DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I just recently moved back to my hometown, where my parents and family are well known.
At first we were hesitant to announce the news of my wife's pregnancy due to a previous miscarriage. Now we have been telling close friends and family, since my wife is 17 weeks along.
We are not bringing it up in unprompted conversation, as we don't want to brag, and we are not circulating the news in extremely public forums like Facebook, since it lacks the personal touch of telling someone in person. We are excited and proud but afraid that some friends and friends of my parents' might be offended if they hear of this via the grapevine and not by us in person.
How should we circulate this news in a tactful way? Should we simply let my wife's increasing size tell the story?
GENTLE READER: Please don't do that. You would be doing a disfavor to every lady who has a stomach.
It is exceedingly rude for anyone to guess from a lady's size that she is pregnant. Should your wife go into labor in front of Miss Manners, she would merely say, "My dear, whatever is the matter? Can I help you?" (Eventually, of course, she would have to say, "Oh, look who's here.")
The news is not delivered as a formal announcement but is told to friends by the prospective parents and grandparents, however they usually keep in touch -- telephone, e-mail, visits, with a "Guess what?" tone allowed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Many times I have read that etiquette dictates that gifts should not be expected for second (or further) weddings. What happens when one of the two in the marrying couple has never been married before?
I may find myself in this situation. Honestly, I have always looked forward to building a life with a new husband, reminded of our community by small luxuries provided by my loving friends and family: new cooking bowls, new towel sets (that match for the first time), nice sheets. I live far away from all my closest friends and family, and this is why I have always provided these kinds of gifts when they get married.
However, I know my partner is loathe to expect gifts in general, let alone wedding gifts when he is getting married for the second time. If you tell me to do so, I will expect nothing, and save up my money to buy my own set of matching towels.
GENTLE READER: What do you mean by "expect?" You make it sound as if it requires some commitment on your part, as in expecting a baby.
Miss Manners hopes you are not thinking of prodding your friends to furnish your new life. That is rude under any circumstances.
Presents are voluntary offerings on the part of the guests. They are customary with first marriages -- and yours is a first marriage for you -- and many people do give presents for subsequent marriages. But whatever your expectations, it is up to your guests to decide.