Dear Carson: I'm hosting a party and the invitations requested an R.S.V.P. by a certain date. I realize people are extremely busy this time of year, but am I allowed to phone those who haven't responded by the date stated on the invitation? I want to be assured I have enough food and beverages for everybody. - Food Frets
Dear Frets: Yes, it is permissible for you to call. However, make sure your query does not sound like a rebuke over someone else's negligence.
Dear Carson: My stepdaughter informed her father and me that she and her fiance are planning to have their rehearsal dinner at a local restaurant and that attendees will be required to pay for their own meals. Am I out of touch or is this something new? - Stunned Stepmother
Dear Stepmother: You are not, but this young couple is clearly out of touch with the guidelines of etiquette. However, if I were the stepmother I would leave this matter to the bride's father. Traditionally, the groom or his family pays for the rehearsal dinner, which can be as simple as a buffet spaghetti supper or as lavish as a five-course dinner. Are the groom's parents living or unable, financially, to host this event? It is socially unacceptable to invite guests to any social gathering (unless it is a fund-raiser for some charitable event) and expect them to bear the cost. Such boorish behavior is first cousin to the ultimately tacky "money tree." I hope you can get this worked out indirectly. However, if the couple decides to go ahead with this scheme I hope you would forebear without obvious disapproval.
Dear Carson: My nephew will be married in the early spring and the couple would like monogrammed silver mint julep cups as a wedding gift. The bride will retain her maiden name, so I am at a loss as to how the monogram should be engraved. Can you help? - Engraving Enigma
Dear Enigma: Have you asked your nephew how he would prefer these julep cups to be monogrammed? When a wife opts to keep her maiden name it causes a problem for others who have no idea what to do. Often times a professional woman has a career, as a doctor, an author or whatever else and needs to maintain her professional name. However, it is a good idea if she reverts to the use of her husband's last name for social situations. If your nephew has no clue you could try making the two last initials like a fraction, i.e. as in A/B. My best suggestion is to have a colon between the letters of the two last names (as in A:B) or just leave the cups blank and tell the bridal couple to have them engraved however they like and that you will be glad to bear the cost.