Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus wedding-themed episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about creating guest lists, declining invitations, asking for cash gifts, forgetting to send thank you notes, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Hey, everybody, it's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: We got so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-
Nick: -specifically about weddings that we have a bonus episode.
Leah: [Singing] Weddings, weddings!
Nick: [Laughing] Okay ... So, a while back, we invited you guys to send in wedding questions. Interestingly, we got a lot of questions, but they kind of came on certain themes. So, I've sort of assembled these questions thematically. Our first theme, which we got a lot of questions about, was - who do you have to invite? So ... [Laughing]
Leah: So stressful for people!
Nick: Here are two example questions on this theme. One-
Leah: May I just say really quickly that I think you're phenomenal at assembling and putting things into theme. It's so great. You're so great at it.
Nick: Oh, sure. It's a blessing and a curse. [Giggling] Our first thematic question is: "Is it bad manners or etiquette to not invite a couple to your wedding if you were invited to theirs?" Hmmm ... Then, the second question is: "Do I need to invite my boss to my wedding? I'm inviting three out of the four people in my department and some other coworkers. My boss knows I'm getting married, but I never talk about it at work, and I don't give much information because I don't want to be rude. She's passive-aggressive and self-centered, and I really don't want to deal with her on this day. Additionally, an ex-coworker's coming who never got along with my boss. What is the polite way to approach this?"
Leah: I feel like we're gonna have to take these questions separately.
Nick: There's a lot in these questions, but I think, generally speaking, you don't have to invite anybody you don't want to invite to your wedding. I think, generally speaking, this is the case.
Leah: I think that's the correct answer, spiritually-
Nick: [Giggling] Yes. Yes! Whether or not you can practice this-
Leah: But I think that ... Yeah, there's been some long-standing traditions that make people feel guilty.
Nick: Mm-hmm. Yes. Um-
Leah: The first one being if somebody's invited you to their wedding.
Leah: I never read it anywhere, but it's definitely floating around that if they were invited-
Nick: It's a thing. Yep.
Nick: People have this feeling, yeah. Well, I think before we even get into that, I think the broad principles - the peer essence of this - where you don't have to invite anybody is also that you are not entitled to be invited; no one is obligated to invite you. So, I think both ways are true. You don't have to invite anybody, and you do not have to be invited. That is the pure essence of this.
Leah: I think that's very [Giggling] We look inward at ourselves-
Nick: Uh-huh, yeah.
Leah: -and we think, "Oh, I wasn't invited."
Nick: But, yeah, this is political; this is fraught, for sure.
Nick: Yeah. I guess we all have those friends who you know are going to make a stink about it. Those are the same friends that want to be bridesmaids, and-
Leah: Well, I think, also, there's not wanting people to feel left out.
Nick: Yes, there is certainly that. Yes, it's that balance. So, this is difficult to determine what the rule is for this. I think you know the cost benefit analysis of all the people on the list. You know their feelings versus the drama they'll cause against whatever other criteria.
Leah: A lot of times, if you're doing a really small wedding, and you don't invite everybody who's invited you, people are like, "Oh, they did a really small wedding."
Leah: But if you invite every single person around that person-
Leah: That's another statement that's being made.
Nick: Yes. I mean, certainly, if [crosstalk]
Leah: Which you're welcome to make-
Nick: Yeah, just know that you're making that statement.
Nick: Yeah. I think if you invite a group of people in a certain friend group or a work group, and you do not invite one of the people in that category, know that this is gonna to be received as a message.
Leah: Yeah, you're saying something.
Nick: You're saying something, and you can say it, but just know that you're saying something, and just know that the consequences of this can be permanently changing the relationship with this person.
Leah: I think, in a lot of these cases, the relationship has been permanently changed, and you're just sort of acknowledging it.
Nick: Yes. Often, that's the case. Sometimes, they are later to acknowledge this than you are, but-
Leah: Right. I think it's more like it comes down to the person inviting, which is more important to you?
Nick: Yeah, it is about priorities ... It's hard, but, yeah ...
Leah: Do you want to just make it smooth sailing and invite everybody, or do you really not want to?
Leah: Then, I read this quote yesterday about really owning your choices, so if you decide, "I don't want people," that's your decision-
Nick: Stand by it and be comfortable with that.
Leah: Stand by it.
Nick: Yeah, that's good advice. I mean, that's much easier said than done, but yes ... [Giggling]
Leah: Oh, way easier said than done, that's why I read it so many times that I was like, "Oh, I'm gonna have to screenshot this."
Nick: Okay. Now, I think, when we're talking about who to invite, Miss Manners has an interesting take on this, because so often, I think we actually do this backwards. Very often, we start with thinking about the dream wedding we want to have; like, "I would like to be married in a farm in rural Ireland;" whatever your fantasy is. Then, we kind of determine, okay, well, how much is that gonna cost? Then, okay, how many people can we afford to invite? Then, we do the guest list. Miss Manners says this is backwards. What you need to do is start with who needs to be at this wedding? Who is on that list? Do you have a relative who can't get on an airplane? Do you have a lot of friends that couldn't afford to go to a destination wedding? Do you have a lot of people who have kids who need to be included? You have to start with that. Then, you determine what is the wedding that can accommodate your list, and do it in that order. So, if you have a grandparent that can't travel, then you cannot have a destination wedding if you want that person to be at your wedding.
Nick: So, Miss Manners just feels like it's all backwards. If you have this long list of sort of obligatory invitations, then know that; design a wedding to accommodate that.
Leah: Right, unless you've always wanted to go to Ireland on a farm. Then ... [Giggling]
Nick: Then, own your choices! Yeah.
Leah: Own your choices!
Nick: Yeah, yeah. Then, I guess, specifically with this boss question, you definitely do not need to invite your boss-
Leah: Oh, I feel that's so-
Nick: -and bosses should not expect to be invited.
Leah: I feel that's so nice that you gave that permission because I was like, "I don't know ..."
Nick: I really think when you are in an office situation, your obligations up the chain? Very different than down the chain. So, you are not obligated, socially, to invite your boss to your wedding [crosstalk]
Nick: I don't believe this exists. Now, I think it's also correct to not talk about your wedding at work-
Leah: Oh, yeah.
Nick: -to people who aren't invited.
Nick: I think that's definitely correct. Yeah. Especially, if there's coworkers and there's drama. I think there is a choice being made - the least amount of drama is not inviting the boss.
Nick: So, I think the cost benefit analysis has been made, and I think we came to the correct conclusion.
Leah: Especially since they clearly don't like them [Laughing]
Nick: Right! "Also, I don't want them there." Right. So, then, a related question is - do you have to go if you're invited? We got this question, which was: "I work with a person who I get along with professionally very well - no drama whatsoever - but I really don't like him on a personal level. Being professional, I do not share this with anyone at work. He's recently gotten engaged and has invited everyone in our department to his wedding, and I really do not want to go to the event because I feel like I'm being fake. If I don't go to the wedding, will it look like I'm being rude, or a jerk, creating resentment, or should I just suck it up for a Saturday and show up to the event? If I do that, can I just show up to the ceremony, give some well wishes, and leave before the reception without being seen as rude?" Hmmm.
Nick: Hmm. I love this question so much! [Laughing]
Leah: I do- I love this question, too, because-
Nick: Well, okay, what is your take on it? What's your feeling?
Nick: I feel like this dilemma resonates for you.
Leah: It really resonates because I'm split right down the middle.
Nick: Yeah. Okay.
Leah: I think it calls back to what I said earlier, which is - which is gonna be easier for you to sit with? Do you just wanna show up for that afternoon and be like, "You know what? This is gonna make everything easier at work. I'm just gonna show up; I'm gonna be polite; I'm gonna give my gift; I'm gonna hang out with people." Then, that will be easier to sit with in the future. Or, if you don't wanna go, and that's what you want, just commit to that.
Nick: Yeah. So, I think something important that Miss Manners should trademark, if she hasn't already, is the idea that a wedding invitation is not a subpoena. I think this is a great thing. I didn't come up with it. I say it a lot, though, because it's really true. You are not obligated to go, if you're invited to a wedding. Full stop. All you need to do is express warm wishes, even if they're not sincere, and that's it. You don't have to explain why you can't go. You don't have to make up excuses. Just say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I cannot attend. Thank you so much. Hope it's a beautiful day," and we're out.
Leah: I love that.
Nick: So, if you don't want to go, no problem. You don't have to go. Now, if you do go, you have to go. You gotta commit! Gotta show up; gotta be a good guest; gotta do all the guests things, which means you've gotta stay through the cake cutting. You cannot peace out after the ceremony. You've gotta-
Leah: Oh, yeah. You've gotta stay for the whole thing.
Nick: You're in. If you're in it, you're in it, and you have to be a good guest. So, you gotta get on the dance floor; you gotta smile; you gotta mingle; you gotta pretend like you're having a nice time - all of those things. It sounds like you probably can't do that, in which case, you should not go to this wedding.
Leah: Sometimes, I feel like- I'll be like, "Oh, I don't know if I wanna ..." and then I'll think, after the fact, will I have just wished I just went, and showed up, and put in the four hours, you know?
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I guess you have to decide [crosstalk]
Nick: Yeah, you've gotta decide what would produce less regret.
Nick: Yeah, okay. So-
Leah: What would produce less regret? [Laughing] That seems somehow sad! [Laughing]
Nick: Yeah, but ... The regret reduction principle - this is a very important thing for all decision-making; you want to make the decision that will produce the least regret-
Nick: -so that you can always look back at your life and say, "I made the best decisions, every time, based on the information I had at that time. Therefore, I have no regrets."
Leah: I love that.
Nick: This is what we all want for ourselves, looking back at our lives.
Nick: So, not to get too deep, but this also applies to coworker weddings.
Leah: Yes! Do what's right for you and then hang in there.
Nick: Yeah. Okay ... Another major thematic element that came in was about not being able to afford it, as a guest. Here's an example: "One of my best friends is planning a destination bachelor party over the course of three days in a major city across the country and is behaving as if it's just understood that everyone is going to attend. I don't know how to talk him about this, or how to tell him that I just can't afford it. He's one of my best friends, but I can't swing it financially." Hmm. Then, similarly: "One of my best girlfriends is having a destination wedding this summer. She is not having a bachelorette party or other traditional activities, so it's wedding or bust. I've tried recruiting our friends to book, but most are struggling with the idea, and she's not reacting well. Should she be managing her expectations better, or should her friends be trying harder to make the trip? Is not attending a friend's wedding grounds for breaking up?" Oh ...
Nick: Then, similar flavor: "I've been invited to a number of bachelor parties that involved international travel to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per person and multiple days off work. Is it rude to throw a bachelorette party of this scale? What is your position on extravagant bachelor or bachelorette parties?" Hmm. So, these are just three questions. We got a lot of questions that were basically this flavor.
Leah: Yeah, there's so much anxiety around money.
Nick: Yeah, so I think, similarly, an invitation to a bachelor party, or a destination wedding, not a subpoena.
Nick: So, this also applies.
Leah: I also feel like people feel bad they can't afford something. I've, as an artist, been in this position for weddings many times, and I felt weird telling my friends. The closer the friend, the less weird I felt, but I said- I know you would say you don't have to explain it, but if it's a close friend, and they're like, "My bachelor party is in Paris ...," you can just be like, "I love you. I can't afford it."
Nick: Yeah, and I think some nuance, which is the closer you are to somebody, you probably do owe them an explanation for not attending their wedding. If you've been friends with somebody for 10 years, and you're just not gonna go to their wedding, you obviously have to say something-
Leah: Oh, definitely.
Nick: You can't leave that hanging and be like, "Oh, sorry, I can't attend ..." That actually would be rude, at that point, if you had that relationship with somebody.
Leah: Well, I'm just saying I explain it to everybody, but [Laughing] You know what I'm saying? You probably only have to explain it to close friends.
Nick: Yeah, I think it's a continuum, but I think it is unfortunate that people do feel bad; that it's somehow their fault, or they're not trying hard enough to attend something that they just can't swing.
Nick: If you can't afford it, you can't afford it, and that's just the reality. So, the flip side is that if you are the host of one of these expensive extravaganzas, you have to understand that not everyone can go. If you've made the choice to have something expensive, you have to know that you're not gonna be able to have everybody attend. Some people are just not gonna be able to swing it. You have to know that, that you have made that choice, that you're picking something that's not inclusive.
Leah: Yes, and don't make it weird for people!
Nick: Yeah. Then, you also have to know that you can't make people feel bad, then, for not being able to attend.
Nick: Unless you wanna pay for it, in which case, awesome! I'll pack my bags.
Leah: Count me in.
Nick: But, yes, I think the expensive parties, A. are not any more fun than less-expensive parties, I've found. A destination bachelor party versus in-town bachelor party, probably the same level of fun, right? Am I wrong? I don't know.
Leah: I don't know.
Nick: Interestingly, I was reading that bachelor parties are typically more expensive per person than bachelorette parties.
Nick: Interesting. Yeah!
Leah: Very interesting!
Nick: Apparently, I guess there are fewer people that go on a bachelor party, so the cost is not spread out over as many people.
Leah: Oh ...
Nick: Then, I guess, whatever activities happen on a bachelor party tend to be more expensive activities.
Leah: Oh ...
Nick: So, the average cost per person for bachelor, more expensive than bachelorette. Yeah. Fun fact. So, yeah, what is the general advice we wanna give people? Just don't feel bad about it, and that's it?
Leah: It's really that. I mean when it comes to money, you can't afford it, you can't afford it.
Nick: Yeah. So, there you are.
Leah: I mean, what? Are you gonna put yourself into debt?
Nick: Well, some people do.
Leah: I know, but I just-
Nick: And you shouldn't.
Leah: Also, maybe your friend's getting married at this place you've always wanted to visit, too, and that's ... You're thinking of it also as like a vacation, and you're like, "Oh, throw it on the credit card."
Leah: But unless it's something you really wanna do, they should understand that you can't shell out!
Nick: Yeah, don't make people feel bad, I think is the real lesson there, because, like, "Yes, it's like I can't afford it, is that okay?" But this question is really for the person hosting it. Our message is for you-
Leah: Wooooooooo! Comin' in hot! [Laughing]
Nick: I know. I get real riled up! Okay, our next thematic question also has to do with money. "My family received an invitation to a renewal of vows. The couple have been together for more than 30 years. The woman who invited us is having her big 60th next year. Inside the invitation there is a card that reads, 'Wishing Well,' with the following poem written on it. Here's the poem:
Nick: "We don't want to offend, but we have it all. All household goods, and so much more. To save you shopping, sit back and rest. A gift of currency is our request." So ... [Laughing]
Nick: Sooo, we got a lot of questions about cash gifts at weddings. This is a renewal of vows, which is a slightly different flavor, but I just loved this poem! [Giggling]
Leah: It definitely feels like a double; that it's a renewal of vowels.
Nick: Yeah, well, let's start with that. A renewal of vowels ... [Laughing]
Leah: I said "renewal of vowels," too.
Nick: A renewal of vows is actually not a ceremony; it's a party. So, party gift rules apply, not wedding gift rules. So, I think that's a top-line answer there.
Leah: Let 'em know, Nick!
Nick: Let 'em know [Laughing] Yeah. What you can't see is I'm waving my hands very animated. So, if it was a wedding, and we were talking about a poem about giving currency, that's tacky. That's tacky. Full stop. Nope. Don't do it. Nope, don't like it. Shouldn't do it ...
Leah: I've had people say to me that they don't need anything, but they set up like a- not a GoFundMe, but for their honeymoon, and I thought that was totally fine.
Nick: Yeah, I don't love that because all that really is, is just a link to their PayPal. Then, they've come up with this list of fake things that you can pretend to buy, like *"Massage for Two on Our Honeymoon,"* or, *"Champagne Welcome at the Hotel."* Like, no! You've just given a hundred bucks to their PayPal, that's all.
Leah: No, all these people, I fully trust that it went to their honeymoon, and I also [crosstalk]
Nick: I'm sure they spent that cold, hard cash on the credit card bill that they used for their honeymoon. Yes, no, I believe that, but you have sucked out all of the joy of gift-giving when you do this.
Leah: I don't have a problem with it. I see what you're saying.
Nick: Okay, well, we're gonna ... To be fair, a lot of people will see it your way. There's many different schools of thought on this. I just feel very strongly that asking for cash is a no-no, and I don't do it! Now-
Leah: I don't see that asking for cash is the same thing as, "We don't need anything, but if you wanna to contribute to our honeymoon ..."
Nick: Yeah ...
Leah: I see them as different.
Nick: Okay ... Mm-hmm.
Leah: Because you know specifically where the money is going, and it is related to their marital celebrations.
Nick: Okay, as opposed to a wad of cash in an envelope that you just handed them. Where is it going?
Leah: Where is it going? I don't know.
Nick: Where is it going?!
Leah: Is it going back on the streets?
Nick: I mean ... Yeah!
Nick: What are they gonna do with that money? Yeah! So, I think, philosophically, we just have a different approach to this. Okay, fine. I think you are allowed to give cash if you're comfortable with that. Now, a lot of traditions do have cash as the major gift item for a wedding, as opposed to a gift, or whatever, but I don't feel like asking for cash is ever appropriate ... That's why we're different, so we can differ on this point.
Leah: I did see Godfather, and that was very exciting! [Laughing]
Nick: But another famous Miss Manners line is that a wedding invitation is not an invoice. So, I wanna dispel some other wedding-gift items here. One of them is that the price of your gift has some relationship to what they're spending on you at the wedding. No, that's not how this works!
Leah: I'm clapping.
Nick: Yeah, I mean, the idea is like, "Oh, they're having a wedding at this venue, and it's a seated dinner, so they're probably spending $150 per person, so my gift needs ..." No! None of that! No! The gift just needs to be something you think would please the couple - to commemorate the occasion - that you like, that's in your budget. That is the requirement for an appropriate, lovely wedding gift.
Leah: I love that.
Nick: You can do it off registry, no problem. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Could be homemade. But that's the criteria.
Leah: I love that.
Nick: Yeah, so the idea that ... Yeah, no. You do not calculate it based on the per-head cost of a wedding, which is very commonly thought [crosstalk]
Leah: I'm finding this so relieving.
Nick: [Laughing] Well, in general, I would like to think that our little program is there to diffuse tensions and make everyone feel more comfortable navigating this crazy world.
Leah: I love that!
Nick: So, by having some guidelines about what is sane and expected during weddings, I think, is hopefully helpful to other people.
Leah: Relieving anxiety!
Nick: Yes, that's the goal at least. I don't know if we always achieve it, but ...
Nick: Our next question, I thought was a great question, and it is: "If I'm invited as a plus-one to a wedding, should I purchase a gift, or is it appropriate to piggyback onto your date's gift? If you can piggyback on their gift, should you, the plus-one, offer to pay for half of the gift, or is the assumption that the invited guest is essentially hosting you for the evening, and your only obligation is to show up?" What do you think?
Leah: I don't think you bring a separate gift.
Nick: Right. I agree with you on that.
Leah: Because you clearly aren't the person who's closer with the couple [crosstalk]
Nick: Or may not know them at all.
Leah: Whether or not you wanna offer the person who was originally invited to split the gift, I think sort of depends on how the invite went.
Nick: Yeah, I see that. Maybe-
Leah: Or, you could be like, "I'll get us a cab, since you got the gift," if you want to, in some way, recognize ...
Nick: Yes. I think the relationship that the plus-one has is really a host and guest with the person that's actually invited. So, let's say you're invited wedding, and you invite me as a guest. We are host-guest relationship among ourselves. I am your guest, so you, as a host, treat me to the evening. I'm kind of not obligated to pay for anything myself because I'm your guest. So, that would, I think, extend to the gift; especially if I don't know the people getting married. If I don't know the people getting married, I don't think I even sign the card.
Nick: Because I think that would be weird.
Leah: Right. No, I like that way of seeing it very much.
Nick: I guess if I knew the couple getting married, but I just wasn't invited - I'd met them a few times- I guess I would sign the card, and if I liked them enough, I guess I would chip in on the gift.
Leah: Or offer-
Nick: Or I'd offer, yeah. But I don't think, as a plus-one, you automatically bring a separate gift, no.
Nick: Agreed. Oh, okay, we find it!
Nick: So, then, our next related question is: "Is it ever appropriate to show up at a wedding without a gift? At a friend's wedding, a longtime family friend signed a card, but did not give a gift, monetary, or otherwise. This person is well-off, financially, and now the couple feels like they are forming a grudge against this person. Is it okay to not give a gift?"
Leah: I love the question, and then I love-
Leah: -what I see around the question.
Nick: What do you see around the question?
Leah: Well, I ... This person is writing in for this other couple.
Nick: Yeah, although ...
Leah: So, then, I wanna be like, "Did you guys sit around and talk about it?"
Nick: Oh, of course! Absolutely!
Leah: Are you ... Is this really you?
Nick: Uh, I actually got the sense that we were "asking for a friend."
Leah: Right, that's what I was ... That's why I like to feel the whole question.
Nick: Yeah, that's true.
Leah: Are we asking for a friend, or have you been very angry for a long time?
Nick: Well, I think it could be both. I mean, certainly, if somebody shows up to your wedding, and they don't bring a gift, you're gonna tell everyone you know who knows this person; like, "Oh, can you believe it? Lisa and Chad did not give me a gift for my wedding?"
Leah: Really?! [crosstalk] I don't get the idea that this person told everybody-
Nick: Really?! You're gonna- you're gonna feign shock that that's a thing that happens? Of course!
Leah: I wouldn't tell anybody. I'd feel weird.
Nick: [Gasping] You would tell everyone!
Leah: No, I wouldn't!
Nick: Oh, my gosh. We are very different! Oh! If someone shows up to my wedding, does not give me a gift - the normal gift-giving window has now closed and no gift appeared - oh, it will be a major conversation among all of our mutual friends forever! I think that'll be the way we refer to them. "Oh, yeah. Oh, Chad's gonna be at your barbecue? Yeah, you know he didn't give me a gift ..."
Leah: I just- I guess I'm always afraid, like, I missed something.
Nick: No, no ... No, no. You didn't miss it. They didn't give you a gift. So ...
Nick: So, I think, as a society, we have agreed that if you go to a wedding, you give a gift. That's the rule. You cannot go to a wedding without giving a gift.
Leah: Yeah, so would you say, moving forward, this person is allowed to-
Nick: Hold a grudge? Yes. [Laughing]
Nick: Yeah, no, it'll be noticed ... I'm surprised that you didn't bring this up, which is some weird loophole, which would be, well, maybe they did give you a gift, but the card fell off.
Leah: No, that's what I was saying-
Leah: -I would think that I missed something.
Nick: Uh-huh, yeah ...
Leah: You know what I mean? Like, I probably went somewhere; I didn't see it; I don't know what happened; I'm just gonna let it go.
Nick: Okay, yeah [crosstalk] tricky.
Leah: I mean, it says, "At a friend's wedding, a longtime friend signed a card."
Leah: So, I get the idea that it was given as a the card.
Nick: "Here's a card. Congratulations on your wedding. So happy for you ..." End of story. Yeah ... Yeah, I think polite people are not gonna call you out for it, but we'll just talk about you behind your back, which is polite-
Nick: [Giggling] So ...
Leah: So, Nick is saying, yes, you're absolutely allowed to hold a grudge.
Nick: Yeah. Yep, yeah ... Now, I'm working on that. I'm trying to be less spiteful as I get older. I'm working on it. I've not achieved non-spite yet, but ...
Leah: I guess I would look out for other behavior; clues that I'd missed previously.
Nick: Meaning like, oh, I should've never invited this rude person to my wedding in the first place?
Leah: [Giggling] No, because I would still be fighting with the idea that maybe they gave a gift and I missed it-
Nick: I see.
Leah: -so, then, I would be looking at everything they do; you know what I mean?
Nick: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Leah: To try to verify the grudge-holding.
Nick: Uh-huh ... Yeah, unfortunately, the rules of etiquette prevent you from asking, straight up, like, "Chad, where's the gift?" You're not allowed to do that.
Leah: No, definitely not.
Nick: If Chad sent a gift, and you forgot to send a thank you note, it's very difficult for Chad to now be like, "Did she send a thank you note?" So, the rules of etiquette have this weird tension of not necessarily being able to clarify if something has gone wrong.
Nick: There's ways around it, but, in general, yeah, it's awkward. But, yeah, if you show up for a wedding, you've got to bring a gift. That's it.
Leah: That's it.
Nick: That's it.
Leah: That's all she wrote.
Nick: Some myths, though - that you have up to a year to give that gift. [Sighing] I mean, I think this is antiquated. I feel like you gotta give it pretty shortly after the wedding because can you imagine if you got married in January, and you did not receive a wedding gift until the following December from somebody? That just is too long.
Leah: You know, I have a lot of reasons why I would accept it-
Nick: Well ...
Leah: This really seems to be my-
Nick: [Giggling] I think, at the three-month mark, post-wedding that you attended, no gift arrives? That goes down to my little grudge journal.
Leah: [Laughing] My grudge journal ...
Nick: Then, another, I think, myth that shows up is that if it's a destination wedding, you don't have to give a gift. Also not true. I think you still have to give a gift. Now, as we've established previously in this episode, the cost of your gift has no relationship to anything else. It's just what's in your budget. So, if you wanna have a more modest gift because it was a destination wedding, no problem. Does not have to be an expensive gift, but some token, I think, is still required. That's my thought.
Leah: I think these are all very logical, pragmatic, courteous answers.
Nick: Uh-huh ... I see a "but" happening.
Leah: There was no but!
Nick: Okay ... Just, there was a tone ...
Leah: No! There wasn't even a tone!
Leah: I really feel like it's- I like that.
Nick: Yeah, I have a fairly clinical approach to wedding etiquette, yes.
Nick: So, our next question ... [Sighing]
Leah: I knew this one would upset you.
Nick: This is upsetting. All right, "I got married on New Year's Eve. Showers were thrown for me in early November and December. I've sent a few thank yous for the November shower, none for the December shower, or the wedding. At this point, will it be more awkward to send the shower thank yous, and wedding thank yous, one after another or to only send one thank you that acknowledges gifts, and efforts from both events? My concern is that sending both will highlight the fact that I waited too long to send the shower notes and sending one might help make me look ignorant instead of rude. I know I'm a monster, and I fully repent for my laziness. Thank you in advance for any advice."
Nick: I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed.
Leah: Oh! Which is honestly worse than mad.
Nick: So, this is an etiquette crime. A crime has been done. You can't go back and unring that bell. That's it. A crime has been committed against all of your guests. So, what do we do about it? What do we do? So, I think it's never too late. Not sending them ever is worse than sending them late.
Nick: So, given the urgency here, I think we'll give you a pass. You can send one note that covers both events and both gifts that were given to you for both of these. You must grovel. You must apologize. The letter should specifically state with the phrase, "So sorry for the inexcusable lateness of this note ..." because it is inexcusable.
Leah: Then, I think that it should be stocked full of compliments.
Nick: Well, it should be a good thank you note, yes.
Leah: Yeah, don't just have a thing that says thank you and sign it.
Nick: No! No, no, it needs to be specific. I wanna hear about the gift, how much it pleased you, how you've been using it in the months and months that you've owned it. Yeah, I want details. I want both parties who got married to sign this card. Yeah, no, I expect groveling, and sincerity. Yeah, for sure.
Leah: I love it! I also agree that- just get one out now-
Nick: Just get it out.
Leah: Just get it out.
Nick: Yeah, because it doesn't get better the longer you wait. But I was thinking about this because this issue is very common about thank you notes not going out promptly. I was thinking about sort of why does this happen? Why is this so common? Why is it so hard for people to do this thing that we all know is a thing that must be done? The idea of the cliché married couple that sends notes late or not at all, like we all know that trope. That's not new. That's not some secret. So, why does this happen? I think one issue that comes up is that there is this sense that our thank you notes have to be as thoughtful and as perfect as our wedding, itself. Like, "I wanna wait until I have all the addresses available to me and then print it on labels," or, "I wanna wait until the wedding photos come back so I can make a wedding card as my thank you card," or whatever it is. I think we're allowing perfect be the enemy of good, and I think, for thank you notes, good is good! Just your handwritten thoughts of appreciation on a card in the mail, that's all we need. You don't have great handwriting? No problem. If it's just a generic card, that's great. I feel like we kinda get hung up on making them perfect, and then we don't do anything because we're paralyzed.
Leah: I mean, that's so, so much bigger, you know? It's so many-
Nick: Right? Well, yeah, that's true. That's a bigger issue [crosstalk]
Leah: That covers so many topics.
Nick: But it manifests in this thank you card issue. Also, what happens, I think people wait until the end to do it all at once, and now, we have 100 cards to write. That's a big pile of mail.
Nick: That's a lot. Miss Manners would tell you that you should send them immediately. So, you get the gift, send the card. You know, you might only get one gift a day - one card a day. That's manageable. If you have to do 300, yeah, that's a lot. Now, Emily Post does say you have three months to write thank you notes. I don't know.
Leah: I think that seems fair to me.
Nick: I don't know. I mean ...
Leah: I do see why some people wanna have their nice matching envelope to go with their wedding.
Nick: Okay. All right ...
Leah: But I like what you're saying, to take the pressure off.
Nick: Yes! [crosstalk]
Leah: -just to not worry.
Nick: I mean, it is just a lot easier and a lot more efficient, if you just do it on a rolling basis. Because here's the thing, I am not alone in thinking that as soon as I send that gift to you, the timer starts. I am waiting for that thank you note. I am noticing how long it takes you to get that card in the mail. I'm waiting ...
Leah: I don't even notice.
Nick: It's noted! Yeah. So, a lot of people do note this. If you wait 90 days, okay, but ... It's just every day you wait, it's just another day that I'm noting this. So, it's a question-
Leah: I don't think everybody notes how long it takes.
Nick: Not everybody, but I think, in our audience ... I would like to hear from people in our audience who note how long it takes for thank you notes to be sent to them. I believe we will be getting some email from people who agree with me.
Leah: Oh, I'm sure there are. I'm just saying I don't think everybody does.
Nick: [Giggling] Not everybody. No, no, but I feel like I'm not alone. I feel like I have a tribe that agrees with me. But I think point being, you have to send them at some point, so let's just not wait, and let's not get overwhelmed with the volume, and let's just not be monsters, and let's send them.
Leah: Let's not be monsters! [Laughing]
Nick: [Giggling] Because, at the end of the day, these people have done something nice for you, and if you don't acknowledge that, then the idea is that you didn't care. If that's the signal you wanna send, then okay, but know that that's the signal you're sending. If that's not he signal you wanna send, then get that note mailed, please! I feel very strongly about this.
Leah: I know! I feel it. I just- this is how I see it. I see what you're saying, and I agree with what you're saying. Why I don't feel like it needs to be immediate is because I feel like I gave them the gift out of celebrating them-
Leah: -and not because I needed a response right away and because I know they have a lot going on in their life.
Nick: Sure, yes. No, I'm happy to cut slack. "We had a wedding; it was very busy; we went on our honeymoon; we came back ..." Okay, fine. But, at some point, life resumes, and we do need to fulfill the societal obligations that we all have. Writing thank you notes for wedding gifts is part of that.
Nick: [Giggling] Yeah, I don't know. I just ... My opinions on this are very well-formed. I cannot be moved. I just believe that it needs to be done. Now, I will say I do not send gifts-
Leah: No, I believe it needs to be done, but I'll give somebody a while.
Nick: Yes, and I will say, I do not give gifts for the express purpose of judging their response time.
Leah: No, but you're counting.
Nick: I am ... [Laughing] I mean, it's not not noted ... But I am giving the gift out of pure altruistic pleasure for their union. I am doing that. But me being me, I also expect a thank you note, and I'm not gonna apologize for it.
Leah: I think you're perfect!
Nick: Yeah, great. Thank you. So, thanks to you out there for being on this journey with us. Do you have questions for us, about anything - weddings, not weddings ...?
Leah: Vowel renewals that you wanna write a poem for?
Nick: [Laughing] Vowel? Vowel renewals? Yeah.
Leah: Vowel renewals, the AEIOU-
Nick: Sometimes, Y.
Leah: Sometimes, Y!
Nick: So, send those to us through our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or leave us a voicemail - (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729), and we'll see you next time.
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