DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have long wondered about the wedding custom of guests applauding after the officiant says the words, “I now pronounce you ______.” Is the marriage ceremony a performance that requires guests to clap?
I have been bothered by this as much as by the intricately choreographed dance performed by the adorable couple. This seems to me to disrupt the atmosphere of a sweet, loving occasion.
I would appreciate your view on these customs.
GENTLE READER: They started as those sweet, loving occasions were evolving into theatrical productions: fanciful bio-epics about the couple, instead of serious religious or civic rituals.
Aside from inflicting amateur theatrics on a captive audience, this approach sacrifices an important emotion. Yes, Miss Manners recognizes the expression of joy and congratulations that the applause is supposed to signify. But there is plenty of room for that to be expressed at the reception.
What is lost is the poignancy that many feel --sometimes to the point of sentimental tears -- at the beauty of the ceremony.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)