DEAR MISS MANNERS: Just when one thinks that the Wedding Industrial Complex cannot get any worse, it does. One of the latest trends is to suggest to brides- and grooms-to-be that it is a good thing to tell those whom they are not inviting to the wedding just why they are not being invited.
The explanation given is that the couple would adore to have you attend their wedding, but that their budget will not permit it. It is also suggested that to make the excluded feel included, they be invited to go along on expeditions to "help choose" the dress, the cake or whatever.
As the occasional recipient of such announcements, I would like your advice about how to respond. It seems churlish to say that you're relieved not to be invited, but it seems awkward to admit that your feelings are hurt at being excluded.
GENTLE READER: The temptation to respond, "Oh, please don't feel bad about this -- I wouldn't have gone anyway," must be enormous.
Certainly that is a lot more tempting than going shopping with the bride, to watch her spend the money she saved by excluding you, and to help choose a cake of which you will not be offered a slice.
Miss Manners understands that it might sometimes be necessary to respond to pushy people who announce their intention of attending a wedding to which they have not been invited. Even then, pleading budget concerns is ugly, as an admission that the arrangements are more important than the people.
They should be told, "It's a very small wedding -- just family and a few close friends." And no, that's not a lie, because "small" and "close" are subject to interpretation. But to say, "Nyah, nyah, you're not invited to my wedding" to people who were minding their own business is as mean as it is vulgar.
As no invitation was issued, no response is necessary. But you could reassure them that you are not devastated by saying cheerfully, "Fine" or, "That's quite all right." And for the sake of form, Miss Manners hopes you will add your good wishes.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper thing to say when family or friends come over and you are ready to call it a night, but they don't leave?
My husband and I have friends, a married couple, who often come over for lunch and an afternoon visit. They usually arrive about 11:30 a.m. and sometimes stay past dinnertime, usually until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
I don't want to also offer dinner after preparing a nice lunch. If they come for dinner at 5:30, I have to throw them out at 1 a.m. because I start falling asleep in their presence. We are seniors and usually go to bed by 11 o'clock at the latest. We really like this couple and don't want to hurt their feelings. Help!
GENTLE READER: What would you do if they were taking leave of you at a proper time?
Miss Manners is guessing that you would stand up and, while moving toward the door, say something about having enjoyed seeing them and hoping to see them again before too long.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)