DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am engaged to a young lady and would like to purchase an appropriate wedding gift. I am currently looking at strings of pearls, which, if given as a wedding gift, I would hope she could wear on the day of the nuptials.
Is it appropriate for the groom to give the bride a set of black Tahitian pearls with matching earrings? Would it be improper or a fashion error for her to wear the black pearls for the ceremony, or should I shop for white? She, of course, will be wearing a white dress.
GENTLE READER: Even if this question were not in the context of your forthcoming wedding, Miss Manners would have known that you were not yet married. You apparently have never dealt with the paradox of a wife's loving to be surprised with an extravagant present but resenting being told what to wear.
Black Tahitian pearls are a magnificent present, and they go with everything, except possibly a wedding dress. That is not a dictate from Miss Manners, who has not seen the dress or been able to guess how strictly your bride wants to adhere to the tradition of wearing white. It is merely a warning that your bride may think so, and -- however much she may appreciate the pearls -- not appreciate having her look changed at the last minute.
It would be safer to spoil the surprise, although not the pretense of the surprise, by asking the opinion of the bride's mother or her maid of honor or anyone else you can count upon to break your confidence, tell her, and come back with the right answer. Another approach would be to give her the pearls on your wedding trip.
Or you could give up and give her white pearls, which are the classic accompaniment to wedding attire. But although Miss Manners doesn't know how the lady feels, she hates to give up on the black ones.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have finally graduated college at the age of 28. My family strongly feels that I should send out graduation announcements to the extended family and friends not only because they are proud of me, but for the monetary gifts that might result.
I, however, am rather embarrassed that it took me so long to graduate and do not want to trumpet the fact to my friends and relatives. I also am uncomfortable with sending out the "plea for money" that graduation announcements seem to entail at my age.
Is it wrong for me to strip my parents of their pride in my graduation by not sending out announcements or is this something that I can quietly sweep under the rug as I would like to do? BTW, my education was paid for entirely by myself so I do not "owe" my parents anything in terms of showing appreciation to them for my education.
GENTLE READER: You would not be stripping your parents of their pride. Nothing is stopping them from writing letters to everyone they know telling them of your graduation. For that matter, nothing is stopping them from sending around fundraising pleas, if that is what they wish to do.
However, Miss Manners congratulates you, first on your graduation and second on your refusal to use it to shake down others. A graduation announcement is innocent enough in itself, but in this case tarnished by the hopes that would be pinned on it.