DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother-in-law is from France and writes "EV" on letters and invitations that are hand-delivered (either delivered by her or on her behalf.) She explained that this stands for "en ville" or "in town" and that in the past it was customary to write this on letters one intended to give directly to recipients.
I like the idea and was wondering if there is an "American" equivalent, or is it acceptable for me to use EV? Should I use it at all?
GENTLE READER: Are there not enough people who claim they don't understand "R.s.v.p."? Miss Manners asks you to refrain from bewildering your correspondents by throwing in another foreign abbreviation. (You didn't understand it, either, until your mother-in-law explained it.)
In simpler days, Americans could write "City" on a letter sent to the city in which it originated, and it would arrive by post.
Even now, if you send your letters by footman (who probably uses a bicycle), it is proper to write "By hand" in the lower-left hand corner of the envelope. If a friend delivers it for you, the correct acknowledgement to put there is "Kindness of" with that person's name, refraining from sealing the envelope as a sign of trust in your messenger.
However, if you hand it over to the recipient yourself, none of these applies. Still, Miss Manners supposes you can write whatever you like without worrying that it will go astray.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am getting married next spring and had been planning a wedding of about 75 guests. The wedding planning has taken on a life of its own, and I have been overwhelmed by the details and the cost.
In our current economic climate, the practical side of me can not quite rationalize the expense for which this wedding will cost my parents. It is after all, only one day. After a recent meeting with my caterer, I realized that I was planning someone else's wedding, not the wedding I think I had always envisioned for myself.
Since coming to this realization, my fiance and I have decided to nix the larger ceremony and reception for a private ceremony and dinner with our immediate family at a lovely inn not far from where we live.
Quite a few of our friends and extended family were aware of our wedding date and plans. Now that those plans have changed, I am wondering the best way to let them know that our plans have changed and they shouldn't expect an invitation come spring.
GENTLE READER: This is a rare case where Miss Manners not only permits but promotes the concept of it's-all-about-us. Anything you tell the no-longer guests about cutting down expenses and curtailing the entertainment is in danger of sounding as if the least painful part for you to cut was sharing the day with them.
You would do better to acquire a dreamy-eyed look and to confide, "We've decided to elope." Elope is such a nicely vague and romantic way to refer to anything short of a wedding with the usual bells and whistles, and it does not preclude admitting afterward that you could not bear to cut out the immediate family.