DEAR MISS MANNERS: Like most women, I have dreamt of a magical wedding to my very own Prince Charming. At the young age of 19, I was deeply in love and engaged to the man of my dreams.

Before we had even started planning our wedding, we found out I was pregnant (oops and yay!). We decided we should speed up the process for the benefit of the baby and our new family. We had a small ceremony with a judge in the home of my husband’s mother. Only our immediate family was there to witness our vows — no friends, uncles, aunts, etc.

Now, two years later, we are even more in love than before. I am only 21 and he is nearly 24. I still dream of my dad walking me down the aisle, a big, white fluffy dress, my husband at the end of a long cathedral aisle. I ache for the “first dance” and dance with my father, the bridesmaids’ support, and the excitement and affirmation of all of our loved ones.

Would it be so wrong to have a wedding now, two years after our vows? We didn’t have a registry, bridesmaids, caterer, dancing, reception, etc., before. Is it okay to go all out now?

A final note ... if it is okay for people to get divorced and remarried to another person and have another wedding, then how could it be “wrong” to have a “real” wedding (dress, registry, bridesmaids and all) to the same man you’ve been in love with and faithfully committed to for years?

GENTLE READER: Could it be the fact that a real wedding is exactly what this is not? At a real wedding, people get married. You had a real wedding.

If you want to have a mock wedding for the sake of the lavish pageantry, you should be extremely careful about whom you invite. You wouldn’t want people assuming that your objectives are to show off and receive presents.

Miss Manners is not quite that hard-hearted. Almost, but not quite. She assumes that you just want a bit of glamour in your otherwise happy life. Life is so relentlessly casual nowadays that many people yearn for that. Indeed, it probably accounts for many a financially ruinous wedding.

But you don’t need to pretend to be getting married in order to throw a formal, glamorous party. You don’t need any excuse but that of wanting to show your friends a good time — without their being your attendants or audience, and without their having to worry about producing presents.

You can then be yourself, an adult wife and mother, rather than the embodiment of your childish fantasy. And at a formal party, you can even wear a strapless white ball dress, as that is what passes for a wedding dress nowadays.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our office was wondering when it is appropriate to stop wishing people a happy new year. For instance, is it appropriate to wish callers and visitors a happy new year throughout the month of January, or beyond?

GENTLE READER: The time to stop is when people are embarrassed about having violated their New Year’s resolutions. Miss Manners estimates that as any day now.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2013, by Judith Martin

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