DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dear fiancee and I have known each other for more than 10 years, and she knows well how dearly I care for her. I tell her each day, in every way I can imagine.
When we are to wed, I anticipate feeling very awkward at the idea of using someone else's words to explain my affection for her. On top of that, since the idea behind a wedding is to declare our love for one another in front of the community, I almost feel like my words would be more properly addressed to our assembled friends and family. I do not anticipate telling my bride anything she has not already heard ad infinitum.
In fact, I have always been hesitant at performing rituals, because I prefer to use my own words to express my feelings (and in particular, on a day when my feelings are part of the basis for the gathering).
However, I have come to appreciate the need for ritual and regularity. For these reasons, I fear that I will be seen as a boor by our guests if I turn away from our officiant and start jabbering on to the congregation about my sweet bride.
I am struggling between my desire for self-expression and functionality on the one hand and manners and tradition on the other.
GENTLE READER: The guests also already know that you are in love. They were invited to a wedding, remember?
And won't they be surprised when they find that you don't understand what a wedding ceremony is?
The purpose is not to declare your love in public. You are welcome to shout it from the rooftops any time you want, presuming you do not violate local noise ordinances.
A wedding ceremony is the ritualistic public recognition of entering a marriage contract that meets legal requirements and, optionally, religious ones.
This is why Miss Manners opposes total rewrites (as opposed to editing that may be necessary to fit the particular case) of rituals. That and the fact that self-written vows tend to be frightfully icky to hear -- along the lines of what you have in mind.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A year and a half ago, my wife asked me if a friend could move in with us until he got on his feet. He is still here. He pays my wife rent and helps out around the house, but it is definitely time he moved out.
My wife asked me to tell him and not to mention that she said told me to do it. I feel that since it's her friend and he's paying her, she should. Who should handle it and how should it be handled so no one has hurt feelings? He really is a nice guy.
GENTLE READER-- All right, then, if neither of you has nerve, do it jointly. Miss Manners thinks that better, anyway. You don't want your guest to think that one of you has been complaining of him to the other.
You begin by saying warmly, "It's been wonderful having you here. You really are the ideal guest." Then you add pleasantly, "But of course none of us wanted this to be a permanent arrangement." (Pause, to give him a chance to say, "No, of course not.")
Whether he does or not, you may then resume by saying, "Let us know when you find something you like."