I requested the Miss Manners wedding book (published in 2010 — not that long ago) this week from my local library. The dilemma of how to address invitations when many of our friends and relations are cohabitating without being married was confusing me way more than it should have been, and I figured Miss Manners would have something to say on the topic.
She does, of course. She also has thoughts on everything else to do with weddings. I disagree VEHEMENTLY with some of her opinions.
Small disclaimer: I didn't actually read the book from cover to cover, so these impressions are based solely on the portions I perused.
Miss Manners is APPALLED that the happy couple would have the audacity to ask for what they want. Perhaps she longs for the days when a newly-wed couple would have to go through the tedious process of returning four of the five fondue pots their loving guests graciously gifted them. One of my cousins lives on the opposite side of the continent, hasn't seen me in over a decade, and has never met my fiancé. Knowing her, she is going to insist on sending us a gift. She has no idea what our home is like, or what our tastes are. I wonder how Miss Manners would like her to proceed without the assistance of a registry? Granted, I find it a bit uncouth when I open a wedding invitation and five little registry cards fall out, but that brings me to my next point…
Perhaps Miss Manners is a Luddite; that's the only excuse I can think of for her opposition to wedding websites. A wedding website is a centralized location for all of the pertinent information a guest could need or want: directions, accommodations, registries, recommended attire… The list goes on! Additionally, it's the 21st century; I'm pretty sure the internet is around to stay.
3. The guest list
Miss Manners is fairly adamant that parents be allowed to invite whomever they please, regardless of whether they have ever met the couple, and regardless of who is paying. Her stance is that children should suck it up to make their parents happy. My stance is that I am not going to buy dinner for a business associate of my parents' who I have never met and will probably never see again, particularly if that means that someone I actually know and love has to be bumped off the guest list.
4. Response cards
Miss Manners finds these insulting; she thinks that they imply that your guests are not capable of using pen, paper, and postage to send their own response. Unfortunately, she does not seem to realize that some people are actually incapable of filling out their names on a card and using a self-addressed stamped envelope to send it back! If etiquette is about making things easier for other people, I see absolutely no problem with response cards.
5. Personalized ceremonies
Miss Manners doesn't want to hear anything about how the couple met, what their relationship has been like, why they're getting hitched, etc. She seems to think that every single guest will already be privy to all of those details, so rehashing them is just boring. Call me a sap, but even if I've known the couple since before they got together and was around for every stage of their relationship, I still love hearing that part of the ceremony. Let's face it: sometimes a few of the wedding guests have not met both halves of the happy couple, let alone heard the entire story of how they met and fell in love. I think that Great-Aunt Thelma who flew in from out of state for the first time in a decade might enjoy hearing those details during the ceremony.
It's not all bad, of course. Her responses for people who invite themselves to your wedding are spot-on, and there's one letter involving a trans* person that she handles quite beautifully. Overall, however, I found the tone quite judgmental and snooty.
I'm glad I didn't spend the money on this book, but I do know how I'm addressing our invitations now, so all's well that ends well.