The author is nothing if not upbeat about the current wedding sceneHelen Gurley Brown's use of italics pales beside the workout ``Dear Abby'' gives the exclamation point in her new book. ``Brave new weddings'' are knocking ``the socks off the old folks!'' Brides and grooms are footing the bills! Mothers ``look younger and act younger. . .!'' The problem with all this boundless enthusiasm is that it makes Abby look rather quaint; the reader may yearn for the clear-headed wit of Miss Manners. What we really want from Abby, yet don't get enough of, is true wedding weirdness. (Where are more letters like the ones that ask about proper guest behavior at a nudist wedding?) Instead, her book is filled with unimaginative answers to etiquette questions (``If you are asking friends to drive you in their cars, offer to pay for gas'') and blank ruled pages for making lists of wedding minutiae (e.g., budgeted vs. actual costs of a church rental), while the letters from readers either gush about humble-yet-perfect weddings (``Gee, we had a great time,'' writes one peppy bride) or ask now-predictable questions (``Should my father's new girlfriend stand in the receiving line?''). (Feb.)
This contribution to one of the many titles on wedding planning has all the good humor, common sense, and solid information we've come to expect from the ``Dear Abby'' column. The author is in close touch with mainstream America thanks to the many letters she receives from 90 million daily readers. Consequently, her interpretation of the new etiquette can be viewed as reasonably representative of what is now acceptable behavior. What comes through clearly is that today's bride and groom have a variety of options within broad boundaries of good taste, financial limitations, and sensitivity to the changing family structure. This volume is practical, entertaining, and certain to be popular.-- Hilma F. Cooper, Cheltenham Twp. Libs., Pa.