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FORCED TO CRY, CRY AGAIN

Weddings still make people cry, Miss Manners has discovered. But not, it seems, for the traditional reasons.

The spectacle of an innocent young couple inspired by love to leave the homes and protection of their respective parents and create an irrevocable bond used to set off the sensitive souls among their guests. When people of experience emerge from their own home to create a negotiable bond subject to cancellation, it may still be touching, but perhaps not to a tear-jerking extent.

However, among the people associated with modern weddings, there are still plenty on the verge of tears:

The bride, because she has spent a year planning this wedding, and has discovered that the flowers for the table are a deeper pink than she ordered and don't match the sashes on the bridesmaids' dresses.

The bridegroom, because he's had a lonely year and is not sure the solution to it is that executive-level events planner who has been ordering him around.

The mother of the bride, because she has been told that she didn't put enough money into the wedding to entitle her to have any opinions about how it should be conducted.

The father of the bride, because he has been told that he couldn't bring his second wife, who is home crying.

The mother of the bridegroom, because she has been forced to wear a dress in a color she hates.

The father of the bridegroom, because he paid for his daughter's wedding in its entirety and has now been told that tradition demands that at his son's wedding, he pay for a dinner party for the entire guest list the night before and for all the liquor being consumed during several days of festivities.

The guests, because they realize they have blown their vacation time, as well as great sums of money for transportation, hotels and several rounds of presents, in a place and with a crowd they haven't chosen, only to stand around doing nothing while the wedding pictures are being taken.

The bride's colleagues, because they had to give her a shower, and they weren't even invited to the wedding.

So who, exactly, is enjoying this ordeal?

Miss Manners still believes in happy weddings, and she has been to more than a few. But she is beginning to understand why observers of the wedding scene -- other than those who are there for love or money -- assert that there is an inverse relationship between the elaborateness of the wedding festivities and the success of the marriage. A number of sociologists, divorce lawyers and members of the clergy have been quoted remarking that the more lavish, complicated and prolonged the arrangements, the more likely the marriage is to end in divorce.

Here is what makes her teary: The spectacle of a couple -- perhaps not so young and not so innocent but nevertheless in love -- who feel obliged to devote untold amounts of time and money to producing an elaborate festival that is beyond their experience and capacity and leaves everyone cranky.

E-mail your questions to Miss Manners at MissMannersunitedmedia.com.

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