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A COMPETITION IN WHITE

Dear Miss Manners: My future daughter-in-law is very upset because, for her early afternoon wedding to my son in our family church, her stepmother has chosen formal evening attire. Actually it is a white, fitted wedding dress.

The bride has politely requested that her stepmother choose another color dress and also told her father that this is her day and she would rather her stepmother not wear white. Her stepmother says she doesn't see why she can't wear white, because "it's a wedding." Her father doesn't want to hurt either one's feelings, so he said he's staying out of it.

How should she firmly but politely persuade her stepmother not to wear white?

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners was about to crank out her usual routine to brides -- yes, dear, other ladies are not supposed to wear white (or black or red), and they're certainly not supposed to wear evening clothes during the day, but don't let this "it's my day" business fool you into thinking you can boss other people around -- when she came to a screeching halt.

The bride's stepmother wants to go to the wedding dressed in bridal regalia? She can't tell the difference between "a wedding" and her wedding?

Uh-oh.

There's more than a clothing problem here. There's even more than an etiquette problem here, and Miss Manners doesn't say that lightly. No wonder the father is hoping to stay out of it.

The only hope of solving the bride's relatively trivial problem is to substitute a sympathetic approach. She shouldn't make the request on her own behalf, but "because I'm afraid people will take it the wrong way and make fun of you" -- which, Miss Manners assures you, is only too likely.

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