A recent letter to Miss Manners asked what in the world was a bride-elect, as the writer had never heard such usage before. Indeed, those of us raised on small-town weekly papers knew exactly what was meant---we girls, especially, read that paper cover-to-cover every week, skipping only the farm stuff and dry announcements and ads from the inside-back page. The little happenings of the entire county, rich and poor, were printed right there every week---from the Pund’s anniversary dinner at the Catfish Shack to The Caviness Girl’s wedding, which featured twelve attendants, flowers flown in from Holland, seafood trucked up from Gollott’s, and the biggest tent set up in the county since Jimmy Swaggart preached that time.
Our Friday Leader was rife with brides-elect and grooms-elect, right up to the morning of the wedding, when the young lady was offically The Bride. Showers and teas and little gatherings featured the fancy-hyphenated term, with glossy descriptions of the honoree’s attire and corsage and the menu of each event.
And table appointments---those were delineated in great detail, down to the lace of the cloth, the silver epergne, and the kinds of dainty sandwiches and individual iced cakes served on doilied-up borrowed platters.
Guipure Lace was featured occasionally in a wedding story, and was murmured for days after, just for the beauty of the words---often by ladies married decades, and whose own claim to bridal lace might have consisted of a small inset across the bosom of a new slip from Sears. Even they---especially they---mumbled the word as though tasting a sumptuous, sweet bite of rare fruit.
Alencon lace internet photo
Most brides chose Alencon, and Allenconn was the ne plus unh-hunh of garnish on a veil, with brides and their mothers flaunting the word about in every conversation, including under the dryer, for months before the actual event. One Aunt-Of-The-Bride who “wrote up” a lot of the local important gatherings (as opposed to the usual town reporter, who called everybody in her area during the week to glean the comings and goings and had-over-for-suppers of the folks in her own specific area) became so enamored of the word that she went a bit overboard.
When she looked it up in her set of 1964 World Book (with an update volume added to the end of the row every year, smelling of fresh ink and slick pages), she immediately homed in on the little squiggle at the bottom of the “C.” Finding that it was pronounced like the “c” in fah-sahd, she had a momentary pang of embarrassment at her error, then settled the pronunciation into her vocabulary, using it with firm conviction thereafter, though a lot of ladies still remained blithely ignorant of her élan.
But before she took those double-spaced, elaborately worded pages to the paper for Friday’s edition, she went through the whole thing again and carefully added the little diacritical hook, even making a special trip up to Breedlove’s Office Supply and Printing for a new typewriter ribbon the exact shade of the ink in her roller-ball pen. Of course, the wedding write-up in the County Leader came out with the same plain old lettering it always used, but Aunt knew what she knew, and the ladies at the paper KNEW she knew, so that was worth the trip.