DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have just had a dear friend announce the wonderful news of a wedding with his fiance, now that it is legal in New York.

Times being what they are, the small wedding party, which consists of the betrothed gentlemen, one or two male friends and myself, a female, will be gathering at 8 a.m. for a civil ceremony at City Hall so we can all get to our jobs afterward.

If my friend were a lady, I’d offer to pick up some kind of bouquets for her and myself. At first I thought, oh, I’ll do the same thing for him, but then I thought that having men carry bouquets is tacky, and that perhaps my friend might even be offended.

We’ve all gone through tough times economically, and this wedding is partly being done this way to accommodate our financial priorities. So you can imagine that I am eager to help my friend make this ceremony special in any way, given everything the couple is forgoing.

Should I bring a small bouquet for myself to acknowledge the wedding? What color should it be? What kind of flower? Should I hold it during the ceremony, or maybe just for the pictures? I have no idea what the rules are when I am the only woman present. I can also ask my friend, but I think he’d be happy to consult tradition, so I guess I am asking you to set a new tradition/rule, please.

Finally, if I don’t carry flowers, other than dressing well, is there anything I can do to make this special and beautiful for my friend?

GENTLE READER: The first rule is not to embarrass everybody by having strangers take you for the bride. If you carry a bouquet, you will spend the entire time fending off good wishes from everyone at City Hall, and every passerby as your group enters and emerges.

Gentlemen do not carry bouquets, even at their weddings; they wear flowers in their lapels. If the couple has not already ordered boutonnieres for each other, it would be charming of you to bring white roses, for example, or their favorite flower if you know it, for their buttonholes. It would also be a nice surprise later if you had flowers sent home for them to find after work.

You are right to dress up for the occasion, and if you want to look extra-special, Miss Manners suggests you wear a hat. Nowadays ladies in hats, even at weddings, are unusual enough as to constitute a grand statement of festivity.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am married and have two boys with my wife. I also have a 9-year-old daughter from a previous relationship (not married).

Should I have all three of my children’s pictures on the Christmas card, or is it acceptable to just have the boys pictured and include my daughter’s name in the Christmas greeting?

GENTLE READER: Funny, you don’t mention your wife’s opinion about this. Is the card really to be sent only from you and the children?

Or is it that you want Miss Manners to sway your wife by declaring that including your daughter is the correct thing to do? Or to console your daughter by declaring her exclusion is required by etiquette?

Apologies, but etiquette does not have a ruling on which is correct. She recommends your convincing your wife that including your daughter is simply the kind thing to do.

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

@ 2011, by Judith Martin

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