5 things Miss Manners hates that I LOVE

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5 things Miss Manners hates that I LOVE
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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.

1. Registries

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…

2. Wedsites

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.

Comments on 5 things Miss Manners hates that I LOVE

  1. Wow! Yeah I’m there with you on all this. I chucked Miss Manners decades ago because of this kind of shortsighted, ridiculous “advice”!

  2. I had the same experience with this book but honestly it wasn’t the worst of the myriad I checked out from the library. The worst had to be the one that had a chapter about “gay marriage” and it was only one page which something along the lines of “same-sex marriage is just a fad and as such we will not waste any time discussing it”…I wish I could remember the name of the book now just so I could warn people away from it. It wasn’t even like it was an older book, it had been published in the last ten years!

    • It was Emily Post and it made me so mad I threw out my copy. They’ve updated it now to say something along the lines of WARNING: you may be invited to a same sex wedding, because they’re legal now.

    • I love a lot of her advice–so much of it is funny and sharp. She definitely sounds more fuddy-duddy based on this post, though!

    • Actually, she is hilarious. Much of her advice is tongue-in-cheek, in her wedding book she advises people to keep things simple and inexpensive, and sanctions using an iPod playlist and flowers from your garden instead of hiring an awful DJ and spending gazillions of dollars at the florist.

  3. Can we PLEASE put to rest the “no registry = 25 fondue pots, 25 chip-n-dips, and 50 toasters” myth? I had NO registry and had NO duplicate gifts, inappropriate gifts, or toasters. If you have no registry and people REALLY don’t know what to get you, they give you money. I am glad to have received some lovely, often handmade, gifts from our wedding guests.


      I keep meaning to write up something on how we didn’t have a registry and the Apocalypse didn’t come. Every, or almost every, post on registering, even here, ends with the choice to register or why you should register. And that’s cool. I’m not anti-registry. But it’s not the obviously or overwhelmingly better option for everyone: it certainly wasn’t for us. All this pro-registry stuff needs to be balanced out with some “why it’s OK if you don’t register” discussion.

      And we didn’t get any duplicate gifts either – we got money (we didn’t ask for money, but we got it).

    • We HAD a registry and ended up with multiple of some items because one of the stores we registered with under-trained the employees on how to *remove* items.

      Did it matter? no. I found them to be useful to have multiples, so we kept them.

      But, MAN, were people annoyed at this retailer when they found out they bought the same thing as someone else.

    • Just because you didn’t experience it doesn’t mean it’s a myth. My sister received no less than 9 George Foreman grills.

    • Neither my family nor my husbands’ are registering people, so of course we didn’t register. I got wonderful gifts for which I am grateful: handmade quilts, pottery, artwork, and other things that you would normally get people when they haven’t given you a list of what to buy them. I think not registering would normally result in more diversity in the gifts you end up with, not less.

  4. While I did have a registry, when 1 of my wedding showers was wonderfully hosted by my future mother-in-law, she invited all the ladies from her church; Maybe only a couple knew my groom when he was 5 (not since). Consequences: A “crap-load” of (sets of) white fluffy towels.
    Don’t get me wrong: They were (and are) of really nice quality and we do use them! Its also great they go with any decor we choose. Opening gift after gift of white towels did give all of us at the party a chuckle though.
    I guess my point is you can even have a registry and people still do their own thing!

  5. I would be curious to hear if your opinion changes any if you do end up going back and reading the whole thing or not – because having read one of her other books I could totally see how if I’d only read little bits and pieces how she could come off a certain way, but over all I do really enjoy her writing and am very surprised to hear such a bad review. I do agree with many of your points though, I like registries too! Also, it’s not ok for parents to bogart the guest list! I totally got booted from one of my friends guest-lists because her dad invited all of his friends and I think she pretty much had her bridesmaids for guests, yey.

  6. “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.”

    Be wary of this one…! Even after explicitly asking, several times, for my father NOT to invite people because it was OUR wedding and WE paid for it, he invited people anyway – and then they turned around and invited people! It was madness. There were people WE HAD NEVER MET walking around at our very lovingly crafted, small, rustic wedding eating food that my husband and I cooked for the people we wanted to be around us. Needless to say, my father got a serious earful, because seriously, wtf.

  7. Does she address when a transperson invites themselves to your wedding? Because that just happened to me.

    • What are you looking to know about? If all else fails in addressing materials to them, you can ask about preferred pronouns and honorifics.

      • Also, there’s no handling someone tacking themselves onto your party differently just due to gender presentation/identity. People’s people 🙂

  8. Well, apart from number 3, this would totally pass in Portugal where registries aren’t used anymore, I last heard of those when I was a kid, 25 years ago (it has become traditional to offer money, to help pay for the wedding itself, for the honeymoon or for stuff the couple needs), using wedsites isn’t current (I didn’t find Portuguese wedsites to be of much quality), never seen a response card and you can’t really personalise your ceremony because only State officiants can get you married (they are starting to allow a little bit of personalisation, as long as it’s nothing that takes more than 10 / 15 minutes; I guess the same thing every time becomes boring).
    So I wonder: is Miss Manners from the USA? Perhaps she’s from a place where those things are not done.

    • Seems likely. US weddings are a bit of a free for all. We have to have a state official or certified religious leader officiate the wedding for the paperwork in the presence of witnesses, but beyond that, there are no legal rules or limits to the ceremony itself. Some people in the pagan community (and others who elope) sometimes have a legal wedding and then later do a second bigger “wedding”. No one really questions that either.
      Registries are popular. I have not encountered a wedsite, but that doesn’t mean much. Ditto on the response card. I’ve only been to 2 weddings though, so that’s probably that.

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