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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Sending Save-the-Date Cards to Gauge Attendance Is Risky

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Happily, my girlfriend of two years accepted my marriage proposal, and even happier still, we can actually get legally married since we are both women. We would like to have a small ceremony at our home with friends and family who want to celebrate with us.

In an effort to have only a small number of truly supportive people with us this day, I have suggested the following: We send save-the-date cards to our invitation list. But we send full invitations only to those who respond saying they would like to attend.

This way, we are more sure of the guest count, and we are sure that those in attendance will be pleasant guests. (We both come from families that have a certain religious affiliation that is not friendly to homosexuals.)

My fiancee does not like the idea, as it will lead to confusion among those who receive the save-the-date card but who do not wish to contact us for more information.

I think if we are not close enough to a person that a phone call expressing congratulations on our engagement is too much, then we do not want them there.

GENTLE READER: Considering how many easy means of informal communications there are now, Miss Manners is astonished at how often people want to use pseudo-formal cards for informal messages.

Your fiancee is right. By no stretch of the imagination can a save-the-date card serve as a referendum on the marriage. The time for people to congratulate you was when you informed them of your engagement.

Your idea risks condemning well-meaning people who rightly understand that the card is merely an alert that an invitation will be forthcoming, and that it requires no response until then. That is also the point at which people who don't approve of the marriage can decline, although Miss Manners cautions you that there can be many reasons that may prevent attendance by people who wish you well.

Leading people to expect to be invited -- and even to turn down other invitations for that date -- and then blackballing them for lack of enthusiasm is rude.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Marriage & Divorce