DEAR MISS MANNERS: We’ve been friends with a couple for over 20 years. Our son grew up with theirs — elementary through high school, after-school sports, etc.
Their son is getting married out of town. It’s drivable for us, but would mean a flight and hotel for our son and his wife.
Our friends just informed us that while we are invited, our son and his wife are not, “due to cost.”
Our son will be hurt knowing that we, who are capable of giving a generous gift, are invited, but he and his wife, who are scraping by (he is in school and she is teaching), are not. They would have spent their “gifting” money on expenses for attending the wedding — had they been invited.
Are we out of line to think that this is just bonkers? Surely the groom would much rather have his buddy (my son) at the wedding than us. We thought that this was weird.
Do we ask his parents to exclude us from the festivities and invite our son and his wife instead?
GENTLE READER: As a society, we have a disturbing inclination to use money as punctuation in social situations: “So-and-so was rude to me — and it’s worse because I paid a lot of money for the gift.”
Miss Manners finds this disheartening. But if we are going to talk about money, let us at least be clear. You say that the host excluded your son “due to cost.” This is a rude, clumsy — and all-too-common — way of explaining why someone was not invited. You believe the motive was even grubbier: that potential guests were evaluated based on their ability to pay (in the form of wedding presents).
Whether or not you are correct is irrelevant to etiquette — though Miss Manners might wonder why you consider people you think so little of to be friends.
Nevertheless, it is clearly impolite to negotiate someone else’s guest list.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Tell me, Miss Manners: What do you think of dinner guests who tell you they are on a special diet?
I have invited two people to dinner who have told me they are on a weight-loss keto diet. It’s pretty restrictive. They are not diabetics and do not have other health concerns.
I will absolutely accommodate their wishes. But is it polite for them to tell me what I can/can’t serve? To my eyes, they aren’t overweight.
I have been on diets myself, but when invited to someone’s home for dinner, I just shelved the diet and went back on it the next day. I don’t want to dictate to my hosts.
GENTLE READER: People looking to lose weight should be grateful for a meal in which they can eat some, but not all, of the dishes. And probably, Miss Manners would think, not to have you speculate about whether or not they need to diet.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What should I do when an elderly relative says she wants to get me a birthday present and, when I thank her for her generosity, follows that up by instructing me to order myself something online and then tell her how much it cost? (This relative is not homebound and does know how to use the internet.)
GENTLE READER: Apologize for not having gotten to it yet, each time you are reminded.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.