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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Toast yields many breaks in etiquette

Judith Martin Univeral Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS : A guy I just started dating took me out to dinner for my birthday on our fourth date. He raised his glass and made a toast in my honor.

I chimed in during the toast to say something nice about him as well. He said that I should not have interrupted the toast. I suggested that correcting etiquette is also not proper form. Can you help us?

GENTLE READER : There were three breaches of etiquette by Miss Manners’ count. You interrupted your date while he was speaking. He admonished you. And you admonished him.

Assuming the evening did not end with a fourth, unreported breach – for example, his drink on your dress – and that a fifth date is therefore a possibility, Miss Manners prescribes apologies all around.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of the people in our office is getting married next fall. I have picked up some indications that this individual may feel obligated to invite everyone from the office.

While I would be honored and delighted to be invited, I know that in this case the guest list is limited. I would not want to displace another guest who is more deserving.

Is there any tactful way to pre-emptively handle this situation? I thought of taking the individual aside and explaining all of this, but I don’t think that would be “correct,” especially because it is possible I’ve misread the situation entirely. Is it better to politely decline the invitation with some made-up excuse, or just cheerfully attend?

GENTLE READER: There is no correct way to decline an invitation that has not been issued, even if you feel that accepting would place undo hardship on your host. Should you be invited, Miss Manners suggests that you not explain your reason for declining, as the assertion that an invitation was not made wholeheartedly is not a flattering one. She also expects that you will not feel offended if the invitation does not materialize. If it does, you may treat it as sincere and accept if you wish.

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