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Miss Manners: Announcements may meet disapproval

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the latest etiquette on modern marriages? This couple has been living together for a number of years, but as they are both young, the parents financed and hosted the wedding.

Now the parents would like to send announcements to the many friends and relatives, but wonder if this would be quite proper. Do wedding announcements “obligate” a receiver to send a gift? Also, is it proper to include the residence address of the married couple on the announcement?

GENTLE READER: What you describe is the traditional wedding announcement with an enclosed “at home” card with their address. The recipients’ only obligation is to send best wishes, since these are presumably people in whom they have some interest.

So yes, it is proper. But is it prudent?

Correct forms are so rare nowadays that Miss Manners keeps receiving indignant letters from those who misinterpret them. All of them – about births, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, deaths – are interpreted as bids for presents.

Announcements often arouse special indignation, because the recipients feel cheated of the parties to which they assume that more favored people were invited. Some even mistake announcements for invitations that they assume were cunningly sent when the date was past.

All this speculation is nasty, and Miss Manners dearly hopes that those who are not grousing are reacting with pleasure to the announcements they receive and responding with congratulations. Some may feel moved to send presents, but that is by no means an obligation and should not be expected.

There are things that the senders of announcements can do to minimize unpleasant reactions. For a starter, they can remember that the function of an announcement is to tell people something they don’t already know.

Another cause for cynicism is that announcements are often sent to those who are not all that interested in the people involved. A crucial question people forget to ask themselves before sending announcements is, “Will these people be delighted to know?”

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