Has anyone been to a wedding recently and noticed how the number of attendees increased when you reached the reception, compared to when you were at the church? This seems to be a new trend that I first observed a few years ago and appears more widespread with each passing year. Since when did it become common practice and acceptable to skip the church service or Mass and just go to the party?

The marriage ceremony is the most important part of the day, the actual reason to have the party or celebration following it. To ignore or skip the wedding ceremony is just plain rude, in my book, and an insult to the couple and their families. They put a lot of effort, emotion and expense into making their special day just perfect and for people to just skip out and come only to the after-party takes a lot of nerve, I think.

Good manners seem to have flown out the windows in many other aspects when it comes to events. I’ve written before how RSVPing seems to be ignored. I know I am not alone when I say that I’ve held many events through the years where people didn’t bother to RSVP and I ended up paying a caterer for people who weren’t there. The practice of blowing off RSVPs is extremely rude and shows lack of polish. If you are invited to an event, at least have the common courtesy to say if you are or aren’t going to attend. It’s basically just the nice thing to do and takes only a few seconds and very minimal effort.

There’s enough stress when planning a wedding, shower, christening, birthday, graduation or first communion party, without having to call people who have not responded a day or two before the event to see if they will attend. What were they waiting for, to see if a better event came along for them to attend? That is the impression they are giving.

And those who respond that they will attend and don’t? Unless it’s an emergency or a really good reason, this is just plain rude and thoughtless and costs the party-giver a pretty penny that they could have spent otherwise! The next time you are at a wedding or other event with name cards, notice how many cards are not picked up and left on the table and you will see how many no-shows for whom the host will have to pay.

Another way that manners have taken a turn southward in recent years is through the practice of using Facebook to substitute for “old-fashioned” traditional written notes. I don’t think I am the only one who does not think of a Facebook “thank you” in the same way as I do a snail mail, handwritten thank you card. To me, despite what the younger generation may say, there’s no substitute for the real deal.

Ditto applies to invitations. When I receive invites through e-vites or Facebook, I barely give them any credence. They appear to be mass mailings for highly informal gatherings. Look at the list of “maybes” in the responses and you can see how the majority of people just disregard them or brush them off too. The list of maybe responses almost always exceeds the yes and no categories. When I receive an invitation delivered by my postal carrier, I consider my presence is truly requested somewhere. Maybe I am the only one who sees a difference between the two, but I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong, there will always be some people, who for some reason or another, forget to RSVP to those who send engraved invitations in the same way they don’t respond to electronic invitations through Facebook and e-mails. Miss Manners Judith Martin, perhaps said it best, when comparing responses from traditional paper vs. modern electronic invitations: “People who are not polite enough to answer invitations are still not going to answer, even if you lie down in front of them and beg them to kick you once for yes and twice for no."

But what about those without Facebook? Do they just miss out- are they just not invited? I often will receive Facebook invitations to events from extended family members. My mom lives next door to me and doesn’t have Facebook. Do I take for granted that the invitation is meant for her too and figure I am supposed to just tell her about it or does she not get invited because she doesn’t have a Facebook account? Even if I do tell her about the event, she really doesn’t “feel” invited because she received the invitation second handed through word of mouth from me. Again, all of this doing away with a mailed paper invitation may seem economical and earth friendly to some, but I feel it lacks manners to many.

As we celebrate these spring months, ripe with weddings, graduations and other festive events, try to remember your manners. RSVP to events by the requested date, don’t cut corners with cheapskate electronic invitations and remember to send handwritten thank-you notes if people are kind enough to attend your event and go through the expense and trouble to give you a nice gift. Have some class and basic good manners- it will say a lot about you.

Readers can e-mail Peg DeGrassa at pdegrassa@delconewsnetwork.com or write her c/o DCNN, 1914 Parker Ave., Holmes, PA 19043

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