Life Advice



Fourth Wedding Can Be As Fancy As Bride Wishes

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the protocol on fourth weddings?

A friend who is going to have her fourth wedding wants all the hoopla (white gown, tiara, bridesmaids, showers). I feel the wedding should be more reserved: nice dress, flowers and an informal reception.

I don't want her to be the talk of the town in a sarcastic way. I want her to have a nice wedding, but am I wrong that the wedding should be a little more reserved?

GENTLE READER: You have every reason to believe that Miss Manners will not just support your view but faint away from the vulgarity of your friend's plans.

She is sorry to disappoint you. And please allow her to explain this particular lapse of intolerance.

The white wedding dress has a long and not-entirely-pure history. It is all the fault of Queen Victoria. Before she chose a white wedding dress, in contrast to the usual royal habit of displaying silver or gold, there was no wedding uniform. Brides dressed up for their weddings in any colors they chose. And because the queen, who had endured omnipresent chaperonage by her mother, was presumed to be virginal, the color came to be considered symbolic of bodily purity.


This gave rise to some astounding vulgarity, which persisted well into modern times. People, even wedding guests, started speculating as to whether the bride's packaging was an accurate representation of what was underneath. This so repulsed Miss Manners as to make her back away from the entire issue.

It is true that she privately harbors the feeling that subsequent weddings should not be repeats of the same person's previous full wedding hoopla. But that is because it seems an unnecessary imposition on the guests.

Still, if they will stand for it, she declines to throw a damper over others' wishes.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are the business etiquette rules for correspondence?


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