Q. What does Miss Manners consider the proper behavior for inaugural festivities, especially the inaugural ball? Correct and formal? Friendly and egalitarian? Gracious but aloof? Restrained but enthusiastic? f
A. Defensive, actually. Welcome to Washington. This must be your first inauguration.
Inaugurations are jolly events and Miss Manners loves them, but they do not lend themselves to any of the gradations of behavior you mention. You are thinking coronation, when you should be thinking football weekend.
If you can be cheerful about messy weather, failed transportation, spectator events one can't see, social events composed mostly of elbows, drinks acquired after massive physical exertion only to be spilled on one's best clothes and the realization that one will never find those whom one had hoped or planned to see, then you have nothing to worry about.
Provided you are not the person being inaugurated, of course.
Q. Recently an acquaintance invited my husband and me to her wedding. This was quite a surprise, since I have heard that she was complaining about the cost of said wedding and the fact that she would have to spend $2 to feed each person. She succeeded in getting this amount reduced to $1.50 and has reportedly invited 150 people. In addition, she has borrowed the wedding gown from the maid of honor, and has asked two guests to help, one to cut and serve the cake and one to pour and serve the punch. I also have been told that there only will be a cash bar at the reception.
What is your opinion of a person with such a limited budget inviting so many people? Is it proper to invite guests to your wedding and then ask them to serve as waiters and waitresses? Is it proper to expect your guests to buy their own libations?
A. It may surprise you to hear that what you call serving as waiters and waitresses is, under the odd verb "to pour" (as in recruiting friends to pour tea at one's party), a traditional honor. Nor is there anything wrong with borrowing a wedding dress or inviting many people.
However, you may be relieved to hear that selling drinks is disgusting. By serving them tea, and homemade cake, she could be perfectly gracious within the limits of the budget.