We received our first wedding gift the other day. Some other time, I might try to tackle my rather-complicated feelings about wedding gifts and registries, but for now, let it be enough to say that when you get married, someone you love will probably want to give you a gift.
If you are me, the gift will arrive by mail and your partner-in-crime will carry the box up the front stairs and leave it lying in a place where you'll be sure to see it. Then he'll suggest that you stuff the box in the closet for two months in order to open it after the wedding. You will gently suggest that while of course, you will not use the gift until after the wedding, perhaps the gift should, in fact, be opened before the wedding, to allow you to appropriately acknowledge its receipt to the gift-giver in a tasteful thank you note.
Your man will disagree. This conversation will continue on in a circular fashion for several minutes until you finally decide to consult an expert. The expert, rather.
The 75th Anniversary edition of Emily Post's Etiquette is 845 pages long. It is a very substantial book. I bought it a few years ago at a second-hand bookstore and have spent more time than I might like to admit thumbing through the sections on weddings and funerals and mealtime manners.
My man has never really shared my fascination with Emily and her book, especially on the few occasions I've come across something so interesting that I've tried to read it to him aloud. I don't think he dislikes proper etiquette--although he certainly isn't as concerned with it as I am--he just doesn't seem to think that there needs to be an 845 page book about it.
And look, it's not that I'm completely caught up in the finer details of tipping department store delivery men. I just love all the intricacies of the system, this WASPy secret code of the past two hundred years. It's incredibly intriguing. And I also love the idea of Mrs. Post making her life's work out of telling everyone else in America how they ought to behave. She had books, magazines articles, and a newspaper column that was syndicated in a few hundred newspapers. Oh, and she was on the radio.
I'm intrigued by powerful women. I don't think a man could have accomplished what Mrs. Post did.
Now, I've gone through the "Weddings" section of my book a few times now, and I've come away with the idea that Mrs. Post would not have found our wedding planning--or our engagement--to her satisfaction. She makes no mention of pinatas, heart-shaped crayons, or melted-polyester flowers. It's probably best for everyone that she won't be in attendance.*
(If you're wondering, though, I was right about the whole "now or later?" gift debate. Please refer to pages 652-654, Acknowledging Wedding Gifts.)
Personally, I'm glad that there's a book like this one. I'm not saying I wish I'd gone to finishing school or anything, but there's something about there being a right way and a wrong way to go about things--I just find that comforting.
*She's no longer with us, of course. Mrs. Post passed away in 1960. Never fear, though. Her work is capably carried on by The Emily Post Institute.