Author Topic: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses  (Read 27290 times)

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Spring Water on Sundays

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2013, 12:20:09 PM »
That was a very judgmental post. A strapless wedding dress doesn't scream "party" to me nor implies that the bride is thinking of things other than her wedding. Then again, she also recently chided a different bride for noticing that one of her guests wore a baseball cap during her ceremony (http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130310/CITYANDREGION03/130319979/1057)

 ::) So basically, any bride who has the super human powers of sight and perception is not taking her wedding ceremony seriously.

I didn't read that particular column, but in etiquette, there's a difference between "seeing" and "noticing." There's also a difference between "smelling" and "noticing." If someone passes gas, in polite company we treat it as if it didn't happen. We may smell it or hear it, but we don't "notice" it. This is referred to as the "polite fiction." Miss Manners is applying the same principal to that bride. Yes, someone did something gauche at the wedding, which everyone "saw." But nobody should have "noticed" it (i.e. commented on it.)

As far as the original post, more and more I think that Miss Manners is substituting her personal taste for etiquette. That's a common failing among experts in any topic. She's attributing something overtly sexual to bare shoulders. A few decades ago, that might have been true, but it's far less true today. What she attributes to bare shoulders, we might attribute to side-slit-to-the-armpit or a micro-mini skirt with lucite platforms. A couple of generations before Miss Manners and we'd be saying the same thing about an exposed ankle.

Re: your first point. I agree, some things are better left "unnoticed" if we are going to have any semblance of a polite society. The point that nothing *should* be said to the person wearing the inappropriate hat (and in this case, it doesn't sound like anything was said) was overshadowed by Miss Manners' bizarre rebuke that if the bride (or groom, it's not really clear) had been appropriately immersed in the super seriousness of the ceremony, s/he shouldn't have been aware of anything other than the loving gaze of her/his intended and the solemn words of the officiant. To me anyway, Miss Manners' wording sounded like she was scolding the bride/groom for being bothered by the baseball cap in the first place.

My first point ties into your second point - with which I also agree! Miss Manners seems to have some very conservative and traditional ideas about what constitutes proper wedding behavior/attire/solemnity, and straying from those strict ideals makes one vulnerable to being gleefully labeled improper by snarky etiquette "experts".

Rohanna

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2013, 12:25:14 PM »
I had a non-religious outdoor ceremony and wore a strapless gown. I have incredibly broad shoulders, and everything made me look like a white linebacker if it had sleeves. Even my 80 year d
conservative grandma preferred no-sleeves.

Quite frankly I don't care if the bride "prefers the party" anyways-
So what if shed rather celebrate with her nearest and dearest than worry about the formalities? That to me is a personal matter not an etiquette one. It is not a matter or etiquette to dictate whether someone is religious or not, or hung up on "signing a dotted line".

For me the most important part WAS the reception- not because of the food (I barely ate) or the dancing (I rarely do) but because I got to gather together many relatives and friends who are scattered far and wide and involve them in my life. Is that really so bad? I have no god to account to, so the ceremony was only the formal government  part of a commitment my new husband and I felt we'd made years ago. The reception was the first "event" we hosted as husband and wife, and meant a lot to us. I fail to see how fabric covering my upper arms would have changed my feelings in that regard.

If miss manners cannot account for the motives of agnostics, atheists or secular humanists like myself, I am afraid I cannot take her advise from now on, as I do not feel
my lack of organized religion affects my manners.
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turnip

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2013, 12:27:21 PM »
I'm small in just about every dimension.  When I looked at myself in every non-strapless dress available 10 years ago, I just looked overwhelmed by white fabric.   A simple strapless gown was the only one that made me feel like I was wearing the dress, instead of the dress wearing me.

If I was to get judgy ( which I don't, usually, but look what board I'm posting on! ) I'd have more to say about dresses that cling lovingly to the brides every curve - straps or sleeves or no.   However every bride wants to look beautiful, and I don't demand that people follow my personal tastes in order to have proper etiquette.

Poppea

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2013, 12:28:26 PM »
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130402/CITYANDREGION03/130409892/1057

I was a bit stunned by this. I wore a strapless wedding dress at my wedding more than 10 years ago. I could assure Miss Manners that I did, indeed, consider the ceremony the important part of the day, but it doesn't seem she would want to hear that.

Thoughts?

(Plus: There are still debutantes these days?)

When I was married I worn a dress that had sleeves (for the church) but the sleeves could come down for the reception.  Some churches did not allow strapless dresses back then.

Yes there are still debutantes.  There are the traditional debutantes (long time charitable organizations, highly selective), ethnic debutantes (where I live there are Jewish, Greek and African American debutante balls) and fake debutante balls (like modeling schools).  I do not live in the south.   

turnip

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #34 on: April 02, 2013, 12:33:05 PM »
I had a non-religious outdoor ceremony and wore a strapless gown. I have incredibly broad shoulders, and everything made me look like a white linebacker if it had sleeves. Even my 80 year d
conservative grandma preferred no-sleeves.

Quite frankly I don't care if the bride "prefers the party" anyways-
So what if shed rather celebrate with her nearest and dearest than worry about the formalities? That to me is a personal matter not an etiquette one. It is not a matter or etiquette to dictate whether someone is religious or not, or hung up on "signing a dotted line".

For me the most important part WAS the reception- not because of the food (I barely ate) or the dancing (I rarely do) but because I got to gather together many relatives and friends who are scattered far and wide and involve them in my life. Is that really so bad? I have no god to account to, so the ceremony was only the formal government  part of a commitment my new husband and I felt we'd made years ago. The reception was the first "event" we hosted as husband and wife, and meant a lot to us. I fail to see how fabric covering my upper arms would have changed my feelings in that regard.

If miss manners cannot account for the motives of agnostics, atheists or secular humanists like myself, I am afraid I cannot take her advise from now on, as I do not feel
my lack of organized religion affects my manners.

Just as an alternate non-religious opinion, the ceremony was important to me as were the promises I made to my husband.  I don't see Miss Manners as dismissing non-religious ceremonies, just sticking to the more traditional view that the 'event' is the ceremony - the formal vows made by the bride and groom that joins them as a family - and the reception is the celebration of the event.


TylerBelle

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #35 on: April 02, 2013, 12:34:39 PM »
I don't care for strapless dresses much myself and if it was the style I was needing to wear, I'd look for a way to put in wide straps or sleeves. But this is simply me. For one thing, strapless looks like a fidgeting nightmare. I can't imagine being at an event, and moving around, dancing, etc., without having to hitch up the bodice or generally move it back in place many times over the course of wearing the garment. Although they can be really pretty, such as the green one Hilary Swank wore to the Oscars when she won her first award remains a fave celeb gown of mine. 

As for the style to scream 'Let's Party!' as Miss Manners alludes to, and to be modest needs to have something on the shoulders, that's not exactly so. Of course strapless styles can show off more, though there are quite a few non-strapless ones that do as well and give off just as much as party vibe.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #36 on: April 02, 2013, 12:35:39 PM »
I was married in a conservative church, and dancing was not allowed at the reception. They didn't give a fig that my dress was strapless. I had little to no cleavage on display and the dress was very flattering to my (overweight) body. Gowns with sleeves either (a) were very unflattering on my arms, (b) were too uncomfortable to move in, or (c) showed an obscene amount of skin/cleavage.

I think MM needs to get over herself and realize that her opinion is not gospel. Her hyper-judgmental attitude is a big turnoff.
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mmswm

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #37 on: April 02, 2013, 12:38:59 PM »
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130402/CITYANDREGION03/130409892/1057

I was a bit stunned by this. I wore a strapless wedding dress at my wedding more than 10 years ago. I could assure Miss Manners that I did, indeed, consider the ceremony the important part of the day, but it doesn't seem she would want to hear that.

Thoughts?

(Plus: There are still debutantes these days?)

When I was married I worn a dress that had sleeves (for the church) but the sleeves could come down for the reception.  Some churches did not allow strapless dresses back then.

Yes there are still debutantes.  There are the traditional debutantes (long time charitable organizations, highly selective), ethnic debutantes (where I live there are Jewish, Greek and African American debutante balls) and fake debutante balls (like modeling schools).  I do not live in the south.

Several different Hispanic cultures celebrate a girl's Quinceañera, which can be every bit as formal as a wedding, though the major difference is that the dress is typically pale pink, not white.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #38 on: April 02, 2013, 12:40:39 PM »
Her reasoning is just bizarre. She seems to be confusing her personal fashion/modesty preferences with actual etiquette. Besides, I know from personal experience how hard it is to find a wedding dress that isn't strapless.

And in ten years, when the style is poofy sleeves or prairie dresses or white PVC spacesuits or whatever, it'll be hard to find anything besides that;D There are offbeat gown sources that a person can find if they're really into the hunt, but for a lot of people, it's going to be the ease and (relative) affordability of something like David's Bridal, which will mostly have whatever's in style.

And Miss Manners is also ignoring the fact that it's not unusual to have a strapless wedding dress but have an extra piece to put on for the church, like a bolero. I lurk at a wedding forum and there are scads of threads about boleros and shrugs and the like.

No, actually she didn't.  She mentions "temporarily covering".

I'm also one of those who don't believe everyone looks good in strapless.

I'm also of the very much minority who would never feel comfortable attending any type of religous ceremony in a strapless dress.

But I think my opinion and Ms Manners is based on outdated ideas of dress. I don't expect young boys to hit a certain age before wearing long pants nor did I ban my teen daugther from wearing a black dress to a dance (when I was a teen, a black party dress was considered to sophisticated or mature for a teen girl). Men no longer wear a jacket to dinner and ladies no longer restrict strapless gowns to specific types of events. 

But I'll honestly say that I have my finger's crossed that when it's time for DD to pick out a wedding dress, I truly hope the styles have changed and she'll have more options for ones with some type of strap or sleeve (but no 1980's mutton sleeves, please).

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #39 on: April 02, 2013, 12:41:47 PM »
I think the point was, in a *religious* wedding ceremony, at a church, in many (I'd venture most) cultures and denominations, showing that much skin isn't appropriate. Now if you're having a wedding elsewhere (outdoors, at home, at a hall or other space) then the issue isn't the point. The issue of strapless is *in church*. I wouldn't wear a strapless dress by choice anywhere, but the absolute last place I'd wear one would be at a house of worship - mine, or someone else's. Just like I wouldn't wear flip flops, or ratty cutoffs, or anything else that would be inappropriate (uncovered hair in some places, pants in others).

I don't think she's looking at fashion. I think she's looking at respect, which is the heart of manners.

The respectfulness of bare shoulders/uncovered hair/slacks v. skirts in a house of worship is dependent on that specific house of worship's conventions and views on such things. I agree it is exceedingly rude and disrespectful to enter any place dressed in a way that goes against the rules. I was not being disrespectful when I wore my strapless wedding gown in a church that has no rules against bare shoulders. I ran it by the pastor, and he said it was fine. If he had told me it wasn't fine, I would have found a way to cover my shoulders for the ceremony. :)

audrey1962

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #40 on: April 02, 2013, 01:09:44 PM »
My grandmother's wedding gown was strapless - and she married in 1949, so strapless is certainly nothing new (although she did have a matching jacket she wore for religious ceremony).

Rohanna

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #41 on: April 02, 2013, 01:19:15 PM »
Turnip - I certainly don't mean it can't be just as important to non religious folk :) I just resent being chided that it should, since for some folk there is no more reason to value the ceremony over the reception or vice versa.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.

turnip

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #42 on: April 02, 2013, 01:28:04 PM »
Turnip - I certainly don't mean it can't be just as important to non religious folk :) I just resent being chided that it should, since for some folk there is no more reason to value the ceremony over the reception or vice versa.

Oh I understand :-)   I think MM is being old-fashioned, but not necessarily religiously bigoted - if you know what I mean.

booklover03

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #43 on: April 02, 2013, 02:17:38 PM »
I had a strapless dress for my wedding 10 years ago. We even got married in a church.  I love how it looked on me and how I could move my arms freely. All the dresses with sleeves hindered my ability to hug people comfortably. Also, it was 108 degrees the day I got married. I was hot even in a strapless gown, but with sleeves it would've been unbearable.


gollymolly2

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Re: Miss Manners on strapless wedding dresses
« Reply #44 on: April 02, 2013, 02:41:55 PM »
I had a non-religious outdoor ceremony and wore a strapless gown. I have incredibly broad shoulders, and everything made me look like a white linebacker if it had sleeves. Even my 80 year d
conservative grandma preferred no-sleeves.

Quite frankly I don't care if the bride "prefers the party" anyways-
So what if shed rather celebrate with her nearest and dearest than worry about the formalities? That to me is a personal matter not an etiquette one. It is not a matter or etiquette to dictate whether someone is religious or not, or hung up on "signing a dotted line".

For me the most important part WAS the reception- not because of the food (I barely ate) or the dancing (I rarely do) but because I got to gather together many relatives and friends who are scattered far and wide and involve them in my life. Is that really so bad? I have no god to account to, so the ceremony was only the formal government  part of a commitment my new husband and I felt we'd made years ago. The reception was the first "event" we hosted as husband and wife, and meant a lot to us. I fail to see how fabric covering my upper arms would have changed my feelings in that regard.

If miss manners cannot account for the motives of agnostics, atheists or secular humanists like myself, I am afraid I cannot take her advise from now on, as I do not feel
my lack of organized religion affects my manners.

Just as an alternate non-religious opinion, the ceremony was important to me as were the promises I made to my husband.  I don't see Miss Manners as dismissing non-religious ceremonies, just sticking to the more traditional view that the 'event' is the ceremony - the formal vows made by the bride and groom that joins them as a family - and the reception is the celebration of the event.

I just don't understand the connection. How is wearing a strapless gown at all related to whether a bride cares more about the ceremony or reception?

I agree with the PP who said that this is a good example of why Miss Manners' opinion shouldn't be treated as gospel. She's good with formal etiquette (e.g. How should I set up the place settings at a formal dinner I'm hosting) but her opinions on etiquette in everyday life seem to be stuck four or five decades ago. Things change.