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

Left Out at Lunch? Do Something About It

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Invitations to my grandson’s wedding were sent out a few weeks ago. The envelope contained two invites and an RSVP card. One invite requested our presence at the wedding reception at 6:30 p.m. The other, in a small, open envelope, said “CEREMONY: please join us at 5 p.m.” Same place, same day. The RSVP card, which I already handed to the bride-to-be last week, asked if we were attending, and how many.

I had assumed that all who received invitations, received “all” the invitations. I just found out the other day that many did not receive the one to the ceremony.

Is this something new? Some guests are invited to the ceremony -- same day, same place -- and some have to wait around and just attend the reception? When I discovered this just the other day, I learned that my other son was not invited to the ceremony, even though he and my daughter-in-law are paying to fly in to attend the wedding.

GENTLE READER: You are a young grandmother, Miss Manners gathers. And thus you do not remember that, far from being a new custom, this is an old one that has been abandoned for sensible reasons.

Before most weddings were the huge pageants they are today, held in exotic and usually expensive places, it was not considered offensive to hold a small wedding ceremony and invite guests only to the reception. Or even to invite people to the ceremony, but not the reception. The guests lived in town, and were not devoting their entire day, much less vacation time, to the event.

But now so much more is expected of wedding guests in the way of time, money and travel that excluding them from the ceremony, which could involve stranding them in a strange town, seems insulting.