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Writing your thank-you notes should start right after any engagement party you may have. If people are kind enough to give you a gift, a lovely handwritten note (on a fold-over note card, written in black ink) is a priority—a priority you should carry all through the bridal shower, cocktail parties, rehearsal dinner and wedding events.
The headline for this column sounds like a dreadful (or possibly entertaining) reality television show. Unfortunately, it is something that every parent has experienced. In fact, many may say that you have not earned your parenting stripes until you have suffered the pain of a problematic play date.
Mimi Fonseca was presented at the Fleur de Lis Ball in 1980, and what she remembers more than anything is the family atmosphere. “My whole family was there: my grandparents, aunts and uncles, sister and brother.”
Undoubtedly, everything is faster paced now than in the ‘good old days,’ whenever those days may have been. Still, there’s no reason to automatically equate modern technology with rudeness, a self-centered attitude and a lack of common courtesy and grace.
In this whirlpool of a world we live in, Thanksgiving has a tendency to get lost. We go from Halloween directly to Christmas to the New Year, almost without taking a breath in between.
My children have always been active in sports—not in that ‘future college draft’ kind of way, but in that ‘future case-of-beer-in-the-park-with-your-buddies’ kind of way. Even so, we’ve had our share of, ahem, incidents.
With wedding season upon us, it’s time to review the ‘rules’ of being a good guest.
We’ve all seen pictures of royal weddings where a princess or duchess will have an entire wedding party of children. Yes, it’s adorable, but if I needed a headache that badly, I would hit myself in the head with a hammer. I know how hard it is to wrangle adult bridesmaids and groomsmen. Could you possibly imagine the job of getting a dozen or so children to go down the aisle?
In my many years of doing weddings, I have been involved in about a dozen of them that were called off for various reasons, and during different stages in the wedding planning: From a broken engagement to the very latest, after the guests have been seated at the ceremony. In all cases, I believe the situations were handled with respect and grace. There are many reasons why a wedding may be called off, including everything from infidelity to religious differences that would have been too difficult for the affected party to overcome.
An old Sinatra songs croons, Love is lovelier the second time around…Anyone considering an encore wedding needs to know a few things—and a trip to your local library, an online query, or a consultation with a wedding planner or a fine florist will be directed toward the proper etiquette.
Just as much a part of the Fleur de Lis tradition is the connection between the Fleur de Lis organization and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, which has been a beneficiary of the Catholic ball since its beginning in 1958, contributing $2.642 million to date. “It’s been a significant contributor to our foundation, and we value that longstanding relationship with Fleur de Lis,” says foundation executive director Dan Buck. “And what’s also special about it: So many of the young ladies, who go through the process of the etiquette and the formal preparation for the event, or their siblings have actually been Cardinal Glennon patients at one time or another. It’s funny, but each class always has some significant, wonderful Glennon story that families share with us. It’s a program that gives back—sometimes through its own organization.”
The Fleur de Lis Organization is known for its annual Charity Ball, where young ladies dressed in white gowns are presented to the archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. But for those involved, much of the event’s significance lies in the tradition behind it.
In the 21st century, divorce and remarriage have become commonplace. What once was an exception is now the ‘norm.’ Not surprisingly, a type of etiquette has evolved to deal with such issues that may arise as a result of this: ex-etiquette.
When a physical therapist at St. Alexius Hospital asked Liz Aurbach to bring her dog, Tommy, into a patient’s room, she wasn’t expecting great results. The patient had been non-responsive to all other therapy attempts. However, when Aurbach set the little Cairn Terrier onto the bed, the patient woke up and began brushing and petting him. “A month later, the physical therapist told me that patient perked right up and starting doing rehab and was out of there in two weeks,” says Aurbach, therapy dog coordinator at C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs. “It was pretty dramatic.”
In our diverse, multicultural community, I’m positive that you will be asked to attend a wedding that is religious in nature, celebrating a faith that is not your own, if you haven’t been already.
First, I’d like to comment on how enjoyable it has been to receive your email questions. When we first solicited for reader questions last month, I had no idea of how incredible the response would be—certainly, enough topics for years of Wedding Wisdom columns.
Play: “True West”
Picking just the right dress for the most important event of your life can be extremely complicated. You must be truly aware of the aspects that will make your choice for you: size, shape, skin tone, hair color, length, and of course, your own personal style.
When you don’t want children at your wedding reception, it’s usually due to financial concerns, limited space, or simply because you want a very formal, elegant and sophisticated atmosphere. However, these are very tricky waters, and navigating them may require quite a statesman. Head off any debate right at the start by putting the phrase ‘adults only’ or ‘adults only reception’ right on the invitation. A tad too crass for you? Try something like this: “…seats have been reserved for Mr. & Mrs. John Doe at our reception, we hope you can join us.” Then write the number of seats required for the adults of the household.
As an expert on etiquette, Judith Martin, otherwise known as Miss Manners, says she is troubled by the ‘abrasiveness’ of society. She will be in St. Louis on Nov. 15 to speak at the Jewish Book Festival and introduce her new book, Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. She bemoans that weddings have gotten more extravagant and costly, to the point that the ceremony has been eclipsed by a festival of parties, dinners and the reception.
I was reading the news the other day and there was a story about a boy band singer from the ‘90s who had, sadly, lost his battle with cancer. Toward the end of the posting there was a sentence that caught my eye: Thousands of fans tweeted their condolences. There’s something you don’t hear every day, and the concept sparked quite a debate. Apparently technology is moving faster than etiquette. Or is it?
There is no area of wedding etiquette that gets trampled on more than the thank you note. Any of your guests who took time to select, wrap, send or bring a gift deserves an appropriate note, their first from you as a married couple. Computer-generated anything—invitations, address labels, maps or anything else—is just wrong for a wedding. Sending a non-personalized thank you tells the recipient they did not mean enough to you for their gift to be singled out and noticed.
Today as many as 30 percent of all weddings involve a bride or groom (or both) who have been married before and are now widowed or divorced. Growing up in the ‘60s in a large Irish Catholic family, I didn’t even know anyone who had been divorced. Today the situation is completely reversed. Friends and family are delighted when their loved one finds someone to share their lives with after a first, or even second, marriage.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, ring bearer, flower girl, best man. The job of choosing who will do what is daunting for both bride and groom. As with most things, there are literally thousands of variations. I think I’ve seen them all, when the very next bride comes in with yet another combination!
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