Ask Liz: Is a Cover Charge for a Shower Normal?

This past weekend, KMT's newest staff member and everyone's favorite Ranty Bride, Liz, got married (with an open bar and lotsa 90's tunes) this past weekend. But before she left, she managed to sneak in a quick word on bridal shower etiquette for a curious member of Tulle Nation:

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Hi Liz,

I've got a question about wedding etiquette. A girl my boyfriend and I went to college with is getting married. We both had classes with her and were friends but not super close. When I found out she was finally engaged to her high school sweetheart, I was excited for her but did not expect an invite to the wedding. Then, on Facebook we got invited to their "Jack and Jill" party. I assumed it would be like a shower, but for guys and girls. They were having it at a Fish & Game Club, and there was a 50/50 raffle, Chinese auction, and lots of food and drinks. It sounded a little like a regular Fish & Game Club event with fancy name, but cute… until I read that we had to buy tickets… $15/person. And then it was awkward because I realized that she just invited all of her Facebook friends, and that lots of people were all "Oh, your wedding invites are so cute, I'm so excited!" so I got that "Oh, good enough to pay $15 to see you at an event, but not good enough for your wedding?" feeling.

Is this type of Jack and Jill party normal? Was I just unaware? And am I wrongly offended for only being invited to one and not the other? Thanks.

– K, Now I'm Confused

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Hello K –

Traditionally, if someone is invited to a shower/engagement/etc. party, they're given an invite to the wedding. In my experience, the exceptions are:

a) If a third party decides to throw the couple an event out of the kindness of their hearts – i.e. your whole department at work having a celebratory lunch for the bride/groom-to-be.

b) If those throwing already know that extenuating circumstances mean they will not be invited but friends/family still want to celebrate with the bride/groom. I've seen this happen when couples are having very small weddings.

c) Someone's a Tacky McRudepants.

Unfortunately, Emily Post did not anticipate the bulk Facebook invitation. I would still say the same rules apply regardless of how the invitation is sent – if you're inviting someone to a pre-wedding gift-giving party, they should be invited to the wedding. However, I would agree with your assessment that you may not receive an invitation to the wedding based on the fact that the Jack and Jill invite went to EVERYBODY on Facebook. I'd put this straight in the 'C' category above, if for no other reason than they used Facebook to blast out the invitation to the Jack and Jill.

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Image Courtesy of: Weddingsistas

Perhaps the party who sent the invitation didn't realize it went to every single person on their friends list. It's certainly happened before. Or, maybe they *are* inviting everyone to the wedding. I guess we don't really know until the actual invitations go out. So, the decision you get to make is whether you want to go to this thing knowing there's – at best – a 50/50 chance you won't be invited to the wedding.

Regardless, unless you're organizing a charitable function (you know, for an ACTUAL charity…your wedding does not count) or a college kegger - it's tacky to throw a party with a cover charge. Period.

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Image Courtesy of: Frilly Milly Events

Personally, I'm of the opinion that you're not obligated to attend anyone's wedding, so don't feel like you have to go to this party. If you want to go, by all means, go – but don't expect you'll be asked to anything but the party, and don't expect that it will be anything but a money grab (sad, but possible). If you don't want to go, a "Sorry, I have a prior commitment, but best of luck to you and your fiancé!" is a completely acceptable response. If you really want to, you can always send a gift and a card along with your regrets. But, again, do it only if you want to – not out of a sense of obligation.