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DEAR ABBY: What has become of social skills in this country? I have been planning my daughter's wedding for eight months, and mailed invitations with self-addressed, stamped response cards six weeks ahead of my deadline with the caterers and rental companies.

The wedding will be at a large city zoo with a buffet dinner at the reception. Some people don't respond at all, some plan to bring dates when no guest was invited, and I'm still getting response cards a full week after the deadline. Do people not understand what "Respond by" means?

Can I call them and say, "Sorry, it's too late," or must I just let them come and ruin our special event by causing us to run short of food and chairs? The RSVP situation has been the most stressful aspect of the entire event. We are well past the standard 10 percent extra.

Please let your readers know that their rudeness, disorganization or lack of social skills ruins the enjoyment of planning a special event. Maybe some other mother of the bride can benefit if you explain what the response card is for. -- TIRED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR TIRED: You have voiced a frustration that has appeared in this column before. "Response cards" are included with invitations so that the hosts will know how many people to plan on and the quantity of food and beverages that will be needed. When an invitation is sent, it is meant only for the person (or persons) whose names are on the envelope. This means no extra guests, and that includes children or dates. If you feel you cannot abide by that, then send your regrets.

I'm sad to say that "social graces" have diminished over the last decades. Many hostesses attempt to compensate for the lack of response to their RSVP cards by calling prospective guests and asking if they will attend -- and how many. This also gives them an opportunity to inform the person(s) that they cannot accommodate "extras" or that the occasion is "adults only."

DEAR ABBY: I am a newlywed. This is the second marriage for both of us. "Bart" and I are empty-nesters who both work full time. We did not live together before we were married and are now adjusting to our different ways of doing things.

A major issue we have is that the rule in my household has always been no phone calls after 10 p.m., while Bart has no problem with his parents and children calling late at night -- sometimes as late as 11:30.

I function well with eight to nine hours of sleep and try to be in bed by 10 or 10:15. Bart's alarm goes off at either 5:20 a.m. or 6:20 a.m., depending on his schedule during the week, and I can't always fall back to sleep. (I don't need to be up until 7:15.) Obviously, we can't change what time he has to get up, but he is "happy" to speak with his family whatever time they call, even though it wakes me up.

Neither of us wants to sleep in separate bedrooms. I love Bart and his family, but I have become a walking zombie. Any suggestions? -- SLEEP-DEPRIVED IN CLEVELAND

DEAR SLEEP-DEPRIVED: Just this. When people marry, their lives do not go on just as before. Your husband, his children and his parents are ignoring that fact.

It is extremely important that people get an adequate amount of sleep in order for their minds and bodies to function properly. Therefore, your husband needs to establish some ground rules with his side of the family before their lack of consideration harms your health. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect a person's efficiency at work, one's safety behind the wheel, and compromise the immune system.

If your husband has a cell phone, perhaps he should consider setting it on "vibrate" so that if his family needs to talk to him late at night, they can reach him without waking you.

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