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I think it is tacky for them not to tell you ahead of time. I could see it if everyone was kind of in on the planning and knew you would all be paying for yourselves and pitching in on the guest of honor. But to go to what you thought was a shower and it was really just a lunch that everyone paid for themselves...I would be annoyed, but I would not say anything to whoever planned it.
I don't think it's tacky to do it that way, although I do think it should have been indicated on the invitation. (And they should have at least had a cake!) I had a friend throw a baby shower for me at a Mexican restaurant (because her house wasn't big enough to host) and the invitation said something along the lines of "guacamole and queso will be provided". People then knew that if they wanted a full meal, they would have to pay for it themselves.
-- Lisa --
Wife to my best friend Troy, mom to Reilly and Declan