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

Muddy Boots Mucking Up Church Service

DEAR MISS MANNERS: This may be a silly question, but I’ll ask regardless: What is the protocol for wearing rain boots?

Our church parking lot can become muddy, and it makes sense to me to wear boots to combat the muck, but doesn’t make sense to wear the mucky boots inside. I’ve often seen children wear their rain boots all throughout the service, and have seen the mess they cause on the floor. Are you supposed to change shoes at the door, then carry your boots the rest of the service?

GENTLE READER: And how many sets of footprints would that make? This feels like a parable -- and if so, Miss Manners is likely out of her depth.

However, she suggests that you consult the parish -- not just to answer the footprint question, but to see if something can be put in the church newsletter about bringing a change of shoes on rainy days. And providing a boot tray for dirtied boots. That is What Miss Manners Would Do.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I feel honored to have been invited to two weddings; however, they are scheduled to be held on the same date and time.

The venues are located only 15 minutes apart. The young people getting married are children of two couples who have been our close friends for more than 20 years. We truly want to attend both weddings and receptions.

What is the proper etiquette for such a situation? Would it be appropriate to attend the ceremony of one wedding and the reception of the other? Should my husband attend both the wedding ceremony and reception of one couple, and I attend these events for the other? Or is it more considerate for my husband and me to accept the invitation to only one wedding and somehow graciously decline the other?

GENTLE READER: Learn to dance quickly. Miss Manners is not only referring to what you do at the reception, but also to how you get there. Make both hosts aware of the predicament, and then divide yourselves and conquer, each of you attending one full wedding and reception.

Whoever is done first, hightail it over to the other reception -- all with the hosts’ permission, of course. Any true friends of 20 years will surely appreciate the predicament, and be accommodating. Adding a future invitation for the two couples to meet, where you can laugh about it all and favorably compare the two weddings, may prove to be further enticement.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper protocol if one has politely declined an invitation, only to later find oneself able to attend due to the cancellation of the original obstacle? If it is a formal group gathering, for example, a dinner hosted at someone’s home, is there a polite way to inquire whether one may still attend after all?

GENTLE READER: Only indirectly. “We were so disappointed that Bucky’s award ceremony fell on the same evening as your party, but now it seems that it has been postponed. Of course we understand if we have been replaced, but would love to have you and Alistair over as soon as possible to hear all about the fun.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)