Thursday, April 28, 2011


No one in the world will likely exchange wedding vows in front of as many uninvited guests as Catherine Middleton will when she weds Prince William in the morning before a global televised audience estimated to be in the millions. Protocol experts have been busy helping those who received an invitation brush up on their royally best behavior. The rest of us will be able to get by without wearing even so much as a robe or slippers, and we won't have to worry about how to address the Queen at the punch bowl.
But the Royal Wedding serves as a fun reminder to anyone who is invited to witness such an important occasion as the marriage of two people, that everyone has an obligation of some sort. Wedding guests should participate in the celebration and enjoy themselves, but not detract from the stars of the show - the bride and groom. Invited guests who attend a wedding and reception are expected to give the bride and groom a gift. Presents should be delivered to the bride's residence before the big day, although it is acceptable to bring it with you to the reception.
Guests should not be late. It's doubtful the bride will enjoy the photographer's picture of her about to walk down the aisle on her father's arm, with her co-worker in the background trying to slip into the church.
Once seated, guests should acknowledge friends and relatives with a smile and nod. Leave the high-fives for the reception, especially if the wedding takes place in a house of worship. Be mindful of the dress. Your clue is the time of day. A wedding before five or six o'clock in the evening will not require such formal attire. We are in the land of Levis here in the San Joaquin Valley, but even if you're a denim dude, ditch the jeans. Same goes for your 10-gallon cowboy hat and chewing tobacco. Remember, this is the bride's big day. All eyes should be on her, not the guest who looks like her shift at the strip club just ended.
And take note to the names of the invited guests on the envelope the day the invitation arrives. If it says Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family, bring the kids. An event such as a wedding has been in the planning stages for months, with costs calculated down to the number of people expected to attend. It is not a come- one- come-all affair.
When the bride begins her march down the aisle, give her a beaming smile should your eyes meet. Don't whistle or wave to try to catch her attention. You'll have plenty of time to share the love after the ceremony. Remember, an invitation to witness the union of two people is an honor. Respect the privilege. After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The shelves in the bookstore aisles devoted to social graces and self-improvement are filled with great reads with useful advice. Make room for the newest, by newswoman Katie Couric, who smartly is now on a book tour she hopes will deflect some of the speculation surrounding her broadcasting future. "The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives", strings together pearls of wisdom from some of Couric's most celebrated interviews from the past spanning the worlds of pop culture and politics. Among those called on to share their advice is actress Nia Vardalos, who Couric writes, has made a conscious decision to react to society's rudeness by being even nicer. "Never fall to the level of the behavior of the people around you," Couric recounted to Matt Lauer on the Today Show, adding how that little bit of advice struck her. Couric went on to say that on the subject of manners, it really does matter, always encouraging young people looking for a job to write thank-you notes, make good eye contact, give a firmer handshake, and never forget that there are no second chances to make a first impression. I too took a moment to digest Vardalos' attitude. It is, afterall, so much easier to hit incivility with incivility. It is much harder to grin and bear it, rise above and take the higher road - over and over and over. But eventually, that lemonade-out-of-lemons approach will become habit, and hopefully contagious. Give it a try. I plan to do the same. Thanks Nia for the lesson, and to Katie for shining the spotlight on social graces. It DOES 'Manner' A Lot!