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Miss Manners: You better believe the guests notice when the bride has a different meal

Miss Manners: You better believe the guests notice when the bride has a different meal

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work in the wedding industry, and I have been rather flummoxed by a recent trend: It seems to have become the fashion for the bride and groom to order themselves a special meal, of a higher caliber and price point than what their guests are having.

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An example might be that all of the guests have a choice of roast chicken or a pork chop, but the groom has ordered himself a 20-ounce porterhouse.

I realize that the bridal couple sees this as “their special day,” but as they are completely on display at the head table, this display of luxury is not exactly subtle. Also, as I try to explain to them during the planning process, a bride and groom will rarely get to enjoy their meal at the reception anyway, what with all of the interruptions from speeches and the like.

In any case, I find this to be in very bad taste, and would love to have the input of Miss Manners.

GENTLE READER: It is hard to resist the temptation to point out that it is the wedding industry that came up with idea that a “special day” is one on which the couple can do whatever they want. In other words, a day on which etiquette, in the form of consideration for one’s guests, is suspended.

Thank you for trying to disabuse them of this vulgar notion, but it is probably too thoroughly ingrained.

Even wedding guests who complain to Miss Manners of mistreatment add, “But I know it’s their day, and they can do whatever they want.” Including being rude.

If it is any help, you might mention that however impressed the couple hopes their guests will be at their wedding arrangements, the mealtime discrepancy is all they will talk about afterwards. And sometimes during.

You might also mention that the very concept of suspending etiquette is a bad way to start a marriage. Another frequent complaint Miss Manners receives is from the spouses of people who believe that they can “be themselves” at home — by which they mean not having to be polite to those they live with.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I adore shrimp and mussels. When eating with family and close friends, I use my fingers to remove the shrimp tails and pull the mussels out of the shells. But in public, or with people I don’t know well, I order something else because I don’t know how to eat them without using my hands.

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I’ve tried the usual table implements, and just end up with the broth or sauce spattered all over the immediate vicinity.

GENTLE READER: Not your fault. Miss Manners believes that restaurants are obliged to enable their customers to eat what they order in as dignified a way as possible. And that means doing away with the silly custom of leaving the shell on the shrimp.

What you need for those mussels is a teeny-weeny fork plus one hand, but not two. Holding the shell in one hand, you spear the mussel with the fork.

She therefore authorizes you to ask that the shell and the tails be removed from the shrimp, and that you be provided with a shellfish fork for the mussels.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.