Category Archives: Etiquette

POLL: Address Etiquette

Because it is not 1846, I refuse to address my invitations to “Mr. and Mrs. George Guestenbaum.”

But I do not know which of these alternatives is “more correct”


“Mr. and Mrs. George and Louise Guestenbaum” sounds more reasonable to me, but is also bugs me with its redundant “and”s.  For what it is worth, it’s the APW-approved style of addressing a married couple with the same last name.

But I disagree with the second bit of advice in that piece, which is to put people with different last names on different lines. It is my understanding that it is proper to put married couples on the same line and unmarried couples on different lines (The only time I break this rule is for gay couples that hold themselves out as a married couple to the community even if their state won’t recognize their marriage).  What do you think?


Regardless of how we set up that line break, when we address couples with different last names, who goes first?


And finally there is the issue of children.  I realize that children over the age of 18 should get their own invitation, but that means that my little brother’s best friend gets his own invitation separate from his parents, which makes me feel OLD.  But them’s the breaks.

For minor children, proper etiquette demands their names only go on the inner envelope, but we don’t have one of those. So what do we do?


Also, I really, really want to address a couple as “The Doctors Guestenbaum.” But the only married couple of two doctors we know has different last names. Feminism ruins my fun once again.

Thanks for voting and helping me sort out this mess. If you have any more rules I should know or tips for how to tweak them to make me not want to barf, please comment!


An Ethical Dilemma that Melts in Your Mouth

Filling out our registry has been astonishingly difficult. Who would think that asking for presents would be such a pain in the butt? I feel like presents should be all about smiles and joy, but leave it to weddings to take something that should be awesome and make it stressful.

There’s a whole set of kitchen items I need that I haven’t put on the registry yet, even though I need them. Cookie items.

Because I live in Pittsburgh, we’re having a cookie table at our wedding, with hundreds of homemade cookies, many of which are going to be made in MY home, by me.  And when I think about how the month before my wedding is going to involve nightly cookie baking sessions, I realize there are so many THINGS that could make that process easier.

Cooling racks. Batter spoons. Freezer storage. And yes, a mother-effing stand mixer.

But if I DID register for those things, and received them in time to use them to make cookies for the cookie table, it wouldn’t help: etiquette dictates I do not use the gifts until after the wedding. Because if we do not get married, I have to send the gifts back.


Jinxing it is my real fear here. Because let’s face it, if I get jilted, buying a stand mixer to send back to the person who gave me it will be a tiny drop in the bucket of money blown on my non-wedding. And the money is sooo not what I’ll be upset about. But I still feel like using wedding gifts before the wedding is tempting fate.

So while I don’t really want to hand-mix the batter for a hundred dozen cookies, I’d rather do that and still get married to Collin.

So what do you think I should do? Did you use any of your wedding gifts before the wedding?

Invitation Wording

I cannot put off this atrocious task any longer, I need to decide what wording to use for our invitations.

I am a stickler for etiquette rules, and there are a lot of rules about the wording on wedding invitations.  The way you list the names indicates who is paying, which is obviously super important so people know who to thank judge.

If our invitation were following etiquette rules and trying to be honest, it would end up saying something along the lines of

This invitation wording obviously won’t do. I mean, for one thing it is too wordy! And while wedding invitations are supposed to tell you who is paying for the thing, but only after use of the Etiquette Decoder Ring that comes in boxes of Emily Post Cereal. This is far too straightforward.

So I think we’re gonna blow past that whole issue and use the “together with their families” wording. Which leaves open the question of how to END that sentence: “Together with their families Robin Hitchcock and Collin Diedrich…” do what now? Should we go with the staid “request the pleasure of your company” even though we’re already breaking from traditional invitation language? Do we try to “invite you to share in the joy and celebration” of our wedding, or something googedy like that?

I asked Collin for his input on how to end the sentence, and here’s the invitation he drafted:

Which frankly, I like a lot better. A few pushes in the direction of the English language and some additional details and that could be the perfect invitation.  Except for the ghost of my grandmother terrifying me into believing that if I put the word “awesome” on my wedding invitation the even will lose all hope of grace and my marriage will be subsequently doomed.

ALSO: this entire post was a ruse to get you to comment on those fonts. And/or suggest excellent free fonts we can use for our invitations.

Best Thank You Card Ever

Bridal Hootenanny-member Megan has alerted me to the greatest achievement in stationery since the invention of recycled paper:

Best thank you card in the history of politeness.

Sadly, the cards sell at 6/$16, so they will not be a part of the HitchDied Wedding stationary suite.

But all you unlimited-budget engaged people out there (you exist, right? Somewhere?) need to live the dream for me and use these thank you cards.

Questions Arising as I Address Save-the-Dates

Why have I allowed my handwriting to get so atrocious?

Why did I ever think I should use Sharpies to write out these addresses? Why didn’t I realize it would just CLASH with the marker font we used and would exacerbate my handwriting issues?

Should I be putting the names of the unmarried/unengaged plus ones on these? I liked when my name was on Collin’s invitations back in the day.  But what if these people break up before the real invitations are sent? Do I then need to grant a generic plus one? Or invite the rebound?

Why do unmarried people have to be listed on separate lines? Why didn’t I know that before I ordered postcards with only three address lines?

Should families be invited as “The Guestenbaums” or as “The Guestenbaum Family?” The more I think about it, the more I like the second option. Do I need to re-do the ones that I already addressed to “the Guestenbaums”? Did I order enough extra postcards for this?

Why am I inclined to put the man’s name first when inviting a married couple that shares a last name? Wouldn’t a feminist put the woman’s name first at least half the time? Wouldn’t a slave to etiquette refuse to separate the man’s first name from his last name?

Is it creepy that I am using Google to fact check my mother-in-law’s guest list?  Is it possible there are two [NAME REDACTED]s operating medical practices in East Kansas, and one spells his name with one n and is invited to my wedding, and one spells his name with two n’s and is not?

Does that “MO” look like an “MD”?  Is there a St. Louis in Maryland?

How do all these wedding bloggers DIY stuff while drinking wine? Am I the only person who starts to make noticeably more mistakes after just one glass? WHY DID I ORDER SO FEW EXTRA POSTCARDS?

Is it really pathetic that I am lumping “addressing postcards” in with DIY?

From Collin: “Couldn’t we hire someone to do this for us?”



Minding My Manners

Oh my.  The overwhelming response to my last post was to simply address my save the dates to “George and Louise Guestenbaum” so I don’t have to worry about if Louise’s a doctor or if she prefers “Mrs.” to “Ms.”

Oh, readers.  Oh, sensible, practical, living-in-the-now readers.

I suppose none of you had a stern, terrifying grandmother who despite her childhood Catholicism was such a WASP that the High Order of Terrifying WASPs considered reworking the acronym to accommodate her, before she saved them the trouble by switching churches.

Well, I did.  My grandma started sending me etiquette guides before I left kindergarten.  By the time I could tie my shoes, I had seen more than one illustration depicting how to use a finger bowl (even though I have to this day never seen an actual finger bowl.)  Most of my memories of my grandmother involve her handing me napkins or giving me money on the condition I would buy “some blouses that are not so low-cut.”  She once forwarded to my father a thank you card my sister sent her, attaching a note reading, “Please instruct your children to date all correspondence.”  She was, in short, insanely proper.  And although she is no longer with us, I am still scared of her.

I think she might faint if she received an issue of Reader’s Digest that didn’t address her as “Mrs.” Receiving correspondence regarding a wedding with just her first and last name would probably have resulted in some kind of global cataclysm with Wilmington, Delaware as its epicenter.

“But Robin,” you say, “You don’t have to invite your dead grandmother to your wedding.  All your living invitees will be chill.  And if they aren’t, illegitimi non carborundum.”

Oh, Reader.  Kind, gentle, level-headed Reader.  That kind of sensible thinking isn’t going to work for me.  You see, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe that any etiquette transgression on my part runs the risk of my grandmother rising from the dead, hunting me down,  and stabbing me in the neck with an oyster fork.

Yes, I’m saying that I am worried that my bad manners may pierce the veil and revive the dead.  I know you think I’m crazy, but deep down you’re worried I’m right.

It’s hard, because rules of etiquette are arcane, rife with inconsistencies, and frequently incompatible with my feminism, my laziness, and even my sense of right and wrong.  Ultimately we all have to make these decisions about which rules to follow, which rules to bend, and which rules to ignore completely in a way that feels true to ourselves.  And part of me comes from my grandmother.  I have an inner etiquette snob.  There are many times in wedding planning I wish I could distract her with a tea party and make sane choices instead of striving for “excruciatingly correct,” but that old dame will not be quieted.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

I don’t have addresses for more than half our wedding guest list.  This, despite the fact that Collin and I both had sisters marry in 2009. Stop moving, everyone!

And seriously, what’s so hard about saying who you are dating on Facebook?  I KNOW, I KNOW. I know exactly what is so hard about it.  But it’s not my fault I was practically engaged by time I joined Facebook.  And I can’t address an invitation to “Mary Sue Noncommittal and It’s Complicated.”

Meanwhile, Facebook.  Don’t you think you should give everyone a place to indicate if they happen to be a judge or a doctor or have some other status where I would be mortified if I accidentally sent them an invitation that says “Mr.” or “Ms.”? It would be just another form of bragging, which is essentially the raison d’être of Facebook, no? (To be fair, I didn’t see The Social Network.)

Also, how do I decide who gets a “Mrs.” on her invitation?  I generally hate that title, but far be it from me to impose a “Ms.” on a nice married lady who embraces the R in the middle.  Is it safe to “Mrs.” every married woman who took her husband’s name and is not a doctor or a judge? Or is that making assumptions I shouldn’t make?

In short, there are only a few short weeks until my save-the-date deadline, and my Excel spreadsheet is a sea of blank cells, and my etiquette needs a re-sharpening. HALP.

Why I Hate That You Hate Wedding Websites

Slate’s I Hate Your Wedding Website criticizes engaged couples—well, let’s face it, the unspecified villain of this piece is clearly the bride-to-be—for using a practical informational wedding website as an opportunity to indulge in a gauche celebration of how awesome they are and how special their love is.

I probably could have brushed this article off fairly easily—it is from Slate’s reincorporated lady-offshoot XX, the pearl-clutcher’s imitation Broadsheet; it’s yet another “you’re doing this wrong” attack on marrying women without any deeper cultural analysis; it centers on the already-tired cultural buzzword narcissism.

But I have also been reading Ms. Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, which repeatedly warns against narcissist pitfalls such as asking for specific presents (via a registry), selecting the attire for your wedding party, and playing music at the reception that doesn’t appeal to your grandparents.

I planned on doing at least two out of three of those things! And I actually consider Miss Manners a trustworthy (and delightful) authority on etiquette! Not to mention that I have started to blog about our wedding about a year before any theoretical informational site for guests would go live! I’m a narcissist!

Sigh. It seems everyone (save bridal-profiteers) mocks the idea of a wedding as the Bride’s Special Day. If only they were doing this because getting hitched ought not be the pinnacle of a lady’s life. Instead, it feels like the mockery is directed at the idea that a woman could have even one day to feel important.

And thus a woman’s wedding, the one day she’s been allotted to feel any entitlement to getting what she wants (in contrast with a man’s ENTIRE LIFE) becomes the ultimate opportunity to judge her for her choices. Judgments which conveniently remind the bride that after the wedding is over she has to step out of the spotlight and back in line.