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.

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.

Reader Question – Hosting a Game Night

Q. I have a request – Could you tell me how to host a penny-pinching, yet gourmet party.  My husband and I are going to host a game night, and I want to make cheap, yet impressive appetizers for people to snack on.  Also, I think it’d be fun to have one fun cocktail (but otherwise BYOB)—or is that tacky these days?  We’re trying to make this fun but not the $500 extravaganza Thanksgiving was.

A. Hi –

What a great idea – a game night sounds like a lot of fun! 

In terms of food, the most important thing is to provide quick and easy snacks for your friends that they can grab and eat so as to not miss their turn during a game.  If possible when hosting a game night, don’t make anything that requires your guests to use utensils.

I like to use the 3 “S” rule: salty, savory and sweet. If you have 1-2 food items that cover each category, your guests are sure to find something they can munch on. Most importantly, no host wants to feel stressed out the day of an event so make sure you pick appetizers that can be made in advance. If needed, you can always use a mixture of homemade and store-bought snacks. Trust me, no one will be disappointed.

Here are some quick and easy finger-foods that fit in the 3 “S” categories, won’t break the bank, can be made in advance,  and most importantly look impressive (all recipes can be found below after the jump):

Toasted Almonds & Orange-Scented Green Olives
Parmesan Rounds with Tomatoes and Feta

Oven-Baked Rosemary Potato Chips
Hot Wasabi Popcorn

Cinnamon Tortilla Crisps with Fruit Salsa and/or vanilla brown-sugar dipping sauce
Sweet Spiced Walnuts

Regarding drinks – specifically for a game night, it isn’t tacky at all to offer 1 type of alcohol and ask guests to bring their own – so long as you let them know the event is BYOB when invited.

As you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, I would offer a signature mixed drink. Beer can add up quickly if each person drinks a few. And everyone has a different viewpoint on “decent” wine. A signature mixed drink allows you to provide a beverage to your guests and save money. 

 Depending on the theme of your game night, you could jazz up your drink with a name. i.e. casino-tini or aces punch.

A great signature drink option are the buckets of mixers that only require you to add a bottle of alcohol, stir, and freeze over night. The buckets can be found at your local Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, or similar type of store.  They are tasty, easy to make, don’t cost a lot of money and best of all, each bucket makes enough drinks to be used for a group.

Garnish the drinks with some fresh fruit,  a salted/sugared rim or even a drink umbrella.

Hope you enjoy a wonderful game night. Please be sure to let me know how it turns out!



January 18, 2011. Holiday, Menu, Recipes, Recommendations, Themed Party. Leave a comment.

Deceivingly Simple: Gourmet Brownies

Almost every Sunday, we eat dinner with my in-laws. My mother-in-law and I alternate between dragging the boys out to dinner and cooking meals for home. No matter whether we eat out or eat in, my MIL’s favorite dessert is brownies with coconut ice cream. Having tried almost every brand on the market, I now only make Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix. I used to consider myself a hopeless failure at brownie making. I wondered why it was I could create a triple layered chocolate raspberry supreme cake, but couldn’t make a simple brownie. They were either too gooey in the middle or too crisp on the edges. Through trial and error, I have learned that there are 3 key tricks to baking the perfect brownie:

  • To ensure even baking, always make sure the rack is placed directly in the center of the oven.
  • Metal pans work better than glass pans. Despite owning beautiful baking pans, I always use a disposable aluminium 8×8 baking pan as the heat appears to transfer evenly throughout – and I don’t have to clean the pan after, I just throw it out. Score!
  • If you struggle timing how long the brownies should be cooked for, remember that it is better to have them a bit under-cooked than overly cooked because if overly cooked the edges become hard as a rock.

My MIL likes her brownies plain with a scoop of coconut ice cream. I prefer mine with m&ms or butterscotch chips on top and some vanilla ice cream. My mom prefers hers with some chocolate chunks and toasted coconut. There is no limit to the ways you can create a brownie. They are easy to make, gourmet in appearance, and always a crowd pleaser. A guaranteed win. Next time you make brownies consider jazzing them up with a little something extra!

January 13, 2011. Deceivingly Simple, Dessert, Recommendations. 3 comments.

Celebrate With Champagne!

 A glass of champagne is my favorite way to start off any meal, evening or event! In my opinion, it sets a celebratory tone for the rest of the evening. Whether you are on a tight budget, or don’t even know what the word budget means, there is a champagne for you.

I recently learned that *gasp* not everyone loves champagne as much as me. Ed (the husband) falls into that category. To avoid any undrunk glasses (pun intended) when pre-pouring champagne, celebrating with a champagne toast, or starting out a meal with a glass, pour only a smidgen in each guests glass. It is better to let them come back for seconds!

If you already enjoy champagne – then you will love the following (these are my favorites):

Perrier Jouet Fluer de Champagne ($129)

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label ($49.99)

Cristalino Brut Cava ($7.99)

If you are new to champagne then I recommend starting out with a rose. It is a bit sweeter then a regular brut and looks beautiful when served. My recommendations:

Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial ($52.99) 

 Mumm Napa Brut Rose ($26.99)

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ($18.99)

Ed and I always keep a bottle of nice champagne in our refrigerator. We celebrated with champagne the day we got engaged and carried the theme throughout every wedding event including the big day!


Enjoying a glass of champagne with the bridal party whilst getting ready.




January 10, 2011. Celebrations, Recommendations. 5 comments.

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