Call me a British snob if you like. But after the way one New Yorker and her fiancé were treated as they planned their wedding day, I am quite happy to be a British snob. God save the Queen!
A Wedding is the one occasion where you really get to test friendships. And if manners and integrity were not valued friendship qualities, then perhaps these American guests would have passed with flying colours (not colors!).
Because this bride is British, not only did she find the lack of etiquette vulgar, but downright novel. In other words, she had never encountered such imaginative levels of discourtesy until her move to America.
So here’s what you can expect from your American ‘friends’ when you plan your big day:
1) Just because you announce your wedding date well in advance, don’t be surprised when months after receiving your invitation, another couple takes it upon themselves to set their wedding date for the very same day. Worse still, this couple will show no embarrassment when sharing their happy news, and certain mutual friends may even change their rsvp to your wedding from yes to no, to attend the other wedding. Don't expect anyone to lose any sleep over this or to feel the tiniest bit of remorse.
2) Even though you made the effort to fly out for her wedding, stood by her when her future mother in law was one asinine comment from being flung in the Hudson with a brick around her neck, she cannot fly out to your wedding because she is trying to get pregnant. Americans aren’t great at geography, so perhaps she can be forgiven for thinking that by London, you meant Chernobyl. But, in case she hasn’t read the invitation, you might want to point out that her husband is invited too and I believe they haven’t outlawed sex and you can still get pregnant in England. It happens to British people all the time.
3) “I never see my husband so I want to be with him THAT day.” This has to be the winner of the lamest excuse, only a hair ahead of “I have too many weddings to go to this year.”
4) In case you make the common mistake of assuming that your wedding day is all about you, think again, as one couple reminded the bride with, "I'd love to come, but only if this other couple is coming too."
5) Some folk just can’t seem to make up their tiny little minds as to what they’re doing that day. Where I’m from (England) we look in our diaries and if the entry is blank, then the answer is a no-brainer yes. Clearly it doesn’t work that way in America, as demonstrated by this delightful young guest who asked, "Can I let you know a few days before the wedding?" Well actually, no you can’t! This isn’t some beer pong night, it’s a wedding with escort cards and seating plans, so no you can’t just make last minute decisions on a whim…
6) For those Americans who simply don’t like to say no, well they don’t have to. In my primitive little island (England), you rsvp with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In America, perhaps taking a leaf out of the ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ culture nurtured by Facebook, they have a constitutional right to options. One invitee deemed it perfectly reasonable to respond with, "Well, I'm not sure… I may 'pop' in on the day and say 'hi'."
Perhaps, instead of guest’s names, the seating cards should just read ‘male’ or ‘female,’ that way no one feels undue pressure to turn up, but if they do decide to grace you with their presence, then at least you can still adhere to the man-woman seating system.
In conclusion how does anyone get anything done in a country where people treat one another with such flagrant lack of respect? We’ve all had to deal with guests who fail to rsvp or even worse bail on the day. But these excuses scream of the me, me, me culture that is prevalent in certain parts of the world today. What is saddest of all is that some people have come to regard this treatment as entirely normal.
For those of us who find this behavior abhorrent, we need to take a stand and do what we can to bring back common decency. Don't put up with anything less than respect, and do not be pressured into compromising your standards by people who have none. Otherwise God help our children!