QUESTION: Here’s a question opposite of the one I read in your June 30 article. I recently received a wedding invitation for the marriage of the son of a new friend whose connection with me is professional. I have not met her husband or her son and future daughter-in-law.
My personal feelings are that a bride and groom should at least be acquainted with their wedding guests. For this reason, I don’t really feel comfortable attending the wedding. If I attend I’m violating my own personal philosophy, and if I decline I risk offending my new friend. What do you advise?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: Very nice of her to invite you. Send a gift and don't go. That being said, definitely let her know how nice it was to be invited.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: HI don’t think you have to explain all of that to your new friend. If you want to go and get to know her better socially, then do so. Or you can decline the invitation, saying you have other plans, and leave it at that. You don’t have to worry about offending her, but avoid the long explanation about your philosophy regarding wedding invitations. If you want to, send a gift along with your regrets; it can be small. And then celebrate this milestone in your new friend’s life by asking her about it during a get-together with her another time.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Maybe she invited everyone in the office and did not want to leave you out. Maybe she wants to get to know you better. For whatever reason, you are invited. Some wedding couples and parents invite their work connections so that if people are talking about it at work, then everyone is invited and can talk about it together.
There are many reasons not to accept an invitation. You might be out of town, already busy that night, or just want to stay at home. Pick one and decline. Get together with your new friend another time. Meet for lunch or a drink after work.
It is really not good manners for her to quiz you as to why you cannot come, but if she does, just politely say you had already made other plans.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, etiquette and international protocol consultant: First, I think your new friend's invitation says that she is interested in having a closer relationship if she has invited you to such an intimate event. Because you are new friends or haven't mixed business and pleasure yet, you haven't had the opportunity to meet her husband or children, so here is the chance.
We are often invited to the weddings of professional and social friends that have adult children that we have never met. They might be living in other states or they did not grow up in our city. Many of these adult children may not travel back home for a wedding shower or their parents might not host an engagement party, which would be a good time to meet the people the parents plan to invite to the wedding.
Your invitation represents the "personal feelings" of the hosts and it looks like she wants to be a closer friend. Your decision should be based upon her wishes and whether or not you want to become better friends. Finally, if you received an invitation, you need to send a gift. If you choose not to go, and or, not to become closer friends, choose a gift that is in an average price range and send your regrets.
Don't be surprised if she asks why you couldn't attend and remember you are invited in order to become a social friend, not to become acquainted with her children.
Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com.