wedding shower thing
February 9, 2008 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Wedding shower faux-pas, how to recover?

I was recently invited, via a group email, to a wedding shower for another person at my part-time job. I've been there a year, and I've chatted with this woman a couple of times. I'm not one of her good friends obviously, but I was invited to a shower for the girls. I knew I wasn't going to be able to attend, but I planned to get her a gift.

Well the date of the shower came and went, and in the meantime I hadn't given her anything or even emailed her to say what was up. In my own defense I was terribly busy, and it just slipped off my radar. I think she and the other girl who set the thing up are upset with me, but it could be my imagination. Anyway, when I realized that I'd forgotten to RSVP, I put a card wishing her well and some candy in her mailbox (I'm a part-timer who works the evening shift, and I never see her).

I feel like both she and her friend who set the thing up are pissed off at me, and I'm very frustrated with myself--here I am trying to do my job and stay under the radar as a newish employee, and I'm just starting to feel competent about technical things in my position, but already I'm screwing up socially. It doesn't affect my paycheck, of course, but it makes me unhappy.

I never can manage to get into the swing of the girl vibe at work, and I'm beginning to resent that this is a part of what I'm expected to do. With two jobs and no way to get around except by bus at the moment, it's hard for me to keep many social committments, so I tend not to make them. When I get invited to something as a matter of course, like these showers that keep happening for people I barely know at work, it's like I've been placed on this conveyor belt and a clock starts ticking, and suddenly I'm under the gun to either RSVP and/or think of a suitable gift, and/or buy a gift, or tell the person I can't make it, or some combination of the above, and this time I messed up and they just didn't hear from me at all.

Did I screw up to the point that I deserve ostracism? (I don't have hard evidence of this, just a noticeable coolness on the part of the lady who sent out the invites). Should I go talk to the bride-to-be and apologize for not RSVPing?
posted by frosty_hut to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hey, I think you've done all you can here - it might have been nice to hand deliver the card, but then again, you never see her. Unless these women have some sort of direct effect on your status at your workplace, I'd let it go. I think women - in general - have a tendency to imagine that someone is mad at the for tiny little things as well, when really that someone is probably just having a bad day.

If you really want to check in though, you could wait for one of those times [hopefully in the near future] where your shifts do overlap, and stop by and ask if she got her card. Or if you want to be less obvious about it, ask her how wedding planning is going and make friends on that front.
posted by universal_qlc at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2008

sounds like they are being unreasonable. don't take any bait, just remain totally baffled as to why they are behaving the way they are.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2008

I guess I'm a little confused by your reaction because on the one hand you don't really sound like you want to be friends with these women to the point of hanging out with them, getting invited to parties etc, yet on the other hand you now seem upset that the relationship may have cooled a bit.

It doesn't sound like they have ostracized you, but if I invited someone to a party and they didn't even bother to respond, I would take that as a sign that that person really wasn't interested in being a close friend of mine. I think that's all they are doing. If you want to be friends with these women go and say you are sorry you missed the party, if you don't want to be friends with them and by the same token, not feel obligated to go to any of these social gatherings, don't. Unfortunately, you can't really have both. Friends go to each other's bridal showers or at the very least rsvp, mere acquaintances don't. Friendships need to be maintained and come with certain obligations, if you don't want to meet those obligations and/or can't just be friendly acquaintances with them. Lots of people choose not to socialize with people from work.
posted by whoaali at 10:42 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

i wouldn't sweat it if i were you. it was an email invitation from people you have marginal interaction with. there will be a gazillion of these office/personal functions over the years, and imho, it's quite rude of employees to impose their parties on coworkers. unless it's someone i really like--and who i've had lunch or drinks or other out-of-office time with--i generally just smile and say 'thanks, but i'm busy.' (i'd do the same relative acknowledgment via email if i couldn't legitimately pretend like the invite ended up in the spam folder.)

the good news is that maybe they weren't just scrounging around for gifts and people to fill out the trite party games. maybe they think you're cool and would like to hang out with you. if that's the case and it's reciprocal, make the effort. if not ... you're not going to work with them forever and you've done nothing wrong so far. receiving an invitation like that is usually either a pretty transparent effort to get a gift or it's an attempt to not leave anyone out of the 'fun.' you're obligated to neither.
posted by msconduct at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Look, you got an invitation and then never replied to it. That is rude, though hardly a major mistake. Simply apologize, mentioning you've been busy. If you want to be included in these things, then mention that you have a rough schedule and while you would like to attend things you may not be able to, but you don't wish to to be left out. If you don't care, then just apologize and let it go. What's done is done, you know?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know what? Making coworkers hold to the obligations of friends is not cool. There's a difference. If they were honestly expecting you to buy a present and go to a shower, then they have 'coworker' mixed up with 'friend'. It happens at my workplace, too. You have to be polite (which a card and some candy is) but you don't have to be anything more than that.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:53 AM on February 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

You're using this situation as an excuse to hate your transportation situation and office politics and social life in general, and meanwhile you admit you never even see the person who supposedly hates you so much and that you have no evidence that anybody hates you. You need to stop stuffing a mountain into this molehill. The next time you're hanging out with these ladies, say, gee, I'm so sorry I missed the shower, I hope it was a lot of fun! And ask them how it went. They're probably not mad (after all, they invited you to a party and you never responded- ever think that they think you hate them?), and they'll be touched you asked Deal with the other stuff separately; it's not your co-workers fault you don't have a car and have a lot of jobs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2008 [5 favorites]

... when I realized that I'd forgotten to RSVP, I put a card wishing her well and some candy in her mailbox ...

What you have done is more than enough.

When someone throws a bridal shower for someone at work, they don't expect every single person invited to show up or even acknowledge the invitation. That's the way life is; a handful of people in every group will have too much going on, will overlook the invitation, will be out of town and forget to RSVP, etc. No reasonable person would be upset with you about this.

By dropping the card and the candy in her box, you have remedied the situation. If she or her friend have a problem with you, they're jerks.
posted by jayder at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm guilty of getting annoyed at people who don't RSVP. It makes planning difficult and adds stress to the person running the shindig, who's already stressed out. An apology goes a long way and costs nothing. Did you say anything about the RSVP in the card you left her?
posted by Addlepated at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2008

What you have done is more than enough.

Agreed, and let me add that I really hate people treating work as a surrogate for a social life. Your coworkers have no business involving you in their wedding showers and the like unless they've been hanging out with you to the point that it makes sense. As it is (group e-mail?!) it looks like blatant shilling for gifts to me, and a return e-mail saying "Sorry, couldn't make it" or whatever would have been fine.
posted by languagehat at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

If they really cared if frosty_hut was coming, they would've sent her a second e-mail. I bet it was just sent to everyone (every woman?) in the office and the sender never even noticed that frosty_hut didn't reply. I agree invitations should be replied to, but mass-sent e-mails at work? Eh. She just wanted the gifties.

Frosty_hut: it was a party for someone you never see, who you've talked to fewer times than I've talked to my mailman, who probably couldn't pick you out of a crowd. It's not a big deal.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:36 AM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I feel like both she and her friend who set the thing up are pissed off at me,

Are you sure this is true? Another possibility is that you're imagining it and then resenting them for the stress you're putting on yourself. I wouldn't be mad at someone who did what you did. Similar thing happened at work (a different coworker didn't even open the evite for another coworkers b-day) and nobody was mad at anybody. So, maybe you should ask them. Or you could say, "hey, I'm really sorry I didn't RSVP. It just slipped off my radar screen" and see what they say.

Also, you've asked several past questions worrying about what people at work think about you, about how to relate to coworkers, or about some other social gaffe you may have committed. To me, that reinforces the possibility that it's a small deal to them and a big deal only in your mind.
posted by salvia at 12:15 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

It seems to me that RSVP'ing is something most people don't bother with, even when an invitation requests it. When a friend planned a baby shower for me, hardly anyone RSVP'd--and these were my closest friends! I thought it was rude, myself; it made planning hard, not knowing how many people were coming. And in the end nearly everyone we invited came.

I've heard other people say they've even had trouble getting friends and family to RSVP for weddings.

If that's really true--that people rarely RSVP anymore even when requested to--it would be an awfully big surprise if a co-worker were really that upset at you for not responding to a casual e-mailed invitation. You did a nice thing with the card and the candy; time for you to let it go and just be natural and friendly.
posted by not that girl at 12:29 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Also, you've asked several past questions worrying about what people at work think about you, about how to relate to coworkers, or about some other social gaffe you may have committed. To me, that reinforces the possibility that it's a small deal to them and a big deal only in your mind.

Yep, I noticed this, too. For which you may want to consider the fact (as I eventually learned, to my great relief) that on a day-to-day basis, people actually tend to care less about you than you may think. I don't mean that in a "OMG no one cares that you're alive!" way; I mean that most people are really, truly not scrutinizing your behavior so closely that they are judging you for any tiny social missteps you may or may not have made. Seriously. I think the broader issue here may be one of learning to be comfortable in your own skin, with your own choices, without requiring always external reinforcement that you've behaved acceptably. You're just putting pressure on yourself (in the form of these negative scenarios in your head in which people are frequently taking offense with you) where likely none exists.
posted by scody at 12:39 PM on February 9, 2008 [5 favorites]

Thanks for these great replies.

Scody and Salvia--I think you're right. I've been in therapy for years over this--I'm aware that I obsess about perceived failures and slights and am always endlessly fine-tuning the minutiae of daily interchanges with others, who probably forget about these things two minutes after they happen. Being conscious of my tendencies hasn't diminished them at all. It's quite weird, and frustrating...Thanks for the reality check ^_^
posted by frosty_hut at 1:27 PM on February 9, 2008

It sounds like the bride-to-be set up her own wedding shower (with the help of a friend, but still...). That's a huge social no-no, so I wouldn't worry about your lack of RSVP.
posted by Joleta at 1:55 PM on February 9, 2008

You are 100% overthinking this, and don't need to give it another thought.
posted by davejay at 2:00 PM on February 9, 2008

Office invites can be a fine line - if they hadn't invited you, then the question would be "Why don't they like me? They didn't invite me."

When you don't RSVP, you snub the host. Even on a mass email, I'll bet the hostess wants to know how many people plan to attend. As soon as you knew you weren't attending, a quick email response would have been the way to go. However, what's past is past.

I suspect you're probably over-thinking this. If anything, you might want to apologize to the hostess for forgetting to RSVP. You didn't really snub the bride-to-be, she didn't invite you.
posted by 26.2 at 2:14 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, here is your official RSVP for all future office events. Just send it as soon as you get the invitation, and don't feel guilty at all:

"I'm afraid I won't be able to make it. Thanks for thinking of me; I'm sure the party will be great!"
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:12 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

No, you don't deserve any ostracism. People make mistakes. Go talk to the bride and the host. If they are treating you poorly because of this whole scenario, then screw them. They truly need to get over themselves!!! I know it's important that you fit in with the people that you work with, but with as busy as everyone's lives are these days, who needs 'friends' like that? Concentrate on the people that bring value and peace to your life and don't worry about the others. You will sleep better and your pocketbook and schedule will be less stressed.
posted by inquisitrix at 4:41 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

A mass email is not a heartfelt invitation requesting the pleasure of your company. It is a solicitation for presents. They were throwing a bunch of them at the wall and hoping some with stick. You didn't hurt anyone's feelings by not responding or not showing up.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:36 PM on February 9, 2008

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