That wedding guests can become disgruntled seems a waste of champagne.
Among the worries associated with staging a wedding, this possibility rarely occurs to bridal couples. With all that food and drink and the privilege of witnessing true love all decked out in finery, what more could they want?
Miss Manners has been listening to the complaints, and is happy to say that these are superficial misunderstandings arising from a lack of familiarity with wedding etiquette. Sometimes the problem is that guests assign nefarious meanings to practices that they fail to recognize as benign conventions; other times it is that hosts court such misinterpretations by unknowingly violating the conventions.
Simply by clearing up what is routinely done and expected, Miss Manners hopes to restore sweetness and light. Of course, it requires believing that bridal couples included "Cash Gifts" on their invitations only because they believe it is the correct thing to do out of consideration for guests who might otherwise have to think about how to spend their money. And it requires believing that guests who fail to respond believe that it is incorrect to do so if no response card is included, or even if one is, because replying, as well as inviting, is the prerogative of the host.
But if Miss Manners is willing to force herself, surely the people involved, who should be clusters of relatives and friends, could give it a try. In the cause of heading off future misunderstandings, here are touchy questions and soothing answers from some of the chief areas of friction:
When is it ever acceptable to invite one spouse to a wedding and not the other?
When one of them has a restraining order against the other.
I've learned that the wedding I'm to attend is to have a guest list limited to married or engaged couples, or singles who must not bring a guest. This policy excludes not only my friend who has been dating a man for two years and will become engaged when enough money is saved, but also several partnered gay guests.
It shouldn't. Traditionally, engaged couples were also invited as a unit, and this now covers couples who intend to get married or who live as if they already are.
I don't want to go if I can't bring a girlfriend, because I know I'll be bored.
So don't. If you are bored watching people you supposedly care about getting married, imagine how bored a stranger will be.
My husband and I claim that when inviting out-of-town guests to weddings, their airfare and hotel be paid by the bride, and that they should not be invited if accommodations cannot be made. His nieces claim that this is no longer the case in this mobile society, and no one could afford to pay the costs of such invitations.
You are both wrong: you and your husband for claiming that it was ever the case for hosts to pay the guests' travel costs, and the nieces for believing you.
Would it be rude for me to decline the invitation to my ex-husband's wedding?
No. It would be rude for you to go and not be able to help snickering when you hear him vow a lifetime of commitment.
Aren't announcements just requests for gifts?
No, they are announcements. All they require is congratulations.
I received a wedding invitation with seven items, four of them cards from different stores announcing where the couple was registered. I found it quite tacky, but I was wondering if I am being too critical.
Now THOSE are requests for presents, and no, you are not being too critical.
I am in total shock at being asked to a wedding "celebration" but not to the wedding. Did you ever hear of anything so cheap?
Yes. Inviting people to the reception but not the ceremony used to be considered proper, although it is not a good idea.
On a wedding invitation I got, it said "dinner, $45, cash bar." They told me they're saving to go to Hawaii on their honeymoon.
Okay, that's cheap. They could have saved as much by having an afternoon wedding with tea instead. Free tea.
I attended a wedding reception where the bridal party and the two family tables were waited upon and the rest of the guests lined up for a buffet; is this some new trend?
It's part of the "We're the stars and you're the audience" trend that has been going on for some time.
What am I supposed to do when I get a wedding invitation without a response card enclosed?
Dear Miss Manners:
What is the proper way to dispose of obituaries you receive at funerals? I feel bad just throwing them in the trash.
As well you should. The proper way is to keep them forever in a prettily lined box, taking them out now and then to think kind thoughts about the deceased.
As this is a private act, no one will know if you do it or not. But if you use a trash basket anywhere in the neighborhood of the funeral, burial or house of the bereaved, Miss Manners is afraid that they will know.
Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
(c) 2004, Judith Martin