DEAR MISS MANNERS: Last month I attended a wedding in the south of France as the guest of one of the bride's friends. (The bride and groom are acquaintances of mine.) After the travel plans were already booked and paid for, the bride advised my friend that, although I could attend all the other activities around the wedding, she would have to "uninvite" me to the reception in order to save money unless one of her "A-list" guests could not attend.
Right after the wedding ceremony at the church, the bride's father told me that her cousin and his wife could not come, and insisted that there would be a place for me. (The wedding couple was occupied with greeting guests and taking photos, and couldn't be consulted at that time.) However, at the reception two of the groom's cousins showed up with uninvited dates, so the bride asked me to leave, which I agreed to do graciously, although I was both hurt and humiliated. She even left me to my own devices to find a telephone to call a local cab company. (Fortunately, one of the guests witnessing my dilemma kindly made the call on his cell phone.)
I feel the bride was tacky, rude and ungracious, and could have asked the on-site wedding coordinator to accommodate one more guest; my friend insists that what she did was within reason and stayed at the reception. What is your take on this? By the way, the bride was more than happy to take my wedding gift.
GENTLE READER: This is the sad result of two badly thought-out innovations now common to the modern wedding.
One is the Guest Once Removed, who is not someone that the bridal couple or their families particularly want to have and may not even know. But they have ceded a slot to each of their single guests to bring their own guests.
The other is the Make Our Wedding Your Vacation plan. Rather than being married where they or their parents live, they choose a vacation spot and have as guests not necessarily those closest to them, but only those who are able and willing to spend their vacation time and money to travel there, too.
Under ordinary circumstances, Miss Manners has little patience with single people who claim they would not enjoy weddings without companionship of their own choosing. If they have no pleasure in seeing their friends married and meeting their families and other friends, why attend at all?
But if they are to devote days instead of hours to the event, it is different. Even Miss Manners does not expect them to vacation alone.
And if there are to be Guests Once Removed, gracious -- no, not just gracious, but decent -- hosts refrain from making them feel they have second-class status. Miss Manners would hardly expect a bride to leave her wedding reception to call anyone a taxi, but there would have been no necessity to do so had she behaved properly.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: There is a luncheon riding on this. I say that a lady should always follow behind the host or hostess first to a table in a restaurant. My friend says that if it is a host the lady follows first, but if it is a hostess the gentleman follows first. Please settle this for us.
GENTLE READER: You are correct; the gentleman goes ahead only if there is no host or hostess and he must lead the way. Miss Manners is afraid your friend expects ladies to pay far too much attention to the genders of restaurant personnel.