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In her kindly desire to relieve bridal families from Severe Etiquette Stress, Miss Manners has occasionally offered the reassurance that etiquette is not as interested as they think in monitoring every breath they take.

Etiquette does not spend its valuable time (when it could be sitting on the front porch rocking) doing your seating charts for you. It vaguely assigns the front pews to immediate relatives and airily suggests one table at the wedding breakfast for the couple and attendants and another one or two for their parents, but it sneaks off when the arguments begin about exactly whom this covers and in what order.It doesn't share the junior bridesmaid's concern that she be paired with an interesting prospect for the recessional (much less her definition of an interesting prospect), and it is unable to keep awake during attempts to plan the bouquet-throwing.

But occasionally, nasty news from the bridal front reminds Miss Manners of the danger of letting people think for themselves. In the desire to get bridal couples to calm down and do some of their own planning to fit their own circumstances, she has recklessly implied that they should use their own judgment. Ever the optimistic believer in human intelligence, she forgot to specify that judgment must include a sense of dignity.

It seems that joking at the altar has become commonplace enough for a justice of the peace to anticipate exactly what form it is going to take:

The bridegroom will "play to the crowd, saying, `Hmmm, I'll think about it' instead of `I will,' or pretending to screw the bride's ring on if it proves difficult."

The ceremonial kiss is used as a public sample of the couple's lovemaking. People tinkle glasses incessantly, and with a vengeance, for the couple to kiss. Some get so vigorous that the stemware goes flying. At one formal wedding, the bride had provided little wooden mallets for the guests.

Miss Manners has become sadly aware that such travesties of the wedding ceremony and celebration are not isolated instances. The perpetrators fail to understand the difference between making an occasion enjoyable and making a significant event into a mockery. Some time ago, half suspecting it was a joke, she answered a query about a wedding in which the bridal party had decided to be nude; the mail has since brought several accounts of similar ventures.

However, if she withdraws from delegating some judgment to bridal couples, she never will get back to the porch. Rather than saying you shouldn't use your own judgment in planning your wedding, she would like to suggest that you shouldn't be planning a wedding unless you have developed some judgment.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - I was called rude when I met a date inside a bar instead of outside the bar as he thought was good etiquette.

GENTLE READER - Miss Manners suggests you not accept etiquette instruction from anyone who thinks a lady should hang around the outside of a bar waiting for him. She also suggests you not accept etiquette advice from anyone who thinks a lady should hang around inside a bar waiting for him.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - Recently I lost my husband. I have one daughter and one sister who don't get along, both giving me advice on how to conduct my affairs. How can I keep friendly with both, when often I don't like either's suggestions? Any advice would be appreciated.

GENTLE READER - Miss Manners appreciates your show of faith in her. What would you do if she gave you advice that you didn't like?

Well, you would crumple up the paper, shrug, and go about your business. And that is exactly what one should do with unwanted advice, except for crumpling the paper - someone else might want to read it. The only addition, when one is given advice by relatives is that one should thank them for their concern.