Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Two Wedding Etiquette Books

I think I wrote about etiquette books before, but now that I'm SO much further along with my planning and have actually really used a few, I wanted to share the two that have been my "go to" books.

The first book is Diane Warner's Contemporary Guide to Wedding Etiquette, which I inherited from The Big Sister. I was skeptical of this book from the get-go as the sub-title is "Advice From America's Most Trusted Wedding Expert," and I had never heard of this woman, and I do consider myself to be a bit of an etiquette maven. When I got into the book there were a few bits that just turned me off completely. Passages like:

"If you fiance isn't excited about going with you to set up gift registries, don't worry about it. Take along your mom or best friend for advice and establish the registries yourself. With today's contemporary choices, however, most men get a kick out of registering for something they understand, like a power drill."
Now, no doubt most dudes don't love spending an entire day debating Vera Wang china versus Kate Spade (I can hear him now, "Who is Kate Spade?"), but this antiquated attitude is perhaps a bit too pervasive in the book for my tastes. After reading a few passages along those lines, I found myself flipping to the front to see when this edition was printed, 2005 to my surprise!! I could go into greater detail here, but I won't bore you.

Anyway, Diane Warner drove me out to Barnes & Noble to search for my own etiquette book with an attitude that was a bit more modern and in line with my own. Since the Emily Post book wasn't in paper back that day, I ended up purchasing Elise Mac Adam's "Something New." Elise is the etiquette column over on IndieBride, one of my favorite message board sites for brides. I had devoured her columns in my first few months as an engaged lady, and knew I was comfortable to her approach. Elise's advice spoke to me more than Diane's because she takes the modern world into account in her advice more. I'm sure many of us are familiar with wacky familiar dynamics of divorce, mixed families, the greater flexibility of wedding styles, the list goes on. One of my favorite features of "Something New" is the letters section at the back of each chapter. Elise uses letters from real brides to illustrate the points made in each chapter. For example, in the chapter on thank you notes, there is a letter from a bride whose thank you notes were mishandled and returned to her by the post office along with Elise's advice to that bride.

Even though I wasn't crazy about Diane's book in the beginning, I have to admit, I've utilized both books equally. I've consulted Elise's book when I've needed some advice on things that are open to interpretation (how to handle invites when there are multiple parties involved in the hosting or dealing with budgets and parents, or guest list negotiations) and I've consulted Diane when I needed more factual advice (such as how to address and invitation to a widow, or who is traditionally included in the rehearsal dinner). Not to say that each book couldn't serve both purposes on their own, but this is how I've used them.

I will paraphrase a favorite saying of mine from Miss Manners here to make my final point. Etiquette isn't about adhering to a bunch of arbitrate rules for the sake of tradition and tradition alone. Etiquette is about treating others with respect and making those around you as comfortable as possible. I think by using both books, the "hard & fast rule book" and the more "modern approach" (which I think Diane Warner would consider a bit hippy dippy) I was able to find a great compromise that still keeps at heart the comfort and best interests of everyone involved.

Have you relied on a particular etiquette source during your planning? Any etiquette book recommendations (or warnings!)??

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Blogger Only One Heidi said...

I LIVE for Emily Post :) Thanks for these suggestions, I'll definitely have to check them out!

Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:46:00 AM  

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