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Uninvited Guests - Let Host Know

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Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I, my husband, and his parents were invited to Mary's, an old family friend, to her new home for dinner. As the drive to the Mary's home was far, my inlaws wanted to ride with us. However, when we picked them up, my mother-in-law had invited her best friend, "Jane", to join us. Jane was home alone because her husband was out of town on business, and also is an acquaintance of Mary. But, she did not receive an invitation to the dinner, and I felt funny taking an uninvited guest. I didn't say that to either my mother-in-law or Jane. I said to them that we ought to let Mary know we are bringing Jane so she will be prepared for more people. My mother-in-law replied that it didn't matter since there were going to be about 22 people there, and what's one more!

However, I did call "Mary" to let her know there would be another guest and to see if it would be alright. I could tell that Mary was not very happy, but of course stated that it was fine. When I told my mother-in-law about my having talked to Mary, she was furious with me to insult her in that way. She then stated she felt humiliated that I had called, and decided to stay home. Well, my father-in-law didn't want to go without "mom", and Jane, of course, wasn't going either. Everyone, including my husband, is mad at me for making an issue out of bringing Jane. Was I totally out of line?


Just Trying to Do the Right Thing

Dear Just trying to do the right thing,

First, your mother-in-law broke an etiquette rule of inviting an uninvited guest to someone else's home. Second, she broke another etiquette rule of canceling at the last minute without good cause. It was clear that your mother-in-law was not going to call and let Mary know there would be another guest, so it was acceptable that you let Mary know. All hosts appreciate knowing about extra guests, or less guests, so that they can adequately prepare. It's too bad you're being made the scapegoat. Your husband needs to be more supportive of you.