Etiquette & Manners: Reader Question About Babies and Weddings

Q. Hey Jennifer!!

I’m going to ask a question :) Your input is appreciated.

We have been invited to two weddings this summer. One of them is for my step sister (who I don’t talk to very often) and the other is for my boyfriend/husband’s friend. Finnley will be 9-9 1/2 months old by the time of the weddings. When it comes down to it I am really not interested in leaving her with someone for the 6+ hours that would be required to attend these weddings. There are also logistical issues (things that I have chosen as part of my parenting style, people may or may not understand these and honestly I don’t really care either way as this is whats best for us)… I have not been away from her for more than 1-2 hours and only on rare occasions, she is breastfed (along with solid foods now), I don’t pump milk and she has never had a bottle, we don’t have someone we really trust to look after her for that long, etc.

SO… do we decline the invites, do we discuss with the bride/groom, do we accept only for the ceremony and skip the reception? I know weddings can be very political, feelings are especially sensitive, etc. (hence why we haven’t had a wedding ourselves lol).

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

A.  Hi Kim!

Such a great question. While planning my own wedding, I spent a lot of time on various forums and the topic of babies and weddings was often discussed (and debated). At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and Finnley (which it sounds like you have already decided is the way you will go). However, here are some thoughts:

It sounds like both weddings are not child-friendly. A lot of what I read online suggested that the reason so many weddings today are not child friendly is due to budget, concerns that the child will “act-out” or “scream/cry/fuss” and distract from the ceremony, or worries that if the bride and groom invite some children they have to invite them all. I have also heard of weddings, where the bride and groom think they are doing those invited a favor by making it kid free thereby giving the couple a “night out.” Whether right or wrong, many couples are choosing the no children route.

Personally, I would evaluate a few things and then plan an approach for each wedding:

  • How far away are the weddings from your home? Will they require you to travel and stay in a hotel? Or, are they close by?
  • Will it cause more problems for you not to attend, then to attend (even if you only attend for a short period)?
  • What time of day are the weddings? Evening? or day weddings?
  • How casual or formal are the weddings? black-tie affairs? or more laid back?
  • Do you know why children have not been invited?

I would first speak with each bride, or couple, and explain that you are not comfortable leaving Finnley, but you would like to attend the weddings. It may be a simple matter of them not realizing you would prefer to have Finnley with you.  It is also ok to ask why they haven’t invited children – their answer can help you to respond.  If needed, I would also stress the following in your conversations:

  • As Finnley is so young, she will not require a meal provided by the bride and groom and therefore it won’t cost anything for her to be included.
  • You are willing to accommodate the bride and groom’s preference and either: 1) not attend the ceremony if they are concerned about a baby distracting from their moment; 2) stick by the back of the ceremony area so that if Finnley fusses you can quickly and easily remove her; 3) attend the ceremony, but not attend the reception – as much as everyone loves a party, the day is really about the exchange of the vows; or 4) plan to attend both the ceremony and reception, but let everyone know you may bow out early from either, if needed.
  • You recognize that the couple may not want children, but hope that given Finnley’s young age and your chosen parenting style, they can make an exception.

Each bride handles wedding stress differently – and you might not receive the answer you were hoping for. As long as you reiterate that you want to celebrate in their day it is the best you can do.

Another option, although I’m not sure that this is such a good one – would be to have your boyfriend/husband attend the weddings as a representative of you and Finnley.

At the end of the day, it is ok to go to one wedding and not the other, both weddings, or neither. Regardless of whether you attend each wedding at the very least send the couple a card letting them know that you are thinking of them on their wedding day and appreciate having been invited.

Hope this answer helps!


May 27, 2011. Etiquette & Manners, Recommendations. 2 comments.

Etiquette & Manners

I will be starting a new series about etiquette and manners concerning general going out, parties, informal and formal get-togethers, and all other types of entertaining. Each post will have a caveat at the bottom reminding readers that etiquette is something that is ever-changing and learned. Please don’t ever look down upon a friend, acquaintance, guest or stranger for bad etiquette – use it as an opportunity to refine your own skills and set an example. Chances are, those who don’t observe proper manners just don’t know any better. By setting an example, hopefully those around you will imitate.

As hard as it might be, a gracious host always put his/her guests first – despite their behavior (*within reason*).

Let me know if you have ever been in a situation and not known proper protocol. I’ll gladly answer any etiquette questions – and what I don’t know, I’ll research!

May 26, 2011. Etiquette & Manners. 1 comment.

Memorial Weekend: Open the Lake BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is for BBQs, friends, family, relaxation and fun. It is also a great excuse for a party to kick off the summer season. This is the first time in a long time that we aren’t traveling this weekend, so we plan to take full advantage.

We are starting out the weekend with a BBQ hosted by friends at a lake near their house. This is an annual party that they throw and they call it “Open the Lake” as it is the first weekend the lake is open. They have asked that I recommend some recipes for the BBQ that can withstand the sun and be enjoyed all day without refrigeration.

While the main dishes will be grilled meat – there are lots of side dishes, desserts and general munchie options that can be made. 

My top  favorite dishes for the BBQ are below. All of the dishes are extremely easy to make, can be made in advance and can be served all day.

Watermelon, Feta, Tomato & Basil Salad

(recipe serves 12 – enlarge or reduce as needed)

5 cups watermelon chunks/balls*
3 sliced tomatoes (red and/or yellow)
1 cup crumbled feta
2 large handfuls of chopped basil
Olive Oil and Sea Salt to taste

Directions: In a bowl combine all ingredients and serve.

*Helpful tip: Buy a full watermelon, cut off the top and use a melon baller to scoop out the watermelon. Save the scooped out rind and use it to hold punch (possibly spiked!)

Asparagus, Artichoke, Pea and  Pesto Pasta Salad

(serves 8-10)

1 box Pasta (any kind works)
1 cup fresh peas
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups sliced asparagus spears
1 can sliced black olives
1 red onion diced
1 jar pesto sauce
2 garlic cloves minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Cook pasta according to the package. Blanch the vegetables for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Combine everything in a large bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Dusted Angel Food Cake with Strawberries

(Serves 8-10)

1 box Duncan Hines Angel Food Cake*
Sliced strawberries
Powdered Sugar

Directions: Prepare the angel food cake as directed on the box. Let cool. Dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve with strawberries in a separate bowl so that guests can add the strawberries themselves.

* Hint: Angel food cake from scratch takes an unessarily long time – and the duncan hines version tastes just as good. Personally, I would shy away from buying a pre-made cake at the grocery store as they usually aren’t as light and fluffy as making it yourself (from the box)

*Alternative: Instead of just using strawberries, use any fruit(s) and combine them together.

Helpful Cooking Hint: Always make angel food cake using a proper angel food cake pan. Once you remove the cake from the oven. Place upside down on a wine bottle and let cool completely. This prevents the cake from deflating. Once cooled completely use a knife to separate the side.

S’mores Bars

(If you can make actual s’mores – then go for it! But, if you can’t these are the next best thing)

 3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 whole graham crackers, crushed, about 3 cups
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 milk chocolate bars, approximately 1 1/2 ounces each
3 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions: Heat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in crushed graham crackers, flour, and salt. Reserve 1 cup of the graham cracker mixture and press remaining mixture over the bottom of a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Arrange chocolate bars, in a single layer, over graham cracker crust mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Crumbled reserved graham cracker mixture over the marshmallows. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into bars and cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen bars.

What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

May 24, 2011. Celebrations, Dessert, Helpful Cooking Tips, Holiday, Menu, Recipes. Leave a comment.

Hostess with the Mostess

With summer fast approaching (technically, although the weather in the East Coast hasn’t reflected that as of late), you may find yourself invited to a lot of summer parties. It is a nice touch to bring a hostess gift with you as a token “thank you” to your hosts for inviting you into their home and throwing a party, bbq, dinner party, or any type of celebration.

Recently, I was out to dinner with a group of women and I was approached to come up with some hostess gift options for a hostess who already has everything.  The guests were going to be treated to a lavish weekend away courtesy of the hosts and wanted to either bring a gift with them to give to their hosts, or have a gift delivered upon their return home.

After some pondering, I came up with the following list of hostess gift options for the hostess who already has everything.

Under $100

1.  Petrossian Duet: 30 g. tin of Caviar and a 80 g. Whole Duck Foie Gras – comes packed in a signature isothermic case ($80+); 2. Vosages Chocolate: La Petite Hatbox ($85); 3. Chelsea Market Sweets Basket – comes packed in a french wire hamper ($85); 4. Claus Porto Guest Soaps ($20+)

Over $100

1. 25 Year Aged Balsamic (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena) ($169.99); 2. Villa Cappelli Truffle Pantry Gift Basker – includes among other things: White Truffle infused Olive Oil, Black Truffle Seasoning and White Truffle Honey ($215); 3. Spanish Saffron ($149.99); 4. Gapogiro Gelato Artisans – includes 6 gourmet gelatos with out-of-the box variety (no vanilla here)

Of course a large bouquet of flowers is always a nice safe bet as well! What are some hostess gifts that you enjoy either receiving, or giving?

May 24, 2011. Celebrations, gift suggestions, Recommendations. 1 comment.

Run for the Roses!

The Kentucky Derby is taking place Saturday. And regardless of whether you are hosting a full out party, or just a few friends at home it is imperative to have a mint julep, the official Kentucky Derby drink in hand, along with a large hat on your head.

According to the official Kentucky Derby website, the Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Early Times Kentucky Whisky has provided the whiskey for the past 18 of those years. Each year, almost 120,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.

Want to make your own Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail? Of course you do!

Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

As mentioned above, one must wear appropriate Kentucky Derby head attire while watching the race. Lady Diane Hats is a famous and wonderful custom milliner who can outfit even the pickiest of women with a great hat. Had I attended, I would have picked one of the following hats:

 There is always next year, right?

May 7, 2011. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

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