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etiquette shmetiquette?

 Illustration via etsy

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have read some of my tweets sounding off about the difference between French and American weddings and etiquette. Mostly how I'm discovering the subtle differences between the two.

With the wedding fast approaching, RSVPs are starting to trickle in, and we have opened our mailbox to a few surprises. 

We have several groups of friends here in Paris and although we wanted to keep it small, we also didn't want to exclude anyone and invited every member of each group, even the friends whom I've only met once. Well kindness is biting us in les fesses because apparently there has been some kind of misunderstanding in regard to whom exactly is invited.

Because we're inviting groups of lifelong friends, we invited the singles sans guest. We even sent out an e-mail with the train schedule out to Fontainebleau with the idea that they could all go together in a group, fostering the idea of fun and breezy wedding.

Well, that hasn't been communicated. Like at all.

Many of our invited singles have gone ahead and included a guest. Some added girlfriends and boyfriends that they just started dating a few weeks ago, a friend from work, two children that I didn't even know existed, and one RSVP even went as far to include a phantom boyfriend. The response read: "2 RSVPs, me and my future meetic.com boyfriend!". 

What the...

Okay, so does future boyfriend prefer chicken or fish? Or perhaps he will be in my 1% of vegan guests. Had we been asked more than told I don't think we would have been as amazed, and perhaps we would have said yes. But including some dude who doesn't even exist yet is a bit cheeky, even for me.

The French who are meticulous when it comes to detail and etiquette, I must say I'm surprised. Aurelien, unfortunately, hasn't been able to offer much insight because most of the weddings he has attended were for family members where he has gone stag. I would have actually preferred if he had opposed my opinion so at least I could learn something, but he too found these assumptions to be forward.

We have since made peace with the situation and are going by the old saying 'the more the merrier' because I'm trying for a drama-free wedding, but it does raise an interesting question. Does reading the envelope to discern exactly who is invited simply not exist here in France? And is a "plus one" always assumed?

As usual, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions about this!

47 comments:

  1. I hated this part. There were some friends that I just didn't invite because they were single and I felt bad not giving a +1 and then it makes doing the tables so much more difficult as well. I regret not inviting them - some were invited last minute when others couldn't make it. But we had to keep our # at 130 max and ugh. The guest list was impossible. I feel like your approach is good as long as it doesn't kill your budget. If it did, I would have no worries saying, no you can't bring your phantom boyfriend... or your 2 kids. kid meals are not included in this wedding! x

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    1. We're just trying not to make drama and I know that the fault will fall on me because I'm the "loud" one in the relationship. All of our friends think Aurelien is a saint who never gets annoyed, so when he does, it's "ignited" by me. So not true. Like I told you in the email we drew the line at Meetic and he sent her an email explaining that she is welcome to come alone. She's not happy.

      I think it's hilarious that you didn't invite singles because you didn't want to tell them that couldn't bring there bf/gf du jour!

      We'll figure it out...but yeah, so not fun.

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  2. French MarieFebruary 18, 2013

    That's very rude! My experience: a few friends known to be single asked us if they could come with their +1, and we said yes. But they asked first! A cousin a mine phoned me at 9 pm the night before the wedding to say he wanted to come with his dog... Er, no! Glad you "asked", the reception was in a 16th century mansion, there was no way a dog was welcome there! We also had a guest coming from Belgium and another one from Spain, they both asked if they could come with a friend/brother. We said yes of course, but would have considered it very inappropriate for them to bring someone without express invitation from us.
    Still, you're right, the more the merrier: that's the way one must see things preparing one's wedding! Bons préparatifs !!!

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    1. French Marie! Thank you for your French insight!! So it's not a difference of cultures, it's a difference of rude people vs. polite people. I guess being rude is universal, no matter where you come from.

      The fact that your single friends ASKED makes all the difference...but yeah, good for you for drawing the line at a dog!! Thanks for the heads up on that one as I can see that coming next!!

      The more the merrier indeed but we're going to have to tighten the ship a bit!

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  3. If you don't nip this in the bud, you have no one to blame but yourself. Me? I would respond immediately to all guests who added a plus one and simply tell them, plus ones are not included. Maybe you can swing it, but I simply don't understand why you would.

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    1. This is tricky, but I think that if I were planning a wedding on a tight budget, I would go with JTB's solution. People don't seem to realize how costly weddings are. And you've made it abundantly clear on your blog that you were working with a tight budget, so I really don't understand this whole business of uninvited plusones and plustwos suddenly RSVPing to your reception.

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    2. @JTB - We received all of these responses late last week. I wanted to check in with you all first to get your take on it. I never got this far into the planning on my first engagement so this is all new to me. We did tell Meetic and a few friends that we are trying to keep it small that's why we invited the entire group of friends. They weren't happy, blamed it on me, but you know what who cares? Everyone is entitled to be called a Bridezilla once!

      @Duchesse - People really don't seem to realize how costly they are...or some just don't care. These people who helped themselves to adding guests know very well that we don't have a lot of money and all of the drama that happened last fall...but still, their co-worker needs to be there. N'importe quoi.

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    3. Standing your ground doesn't make you a bridezilla. And I'd rather see you go on a nice honeymoon if you have a little wedding money left than stretch yourself too thin by feeding gatecrashers and freeloaders. Going it alone on that wedding was also about having it your own way.

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  4. I haven't been married in France (yt) but I recently invited someone to a lunch, she accepted, we made plans and then she mentioned in passing, "oh, btw, I'll be bring my one year old daughter!"
    Hmmm.... I think I feel a gastro and alast minute cancellation coming on!

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    1. Umm yeah, there's a difference between a lunch with a girlfriend and lunch with girlfriend and her one year old baby! You won't be able to catch up at all! Maybe she feels like she's doing you a favor by honoring you with the presence of her baby? New mothers these days are so like that. I'm dealing with one now....

      Go gastro. : )

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  5. God! People are so rude! You'd think they were raised with wolves!

    I once invited a friend to spend Christmas at my parents' place (she was newly arrived in Canada and had no family), and she phoned on the 23rd saying: We're coming tomorrow! "We" including her new boyfriend we didn't know from Adam... Had I been the one entertaining, I would not have minded, but since it was my mother, and she wasn't in the mood for something too intricate, she was furious, and that put me in a very awkward position. Whatever happened to asking if it's OK to bring a guest first?

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    1. Going to work now - will finish responding to comments tomorrow! My mom is coming over for dinner tonight! : )

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    2. Ok back, wow, that WAS rude of your friend! Especially since you were opening your family's home on Christmas with the understanding that she was alone. Some people...sheesh!

      So what did you do? Did you tell her that she couldn't bring the new boyfriend? New being the operative word....

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    3. I didn't have the heart... And the visit was a disaster.

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  6. Whoa, that is SUPER rude! I'm going to relay this to my French friends and partner, but I think even they would say that it's rude too. I'll revert back with some insight (or non-insight).

    You are SUPER nice for letting it all pass! I think I would have said sorry but... no. Only real tangible human beings allowed please.

    Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. Isn't it rude? I'm not going to lie, I was pretty pissed when I got some of these responses. It was the not asking and assuming that annoyed me the most. Meetic isn't bringing phantom date. We put the kibosh on that one. She's pissed but whatever, you can't please everyone!

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    2. It's your wedding. The only people you should be concerned about pleasing are Seb and yourself.

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  7. Wow, that is seriously out of line! I wouldn't dream of inviting someone else along to anything unless it was explicitly stated I could (and I'm not as confident as your friend about finding an online date for such occasions ;o) ) I would really want to go back and tell them off, but I never have the balls for that sort of thing, so if it happens to me, I'd better find a guy with better backbone ;o)

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    1. I'm really glad to see that we're all on the same page here! I honestly thought I was missing something and that this was normal, but now I'm seeing based on the comments that it's really not acceptable!

      I'm all for standing up for something I believe in, I'm hesitating because I'm not sure how worth it it is. I don't want to taint the day with tension. We have since reached out to a few people and explained that we want to keep it small and not everyone is happy but we have to keep ourselves happy too!

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  8. Very interesting perspective on this, from different nationalities. Of course etiquette differs from place to place. Here in northern England, the names of the specific invitees are always written on the invitation, so there could be no doubt.

    I agree that bringing somebody who has not been mentioned on the invite is rude, even if the invite had only one name it would be polite to check first...... but actually NOT inviting the significant other or plus one, whether you know hem or not. is not the done thing here either. It would be considered a bit odd to invite somebody to a wedding on their own. Single or not.

    Love Denise

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    1. Based on the comments, I'm starting to think that it is internationally understood that the envelope deciphers exactly who is invited. In America, UK, France...which sort of annoys me more, because these people know that attaching a +1 is plain rude.

      We didn't not invite significant others. That's incorrect too. The singles were people whom we believed were truly single, and they are but for some reason they don't want to come alone, which we don't understand.

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  9. Oh my goodness, what a clusterf*ck. I'd probably have a meltdown... good on you for having a "more the merrier" approach. But agreed with the posters above... were they raised by wolves? Unless it says Mr. Smith + guest, you're flying solo. I thought that was a rule everywhere, but apparently not.

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    1. I think it is a rule everywhere but some of our guests are choosing to ignore it! My fiance is so nice that they think they can get away with it. The Meetic chick actually TOLD him in person that she was bringing someone and then sent the card with her plus one. That has since been sorted out because I'm sorry, you don't tell the groom you are increasing his guest list with someone who doesn't exist yet. Call me crazy!

      Clusterf*uck indeed! Oy vey.

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  10. No f'ing way. Now I don't know anything about wedding etiquette, of the American or French variety, but if you're uncomfortable with something, you have the right to do whatever you want. I have a tendency to tell it how it is, however. My friend Ashley threw a poker party one time and she invited a co-worker who decided to invite one of his friends (she didn't know him and one of the other attendees hated him). I told her to uninvite him but she felt bad. Then one day after work, we passed him in the hall and he said: "I'll see you at poker" and I just said to him, "Hey, I'm sorry, but you weren't invited."

    Now, that might seem like a bitchy thing to do but honestly, I didn't feel bad about it because it was true. If you were to let people know that you don't want them bringing guests, you shouldn't feel bad about it either. It's your wedding! If anybody has a problem with it, they don't deserve to be there.

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    1. Hahaha Thanks for this awesome comment, Jenna! You made me laugh! The poor guy was axed from poker night! We've adjusted the situation since, allowing a few things slide and speaking up for the more presumptuous attendees. But you're right, if it's a big problem for them, well that says a lot, especially since it's been made clear that we're working with a small budget. I don't understand people!
      Thanks for the laughs! :)

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  11. Feelings will always be hurt! We went through the same thing. We tried to keep it small but where do you draw the line on the 2-month-and-counting boyfriend of a friend?

    At the same time, my feelings were hurt when I wasn't invited to my husband's best friend's courthouse wedding, even though my husband was the best man. Stick to your gut! And don't stress it too much.

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  12. not acceptable...if the invite does't say "and guest" you by no means are to just go ahead and add on another person...beyond RUDE.
    at the barest minimum you would ask if that was ok first since you can't bear to be away from them or something but to just assume you can bring a date..no way, no how.
    Ironically at my first wedding we had a gate crasher, she just showed up un invited ...27 years later she lives with my ex husband...which is fine with me because I'm now married to one of his ushers....true story.

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    1. That is too cosmic, Debs! Details!;)))

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    2. Thanks Deb for your comment! I was waiting to hear your take on it. : ) It is rude and since you are all agreeing I feel a lot better. I was actually pretty lost last week, scratching my head thinking 'huh?'

      Your story is incredible! Was she an acquaintance of yours or truly an unknown who crashes weddings (my mom had a random who is in a ton of her photos!)? Life is funny, isn't it? This would make an excellent short story! Write it!!

      Like Duchess, I want details too!

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  13. Very rude! I agree with previous commenters that say nip it in the bud. The more the merrier? God bless your heart!

    I am dreading our RSVP situation when the time comes - we are having an overseas Indian/Asian wedding where common etiquette rules will need to be left behind at immigration.

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    1. Wow! Where exactly are you getting married? and CONGRATULATIONS!!
      I hope you don't have anything too annoying in regard to RSVPs and such because it really is a headache. We're trying not to sweat the small stuff hence why we're letting some of it slide...but not all of it! :)

      I look forward to reading about your wedding on your beautiful blog!

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  14. Things are just different in France, you learn l'etiquette every day:)

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    1. Based on the comments, especially French Marie's, I'm thinking the same rules apply. Good thing, right? : )

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  15. Wow. I remember you mentioning this on Twitter. I'd probably handle it the same way as you. I really wouldn't have the courage to tell people no. But on the other hand, if I were invited to a wedding and there was no +1 on the envelope, I would never consider bringing someone. Well, at least not without asking the person. Even then, I'd probably feel guilty, because I'm probably making them feel obligated to say yes.

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    1. It's a tough place to be in, you don't want to look cheap but you don't want to be taken advantage of. We've reached out to the folks who crossed the line, who invited friends and mystery dates, but for the ones who just started dating someone, we left alone. Because hey, you never know. We may be going to their wedding next year! Thanks for helping me out with this! I needed you guys for this one!

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  16. People have balls! WOW!

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  17. People have balls and are insensitive and self-centered. Why is it that when there's a wedding involved, they start to think that money grows on trees?!

    I remember telling a friend (my former hairdresser) that before we went overseas again, my common law partner and I would most likely get married just to make things simpler (which we did). But neither one of us likes weddings or being put on the spot, so we wanted a quickie thing at the courthouse with two witnesses and then a quiet lunch/brunch somewhere. Well, when Frank (let's call him that) heard the word wedding, he had big plans for me and was already making arrangements in his head (oh yeah, he had decided he would plan the whole thing!) and would not listen to one word I was saying about it being a simple formality and not a celebration of our love! The most ironic part was that in his mind, he was orchestrating that big do and in mine, he was not even invited!:)))

    In the end, I got my simple, hilarious wedding in front of a photocopier in a notary's waiting room, in front of seven family members and a nice brunch in a French bistro in Ottawa, and it was a laugh! And I wore an old black dress I already had! And the few people present still talk about how much we laughed that afternoon:) I'm glad I didn't let clueless, pushy people browbeat me into spending money I didn't want to spend on a ceremony I didn't want.

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    1. It's silly but I have found that many people here think that because I'm from New York, that I must be rich and my family has money set aside to pay for the wedding. Even though we have illustrated otherwise. While some people may have some cash that they worked hard for in my family, it's known in most Italian-American cultures that the kids have to make their own dough. Italians don't share well. : )

      Was "Frank" crushed that in the end he wasn't even invited? Oh well bless his heart for being enthusiastic and excited, even if you weren't feeling like a cookie-cutter bride! Is he no longer your hairdresser do to this this?

      I went back and forth between eloping and doing a party because I love the idea of both. We're doing something "elopey" in the States with town hall and a dinner, to get both experiences. Aurelien wants to be official in America too even though we won't live there. Why not, it's only fair!

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  18. This is not a french thing!! This is just rude! If you say friends with no guests it is with NO guests! People dnt care nowadays... You are nice, but really what can you say?! "no"... No, you are not rude but still... That is a tricky one. Good luck with all that... Jeez I have to work but I wanna read more! hehe :) xx

    www.eminhapinto.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Emma! Thanks for your comment and welcome! I'm seeing that it's not a French thing and it's a rude people thing! Thanks to all of your comments! We've since sorted it out and are keeping random co-workers and phantom boyfriends at the door, despite the reaction we received from the invitees. Thanks again and I look forward to checking out your blog!

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  19. Someone can certainly claim my plus one, but the catch is that it must be a cute, single boy, and he must eat the vegan meal. P.S. I love you for offering a vegan option! Woo for the one percent! I posted this as anonymous, but I'm going to assume that you know who I am. xoxo Gossip Girl

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    1. Hi!!! Vegan feast for roY. Woo hoo! I CANNOT wait to see you!!! We have a lot of jokes to catch up on. : )

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  20. I think you're being too, too kind. You have to pay for this, and it's extremely rude of the people who invited others to have done so. And it's your wedding, where you really want mostly people you know and who care about you. Our daughter is marrying here in France in June, and she and her fiancé are paying for most of their wedding, which means she has had to limit even family, which was difficult - no children of cousins have been invited, for example. People who love you will understand, and people who don't understand? Tough.

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    1. My mom said the same thing. She was appalled by the nerve of some of the guests and insisted that we communicate that it wasn't acceptable. We've sorted it out (not without a bit of a fight, may I add) and we've met in the middle. No co-workers or phantom boyfriends, but new partners we said okay, because it may turn into something serious. Thanks for your comment. You've confirmed how not okay it is! : )

      Congratulations to you and your daughter!!! Like us, you all must be in the thick of it! I'm sure you are so proud of your daughter and I wish you a lovely wedding! How exciting!!

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  21. We had to deal with this as well. Even though we specifically addressed the invitations as Mr & Mrs or just the single person plus guest, we had massive overload on the RSVPs. We had one couple who said they were bringing their daughter plus the wife's brother who would act as the designated driver! And my husband's uncle RSVP'd for 10 PEOPLE! I was a wreck, because we were limited to 100 people. Turns out the people that I had to accommodate didn't even show. Which really pissed me off because I had friends who didn't make the A list that I could have fit...

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  22. RUDE! Wait till you get a $19 salad bowl as a gift. FROM TWO PEOPLE.

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