DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few years ago (pre-COVID), my son had a destination wedding, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He and his fiancee invited their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and about a dozen of their closest friends. We provided dinner and drinks for all guests after the rehearsal, and the bride’s parents provided dinner and drinks for the wedding reception.
I was truly irked when I learned that some guests did not cough up wedding presents. They said they didn’t need to give presents because they had blessed the couple with their presence (my words).
Geez Louise, they were treated to two nights of dinners and unlimited drinks! I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, especially after all these years, but it may be helpful to other out-of-country wedding guests to know the proper etiquette when attending weddings.
GENTLE READER: That is true. However, Miss Manners will have to insist that you not be the one who states it.
Because what you fail to appreciate in your somewhat oblivious rant is that by attending an out-of-country wedding, your guests have already coughed up at least a couple of grand — on airfare, hotel, additional meals and the oxymoronic “beach formalwear” that the invitation undoubtedly demanded. Not to mention the sacrifice of personal vacation time.
Surely this is worth a few dinners — as much or more so than an overpriced set of bath towels. So the proper etiquette here is that, geez Louise, the guests do not need to agree to all of this. And even if they do, presents are optional — although Miss Manners will concede that it is impolite to state that so explicitly.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A woman who recently joined my church is quite intrusive and tramples all over personal boundaries. I’m at a loss as to how to tell her that her questions are none of her business without being rude myself.
For example: She and I are in the choir together. One Sunday, a friend (another choir member) and I were having a quiet, private conversation in a corner of the choir loft away from everyone else.
We were discussing a health concern I have. I told my friend that my doctor was changing my medications. Just then, the new woman came up and overheard my last sentence. She then asked me why I take medication.
I’m afraid I froze because I didn’t know how to answer. I’m not comfortable with her knowing this information but also didn’t want to say something that could come across as rude. When I didn’t answer, she started badgering me by asking if I have a heart condition, liver problems, etc. Luckily for me, the service was about to start, so the conversation ended.
How do I shut down this type of questioning without being impolite?
GENTLE READER: “Oh, my goodness, how rude of us. Evelyn and I should not be having our private conversations here in church. I’m so sorry.” And then Miss Manners suggests that you limit future conversations to completely secluded areas.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.