Brand-New Bridal Guide

There’s a hilarious moment in the remake of Father of the Bride where Steve Martin becomes increasingly incredulous as his daughter’s wedding plans unfold.

“Swans?” he asks, eyes wide. “We’re having swans?”
Well, according to Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners, who as far as I know is not related to Steve), there’s no need for such pomp and circumstance.
Today marks the release of a new book, Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding ($24.95).
Imagine my delight when the real Miss Manners (actually, an agent of same) asked me to review it!
The book was co-authored by Jacobina Martin, her newlywed daughter. In it, the two take aim at a wedding industry and bridal egos run amok.
Their position:
That modern-day couples are pressured into putting on crass, overblown affairs in the name of etiquette. Miss Manners deconstructs the practice of weddings as show business, the feeding of nuptial greed, and wanton use of the phrase, “it’s my day.”
Why it’s fabulous:
For starters, it’s funny. In keeping with tradition, Miss Manners is not afraid to be haughty or firm. You’ll know exactly where she stands when it comes to reigning in vulgarity. She stresses that, “weddings are not ‘about’ the bridal couple to the exclusion of the feelings of others.” Amen, sister!
Where it lags:
This isn’t a how-to guide for brides. It’s loosely organized by topic, then peppered with highly specific reader conundrums (much like The replies aren’t always definitive. By her own admission, Miss Manners sometimes answers the question she wanted to be asked rather than the question at hand.
It’s a fun read for anyone with a special interest in weddings, etiquette, and social mores.
While some of her suggestions are a little bit spartan (for instance, the idea that cake and punch can seamlessly replace real food) it’s a fresh perspective for brides who feel overwhelmed by choices and need clarification on what’s really essential.
In short, Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding isn’t meant to be taken too seriously.
I say read it with a light heart. And just say no to swans.
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