Q: My fiance and I intend to elope. Our parents will be informed of this development by telephone shortly after (you may be interested to know that our parents live at some distance from us). However, we have a question as to how more distant relatives and friends should be informed.

An idea that had occurred to us, one which appealed to our rather puckish sense of humor, was to design whimsical cards announcing that we had eloped. However appealing this is, we are aware that this means of announcing the event could be considered downright tacky.

Therefore, I humbly solicit your guidance: Would elopement cards be appropriate or awful? Should we opt instead for a more sober, traditional wedding announcement, and write explanations to accompany each?

We want to be sure not to offend -- although it seems that in marital matters, that is an impossible endeavor.

A: Getting married at all these days is such an act of whimsy that, yes, any attempt to convey this stylistically is bound to constitute an overdose.

What makes you think that elopement is not a traditional means of marrying? Do you suppose that one has to be married in the eyes of a caterer, as well as those of God and the state, for society to consider it a regular marriage that may be announced in the conventional way?

Whatever an elopement card is, please do not send any. The relish with which you propose shocking your parents with the news of the event is quite enough excitement for a newly married couple, without their attempting to startle the community at large.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.