DEAR MISS MANNERS: A college friend asked me to be a part of her wedding — not technically in the wedding party, but in a challenging category of “more than guest and less than bridesmaid” that I like to refer to as “JV string bridesmaid.”

At the time I was asked, I had no commitments, but now there may be a conflict. Although my main career is that of a teacher, I am also an actor, and my career as an actor is very important to me. Many summer shows that I would like to audition for have performance conflicts with the wedding.

I first met the bride while we were both theater majors, so she does understand the importance of my career. In addition to the wedding, the other obligations (the bridal showers, plural, and the bachelorette party) are starting to pile up. I don’t live in the same town as the bride, so travel expenses and gift expenses will be costly.

I feel as though my obligations to this wedding are requiring me to put my life on hold. I do love my friend and want to support her happiness, but we have drifted apart over the years. I usually see her only once or twice a year. Help! I’m feeling so overwhelmed and conflicted.

GENTLE READER: Please save the drama for the theater, my dear, and wait until you have an actual conflict before working yourself into a tizzy.

Telling the bride that her wedding is getting in the way of your potential career is not going to be looked upon kindly, no matter how sympathetic she is to a life in the theater.

Audition for the shows. If you do get cast in one that coincides with the wedding or a related event, tell your friend that you never in a million years thought that this would happen — you were just trying out for practice — but you got the part of a lifetime and you don’t know what to do. Here is the place to put histrionics to good use.

If your friend is as sympathetic as you say, she might understand — but only if you act truly devastated. Miss Manners suggests that you start rehearsing.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: On the invitation for a birthday party for a 2-year-old, the parents had the child registered for gifts.

I was under the impression that you register for a bridal shower or first baby shower. I thought it was quite rude to ask for gifts for a child’s birthday. I was not brought up this way. Am I wrong or were they?

GENTLE READER: All right, everyone, that is quite enough. Has Miss Manners been too subtle about her position on Gimme Lists?

Stop it!

Registries are never proper. Not for weddings, not for baby showers and not for birthdays; not for christenings, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, sweet sixteens, graduations, engagements or debutante balls; not for announcing gender, changing gender, getting a job, losing a job, buying a house, divorcing, retiring or dying.

It is simply never polite to ask someone to buy you a present. Everyone is just going to have to go through life’s milestones without thinking of them as free shopping sprees.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site,

2014, by Judith Martin