other food was swiped when the waiters walked out of the kitchen”? Did the OP mean she helped herself when the waiter was not looking or that the tray was just about empty when it got to her because people fell on it as the waiter left the kitchen to pass the food around? Sad story all round


KITTY LIZARD December 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm

If she really wanted to nuke the bride she could have given the bride and groom
a pair of Tribbles. (har, har, har).

(Who among us can forget the unforgettable Tribble episode???)



Wink-n-Smile December 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

I love that one! That and “I, Mudd” are my favorites. Oh! And “A Piece of the Action”!


MellowedOne December 22, 2011 at 7:12 am

Who would have thought so many e-hell contributors are Trekkies! I love it! 🙂


Allie December 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I confess I don’t really understand this story. It seems the OP just wants to slag the bride, although there are three specific etiquette issue mentioned: the medium by which the invitations were delivered, the poorly-received gift and the alleged A-list and B-list refreshments.

On the subject of e-vites, I don’t see anything wrong with them, although perhaps they’re not as nice as stationery for more formal events. As far as I understand it, it is the host that decides whom to invite, how to invite them, what to serve and what entertainment to provide.

There is some confusion as to who the host was in this scenario. The story says the groom and the friend who provided the house were the hosts, although the bride made all the arrangements. I understand that it’s not considered correct to host a party in your honour, although I feel it can be excused in circumstances where the host just wants to wine and dine his or her friends and family, and does not expect gifts (I recently attended a rather lavish 70th birthday party hosted by the birthday girl; the invitation said “Gifts: appreciated by your favourite charity”).

This bride may well be a materialistic bridezilla, but I think its unfair to slag her behind her back. You offered to help with the party as a gift, and that offer was declined as the bride felt she had everything under control. So instead you bought an appropriate and thoughtful gift, which was unfortunately poorly-received. I would decline further participation in this wedding, and since it sounds like you really don’t like the bride, perhaps you should step back and gradually taper off the friendship (after, that is, advising her that gift receipts are not issued for personalized gifts).

Live long and prosper.


aka Cat December 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

It sounds to me like “Sheena” didn’t have the spine to refuse her house as the (presumably free) location for the party, and decided to get back at the bride by trash-talking her ability to pay for the rest of the event. After all, the bride sounded as if she were caught off-guard by the idea that she was having any difficulty paying for everything.

I also wonder just how drunk the sister of the groom was, since it sounds like she was deliberately trolling the OP. (Which is it — were all the snacks store-bought, or were they hired from the caterer for $65?) It’s easy to see how that would come about. The bride mentions that the OP was being nosy about finances, that gets around to the sister of the groom, and she sees a golden opportunity to have some fun at the OP’s expense.

Come to think of it, maybe the bride was trolling the OP with the thank-you note? “Oooh, she thinks we’re hard up for money — let’s ask for the gift receipt for a personalized gift!”

The only two definite etiquette faux pas that I see here are the bride throwing her own party, and the OP being nosy about someone’s finances. The trolling is a bit tacky, but if it was in response to the OP’s nosiness, I’m not sure that I can blame the bride and sister!


Ann December 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I couldn’t get past an early paragraph in which the host isn’t actually hosting, and the OP clearly doesn’t like her friends. What kind of social circle is this pretending to be?! For pete’s sake.


anonymous December 21, 2011 at 1:43 am

If the OP dislikes the bride so much, why’d she go? Why are they even friends? (If they’re related, she still didn’t have to attend, btw).

Yes, there are faux pas galore in this story, but I have such a problem with the OP’s tone that it’s almost not worth bothering about as far as I’m concerned.


Coco December 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

Exactly! Ugh. The bride was thoughtless and threw a party well outside of her means, but OP is just plain nasty! Anyone imagine an evil cackle at “Luckily…” because I sure did…


anonymous December 21, 2011 at 1:50 am

BTW, I disagree that one can’t have any say at all in a party at which one is the guest of honor. So I respectfully don’t agree that it goes without saying.

Technically you are the guest of honor at your own wedding, but it’s not tacky to plan your own wedding and to be the host (we hosted our own wedding, many others do the same – it would have been weird to have someone else host seeing as we paid for most of it).

While it may be tacky to push for a party in your honor or totally take over the details of it, I just can’t get behind the idea that you may have nothing whatsoever to do with the planning. I just don’t think it’s rude if, say, the host asks you for a guest list, or for guest contact info (before anyone says “the host should know you well enough to know that”, no, that’s not always true even if you are close friends), what food you might like served if the host doesn’t know, guest dietary restrictions (“Any vegetarians?”)…there’s nothing wrong with providing input if asked.

For our engagement party, a friend hosted and another provided her house as a venue. Only one person brought an unexpected but appreciated gift. We were asked for a guest list and what food we’d like. As it came down to the date, it turned out that the hosts didn’t have the time they thought they would to get all the food prep done. We were visiting from abroad and not working, so we took a full day to pick up the slack and prepare food for our own party. It really relieved pressure on the hosts, who took on more than they really could handle (which we had not asked for!).


twik December 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

I don’t think e-vites are really suitable for formal parties, which this appears to be. They’re not really an etiquette violation, but a bit of a mismatch in tone. If you’re going for catering, and everyone dressed up, an e-vite comes off as an odd touch, like wearing flipflops with an evening dress. But I wouldn’t consider it a damning sign of errors to come.

In my opinion, no one comes out of this well. The bride was greedy, and presumptuous in demanding, in effect, that her guests pay for their own party. The letter writer should not have attended the party if she feels such contempt for the bride. Even Emily Post reborn would probably have a hard time pleasing a guest who starts with such a negative attitude.


Kate December 23, 2011 at 6:59 am

My parents threw an engagement party for my fiance and I recently and, while people did bring gifts, we definitely didn’t ask for them or make any reference to them. When guests asked us about gifts, we said they weren’t necessary, but pretty much everyone chose to bring one anyway.
I also sent out handwritten thank-you notes to all guests afterwards. I feel like engagement party etiquette can be a good indicator of future Bridezilla behaviour.


MonkeysMommy December 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

It sounds kinda like OP was a bit snotty on this one. You demanded details?! You tried to re-plan the brides party?! You trolled the sister for the dirty details?! Expected dinner?! Never EXPECT anything. Frankly given your attitude, no wonder you are a B list guest. If I were the bride, I’d probably not bother inviting you to the wedding. Yes, the bride committed a faux pas or two (or three) but you were equally bad. Though for the record, it would be a cold day in e-hell before I’d hand over that gift receipt.


Mabel December 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

The Vaal reference was spot-on. I totally agree.


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