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Dear Miss Manners: My husband's aunt asked our two children to be in her second wedding, but my husband and I came upon the decision that we had too many other commitments at that time, so we declined. The aunt has given us the cold shoulder since then, commenting to other relatives that it is an honor to be invited to participate in a wedding and you should never turn it down.

I disagree. I think that if you sincerely tell someone you cannot commit that they should understand. Please help. This has caused some big problems on my husband's side of the family.

Gentle Reader: Yes, it is an honor, and, yes, you can decline. Miss Manners only hopes that you realized that declining an honor is not like declining a chance to clean out the barn.

If you carried on about how devastated you all are to miss this important event, what an honor she was bestowing on your children and how fiercely you tried to get out of your other commitments, the bride should have understood. But if you said, "We're kind of busy right now, so we'll skip it, and anyway, the kids can always catch you on the next wedding," then no wonder there is a problem.

Teens shed jackets

Dear Miss Manners: About three years ago, my wife and I were having dinner in a rather posh dining room of a motor hotel during the senior prom season, and a large group of beautifully dressed, well-behaved young men in tuxedos and young women in formal gowns filed in to have dinner at a long table. The men, after seating the women, all suddenly shed their jackets in unison and hung them on the backs of their chairs before seating themselves.

This didn't bother us at all, but it did arouse our curiosity as to whether this has become a standard practice. Being in our 70s, we are not up on the current rules of dress etiquette, but it did seem strange. The overall effect was to make all the men look like the waiters, which was a bit amusing.

Gentle Reader: The waiters were serving in their shirt sleeves?

Miss Manners is shocked. They should know better.

The young men, however, probably had the misfortune of growing up among people whose idea of hospitality is to urge one another to take off their jackets. Thus they thought of these as totem items, to be carried for the sake of correctness but never used, rather like canes with full evening dress.

Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners, in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions except through this column.

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