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Charging fee at family event tacky

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate

Dear Miss Manners: I wish to surprise my wife and renew our wedding vows. It just so happens that my daughter is also getting married. She and I were talking, and we thought, “Why not renew them at the rehearsal after my daughter is done with her practice?”

My wife would be very surprised.

The first thing is, should we tell anyone other than the people who will be there, or keep it quiet? Second, I am already paying for some of the people to eat at the rehearsal dinner, and there is no way to pay for more. How would I tell the others that, if they want to come to the dinner, they will have to pay for themselves?

Gentle Reader: You seem to be full of surprises. Perhaps some of these people will have surprises for you.

Miss Manners might have thought that a lady would want to participate in the decision about repeating her vows rather than have it sprung on her in front of others, but you and your daughter presumably know your wife well enough to predict a favorable reaction. There are some ladies who, when neither consulted about the idea nor warned about the timing, would take the opportunity to see about canceling the vows they had already made.

Another surprise could come from those whom you invite to attend your family celebration on condition that they pay their own way. No matter how you tell them that they will not be among your real guests, you may discover that they are not interested enough in your family occasions to pay admission to attend.

Dear Miss Manners: We have accepted and enjoyed dinner on three occasions at a friend’s home. Each time we presented a hostess gift upon arrival and sent a proper handwritten thank-you note the following day. We have never invited this couple to our home for dinner.

Is it required that we entertain this couple, or have we fulfilled our obligation by taking a hostess gift and writing a thank-you note? We appreciate their invitations, but we do not wish to entertain them in our home.

Gentle Reader: Why not, since you apparently enjoy their company enough to keep accepting their invitations? Do they destroy the furniture when they turn jolly, and you don’t mind as long as it is their own? Or do you simply prefer to have them serve you without your having to exert yourselves on their behalf?

Your thanks are obligatory and the optional little presents you bring are nice, but neither constitutes payment of your social debt. Miss Manners believes that what you are doing is popularly known as freeloading.

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