Guests, responses and private space

cheekybonesApril 11, 2010

Thanks to many posts here I knew people were not good at RSVPing and built in extra time to try to contact those who do not possess this basic social skill. I am co-hosting a bridal shower and as of the deadline fewer than half of the invitees have responded (including most of the bridesmaids). Half of those who did respond did so through back channels that make it difficult to track. With the current number of acceptances,I can host a sit down luncheon (and would prefer to do so). However, if all of the outstanding invitees show up, it will need to be an appetizer and cake shower. I would appreciate your suggestions for how to proceed. We are trying to contact those who have not responded (if people cannot commit to responding, can they commit to showing up?). I would like to go with the luncheon and not have room for the people who did not respond but know that would be rude on my part. Help.

Also, I live in a two story home and consider the first floor to be public space while the second floor is only for those who live here. When I have hosted family dinners in the past few years, people go upstairs to use the bathroom. There is a powder room on the first floor and I see no need for them to invade my private space. I usually to not "company clean" the upstairs (including the bathrooms). In addition, my computer and my private papers are in my office on that floor (not locked). Do others have this problem? How do you address it? Am I overly sensitive? I try to keep track of my guests but people could be gone for a while before I notice.

Thanks for your time.

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You just need to keep after the people who haven't responded. Of course it was their responsibility to reply promptly, but they didn't, so you have no choice if you want to know how many to expect. I understand the temptation to plan without the non-responders and turn them away on space grounds if they show up, but as you correctly acknowledge, that would be unbelievably rude -- not only to them, but to your other guests and the bride, all of whom would be embarrassed and uncomfortable, too. Guests' failing to respond promptly to an invitation is impolite and inconsiderate, but a host's deliberately humiliating invitees and embarrassing the rest of the guests is way over the line. I know I'd never forget it if I saw someone do that.

That may be a lot of calls and/or emails, but I can't tell -- you said "fewer than half" have responded, but you didn't say fewer than half of how many. You also say you are "co-hosting," so there are at least two of you to divide the calls. As the event is in your home, I can't imagine that it is THAT many. I sense that your frustration isn't at the magnitude of the task but your resentment at having to do it at all. I understand that resentment -- they were wrong and inconsiderate -- but I'm afraid you'll just have to get past it or you will make it difficult for yourself to be a gracious host.

When you first planned the shower, were you figuring on a sit down luncheon, or did that idea just sort of occur to you after you didn't get many "yes" responses? Anyway, I think you have to either follow up with the non-responders or just go ahead and prepare for most of them coming.

I can't figure out what you mean by "Half of those who did respond did so through back channels that make it difficult to track," so if that is significant, please explain.

Your other question is about keeping guests out of private areas of your home. I would think that even though your family members went upstairs to use a bathroom (presumably when the powder room was occupied), shower guests who don't even know you well or at all would be a lot less inclined to do so. But if you think that they might for some reason, the only thing I can think of would be to put up a gate (like a baby gate) at the top of the stairs, put away sensitive papers, and close your office door.

If you think you can't enjoy yourself because you will be worrying that people will snoop, maybe you should have the shower elsewhere. Everyone has her own comfort level, and although you cannot be rude to your guests (like, don't post signs or make comments about "invading my personal space"), there is no law that says you have to entertain in your home. The one or two times I have been invited to parties where the guests were not even allowed into the house at all, or parts were barricaded off (as opposed to simply closing the doors to rooms; that's fine), I have to admit I found it rather off-putting, even though I had no intention or desire to go to those areas anyway -- it just sort of seemed to send a message of distrust.

It's nice of you to give a shower. I am sure it will be lovely whichever way you do it. Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:02PM
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I agree (as usual) with gellchom. You really have no choice but to get after the non responders to get a reply. Personally unless I received a definite NO from enough people to make the party small enough for the sit down you wanted to do, I just would not go that route. A sit down where you have the exact amount of seating is more condusive to a smaller intimate group where you know exactly who is coming. If there is any question at all that more than you can handle sitting down might show up, don't do it.

Just curious, have you talked to the bride about the guests who have not responded? Not to imply that it's her burden, it's definitely yours and the co-host's, but there might be several people who have RSVP'd to her and she may be so busy with wedding plans and activities that she neglected to pass it on. Or she may just know that some people will or won't come for whatever reasons. It's worth asking as long as you don't act like you're frustrated or annoyed, or imply that it's her responsibility to follow up.

The only thing I can think of to keep people off your second story is to maybe put a pretty ribbon across the bottom of the stairs with a sign that says something like Powder room is located off the kitchen (or something similar). I'm not sure I'd do even that though. I have a one story house so in order to go to the bathroom, my guests HAVE to go into the "private" bedroom area of the house. I simply close all the bedroom doors before a party. I've never had any problem with people going into those rooms. I can't think of why they would want to. They're there to celebrate with the bride, not snoop. And honestly, if they REALLY want to snoop, nothing is going to stop them.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 9:57AM
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Thank you for your responses. You correctly picked up on my frustration. The shower ended up have twice the number of invitees as I planned when the bride asked to include people who could not attend another shower (from about 12 people to 30 people). If I ever do this again, I will be very specific with the total number I will consider hosting. I feel that I am being rude no matter what I do / did - telling the bride I would not host the people she wanted at the shower or hounding people for RSVP's. I recognize that I am more formal than most of the people who were invited. Also, since I posted this, I have become aware of certain issues that make it difficult for me to support this marriage.

The back channels are people telling the bride or one of the mothers that they could / could not attend. I do not know most of the invitees and only have a mailing address to contact them. The majority of bridesmaids have not responded and all but one of the bride's work friends have not responded.

I do like the idea of a baby gate.

Again, thanks for your responses.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 6:30AM
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Well, I feel for you. I've been in a similar position. It's tempting to want to let them know how you feel, but believe me, you are going to feel a LOT better about yourself if you just go ahead and do it the larger, more casual way.

It's not what you planned or even what you offered, and it seems she may have taken advantage of you a bit in trying to solve the problem of the guests who couldn't attend the other shower -- I hope at least she asked nicely.

But you are not in a rude-no-matter-what-I-do situation (and resist the temptation to tell yourself that you are in order to give yourself permission to do or say something you know is wrong). You and your co-hosts have up to 15 calls or emails to make; that's not impossible. You can get the phone numbers/ addresses from the bride (and when you call or email for them, she may tell you some more yesses and nos). It is not rude to call people to see if they are coming -- unless you do it rudely. I.e.:

"Hi, this is Cheeky Bones; I'm one of the hosts for Petunia's shower on the 15th. I'm looking forward to meeting/seeing you then; you can make it, can't you? ...."


"Is Thusnelda there? Listen, you never responded to the shower invitation ... Well, sorry, telling Petunia is not the same thing as responding to the hosts, so how were we supposed to know? Don't you realize how inconsiderate it is not to respond promptly? ...."

Finally, you wrote, "Also, since I posted this, I have become aware of certain issues that make it difficult for me to support this marriage." Unless it is something very, very serious -- like, the groom is already married or he's put her in the hospital or something -- I'd put that right out of my mind. You can't give a shower for a couple and at the same time be making disparagements about the wedding at the same time. If the marriage is a bad idea, they will or won't see that on their own and decide what to do. But I wouldn't do anything like threaten to cancel the shower at this point.

Good luck! I know it is NO FUN to have your hospitality hijacked. But I bet you will enjoy it in the end, because everyone will have a great time.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 1:21PM
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I have no clue as to how to get people to RSVP, but I have lots of sympathy for you.
As to keeping people out of private spaces, I just close all of the doors that lead to private rooms. The hallways and bathrooms remain open to anyone who wants to look around :^). I do have a big problem with nosey parkers! and I also have a kitty who has to remain closed in a room when we have lots of company...she's pretty short and I'm afraid someone will step on her :^)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 12:45PM
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I have been in just that position....more than once....stupid me!!
The issue of telling the bride and her mother that you wilol host a party for say 25....and then they say but we have to have Isobell and her mother...and then it's Aunt Thelma and Cousin Ezmarelda etc etc until you have 40 and are forced to have the sort of a party you had not intended....then half of those don'tr espond....and you complain to the bride's mother and she tells her daughter who tells her mother that Janie and Susie and mary told her they are coming but Emma has to work...and the mother calls you and tells youw hat her daughter said. yeash!!
The thing to do it start down the guest list on the phone, and leave a message " I have not heard from you and I am ordering the food. If I don't get a reply by Wednesday I will assume you are not attending".
Even then there will be some who will just show up.
I have discovered it's a class thing....and I DO mean to say that those who are inconsiderate are not "classy people". One young woman I gave a shower for had a bit of that problem...she and her friends all replied promptly, but the groom's sisters, aunts and sisters in law didn't respond at all...even the mother of the groom didn't call or write me....the bride called her and asked and then told me. Rude You bet!
Tacky? in spades!!
Sorry but those people don't deserve a sit down meal....just call it an eat on your lap buffet and be done with it!
As for the bathroom...I like the ribbon idea. But to be safe I would spiff up the hall bath upstairs and close all other doors.
Kinda makes you want to haul out the styrofoam and set up a table in the garage doesn't it! People who don't know enough to respond, deserve a party with little ro no planning.
Linda C...telling you how I really feel!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Thanks for the responses, suggestions and support. I finally found my "happy place" and am moving forward. I did contact the bride and the MOG (my SIL) for other contact information. They took it upon themselves to contact people they knew but there is still little resolution. People are still "not sure" if they can attend. Also found out that a few are planning on bringing children!!! The only thing I can plan for is more of an Open House and let go. I am working out the furniture arrangements for a better flow. Working with the number of yeses, I am adding about five more and can probably accommodate about ten more.

As for my concerns about the marriage, I am worried that the couple is too immature. It is actually the groom (my nephew) that concerns me. I like the bride and fear that she is so starry-eyed about the wedding that the reality of the marriage is going to be difficult for her. I say this as someone who married way too young.

It is just two hours and I will survive. I will never again give a shower for this group. I will buy a nice gift and keep my sanity. LOL

Again, thanks for your ideas and support. It is helpful to know that experienced hosts struggle with these issues.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 10:35AM
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Cheeky, Sounds like you've come to terms with the situation. Glad to see that. Not easy, I know!!

People are still "not sure" if they can attend
This is the part that really irks me. To me that's the same as saying, I'll come if something better doesn't come up. Ugh. There's always someone who has a legitimate "maybe" and usually they'll explain why. But when you get several of those, it just smacks of wanting to wait till the last minute because they only want to come if they have nothing better to do.

In the case of a shower, there's not much you can do except what you are doing, being prepared for more, just in case. In the case of a party where you are inviting your own friends for a get together, I usually cross those people off my list for future events.

Sorry for the rant, it's just a pet peeve of mine!

Good luck with the shower, have fun!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 12:11PM
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The shower is over. We survived the bride being mandated to work during the shower (another guest took her place so she could attend). This meant that several of the work friends were not able to attend at the last minute. We survived the bride being very late to the shower. When she called to tell me she would be late, she mentioned that some of the no's would be coming. Children were brought so the FG was able to meet the RB. Actually the babies provided a great distraction while we were waiting for the bride. There was food left (but not great quantities) so I hope everyone was satisfied. People stayed in the public areas. I used the gift table to block the stairs and it was effective. The RB entertained himself (and me) by getting water from the sink in the powder room and emptying it in the kitchen sink. I did stop him when he wanted to start dumping it in the trashcan. The MOH was a great help in keeping things flowing and I appreciated her. There was some talk of being back here for a baby shower in a year. I smiled and did not comment. One of the guests passed out invitations to some of the guests (there was a mix of bride and groom families attending) which I found a bit uncomfortable as not everyone was included. I did receive an invitation and an RSVP is requested. This from one of the people who did not RSVP - hmm, wondering what to do. Yes, I will behave.
Thank you all for letting me vent and encouraging me to do what I knew was proper. I wonder what kind of responses they will get to their wedding invitations. I spoke with a recent bride. They had people attend the reception who had not responded and in the middle of the reception they were setting up extra tables to accommodate these guests. I know we must be gracious but I think that by accommodating people who do not RSVP, we encourage them to not RSVP. Seems like a Catch-22. Again, thank you.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 10:57AM
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