What to do with wedding, summer professional obligations, lipstick stains, and the occasional social etiquette dilemma? Turn to our keenly astute Ms. Modern Manners, Sharon Schweitzer as she helps navigate toward living your best, and yes, most well-behaved life possible

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
My fiancé and I are planning a very small marriage ceremony, but plan to have a party to celebrate our wedding in the future. For our small ceremony, how do we keep our guest list to only those we really want there?
Knot Tying

Dear Knot Knowing,
Without question, the best, surefire way to keep your guest list under control is to have a destination event. Select a location where neither you, your future bride-groom, nor either set of families, lives. This will ensure that only the guests you want to join in will travel the distance to celebrate with you.

Dear Miss Modern Manners,
Are jeans, a way of life now, appropriate attire for a bridal shower?

Shower Power

Dear Showered & Sophisticated,
It depends. Does the invitation specify attire? What is the location – high-end restaurant, luxury home or casual patio? Who are the hosts and guests? The easiest way to decide what to wear to a bridal shower is to remember who is being honored – the bride. When in doubt – unless you enjoy seeing Aunt Karen’s eyeballs bulge and offering smelling salts to Grandmama with a fainting spell, save the jeans for days less special.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
I am going on a business trip to Germany. I understand that there are different rules regarding arms on the table there. What’s appropriate?

German Goer

Dear Rhine Reader,
When dining with Germans (and many Europeans), you will find them to be very formal and polite. Unlike in the U.S., where it is courteous to place your hands in your lap when resting between courses, good manners in Germany means that hands remain visible with both wrists resting on the table. Legend has it this stems from the tradition of showing that you hold no weaponry when you return from the hunt. So respect this custom, rest your wrists, not arms or elbows, on the edge of the table top throughout the meal.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
How do I ensure that the office won’t bother me when I go on vacation this summer?

Mad Man

Dear Don Draper,
To cover all your bases, create a one-page ‘Work in Progress’ (WiP), including your current status and next steps, any team members collaborating, and the projected completion date, with vital contact information for those your boss or a team member can contact directly in your absence. Creating this will take an hour or two, and ensure you won’t be bothered unless it is emergency during your time away – definitely a positive return on your time investment! Meet with your team to review your WiP before you meet with your supervisor to ensure everyone’s in agreement to avoid confusion when you’re away.
Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
What is the proper etiquette regarding lipstick on a wineglass or teacup? If I leave a stain, is it proper to wipe it off with my napkin, or do I leave it as is?

Lip Service

Dear Lipstick Jungle,
Ladies in lipstick can avoid this fiasco by unobtrusively licking the edge of the wine glass before taking a sip – or licking their lips to seal the lip color and form a barrier that prevents the color from sticking to the glass. Another tip includes applying liquid foundation to lips, then dusting face powder and applying lip color. The tiny lip creases fill and excess lipstick does not transfer to the crystal! It is improper to wipe lipstick on linen napkins because it stains the fabric and is nearly impossible to remove, and a paper napkin will stick to lipstick. In short, leave your gorgeous lipstick on your lips to highlight your lovely smile.