Q: I received a postcard announcing the upcoming birth of a baby, four months into the future. The card was similar to a “save the date” for a wedding.
Having never received one of these cards, I’m unsure how I’m to respond or if I need to. Am I to send more than congratulations? Am I to send a gift? Is this the newest trend in “save the date” cards?
A: Let us hope not. What exactly would you be saving the date to do? Congratulate the parents, and then listen to them burst into tears because the time was up and nothing had yet happened?
It strikes Miss Manners that these prospective parents are amazingly ignorant of the ways of babies. They are in for a shock when they discover that babies have their own agendas.
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And even if they have scheduled an inducement, it would hardly be the day they would want to field calls and texts. Despite the ridiculous card, the tactful thing for you to do would be nothing whatever until you receive a birth announcement.
Q: My brother just canceled his wedding less than three weeks prior to the event.
As we begin to discuss dealing with the aftermath, I wonder what the proper way of notifying guests would be. Does this type of thing necessitate a phone call or would emails suffice?
How much information does one divulge? If, as I suspect, this type of thing requires a phone call, can a family member help make said calls? How does one best respond to the inevitable question of “Why?”
A: There is a formal, third-person form for such an announcement (“Mr. and Mrs. Parents/announce that the marriage of their daughter/Olivia Zoe/to Mr. Humphrey Joshua Whittleby/will not take place”), but three weeks is a short time for people to cancel their travel plans and stop fussing about what to wear.
So yes, in this case the family should use instant devices to get in immediate touch with those invited to the wedding. Whether that would be by telephone or by email should depend on how you can be sure of reaching them, considering that some people no longer answer calls and others are not in the habit of checking email.
The explanation for all should be the same: that the couple canceled the wedding by mutual consent.
Miss Manners realizes that this will satisfy nobody, but it should be the only statement repeated to those who keep asking. There will be enough gossip about the situation without the family’s adding to it, and your brother will have to decide how much he wants to explain to whom.
Q: I am wondering if it is polite to have a birthday dinner where the guests don’t know each other. My friend had a dinner party of 10 guests where the guests didn’t know each other.
A: Didn’t they, by the end of the evening?
One of the pleasures of hospitality is putting together new combinations of people who might enjoy one another’s company. Of course, Miss Manners is presuming that they have something in common: that they all know the host.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.