Wedding Wisdom

John Sullivan has a fine arts degree from Kansas City Art Institute. He has partnered with Ken Miesner for the past 25 years at Ken Miesner’s Flowers at Plaza Frontenac, the only original tenant still in operation.

Is it just me, or have the men and women who comprise wedding parties today become very polite? They listen and take suggestions/instructions better than in the past. Maybe it’s because people are getting married a bit later than they used to. It used to be groomsmen and grooms would more often than not come to the ceremony half drunk and smelling like a tavern. Today’s men involved with weddings are just not doing this.

    The bride of old would make sure it was ‘all about her.’ Her bridesmaids had, in her mind, become servants: “Get my lipstick.” or “I need a glass of water over here.” I’ve seen a bride berate a blameless young bridesmaid, accusing her of everything from sabotage to espionage, and all because she took a wrong turn and was about 20 minutes late. Hopefully the days of bridezillas are over.

    I would not have believed what I’m about to tell you had I not heard it with my own ears at one recent nuptial. The sophisticated and savvy usher introduced himself to the guests, explained he and the groom were in the same fraternity, and said whenever they were ready, he would be honored to escort them to their seats. For years I had to tell and retell ushers not to say, “You guys ready?” Since when is the bride’s great-aunt a guy?

    Even guests have become more mannerly. Most, not all, know to send their response cards a few days after the invitation arrives. And generally, they are appropriately dressed (no cowboy boots or hooker dresses). Furthermore, the days of guys bringing a wrapped gift to the church seem to be almost over. Send the gift to the bride’s mother’s home before the wedding. I’d like to wring the neck of whomever said you had a year to buy a gift! That is a dirty lie. If you were sent an invitation, you must send a gift within an appropriate timeframe.

    Years ago we used to be called to help arrange wedding gifts on the mother’s dining room table and buffet. The day of the wedding, people would have hired ladies to sit in the house—because ‘a crook’ might have noticed from the announcement in the paper when the wedding was. Figuring that everyone would be at the ceremony, this would have been his opportunity to steal the gifts.  With alarms these days, I’m sure things don’t disappear, although I did hear of a big silver punch bowl that was provided for guests to leave checks and cards for the bride and groom to collect at the end of the night. Well, I heard a bus boy collected them and was never heard from again!

    Another faux pas being corrected is that the groom, his men and ushers are no longer wearing tuxedos to daytime ceremonies. Blazers with white pants for summer, grey flannel for winter, poplin suits or seersucker suits for summer and the always-correct dark suit…black, grey, navy…with a dress shirt and tie. Sometimes the groom gives the ties they are to wear as his groomsmen gift. There is one thing that I’ve prayed for, made novenas for: the eradication of the white tie for the groom, who should wear the same tux as the other men, but with a black tie. White tie is another thing completely and should be worn only to balls like the V.P. or Fleur de Lis (or to very formal occasions).

    Parents are also starting to realize that their presence in the back of the ceremony area creates a  bottleneck and, especially with Friday night weddings or Saturday weddings after 5 p.m. mass. These situations need to be treated like a well-oiled machine or you’ll lose 40 percent to 50 percent of your guests before your dinner is served. The raunchy stories and stupid toasts from college days should all be done the night of the rehearsal. The wedding evening toasts should thank the guests, celebrate your beautiful new life partner and both sets of parents no more, no less.

    In this new Internet environment, the world has become a smaller place, and maybe, just maybe, people have gleaned some useful etiquette information along with all the other stuff!