DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a little disturbed about a new trend among some of my friends and colleagues -- a new duty for bridesmaids, especially maids and matrons of honors.
Many of my friends claim that one of the bridesmaids' duties is to write thank-you notes for the bride, as this takes a lot of responsibility off of an otherwise stressed and busy woman who has so many wedding details to attend to.
Did I miss something? I was a bridesmaid five times and never offered to do this! I am quite happy that no one offered to do so for me when I was a bride, because I find the new tradition a bit tacky. Although the bridesmaids are being thoughtful and doing something for the bride, I feel that the bride herself should take the time to write her own thank-you notes as a sign of her appreciation for the gifts. I personally do not want to receive a thank-you letter from someone other than the gift recipient.
After all, no one says the bride has to handle all of this responsibility solo. I did enlist some help -- from my groom, since he also received and benefited from the gifts. Please let me know if I am correct in being disturbed by this latest trend.
GENTLE READER: While they are at it, why don't they save the bride the trouble of writing little love notes to the bridegroom? Or take over the job of keeping him feeling loved while she is so busy?
The trend you mention -- Miss Manners prefers that you not dignify this revolting change by calling it a "tradition" -- is a steady increase in using bridesmaids as servants who needn't be paid and wedding guests as taxpayers who needn't be personally thanked. Why any of these people stand for it, Miss Manners cannot imagine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in the process of changing my name for religious reasons. I am wondering what the proper way is to inform colleagues, friends, and family of my new name.
I do not want to interrupt them mid-sentence and say, "No, no, that is no longer my name." Rather, I would like a better way to correct them.
I am also concerned that there may be one or two people who will intentionally use my old name because of discomfort or out of wanting to be nasty. Could you give me advice for how to address such a situation, should it occur?
GENTLE READER: Changing a name in adulthood for whatever reason -- religion, marriage, divorce or to escape an outgrown or annoying nickname -- is never going to be easy. The name by which people have been thoroughly conditioned to associate with you is bound to pop up whenever they see or think of you.
Miss Manners does not deny that there may be people who misaddress you deliberately to show disapproval. But etiquette requires the presumption of good will until the contrary is proved -- and cherishes the hope that the ill-intentioned will take advantage of that cover.
So you should treat them all the same. Rather than correcting them, gently announce your name as if it must be news to them -- "I've changed my name. I'm now called...." Anyone who responds with a refusal to comply should simply be told, "Well, that's no longer my name."