Did a mother of the groom offend a mother of the bride by singing a song?
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusivelyfrom the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas.(Have an issue you want help with? Send in a question today.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
I'm on the outside looking in at this situation and shaking my head. At a large wedding reception (300 guests), the toasts were given by Best Man & Maid of Honor. The floor was then opened up for other toasts.
At that time the MOG got up, thanked everyone and sang A Mother's Prayer as her gift to the couple. The priest and the DJ were the only people who knew she was going to sing. The bride's parents didn't have a clue about the song, and had not yet toasted or thanked the guests.
In the month since the reception, she has discovered that the MOB was offended by her actions but insists she did nothing wrong and refuses to apologize to the MOB.
I think MOG did do something wrong. To me the offensive actions were 1) Not waiting for the bride's parents to say thank you, 2) Not clearing her performance with the MOB, 3) Singing a very intimate mother to daughter love song. Now she is justifying her actions by saying "everyone loved it". Not quite true! The MOB didn't love it. I was taught that an apology is in order when someone has been offended. Clearly someone has been offended.
Am I the nut by thinking the MOB deserves an apology for this kind of behavior at her daughter's reception?
"If you are really on the outside --and not, as Miss Manners suspects, the bride in disguise or some equally close relative-- the nutty part is getting mixed up in this situation. Any sensible person, including the two mothers, would have let this go long since, and not fueled a feud between the couple's two families.
Besides, anyone who offers an "open mike," especially on an emotional occasion and when drinks are served, should be prepared to tolerate a range of responses, as long as they are neither indecent nor insulting. An excess of sentiment, however painfully rendered, is neither."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
My boyfriend of 5 years and I are, as we like to tell people "engaged to be engaged." Though we have talked about marriage, and agreed that we both want to marry one another, and even agreed on a timeframe (sometime in the next 2-3 years), we have not officially become engaged because we can't afford a ring, and because we both really want to have a proper proposal and engagement.
My parents divorced when I was very small, and my father remarried not long after. My stepmother raised me, but I spent summers with my biological mother, and as a result, I'm very close to both of them.
I consider myself lucky enough to have two mothers, but that brings up some sticky situations when I eventually do get married. I'm not very sure what part the mother of the bride plays in the wedding, but how do I go about incorporating both of them in? I don't want to leave my stepmom out just because she didn't birth me, and I worry that on some level, my biological mother will be a little jealous (gracious and understanding, but jealous).
What should I do about this, when the time comes?
"You could start now, as you are already focusing on the artifacts connected with a wedding. (People who have agreed to marry are engaged, with or without a ring, which does not make it any more official-- but let's leave that aside.)
Mothers tend to be receptive to talking about such things, even before actual planning begins, so Miss Manners suggests you entertain them with separate, non-controversial, intimate talk about dresses, flowers and such. Eventually, you can throw in the fact that you want to include them both and ask for advice about doing this.
Miss Manners is not saying that you will get fair and practical answers immediately, but you will get an idea of what each mother considers important, and you have two or three years to work things out.
Besides, there is not much for a mother to do at a wedding other than receive guests, kisses, and congratulations, which both can do. The real bonding is done during the shopping and planning, which you probably won't mind doing in duplicate."
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author ofMiss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. Theyhave two perfect children, of course.
My thoughts: if the floor was officially opened to other toasts, the bride's parents should have had ZERO expectations that others were going to wait for them to make a speech and say thank you. If they wished to be the next at the mic, then an announcement should have been made that they were going to speak -- and THEN that the toasts were open.
Can't endorse the song choice, but the offense taken by the bride's parents doesn't have much to hinge on.
There are a lot of people on this world who choose to be offended at anything and everything because they think an apology is equivalent to groveling and they LOVE feeling superior.
In any case, the couple/wedding party don't have to agree with me. But, as everyone else said, they can't expect guests to be mindreaders. Put a slot for the MoB to speak if you wish. Don't call open mic unless you actually mean it.
in any case. Miss Manners is right: give people an open bar and an open mic and you get what you get.
Dear Most Gentle Miss Manners, where I fully agree that adults should let this little error in judgement go (as there are many more problems in the world to worry about than a poorly rendered song at a wedding reception) may I remind you that generally it is the bride's parents who are footing the bill for the party. Maybe the best way to sooth tender feelings would be for the MOG to at least Thank the Bride's parents for the lovely reception and the opportunity to express her heart felt love as she did. An apology isn't needed but saying Thank You is always the best policy.
LW: 5 years and you are "engaged to be engaged" and want to wait 2 or 3 years more? Is there going to be a proper one year engagement after that? Why not go for a decade? And you can't afford a proper ring? How are you going to afford a wedding? And a house. And kids. And a minivan.
Once you decide this is it, it's time to do it, particularly after a half a decade. You don't need a ring and you don't need an expensive one if you get one. My parents for example were married for 60 plus years and didn't get an engagement ring. And what is a proper proposal anyway? Your boyfriend needs 2 or 3 years to figure out how to bend a knee and ask? If you are deciding and planning this together, you are already not in the ancient world of tradition. Just do it already.
I had a variation of LW2's dilemma when my wife and I were married. My brothers and I were raised by my mom after my parents divorced, but several decades later my dad married a lovely woman who has been a good addition to my family. I wanted to include both my mom and my stepmom somehow, and we also wanted to include my wife's mom and grandmother.
I was quite pleased with our solution. As we did not have a suitable child for "Flower Girl", we had all of the ladies (my mom, my stepmom, the MIL and grandmother) scatter flower petals of different colors as they walked down the aisle before taking their seats.
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