DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm not sure yet how formal my daughter will want her wedding to be, but I know we will have a dilemma with both invitations and etiquette during the wedding traditions prior and during the ceremony.
My daughter's father had a sex change a few years ago and is now a woman. My daughter has had some difficulty figuring out what to call her former father and dealing with his newly acquired expertise in being a woman. He/she has a new female first name and new surname (so our daughter's name matches none of ours) but has not come up with a new familial name for herself. Our daughter was adamant that he/she not call herself "mother" when he/she used that once. (Please forgive me, Miss Manners, but using proper grammar here gets really difficult in this uncharted territory!)
My husband, the stepfather, has been much more distressed with this sex change than I. Though it's been almost five years and our paths with the former father occasionally overlap socially, out of respect for my husband's feelings, not all of our friends know what has happened. We have still referred to the former father as a male.
Can you please give me any advice how to handle the wordings both for a formal invitation and, if there is a correct etiquette for a less-formal wedding invitation? Also, any advice on pre-parties as well as the wedding ceremonies and reception.
We really hope that the former father can participate in this joyous event, but there is a real concern the shock factor for people who don't know, and that her/his loving to be the center of attention, will overshadow what this celebration should really be about.
GENTLE READER: People are going to notice anyway. If there is a party the night before, you might consider taking your former husband around and reintroducing her to your circle so that the guests can get over the surprise before the ceremony and focus on that event rather than its provenance.
The rest of it is not difficult, Miss Manners promises you. You should treat your daughter's father -- and that this person did father her does not change retroactively -- with dignity, but you needn't offer explanations. A formal invitation would come from "Mr. and Mrs. Clive Carvington and Ms. Catherine Tyson," and an informal one would be as a letter from you saying that you, your husband and Annabel's father, Catherine Tyson, would be pleased ... etc.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: From the bowl, to the stem, and to the base of the glass, what is the proper way to hold the glass? From red wine to a delicate white, does it change? I use the stem because it is more comfortable. But what is the proper way to hold the glass? Is it an egregious social sin to hold the glass by the bowl?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners fears that it may turn out to be a moral sin if you give wine fanatics heart attacks by holding a glass of white wine by the bowl and thus imparting unwanted warmth from your hand. Red wine may be cradled like that, but glasses of chilled wine should be held by the stem.