Don’t Seek Wi-Fi Access on Short Visit

Dear Miss Manners : What is an appropriate delay between the time one arrives at a friend’s home and asking for their Wi-Fi password?

Gentle Reader : It is considered polite to say hello first.

If you are a houseguest, you may ask during orientation — right after you have been told where the coffee is in case you get up early, and how many times you need to jiggle the handle on the toilet to get it to work.

But if you are there for a meal or other short visit, Miss Manners wonders why you need to know. Oh — you are expecting an emergency? Then why are you gadding about, instead of preparing for it?

Dear Miss Manners : I am troubled as to how I can formally “inform” friends of my sister about my upcoming wedding without specifically inviting them to attend the actual ceremony — just as an FYI, in hopes to receive a gift.

I know that the intent should not be only to receive a gift; however, my sister (who is much older than I) has friends whose children are my age, and my sister has given financially to their children for several years over the course of their lives for other events, such as graduations, school fundraisers, communions, showers, etc.

I, personally, do not have a relationship with my sister’s friends, but they know of me and have met me on limited occasions. Is there a “polite” way in which to accomplish an “information only” invitation?

As an added note, the wedding is located out of state, and more than likely most of her friends may not expend the cost to attend.

Gentle Reader : Unfortunately, duty requires Miss Manners to inform you that there is such a thing as a wedding announcement, which is sent immediately after the marriage takes place, its purpose being to inform people who may (or in your case may not) be pleased simply to hear of the marriage.

Happily, duty also enables Miss Manners to keep telling people that wedding announcements, and, for that matter, invitations that are declined, do not require sending presents.

Dear Miss Manners : I have to sit through quite a few recitals/concerts/performances of my children and their peers during the school year.

Sometimes I will bring something to keep me busy before and, yes, sometimes during these performances (usually a crossword puzzle).

I take great pains to make sure this is done as unobtrusively as possible (no crinkling of papers, etc.). In fact, other than the people directly behind me or on my side, I am quite confident no one even knows I am doing this. Plus, I always make it a point to applaud when appropriate and pay attention to what is happening on the stage. Is this considered rude or not?

Gentle Reader : It is true that etiquette, unlike law, ignores victimless infractions of its rules. If, indeed, no one knows the lengths to which boredom drives you, Miss Manners would not call it rude.

However, she regrets to tell you that the lady sitting next to you is the aunt of the child performing, and the gentleman behind you is the grandfather. She therefore recommends passing the time woolgathering like everyone else.

Dear Miss Manners: Would you please tell me what is the proper etiquette for inviting someone to a bridal shower if they will not be invited to the wedding? Is that an appropriate thing to do?

Gentle Reader: The proper etiquette is: don’t. Miss Manners wonders why anyone would think that someone not close enough to be welcome at the wedding would want to participate in a less important but more intimate gathering.

Dear Miss Manners: My longtime boyfriend (we started dating in high school) and I bought a house together in 2009, and soon after decided to become legally married, mostly for financial reasons. He had a well-paying job and I had just started grad school.

I assumed we’d have a wedding within the year, and decided not to let anyone know we were legally married.

Fast-forward a few years: I’m done with grad school, starting out in my career, and I recently found out that I’m pregnant.

I don’t know how to let people know that I’m legally married years after the fact and that I’m expecting. I still plan to have a wedding, which I see as more of a community gathering, and we’ve both agreed that we’ll do that when the baby is born and a little older.

How do I announce any of this, and what do I announce? Do I wait until after the baby? Before the baby?

Gentle Reader: So the plan is to appear as a bride, either pregnant or with a baby in tow, and announce that you were married several years ago? Good luck with that.

Miss Manners rather doubts that people care enough nowadays to keep track. But if you want to let them know without inspiring chortles, you need only confide, “My husband and I are expecting a baby.”

And if you want to have a party, throw yourself an anniversary party.

But don’t imagine that you can fool Miss Manners into believing that “a wedding” is a community gathering that need not involve anyone actually getting married.

She hears often from those who have attended such events, thinking they were being invited to witness a marriage taking place, only to discover that an already-married couple was acting the parts of bride and bridegroom. Those guests have some harsh things to say about the motives for staging this.

Dear Miss Manners: My late and very proper Bostonian mother insisted that it is inhospitable to have candlewicks that have not been lighted. As soon as she brought candles into our home, she would light the wicks.

I have taught my daughters this custom and have no idea why a lighted wick is hospitable! Can you shed some light on this, oh wise one? Is this an outdated custom from the Dark Ages?

Gentle Reader: In the Dark Ages, wax was an expensive necessity, and no one would want to waste even the amount it would take to darken the wicks.

But in the Age of Enlightenment — well, actually the Age of Electrical Enlightenment, which came later — candles were no longer a necessity to see beyond your nose.

They are now used for a special effect. However, to keep a utilitarian object without using it smacks of pretentious display. Miss Manners is pleased to know that she is not the only person left on Earth who goes around singeing her fresh candles.

Feeling incorrect? Email your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) from her website,, if you promise to use the black or blue-black ink you’ll save by writing those thank you, condolence and congratulations letters you owe.