DEAR MISS MANNERS: Almost all of the examples I now see on how to address invitations are totally different from what I was taught in school many years ago. Have the rules changed, or are young people these days making up their own etiquette rules?
I was taught that for a married couple, the correct address would be " Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Jones" and "Mr. and Mrs. Patrick White," not "Mr. Ben and Mrs. Elizabeth Jones" and "Mr. Patrick and Mrs. Taylor White." I was also taught that the male's name came first on the envelope.
Please set the record straight before too many young brides commit a faux pas and look uneducated.
GENTLE READER: Yes, some rules have legitimately changed, and yes, unauthorized people who make up their own rules are often unintentionally offensive. But come to think of it, the old standard that you cite also sends some people into a tizzy.
Miss Manners wishes everyone would just calm down.
There are couples who use the Mr. and Mrs. form you learned (the only one in which the gentleman's title comes first) and they should be so addressed. But there are others who prefer to be addressed more as individuals for various reasons, some of which are eminently sensible, although society used not to recognize them.
All that takes now is one extra line on the envelope:
Dr. Angelina Breakfront
Mr. Rock Moonley
Mr. Oliver Trenchant
Mr. Liam Lotherington
Ms. Norina Hartfort
Mr. Rufus Hartfort
Is that too much effort to ask?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my niece graduated from high school, we sent a monetary gift and never received any acknowledgment of it. Fast-forward to her bridal shower: My sister and I flew in to attend the show (sic), which included airfare, hotel, car rental and gift. The weekend cost us about $600 each. The shower was in May and there has been no acknowledgment.
Now we have returned from her wedding, same monetary output plus another substantial gift. I have no expectation that we will receive any acknowledgment.
The question becomes whether I let my sister, her mother, know in the hopes she will teach her daughter common courtesy but possibly embarrass and hurt my sister. Or do I just let it go to keep peace in the family?
GENTLE READER: You should have consulted Miss Manners a long time ago. She could have saved you a lot of money. But she is just in time to save you a family fight.
Surely you do not really think that your sister would respond to your message -- however delivered -- by saying, "Oh, yes, I'll get right to that," and that the bride, in return, would say, "Mama, you should have told me this long ago."
At this point, Miss Manners cannot even recommend the delicate inquiry of whether the presents actually arrived.
Rather, let us assume that people who ignore presents find it a burden to receive them. Therefore, the most tactful response would be to stop sending them.
(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, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)