DEAR MISS MANNERS: My fiance and I are both well-established young adults who honestly have little or no use for additional household items that would typically be set aside for wedding gifts. We are paying for the wedding ourselves because none of our parents are able to afford to help us with the cost.
We are wondering what is the easiest and most polite way of asking for a monetary donation to offset the cost of the wedding because we are paying for it ourselves.
GENTLE READER: No, you are not paying for it yourselves, no matter how often you proclaim that. You are scheming to ask your guests to pay for it.
Miss Manners realizes that it will come as a shock to many bridal couples to hear that their weddings are not shows that carry admission fees. However, there is no remotely polite way to ask guests to pay for the hospitality you pretend to offer them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I wished a widower of a little over one month a "nice summer" and was told by a co-worker that it was insensitive and "too soon" to offer well wishes.
Is it? I understand that people grieve, but do we, the living, not need to keep on living?
GENTLE READER: Had you not tried to justify yourself, Miss Manners would have defended you. Such wishes are so conventional as to emerge almost automatically. And anyway, your co-worker should not be chastising you.
But that remark about the living needing to go on living -- another automatic truism -- troubles her.
Yes, we all know that it is true. The widower was probably not trying to throw himself into his wife's grave. But it is not up to you, or anyone else, to announce how or how long the bereaved should grieve.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is having a party tomorrow to celebrate her fifth birthday. I found out this morning that one of her friends has gotten her a present she already has.
I have instructed her, and had her practice, what to do if she opens a present she already has or does not particularly like at her party -- to say "thank you" and move on to the next one. However, I was hoping this was something she wouldn't actually have to deal with.
Since I know ahead of time, should I let the parent know, or let it go and deal with it after the party? I don't want the parent to feel I am asking her to do more work by returning the present and getting another one.
GENTLE READER: Then why would you be less gracious than you have advised your daughter to be? Why would the friend's parent think that you told her unless you expected her to run out and get another present in time?
Of course that would be the only way your daughter would be, as you say, spared. That would be discomforting and inconveniencing a guest in order to spare your daughter the necessity of practicing good hostess manners.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)