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Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 07:01 AM

Wedding woes: whom to include, bridesmaid dress etiquette | Dear Carolyn

By Carolyn Hax
Syndicated columnist

Dear Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: Should the live-in significant other of one of our siblings be included in a family wedding photo? The cohabiting pair don’t have an opinion nor do the bride or groom, but the matriarch feels strongly that the S.O. be a part of it, and another person strongly opposes that. What do you think?

— Whom to Include?

DEAR INCLUSIVE: One shot with, one without.

Too awkward?

And while I’m here — what’s up with the person who “strongly opposes” inclusion? Someone as vehement about “tradition” as such opposition implies should be dutifully in line behind the matriarch.

RE: FAMILY PHOTO: When nobody directly involved particularly cares, I advocate going for inclusion and defining “family” as “people who matter in our hearts and minds” rather than “people who share a blood relationship and/or signed a piece of paper.”

— Anonymous

I agree. And when people do care, take different versions. Someone else suggested a bunch of different configurations, and that’s even better — as long as it doesn’t take all day.

This might hurt some feelings, but “a bunch” of configurations is intended to pre-empt that, and at a certain point you just have to expect adults to act accordingly.

— Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: In a past column, you reinforced a writer’s objection to a pink, strapless bridesmaid dress by suggesting she ask for alterations or another role in her brother’s wedding.

I’m not inclined to support a gaggle of bridesmaids and don’t like the matchy-matchy outfit that rarely flatters all, but it’s just a dress. She could throw a shawl over it as soon as the ceremony is over.

The important thing is that the woman marrying her brother is trying to include her. The writer said she’s not close to the brother. By participating in his wedding and getting to know his bride, she can build a closer relationship. The bride is offering her a gift, and I was surprised you endorsed her issues with the dress over encouraging her not to look a pink strapless dress in the mouth.

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: The important thing is her inclusion, yes, but I don’t agree that the dress is a nonnegotiable element of the most important thing. Anyone who feels uncomfortable in a bridesmaid’s dress — not just “ew, pink washes me out,” but moved-to-withdraw-from-the-wedding-party uncomfortable, as this woman was — should feel free to say that to the bride.

Because if we’re going to talk in “most important thing” terms, I have to think not humiliating someone is way up there.

If a bride doesn’t care that someone feels humiliated by her assigned costume, then inclusion in this bride’s inner circle isn’t that wonderful a thing after all.

Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t agree I fully “reinforced the writer’s objection”:

“You are you and you have inherent beauty, and any pounds plus or minus, here or there, are just life mileage. Life mileage used to be valued before the nit-pickers and narcissists took over the machinery of popular images. Do what you want regarding the wedding, but please do consider striking a one-woman blow against the tyranny of superficial values.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living.


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