When the blushing bride says 'I moo'

June 03, 2007|By LYN WIDMYER

This past year, my husband and I attended four engagement parties and six weddings.

Based on my experience, I can tell you a lot has changed in terms of wedding protocol since I walked down the aisle 25 years ago. Here are three amendments to the rules of wedding etiquette that were passed when I wasn't paying attention:

1. Let me start with the change that I find most unsettling: Engagement parties are the new wedding showers.

I learned this the hard way. My husband and I were invited to a lovely cocktail party for a newly engaged couple.

As we arrived, I noticed other guests carrying gifts. When we entered the house, there was a table laden with presents.


The only thing I handed the host was my coat. Apparently, gifts are now expected at engagement parties even though there is no indication of this requirement on the invitation.

"Who knew?" I lamented to a neighbor who also arrived gift-less. We debated whether we were entitled to enjoy the ample buffet or whether we should help wash dishes instead.

I raised this issue with several friends who did know to bring a gift. Even they were a little hazy on the rules. The phrase "engagement party" on the invitation seems to be the secret code for "bring a gift." I want to learn the secret code for "just bring yourself and have a good time."

2. Pre-wedding invitations. Couples now send out notices ahead of wedding invitations to allow guests to reserve the date.

I guess with the average cost of weddings hovering around $25,000, the bride's family wants to make darn sure they play to a full house.

Some people must have really busy social calendars to need six months advance notice. Our family calendar is completely free on weekends until May 2008, when my son graduates from college. Now there's an event worthy of pre-notification.

3. On-line wedding gift registry. Today's wedding couples put their gift preferences online at major department stores.

This enables friends to know the couples' preference for 200-count queen size cotton sheets in shades of celadon and cerise.

The registry identifies items that have already been purchased. My experience is that the cheaper items are always taken, leaving me the option of buying the stacked washer-dryer or plasma screen TV.

I do not like the on-line registry concept. What is the fun of getting exactly what you expect? The registry approach would have prevented me getting some of my favorite wedding gifts, like the musical cow ice cream scoop with matching bowls. Sheets are functional. A musical cow ice cream scoop is memorable.

I hope these new rules of etiquette don't supplant more time-honored wedding traditions.

One of my favorites is that the bride should wear "something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue." When my daughter marries, she can choose the something new, borrowed and blue, but I already have set aside the "something old."

She will look great carrying the musical cow ice cream scoop down the aisle.

Lyn Widmyer is a Charles Town, W.Va., resident who writes for The Herald-mail. Her e-mail address is

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