When I paid attention to such matters, it was Emily Post, who wrote a book titled Rules of Etiquette. She wrote the book in 1946.
Now, an Emily Post Institute (established in 1946) keeps up with matters of good etiquette and good manners today. Wonder what Ms. Post would personally think of “Ms.”
Her book on etiquette, written in 1922, is 627 pages and in its 18th edition.
Since etiquette is considered (mostly by men) a topic for women, a plethora of us ol’ hairy-legged boys don’t have any idea of what etiquette is. We understand the word manners but I’m convinced that a majority of women feel that most men are devoid of etiquette knowledge and, in what I’m sure they feel is the vernacular of men, just plain “ain’t got no manners.”
My mother always cautioned me, “Now, watch your manners.” She never mentioned etiquette.
Merriam-Webster Free Online Dictionary defines etiquette this way: “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed for official life.”
As for “manners,” Merriam-Webster says it’s a way of doing something or the way in which a thing is done or happens.
Sounds like etiquette and manners are one and the same thing. One or both are required to host a shower for a bride-to-be.
For those of you who may have been living in a cave, a shower is a party where invitees give gifts to the honoree.
Ms. Post had rules or guidelines for bridal showers and weddings.
Now, at this point I will state my belief and that is that etiquette is for “people of breeding” and manners should be for all of us. After all, etiquette is actually derived from the French language, thus is for those of breeding or maybe even for those who want to be of good breeding and who recognize French.
LET’S MOVE ON to the shower experience.
One wedding shower, of which I have extensive knowledge, involved a groom from my hometown and a bride from a larger town with a more defined social strata, especially people of breeding. Actually, some were rich and some lived as if they were. The bride was a decent person but played Mama’s game in front of Mama.
At any rate, there were all sorts of showers and teas in the bride’s hometown. Most were small and specific as to one type of gift. Engraved or written invitations were the norm for all the hometown bridal showers.
In the groom’s hometown, there was a widely accepted custom of the miscellaneous shower. A group of hostesses, all groom family friends, arranged the selection process, then planned and directed the shower.
Invitations were printed on 3-cent postcards and mailed to just about everyone in town. Heavens to Murgatroid.
The bride and groom went to each store and selected items needed to set up housekeeping. Cards were placed on the selections saying, “Selection of Runelda Rondolay, bride-elect of Elbert Snickelfritz” and usually gave the shower date, time and place and perhaps listed the hostesses. And, there usually was one place displaying all the wedding information.
EACH PERSON who wished to give would look at the happy couple’s selections, and opt to pay $1 or $2 on several different items. The card with the shower gift listed all the donors to the purchase of that particular gift.
Mama of the bride-to-be was very critical of the process as being totally uncouth and improper.
On the day of the shower, the bride-to-be and her uppity mother joined the groom’s mom and the hostesses as they went through the happy social occasion. Attendees busied themselves with all the meetin’, greetin’, eatin’, sippin’, openin’, oooin’ and aaahin’.
When all was said and done, the little town and its miscellaneous shower had totally inundated the volume of the pretentious mama of the bride’s haul in her hometown.
Social mama quickly loaded up the loot and drove home to show her uppity friends what a penny postcard and a bunch of li’l ole white-haired ladies can do. Persnickety be hanged.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.