Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a wedding is at 5:30 p.m. at a resort destination, and the invitation states “Black tie invited,” is a sport coat and tie or a dark suit acceptable?

GENTLE READER: To whom?

The wording of the invitation suggests that Miss Manners and you are not the only ones who are confused about the dress code. Having itself been invited, does the formal attire need to respond to the host separately about whether it will be attending? And can the black tie wear a guest of its own choosing?

You yourself may wear a dark suit (though not a sport coat), on the assumption that the host intended to say that black tie was not required.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I live across country from where we grew up, so we often receive our special occasion gifts from folks back home in the mail. When it comes to our immediate family and loved ones of our own generation (older millennial), we’ll typically respond immediately with a thank-you call, text or Facebook message. For everyone else, though, we send a handwritten thank-you note, which we drop in the mail within a couple of days (though it can take a week to arrive).

Several times, however, we’ve had anxious relatives contact us during the lag before the snail-mail note has arrived to check whether we’ve received the gift. This leaves us feeling like we have been negligent for not using a more rapid means of communication, and then we’re always unsure how or whether to express that our note is already en route. (Selfishly, we want to make sure the relatives don’t just think that we rushed the thank-you note off after they reached out to us, even though I don’t think we’d have necessarily been in the wrong if we’d waited a week to send the note.)

My guess is that this is more a matter of older relatives being uneasy about online purchases than it is about etiquette, but it is still leading to a lot of confusion.

Should we be erring on the side of sending both a quick confirmation and a more formal note? If so, how much should we be writing in our initial text or email? We don’t want to say so much that a real note seems redundant, but also don’t want to even temporarily give the impression that we’re only going to be sending a quick, informal message.

GENTLE READER: Dearly as she loves a good thank-you letter, Miss Manners does not require that you send two for the same present. Write your thanks as you have until now. If a relative asks whether the present arrived, say it did, expressing enthusiasm and gratitude. Then ask if they have received your letter of thanks yet, voicing concern about the mail service, as you sent it some time ago.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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