Dear Miss Manners:

My other and I are not married yet, in no small part because of this dilemma:

We've been living together for eight years, we own a house together, etc. We will, someday, get married, and what we would very much like to do is dig a hole in our back yard and roast a pig, invite everyone we love and just announce the civil ceremony at some point between the moppings.

The idea is that this way would extend our hospitality to our loved ones and have them with us while we take our vows, while avoiding the unpleasantness/untowardness I've been reading about in your column for, lo, these many years.

Our concern is that there are people who would like to be at our wedding but will respectively decline an invitation to a pig-roast, and will be upset to find out later what they missed. Since these are mostly elder family members, we did consider having a different sort of party they'd be more likely to attend, but concluded that it would be so out of character (tea for 100 in our yard?) that we couldn't pull it off without spilling the beans.

Do you have any thoughts -- either as to how to share the information with those who might want to know, or as to how else entirely we might consider doing this?

Yes -- hold the pig-roast and skip the wedding. Miss Manners is overstepping her jurisdiction by saying this, but people who are deterred from binding their lives together because of a worry about the day's menu have no business getting married.

Her next choice would be to make the pig a surprise, instead of, or along with, the wedding. Inviting people to a wedding ensures that the people who want to attend will do so, but there is no need to disclose the menu for a wedding or, if you insist on that being a surprise, a garden party. Or serve both pig and tea and call it a tea party.

Miss Manners trusts that you will have other food for those who might find the pig upsetting, and that you are not afraid of having a surprise pig upstage a surprise wedding.

Dear Miss Manners:

When my baby was first born, I signed her thank-you notes with my husband's and my names. My husband says I should sign her first-birthday present thank-yous with her name.

I feel kind of stupid doing this, and writing things like "I look adorable in my new dress" instead of "She looks adorable in her new dress." Also, do I address the cards to her baby friends or to their parents?

Forging your child's thank-you letters is a bad habit to form. Miss Manners doesn't want her to expect you to keep it up when she has turned 40. Or 5, for that matter.

Until she can write, she gets a free ride, which is to say that you should write and sign the letters to the donors, who are presumably not her 1-year-old peers but their parents. The intermediate step is to elicit comments from her that you can quote in your letter and crayon marks that you can explain express her delight.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

(c) 2005, Judith Martin