Avirulent strain of Wedding Fatigue has become increasingly common and dangerous. Although it has not been shown to cause permanent damage, it nibbles away at otherwise healthy brains, rendering them useless for months.
As Miss Manners recalls, the old form merely immobilized that part of the brain that was designed to participate in debates about which shade of peach the bridesmaids' shoes should be dyed and whether Grandma's beau should be seated up front. This paralysis chiefly attacked the relatives and friends of brides and, not infrequently, the bridegroom. How long it took the bridegroom to learn to fake an interest in such questions was a good test of how smart he was.
But now that couples insist on doing all the planning for their own festival-long weddings, Wedding Fatigue has begun to attack them both. Rather than producing paralytic boredom, as it did to others, this strain deprives its victims of even a modicum of common sense.
So here, in the spirit of healing, are answers to questions Miss Manners has received, which people in their right minds would not have had to ask:
Q. "On the invitations, do I have to list my last name? It is still my name from my first marriage; I did not change it back due to my child. I really would like it if there was some way not to have it on the invitation."
A. But your prospective guests would really like to know who is getting married. What makes you think you are the only Madison they know?
Q. "I would like to ask for my g/f's hand in marriage, but due to the nature of things now, her parents are divorced and her father lives in another state and she currently resides with her mother and siblings. I would like to do the traditional thing of asking her father, but I do not know his phone number and I would like for it to be a surprise. What should I do?"
A. Consult an online telephone directory.
Q. "What is the rule of thumb for wearing the man's wedding ring prior to the wedding day? Can the man wear the ring on his left hand, third finger, or should it be put in a safe place till the wedding day?"
A. It's not his ring yet; it's the bride's. Read the wedding ceremony -- she gives it to him then. And the thumb has nothing to do with it.
Q. "My wedding dress is ivory and the tux shop and dress shop recommend ivory shirts, ties and vests for the men. They say that since the wedding dress is ivory, the men should be in ivory so as not to make the dress appear dirty. My fiance is sure that we will lose that formal evening flair if he is wearing ivory with his tux."
A: The groomsmen can make the bride look dirty only if they get drunk and make off-color jokes about her. But if you want to be really safe, you had better skip the wedding cake so its icing doesn't make you look soiled.
Miss Manners apologizes for any signs that she might have been impatient with these questions. She wishes all these brides and bridegrooms great happiness and a speedy recovery.
Dear Miss Manners:
I have often frequented family restaurants that serve delicious large sandwiches. The problem? Often the sandwiches are too large, and even the toothpick in the center fails to keep them together. I find it impossible to eat one without part of the tomatoes and almost all of the mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup ending up on my fingers, face and shirt. Using a fork and knife is fruitless, because then the sandwich slides apart. Is there a way to enjoy the food without feeling like a slob of a diner?
No. Ask the waiter to take the sandwich back to the kitchen and have it cut into quarters. Or eighths, if necessary. Miss Manners does not believe in setting up food to be a trap to the diner, although she realizes that this is how most people think etiqueteers get their jollies.
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) 2005, Judith Martin