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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Congratulations vs. Best Wishes

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother taught me to congratulate a groom or newly engaged man, but to offer happiness and best wishes to the bride/newly engaged woman. I see many people congratulating both today, rather than offering best wishes to the woman. I find myself doing it more and more with the younger couples I know who are getting engaged and married.

My very elderly mother heard me congratulate a friend’s daughter on her engagement and lectured me on how inappropriate I was. Is there truly a correct way to offer such congratulations to a couple that expresses my joy and happiness for them? And if I am still supposed to offer much happiness and best wishes to a bride, what do I do for a same-sex couple?

GENTLE READER: Your mother may be pleased to hear that Miss Manners still makes this distinction. But nobody else does.

And as it is based on the premise that the bridegroom is lucky to have taken a bride, and that the bride may be in need of luck, it is hard to justify -- and impossible, even with that silly division in mind, to apply to a wedding of two brides or two bridegrooms.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Etiquette & Ethics