DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our 13-year old daughter has an opportunity to take a one-week trip to Washington, D.C., this coming summer. The trip will be chaperoned by several school teachers. It will be a wonderful opportunity to see the White House, museums, etc.
However, the cost of the trip is not something we had budgeted. My husband and I both have good jobs and are considered middle class. We could probably swing the cost of the trip (with some difficulty). To lighten the burden, we were thinking of having our daughter send a letter to family and close friends telling them about the trip and asking for their sponsorship. Is this tacky?
GENTLE READER: For the destitute, begging is humiliating. For anyone with income to do so is simply crass. How often have you volunteered to help these people with their discretionary expenses?
Mind you, Miss Manners understands that you want to send your daughter on this trip because you want her to have an educational experience. As rewarding as that might be, it would be far more educational for her to learn that responsible people do not incur financial burdens that they cannot afford, and that they do not expect to shove such burdens onto others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received an e-mail from a friend, sent to me and many others, inviting the recipients to attend her wedding online. On the proper day, at the proper time, we're to click on the link she provided, and we'll be able to see the wedding as it happens. The bride and groom are getting married in a town across the country, and I imagine this is a novel way of having people who probably couldn't come anyway still "attend" the wedding. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I suspect that this type of wedding participation will occur more frequently in the future.
I think kindly about this person; we worked together several years ago and have kept in touch over the years. I'm flattered that she thought enough of me to send me notice of the wedding and will most likely watch it, but how do I proceed?
Do I "accept" the invitation? (I sent her a response saying I thought it was a fun idea, which it is, but didn't say if I'd participate.) Do I send a gift because I'm watching the wedding, but not actually attending? Is a gift required when one is invited to an online wedding? I realize I can send a gift because I care about her, but I don't know if I have to send one under these circumstances.
GENTLE READER: Consider yourself in the position of someone to whom a bride has offered to show her wedding pictures or, if you are unlucky, the wedding video. (Oh, dear. Miss Manners didn't mean that. Of course they are lovely, dear.)
You may be delighted to see them, or you may feel cornered, but you surely cannot confuse the experience with being a wedding guest. Seeing it in real time does not incur such obligations as responding or sending a present -- only that of wishing the bride well and telling her, when you happen to encounter her afterward, that she looked lovely.