Dear Mary

Dear Mary: We’ve had to downsize our wedding – can we still ask everyone for presents?

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

Q. A year ago we sent out 150 save-the-date notices for our wedding this December. We are still going ahead, even though we can now invite only 15 people. My problem is the wedding list. Do I still send one out? We feel some people may want to give us a present even though they will not be attending a party — godparents, for example — and quite possibly some of those who have been the recipients of more than generous wedding presents from us.
— Name and address withheld

A. It is one thing to return hospitality for dinner parties, but you cannot command goodwill where wedding presents are concerned. You will have to wait until cancelled guests enquire whether you have a list. However, if you are strapped for cash and genuinely need certain items to start your new life, you could discreetly employ a friend well-known for being indecisive to ring around and prompt others by asking: ‘Are you going to give a present anyway?’ Meanwhile, bear in mind the substantial savings from not giving a lavish wedding party. More than enough, probably, to allow you to buy your own wedding presents.


Q. As the grandmother of a prospective pupil attending an online open day at a well-known English public school, I was aghast to hear the otherwise very presentable headmaster use the words, ‘I am stood here’, not once but twice. How would you suggest my tactfully addressing this appalling lapse without sabotaging my grandson’s chance of gaining a place? Should the boy be enrolling at a school, exemplary in every other respect, where such ignorance of grammar is displayed?
— Name and address withheld

A. This lamentable trend is not confined to the uneducated. Even Prince William recently declared that he had been ‘sat’ somewhere. The lapse, while not necessarily signalling generally unfastidious standards on the headmaster’s part, should not go uncorrected. Request that one of the boy’s godparents writes to the board of governors, signing his name but not revealing the identity of the prospective pupil in question. In this way your grandson can avoid being connected to a ‘trouble-making’ family member.

Q. I have recently promoted an exemplary worker within my household. Unfortunately I had not realised that the increased intimacy of his new position would expose me to his maddening habit of whistling. How can I tell him to stop without undermining his fragile self-confidence?
— P.G., Northants

A. Confide in him that another member of the household has an invisible hearing aid and that whistling causes painful feedback to him/her. You can then break the habit by whispering this person’s name each time he does it.

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