Q: I'm marrying for the first time, and my husband-to-be will be marrying for the second time. He has a 9-year-old daughter from his first marriage.

I plan to have a small wedding party consisting of my sister as maid of honor, my 11-year-old niece as junior bridesmaid, and a friend of the groom as best man. In addition, my 13-year-old nephew will be escorting me down the aisle and will exit as the junior bridesmaid's escort.

The problem is that I do not want to have my fiance''s daughter in the wedding party. There are several reasons, but a primary one is that I feel too many children will then be involved.

I plan to have her participate in the part of the ceremony relating to the offertory rite. She and two of my other sisters will bring gifts up to the altar.

Will I be looked down upon for not having her in the bridal party, since I have two other children in it?

Also, is it cruel of me to have her escorted home after the dinner reception, before the dancing begins? She will have no supervision at the reception, and I do not wish to impose on my guests to baby-sit. I feel that keeping her there will only encourage her to tag behind her father and me. I have considered asking relatives to watch her, but they are elderly and not very attentive.

A: Yes, you are being cruel, and Miss Manners begs you to reconsider. You are making it clear that you consider the effect of the wedding party -- the number of children in it -- to be more important than this child's feelings.

You are also being foolish. Perhaps you do not realize how much this child and her attitude toward you will affect your chances of marital happiness.

Your wedding plan contains a number of odd innovations that Miss Manners doesn't quite like: having a child in the place usually occupied by the bride's father or guardian, and having presents hauled up the aisle.

Surely you can manage the more usual and emotionally rewarding modern innovation of including children from previous marriages, whom the union will so seriously affect, as a prominent part of the wedding if they so wish. The kind thing to do would be to give her the choice of being an attendant or simply standing near her father at the altar.

You should also allow her to stay up for such an important occasion. There will be no dearth of child-loving people to fuss over her. Should she be content to tag after you, Miss Manners believes you should consider yourself extremely lucky.