Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wedding Wit & Wisdom: Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding

The first wedding-related book I plowed through was Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. Mostly because when someone inevitably offers their "opinion" on something, I wanted to be able to say, "Well actually, Miss Manners says this..."

Because you don't argue with Miss Manners. Period. While the book is chock-full of good advice - and as such, I highly recommend to everyone, even guests - here are some portions that really gave me pause, and made me rethink my initial perspectives.

Do not worry that you need devote a year of your life to planning a festival that will showcase your personality and squander everyone else's vacation time and resources...Do not worry about developing a "theme" for your wedding; the theme of a wedding is marriage. And nobody notices or cares whether the postage stamps on your wedding invitations pulsate with love. (pages 11-12)

This, I think, was the first time it really clicked that I don't HAVE to choose colors, or include the same pattern/symbol/font on every single bit of wedding paraphernalia. In fact, I realized I had become so stressed with trying desperately to think of a theme, that I was losing sight of the whole point. Beyond "end-of-summer-relaxed-chic" we don't have a theme. We'll include little personal touches here and there, and yes, our invitations will probably match the rsvp cards and the thank you notes, mostly because I'm neurotic like that.

Miss Manners hates that bridal canard about My Day - as if getting married, of all things, gave one the right to suspend normal consideration of others. Here you are contemplating using My Day as an excuse to dis-invite guests or to rate your friends and relations on whether they will be able to produce suitable facial expressions...(page 69)

I never understood the revulsion towards the My Day mentality until I became engaged. Don't get me wrong, it's not something I'd ever say to anyone ("Well, it's MY DAY, so screw your opinions and feelings!" - Incidentally, my sister used this on me once prior to her wedding, and in addition to wanting to throttle her, I've never looked at her quite the same since), but there's a definite assumption in the WIC that it's ok - encouraged, even - for the bride to completely disregard everyone's opinion, including and perhaps especially the groom's. I realized that it's not just Our Day, it's a day to celebrate both of our families and friends as we become the two common knots tying this wide circle together. It's sort of equally empowering and humbling when you think of it like this.

Exactly what I'm going for!
**This one is copied from my Pinterest Board**

It is not Miss Manners' function to save people money they want to spend. So she would happily ignore this attitude were it not for the accompanying insinuation that the driving force behind such spending is poor old etiquette. Etiquette thus becomes the villain - the handmaiden of commercialism, whose insidious ceremonial and emotional arguments always favor the spending of extravagant sums of money. It is called rude to ask prices for commercial services and incorrect to limit wedding expenditures, even when they include planting tulips in the snow and making live swans waddle across the lawn. Miss Manners is outraged. Etiquette does not practice extortion. Etiquette loves simplicity. (page 119)

Take that, WIC.

Why, instead of drawing on the power of the ritual, do officiants as well as bridal couples now use the wedding ceremony to summarize the love story, roll the credits, and supply biographical material? Why do they undercut the formality with colloquial chatter and kill the solemnity with jokes? Why do they think that ti is fitting to go public with the kind of love patter that should be whispered in private? (page 251)

**This one's from The Knot**
This really resonated with me. I am mainly responsible for crafting our ceremony, and originally there were going to be some inside jokes and some intentional levity, because I wanted to make sure our ceremony was entertaining.

Full stop.

I was confusing wanting it to be entertaining with needing it to be meaningful.

If she still doesn't sound like a fit for you, consider this: Miss Manners actually defends tattoos. She opines that unless they are utterly obscene or offensive, we have her stamp of approval to wear them out and proud.

I, for one, cannot WAIT to tell my step-mother THAT little tidbit :)

**All other pictures courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings.

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