Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miss Manners: Have a seat if you’ve got the cash

By Judith Martin
Updated: October 30, 2008

Dear Miss Manners: I believe I already know your stance on cash requests for weddings in lieu of gifts: that it is never appropriate. This may be a new wrinkle (although no doubt you’ve heard and seen them all):

My sister is remarrying at fiftysomething to another fiftysomething. Their expensive wedding invitation states that they already have enough stuff and are requesting guests to “endow a chair.”

At first, I thought I was being asked to fund some needy student’s scholarship or deserving professorship. Then I noticed on the return portion of the invitation, right next to meal choices, was a little box to check for the number of chairs I was willing to endow at $60 apiece.

I went off the deep end, thinking, What next? BYOB? BYOF? Or perhaps we would just bring our own chairs, sidestepping the need for endowment.

Now, I’m in a quandary as to whether I’m allowed to attend the wedding and reception if I don’t pony up $120 for my husband and I.

I’m sure the food and drink at the party will be wonderful, and expensive, but I already have a bad taste in my mouth. How does one politely respond to such a proposal? I would like to be on speaking terms with my sister for the next 50 years.

Gentle Reader: Actually, that is a new one on Miss Manners. And she hates to repeat it, knowing that there will be people who, far from being appalled at this astounding display of greed and vulgarity, will think, “What a good idea.”

Why anyone would want to attend a wedding of people who think of them merely as customers is hard to imagine. But you are the bride’s sister. It would behoove you to commiserate with her for having been reduced to such public begging. You might consider sending her a check, accompanied by a plausible excuse to cover sparing yourself the embarrassment of having bought entrance to her wedding.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2008 Judith Martin

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