Posted by Talley Sue Hohlfeld, Etiquette Expert
I was reading through a couple of the etiquette books I have and ran across a mention of an oft-disregarded rule about the ritual of giving the bride away.
(Please note: I make a strict distinction between "escorting the bride down the aisle" and "giving her away." Though in the past they often took place in a guaranteed sequence, being escorted down the aisle by someone is not the same as having the officiant ask the question, "Who gives this woman into marriage?")
It's quite common lately for the bride and even the groom to be "given into marriage" by both parents, instead of just her father. In those cases, both parents stand and answer that question. But what I'm hearing from brides is that their parents say, "We do."
I just discovered that this an etiquette violation, according to Miss Manners. And it makes sense, if you think about it. Etiquette is pretty legalistic in its approach to these sorts of things--you must never sign the thank-you card with your husband's name as well as your own; a signature is sort of binding, and he is the only person allowed to sign his name. Ditto Christmas cards and newsy letters.
So of course etiquette would say that you cannot speak for someone else, either. Your father should say, not "We do," but "I do" (and ditto your mother). There was a custom for the father to say, "Her mother and I" in answer to that question, which fit the "George and I love the coffee pot" approach to a thank-you note.
But if the mother is there, she can certainly speak for herself. And so if she will speak, each uses the single pronoun. They will speak at the same time--there is their unity.
Have you decided whether to use the "giving away" custom? Why or why not?