DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a Catholic clergyman. Once the dangers from COVID pass and we can resume a semblance of our normal lives, I will be performing a cousin’s wedding ceremony.
The dress code for the reception is black tie. My aunt is insisting that I wear a tuxedo, which, to me, is a very odd request.
I told her I would wear either my religious habit or a black suit with a Roman collar, as they are the equivalent of a soldier’s Class A uniform. They are, simply, the best clothing I own.
In all my years, I’ve never encountered anyone who objected to clergy (or military) wearing their dressiest clothing to a wedding reception, but perhaps I am naive or incorrect. One usually expects clergy to dress like what they are, especially when they’re overtly functioning as such.
My aunt is quite confident that you, whom she calls the “Pope of Etiquette,” will set me straight and tell me that I’m being boorish. My superiors would normally not countenance wearing a tuxedo under any circumstances but, in this one case, they’re sufficiently bemused to have agreed to let me abide by your decision. (However, my habit or a black suit with a Roman collar would be what I would wear to see the actual pope.)
GENTLE READER: And to see Miss Manners, she trusts.
You aunt has hit a new low in attempts to act as costume director at a wedding. Unlike your superiors, Miss Manners is neither bemused nor amused.
Aside from establishing the level of formality, those giving weddings must rely on the judgment of the participants. Even brides who want to dress their bridesmaids alike run into trouble if they allow those ladies no choice.
You really must insist that if you are to perform this wedding, it is in your capacity as a clergyman and you must wear the clothes that are appropriate to that calling.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a gentlewoman with white hair who looks her age. In the Before Times, I gratefully accepted displays of courtesy, such as doors being held open for me by gentlemen and ladies.
However, I do not know how to respond when someone holds a door for me but is not wearing a mask. I, of course, am wearing one — for my own protection, and as a civic duty.
When this happens, I back away from the door and make a gesture of thanks, keeping an appropriate distance and refusing the assistance. To accept would place me within 6 feet of an unmasked person.
What ensues is a battle of wills: me refusing to walk through the door vs. the non-mask-wearing person insisting that I accept his generous help. I have tried explaining my reason, but that never works.
Eventually, the unmasked person gives up, and I open the door myself. How should I handle this situation?
GENTLE READER: That you do not do so by snapping, “My arm’s not broken” is a relief to Miss Manners. We want to encourage the few surviving courtesies.
But not at the risk of your health. The polite way to decline would be to take it upon yourself, saying, “Thank you, but I should stay away from you — I wouldn’t want to reward your kindness by endangering you.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.