Review: Something New

Something NewElise Mac Adam, Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between

As the title indicates, this book is a wedding etiquette guide for brides (and others) who don’t quite fit into the traditional wedding mold. They don’t necessarily want to feel like a princess on their “special day,” they don’t want to spend six figures on their wedding reception, and they don’t want to buy a whole bunch of crap and annoy their families in the name of tradition or etiquette. To address this audience, Elise Mac Adam (erstwhile etiquette columnist at the now-defunct Indie Bride website) has written a straightforward, bare-bones approach to wedding etiquette. She describes the most common traditions surrounding various aspects of wedding planning, from the wording of invitations to the etiquette of gift registries. Then she explains why these traditions exist and how they can be modified to work for modern brides. Finally, she shares questions and answers from her days as an advice columnist to give examples of proper etiquette in action.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help comparing it with Meg Keene’s A Practical Wedding, which I think is a fantastic resource for engaged couples. This book is good, too, but it fulfills a somewhat different need. Keene’s book is more philosophical and doesn’t get into very much detail about invitation wording and the like. In contrast, this book gets a little bit more specific about the nitty-gritty aspects of wedding planning. Still, it’s not as detailed as it could be, so brides who are extremely type-A or who dream of the perfect Martha Stewart wedding likely won’t get much out of it. But for brides who want a more laid-back affair and just don’t want to upset their grannies, this book could be a good resource. I’ll likely keep my copy around for future reference!

Review: Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding

Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified WeddingJudith Martin & Jacobina Martin, Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding

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!