What’s the difference between “congratulations” and “best wishes” in wedding situations?

Christina, thank you for your perceptive question!

First, words matter… and you’ve picked up on that. That’s wonderful!

Right, fitting, pleasant, and true words reflect a thoughtfulness that aims for appropriateness. True words create a difference in our own lives and those around us. Encouragement often comes via fitting and appropriate language. Something about “trueness” in speech increases soul satisfaction and harmony in the grand scheme of life. Yes, words matter!

While the use of the word “congratulations” rather than “best wishes” in wedding situations isn’t horrible, their subtle difference is tangible. Offering someone your best wishes upon their wedding or engagement, rather than congratulating them, remains the better choice of words…and likely expresses your genuine intent.

Consider this Webster’s Dictionary short paraphrase: Congratulations acknowledges and expresses a person’s pleasure or joy to another person on account of an event or achievement deemed happy or fortunate. For example: a winning victory, an achievement, such as earning a diploma, the birth of a child, or success in an enterprise.

The root word “grat” root comes from Latin’s “gratus”= grace. Words such as gratitude, gratis, gratuity, and gratulation signify a person’s approval, pleasure or appreciation. In the truest sense of the word, giving congratulations on a marriage infers the couple has somehow achieved, won, earned, or accomplished something against some odds.

Moany of us have seen wedding (and anniversary) cards expressing “congratulations”. Most of us know the card’s sentiments are simply a statement of goodwill. While this may seem nice, in the case of weddings, an offer of congratulations expresses your opinion and approval on the victorious achievement of marriage.

Is that what you really mean?

The better expression offers the couple your “best wishes”. This can be done with a variety in wording. Look at any card rack for their creative ways of expressing your thought. Ignore their commercial merchandise with “Congratulations” looming across the front.” Instead, opt for a card (or your handwritten note) that infers more than your congratulatory announcement; send a card that offers them your “best wishes” in their new life together.

The subtle difference in wording” shifts the meaning from your congratulatory approval on this victory or achievement to your good wishes for them as a couple.

Thank you for sharing your perceptive thoughtfulness and good question with PM friends.

Back burner issues

Have you learned that there are times when certain endeavors have to be put on the back burner…things that you care about?

That’s where this PM blog has been due to a variety of factors–some issues were (and still are) technical and other factors involved time constraints due to life’s speed bumps, and also because of some family needs.


I hope you know its okay whenever an important activity in your life must simmer on the backburner. Reassigning priorities occur when other situations take precedence. We often forget its ok, especially if a sense of guilt nags about failure to perform—or to perform perfectly. Beware of wrong, extraordinary, or impractical expectations for yourself. (You dear diligent responsible persons are most vulnerable here).


Most of us recognize that we live in a culture that ignores- even belittles- the ordinary and popularizes the exceptional, such as “super heroes” who possess extraordinary powers to do all things fantastically well at all times. Young people, looking for examples in how to live, are often wrongly influenced by the loudest voices. Many idolize those who excel in sports and entertainment to the point their ‘heroes” become elevated to seem somehow grander than mere “ordinary” humans. Media and entertainment spotlight (and glorify) the extreme whether good or bad. They hardly notice the decent “average” person.


Circumstances, however, frequently remind us that ordinary mortals have limitations along with time constraints amid multiple duties. For example, young families face numerous demands, not to mention grandparents whose expanding families keep them busy at a lively pace. I hope you know that good family-hood is a demanding priority, which means that some other things in your life may properly be placed on the “back burner”.


Speaking of ordinary, while writing this blog, not long ago I heard a talk/sermon about the blessing of the “ordinary means of grace” available to those who seriously desire how to live well. The significance of such a simple message in our current culture provides the “common” person with some important truths.

Currently, on this little PM blog we continue slowly working on re-posting the many past posts, questions, with their various topics that were hit by a virus. (Thank you again Google for help in avoiding that bump in the road and making us a safe site). Amid the technical problems, I recently discovered that some of your comments and questions never reached me. I’m sorry…no promises, but I will get to them as time allows. I enjoy hearing from you and appreciate your quest for wisdom in living with the best etiquette.

While discussion about good manners may get waylaid, their practice should never be relegated to a back burner.



Happy New Year 2015

Dear PM friends
Do you know that you are a special and unique person in today’s world…and the fact that you are here, that you care about good manners, a sense of order, kindness and respect for other people is a huge blessing in many ways…you make the world a better place. I am blessed to be growing in grace with you.

“Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct your way…; and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as the apostles formerly did; so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
Happy New Year

Some thoughts from Messing with Manners

Thoughts on messing with manners…

A question in many people’s mind is whether or not etiquette has any flexibility in its practices …the short answer, is of course it does.

So when are detours or adjustments allowed? When are they necessary? Any variation from etiquette’s standards requires an understanding of why we do what we do, where we are going, and how a change from usual protocol may impact others.

If we rigidly uphold “tradition” for its sake alone, we become rather stuffy and relationships often suffer.  On the other hand, when we ignore etiquette in favor of “whatever” or “doing our own thing” or “doing it my way”, our heady presumption can produce some sad results. The idea of respectful service towards others under girds polite protocols. From this  you can see why self-serving and immature people balk at the idea of etiquette.

Those of us with a little mileage on our social tires realize that the standard road in good manners is often the best route. After all much in etiquette hails from thoughtful consideration of the situation at hand, its function and orderly needs, and, importantly, the people involved in the situation.

This idea in the design world is expressed in the modern adage “good form follows function” and similarly in etiquette, the function and purpose of circumstances prescribed the best form manners should undertake.

Life situations, however, are complex, thus form’s purpose sometimes takes necessary adjustments. Although good manners can adapt and adjust at times, let’s remember that much in tried and true etiquette already exists… and for good reason. For example, a person helpfully opens a door for someone with a handful of items or a younger person offers a seat to an elderly lady in need. I like how manners teach us to look beyond ourselves to the welfare of others.

When we presume to “mess with manners (or ignore them completely) wrong turns can result…but NOT always if basic underlying principles are maintained…. Successful changes, however, take wisdom coupled with a genuine concern for others.

With this in mind, a timeless post follows, with a link at the end, because Nancy Ann, the writer, shares an important aspect about etiquette’s applications in various situations. I like her title…”messing with manners” and I like her thoughts.

Nancy points out that there are times when necessity dictates some flexibility in social protocols. She closes with another good point that etiquette can vary from country to country… something many of us has discovered in our travel experiences. See what you think, then visit Nancy’s blog for more discussion and comments.

Messing with Manners

Published by Nancy Ann on February 27, 2010 in Hospitality. 13 Comments

“When we come to discuss particular points of social etiquette, it’s important to look at the big, bigger, and biggest picture.  Most of the rules regarding manners were established hundreds of years ago and have been honored and acknowledged for generations by our own ancestors and all their aunts and uncles. I dare say that your great-grandma was telling your grandfather at the table not to chew with his mouth open, to put his napkin on his lap, and not to talk with his mouth full. Let’s hear it for good manners! But manners were made for man, not man for the manners.

A bunch of these older traditions and social expectations have morphed and evolved into their present forms, and for good reason. I can remember reading through an old book on etiquette and breathing a sigh of relief that we have moved on from some of those outdated customs. But we still have many cultural expectations, especially regarding weddings and showers, funerals and anniversaries, graduations and birthdays. Sometimes necessity dictates that we mess with some of the standards of accepted social etiquette.

For example, our congregation is large, and we have lots of growing families. Some years ago we moved away from having the traditional baby and wedding showers because we were faced with a choice: either we would have to exclude most of the women in the congregation from the guest list, or we would have to restructure the shower format. We opted for the latter. And with the growing number of showers, if we wanted to enable the women to attend, we would have to make them shorter events. So we began having open-house showers, and we used the church email to send out the invitations. You have to realize that a normal shower around here will have thirty or more ladies attend. We can’t exactly plan a sit-down luncheon for that many ladies, and with a shower or two every other week or two, most women would not be able to afford the time to attend so many social events. But we wanted to keep up the church-wide celebrations, so we made a change for what we considered to be good reasons.  No one had their feathers ruffled that I know of. In fact, there was a big sigh of relief on all fronts! And they are lovely events, with beautiful spreads of food and piles of gifts. And most of the recipients still send out thank-you notes (not because it is a rule….simply a lovely custom).

Now of course, we do not expect other women in other communities to adopt our method of shower-giving unless it would be helpful to them. We are not trying to change the world; we are merely trying to keep some sanity in our own shower-giving. Is our method of shower-giving an innovation? Yes. Is it sin? No. Might someone wonder what in the world we are doing? Yes.

They may think we are stepping high, wide, and handsome. They may be surprised that we don’t send out stamped invitations, play shower games, and sit in a circle watching the guest of honor open her gifts. Who do we think we are anyway? And it would be easy for us to respond that we are not bound to give showers the way our ancestors did just because. But I don’t think that’s a good answer. We ought to have a good reason if we are going to go messing around with the traditions of  our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers before us.  In this case, I think we did have good reasons, and so we messed.

So let’s bring this around to our current conversation about who should give the shower. If moms and sisters start giving showers for their daughters and sisters, then they ought to have a good reason for doing so. (If women start throwing themselves showers, they had better have a good reason as well!) I’m not sure what that reason might be, but there may be a good one. And though I might flinch if I heard a mother was throwing a shower for her daughter, it most emphatically would not be because I was offended. Rather, I might flinch because I would be worried about the hostess. Oh dear. Does she realize that it might look/seem weird to some people? Does she know this is a bit of a faux pas? Historically taboo for the last hundred years?  But I would happily go to the shower. No problem.

Finally, I have to acknowledge to you all (in case you didn’t know) that I am well into my fifties, and like it or not, age makes a difference. My mom taught me this stuff, and it is in my bones. Many of you readers are much younger than I am, and you’ve never heard of such a thing. Not only do generations make a difference, but where you grew up makes a difference. In fact, it makes a very big difference.  According to Bekah, in England a baby shower is simply not done. Here in the US we shower like crazy. So there you go. That’s where I’m coming from.”

Here’s the link to to see this article and comments in response to Nancy Ann’s discussion:


Not Ignoring Your Comments

Dear PM Friends

Ever notice how, in the real world, nothing in life is a “slam dunk”?…And, so it is with our new site format, which for some reason doesn’t allow me to respond to your comments . Please know that I appreciate each of you who have taken time to email and make comments. I send my thanks via this post and hope to respond to each comment in kind as soon as possible.

My web master and I continue to work out the glitches. I also hope to have the photos online again soon. I’m learning tons of interesting things! Thanks for your forbearance and continued interest. We live in a wonderful era and I appreciate your crossing cyber space to visit the important issue of protocol matters with me.

I hope you are having a wonderful summer and, of course, putting your best foot forward…in your favorite sandals.

By the Way Tip for Knitters

This is a side note for PM’s knitting friends. I’m enjoying the summer days with my daughter-in-law who just received a beautiful pattern book from her sister in Scotland. I think you might like it, too. Lovely and fresh, it’s titled Summer Breeze, featuring luxury cotton DK and Bamboo soft creations by Martin Storey from Rowan Classic.

And, speaking of knitting: Thomas Watson reminds us in The Godly Man’s Picture that “The best way to discern grace in oneself is to love grace in others. ‘We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.’ (I John 3:14). What is religion but religation–a knitting together of hearts? Faith knits us to God and love knits us to one another.” …So, knit away and do so faithfully, consistently and beautifully.  I appreciate how etiquette helps each one of us do this in practical ways. Protocol matters.

Weddings and uninvited children

    A mother from Washington shares the following concern with a question about wedding budgets and uninvited children:Question: My daughter is getting married in October. The ceremony will be an “open invitation” to all of our friends and their children. However, due to size, venue, and cost the reception is only for specific adults and Continue reading

Where to find trustworthy book reviews?

Here’s a good questionfrom a mother who takes her parenting responsibilities seriously. She knows that what goes into a young mind has influence beyond the Continue reading

Miss, Mrs. and Ms.

 Mmmmm-for those wondering about all those “M” titles, here’s a quick overview –

“Ms.” is a respectful generic designation when a lady’s marital status is either unknown or irrelevant when addressing or writing to her. We shouldn’t forget “Madam”, which is a polite French expression used by many English speaking people for “my lady”.  A shorter version ,”Ma’am”, originally meant the mistress of a house but now represents any Continue reading

Those Marrying “I-Do-s”

Some of my younger single friends, high school and college graduates, with whom I’ve visited lately, are considering marriage, which to them seems a most exciting, albeit normal, next step in their life’s progression. They’ve received fine educations, have good parental examples, and are capable young adults, yet for their new roles as husbands and wives, some say that they still feel Continue reading

On the Road to a Happy Marriage

Bridal showers are fitting times for the “older women” (in this case a future mother-in-law) to share some words of wisdom for a happy marriage from her treasury of experience. Following are the wise  words shared by Natali’s future mom-in-law, Sheryl, a delightful lady with wit and Continue reading

Question: Do groom’s parents pay for their invited guest’s room?

Protocol matters received a question not often discussed in wedding etiquette books. The questioner wondered “if the parents of the groom are expected to cover hotel costs for out of town guests that they invite?“.  This is a good question because misunderstandings and confusion over a wedding’s financial obligations certainly add stress and can even spoil the occasion.   Continue reading

Matters of New Life in Troubles, Jail, and Beyond

  Behold! I make all things new! Revelations 21:5.Today I write with tears–mixed with joy and sadness. Warm tears of joy because the Lord makes all things new–something so necessaryfor each of us and wonderful to see.But also with tears of sadness for the hurting hearts in our Continue reading

Manners from the Home Maintainance Toolbox

 From the manners toolbox: Quiet speaks loudest Have you considered how noise impacts your home and your relationships? And how it relates to manners?A glance through Strong’s Concordance Continue reading

Happy New Year

  Thinking of making  new year resolutions?”Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.”– Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and author (1795-1881).

May your 2008 overflow with worthy and virtuous conduct.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Cell Phones. WWJD

Everyone appreciates the convenience of cell phones. Yet we’ve all been subject to sudden interruptions and personal conversations not intended for us by people in public places with cell phones permanently attached to their ears? But something else problematic exists…

Don’t be deceived by the glibness of the title–this post relates a serious side of technology misuse that many people overlook.  It isn’t speaking of driving distractions or health issues, but something more subtly harmful to our humanity. It also reminds us why cell phone etiquette is important. Thanks to Charlie Wingard for sharing this Dallas News article by Ken Myers.  Click here to read his column.    In addition: Below you’ll find a list of basic cell phone etiquette that should be included in everyone’s good manners: Continue reading

Across the Big Pond interviews

You are cordially invited to listen in for the United Kingdom’s Transworld Broadcasting System program, when I discuss Protocol Matters with Mr. Brent Siddall on December 13 at 9:00 A.M. GMT.  Hope you can join me.

Also of noteworthy interest, Mr. Siddall will be interviewing Douglas Wilson on Dec. 12 at 9:00 A.M. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Mr. Wilson

speak, tune in–he is always well informed and his discussions, lively and pertinent for living faithfully in ways that may surprise and challenge you.

Other interesting inteviews conducted by Mr. Siddall are online via the TWR’s address below. If you are unable to listen in on the podcast date, the interviews will be available afterwards for a few weeks listed under past programs.

You may click here for a convenient link….

P. S. September 2009–Sorry, this link is now expired. I  don’t have a copy of this interview but the book, Protocol Matters, is now available through Great Britian’s Amazon source.


Holiday tips when there are mice in your boots

 I remember how very busy and challenging the B.C. holidays were in my early years of new motherhood so this post is for you young moms and dads who may face some similar obstacles.  We laugh Continue reading

Good Words

Do you know how powerful your words are? Words have great effect in two directions –they can build up or tear down.  Fitly spoken words possess the power to build up when dispensed in truth with sincerity. The key is speaking truthful words with sincerity, which rules out phoney flattery. Such words make a difference to others in our lives as Janet Lawrence tells us in this excerpt, reprinted with her kind permission. Continue reading

Here’s Kama: Birthday Book Exchange & Party Manners

The book exchange idea started with a discussion and a concern. One of my sons, with a concern about “too many presents” during the holiday season and her birthday, and yet with the desire to provide a memorable celebration of our youngest Continue reading

Divine Simplicities: Expressing Thanks

When busy parents ignore or neglect small matters in the protocol habits of their children, the effects can be profoundly negative. The giving thanks is one of those small, even seemingly insignificant items; yet this easy practice CANNOT be overlooked without awful consequences–grabbing included. Thank you to Jennifer from Washington for her question Continue reading

Toppling modern king pins

A friend and fellow high school teacher passed along some excellent comments concerning the need for our current generation’s return to common sense and a better regard for truth and propriety. Modernity has lost touch with certain realities, including an understanding of “solempne”. (If your Latin is rusty–or non-existent–you’ll appreciate discovering Continue reading

Programs for Church Youth Groups

This question comes from TS in Michigan:

Question: Dear Sandra, I have just finished and enjoyed tremendously your book Protocol Matters. Thank you for writing it. On the back of the book, mention is made of your prior work with church groups and youth programs. Have you ever implemented a protocol training program such as the one described in your book in a youth Continue reading

Men in hats

I received the following question and am posting my answer regarding the dress codes for men and hats. I hope the answer gives you a deeper understanding of why this is an important question.

Question: “Sandra, In this modern day and age is it ok yet for younger men to wear their hats inside of buildings? Are there some buildings that are ok while others are not?” Brad F. from Washington Continue reading

Good Words

Do you know how powerful your words are? Words have great effect in two directions –they can build up or tear down.  Fitly spoken words possess the power to build up when dispensed in truth with sincerity. The key is speaking truthful words with sincerity, which rules out phoney flattery. Such words make a difference to others in our lives as Janet Lawrence tells us in this excerpt, reprinted with her kind permission. Continue reading

Quiet Your Doubts

Is this a time of doubt, suffering, or hurt in your life? Do you or your loved ones have serious problems and questions about the Christian faith because of some hard circumstances? So did former atheist, Lee Strobel, when he set out to examine tough intellectual objections to Christianity, especially the questions of suffering and how can a “good God do or allow bad things Continue reading