Remember When We Asked You to Save the Date? Don’t

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My son and his fiancée are getting married in September. We’re all excited! The problem: We created two guest lists, one of close friends and relatives who will definitely be invited and another of those we would like to include, but who won’t receive invitations until we have a better sense of acceptance numbers. Unfortunately, the bridal couple mailed save-the-date cards to both groups. We’re hoping that Covid will no longer prevent large gatherings by the wedding date, but there is a limit on the number of guests the venue holds. Is there a graceful way not to invite people who received save-the-date cards in error?


We all make mistakes. (And we’re certainly rusty with parties.) Before turning to the couple’s mishap, though, let me flag the bigger issue here: It’s a bit optimistic to be setting dates for large gatherings now. Yes, we’ve had promising news about Covid vaccines, and many states have allowed large weddings, but the pandemic is far from over. We don’t know how it will progress or when it will be safe to congregate again.

A September wedding likely means an August R.S.V.P. date. (You’ll need time to chase late responders and mail the next wave of invitations.) If your guests plan to be vaccinated before they attend large gatherings, that timing seems too aggressive based on current rates. Plus, we don’t yet know that vaccination stops community spread.

I hate to be a downer! Prepare yourself, though, for the likelihood that many invitees will decline your invitation, citing safety concerns. (That may hurt your feelings.) Others may accept, then change their minds later when reality hits. (Annoying!) And some unvaccinated guests may attend because they feel guilty not coming after saying they would.

Now, as for your question: It is unkind not to invite people whom you’ve asked to save the date. You may have room for everyone if the acceptance rate is low enough. But the better solution is to postpone the large wedding now and wait to set a new date until after the C.D.C. tells us that big parties are safe and how to conduct them.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

My husband always went to a barber who also took care of his ear hair. Since the pandemic began, my husband trims his own hair and ignores his ears. I told him he looks unkempt, but he waved me away with “men have hairy ears.” So, I bought him a trimmer which has gone unused. I think it’s important we try to look nice for each other, and I can’t stand his disregard for my feelings. Am I wrong?


Many of us are amateur aestheticians now. (As Whitney Houston sang: “It’s not right, but it’s OK.”) Perhaps your husband really doesn’t care about ear hair, or maybe he’s terrified to insert a small weed whacker into his tender ear canal.

Why not offer to help him? Problem solved! If you’d rather not, or if he refuses, let this go. His control over his body is more important than your judgments about it. He’ll be going back to the barber eventually, right?

I frequently share meals (safely) with an old friend who critiques how much I eat. If I finish my meal, she says, “Well, you certainly enjoyed that!” She, herself, eats small portions and usually leaves half her meal on her plate. She’s thin, and while my weight is normal, I take her statements as implicit criticism. What should I do?


Speak up! Unless your friend is mean — in which case, why are you dining with her so frequently? — she may have no idea that she’s hurting your feelings. Her comment, a common one, may be just a habit or verbal tic.

The next time she does it, say, “It makes me feel self-conscious when you comment about how much I’ve eaten. Please don’t.” I bet she’ll be happy to oblige you and wish you’d spoken sooner. It may even lead to an interesting conversation.

My mother-in-law died recently, and my husband and I have been spending evenings and weekends going through her things. It’s a lot of work! I found a silver candlestick with a note from a deceased cousin: Apparently, the candlestick is part of the family’s immigration story, and the cousin asked that it be kept in the family. My husband plans to call around to see who wants it. But I think I deserve it. I’m family, and I found it. I want to sell it and use the money to refurbish my flute. Thoughts?


This candlestick is a family heirloom, not $20 you found in the pocket of an overcoat. You are indeed part of the family by marriage, and assuming the candlestick is not conveyed to someone else in your mother-in-law’s will or by the laws of succession, you and your husband may have a reasonable claim to it. (Finders keepers does not govern here.) Selling it, though, would be disrespectful to the wishes of your husband’s cousin and his family.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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