Gay Marriage ~ Wedding EtiquetteJules Hirst
Here is an article from Sunday’s New York Times sent to us by Michele Ondre.
If you find an article that you think should be posted, send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your submission, we will send you a digital copy of the book we co-authored, “The Power of Civility.”
Several years ago, I attended a lesbian friend’s commitment
ceremony, and I gave the couple a gift to mark the occasion. Now, she
and her partner are marrying. Should I give them another gift?
Is it about the gift or about expressing your happiness for your friend,
now that she and her partner may marry? This isn’t a case of a
second-time around wedding, where one isn’t obligated to give a gift,
especially if a wedding gift was given for a first marriage. Even so, a
good friend often does give a gift out of affection for a remarrying
friend and in honor of the occasion. To answer your question about your
friend’s coming wedding, I say, yes, do give a gift. It needn’t be
elaborate or even expensive. And if they already have an established
household, consider something fun (tickets to an event), frivolous
(Champagne for after the wedding) or serious (a donation to a cause).
This is a very special celebration for your friend, so join in the
spirit of the occasion.
Finding the Right Words
My partner and I plan to marry next spring, and we’re wondering how
to word the invitations. Do we use the same format and language as for
Some couples may wish to style their invitation on the tried and true
traditional wedding invitation, while others may take a different tack.
There’s no reason you can’t be creative with yours, as long as the
wording is respectful and reflective of the occasion and conveys the
information a guest needs to know: who is doing the inviting, what is
the occasion, when and where will it take place, and how to respond.
Gay and lesbian couples make many of the same choices as straight
couples in wording their invitations, with a few twists. Because there
are two brides or two bridegrooms, the ride’s family first convention
doesn’t apply when listing the wedding hosts. The couple, and their
parents if they are the hosts, will have to decide which names to list
first, with the simplest choices being alphabetical order or a coin
toss. The same is true if parents have divorced and perhaps remarried;
decide what makes the most sense in the situation. Create the
invitation, formal or informal, that feels right to you and your partner
and informs your invitees of the necessary details.
A Tangled Wedding Web
I am having some trouble navigating what to do about two guests I
have invited to my wedding. They are both good friends whom I have
known for many years. These two were romantically involved for a while
after I left the city where we all lived. I had always planned to
invite the woman to my wedding, as she is the closer friend. But
recently I have renewed my friendship with the man, who actually doesn’t
know that I know he and my other friend were involved. They tried to
keep their relationship a secret for reasons I won’t go into.
Recently, I have been seeing more of my male friend, and without
thinking of my female friend, I verbally invited him to the wedding, and
then followed up with a save-the-date e-mail. When I did this, I
wasn’t thinking about their history together and that she still takes
pains to avoid seeing him. Now I realize that if I tell her I invited
him, she very likely won’t come to my wedding because seeing him is so
hard for her. Should I uninvite him? I would feel awful doing this. But
she is the closer friend, and it’s really important to me that she
attend my wedding. She and I live in the same city where the wedding
will happen, and she has been helping me plan; he would be traveling
from a city several hours away. I have thought about approaching her
with the problem, but then she might insist on not coming so that, in
the process of uninviting him, I don’t reveal to him that I know about
their past. Please help!
Sounds like you need a GPS to navigate this tricky triangle. The short
answer: Do not uninvite your male friend. It would be hurtful to retract
the invitation, and there is no possible way to give him an explanation
without revealing what was told to you in confidence by your female
But perhaps you are anticipating trouble where there might not be any.
Plenty of weddings have occurred against the backdrop of dicey
undercurrents of exes. Think about divorced parents who attend their
children’s weddings. Potential minefields often lurk right below the
surface, but somehow actually on account of foresight they get
through the big day. Since you are such good friends with both, it would
be natural for you to invite both of them. So go ahead and do just
that. Give them each a heads up: Matt, I’m looking forward to seeing
both you and Samantha at my wedding! Encourage your female friend to
attend, and assure her you will do what you can to ease the awkward
interactions. For example, if you have assigned seating at the
reception, seat them far from each other at separate tables, just as you
would a divorced couple.
With careful planning and a dose of civil behavior among those involved,
I’m sure you can help these two friends avoid any uncomfortable moments
or soap-opera drama while being with you at your wedding. One would
hope that they will join you and recognize that this occasion isn’t
about them, but about you, their good friend. Surely, they will be able
to share your joy while putting their secret past behind them.
Learning to Love a Heartfelt Gift
My son and his wife recently married. My sister and her family sent
them a wedding gift of a clock that plays music. My sister indicated
that it was a costly gift (one I know they could ill afford). When my
son received it, he called me to say that he and his wife did not care
for it at all. They cannot return it as it was purchased at a store out
of town. I know they will write a gracious thank-you note. I have
offered for my son to send it to me, and I would take care of the
return. Unfortunately, it was bought at a store that sells only
timepieces, and I’m not sure if they will find anything else to purchase
at that establishment. Here is my question: Should I just return the
gift, get a store credit and not say anything to my sister? Should I
tactfully explain to my sister that my son and his wife had no use for
the gift and ask her if she would want her account credited? I don’t
want there to be any hard feelings.
The gracious thank-you note for the gift is a great start and a must.
There’s always something positive to say about a gift, even one that
doesn’t suit the recipient. Dear Aunt Sarah, Uncle Charlie and Leah,
We’ve just opened your thoughtful gift. Every home needs a good clock,
but we never expected one so elegant or tuneful. We both appreciate your
generosity and the care you took to find something special for us. Joe
joins me in sending our thanks. We’re glad you could join us at our
wedding. It meant so much to both of us to have our families with us.
O.K., now what to do with the clock? Your son and his new wife should
keep this unique gift, even though it’s not something they wish to use.
While it is generally totally O.K. to exchange gifts when they are
duplicates or wrong sizes, or when the giver says, Please exchange it
if, that’s not the case here. It isn’t about the tangible item itself,
but all about the effort and, as it seems in this case, the sacrifice
made to show affection to the newlyweds. Exchanging the clock for
another isn’t worth the chance of causing hurt feelings or upsetting
family relationships. The couple can keep the clock in a closet, or in a
room that is infrequently used. They could make sure it’s in view and
in full chime when Aunt Sarah and Uncle Charlie visit.
Can I exchange it? litmus test says: Keep the gift when it is
one-of-a-kind (an heirloom or a unique clock like this one), when it is
handmade or if an exchange would cause hurt feelings.