DEAR MISS MANNERS: My only sibling passed away 18 months ago. She had two daughters, both in their 50s.

Judith Martin 

During the pandemic, one of my nieces planned her wedding for this spring. Why now is anybody’s guess, as she has been living with the man for over 10 years.

In chatting with her a few months ago, she made it clear that they only wanted people to attend who did not have to travel by plane — so basically only local family and friends. I live over 1,000 miles away.

Both my husband and I are fully vaccinated and would still wear a mask and practice social distancing. I see posts of the couple with friends at their house, maskless. We pose less of a risk than those who will attend who are not vaccinated.

I understand it’s “their day, their way,” but what hurt me was how she addressed it. If only she would have said, “You are my only aunt and we would love for you to be there, but we just don’t feel safe having people who were on an airplane.”

My relatives who do live there were mortified when they said, “We are looking forward to seeing you both when you come up for the wedding,” and I told them we were not invited. Then I got an invitation to “attend” online via video.

I would not want to replace my sister and act like “mother of the bride”; I just was looking forward to being there to honor my sister.

Even my brother-in-law thought my niece was wrong, and apologized. Should she have handled it differently?

GENTLE READER: Protocols for weddings — and pandemics, it seems — have a tendency to favor the personal preferences and biases of the rule-maker, not necessarily science or familial loyalty.

If one makes an exception for an individual, the dictators will plead, they will have to do so for all.

Miss Manners agrees that your niece was particularly insensitive to your situation and should have instituted a new rule to include you. One, perhaps, that favors aunts who are vaccinated over maskless friends who are just there for fun.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a number of good friends who are gourmet cooks and host meals in their homes, to which I am often invited. I, on the other hand, am an indifferent cook whose dinner parties have become legendary for how awful they were.

Rather than continuing to inflict these meals on my friends, I started inviting them to dinner at restaurants at my expense, which they seemed to enjoy. Now that dinner parties and restaurant visits are difficult, it occurs to me that I may have been rude in not inviting people to my home.

Once we start socializing again, is it proper to reciprocate my friends’ hospitality with restaurant dinners? Or should I use this time of isolation to work on my cooking skills?

GENTLE READER: Both. But if your culinary skills prove hopeless — or you cannot take the ridicule after efforts to improve them — restaurant or takeout dinners at your home are also acceptable. They may be particularly welcome, Miss Manners notes, after months of being without them.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


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