There are times when we are called upon to make a toast. A wedding, engagement party, job promotion or perhaps, a dinner party at home are times that can petrify a host who has to toast. Fear no more, because Jake Gaines, our Mr. Manners and man-about-saloon, is on the scene to help ease the elbow-raising ritual, a wedding conundrum and how Labor Day dressing rules apply.
Dear Mr. Manners,
I am hosting a dinner party in my home for a colleague who is s a true friend, tennis partner and my son’s godfather. I’m afraid I’ll have to toast. For someone who is not a great public speaker like myself, can you give me any advice so I don’t bungle this up in front of our friends?
Wondering In Westlake
Dear Westlake Host With The Most,
First, congratulations on choosing to entertain in your home. We love that people are so much more relaxed with at-home entertaining and the best part is no haggling over reservations. I understand your reservation, though, regarding your toasting abilities. Like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or helping deliver the baby of a stranger in the back of a Manhattan cab, making a toast is usually unfamiliar territory to most people. AS with most things, take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do it with the right words handy and a little advance practice.
Mr. Manners is a resourceful cat, so I often look in one of my vintage Esquire magazine entertaining books to see how I can give the toast some retro flair. Reading something our father or grandfather might have read and used can provide some inner fortitude to create a great toast. Or, simply search online for toasts that fit – be it funny, warm, or congratulatory. My favorite, which I will share with you, is always a hit and easy to remember. Cheers and here’s mud in your eye.
There Are Good Ships
There Are Wood Ships
And Ships That Sail The Sea
But Few Ships Are The Real Ships
Like The Friendship of You And Me
Dear Mr. Manners,
I’ve been asked to be bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. I have already spent a few thousand on it with everything from the dress to the destination bachelorette party. Now I’ve been asked to chip in another $100 toward a gift from the whole wedding party. How can I politely decline the request and not appear as a cheapskate?
Alamo Heights Serial Bridesmaid
Dear Alamo Heights Bridal BFF,
Weddings, and their expenses, have escalated exponentially in the last decade. We know, we’re in the pews and then on the dance floor dancing to Celebration, observing it all with a glass of imported champagne. Even for the girls and boys of means in weddings, the costs can be astronomical. And, in the heat of the moment of the engagement announcement and being asked to join in the occasion, it is easy to lose one’s head. Do yourself a favor and find out the scope of the wedding. If it’s a small affair, your costs will be lower. If it looks like it is to planned to be an extravagant affair with orchids flown in from Hawaii the day of the wedding because they are out of season, then realize what you are getting into at the get-go.
At this point, though, it’s too late and you’ve made your attendant bed, so you’ll have to lie in it. Just like the other guests who were asked, I recommend you also chip in on the gift. Although it’s nothing to sneeze at, a $100 gift toward a gift for your close friend on the most exciting day of her life is a small price to pay to keep your friendship with the soon-to-be-nuptialed couple humming along.
Dear Mr. Manners,
It’s that time of year again and I’m confused about style rules after Labor Day – what to wear, what not to wear and why. Can you help, please?
Going Into Labor Day in Harlingen
Dear Belaboring The Point,
First, kudos to you for wanting to know dressing rules and also, for trying to follow them in a thoughtful manner. Second, in an anything-goes world that we live in now, the rules are actually in place to help you feel more comfortable in your surroundings, as well as creating a comfort level of those around you.
It’s simple. No white clothing after Labor Day. This mostly means white outfits and white shoes, unless it’s a men’s dress shirt, a woman’s blouse or athletic shoes. Those are basic clothing items that are year ‘round. The exception to this rule is if you live in a resort-like climate like most Texans do. Then, the rules are pushed until the first day of Autumn, this year that’s September 22nd.
I get asked this about my favorite warm weather fabric, linen, too. Oh, how I love a linen shirt or pants and the French Riviera it evokes to me. So, you can wear linen through Labor Day in Texas, yet after wearing, do get it cleaned and pack it away until March 21st, the first day of Spring next year. While on the subject, the reverse applies to cool weather fabrics like heavy woolens and corduroys. They should only be worn between the first day of Fall and the first day of Spring, based on the climate. As they say, cooler heads prevail when making practical attire choices.
One more piece of advice: you, on average, take about 5-10 minutes every morning to stand in front of your closet to make an outfit choice for the day. Shouldn’t it be the best one possible that fits well, makes you feel comfortable and others might think is also attractive? We thought so.