DEAR MISS MANNERS: We just attended the wedding of a close friend’s daughter at the hotel. The main dishes of our table – stewed beef or salmon – were offered in surprisingly generous portions. Each plate could feed at least four people.
It seemed like such a waste that I quietly asked for a doggie bag as I was going to give it to our dog. This raised the eyebrows of the couple at our table, relatives of the groom whom we had never met. The server said “good idea” and quickly gave us the box. We only wrapped the beef, nothing else. Another couple followed suit.
Our daughter, a close friend of the bride, is on bed rest for the last two weeks of her pregnancy. She asked if we could bring her a piece of the wedding cake. When the servers finished serving the cake to the guests, and it was obvious that there was a lot left over, I politely asked for a slice for the “absent guest”.
Then the groom’s relatives sharply and loudly attacked us for our rudeness and “greed” for “hoarding food”. The woman told us in an icy voice, “You should NEVER take food home from a wedding!”
We tried to explain, but they didn’t listen. The woman got up and rushed to inform the groom’s parents. They made a scene by pointing at us and using words like “bumpkin”. The whole room heard them. We hurriedly parted, humiliated. We left the beef and pie on the table.
I am ashamed. I was just trying to do the right thing: not wasting food and doing my daughter’s simple request. We’ve been avoiding people at the wedding ever since, and I don’t know how I’ll be able to talk to the bride’s parents again. I keep trying to write some kind of note or letter to apologize.
But I remember my parents regularly bringing home cake from weddings when I was a little girl, imagining that I was supposed to put it under my pillow and dream about my future husband!
Were we so wrong?
LEGAL READER: Well… yes.
The cake in a box that you remember so well from childhood was most likely offered rather than demanded. And while it’s perfectly fine to ask for leftovers at a restaurant where you paid for the meal, it’s not at a private event where you didn’t.
As wasteful as it was, the leftovers were not yours. You could probably get away with one of these crimes, but Miss Manners is afraid the two really do look a little greedy.
But while that doesn’t excuse your colleagues’ extreme reaction, it does make it clear why they thought you were treating the event like a trip to a midnight cruise buffet.
If you do write an apology letter, don’t make excuses, just tell the hosts you’re sorry for overstepping and hope they’ll forgive you. You can also add how sorry your daughter missed the event. Although maybe don’t mention that she really missed the cake.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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