DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be ordering my wedding invitations soon and hope that you can clear up a question about the proper etiquette for the wording.
I want the event to be for adults, but I have guests coming in from out of town with children. I have arranged for a childcare room at my site, complete with children's food, games, toys, movies and paid childcare. I feel that by providing this, it will help those who cannot get childcare, cannot afford it or simply live out of town. By providing this, free of charge, of course, I feel it would not be rude to let the guests know it's an adults-only party and that if they bring their children, the childcare room would be MANDATORY for them.
How do I word this on the invitations clear enough so they know children are not allowed in the event but cordial enough where they feel the provided care is a generous alternative gesture?
GENTLE READER: "MANDATORY" is not an enticing word to put on an invitation. Nor is it a good spirit in which to issue an invitation. Hospitality requires that you tell people what you are offering them to enjoy, not what you are ordering them to obey.
Miss Manners hastens to add that she does not mean that you must have children attend the wedding, charming as she happens to think that is. Technically, all you need do is to issue your invitations in the names of the parents only; that should be enough for them to understand that their children are not included.
Ha. You know those people, and they will bring them anyway. Or they will wheedle to do so.
So here is what you do: You send separate formal invitations in the names of the children only, inviting them to a children's wedding party that takes place at the same time as the wedding itself.
Note that Miss Manners specified that the invitations were to be formal. No balloons or circus animals, for once. They should be somewhat in the style of the wedding invitations and should ask for the favor of a response. On the families' arrivals, the person in charge of the children should stand at the door to greet them, and bear them off, saying, "I believe you are one of my special guests."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have encountered this situation for years, but it seems that lately it has become even more frequent -- this behavior that some women seem to have of looking you up and down, as though they were appraising you. I try to be considerate of others and mindful of my own behavior, and I am wondering if these women who do this are so in the behavior that they are not aware that they are doing this or that they are very much aware of what they are doing -- basically, assessing others. It certainly doesn't seem like welcoming behavior to me.
GENTLE READER: A nasty habit, Miss Manners agrees. From whom could they have learned such a thing?