WAYS-MEANS

WAYS & MEANS

Our Ms. Modern Manners etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, JD, is on the scene with her insight on the world of evolving etiquette for the summer wedding season and beyond

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

As an attendant in my former college roommate’s wedding, I’ve been invited to more than one shower. Must I bring a gift to each one?

Shower Power

Dear Shower That Power,

Aren’t you blessed with several choices? Yes, you may purchase a series of small gifts (check her registry) and give one at each shower. You may also select one large gift to present to at her first (or most meaningful) shower. As an attendant dedicating your time, energy and finances, the bride will be appreciative of your decision. Demonstrating genuine happiness for the bride is the best gift of all.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

My husband and I were recently married and were thrilled to celebrate with our family and friends. What is the appropriate timeframe to send our thank you notes, even with a busy social season?

Noted & Appreciative

Dear Noteworthy,

Best wishes to you and congratulations to you both. Although some think that there is a one year grace period for thank you notes, sending notes within 3 months is highly advised. Gracious guests understand the hustle and bustle of newlywed life, are forgiving of a slight delay and will be excited to read your thanks for the wedding gift they lovingly selected. It is never too late to send a thank you note!

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Can you settle an argument between me and my spouse? I say that when I excuse myself to leave a dinner table in public, like at a dinner party, I should leave my napkin on the table. She says place it on the chair. Who wins?

Setting the Table

Dear Tableaux Tally,

This is an age old debate between etiquette enthusiasts so you’ll have to settle this argument yourselves. Respected leaders in the field train from both perspectives.

Some etiquette experts advise that when leaving the table for a few moments, napkins are placed on the chair, soiled side folded in. It is a silent service signal in the diplomatic world that you are returning to the table. When a host or hostess places their loosely folded napkin to the left of the place setting, it’s another silent service signal to guests and servers indicating the end of the meal.

The second school of thought advises to put the napkin on the table to the left of your place setting. This may prevent soiled napkins from staining fine upholstery. However, in light of the silent service code, hosts should be aware of that to sophisticated guests, the host has just signaled the dinner has concluded. Furthermore, if two or more guests simultaneously depart, soiled linen is not pleasant table decor. When in doubt, leave your napkin in your lap, or use it to blot your lips until dinner is concluded. As you are departing, leave it on the left side of your place setting.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Should we ever put “and Guest” on invitations addressed to our single friends?

Inviting & Inquisitive

Dear Invitation Only,

Several gracious avenues exist for inviting a guest to bring a date or partner. When mailing a formal invitation, don’t write ‘and Guest’ on the outer envelope. It is appropriate to write ‘Ms. Sabrina Goodfriend and Guest’ on the inside envelope.

For informal invitations, write ‘and guest’ on the envelope. It is correct to handwrite ‘Rob, please bring a guest or date’ on the invitation itself. With a small wedding or event, many singles are not invited to bring escorts, with the possible exception of serious significant others. If there is room to include ‘and guest,’ write this on the inside envelope. However modern manners and etiquette guidelines state that the recipient should know that without ‘and Guest’ or another name written on the inside envelope, the invitation is for one person.

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