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Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly…

Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding

by Jacobina Martin, Judith Martin

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395292,072 (3.67)6



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In this book, which is apparently a revised and updated version of her earlier books on the subject, Miss Manners tackles the fraught subject of wedding etiquette. The modern wedding industry tends to use the term “etiquette” to justify a countless number of expensive, stressful, time-consuming tasks. But Miss Manners maintains that etiquette is just a fancy word for treating people with respect — and it has nothing to do with save-the-dates, unity candles, or wedding favors. Using her trademark saucy style, she answers questions on a variety of wedding-related topics and explains that a truly proper wedding is one that leaves both the betrothed couple and the guests as relaxed and joyful as possible.

I had never encountered Miss Manners before, and she definitely has a very distinctive style — sort of a tongue-in-cheek Austenesque tone. I can see how it would get on some people’s nerves, but I absolutely loved it! I also learned a lot of really interesting things about so-called wedding “traditions” that were unheard-of a generation ago. For example, here’s Miss Manners’ remark to a bride who was concerned about wedding favors: “Who told you that you had to give out wedding favors? Etiquette has never thought of weddings as comparable to children’s birthday parties where the guests might need consolation for not being the center of attention.” The problem is, even if favors are unnecessary, most people expect them and will think you’re rude if you don’t provide them. So I’m not sure how useful this book ultimately is…but it’s still a very entertaining read!
  christina_reads | Apr 17, 2015 |
Very funny, very quick read. Could only wish that it covered slightly more stuff. Quite a breath of fresh air when compared with literally every other wedding-planning guide I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. ( )
  upstairsgirl | Feb 20, 2014 |
I kept this on the coffee table for a couple months, reading a few pages at a time and skimming sections that were less applicable/interesting. Miss Manners has a slightly different take on some things than Emily Post (at least, the modernized/updated Emily Post); for example, EP accepts registries and instructs on how best to manage them, whereas MM resists them entirely. However, MM's advice is often more humorous, in a dry, witty way. Another area in which they differ is the response card: again, EP has succumbed and includes it as a normal part of the invitation, whereas MM says, "Guests ought to be insulted by response cards. Decent people already know (yes? yes?) that they must always reply to all invitations..." (p. 185)

Overall, I give this an enthusiastic three (3.5?) stars, and recommend it to anyone in the early stages of planning a wedding.


#4 and 5 on the list of "Things a Bride Need Not Trouble Her Pretty Head About": 4. Do not worry about whether you like your relatives. You have to invite them anyway. 5. Do not worry about how many guests you can invite and still afford your dream menu. The proper formula is to count up the relatives and friends first, and then figure out what you can afford to serve to that number of people. (p. 11-12)

Second most outrageous story: Included with a couple's invitation was a SASE to the couple's bank with a bank deposit slip so guests could send checks directly to their account. (p. 236)

Most outrageous story: "I know columnists receive gag letters, but believe me, this is not one! The parents of one of our daughter's bridesmaids have a monkey which they are training to help care for a paraplegic. They take the animal with them when they go out. They have threatened not to attend the wedding because we did not include the monkey on their invitation." (p. 155)

( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Miss Manners would definitely not approve of the most recent wedding invitation I received. Let me count the ways. It was addressed to me "and guest". It's a rather over-the-top tri-fold shiny invite with a photograph of the happy couple, all tied up with a ribbon. The enclosure, in addition to providing a map of the location and information on hotels (good), listed two registry websites, one of which was to donate to the honeymoon, and the URL to the couple's wedding website (bad).

From general principles ("value dignity above self-glorification", "choose guests through bonds of family and friendship and try to arrange matters so these people will enjoy themselves", "do not live beyond your means and do not expect to be reimbursed by the guests") to specifics of the wording of invitations in a variety of situations and on to troubleshooting, Miss Manners and her equally mannerly daughter have provided an essential guide to creating a wedding that will be enjoyed, and remembered fondly, by all. Not only that, but these principles have been tested, and not found wanting, first by Miss Manners at her own wedding, ten years ago at her son's, and most recently at that of her daughter and co-author.

The style of the book will be familiar to admirers of Miss Manners' column and previous books, combining narrative with responses to letters she has received. Much of the advice she gives is nothing she has not addressed before, but her usual witty style keeps it fresh, and it all bears repeating. It is, unfortunately, obvious that it is still needed. It is hard to decide which money grab mentioned was more astonishing, the bride who wanted people to pay for the costs of her adopting a child or the one who included her bank deposit slip in the invitation!

The minute you hear that someone you know is engaged, give her this book (note, however, that "engagement presents" are not obligatory!) and hope it is not too late for her to heed Miss Manners' words: "Behaving well has its own rewards."
1 vote lilithcat | Sep 11, 2010 |
Watch Bethanne Patrick's interview with Judith and Jacobina Martin about "Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding" on The Book Studio.
  thebookstudio | Feb 9, 2010 |
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Martin, Jacobinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, Judithmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393069141, Hardcover)

Bride and mother-of-the-bride rebel against today’s monster weddings and explain how weddings can be charming, affordable—and excruciatingly correct.

Today’s brides are bombarded with wedding advice that promises perfection but urges achieving it through selfishness (“It’s your wedding, and you can do whatever you like”), greed (choosing the presents that guests are directed to buy), and showing off (“This is your chance to show everyone what you’re about”). Couples wishing to resist such pressure see elopement or a slapdash wedding as the only alternatives to a gaudy blowout. But none of these choices appealed to a bride who happened to have been brought up by Miss Manners. Judith Martin and her newlywed daughter, Jacobina, explain how to have a dignified ceremony and delightful celebration without succumbing to the now-prevalent pattern of the vulgar, money-draining wedding that exhausts families and exploits friends. 6 illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

An etiquette maven and her newlywed daughter explain how to have a dignified ceremony and delightful celebration without succumbing to the now-prevalent pattern of the money-draining wedding that exhausts families and exploits friends.

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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