Q: 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
Miss Manners says: 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.
Your Head Bitch says: I am going to pray that your aunt is only doing this because you’re related to her, and would not subject some other poor unwitting priest who crossed her path to this kind of nonsense. I am not yet perhaps the “Pope of Manners” myself, but I hope you’ll let your aunt know in no uncertain terms that I also object strongly to her request. As you rightly point out, this is what you would wear to meet the Pope, and her son’s wedding, no matter what importance it may hold in her mind, surely does not outrank an audience with god’s earthly representative! I mean, this woman is obviously Catholic, so I don’t understand how she doesn’t understand that priests take a vow to live simply and do not have much occasion to go swanning about in tuxedos? You should wear your habit to conduct the ceremony and your black suit with roman collar to the reception, both things you already know, but I am restating them for anyone in the cheap seats who might not have understood clearly. Not only is that proper for both your position and the dress code, but it also has the added benefit of preventing those who don’t recognize you from awkwardly asking how you know the happy couple. If you aunt has any issues, please have her call me directly. I’d be more than happy to advise her on the appropriateness of her demands and then take her manners confession when she realizes how deeply, horrifically, wrong she has been.
I mean, Jesus, lady! Literally!
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