I remembered again tonight why I talked my bride into a small family only wedding in the back yard when we got married 36 years ago. It was all those picky little etiquette things that no ordinary amount of common sense could possibly get right.
I picked up the mail tonight and saw it included a "regrets" RSVP from our next door neighbors. We see and talk with them almost every day. They're good neighbors and nice people. We have left our house keys with them when we're going to be gone in case someone needs to get into the house. We pick up their newspaper and hold it for them when they're going to be gone. The Wives consult each other on plants. The Husbands consult each other on how to get out of yard work. We are completely friendly with each other -- no formality.
So, I remarked to The Wife when I brought in the mail, "This is odd, Joann sent us a 'Regrets' in the mail."
The Wife looked at me uncomprehendingly, "So?"
"Why would she mail us her regrets instead of just tell us, or hand us the card?"
Indignantly, "That's not how you do things."
"We didn't mail the invitation to them instead of handing it to them, did we?"
The mail man literally goes from our mailbox to their mailbox. But I doubt that he is allowed to just pick up the invitation from our box, drive 20 feet and put it in their box. No, Emily Post would object. He has to pick up the invitation, take it to the processing center five miles away, dump it in the postmark machine, sort it, take it back out to his truck and then drive past our house to the neighbor's house and put it in their box, reversing the process when they RSVP. Anything simpler would be impolite.