Can they really invite me separate from my wife?? (Help! Miss Manners!)

Dear Miss Manners,

Given the unlikelihood that Judith Martin will ever answer my question in the Miss Manners column in the newspaper, I’m glad a surefire source of answers to etiquette questions is the SDMB Dopers.

My friend got married today, a big, very ritzy affair at one of those country châteaux, with the string quartet playing, everything. This was a friend from a circle in which my wife doesn’t participate, but she’s met them and at least they know of her existence. When the bride’s mother had called me to confirm attendance, I answered, “Yes, we’ll be there.”

Later my wife called attention to the fact that the invitation envelope had been addressed only to “Mr. Jomo Mojo,” not “Mr. and Mrs.” But I thought it was just an oversight, since how could they invite me without also including my wife? I hadn’t called them back about inviting my wife because the possibility of them leaving her out never occurred to me. To me that would be totally inconceivable, unthinkable.

When we got there, we dropped off the gift and card we had brought, and then found the guests’ place cards set out. Again, the card said only “Mr. Jomo Mojo,” not “Mr. and Mrs.” Uh-oh. That meant there was no place setting for her. I went looking for my friend the groom but I couldn’t find him before the wedding was to begin and there was no one else around I knew whom I could ask about it.

My wife went back to the car. With a heavy heart I joined her, apologized to her for the slight, and we went home.

What should I have done? Somebody goofed somewhere. Was it the fault of the planners for overlooking my wife’s existence? Was it my fault for not calling them ahead of time and getting them to invite my wife? Someone please tell me if it’s considered normal or acceptable to invite only one spouse to a wedding while snubbing the other. I really don’t know how these high-society people function.


Is your wife like a total drag?

Just kidding.

I would totally expect them to invite both you and your wife. If for some reason they needed to trim the guest list then your friend should have telephoned you and explained the situation.

I’d go with ‘Their screw-up’

It may have been an oversight on their part, or they might have intentionally left her out for some obscure reason.

Believe it or not, I was just reading Miss Manners’ latest book last night, and she addresses this very issue. The correct thing would have been for you and your wife to have both been invited, as you are married and therefore a social couple. (You should not, however, have necessarily expected to be seated together at the reception, but that’s a different issue.)

In cases where one spouse’s name is on the invitation but not the other, Miss Manners suggests calling up the wedding planner (or the bride or groom, as appropriate) and saying, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m not clear; was my wife invited also? If not, I’m afraid I must decline the invitation, as we attend social events together” or something to that effect.

I hope you kept the gift.

This had to be an oversight. I’m sure you know this now; but you should have called and let them know about it.

Being in the middle (well, now the tail end) of organizing a wedding, I would definitely say it was an oversight on their part.

Or gross stupidity.

There are people coming to our wedding that neither myself nor my wife to be have ever met, but we know they are the partner (not even necessarily the wife) of the people we are inviting.

If they are a serious couple, then the partner should be invited. We, for what it’s worth, defined “serious” as being together 6 months, with a certain amount of wiggle room for extraordinary cases (one person was living with his gf, and had only been seeing her a couple of months, she is invited). Certainly someone’s wife would be invited (or husband as the case may be). If we had been so budget restricted, we’d have removed both of them, rather than invite just the one.

I’m confused – was there no response card returned which indicated exactly how many would be attending? Or (as in the rizy manner as might be indicated when one is invited to a wedding at a country chateau) a personal note written which said “Mr. and Mrs. Jomo are delighted to accept the intation to the wedding of Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones and shall attend with glee in celebration of the joyous day.”

And who is your friend, with regard to the newlywed couple? The husband or the new wife? Because it has been my experience that the bride-to-be and her family and/or contracted assistance handle the invitation process. Did the bride know you and Mrs. Jomo before the nvitations were sent?

You also said that the bride’s mother called you – was that because you hadn’t returned a notice of attendance, or as a follow up?

The response to this situation should depend on how those factors add up.

Bride knows you and wife + written response to invitation indicated attendance of wife + follow-up call with MOB gave more indication of wife’s presence than just “we’ll be there” = Massive Problem

Neither bride nor groom know wife + written response was sent + call was clear = Moderate verging on Massive Problem

Bride doesn’t know wife + no written response to invitation + only contraction “we’ll” as indication of wife’s attendance during follow up call = Less Of a Problem

Neither bride nor groom know wife + no written response + unclear call = Only a Breach of Etiquette (for not doing better research about those who they were inviting to their wedding) but not a “Personal Slight” (an intentional or egregiously negligent attempt to negatively effect you, specifically)

While I agree that an event such as a wedding should never generate a solo invitation to someone who is in a committed relationship, this may have been the result of a misunderstanding which was compounded in the process of desired guest list -> invitation list -> written invitations -> confirmed guest list -> place settings.

If the factors add up to my “Massive Problem” scenarios, then I would go so far as to say that these people are not really friends. Acquaintances, perhaps, colleagues, maybe, but not friends. How you respond to this, however, should be largely based on how much interaction you want to/will have to have with these people in future. If you don’t need to see them again, and you’ve determined that this was really egregious, it’s worth telling them in clear (though polite) terms that Mrs. Jomo was very hurt and as a consequence you are deeply insulted, and they can go jump in a lake. :smiley:

Thanks for the clear analysis, tlw. The exact scenario was—

This is why I can’t get too indignant at them. Why it isn’t a clear-cut case of whose fault the screwup was.

Now I’m wondering what to say about it if they ask me the next time I see them.

Odd that another one of my friends, who saw me while I was briefly there, said, “When I saw you, at first I wondered what you were doing here, and then I remembered.” Odd.

We forgot to take back the gift before leaving. Oh well.

That last comment from the other friend is more intriguing than the original screw-up. I’d get ahold of him and find out what was meant by that.