Dear Zadie:  I am in the midst of a real knock-down-drag-out argument with my daughter.  Kara insists on enclosing the gift registry cards in her invitations.  She says it is an easy way for her guests to find out where she is registered.  I say it is very bad manners and she says the stores would not have given them to her if it was a bad idea.  This is a circular argument that never ends, and we need to mail the invitations soon.  Zadie, who’s right?


Dear Battling Duo:  This question raises it ugly, little head every so often.  In the broader picture of life, it is not so big; but it is important.  So here goes:  Those lovely, little gift registry cards handed out by the bridal registries to be tucked in the invitations are in Very Bad Taste.  It is blatantly telling your guests where they must go for a gift.  If your guests wish to know where you are registered they can call your mother, any of your bridal party, or you, Kara. 


In a survey of bridal registries, Zadie learned that the more expensive and upscale stores do not use them.  It is a marketing ploy of the big, chain stores to sell more stuff, not a gracious convenience for the bride. 



Dear Zadie:  How much do you tip the parking valet at a wedding or really fancy party?


Thank you for an easy question.  If you did not pay for valet parking, you tip the valet two dollars when he returns your car.  Remember these people probably work for minimum wage, so tips really help.  In the Rules According to Zadie, if the car is returned with a huge, new dent in the side, you don’t have to tip at all!



Oh, Zadie!  My bridesmaids and I went shopping for their dresses last week.  Before we went, I spoke privately with each to learn if there were any set in concrete opinions of what someone would or would not wear.  In those conversations, there did not seem to be any adamant ideas.


But when we got to the bridal salon, all hell broke loose when the two bridesmaids and the maid of honor got into a huge fight over what they would or would not wear.  There seemed to be no styles they could all agree on.  After a couple of hours, we just gave up and went out for a drink.  We have decided to go again next week.  I have known these women since we were in second grade.  Aside from firing all three of them, how on earth do I handle this? 


Dear Exasperated:  This is a mess.  In a list of ten stressful wedding moments, choosing the bridesmaids’ dresses ranks near the top.  There are ways around these moments. 


First, if the bridesmaids are short, skinny, tall, heavy or any permutations therein, don’t ask all the women to wear the same style dress.  Many lovely weddings feature bridesmaids in the same colors and different styles.  In fact, for a long time now, salons have featured different tops and skirts that can be changed for each woman to find the perfect dress for her particular body—all in exactly the same colors. The only thing that remains consistent is the hemline.  Everyone wears long to the floor or everyone wears a shorter skirt.   Many guests will not realize the dresses are different.


Second, you might also gently remind your bridal party, this is not their wedding, it is yours.  And while you want them to look and feel lovely, now is not the time to start World War IV among people who have been friends for nearly twenty years.



Dear Zadie:  I admit it has been a few years since I was invited to a bridal shower.  Last week I received an invitation that really floored me.  It listed a cash bar; forty-five dollars for my lunch payable by check in advance, please; and finally a raffle for a bottle of champagne to “help” the bride and groom pay for their honeymoon cruise in the Western Caribbean!  (A couple of years ago, I attended a lovely, bridal shower/brunch in a woman’s home.  She served strata casseroles, fruit salad, brandy punch, coffee and dessert.  I wasn’t asked to pay for anything besides my gift—nor was there a raffle.)  What is going on?


Dear Perplexed:  It is them—not you!  Lately, I have heard about cash bars (which I find abhorrent), but nothing to the extent you describe.  I am as puzzled as you.  When did elegant, but simple showers in people’s homes go out of style?  I do not know, but I agree, you and I just dropped in off another planet.


Here it is, folks:  You do not ask shower guests to pay for their lunches, their drinks nor do they contribute to a raffle.  If the hostesses cannot afford to foot the whole bill at a particular restaurant, they should find a less expensive restaurant or invite fewer people.  It really is that simple.  Guests are just that!  Guests.  They do not pay for anything more than a gift.  Questions?  Anyone?


That brandy punch sounded good, didn’t it?  So I shall sit here and quietly sip a lovely drink while I supervise my gardeners.  I hope your spring is wonderful.


Your mannered friend,


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