Can you settle an argument my husband and I are having? His name is James, but he insists everyone call him Jim. That’s fine. What I don’t think is fine is that when he meets someone who introduces himself as Robert, he immediately calls him Bob. It’s the same with Richard, Michael, etc. He says, “Hi Dick, very nice to meet you”, or “Mike! It’s a pleasure,” etc. I believe people should be called what they call themselves. He believes he is being friendly and warm. Who is right?

You are. You respect each person’s choice as to what he or she wishes to be called and in fact calls him- or herself. It is not correct to automatically nickname someone. It is friendly and warm to look the person in the eye, greet him or her, and use the name offered. People’s names matter to them. Changing that name is actually fairly offensive.

I am hosting a brunch shower for my sister. The venue won’t serve drinks at the table but a bar will be open for anyone who would like a glass of wine or a mimosa or whatever. I don’t want my guests feeling as though they must tip the bartender. How do I handle this?

First, you talk to management about ensuring that no tip receptacle is on the bar, and then you ask that the bartender please refuse any tips offered because you will take care of tipping at the end of the shower. Since the bartender will provide a tally of the number of drinks served and present a bill, you will be able to calculate a tip easily.

I don’t drink alcohol and never know what to do when a toast is offered since I’m under the understanding that you must toast with champagne or wine or whatever is being poured. What do I do?

It is a misconception that you must toast with alcohol. Simply raise your water glass or the glass holding whatever beverage you are drinking. You can even raise an empty glass since it is your participation in offering warm wishes that matters, not what is (or isn’t) in the glass.

What do we pay the officiant who is marrying us? We’re being married at a destination, not at the church we attend, and are trying to plan our budget.

The best thing to do is to ask. A lot of churches have a printed sheet that describes any guidelines and expectations. If that isn’t the case where you will be married, call the office and inquire. The fee may vary. Some officiants want to meet with you beforehand and/or provide counseling, so more of his or her time is taken and the fee might be higher. If the officiant is marrying you previously sight unseen, it may be less. Whatever the amount, you place a check in an envelope with a thank-you note and have your best man give it to the officiant after the ceremony.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to