DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the risk of sounding jaded, weddings appear to me to have become a mere festivity where some unfortunate host is required to entertain a sometimes large number of guests at increasingly outrageous costs. Not caring if we impress society or "keep up with the Joneses," my fiance and I have opted for an intimate, religious ceremony with a family dinner to follow.
In keeping with the spirit of the event, we would like to send handwritten invitations to the dozen or so invited guests. I had always been told "personal stationery" should be used for such invitations, but the half-dozen or so shops I have contacted have told me that "personal stationery" would bear my name, or my fiance's name, at the top of the page, and would therefore probably not be suitable for an invitation.
Somehow, this just feels like another money-pit scam on the part of folks who sell wedding accessories. When did hand-writing invitations become less proper than having expensive ones printed? Is it somehow necessary to spend a fortune, hire a calligrapher or have something printed up to be socially correct? Please let me know what is proper etiquette for wedding invitations.
GENTLE READER: While it is a novelty for Miss Manners to find someone even more jaded about the bridal industry than she is, let's not overdo it. There are lots of reasons other than social climbing that people give expensive weddings. Such as having too much money lying around.
It is certainly not propriety that requires this outlay. Even for a formal wedding, handwritten invitations would be highly proper, engraved ones being commonly used only because of the volume (and the unfortunate state of handwriting). But as your wedding is informal, the invitations should not be done formally, in the third person, but as letters from you, your fiance or your parents. Thus the personal paper would be that of the letter writer, although plain, unmarked paper is always also correct.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of our office staff members is going through a very rough time right now, trying to pass a kidney stone. We have offered all kinds of humorous suggestions on ways to relieve her pain and discomfort just to try to keep her spirits up. This has been going on now for several weeks.
Several times during the day, she feels the need to bring us up to date on her condition. She explains in graphic detail how she feels, where she believes the stone has moved to, and all the medicine she is taking and how it is affecting her at work. This includes every time she is the least bit nauseated.
We certainly are sincere in asking her how she is feeling and in wanting her to pass this stone so that she won't have to endure this pain and suffering. But we need some relief ourselves from all the gruesome details. What would be the correct way to handle this situation without hurting her feelings?
GENTLE READER: By stopping the jokes and pleading your own illness. You can still inquire kindly after her health, but then stop the recital by saying, "I feel for you so much, but I'm afraid I'm too squeamish to hear this." If this doesn't work, Miss Manners suggests putting your hand over your mouth and flashing a sympathetic look as you slowly retreat. If you could also manage to turn green, that would help.