Bitch Please, Bitch Thank You

Scroll to Info & Navigation

Miss Manners on: Coat Check

Q: I (female, professional) volunteered as a coat-check person for an auction fundraiser for a not-for-profit group. Was it appropriate for me to offer to help people put their coats on after I retrieved them? When my “customers” were a couple (man and woman), I’d offer the obviously feminine coat to the man to allow him to help the lady with her coat. Rarely did he seem happy to take it. One man said, “Nope! That’s HER coat.” Was I wrong to give the women’s coats to the men? The event was formal, “black tie.”

Miss Manners says: Miss Manners understands the confusion of the gentleman who is handed a stole while you retain his wool overcoat. Surrender both coats to the person who asked for them. A gentleman who has the courtesy to help a lady on with her coat no doubt has the dexterity to juggle his own coat while doing so.

Your Head Bitch says: Confession time — I absolutely loathe when someone holds up my coat to “help” me put it on. I’ve been putting on coats all by myself for many years, thank you (and I don’t even lose my mittens anymore!), and having to put it on backwards all of a sudden fucks up my whole rhythm. I do not look graceful and ladylike in this situation, I look like a freshly caught salmon trying to flop its way into a tube sock. It’s not cute.  I find it so much harder to have someone put my coat on me that now, when a gentleman tries to help me with my coat, I’ve just taken to smiling and saying, “Oh, you’re too kind, but I’ll just take it, thank you.” If I’m really struggling to find the other sleeve, I genuinely do appreciate it if a gentleman will hold up the shoulder and straighten the coat out for me, but that’s about it. Anything else is like having someone put a straightjacket on you.

Where were we? Oh, coat checks, right. The person running coat check is not responsible for putting coats on people, no, because there’s usually a divider between you anyway. Take all of the items for the check number you were given (pro tip for the gentlemen — fold the tip underneath when you hand over the coat check number, it saves any awkward fumbling around later) and hand them to the person who handed you the claim number. They’ll figure out the rest from there. He can hand the lady her coat if he’d prefer (or if she would!), or he can put it on her. Your only job in this situation is to keep people from riffling through their pockets while they have dinner, not to try and force the men to put coats on their dates.

And yes, you should always tip the coat check, no matter if it leads to Justin’s demise or not.

Miss Manners on: Dinner Parties

Q: My husband and I have made friends with another couple from church, and we’ve invited them over for dinner a few times. Each time they’ve come over, we have cooked traditional Italian meals and dessert. They have reciprocated by inviting us over to their place, where they have provided ordered-in food. These meals are not cheap, I’m sure, and I’m torn as to whether my husband and I should offer to pay for our portion of food. We always offer to bring a bottle of wine or dessert, but is that enough? On one hand I’d hate for them to feel taken advantage of, but on the other I feel as though we alternate pretty fairly with who furnishes the meal.

Miss Manners says: In this Age of Greed, it is difficult to understand that giving money can be an insult. Miss Manners knows you mean well, but paying your friends would tell them that you noticed that while you provided a home-cooked meal, they did not, and that they should not imagine that they have reciprocated, because you are paying your own way. Your better thought is that what is important here is hospitality, not the food or what it cost.

Your Head Bitch says: Oh, honey, I know you mean well, but we don’t talk about money with our friends. Ever. Period. Particularly when it relates to an event in their home to which you are a guest. As long as you don’t show up to dinner empty handed, make sure to write a thank you note after, and always trade off back and forth as to which couple is providing dinner, the polite universe considers you even, no matter what the cost of either meal.  You’d never dream of splitting your grocery bill with them when you cook, would you? Well, neither would they. If they felt it was inequitable, they wouldn’t keep doing it. Also, maybe she orders in because she can’t (or doesn’t have time) to cook. Drawing attention to this fact might make her feel bad, like you felt what she was doing didn’t equal the kind of dinner you were giving in your home, which generally isn’t how we like to make our friends feel around these parts. You’ve got a system that’s working for everyone — don’t make it awkward by bringing money into the equation.

This is my actual reaction when I think about talking about money with anyone, let alone friends.

Miss Manners on: Rescheduling

Q: What is the correct thing to do if you are invited to a baby shower but you have a funeral for a family member at the same time?

Miss Manners says: Go to the funeral. Miss Manners recognizes few excuses for canceling a social commitment, but death is a legitimate excuse. No one will think you have abandoned the shower for something that promises more fun.

Your Head Bitch says: That is hard. Because funerals aren’t scheduled well in advance (for obvious reasons!) they often necessitate cancelling a number of plans at the very last second in order to attend, and unfortunately this is a time when one is least emotionally prepared to juggle their social calendar. Of course, everyone understands that a death in the family has to come before other more festive events, RSVPs be damned. Still, you should let the hostess know as soon as possible that you won’t be able to attend. All this requires is a quick call, so that she knows not to wait for you before she starts the “identify the melted candy bar in the diaper” game. After the funeral is over, you should send the mother-to-be the gift that you no doubt already purchased with a note telling her how sorry you were to have missed her shower but that a sudden death in the family prevented you being there. After that, your obligations are pretty much sorted out. Try not to worry too much about it. No one will look at you askance for attending a funeral.

Even this baby will understand, I promise.

Miss Manners on: Other Women

Q: I am the other woman in the life of a man I am seeing, and I want to be the first woman. He seems to like us equally and to be indifferent as to which woman occupies which position. He and I went out on our first date at a time when he and she weren’t getting along and he thought they were going to break up. So he went out with me, and here we are. How do I get her out of the way?

Miss Manners says: Other than hiring a hit man? Miss Manners is many things, but she assures you she is not that. Why you would want to be with a man who has shown such lack of discrimination in his romantic attachments is beyond her. Apparently it has not occurred to you that if you were able to eliminate your rival, you would create a job opening.

Your Head Bitch says: Girl, WHAT?! Um, I’m sorry, this dude is “indifferent” to which of you is his main girlfriend (a mind-boggling concept in its own right) and it’s still a position you aspire to? Chica, I’m not going to sit here and feed you some bullshit about waiting for a Disney prince or whatever, but you at the very least deserve to be with a dude who, you know, is interested in being your boyfriend in the first damn place! If he can’t muster up the energy to care about you, I say fuck him (figuratively, not literally). If you’re really happy in this relationship, then that’s your choice, but I can promise you, even without having met you, that you deserve better. My advice would be not to get rid of your “rival” (which, just for the record, is a false conflict fostered by a patriarchal society. Boo! Hiss!) but to get out of there yourself. Besides, there’s certainly no “polite” way to get rid of another of your boyfriend’s girlfriends — that’s a question best posed to Hugh Hefner’s advice column, not mine.

Because this shit ALWAYS ends well.

From the Head Bitch’s Mailbag: Holding Doors

Q: I’ve recently gotten into the habit of holding doors open for people. I think it’s a very small and simple way of being nice to people. However, because I am a woman, I will occasionally encounter men (usually older men) who will not ALLOW me to open the door for them. They just kind of stand there awkwardly, sometimes with a “That’s okay, I’ve got it” until I move out of the way. Personally, I think it’s pretty rude and I don’t really know how to react. Should I say something to people like this or just let it go?

Your Head Bitch says: Ah, that’s because you’ve accidentally wandered into the killing field of modern manners. The number of questions I get in passing about holding doors (as in, “Don’t put this on the blog, but I was wondering…”) would shock you. You’d think I was giving advice on how to deliver a baby rather than how to pass from one room to another! And that’s just normal doors! Car doors are a whole other issue. People are concerned about how far someone has to be behind you for it to be acceptable not to hold the door for them (A: You have to hold the door if they are at a distance that would mean the door would still be open or just slam in their face if you didn’t hold it for them. Beyond that, you don’t have to hold it for them (though you can if you choose), unless they are old, have their hands full, or are disabled in some way, in which case you are required, period). Men wonder if they should still hold the door for ladies because of “you know, like… ‘feminism’ or whatever” (A: Yes, duh, don’t be a dick). Women wonder if they should hold the door for men (A: Yes, duh, if one is behind you. You have arms!). So, anyway, yes, by holding the door open for those behind you, regardless of their gender, you are doing the right thing. You get a BPBTY gold star!

However, you are right, there are older men who absolutely can not abide a woman holding the door open for them. Is it a little rude and perhaps more than a tiny bit sexist? For sure. But I think ultimately it comes from a good place (i.e. they’ve been trained to always let a lady go through the door ahead of them, which isn’t something I want to discourage, generally), so it’s probably not necessary to say anything about it being rude or feel upset by these interactions. I’d say there are two possible ways to handle this situation next time you’re faced with it. The first is to do the modified door hold, which involves passing through the door and holding it open behind you with your arm for them. That way, you’ve held the door for them but still gone through first, which would probably make them feel more comfortable about the whole thing. Your other option, if you have already pulled the door open to allow them through ahead of you and they object but seem to be in a good mood, is to smile and jokingly say “Age before beauty!” and gesture for them to go ahead. This is a little trickier, but can make them laugh to diffuse the situation when used properly. If they still insist on allowing you first, just be gracious about it, because remember, it’s meant to show you respect as a lady. I’d suggest just smiling and saying, “Thank you, there are so few gentlemen like you left these days.” He’ll probably appreciate the compliment even more than having the door held.

At least you’re not another man. They’ve probably both been there for hours saying “No, after YOU!”

From the Head Bitch’s Mailbag: Cleanup on Aisle 1

Q: Last week, I was at a friend’s house for dinner when I quite suddenly passed out. I was in the ambulance by the time I came to, but my husband tells me I left a large quantity of both blood and vomit on my friend’s floor. I’m fine now, and I want to both thank them and apologize, but Hallmark doesn’t make such a card. Any suggestions?

Your Head Bitch says: Damn girl, that sounds like serious business! I’m just glad you’re ok, as I’m sure your friends are too. Thank goodness they have sterner constitutions than your Head Bitch, who gets a little woozy herself at the sight of blood — that could have really made quite a scene for the paramedics to find! Anyway, while cleaning up a friend’s vomit isn’t expressly written into every single friendship contract, I think most people recognize a crisis when they see one and are happy (well, maybe not happy per se) to clean up after a friend when the situation requires. Still, while you have absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about what happened, I’m sure that you are, because I know I would be too. To properly execute the thank-pology, you should send flowers (for her) and a nice bottle of booze (for him/them both) as well as a note on your personal stationary, which avoids the issue of needing to pick either a thank you or apology card (thanks for fucking nothing, Hallmark!). The note should say something to the effect of “Thank you so much for both your hospitality and triage services last weekend. I’m sorry to have missed dinner, which I’m sure would have been wonderful. Husband and I would like to invite you to our house for dinner next weekend to thank you in person for taking such good care of me. If you feel the need to faint yourself to even the score go ahead, but don’t feel obligated! It’s always a blessing to be reminded that good friends will stick with you through quite literally anything! Thanks again!” That ought to take care of it. And once the thank-pology is sorted out, you’ll be left with a very dramatic story you can all laugh about together for years to come, which is something to look forward to.

At least you hadn’t overdone it on the juice. That’s much more embarrassing to apologize for!

Miss Manners on: Cougars

Q: I was at a party talking to the hostess and another couple. I complimented the hostess on her son’s good looks. The male of the couple called me a cougar. I ignored the remark, but I am upset about being called a cougar (this was not a compliment). How could this have been handled at the party so I was not upset?

Miss Manners says: By smiling sweetly and saying, “I suppose if I’d admired a baby, you’d call me a child molester.”

Your Head Bitch says: Oh shit. I’m sure he meant it to be a joke, but that is way off the mark. Gentlemen, take note: repaying a lady’s compliment with a dig about her age will literally never be a good idea. That being said, Miss Manners’s suggestion for a response is a little too aggressive for my taste. Personally, I’d smile and say “Oh, dear, I’m much too young to be a cougar, because I’m young enough to know that it’s not polite to use that outdated and offensive term anymore. Don’t let little Stevie hear you say that, or you’ll never hear the end of it!” And then keep the conversation moving right along to something else after that. Getting into a heated debate about how older women who date are “predatory” and older men who date are just “being guys” is not the kind of stuff that gets you invited back to parties, no matter how right you might be.

Though I’ll grant you this would have been a WAY more satisfying response.

Miss Manners on: Customer Service

Q: If a lady is going quietly about her business and a man unknown to her intrudes on her thoughts with, “Hi, how are you today?,” I’m sure you’d advise her to ignore him. But what response do you recommend if one is accosted not on a public street but in the aisle of one’s local supermarket - whose employees have undoubtedly been instructed to make these overtures to customers? The last time this occurred, I happened to be contemplating some unpleasant medical news I’d been given an hour earlier and had difficulty summoning a polite response. I don’t mind chatting with my favorite cashiers (those who haven’t yet been replaced by machines) as I check out, and I appreciate the managers who help me if I’m having trouble finding an item. The rest of the time, I’d rather be left in peace. What should I do?

Miss Manners says: Nod pleasantly. There is a significant difference between an attempt to make friends by strangers on the street and a conventional greeting from the employee of a store you have entered.  Conversation is not necessary - you need merely to nod before you speed down the aisle.

Your Head Bitch says: Well, we all know how I feel about men who attempt to intrude on a lady’s personal space when she’s doing nothing but giving out signals that she wants to be left alone. But, as Miss Manners rightly pointed out, that’s not at all what’s going on in this situation — it is not a man “accosting” you, it is a man doing his job. People who work in retail are instructed— or, more accurately, ordered on pain of firing — to greet customers politely and make sure they know the employees are there to help if they need anything. They are not being “pushy,” as many people (quite infuriatingly) like to claim. They are just doing their job and trying to get along, like everyone else. Beyond that, since you are presumably a regular at this grocery store, perhaps the employee recognized you and was simply being a normal friendly person who does as most normal friendly people do — say hello to those he recognizes in his place of business. So rude. I mean, how dare he, really.

But what you have not realized is that your bad news has nothing at all to do with any of this. While you have my sympathy for your problems, unfortunate, annoying, and upsetting things happen to people all day every day. They do not, however, exempt any of us from polite interaction with those around us who do not know, and can not know, what might be bothering us. Nor do they need to know. Smile, and say “I’m well [or fine, if you really want to be self-pitying], thanks, and you?” His response will probably be the same thing back to you and he’ll go along his way. Don’t give me this nonsense about how you have to “come up with” a polite response, you already know exactly what the fuck you should say in response to this question. It’s the same thing you would say to any other person who asked you that same question when you were in a good mood. Your mood should not affect how you treat other people. Period. No rule of etiquette requires you to be chummy, but you, at the very least, have to be polite. And remember that people who work in the service industry are people too. Treat them like it.

And if you treat service people poorly even when you’re in a good mood, we’re REALLY going to have a problem with one another.

**A big BPBTY welcome to all the new followers we gained on Friday! We’re glad you’re all here. If you ever have any etiquette questions, hit a bitch up at bpbtyquestions [at] gmail. xo HB

Miss Manners on: Brows

Q: How do I tactfully inform a co-worker, without offending her, that her choice in penciling-in her eyebrows is unattractive and not very “normal”?

Miss Manners says: You wait patiently until she says to you, “What do you think of my eyebrows? Should I not pencil them in like this?”

Your Head Bitch says: You know what’s not in any way rude? Wearing your eyebrows in an unconventional fashion. You know what is? Going up to someone out of the blue to tell them they look unattractive for any reason, but in this case because they wear their eyebrows differently than you would choose to. Bitch looks in a mirror every morning when she’s putting her face on. She knows what her eyebrows look like. If she’s cool with it, you should be too. Once you’re promoted to head of office eyebrow management, you can feel free to issue your professional opinion. Until then, you have no qualifications and no one cares.

Surprise! Unsolicited opinions are not welcome.

Miss Mannres on: Braces

Q: When wearing a suit with braces, should you wear a belt for a nighttime wedding reception?

Miss Manners says: As belts and braces serve the same purpose, namely holding up your trousers, Miss Manners would think that wearing them together would give the impression of insecurity.

Your Head Bitch says: Braces, for those who don’t know, is another word for suspenders, not those metallic instruments of adolescent mouth torture that may have immediately leapt to mind (and it would be very, very, unfortunate to get those two confused). Uh, so, no, unless your pants are like four fucking sizes too large, there’s literally no need to wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. I mean, unless you particularly like looking like a crazy old man wearing a very weird pants harness, in which case, go for it (but know that people will be judging you). The main goal is that your pants stay up, not that they stay up and be cinched like a pair of old sweat pants.

Honestly sir, you look like a doofus. And it’s not just the look on your face.

Miss Manners on: Candles

Q: I love to light candles throughout my home to create a warm and cozy atmosphere. I do this all the time, whether or not I am expecting guests. Several times now, I have noticed some of the candles blown out or snuffed out using the jar lid. Usually, it is the candle in the guest room and the main bathroom. This irritates me because I like the candles lit. Is it appropriate for the guests to blow them out?

Miss Manners says: A guest room is understood to be reasonably at the disposition of the guest. Repositioning a chair to facilitate reading or opening a suitcase is acceptable. Putting nails in the wall to hang a picture is not. Miss Manners agrees with your guest that dousing candles falls into the former category. Such license would not extend to the rest of the host’s home — in this case, the master bathroom — unless necessary to prevent a fire.

Your Head Bitch says: As someone who is absolutely maniacal about avoiding fire hazards, I can completely understand walking into a room in someone’s house and thinking “Oh shit, someone left a lit candle in this room unattended” and putting it out on instinct. For people like me, there is a voice screaming in our brain when we see a candle left lit by itself, so, if anything, letting a guest put out a candle in their room is good hospitality, because otherwise we’d sit there in a state of high alert the rest of the evening and never relax. Do your guests a favor and don’t get annoyed by them blowing out the candles out if it makes them feel more comfortable. It’s generally good hospitality to do everything you can to keep your guests from feeling like there might be a horrible fiery death awaiting them by staying at your house. 

The only thing worse than a lit candle in an empty room is a lit candle in a crowded room. Shudder.

Miss Manners on: No Moms

Q: We are a two-dad family. At all of the schools our children have attended, we receive invitations to “Mom’s Night Out” — a social gathering for moms to discuss their own challenges, dreams, etc. While I appreciate being included in the invitation, I am never quite sure whether and how to respond. Other people find it downright offensive. I appreciate from the organizer’s perspective that including us is better than excluding us; however, we are not moms, and in some ways it highlights the fact that our children are “different.” I certainly don’t begrudge the moms a night out in good company, but wish we could develop some new language or expectations in an evolving world. Maybe the organizers of such gatherings could check with us — we are still few in numbers — to see if we want to be included in a public invitation. Maybe we should just respond — as I did once — that we appreciate the invitation, but there are no moms at our house and that we wish them a great night out. We look forward to your thoughts.

Miss Manners says: First, that they mean well and want to be inclusive, as you recognize. Second, that Primary Caregivers’ Night Out is not a catchy name. If you can think of a better one, Miss Manners believes that the organizers would welcome the change. But this is worth doing only if one of you genuinely wants to participate. Are the mom’s night activities something that you would enjoy? Alternatively, are there enough stay-at-home fathers, whether or not they are same-sex parents, to start a Dad’s Night Out group? Otherwise, your response makes your point politely, and might inspire the mothers to ponder updating the group’s name.

Your Head Bitch says: Yes, I think the important thing to realize is that they’re almost certainly not sending you this invitation in a “hay gurl, let’s drink mimosas and braid each other’s hair!!” kind of way and aren’t trying to be offensive. I would guess it genuinely comes from a well-intentioned place, and it’s just as likely that they are as unsure about if you would want to be invited as you are unsure about how to respond. Frankly, I see no problem with just calling the whole thing “Parent’s Night Out” and solving everyone’s problem’s right there, since there are surely some stay-at-home dads who are similarly included but feel excluded for the same reason you do. But, since it’s already “Mom’s Night Out” I think the best thing to do is to both respond and to give them a little guidance about what events you’d like to be invited to going forward, which they would surely appreciate.

Your response — that there are no moms in your home — is on the right track, but not the wording I’d choose, because it implies that they sent it to you without realizing your situation, which they almost certainly did not. Instead, I’d say, “Thanks so much for thinking of us, but we wouldn’t want to crash your ladies’ evening! Please feel free to keep us on the list for any future non-mom-specific events you’ll be having!” That way, you’ve told them that you are not offended, but also not comfortable with lady-centric gatherings, and given them a lot of help on what to invite you to going forward. There’s nothing rude about asking if someone would like to be included in something, and there’s also nothing rude about telling people what you feel comfortable being included in. They won’t know if you don’t tell them. Everything runs a little more smoothly in uncomfortable situations when we’re honest with each other and communicate well, you know?

And just in case there are women on the invitation committee who have not figured out that one of two dads doesn’t think of themself as a “mom” hopefully this will set them straight (ha!) without embarrassing them.

Miss Manners on: Sending Yourself Flowers

Q: I have been through a divorce and will be spending my first Valentine’s Day alone in quite some time. I have been thinking about ordering myself a few roses and having them sent to my work. I was wondering if that would be crass of me, or is it okay? Could you please shed some light on the subject?

Miss Manners says: Perhaps you should shed some light on your motive. If it cheers you to have roses, by all means, buy yourself some. But the ploy of having them sent to the office, rather than just taking some there or to your home, makes Miss Manners suspect that your idea is to make your colleagues believe you have a new beau. If that is the case, please don’t. It is too pathetic, and will only invite questions that will oblige you to spin tales. In the end, that will make you feel worse.

Your Head Bitch says: Oh, honey, no. I know you think doing this is going to make you feel better on a difficult day, but I really think you’re going to look back on it with regret, and, for anyone who hears about it, the whole incident will be a foghorn blaring “THIS BITCH IS DESPERATE.” I have no problem with sending (or just getting) flowers for yourself at home, I’ve done that plenty of times, either to celebrate something, or cheer myself up, or whatever. That’s your standard normal lady behavior. But, sending yourself flowers in a public setting on a day of the year like Valentine’s Day is big time sad-sack mental case behavior. Everyone generally asks who flowers are from, but everyone always asks who flowers are from on Valentine’s Day. I know when you hear the words “from myself?” come out of your mouth you are not going to feel awesome about it, and mumbling an answer like “umm…there was no card” instead is only going to make you feel worse. If you just want ‘em because they are pretty, by all means, send them to your house. Otherwise, if you really want to get something from someone, agree with a fellow single Galentine  to send a little treat to each other to cheer one another up. At least that way you can be pleasantly surprised by what they look like instead of having picked them online the day before. And, “They are from a dear friend who didn’t want me to feel down today,” is a much, much better explanation that won’t make you feel crappy about yourself.

No, really, it SHOULD be a national holiday.

Miss Manners on: Married Names

Q: I am a man who is legally wed to another man. At the time of our wedding, I kept my surname on our marriage certificate, but after the Windsor decision in the Supreme Court, I legally changed my surname to my husband’s. In the past, when a woman changed her surname to her husband’s, her birth surname became her “maiden name.” Is there a term to describe what my previous last name was? I ask because this came up in a genealogical discussion, and we were unsure if a term is in existence, or could be used or constructed to apply to men such as myself.

Miss Manners says: You have thoughtfully provided your own answer in the question, and Miss Manners thanks you for saving her the trouble. The designation “birth name” may be used by anyone of any gender who has changed names for any reason.

Your Head Bitch says: Congratulations on your wedding! I understand your quandary, because I like neither the term “maiden name” (I mean, hello, is it 1260 and I’m living in a castle turret braiding my hair for fun? I think not.) nor “birth name” because I feel it implies that the person has changed both of their names. Personally, I just mark the distinction with “married name” and “unmarried name.” I think that works equally well for both sexes, indicates the reason for the name change, and has the added bonus for not making it sound like someone’s father might have traded them in exchange for 5 goats and a dairy cow, so it ticks all the necessary boxes. Let’s make it happen, people of the world!

This is the kind of shit maidens get up too. I don’t have time to be drowning myself over one bad date, you guys.

Miss Manners on: Wedding Attendants

Q: Is it impolite to ask to be in someone’s wedding party, or is it okay? And does it make any difference if it is a young girl/child who is a family member? Situation: Wedding plans are all set. Four weeks before the wedding, the uncle of the bride contacts her, saying his young daughter would like to know if she could be a bridesmaid or flower girl. The bride is now feeling awkward and doesn’t know how to respond. Bottom line is that she doesn’t want another flower girl or bridesmaid, but the question of etiquette is also in debate.

Miss Manners says: It is true that one should not volunteer to be a wedding attendant; one should wait to be asked. But you are talking about a little girl, the bride’s cousin, who is overexcited about the wedding. Don’t you find a bit of mitigating charm in that? The uncle would have been better advised to tell his daughter that being a wedding guest is itself an honor, and to divert her attention to what she will wear, how much she will enjoy the wedding cake, and so on. If he felt close enough to confess her wish to the bride, he should have apologetically explained her enthusiasm and merely asked if there were some tiny task she could do.

Your Head Bitch says: It is never ok to ask to be in someone’s wedding. I feel like we need to just get that out of the way up front. Never, never, never. If the bride wants you in her wedding party, she will ask you, and she’ll ask you with a damn sight more notice than one month! That is not nearly enough time for her to get you a dress, flowers, accoutrements, etc., and it puts the bride in a terrible position overall. At that point she’s not still adding people, and clearly felt that while you were important enough to invite, you were not close enough to be included in the wedding party. If you put her on the spot about it, she has to come up with a nice way of saying that, or awkwardly shoehorn you in, and I’m not sure which is worse. It’s a big no-go. Don’t do it.

Now, I’m not a monster. I do find the enthusiasm little girl have for weddings to be very charming indeed. Now, this does not justify asking to be in a wedding (!) on short notice (!!), but it can be worked with. Make her your designated helper for buying and wrapping the wedding gift (within reason, don’t get them Spongebob plates or anything). Take her shopping for a new dress. Tell her you’re going to get a really great picture of her with the bride at the wedding and she can take it to school to show her friends (do kids still do that? I don’t know). The only issue of etiquette in question here is that you never, never, never ask to be invited to any party, but particularly a wedding party, family member or not. It may sound harsh, but it’s a good lesson to learn early.

She may end up with a better dress in the long run anyway.