Miss Manners: I don’t know what this pre-wedding event is supposed to be

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What, pray tell, is a “pre-wedding toast” event?

A longtime, but casual, friend — the father of the bride, whom I have never met — has sent an electronic invitation (about which I will say nothing) to attend “Bride and Groom’s Pre-Wedding Toast.” It is an afternoon event on a certain date at a certain location. That is the entire message in the invitation.

No method to RSVP is provided. I will, therefore, respond to the gentleman’s personal email address — while refraining from clicking the tempting “unsubscribe” link within the invitation.

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Although I am unable to attend, I would appreciate knowing what is expected at such an event, if I were to receive such an invitation again in the future. Would one be expected to provide a gift to the betrothed couple? What would one expect to occur at the event itself, other than smiling and offering best wishes or congratulations to the appropriate parties?

GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners shares your confusion (and distaste for the method of delivery), the purpose of the party seems to be stated in its title: to announce an engagement. And trusting that the invitee has the means to figure how to contact the host for an RSVP is correct.

What this vague invitation does have going for it is that unlike an engagement party, this event does not force its attendees to start the long path to wedding present fatigue, years in advance. It simply celebrates the betrothed with a modest party and a toast, as it should be.

However, it is also possible that if the event is right before the actual wedding, you are being invited to an adjacent event rather than the wedding itself. But again, no presents are being demanded, and for that we should be grateful. Either way, Miss Manners will take the win and suggests that you do, too.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it proper to wear dress pants instead of a dress or skirt to the party celebrating my husband and me on our 50th anniversary?

GENTLE READER: As you are the host (or presumably in close contact with the person who is), you may set the style.

Please promise Miss Manners, however, that you will not confuse your guests by trying to indicate the level of dress on the invitation with meaningless terms like “semi-formal,” “creative cocktail” or “festive casual.” The degree of formality should be indicated by the invitation’s delivery system (electronic vs. cream linen stationery), wording (“Come on over!” vs. “The pleasure of your company is requested”), venue (backyard vs. hotel ballroom) or simply by knowing you for the better part of 50 years.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m old-fashioned: I believe the most appropriate response to hospitality is reciprocation. Is there a polite way to tell a non-reciprocator that repeatedly making vague invitations (e.g. “Jenny and I want to have you over for dinner sometime soon”) is irritating and that you would like them to stop making them?

GENTLE READER: “We would love that. When is good?”

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Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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