Dear Miss Manners:
Please help!! My fiance wants to place a large ceramic turtle with a slot in it at the front door of our wedding reception. Further, he wants to put a sign up that says "No bills less than $20." I am appalled. I've heard about this money-collecting custom in the "Godfather" type movies; however, neither of us is in the Mafia. He claims it is a common practice used to contribute to the bride and groom's honeymoon, or for those who did not have time to get a gift. I could note that he is of Latin origin. Juan is insisting on doing this and I don't know what to do. Please advise me as to whether this is proper etiquette.
You and your fiance are arguing two different points. His claim is that shaking down one's guests is a common practice, which may be true, although the part about nothing less than $20 is a touch that Miss Manners had previously been spared. Your interest was whether it is proper etiquette. No, it is about as improper as you can get.
Nor is it redeemed by the claim of being a tradition, which is freely thrown around nowadays--but only in connection with customs that promise financial yield. Funny thing, but those who are so devoted to tradition never bring up the once-rigorous marriage customs connected with proving to family and community the virginity of the bride. So, proper, no; common, yes. Mugging in alleys is common, too, which is why many people stay out of them at night.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions except through this column.