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

Making the Most Polite Mess Possible

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a widower, dating a woman who is also widowed, for the past year. Our relationship is casual for the time being, but may grow into something more down the road. We only see each other about twice a month because of distance and family obligations.

She has been invited to her grandniece’s wedding and asked if I would be her plus-one. Now, I have never met the bride or her family. Am I under any obligation, as a plus-one, to give a gift to the bride and groom?

GENTLE READER: Presents are not, strictly speaking, mandatory, but when they are given, the general custom is: one invitation, one gift. Your date’s present is therefore sufficient to cover you both, although you might wish to ascertain -- discreetly -- if her attachment to you is sufficiently strong to motivate her to append your name on the card.

This is best done indirectly, by telling the lady that, as you do not yet know the bride or bridegroom, you would like to contribute to her present, relying on her knowledge of what the recipients would appreciate.

(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.)