February 8, 2011

Dear Miss Manners:

When the subject of my wedding came up, my father’s girlfriend announced that in her day, the father of the bride was only responsible for paying for the alcohol at the wedding reception and maybe the flowers. The mother of the groom was responsible for having a tea to welcome the bride to the family, and all other wedding/reception costs were the responsibility of the mother of the bride.

I have never seen any tradition or etiquette that splits the financial responsibility for a wedding between the parents of the bride, only between the families of the bride and the groom. Is there a traditional split between what each parent of the bride is expected to pay?

I also wondered if there was some split in expected responsibilities between the parents of the bride (i.e., the mother of the bride will manage the food/wedding gown/etc., and the father of the bride will make sure that there’s enough port), but I haven’t been able to find anything in the etiquette books that makes either distinction.

My fianc and I are planning on paying for our own wedding and have put it off about a year in order to save the required amount. My father did offer to contribute but hasn’t given us a figure, so we are budgeting within what we can save on our own.

My father’s girlfriend suggested that I get a book of etiquette so that I can see the breakdown between parents, but I haven’t found anything that addresses this. So I turn to you. Can you direct me to a source that contains such a breakdown?

It’s a little distressing to me that every time my wedding comes up in front of my father, his girlfriend complains about the costs. With anyone else, I would just stop talking about the wedding, but this is my dad! We honestly never asked them for money or even if they might contribute. My dad’s offer was made on his own, and I haven’t brought it up since.

I’m at a loss for the polite thing to do and completely at sea looking for the financial responsibility breakdown she has requested.

As your research indicates, there is no such rule. It never fails to amaze Miss Manners how authoritative and pious some people suddenly become about etiquette when they think they can twist it to serve themselves.

It would be preposterous to dictate the divided financial responsibilities of husband and wife or ex-husband and wife. Even the idea that the bride’s family alone gave the wedding referred to a time when the bride was about to transfer total financial dependence on them to the bridegroom. Miss Manners has always taken the approach that the couple and their families should decide among themselves who wants to contribute what, and that it is none of her business to send around invoices. And she can save you the trouble of researching to see what business it is of the father’s friend.

Dear Miss Manners:

When at a public restroom and the person in the stall next to you receives a call, what should one do when finished with one’s “business”?

Wait to flush until the call finishes (who knows how long that would be?) or flush and have her caller know where she is receiving the call? It’s a dilemma.

Not really. Ask yourself which is the proper business in that particular location. Miss Manners is afraid that mistaken deference to an improper activity there could leave you stranded for some time.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail questions to Miss Manners at MissManners@unitedmedia.com; enter them at www.missmanners.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2011, King Features Syndicate

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