Dear Miss Manners: My fiance and I are planning to get married in August, and we have reserved everything: church, reception venue, music, cake, etc. Our wedding is going be an affair of 200 people.

With what is happening in the United States, we are waiting before sending out invitations — deciding if we can still have our big wedding, or will have to switch to a very scaled-down backyard wedding of 50 people.

If we do have a scaled-down wedding, how do we go about explaining to all the guests that we won't be able to invite all of them? Also, should we expect the wedding vendors to refund our deposits?

Unfortunately, given the rapidly changing guidelines, it is possible that the scaled-down version may be prohibited, as well. While distressing, it does help with your immediate problem of whom to choose to invite, and how to tell them.

Rather than risk alienating friends and relatives — doubtless in need of something to look forward to — Miss Manners recommends that you send out cancellation notices, expressing the hope of rescheduling in the as-yet-unknown future, to everyone who is saving the date. This should help with the vendor situation, as well. Although many are offering refunds, it is obviously financially less devastating for them to reschedule if you are able to manage it.

In the meantime, you may want to consider getting legally married, so that you and your fiance may enjoy the legal privileges now. Many affianced have done online ceremonies that can be broadcast to everyone — and while not a replacement for being there in person, it would be a respite from the current monotony and a way that everyone could be involved.

But then you must wait it out. If it turns out that the small backyard celebration (not reenactment, please, if you are by that time married) is still attainable later in the year, issue new invitations and ask your previous vendors for refunds — or, where applicable, scaled-down versions of their wares. (They will probably be so grateful for your not canceling earlier that they will be eager to help.)

You need not explain to people who are not invited to this smaller celebration. As with any small wedding, you may say, if asked, that it was just for a small circle of intimates, especially given the circumstances.

Dear Miss Manners: On two occasions, I have received empty containers, like empty DVD boxes or empty spirits bottles. I'm offended. Should I be?

Yes. But more so at your friends’ incompetence at thievery.

Dear Miss Manners: I purchased a house two years ago, and at some point would like to have a housewarming party to celebrate. Is there a time limit in which to have a housewarming party? I'm still working on renovations.

Then call it a Renovation Party. But only for your own justification. On invitations, it should simply be referred to as “a party,” lest it sound like a two-year-delayed grab for presents.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

2020, by Judith Martin