While the waters of gift-giving etiquette remain very difficult to navigate, one wedding by-law remains unchanged:  the RSVP.

For all those who have never planned, like, anything, here’s how it works.  If you’re throwing a party and you don’t want it to be shitty, you pay someone a price per person to host the party for you.  If said party is a wedding reception,  that price tends toward the astronomical.  Maybe you’re kind of a hippie, and you’re like, “We would come to your wedding even if we ate hot dogs all night.”  Okay.  That’s even worse, hippie.  How many hot dogs do you think you’ll eat?  How many people are you bringing to eat hot dogs with you?  Because Lord knows no one can bear to eat hot dogs at a wedding alone, for Chrissakes.   It’s completely rude for the couple hosting the event not to invite some random person they’ve never met that you’ll probably hate in a month to be photographed eating hot dogs and doing the Cupid Shuffle alongside the people you’ve known all your life.  But I digress.  I believe I was saving that rant for ‘The Height of Rudeness, Part Three:  Rudeness on the Part of the Bride.”  Forgive me.

Anyway.  The only way that everyone involved keeps from going crazy is by knowing exactly how many people they can expect to eat hot dogs or filet mignon, as the case may be.   So when we send out an invitation, we include an RSVP.  Said RSVP even includes a stamped envelope so esteemed guest does not have to spend the 44 cents, hunt through her purse, swing by the post office, et cetera, to ensure speedy reply.   Sending back an RSVP falls under the category of what is called a “common courtesy.”  For those unfamiliar with the term “common courtesy,” (ie, an unsettling number of our guests, family members in particular) here is how the phrase is defined at www.urbandictionary.com:

Common Courtesy

a. to be polite and to respond timely to invitations because you shouldn’t be a douchebag and say MAYBE to an invitation because you know people have to fucking cook for a certain amount of people!!!

b. to talk to other guests at a dinner party and not avoiding eye contact and actually listening to the hostess when she says “please sit down”

c. not being a major douchebag

The website www.momversations.com reports that 80 percent of invitations do not receive a reply.  It adds that one step above the non-responders on the annoying-as-hell scale are those that respond at the very last minute.  We would like to add that one step above those people are the ones who have the gall to say, “But you know we’re coming.”

Um, actually, no, we don’t.  Anyone who has planned a wedding will testify that the gifts on the doorstep aren’t the only surprises.  We frequently open the responses of people we thought were definitely attending who ultimately aren’t able to make it.

If our wedding is any indication, men and women neglect their RSVPs on a pretty even scale.  So do blacks and whites.  Homosexuals, unfortunately, are the only group to come out (no pun intended) with egg on their proverbially pretty faces.   Sixty-eight percent of our gays have not yet responded or responded at the last minute, compared to just 25 percent of our breeders.

Sigh.  Maybe gays will get it when they’re the ones getting married.

Until then, we are forced to hound our guests.  We call, text or Facebook to find out who’s coming and what they want to eat.  This is considered by some to be poor manners, of course.    But while much wedding etiquette is bullshit, some of it is just common courtesy.

Whether I ever actually book Billy Elliot or not, I gained one piece of knowledge from the audition process.

“I don’t know where I’m buying my wedding shoes,” I explained to the girl waiting to audition with me.  She had asked.  “I want to feel comfortable, like I could dance all night.  I’m thinking of buying a pair of LaDucas.  I mean, I know they’re expensive, but…”

The girl looked me straight in the eye.  “Not LaDucas,” she said.  “World Tone.”

So last Wednesday I found myself ascending the narrow staircase of 230 7th Avenue.  While LaDuca may be the go-to place for the cast of Chicago, World Tone is the go-to for, say, Dancing With the Stars.   The hallway was papered with shots of ballroom dancers in extravagant poses.  Buying dance shoes for my wedding is an inspired move, I might add.  Rather than suffer through the night in a pair of Stuart Weitzmans that happen to come in white, I could withstand several hours of rigorous dancing in comfy characters with my choice of heel height.    And if I fall in love with a pair in black, I could order them in white.   And I fell in love within four seconds of walking through the door.

Unlike every other store on Earth, World Tone places its sale rack directly to the right of the entrance.   I immediately saw four pairs of shoes I had to have.  I could wear red shoes with silver spangles at my wedding, couldn’t I?  It’s my wedding, after all.  And they were on sale. I stood there, drooling, for approximately 30 seconds before the sales girl came over.  “Can I help you find something?”  she asked.  “It’s my wedding,” I gushed.  “I’m looking for a shoe that I can dance the night away in,” I furthered, dangling the preposition in a rare moment of Cinderella-like ecstasy.

“In white?”

“Um… not necessarily.”

“Okay.  Well, if you see a shoe you like, we can probably get it for you in white.  Even if we don’t have it in stock here, we can order it for you.  Would you like to put your bag down while you look around?”

“Yes, thank you.” I felt like Annie arriving at the Warbucks mansion for the first time.  “I’ll start with the windows.  Then the floors.  That way, if I drip…”

The problem was I loved so many shoes I didn’t quite know where to begin.  Eventually the sales girl, with Bloomingdales-like efficiency, brought out every pair of white shoes they had in my size, along with a couple of silver.  It took her two trips.  I was hopping from one foot to another, wishing I had brought a bridesmaid or, at the very least, a gay.

Fortunately, at a critical moment, a gay walked in.  I had found The Shoes, but had been deliberating for 30 minutes over whether I wanted a 2.5 or 3.5 inch heel.  (Three inches was unavailable, unfortunately.)  A modestly dressed 30-something male stepped into the doorway and gagged over the sale rack, just as I had.  The sales girl was on it.  “Can I help you?”

“Yes, you can,” he said, pulling a ratty pair of pumps out of his bag.  “I’ve been wearing these for ages.  Don’t look at them.  They’re awful.  I need a new pair, and I heard you sell size 11 and a half wide.”

“Do you have a heel preference?” the sales girl asked, without blinking an eye.

“No.”

She trotted off, presumably to pull every 11 and a half wide out of stock.  He ambled over to me.  “Those are fabulous.”

“I know.  They’re for my wedding.”  He gasped and clutched his invisible pearls.

“Love them.”

“Two and a half-inch or three and a half?  I can’t decide.”  I had one on each foot.

“Too bad you can’t wear a pair like this,” he said, pulling a bright purple,  Gaga-inspired stripper heel with a five-inch platform off the rack.

“I know!  Those are amazing.  But my fiance isn’t that much taller than me.”

“Yeah, that’s the one day you can’t tower over him, I guess.  I would say the three inch, though.”

I studied my foot for the umpteenth time.  “Are you performing anywhere?”  I asked.

“No, not really.  But I’m in a pageant coming up.”

“Really!  When?” I asked,  mentally mobilizing the book club.  “I’m there.”

“October 3rd.”

“Stop it!  That’s my wedding day!” Another gasp, another clutch of pearls.  “Well, good luck.  Sorry I can’t make it.”

“That’s okay, girl.  Your wedding’s going to be fabulous.”

I walked out of World Tone with the Shoes, two rhinestone anklets,  and  a smile on my face.  I ended up choosing the lower heel.  You don’t always have to take advice from a drag queen.  But I had it a feeling that regardless, my wedding day was going to be fabulous.