Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can't-Win Wedding

Here be yet another example of how weddings transform fun ideas into scarring, never-to-be-forgotten family rifts:

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I attended a wedding with a 1920s theme, where the guests were encouraged to dress in period costume if they felt so moved.

Many of the gentlemen who arrived in the suggested costume wore hats, to better convey the theme, and we all by unspoken accord wore them the entire evening (perhaps, subconsciously, in imitation of the groom, who did the same).

Later, it developed that the bride’s grandmothers and aunts had been much dismayed by all the gentlemen wearing hats indoors. Obviously, there’s nothing to be done about that now, but for the future what’s correct?

Gentle Reader: Gentlemen who lived during the ’20s were normally great wearers of hats, so they were sure about what to do. If you really want to be in character, you would therefore remove the hat indoors.

Arrrrrrrrrrgh.....of course Miss Manners and the grandmas are technically correct that hats shouldn't be worn indoors, and of course gentlemen of the day would have known this and never worn their hats indoors. But their hats weren't part of a carefully contrived costume, and these were. And if the whole wedding was indoors, they never would have gotten to wear their hats at all.

I think following the groom's example was the right thing to do in this case (the real point of etiquette, after all, is to prevent embarrassment and confusion among as many people as possible). Had he removed his hat, others should have as well--and they most likely would have.

Assuming the guys had the good sense not to wear their hats in the church, I think allowing your memory of your granddaughter's wedding to be overshadowed by your memory of uncouth young men in fedoras is a shame. Let it go.


Sarah said...

I think this happens in every single wedding. OK, not with the hats, exactly, but something along those lines: young couple breaks one of the thousands of wedding/etiquette-related rules they didn't know existed, and an older relative is grumpy/upset/scarred for life about the whole thing. This, in turn, creates more (extremely unnecessary) stress for the couple.

Honestly, if the DJ would have played blaring rap music all night, it would have been much more offensive to the grandmother. She should be happy all she had to deal with were hats.

Becky said...


I agree completely. Of course you want your guests to feel welcome, comfortable, included as part of a very special event. You do everything you can to make sure they have a place to stay, means of transportation, things to do, people to talk to, food to eat, booze to drink, music to enjoy, alternative activities...all bundled up in vellum, lace, and etiquette.

But you can only do so much.

At a certain point, making the most of the event becomes their job, and if they want to focus on something like hats--which are meant to be part of the fun--that's their own problem.

Ashley said...

Aaaand this is why I plan on doing absolutely nothing traditional on my wedding day. :) Someone will always have an issue, and I just want to do what my fiancé and I want to do. I cannot be bothered with other people's issues on our special day!

Is that self-centered? ;)

(I'm just kidding)