Q: My fiance' and I are planning our wedding and want it to be perfect in every detail, starting with the invitations. Letters lift spirits, especially personal ones like wedding invitations. Our aim is to make them soar.

We are confident of correctness when it comes to the invitations themselves: ivory vellum and classic Copperplate engraving. A professional calligrapher will address both the invitations and the reply cards enclosed as a convenience for our guests.

But we are completely stumped when it comes to stamps. It will be quite a large wedding, so it would be easier to meter the mail by machine. But would that be appropriate?

Or should we instead go to the extra effort of licking and affixing a stamp to each envelope? If so, what kind should we use--standard Postal Service issue or special commemorative ones? Should the stamps on the invitations and reply cards be the same or different?

Please help. Etiquette books abound with advice on what is and is not proper when it comes to wedding invitations, but nary a word is said about stamps.

A: Miss Manners certainly would not want you to be so exhausted from licking postage stamps that you do not enjoy your wedding or the early years of your marriage. Have you considered asking your flower girl or ring bearer to stand still in front of your desk for an hour or two with tongue hanging out?

All right, you may use a postal meter. But you must promise Miss Manners not to have your entwined names printed next to the postal markings.

By the same rule (no cuteness), stamps used for wedding invitations should not bear appropriate slogans. Miss Manners is aware that many couples will be tempted to affix the commemorative stamp spelling out "LOVE" in flowers, but it is ostentatious to call attention to the fact that you are in love when you are getting married.

Similarly, one does not use the "Consumer Education" stamp to indicate a long engagement spent accumulating household goods, nor "Aging Together" for a late marriage, or one in which permanence is contemplated.

Miss Manners' choice would be standard issue, or one of the series of state birds or flowers.

Now that she has been so helpful, allow her to make a request of you:

Please throw away those expensive, laboriously addressed reply cards. They are not, in fact, correct: They are a modern sop to the apparent inability of people nowadays to recognize the necessity of answering an invitation, not to mention their inability to execute this perplexing task. Miss Manners thoroughly agrees with you about the emotional value of letters. Why, then, do you wish to offer your friends and relatives a check-off card that will rob them of the opportunity to create an original composition with pen and paper?