DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister and I wanted to have a nice dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate our mother's 60th birthday with family and a few friends from our mother's place of business.
When we contacted a friend at said business about the possibility of conducting such a gathering, the question of who will pay came up. My sister and I are both gainfully employed professionals in our 30s with families of our own and have no issues with paying for our mother's meal. However, we were informed that if my mother's co-workers would be expected to pay for their own meals, some may not come at all or would leave early and not pay.
These are all corporate professionals who presumably are our mother's friends as well as co-workers and are more than capable of paying for their own meals. They may be used to the company president picking up a $3,000 food-and-drink bill at a restaurant, but neither my sister nor myself are interested in paying for the meals or excess liquor sure to be consumed at this dinner. Were we out of line to ask that those invited pay for their own meals?
GENTLE READER: You are certainly mistaken in thinking that you and your sister are giving a dinner in honor of your mother. People for whom you are "not interested" in providing refreshments are in no way your guests. They are merely people who have been offered the opportunity to treat themselves to a meal in your company. Having put it on a commercial basis, you cannot expect to be treated as hosts.
Miss Manners considers it particularly unbecoming for you to point out that these people make good money. So, apparently, do you and your sister. Just as you choose not to spend it on them, you must allow them the same choice of not spending it on your family.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the matron of honor in my best friend's upcoming wedding. I imagine I will give a toast during the reception and wondered if it would be appropriate to mention my friend's sister, who passed away three years ago.
They were very close, and my thinking is, by mentioning the sister, it would be a gesture that she is gone but not forgotten and is very missed at such an occasion. Also, the groom lost his mother not too long ago, and, at the risk of turning a wedding into a wake, I think a little remembrance of her as well would be nice. Am I totally off the mark here?
GENTLE READER: No, indeed. The absence of deceased relatives is very much felt on such an occasion, and your mentioning them gently in your toast is a good way to include them.
But Miss Manners asks you to bear in mind that this is a happy occasion, and you must be careful not to provoke tears or, for that matter, curiosity. So no eulogies, but also not such a cryptic reference ("We wish they could be here") that some might be left with the impression that they just missed their flights. Just mentioning their names, prefaced by "the late" and saying how happy they would have been should be enough.