DEAR MISS MANNERS: My other and I are not married yet, in no small part because of this exact dilemma:
We've been living together for eight years, we own a house together, etc. We will, someday, get married, and what we would very much like to do is dig a hole in our backyard and roast a pig, invite everyone we love for a pig-roast and just announce the civil ceremony at some point between the moppings.
The idea being that this way would extend our hospitality to our loved ones and have them with us while we take our vows, while avoiding the unpleasantness/untowardness I've been reading about in your column for, lo, these many years.
Our concern is that there are people who would like to be at our wedding but will respectively decline an invitation to a pig-roast, and will be upset to find out later what they missed. Since these are mostly elder family members, we did consider having a different sort of party they'd be more likely to attend, but concluded that it would be so out of character (tea for 100 in our yard?) that we couldn't pull it off without spilling the beans.
Do you have any thoughts -- either as to how to share the information with those who might want to know, or as to how else entirely we might consider doing this?
GENTLE READER: Yes -- hold the pig-roast and skip the wedding. Miss Manners is overstepping her jurisdiction by saying this, but people who are deterred from binding their lives together because of a worry about the day's menu have no business getting married.
Her next choice would be to make the pig a surprise, instead of, or along with, the wedding. Inviting people to a wedding ensures that the people who want to attend will do so, but there is no need to disclose the menu for a wedding or, if you insist on that being a surprise, a garden party. Or serve both pig and tea and call it a tea party.
Miss Manners trusts that you will have other food for those who might find the pig upsetting, and that you are not afraid of having a surprise pig upstage a surprise wedding.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How can I invite guests for overnight stays at our beach house and indicate that we cannot accommodate their pets due to the allergy problems they create? I understand that some people may decline the invitation due to this, but I'm trying to find the most respectful way to word the invitation.
GENTLE READER: By lavishing concern on their pets from a safe distance. "You know we adore Tibald and Mimsy," Miss Manners suggests you say, "and we're so sorry we can't ask you to bring them. I wish we could. Can you find someone who will take good care of them? It's such a shame that we can't have them here, but we do hope you can come all the same."