My Life A Bit South of Normal

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It Must Be Correct

Looking at the address on the envelope of the wedding invitation to my daughter's best friend's wedding I was reminded of the year I spent assisting a very serious (and dedicated) mother of the bride (MOTB) plan and execute a rather large and elaborate (to say the least) wedding for her daughter. It was an educational experience to say the least. The best lesson I learned was to pray that both of my daughters eloped. 

The first matter at hand was putting together the guest list which would become the bane of my existence. We had to gather the MOTB's Christmas card list, the church's membership list, the address lists of all the social clubs she was a member of, the names and addresses of her husband's business contacts, and of course the family members. It would be a while before anyone remembered that the groom's family, let alone the bride and groom, could possibly have some guests they would like to invite. But I digress.

All these lists had to be combined, the duplicates removed, and then it went back and forth between the MOTB and her husband over who was on the list and who needed to be removed. Names would be struck off and then added back the following week. Every Monday morning I would find a note with some names on my desk, "Please check and see if these are on the list." And, the round robin would start once more.

At one point, I had a separate list of names that had been pulled off the main list and included anyone on death's door, with a terminal disease, with marital problems, in the process of a divorce, or whose house was for sale. The MOTB was determined that the invitations would be addressed correctly. If parties were separated at the time the invitations were delivered, then they needed to be addressed accordingly. And, she would not have an invitation sent to someone who had already passed away. That would be most disrespectful to the family. So I kept up with the obituaries, the MLS, and the local gossip to ensure that list was up-to-date.

And, the names - they had to be complete and correct. (To the point that I had a copy of the style manual put together by the corresponding social secretary at the White House which contained the formal way to address everyone from a Four Star General to a Potentate to a Maharajah - should we have one on the list.)

I remember one prominent business man always used his middle initial "M" and never his middle name. The MOTB had me call his office to obtain his middle name so his invitation would be correctly addressed. His assistant told me, as I expected, just to use the initial, that was his preference.  The MOTB would have none of that and called him herself. After several minutes of polite but emphatic language on her part, he finally said,"What difference does it make? The invitation is coming to me. If I say 'M' is correct, then by God it's correct." She hung up in defeat. "Have it his way. But it is not correct. You cannot address a formal invitation without a full name.

Looking down the list, I cringed. There was the name of a doctor with an initial. I knew him and knew that the initial was not short for anything - it was just a "J". He did not even put a period after it. Amy Vanderbilt didn't cover this one, nor did the White House. Before the MOTB made the call she commented, "You don't suppose he would consider changing it to 'John' would you? That certainly would make my life easier."

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