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Dear Miss Manners: We just attended the wedding of a close friend’s daughter at a hotel. Our table’s main courses, braised beef or salmon, were offered in oddly generous portions. Each plate could have fed at least four people.
It seemed like such a waste that I quietly asked for a doggie bag, as I did intend to give some of it to our dog. This raised the eyebrows of a couple at our table, relatives of the groom whom we had never met. The server said “good idea” and swiftly gave us a box. We wrapped up just the beef, nothing else. Another couple followed suit.
Our daughter, a close friend of the bride, is on bed rest in the last two weeks of pregnancy. She had asked if we could bring her a slice of wedding cake. When the servers finished serving cake to the guests, and it was obvious there was plenty left over, I politely requested a piece for “an absent guest.”
The groom’s relatives then roundly and loudly attacked us for being rude and “greedy” for “hoarding food.” The woman told us icily, “It is NEVER OK to take home food from a wedding!”
We tried to explain, but they wouldn’t listen. The woman got up and stormed over to inform the groom’s parents. They made a scene, pointing at us and using words like “bumpkins.” The entire room heard them. We hastily departed, humiliated. We left the beef and the cake on the table.
I am ashamed. I was just trying to do the right things: not waste food and honor my daughter’s simple request. We have avoided people from the wedding since, and I don’t know how I can ever talk to the bride’s parents again. I keep trying to write some kind of note or letter to apologize.
But I recall my parents bringing cake home from weddings regularly when I was a little girl, with the notion I was supposed to put it under my pillow and dream of my future husband!
Were we really so in the wrong?
The boxed cake that you so fondly remember from your childhood was likely offered, not demanded. And while it may be perfectly OK to ask for leftovers at a restaurant where one has paid for the food, the same is not true at a private function where one has not.
Wasteful as it may have been, the leftover food was not yours to take. You might have reasonably gotten away with one of these transgressions, but Miss Manners is afraid that two does indeed look a bit greedy.
But while that does not justify your fellow guests’ extreme reaction, it does give insight into why they thought you were treating the event like a trip to the midnight cruise buffet.
If you do write a letter of apology, do not make excuses, simply tell your hosts that you are sorry for the overstep and you hope that they will forgive you. You may also add how sorry your daughter was to have missed the event. Although, maybe do not mention that what she really missed was the cake.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.