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I Now Pronounce You Greedy 

Is it tacky when the bride and groom ask you to fund their honeymoon in Hawaii?

Wednesday, Mar 20 2002
Dear Social Grace,

How should I handle this situation? I went out on four or five dates with a woman. The last time we went out she seemed pretty cool and said she wanted to go out again. So I have called her twice but haven't heard back from her in two weeks (nor do I expect to at this point). It's not that big of a deal if she doesn't want to keep dating, but I was a little bummed at how rudely I was treated after treating her very respectfully on all of our dates (flowers, holding doors, remembering my "thank you"s, etc.).

Should I (a) just let it go and ignore it (as I have done), (b) call and bitch at her for being rude, or (c) leave her a note and remind her that there is/was a person (with emotions and feelings) on the other side of the equation? Or (d) other suggestions?

Thank you.

Dear Mark,

Your question couldn't be easier to answer, even without the helpful multiple-choice format. Of course, I recommend (a) as a way for you to continue your respectful treatment of this woman, who may have valid reasons for backing out of a nascent romance -- reasons that aren't necessarily any of your business. Although in the case you present, a phone call (if not an explanation) might have been in order, respectful treatment of others should be its own reward.

I think you know that I can't recommend (b) as a solution to anything, not least because it is always rude to tell someone else that she has been rude. I also believe you know that (c) could conceivably come across as scary, rather than educational. Besides, she already knows you're a person. Save your paper for future love letters.

Dear Social Grace,

Is it ever correct to, well, correct someone? Or is that always impolite? I wouldn't want someone to walk around pronouncing "awry" "AWW-REE" (as I did for years, which prompted my grandmother to observe that that's why they had kids read aloud in school and why they should revive that practice; wise words). It would seem that correcting someone would depend on how well you know the person and whether you did it in a polite, private way. Your thoughts?

A Silent Reader

Dear Silent Madam or Sir,

You seem like a thoughtful person, and I'm glad you wrote before learning the hard way that many (if not most) people do not appreciate unsolicited language correction.

Yes, you must know someone very well to correct her, and you must do so privately and politely. Parents, grandparents, and teachers have license to correct grammar and pronunciation; a significant other with real faith in his relationship's strength might also give it a try, and a supervisor can often correct an employee. But this doesn't mean that you can't help a friend or co-worker whose pronunciation has gone awry. A later conversation (after a day or two, say) might go something like this: "I must have tossed and turned all night, because when I woke up my bedsheets were awry -- and wouldn't you know it, all morning, things seemed awry ... awfully awry, you know, just askew, amiss ... awry." (Alternatively, if doing so made sense, you could ask her how to spell the word.) It's not guaranteed to work, but you will have done your good deed, and your friend may be able to believe that she corrected herself before anyone noticed her error.

Dear Social Grace,

An old friend is getting married soon, and she created an elaborate Web site showing the happy couple in various photos throughout the Bay Area and beyond, with saccharine-sweet captions beneath each tolerably ever-so-cute image. In the site were links as to how to get to the wedding ceremony, how to contact them, etc. There was also a link regarding bridal-registration information.

Instead of a list of stores at which they were registered, they simply stated that they were starting out their life together without significant savings, and both of them wanted a dream honeymoon in the Hawaiian Islands. Instead of gifts, they indicated that cash should be sent directly to them, in the amount of $100 or more. They closed the request with a statement of how grateful they are to have friends and family who understand their desire to go to an exotic location that they could otherwise not afford, especially since they planned on having more than one child and cash would not be available for extensive vacations in the future. They did not list any other gift option. The request was repeated in an e-mailed wedding invitation that was sent out to those who had Internet addresses (an error, in my opinion).

My partner and I disagree: I said that requesting a gift at any time is incorrect, and specifically requesting cash is tacky at best. I prefer to select my own gift. Without registration information, I intended to simply purchase something nice for them. While I would have been willing to work within the constraints of a store where they were registered, I refuse to just send along the requested $100-plus to two people who live in upper-middle-class homes in Palo Alto. Their inability to save shouldn't put the burden of their honeymoon expense on their family and friends.

Neither the bride nor groom is broke, per se; they obviously went to some expense creating their wedding Web site. But one almost expects them to say, "Poor, poor us; please send us somewhere nice, as our Palo Alto residence is ever so limiting, and using a different pool would be a pleasant change of pace."

My partner has another viewpoint: He says that those who attend a wedding or otherwise feel connected to the couple should send along a gift. Cash is acceptable anyway, and they might return gifts for cash without our knowledge. This request merely saves them that step and is, after all, more honest than returning gifts. He doesn't feel this is tacky or inappropriate. Your viewpoint could settle our only remaining disagreement.

Joey in San Francisco

Dear Joey,

When it comes to gifts, honesty isn't necessarily the best policy. I'm sure this couple honestly wants everyone they know to send them huge amounts of cash so they can take a Hawaiian vacation. Honestly, that doesn't sound half bad to me, either. But asking for a cash gift is simply a ghastly, greedy breach of etiquette -- and of good sense (make your loved ones resent you, and just see how many presents you get). If I were to receive such a request from a good friend, I would do her the immense favor of pretending that I had never received it. (Mass e-mails that ask recipients for money generally fall under the category of spam, anyway.)

It's the apparent sense of entitlement that shocks me so. All that a person is entitled to gain by marriage is a husband or wife, and that ought to be enough. Yes, wedding gifts are traditional, but the practice of registering is not -- as many people seem to believe -- a way of handing loved ones a shopping list. It is done as a favor to help them choose a gift, but there is nothing to prevent them from going off the list if they don't need that assistance.

Falling in love and marrying does not earn anyone a tropical vacation. We couples must try (or pretend) to be delighted with any wedding gifts we receive, basing our joy on what those gifts represent: our friends' and families' love and good will, and a public recognition of our social bond -- things much more valuable than a week in the tropics.

About The Author

Social Grace


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