published Friday, August 31st, 2012

Leber: Don't invite your dog to a wedding

Can I bring my dog to your wedding?

This is a question a friend of mine was asked recently.

Excuse me while I take some medication to assuage the migraine I'm getting from banging my head against a wall.

I've never planned a wedding, but I've written many stories about it and spoken to enough brides to feel confident asking this question: What is wrong with people?

"I have been more than a little bit shocked by the selfish behavior I've encountered," my friend confided. "Apparently, whenever something important is happening to you, the rest of the world chooses that moment to pull out their worst behavior."

Behavior like inviting along one's own escort, or child, or yes, even canine, to someone else's wedding. As my sister used to say when she was a teenager: Who does that?

According to Emily Post's "Etiquette," (16th edition, 1997), "you may never take a child to a wedding unless he is specifically invited."

Indeed, as a colleague pointed out, weddings -- often formal affairs -- are generally not for youngsters.

"If my wife and I were invited to a wedding, we would assume the children weren't included unless it was an immediate family member," he said. "The kids would have to be in the wedding."

Also according to the Post book, "single, unattached men and women should not assume they may take an escort."

This makes perfect sense to me, though I know some people might not agree. "I think it's rude to invite a woman to a wedding alone," a friend told me once.

As weddings can cost $150 a head, my response to that is that the woman should slap on a smile, have a glass of wine, suck it up and make friends. If it's really that miserable, she can stay at the reception long enough to kiss the bride and make her excuses.

I was surprised, however, to read that a guest may ask if she or he may bring his/her fiancée/fiancé along if an invitation hasn't been issued. It's possible that the bride and groom might not be up to date on all their guests' relationships.

I wonder, however, how such a rule affects people like me and my significant other. We're neither married nor engaged, but we've been attached for so long I think we ought to be considered de facto married when it comes to formal events. Fortunately, any friends or relatives who have given such events over the past several years have agreed, and the invitations have had both our names.

I am aware, however, that should someone choose to adhere to the "no bling, no bring" rule, I need to accept that and be respectful of it, even if I don't like it.

Which, let me be clear, I would not. After more than a decade, wedding or not, I think Joe and I should be considered an established unit for formal events, holidays and three-legged races. Still, should someone not agree, I can't see myself calling up a bride and asking to add another person to her guest list, despite Miss Post's caveat.

I even cringed asking my bride-to-be cousin whether my sister, who was not expected to be in town before the wedding, could be included in her rehearsal dinner at the last minute. I apologized for the breach in manners.

"You and I are close enough to forgo etiquette," she assured me. While that's very gracious of her, I don't think I'd do that during a time I've been told can be fraught with stress. Happy stress, yes, but stress all the same. Err on the side of being extra polite.

That means you let the invitation envelope dictate the number in your party. You don't show up with a sticky child in tow. You don't RSVP for you and your new boyfriend.

And you don't call up and ask to bring your dog. Unless ...

"Does your wedding invitation have the words 'backyard hootenanny' on it?" I asked my friend.

I'll let you take a wild guess at the answer.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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