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06.26.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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no reply card ...
Hi there, Oh Goddess of Etiquette: So here's my quandary. I recently received invitations to two weddings for completely unrelated people (well, other than the fact they both knew me). Both invitations "requested the honor of a response" on my behalf. Sure, I am happy to do so, having been through the horror of planning my own wedding. The problem? There are no response cards. None.

Much less a pre-stamped sort of anything. Also? No phone number or address anywhere on the invitation to which I might send the response. I managed to track down the brides & grooms to let them know I would be attending the weddings, but they seemed put out with me that I didn't send a note instead (actually going so far as to tell me "Well, the address was on the envelope the invitations were sent in; why didn't you use that?")


When I asked a co-worker about it, I was told that this is the "most formal" manner in which an RSVP may be sent. Am I just that out of the loop, or is this new, different, and irritating? I concede to your greater wisdom, but I know my Emily Post doesn't say anything about this trend. Thanks in advance for your help.

A: So, technically, it's true: there is a tradition wherein formal wedding invitations don't include RSVP cards. The thought being that any Well-Bred (shudder at the word) guest would, of course, know that an invitation necessitated a response and traditionally, at least, a written response was considered the proper formal method of replying. The inclusion of a card, the reasoning goes, might be seen as an insult to the guest's knowledge of good manners, sort of like including a self-addressed stamped thank-you note with a gift. It was just weird, and not the done thing.

But, see, here's a prime example of what I call Dumb Etiquette. I am all for living by a set of social conventions that help us all get along, that make everyone's lives a little nicer, more pleasant civilized, if you will. But slavish devotion to rules that don't do a damn thing for improving the quality of our societal interactions when the rules in fact seem to serve no purpose other than to make the follower feel all hoity-toity about how "classy" (cringe; see "well-bred," above) they are for abiding by them well frankly that, to me, is just moronic. The fact is that these days, the majority of wedding invitations arrive with a handy reply card. It makes things easier for the guests; it ups the odds for the betrothed couple that they'll actually get replies. Everyone wins. If a bride and groom choose not to include one in their invitation package then that is, of course, their perfect prerogative, but they should most certainly not, then, be surprised at all to discover that many of their guests will be rather confused about where the heck it is, exactly, replies should be sent, or in what manner. You went to the effort of letting both couples know whether or not you'd be attending, thus adhering to their request for "the honor of a response" (which, if we're getting picky about formalities here, reads a little strangely; I'd think "favor" would be a more appropriate word choice), so as far as I'm concerned, any miffed-ness on the part of the couples is pretty damn silly, quite a lot petty, and not a small amount rude. Good manners aren't really about being right, but about being gracious.


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