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Miss Manners: Dirty T-shirt okay for online wedding?

Dear Miss Manners: I have been requested to serve as witness to my gay BFF's online wedding, which I gleefully accepted. However, I am slightly stressed out about how I should physically present myself on the videoconference.

I asked the groom if I should bathe, doll myself up and wear proper wedding attire for this event, in accordance with normal societal etiquette. I offered to wear a dress of his choosing, and — ugh — earrings.

However, the groom strongly insisted that I show up online as my true, everyday self. He specified that I should not bathe nor wear makeup, and should attire myself in my usual dirtied T-shirt and sweatpants (which is an accurate characterization of my true, everyday self).

Although the groom and I think this is appropriate, I do worry that others might feel I am being disrespectful of the wedding. One could reasonably argue that jumping in the shower for 10 minutes and perhaps running a comb through my hair should be minimal requirements for a wedding party member.

Should societal default wedding attire (and grooming) supersede the groom's request?

How do you suppose the bridegroom is going to be able to tell whether you had a shower? Online, you will not be sniffable.

Hosts, including at weddings, may set the general level of formality, but not specifics. (You had to ask, didn’t you? And you got an answer.)

But Miss Manners would like to help you get around it. Your instinct, that slovenliness will be perceived as disrespect, is reasonable.

Ask the bridegroom what he is planning to wear, and perhaps you should tactfully check with his betrothed, who may have a different idea. If they declare — believably — that they, too, will be unkempt, you should dress down.

Still, a wedding is not an everyday occasion, although it can be an extremely informal one. Surely you can devise a presentable outfit somewhere between dolling up and being dirty. It is you, not the bridal couple, who get to choose what that will be.

Dear Miss Manners: Is the middle of a pandemic a good time to throw a surprise birthday party for a 65-year-old?

“Surprise! You have just lost control over whom you will be in close contact with!”


Dear Miss Manners: We are not having a 50th anniversary party because of covid. We would like to take a nice trip instead. How do we do this?

Presumably you know that Miss Manners is not a travel agent. Therefore, she has to ask herself what could possibly be the etiquette angle of your question.

What comes to mind is not nice: Miss Manners supposes that you would like to get ahold of the cost of any presents you might have received at a party, in order to use the money for travel expenses. She hopes that she is wrong. But if she is right, please stop.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

2021, by Judith Martin