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[personal profile] oyceter
I read this because despite having been to several weddings, I can still never quite figure out what to do/what you're supposed to do. This is even more confusing now that I am part of sister's wedding party and therefore have things to do that extend beyond the day of the wedding.

This book was written with the notion that today's weddings have now become massive, expensive events in which the bride selfishly makes demands of everyone because it's "her day." I have, as I'm sure some of you expected, some issues with this. Given that this is Miss Manners and not a book on gender roles and social commentary, I'm okay with the fact that she doesn't unpack this more, but I'm also disappointed that it simply goes with this cliched view of weddings and brides. This is not to say that selfish brides don't exist, but I think the narrative of the selfish bride handwaves how much USian society pressures women to view their wedding day as The Biggest Day of Their Entire Life, how so much of the traditional female narrative is being male person's noun (brother's sister, father's daughter, son's mother, etc.) and this is still within that frame but at least focuses on the woman, how there is so much pressure for the bride to plan the whole damn thing herself with the groom supposedly not having any input or help, and etc. So yes, selfish brides exist, but on the other hand, condemning them for selfishness while ignoring all these other factors annoys me.

Also, as you have probably noticed, I keep using the terms "bride" and "groom." This is because although the book acknowledges same-sex marriages, it's very much written with heterosexual pairs in mind. Miss Manners is supportive of same-sex marriages, but the way the book is written, it's very..."things don't exist unless readers bring them up." There's a very standard narrative in place, and the book does not break out of it unless prodded to do so. This was an excellent example for me of authors who probably want to be inclusive but are unintentionally exclusive because they don't think outside the norm.

For example, I kept reading advice on how good brides who are not selfish will take their parents into account and such. Which, yes, great if you have a good relationship with your parents. Not so great otherwise. It's also very whitebread American culture, despite Miss Manners' acknowledgement of other cultural traditions.

I was particularly irked by her annoyance at people who solicit funds and money at bridal showers and weddings and etc. One reader made a point that sometimes it is cultural, but the only response was that if the bride's mother was writing to Miss Manners about it, obviously it wasn't cultural enough. And I am all for her aghastness at people's behavior, except in variations of my culture, you give money at weddings. And when you have weddings that include both the older generation and a younger, more Americanized generation, I don't actually think it's rude or whatnot to talk about present giving, because people are confused!

But this may just be me, and after all, this is why I picked up the book in the first place.

Other than that, it is a perfectly nice book, but it is a much more interesting read as a sociological artifact of a particular time and culture. And its presentation of itself as "etiquette" makes it even more jarring to read than historical fiction would be.
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April 2017


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