Dear Miss Manners: Help! We are planning our wedding exactly according to the rules, and now everyone is mad at us! My mother and my future mother-in-law, who weren't friendly before, bonded over telling us we are being selfish. And it's our wedding!
Plus, we did everything right. First you are supposed to decide what kind of wedding you want. We want ours in a certain elegant resort. Then you do the budget, right? We did, and at that point, our parents, mine and his, were very generous.
When they got mean, it was at the third step, the guest list. Mindful of the budget, we kept it down, eliminating their friends that we don't know that well and some not very important relatives. As advised, we said that they can include others if they pay extra — just being financially responsible! — but that made them even madder. Plus, my grandfather can't travel to the resort, so now they're even questioning our venue. Where did we go wrong?
You read the checklist upside down. Or it was written scrambled.
It should not be necessary to point out that people last longer than flowers or cake, or even dresses. But it is necessary to point out that while the marriage is all yours, the wedding involves two families. Miss Manners doesn’t care for that declaration about “our wedding” any more than the two mothers do.
Yes, yes, she wants you to have a lovely wedding that you enjoy and remember. But as you have discovered, it is not pleasant to set off squabbles among those with whom you want to celebrate.
Here is the proper order:
1. The guest list. Not everyone you can think of, but — for now — those whose presence will be truly meaningful to members of the two immediate families.
2. The budget. As you acknowledge, the parents were generous; they are not obliged to pay, and are the sole judges of the amount they are willing and able to give. Then you should figure out what the money will allow.
3. The arrangements, with those two considerations in mind. Presuming that your grandfather is on the “essential people” list of the parent whose father he is, the resort is out. As you are fond of it, go there for your honeymoon. And figure out what you can afford to pay for the venue and the reception.
4. The trade-offs. Do you want to invite more guests? In that case, you might have to scale back on other expenses. You could have a daytime wedding with a luncheon or tea, which would cost considerably less than a dinner dance. Or if that form is important to you, you could stick to the basic guest list. Or cut back on the venue or decorations.
At last, your wishes, as the bridal couple, prevail. Wasn’t that worth waiting for?
Sure it was. The parents are back to rejoicing in your happiness. Taking into consideration the feelings of others is the best preparation for marriage.
Dear Miss Manners: Can you eat baked chicken with your hands? Also, can you use a regular teaspoon for soup when serving several guests?
No doubt you can. But please don’t. Your fingers will be greasy, and your guests will take forever to finish their soup.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.