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08.01.2002: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 1
wedding guest quandaries ...
Q: My boyfriend of five years was recently invited to the out of state wedding of one of his friends.  Though the bride is well aware of the fact that we are together, his invitation did not indicate he was welcome to bring a guest.  The inside envelope was actually blank, so it is possible that it was not intentional. I have found contradicting answers as to the obligation to invite a "long term significant other".  We do not live together, but are in a serious and long term relationship.  Though I know it is taboo, in this situation would it have been appropriate for my boyfriend to inquire about bringing a guest? Thanks! K.

A: Let me just say, first, that I absolutely believe that long-term significant others should always be included in the wedding invitation; in my opinion, any couple thatís been together for five years is clearly in a committed partnership, whether they have a legal document saying so or not. So I completely see where youíre coming from with this dilemma. Still, weddings can be quite grotesquely expensive, and sometimes, budget constraints mean that the bride and groom find they arenít able to include everyone theyíd like to. And for some folks, a friendís girlfriend or boyfriend doesnít progress beyond mere ďdateĒ status until thereís actually a marriage certificate verifying otherwise Ė which is why significant others are frequently the first ones to be cut when it comes time to whittle the guest list. Like I said, I donít agree with it, but these are the ways things sometimes go.

Unfortunately, every etiquette maven in the country will tell you that itís the name or names on the envelope that tell you exactly whoís invited to the wedding, and that if your name isnít written on it along with your boyfriendís, you should assume that the bride and groom, for whatever reasons, were unfortunately unable to extend the invitation to include you. It is basically never, ever considered proper to ask to bring along a date to a wedding, when the invitation to do so wasnít expressly issued from the get-go.

All this would be well and good in a world where we could safely assume that everyone else was as aware of propriety as they should be. But the fact is, there actually are some folks out there who donít have a clue that if they donít put the girlfriendís name on the invitation, the girlfriend isnít actually being invited. If your boy knows the bride very, very, VERY well, and honestly and truly believes thereís a chance that the bride didnít mean to exclude you from the festivities, then it may be worth it to inquire further. Iím not saying I personally would, but if this is something thatís causing distress in your mind or in your relationship with your boyfriend, then I could certainly see how youíd want to put your what ifs at rest.

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