DEAR MISS MANNERS: My new husband and I are celebrating our marriage with a small reception for close friends. For affordability at a very nice (and very expensive) venue, we agreed to limit the guest list to local friends we both know.
One of my local friends, who received an invitation, presumed that one of my long-distance friends had also received one. She suggested to that faraway friend that she and her girlfriend stay with her when they travel into town for the reception.
My husband and I did not invite this friend. He doesn’t know her, neither of us know her girlfriend, and they both live an airplane ride away.
My faraway friend wrote to me to ask if the reception was still happening and queried about the details so she could make plans. After talking it over with my husband, we sent her a formal invitation, addressed to her alone. Her RSVP card arrived back with confirmation that she and her girlfriend would both be attending.
Now I am resentful and annoyed: at myself for not clarifying our invitation parameters to my friends (although, why should I have to?), at my local friend for her inappropriate and costly presumption, and at my long-distance friend for imposing herself and her girlfriend on us.
What would have been the right response? Is there any way to let the presumptive friend know that she committed this costly faux pas? I fear I have lost some desire to be as friendly with her after this.
GENTLE READER: It is true that everyone in this food chain — a term Miss Manners appropriates to mean the people you are feeding, not to imply they are the main course — misbehaved.
You cannot tell them that, but you may be more guarded in your future invitations. Or — working on the assumption that your erring friends’ motivation was to express their warm feelings for you by being present, not to score a free meal — you could aspire to something more than mere politeness yourself: namely, graciousness. Inviting the faraway friend, rather than embarrass her or your local friend, was gracious. Excluding the girlfriend from that invitation was not.
Miss Manners recognizes that there is a cost, but she wonders why, in the initial planning, the choice of venue was more important than the guest list.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Fairly frequently, I am uncertain about whether or not to send a thank-you email in a professional or impersonal situation. Example: I asked the doctor’s office for a referral; the doctor’s office replied with a message saying a referral had been sent.
Do I send a thank-you to the doctor’s office? If the exchange occurred on the phone, I would say “thank you.” But is a thank-you email more irritating or excessive than polite?
GENTLE READER: The thanks rendered in a professional setting is the payment for services rendered — in which Miss Manners would include the doctor’s referrals, even if they are not yet separately billed. This does not make a spoken or emailed thanks unwelcome, merely less formal.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.