Dear Miss Manners: I attended two family weddings recently wherein the bride, groom, their parents and each of their many attendants, in hostagelike fashion, "entertained" the guests, during the receptions, with hours of prepared speeches.
I am not talking short toasts here. I mean real speeches, read from reams of yellow legal paper, about how each had met the bride and groom, how the bride and groom had met, what the bride and groom meant to each speaker, what the speaker meant to the bride and groom, what everyone in the bridal party thought about everyone else in the bridal party, and on and on.
At several points I thought I was observing a therapy session. At one wedding, there was no easy means of temporary escape so my husband and I had to endure. At the other, temporary escape was easy and we embraced it, as did a number of other guests, mostly family members.
Please comment on what I hope is not a disturbing trend: seminars and/or therapy sessions posing as wedding receptions.
Gentle Reader: It is more than a trend, almost a universal standard now, for wedding festivities - and even the ceremonies themselves - to be treated as biographical extravaganzas. The It's About Who We Are theme has crowded out the civic and religious meaning of the occasion.
Yet for all the show business mentality that goes into the planning, there is a frequent failure to consider what any competent producer knows is the most important element: interesting the audience. (Wedding guests do not constitute an audience, but that is what their hosts keep calling them.)
Relatives and friends are presumed to be charmed to hear loving words about the bride and bridegroom. And up to a point, they usually are. Even purely professional associates and the casual dates of other guests may be able to enjoy a few minutes of emotional toasts.
Miss Manners is sorry to hear that people are going so much beyond that point. Parties are supposed to be what we now call interactive, allowing the guests to reunite with those they know, meet new people, converse and perhaps dance.
The lengthy expressions of love that members of the family and attendants harbor, like that between the bride and bridegroom alone, should be enjoyed privately.
Tipping the bowl
Dear Miss Manners: I understand that one may tip a soup bowl away from one. May one tip a cereal bowl in either direction?
Gentle Reader: No, but if you eat breakfast alone with the shades down, Miss Manners will not tattle on you.