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Please confirm the following rumor: A friend of mine told me that itís
considered improper etiquette to say congratulations to a newly-engaged
woman, and that the congratulations should only be offered to the
groom-to-be. Is my friend correct, and if so whatís the deal with
this? And what are you supposed to say instead? --Jen
Rumor confirmed. Traditionally,
etiquette does indeed dictate that "congratulations"
are reserved for the young man, and "best wishes"
offered for the bride-to-be. The "logic" (if you want
to call it that) behind this rather odd custom is that offering
a hearty "congratulations" somehow suggests that you
are commending the young lady on her luck and skill in snagging
such a fine specimen of a husband, the implication being that
she was somehow actively hunting for a mate. This, of course, is
considered Terribly Tacky and Even Rude by Those Who Obsess over
Such Things, since every one knows a Proper Lady never chases.
On the other hand, it is apparently perfectly OK to congratulate
a young man on his prowess and good fortune in finding a future
me, reeks of the same sort of sexist rationale that allows men
different liberties than women because "men hunt, women
gather." It is, of course, pure and utter nonsense Ė I
say if itís okay to say congratulations to the newly-engaged
boy, it should certainly be just as okay to say the same to the
newly-engaged girl. Still, if one insists on being Socially
Proper about These Sorts of Matters, regardless of whether the
rules of propriety make any sort of rational sense, a simple
offer of "Best Wishes" is deemed the appropriate
a suspicion you may have committed
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