Wedding Invitations, Vol. 14, Issue 6

Dear Etiquetteer: We have a couple of wedding invitation etiquette questions that we're hoping you can help with.

First, we want to have a "cocktail welcome party" the evening before the wedding for all family, and for friends visiting from out of town. We are trying to figure out the best way to get this info to people. I think these are our options:

  1. Include this as part of the formal wedding invitation on a separate card, thereby just inviting everyone invited to the wedding.
  2. Include an additional card in some invitations that invites particular people to the cocktail party.
  3. Send out a separate invitation entirely to those invited.

The second is our favorite option but I'm not sure how much of a faux pas this would be to include a separate card in some invites and not others. Thoughts? Would it be better to just invite everyone? We're just concerned about the number of people.

Second, do you have any thoughts about wording on the formal invitation itself for the reception? We want to include on the actual invitation that there will be "dinner and dancing to follow at ---," but also want it to be clear that this is immediately following the ceremony. Any way to do this without just putting the info on a separate card entirely, or is that our best bet?

Dear Happy Couple:

First, allow Etiquetteer to congratulate you on your coming marriage and wish you a long and happy life together. Your concern for others augurs well for a Happy Married Life!

Etiquetteer understands that your welcome cocktail party* is separate from the rehearsal dinner, to which Etiquetteer assumes only the wedding party and a smaller subset of family are invited. Before considering who to invite, let's first restate your purpose in holding this party, which should direct us in compiling a guest list. You write you want to give a party before the wedding "for all family, and for friends visiting from out of town." Using that guideline, the only wedding guests not invited are local friends. To Etiquetteer this seems perfectly sensible, though you may want to look at that list of local friends, and see if there isn't anyone there with particularly close ties to an out-of-towner who'd be there. For instance, if one of you belongs to a college fraternity or sorority, Etiquetteer would recommend that all brothers and sisters invited to the wedding also be invited to the welcome cocktail party.

Including an additional card in your wedding invitation for this welcome cocktail party would be Perfectly Proper, as has been done for wedding receptions for many years. Once upon a time, an invitation to the wedding was more sought after than an invitation to the reception; how times have changed, alas!** But considering that this party is for out-of-town guests, many of whom will have to book airline flights well in advance, Etiquetteer would encourage you to consider sending a separate invitation. That way they can schedule their flights to arrive in time (if possible, given the state of the airlines). This separate invitation would not have to resemble the wedding invitation, and could even reflect the more casual nature of the party.

As to the reception invitation, you actually included the Perfectly Proper language in your question. Your invitation should read like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Fairleigh Freshness

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Miss Dewy Freshness

to Mr. Manley Firmness

on [Insert Date Here]

at the Church of the Deity of Your Choice

35 Blissful Way,

Upper Crustington, Connecticut

and immediately following the ceremony at

the Taj-Ritz Seasons Hotel Club

222 Colonial Drive

Upper Crustington, Connecticut

In the bottom left corner, put "Dinner and Dancing" along with your dress code. You may not put "And don't keep us waiting" after that.

Etiquetteer does understand that you'd like the wedding invitation to include the reception information, but encourages you to consider the separate reception invitation card.

*Please use "welcome cocktail party" instead of "cocktail welcome party." Welcome as those cocktails may be, your purpose in giving the party is to welcome the guests, not the cocktails.

**Etiquetteer sometimes wishes it was Perfectly Proper to include on a reception invitation "It will be quite impossible to admit you to the reception if you did not attend the wedding ceremony first."

Etiquetteer's Advice to 21st Century Brides, Vol. 13, Issue 53

Dear Etiquetteer: My beloved eldest niece - she who resembles me more than either of her parents - is getting married almost a year from now. So far she has save-the-date cards ordered, but as her mother had an awful upbringing in terms of manners, expectations, etc., I know she will not be able guide the bride-to-be. What are some of the pitfalls of which a bride-to-be should be wary in 2014-2015?

Dear Aunt Bridey:

A Young Woman approaching the altar has many pitfalls to avoid, including many within herself. The saddest and most obvious is the delusion that one's wedding is just as important to everyone else in the entire world as it is to oneself. The next is that everyone in the entire world is going to spend every cent they have gratifying her every whim; this is what Etiquetteer calls the Gaping Maw of Bridal Need. Etiquetteer hates to disillusion these women (actually, that's not true; Etiquetteer is fiercely eager to shred their Veils of Deliberate Illusion), but even one's fiancé is not likely as interested in the wedding as the bride. In fact, no one cares about the bride. They care about the bride caring about them. Surprise them all, and make your wedding guests the focus of your wedding!

Etiquetteer has some ideas about Brides Today and Perfect Propriety. Dear Bride:

  1. Be a giver, not a perpetual taker. No one likes satisfying the Gaping Maw of Bridal Need. No one owes you the wedding of your dreams.
  2. Ask yourself if this is really about you and your mother and/or mother-in-law fighting to see who can come out on top.
  3. Ask yourself if you want a perfect wedding, or if you really just want to boss people around. Be honest. If the latter, get the ladder and elope.
  4. Think carefully about the experience your wedding guests are going to have and make absolutely sure that your wedding will be a party they'll remember for the right reasons.
  5. Make the conscious decision that you're going to have a good time with all these people, not have an anxious time trying to avoid them so you can be with your fiancé/husband. After all, you'll have him for the rest of your life!
  6. It's a wedding, not a chorus line. Choose the number of friends you want for bridal attendants, not vice versa. An even number of attendants is not necessary - good heavens, attendants themselves are not necessary! (And you'd be surprised how many of your friends will secretly thank you for sparing them the burden.)
  7. Don't be so selfish that you force your attendants to buy hideous dresses they'll never wear again.
  8. Don't skimp on a gift for each of your attendants, and don't let your fiancé skimp either. They're your friends after all, yes?
  9. Consider skipping the vulgarity of a bachelorette trip to Las Vegas and instead hosting a traditional bridesmaids luncheon the week before the wedding.
  10. Expect to have a tantrum, and expect to apologize afterward for it.
  11. Under no circumstances should you plan to do anything on the day of the wedding but be the bride. This means no assembly of rice bags or souvenirs or table centerpieces, no cooking, no nothing.
  12. Do not publicize information about your bridal registry until people ask, and then send it to them privately. NEVER include registry information on a save-the-date card or invitation. People do still want to believe that they've been invited for the Pleasure of their Company, and not for the Generosity of their Purses.
  13. Lay in some good stationery now and send your Lovely Notes of thanks as gifts are received. You may NOT wait until after the honeymoon, and you certainly are NOT given until the first anniversary to send these.
  14. Keep it simple. The budget for ostentatious little touches might be better spent on upgrading the food.
  15. Most important, plan to speak to every wedding guest personally to thank them for attending. They have taken a lot of time, trouble, and treasure to celebrate with you, and they expect to get to speak with you. They deserve your attention. Etiquetteer, of course, remains devoted to the idea of a receiving line - while recognizing that they are routinely abused by wedding guests (not always elderly ladies) who expect to have long detailed conversations with the Happy Couple. Another solution is to circulate among the tables during the wedding banquet.

Now, Aunt Bridey, Etiquetteer feels the need to advise you not to insinuate yourself too aggressively into the plans for your niece's wedding. If you and she are so truly alike and already have a strong relationship, Etiquetteer predicts that she will reach out to you to be engaged in some way in the planning. But it would not be Perfectly Proper to usurp the place of the mother of the bride, regardless of how accurate your assessment of her abilities is. You have a beautiful opportunity to set a good example by hosting a meal in honor of the Happy Couple's engagement for your own set of guests, with all the proper accoutrements. But let Etiquetteer be clear that this should not take place later than three months before the wedding, and it is certainly not a bridal shower. Things get busy enough the closer one gets to the Big Day.

Etiquetteer wishes joy to the Happy Couple, and peace to all involved!

Returning Wedding Gifts, Vol. 11, Issue 13

Dear Etiquetteer: I recently sent a very nice gift for my niece's bridal shower. Unfortunately, the wedding was called off shortly thereafter.

A few weeks later, the mother of the groom sent me a gift card to "compensate" me for my gift and my inconvenience. I am the only one in my extended family who received such "compensation." I suspect she sent it because we occasionally run into each other in the same social circles. Although I don't care about the money, the gift card is actually for much less than the cost of the gift.

I was offended that the groom's mother sent me the gift card because I do not feel it was her place to step in. My niece should have been the one to communicate with her own family. I would have preferred not to hear at all from the groom's mother. My current concern is what to do with the gift card. Should I keep it or return it to the groom's mother? I really don't want her gift card, so if I return it, what should I say?

Dear Unregifted:

A few years ago Etiquetteer was invited to a wedding. About three weeks before the wedding day Etiquetteer received a card in the mail that matched the wedding stationery with the announcement that

The wedding between

Miss Dewy Freshness

and

Mr. Manley Firmness

will not take place.

Underneath and to the left one found the sentence "All gifts will be returned."  Because let's face it, the first thought one has when learning of such a thing is "Am I going to get back that gift on which I spent so much money?"

It appears that your niece and her family have observed neither of these necessary social niceties, something you may want to take up with whichever Parent of the Bride is your Sibling. In the event that your niece does marry, Etiquetteer would absolve you from giving another shower gift -- but acknowledges that other etiquette writers may differ.

The involvement of the groom's mother certainly muddies the water. It's really not her business, but Etiquetteer has some sympathy with her, having been put in an awkward position (the cancellation of her son's wedding) through no fault of her own. And for all Etiquetteer knows, this lady has already raised the issue of returning gifts with the former bride-to-be and her family. Since you haven't yet received your gift back, the results may not have been satisfactory to her, prompting her to send gift cards to all her relatives and friends who sent gifts as well as to you. Etiquetteer does wish, however, that the lady hadn't used the term "compensation," which suggests that you needed to be paid for your troubles.

By all means return the gift card, but cut the lady some slack. Send the card back with a Lovely Note thanking her for thinking of you, but suggesting that you don't feel quite right keeping and using this gift card since your bridal shower gift to your niece was freely given. It's also Perfectly Proper to express sympathy with this lady over the cancellation of the wedding, and best wishes for the future happiness of her son.

Husband Alone at Wedding, Vol. 11, Issue 11

Dear Etiquetteer: I am invited to a family member's wedding in another state this fall, and expect to be able to attend. I shall be attending toute seule, as two of the children are in college, one will be in the thick of things in high school, and my bride believes her place is at home, making sure he's staying on task. Although the bride and groom to be are in their late thirties, this is their first marriage, and I'm just thrilled for them.

My questions are manifold: first is the obvious what to wear. Is a dark suit acceptable? If so, white shirt or light-coloured?

Second, the rehearsal dinner is at someone's home, so is that a suit occasion, or 'smart casual,' which I tend to think of as a dress shirt, open at the neck, and dark slacks?

Is there a footwear custom of which I should be aware in New York? In Minnesota, it is customary to remove one's shoes upon entering someone's home--with snow and slush covering the ground half the year, it makes sense to doff footwear so as to avoid tracking that mess into your hostess's carpeting. But I was not taught this social grace growing up in Michigan, so I don't know whether it's regional, or just a reflection of my mother's agricultural background.

The invitations say nothing about dress, and I'm confident that if I ask my brother or his wife, they will assure me that what's important is my presence, not what I'm wearing, which is characteristically kind of them, but ultimately unhelpful.

Gift? What is considered proper these days? Since they aren't teenagers, just getting started in life, they probably don't need a silver fondue pot or a half dozen toasters, and they've had the grace to omit any mention of a registry in their invitations. Would a nice card, with a check inside it be appropriate, and if so, is there a standard amount?

The couple have arranged for a block of hotel rooms at a reasonable rate. Is it expected that I will stay there, our is it perfectly acceptable to make my own arrangements elsewhere?

Finally, my son is attending college about four hours away from the wedding location, and I would like to spend a few hours with him the day after the wedding; is it permissible to leave the reception 'early,' say, around 10pm, to get started on that drive, or is the expectation that the guests will remain until the newlyweds retire?

Dear Husband:

That's a forthright series of questions, and Etiquetteer has answers:

WHAT TO WEAR: The invitation should have the dress code on it, but since you say that it doesn't, you must ask your brother and his wife. If they, as you predict, say "We really just want you to be there, it doesn't matter what you wear!" you must ask in reply, "What are YOU wearing?" Base your choices on what they're planning to wear. (But really, Etiquetteer cannot understand why hosts for big family events like weddings neglect adding basic information guests need like what to wear.)

REMOVAL OF FOOTWEAR: It is never Perfectly Proper to expect people to remove their shoes in one's home without warning them in advance. Again, you must ask your hosts what they expect since they've neglected to include this on the invitation, but Etiquetteer rather expect they'll tell you to leave your shoes on.

GIFT: A check is always Perfectly Proper as a wedding gift. Etiquetteer is delighted to hear that registry information was omitted from the invitation! That said, you may now ask if there is a registry and purchase something from it as your gift, if you wish. Etiquetteer is not going to suggest a gift amount. That depends entirely on the means and inclination of you and your wife.

ACCOMMODATIONS: The guest block has been arranged for the convenience of wedding guests. If it's more convenient for you to stay elsewhere, then it is Perfectly Proper for you to do so.

DEPARTURE: Married couples aren't royalty (though some brides clearly think of themselves as princesses) so you don't have to wait for them to make their departure before yours. It's customary, however, for guests to remain until the couple have been showered with rice (or birdseed (for the politically correct), bubbles (for the whimsical) or rose petals (for the romantic with unlimited resources)), so you should tip off the family that you'll need to be on the road before festivities end.

Next weekend is Labor Day, the official -- and often sad -- end of Summer. Etiquetteer expect you to join him in carefully folding away your white linen and treeing your white shoes until Memorial Day comes again next year. In the meantime, please do send your autumnal questions about manners to <queries_at_etiquetteer_dot_com.>

Weddings, Vol. 5, Issue 14

Dear Etiquetteer:We are getting married later this year and are preparing a wedding website. We want to post information about the Friday night reception and Sunday brunch on our website (the wedding is Saturday afternoon and evening), but we’d also like to limit the guests at those two events to people coming from out of town that we don’t see very often. How should we word the events on our website to make that clear? Some ideas we had:
  • "Friday night reception by invitation" and "Sunday brunch by invitation."
  • "Friday night reception for family" and "Sunday brunch for family" (we’d then include invitations to these events in the wedding invitation mailing).
  • "Welcome reception for out-of-town guests" and "Sendoff brunch for out-of-town guests."

Will people understand who we mean by out-of-town guests? Because, only a handful actually live in the town where we’re marrying. What a challenge. Any advice would be great!Dear Betrothed:You know, Etiquetteer’s learning quite a lot about this wedding website phenomenon, and it is just amazing what people are doing out there . . . in a good way. It’s such a help to a wedding guest (especially one who’s traveling) to be able to go to one source for hotel reservations, maps and directions to the house of worship and the reception hall, and answers to the many questions wedding guests always have.But Etiquetteer has some concerns about what you want to do. It’s never good manners to talk about a party in front of people who aren’t invited. You really can’t avoid that by referring to these additional events on a website that all your wedding guests will read. It will be easy for someone to assume they’re invited to all three events. You may be opening yourself to some confusion and hurt feelings. Etiquetteer worries that the ill-bred (and we all know ill-bred peeople) will be tempted to ask why they weren’t invited if you put "by invitation only." One should NEVER ask why one was not invited; one might find out . . .If you are bound and determined to include these events on your wedding website – and Etiquetteer isn’t entirely sure that you should – then you should be very specific and refer to them as "Out-of-Towners Welcome Reception" and "Out-of-Towners Sendoff Brunch." Etiquetteer defines "out-of-town guests" as "anyone sleeping in a bed not their own" on the nights before and after the wedding. Even so, don’t be surprised if some locals show up with the excuse "Well, we saw this on your website and thought we should be here."Readers, what do you think? Please share your opinions with Etiquetteer at query <at> etiquetteer.com.By the way, you are quite correct to send a separate card for each event in the wedding invitation. Etiquetteer wishes you both long life and happiness, both before and after the wedding!

Dear Etiquetteer:Don’t you think it would be nice for someone to champion the return of the Morning Wedding and the Wedding Breakfast? This would include a luncheon for the famished wedding party, closest family and long-distance guests who cannot readily find a place to eat lunch if they require it, and old-fashioned afternoon Reception (light tea-type foods, punch and/or champagne, cake and dancing. Couples would have much more choice of venues (churches and halls and whatnot) and it would not cost nearly as much if they did not want to spend a lot of money. And people could drive home while it was light during much of the year.Dear Early Bird:Indeed, it sounds charming! Etiquetteer has attended many weddings over the last 38 years at all times of day and night, and some of the loveliest have been morning or afternoon weddings. Etiquetteer is happy to join you in your call for a return of the Wedding Breakfast, not least because of Etiquetteer’s fondness for eggs benedict and champagne.Of course, now it’s all your fault that Etiquetteer can’t stop singing "A Frog Went A’Courtin’." 

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The Case of the Broke Bridesmaid, Vol. 4, Issue 40

Dear Etiquetteer:My very dear friend moved to the other side of the country a couple months ago and is now having a shotgun wedding - albeit to a man she's very much in love with. Blessed Bride invited me to the wedding, asked me to be a bridesmaid and all those lovely things. Of course I accepted and am thrilled to be there for her special day.However, due to the time constraints, in a very short timespan I'm spending a great deal of money ($850 so far) on airfare, rental car, hotel, bridesmaid's dress & accessories (appropriate undergarments are not cheap!), wedding gift, shower gift, hairstyling, manicure, and pedicure on the wedding day, etc. I need some advice from you on some of the weekend's activities.One of her family members is hosting a bridal shower that is the night before the rehearsal dinner. She sent us the following information regarding the shower: Aunt Eccentric is hosting a dinner at a Mexican restaurant (everyone will have a choice of two dinners) the cake, drinks and the invites. Crazy Cousin is hosting the centerpieces.According to Crazy Cousin, "There is a ‘no-host bar’ meaning if you want booze, it is on you. If you gals (bridesmaids) wanted to host that part you could, but it could get costly at $20 a pitcher for margaritas. Also, dear bridesmaids, [Insert Name of Online Party Provider Here] has some cute inexpensive fiesta party favors if you gals wanted to do favors for the shower." Crazy Cousin also suggested that "one of you gals who is into scrapbooking puts together a pre-made small scrapbook that ladies can add their words of wisdom to Blessed Bride to in the captions at the shower then the shower photos can just be added once they are developed." A fellow bridesmaid said that she will host the bride's thank-you notes.Etiquetteer, please help! I’m already going broke just being there for her special day (not to mention that the Blessed Bride still owes me $500!) Can you advise me as to how much participation I should have in these events? As bridesmaids, we are going in together on a rather nice shower gift. I've picked out a perfectly proper wedding gift and even made by hand a lovely wedding card.As far as shower, rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party go, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. What is expected of bridesmaids when it comes to bridal showers? I'm sober, so I have no intention on chipping in on alcoholic beverages. Are we expected to pay for tacky maraca keychains as favors? Should someone be planning a "bachelorette party?" What is the role of the maid of honor vs. other bridesmaids? As a bridesmaid, should I offer to help out in some way for the shower by paying for some element of the shower? Would it be all right if I bought a lovely book in which we record who gave which gifts at the shower? Or, purchased/made a scrapbook as suggested?Never mind that I feel the shower is not appropriate as it is two nights before the wedding and feels like it's just an excuse for gifts. And, the baby shower will be just around the corner, right in time for the holidays. And, I did all the legwork related to bridesmaid dresses since we're scattered throughout the country. I'm trying to put all my resentful feelings aside but as a singleton I'm finding this really hard to swallow. I am so happy for the bride & groom and want to be Perfectly Proper, as you say, but I can't afford to go broke on this.Dear Broke Bridesmaid:As the ladies at Smart and Sassy say, Etiquetteer’s head exploded reading your letter. What a tangle! Let’s try to sort this out, shall we?Etiquetteer suspects this whole bridesmaid thing was a lot easier "once upon a time" when everyone concerned with a wedding lived in the same town, or at least the same county. Then it was relatively easy to arrange for gown fittings, bridal showers, and other gatherings. These days we have sacrified Proximity to Personal Choice, but the true cost of that sacrifice is felt at weddings and other such gatherings the most.Believe it or not, it’s not the best of taste for family members to host the bridal shower. That’s usually done by the bridesmaids, or even by friends of the mother of the bride. Whichever members of the wedding party live closest to the bride (maid of honor or not) ought to take the lead here, but as maid of honor you should be involved in the arrangements. But not now; keep reading.In this case, let’s be thankful that Aunt Eccentric is easing the burden. But with her parceling out donor opportunities the way she is, it doesn’t really sound like she wants to, does it? Etiquetteer really doesn’t care for this sort of thing. If you’re going to throw the party, throw the party and don’t assign people (especially total strangers) to spend money on your own ideas. So Etiquetteer thinks you should treat Auntie’s suggestions as just that: suggestions. If she really wants other people to foot the bill for a party she’s hosting, then all of you should have been involved in the decisions about where and what the party would be.Under the circumstances, a bachelorette party sounds Most Improper, so please quash that at once if someone springs that idea. Etiquetteer just can’t take the idea of a pregnant bride in some nightclub outfit riding around in a stretch limo with her girlfriends, rolling down the window at intersections to say "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" And Etiquetteer shivers in fear to think what "hosting the bride’s thank-you notes" might mean.With the heavy commitment you’ve made merely to attend the wedding in the appropriate uniform, and all your work handling the fittings for the rest of the wedding party, Etiquetteer believes you to have fulfilled your duty apart from actually attending the wedding. What a pity, Etiquetteer notes acidly, that it seems no one offered you a room in one of their homes, knowing that you’d have to travel a distance to be there. And Etiquetteer is disappointed to see no reference to the bridesmaid’s luncheon, which the bride hosts for her bridesmaids and when she give them her gifts. Let’s hope this will be a lovely surprise for you when you arrive.

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Weddings and Revolving Doors, Vol. 4, Issue 32

Dear Etiquetteer:I always thought that a bride and groom went to all the wedding functions, including the day-after breakfast. Isn’t this the case? Attending a recent wedding breakfast, I saw a few disappointed faces when the bride and groom weren’t there. Dear Rubbernecker: Etiquetteer remembers an old joke (but not its source, so please let Etiquetteer know if you know) about the Victorian wedding tintype in which the groom is seated and the bride standing behind him. "Shouldn’t the lady be seated?" asked someone. "On the day after the wedding," came the reply, "she was probably too sore to sit down and he was probably too tired to stand up!" You may take from this little anecdote that Etiquetteer doesn’t think a bridal couple should be seen at all after they leave the reception, mostly because everyone knows what they were supposed to be up to the night before. You can also bet that the wedding guests still present for any day-after festivities will want to continue speculating on whether the bride was really entitled to wear white. No bride should have to be present through that . . .

Dear Etiquetteer: Two friends of mine are getting married. Since they’ve been living together for over ten years, they really don’t need all the usual household gifts people usually give at weddings. They’ve decided to take a really adventurous honeymoon and would like to ask their friends to contribute to the travel expenses. Isn’t there a tactful way for them to do this? Dear Gifted Guest: Argh! For the last time, it’s the height of rudeness to tell people how to spend (or not spend) money on you, unless they ask and then they deserve what they get. For those who ask, the idea of a honeymoon registry (like other bridal registries for household goods) seems to appeal to many. Etiquetteer is alternately fascinated and appalled that such registries already exist, such as www.thehoneymoon.com, www.sendusoff.com, and www.thebigday.com, among others. Now Etiquetteer suspects some wedding guests will continue to balk at such a thing, preferring to present a gift of a thing rather than an experience. That is their right, and if so, the Happy Couple will just have to lump it.

Dear Etiquetteer:I work in a fairly large office building, with a very heavy revolving door at the entrance. I take pride in being a gentleman, and always hold open a regular door when I'm in the company of a member of the opposite sex, however, I don't know the rules about revolving doors. Am I being chivalrous by letting my colleague enter first, even though it forces her to push the heavy door herself to get it started, or do I enter before her so that I can do the heavy pushing instead of her? Thanks ever so much for your advice. Dear Floored in the Doorway: Thank goodness Chivalry is not yet dead! Etiquetteer is so glad that you wrote with this question, which proves that someone out there still cares about other people. You have just made Etiquetteer’s day! Etiquetteer thinks that gentlemen may gallantly precede ladies in revolving doors or exiting buses, but for different reasons. In a revolving door, gentlemen may not only do the "heavy lifting" as it were, but also regulate the speed of the door. This is more important than you may think. Etiquetteer has seen elderly ladies propelled to the floor by thoughtless collegians carelessly zipping through revolving doors. On a bus (or a flight of stairs), the gentlemen is always closest to the ground. So if you’re going up, the lady goes first and if you’re going down, the gentleman does. This got started back in the day when ladies wore huge gowns with 14-inch platform shoes (no, Etiquetteer is not kidding) and it was much easier for them to stumble. Gentlemen were there to break their fall. Happily, ladies’ fashions are less risky these days, but the function continues since the elderly or infirm sometime need extra assistance boarding the bus or getting upstairs.

Find yourself at a manners crossroads and don't know where to go? Ask Etiquetteer at query@etiquetteer.com!

Etiquetteer cordially invites you to join the notify list if you would like to know as soon as new columns are posted. Join by sending e-mail to notify@etiquetteer.com.