Royal Wedding Etiquette posted in: Etiquette, Weddings

As with everything else when it comes to royal families, they transcend “normal” etiquette and protocol to create lavish and very intricately designed affairs.  And a royal wedding is THE Event of all events. The impression you make will have everything to do with your knowledge of proper royal wedding etiquette

It has been noted that if you received an invitation to the Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton you also received a 32-page protocol guide. For those of us that will not be attending the royal wedding, here are a few points on protocol to observe when attending a oyal wedding.

All pertinent information for a royal wedding (location, date, dress code) is included on the invitation.  Make sure you fit the dress code. Though the occasion is an opportunity for personal style to shine, for a royal wedding one must keep in mind it is conservative all the way.  For Prince William and Kate’s wedding, the invitation states a traditional wedding dress code called “morning dress.” For women, dresses are de rigueur (prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette or custom), but unless you are the royal maid of honor, don’t wear white. Hats or an elegant fascinator (festive feathered hairpiece) are a must. Men should wear morning (formal) or business (referred to as lounge suits across the pond) dress.

Entering and departing from the Abbey. The Queen is always supposed to enter the abbey last (and be the first to depart). With nearly 2,000 people to seat they will need a lot of time, be sure to arrive on time.

Perhaps the most important sign of your pedigree will be how you greet the Queen, Royal tradition means that when William and Kate marry, they, Prince Charles and Kate’s parents will greet each guest as they enter the reception.

Should you have the privilege of meeting the Queen, you would be expected to follow the following protocol (which is different for men and women): Men give a slight swift bow of the head (not a bow from the waist when meeting the Queen). Men should also briefly lower their eyes during their greeting, and bow again when the Royal family member leaves. Women should give a small, dignified curtsey upon meeting the Queen -move should create a distinct bobbing movement, with the upper body kept straight and should be repeated when the member of the Royal family leaves.  Will the Queen shake hands? It is rare (though not unheard of) for the Queen to extend a hand. Important to observe: Always let the Queen initiate a hand shake, never stick out your hand first. Men should never kiss the Queen hand nor give her a firm handshake; simply extend the hand and shake lightly (women do the same).

How to address the Queen:
* First address The Queen as ‘Your Majesty’, and subsequently call her ‘Ma’am’.
* Wait for the Queen to initiate conversation and never speak first
*Substitute ‘Your Majesty’ for ‘you’ in conversation.
* Do not ask any personal questions.
* Always give the Queen space and do not touch the other than for a handshake (and again only if initiated by the Queen herself)
*If you have a guest by your side, introduce them to The Queen by saying,  
“May I present [insert guest’s name here], Your Majesty?”

Etiquette to observe when greeting other members of the royal family
 How would you act when you meet Prince William, for example? How you greet or are greeted by a royal will likely depend upon their age. Older royals will be conservative; in this case men should bow from the head only and women should make a small curtsy (as done when meeting the Queen). Some guides say it is acceptable albeit less usual to shake hands.  And anyone bearing the title of His or Her Royal Highness should be addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness’ for the first time, and subsequently ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’.

I hope you enjoyed these royal etiquette tips. Stay tuned for more on the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

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The Royal Wedding: Her Majesty The Queen gives formal consent to the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton posted in: Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

Her Majesty The Queen has given formal consent to Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s marriage.

Under the Great Seal of the Realm, The Queen signed a notice of approval which proclaimed ( in transcribed calligraphy) consent to the union of “Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton”.

Under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, all descendants of King George II must obtain the Sovereign’s agreement before they wed. The law dates back to the 18th Century.

The Queen’s signature “Elizabeth R” can be seen at the top right of the Instrument of Consent, which is dated “the ninth day of February Two Thousand and Eleven in the Sixtieth year of Our Reign”.

It was signed “by The Queen herself, signed with her own hand” at a Privy Council meeting after the Monarch made a formal Declaration of Consent.

It reads: “NOW KNOW YE that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton.”

Detail of the consent:
*Tied to the bottom of the approval by gold braiding is a large red wax Great Seal of the Realm.
*The “Instrument of Consent” features decorative artwork chosen by the artist to represent the groom and bride-to-be.
*A white lily represents St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day falls on April 29th and with whom Miss Middleton shares her name.
*Beneath it is a Welsh leek surrounded by Prince William’s white three-pronged second in line to the throne label and a tiny red escallop from the Spencer family Arms.
*There is also a red dragon – the heraldic symbol of Wales, the UK’s floral emblems – the rose, thistle and shamrock – and the Garter belt, Prince William’s blue and gold Order of the Garter belt, as well as a large gold E for Elizabeth.

To view an image of the consent, visit:

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Etiquette: Who is Invited, Who isn’t and Thoughts to Consider posted in: Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

There is a simple commonsense rule for addressing and reading invitations. As a host, include all names of the persons you’re inviting. As a guest, know that only the persons whose name(s) are included on the invitation are the only ones invited.

Here are a few guidelines to help ensure that as a host you invite the persons intended and as a guest you correctly understand who exactly is invited:

For the Host

A single invitation may be addressed to one person, a couple (married or living together in a committed relationship) or to a family.
~ A single invitation may be sent to an unmarried couple who live together. However, their names are listed on separate lines. This form is used regardless of sexual orientation.
An example of this form would be:
Mr. Michael Hawthorn
Ms. Alexis Turner

An invitation to a couple may be addressed to “Mr. And Mrs. Grant Holloway and Family”, so long as you feel confident that this won’t be misinterpreted as inviting other extended family members. A more precise form of addressing this invite would be:

Mr. and Mrs. Grant Holloway
Michael and Natalie Holloway

If you are inviting single family and friends to bring a date or a guest, this is to be noted in one of the following ways:

~ Casual or informal parties. Such information may be included on the invitation.
Include a line such as “Please bring a guest (or a date)”

~Formal events. In the instance of a wedding for example, the outer envelope should be addressed to the individual family member or friend, and the inner envelope will include the notation that a guest is welcome.
Outer envelope: Dr. Alexander Smith
 Inner Envelope: Alexander Smith and Julia Wilson (if your family member or friend is in  a long-term relationship in which you know their partner or at least in name you may include them on the invite) or Alexander and Guest

For the Guest

As the recipient of the invitation, the most important responsibility you have is to respond promptly with your RSVP. Be sure to include all guests planning to attend and also the specific names of any regrets in your RSVP. Need guidance on the “how-to? See Decoding the Protocol of the RSVP for guidance.

 “May I bring…?” Don’t even ask! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts wish to invite—and no one else.

  • …a date. If the invitation is addressed to Ms. Anna Smith – this means only Anna is invited. Period.
  • …children. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.
  • … my houseguest(s). It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guest(s), or not.

Do not be offended or upset if you are not invited to bring a guest (significant other, friend or your children) to the event. There are any number of reasons the host may not have extended the invitation to more people. In this economy, they may not be able to afford the additional guests, but also care enough for you not to leave you off of the list entirely.
In the instances of an adult –only affair perhaps the host doesn’t have a child-friendly home or they wish to serve alcohol and don’t want to run the risk of offending anyone. As invited guest, simply be thankful for the invitation.

I hope this information is helpful to you when sending out or receiving invitations. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Have any comments or great stories of a time when uninvited guests have been brought to your event, or when you are the uninvited guest (though you weren’t aware until you arrived to the party)? Do tell!



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Weddings – Red & Lavender Inspiration posted in: Weddings

For a lovely and totally modern color palette, combine the subtle with the wow – a perfect example is lavender and red. Here’s an inspiration board I created this week to get you thinking:


This color combination is also great for wedding showers and summer parties!

What so you think of this one Society?


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  • Janet: I am surprised how beautiful it is together! I do love it!
  • Rachel: Tanja - This color palette is gorgeous! If you're interested, we are trying to incorporate inspiration boards on WV WEDDING's Planner's Palette blog and this one would be perfect! I'll try to remember to email you about this. But I LOVE these images together! Best, Rachel
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Etiquette – What to do as a host when guests do not RSVP posted in: Etiquette, Events, Weddings

Last week, we discussed how to decode the protocol of the RSVP. This week, let’s talk about what to do as a host when guests are yet to respond to your invite.

It’s inconsiderate, but unfortunately all too common, for guests to fail to RSVP. Some forget; others procrastinate and then feel guilty, so they delay even longer….most of us have been the guilty party of one or the other at some point. And you never know — maybe they think they sent the response card when in reality it may be hiding under a pile of unopened mail, or in some rare instances, the invitation doesn’t make it to the intended recipient.

With food and beverage details to confirm and needs for other items and equipment to finalize and several outstanding RSVPs, what’s a host to do? If an RSVP is not received, is a host to assume those non-responsive invitees are not coming? This answer is a resounding, “NO!”. As a host, it is perfectly polite for you to call guests and ask if they plan to attend your party. Yes, it’s somewhat of an awkward conversation, but be friendly, not accusatory. Saying something along the lines of the following is appropriate, “Hi Susan, it’s Jane, I’m calling to make sure you received the invitation to Mom & Dad’s Anniversary Celebration. Please let me know if you and Jack can make it.  Thank you!” or “Hi Susan, it’s Jane, I’m calling to make sure you received the invitation to Jack’s 40th birthday party. I need to give a final number to the caterer on Tuesday, and want to be sure I have all guests included. I hope you and John can attend. Thank you!
As for the appropriate timeframe is which you may place such calls, if you sent a written invitation, wait one to two weeks before calling.  In cases of a more informal gathering where you may have invited guests in person, or by phone or email, you may call and ask for their answer after just a few days.

Finally as a host it’s always best (and wise) to be prepared and armed for an unexpected increase. Plan to accommodate an additional 5% or so above your confirmed guest count. It’s better to have extra food and room than to have neglected guests wondering where to sit!


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Gender-Bender posted in: Weddings

Today, it is fine to include a person of the opposite sex among your attendants (older couples with adult children have been doing this for years). Modern wedding protocol allows you to choose attendants of the opposite sex — a male attendant for the bride or a female attendant for the groom. The criteria for choosing attendants remains the same as it has always been – choose family and friends that are close to you and will continue to be a part of your life in the future. If that person is of the opposite sex, fine (just be sure for a religious ceremony to first check with your pastor/priest/rabbi before asking friends and family for their services to make sure the tradition and house of worship you’re marrying in allows attendants of the opposite sex). It’s a matter of choosing to have people you love be in your wedding party, regardless of gender.

When a person of the opposite sex is chosen to fill the position of maid of honor or best man, he or she should be called “the bride’s honor attendant” or “the groom’s honor attendant”. In instances when a person of the opposite sex is chosen to fill the role of groomsman or bridesmaid, then all of the attendants are called “the bride’s attendants” or “the groom’s attendants”.  

The most important opposite-sex attendant guideline is to make the attendants feel comfortable in their roles. A lingerie shower with the girls for the bride’s male attendants or a bachelor party for the groom’s female attendant could be uncomfortable  — you might let these attendants know you don’t expect them to attend if they don’t want to, or opt for the type of party appropriate for either sex.

During the ceremony, chosen  honor attendants stand next to the bride or groom (regardless of gender). When a male is serving as the bride’s honor attendant, the next bridesmaid customarily holds the bride’s bouquet during the ring exchange and helps the bride with her dress and train. Female attendants on the groom’s side aren’t generally expected to serve as ushers or help seat guests. When the attendants are of mixed genders, it’s best to have the attendants walk out single file for the recessional.

To avoid confusion and to ensure you get the photos that you want, be sure to tell the photographer in advance that you have a member of the opposite sex among either or both of the attendant groups. The bride’s male attendant should appear in photos with the female attendants and the same goes for female attendants on the groom’s side.

 So what are the rules when it comes to fashion? Opposite-sex attendants should try to blend in with the rest of the party. A man on the bride’s side will dress in the same fashion as the groom’s male attendants. His wedding day attire would be accented with a boutonniere using a flower that’s also in the female attendants’ bouquets. When a woman stands on the groom’s side, her outfit should coordinate with the male attendants’ attire. She may opt to wear a tux as the other male attendants, but some other modifications are also appropriate. She may wear a dress or pantsuit in the same color as the male attendant’s tuxedos or suits and of the same formality as the bridesmaids’ dresses or the same dress as the bride’s female attendants. She should wear a corsage rather than a boutonnière or carry a bouquet inspired by the groom’s male attendants’ boutonnieres.

Remember what’s important above all when it comes to making opposite-sex attendant decisions, your wedding is precisely that: yours. There are no hard-and-fast rules.


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  • Vincent: Thanks for post. Really informative stuff. I really like to read.Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! my best regards!
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Etiquette: Decoding Protocol of the R.S.V.P posted in: Entertaining Essentials, Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

RSVP is a French acronym for répondez s’il vous plait (rā-pōⁿ-dā-sēl-vü-ple). Translated in English it means, “please respond or reply if you please”. The acronym RSVP was traditionally used on invitations for formal events such as weddings, engagement parties or christenings. However, today it is common to see RSVP on invitations for all types of celebrations.

Not certain of the protocol of the RSVP? Not to worry.  Refer to the following guidelines and you’ll get it right every time.

Respond to the invitation immediately
.  As a guest, this is the most important obligation you have to the host of the event. It is poor etiquette and frankly is rude to wait until the day of the event and just show up. It is just as inappropriate to RSVP acceptance and then fail to attend – only a matter of serious illness or death should keep you away. Whether you accept or regret – respond.

How to confirm your response:  

~ The most formal of events may not include any response information, but from the style, stock and tone of the invitation and the type of event, know a response is requested. In this case, a guest is to send a formal handwritten response on nice stationery.

~ Some formal event invitations are accompanied by an RSVP card. Fill-in the requested information and return to the host.

~ Less formal events typically note the RSVP at the bottom of the invitation. If an address is provided, send a handwritten reply. If a phone number is listed, a phone call response is appropriate.

~ As the world is becoming more “e- based”, many invitations are sent using electronic software such as Respond to electronic RSVPs, too. Many of these invitation systems allow you to answer the RSVP with a quick click of a button.

~ If the invitation says “Regrets Only”, you only need to RSVP if you are unable the event. Otherwise, the host has already counted you in.

Tips to respond with polish:

~ The Formal Acceptance or Regret (for instances when a respond card does not accompany the invitation).
This formal acceptance or regret is handwritten and centered on personal stationery. The text of is simple and to the point.
An example of such Acceptance of an invitation:

Dr. and Mrs. Barrett Grant Henley

accept with pleasure

Mr. and Mrs. William Scott Helm’s

kind invitation

for Saturday, the eighth of June

~ In the case of extremely busy people, a formal acceptance or regret may be typed by a secretary or assistant (on business or fine personal stationery).

Dr. and Mrs. Barrett Grant Henley

Sincerely regret that

their absence from the city (or other reason)

prevents them from accepting

the kind invitation of

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm
for Saturday, the eighth of June


 When Portions of the Invitation are Accepted and Portions RegrettedOn occasion when only one member of an invited couple will be able to attend:
Most formal response:


Mrs. Julia Henley

accepts with pleasure

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm’s
kind invitation  

and regrets that due to absence from the city
Dr. Barrett Henley will be unable to accept

for the Saturday, eighth of June

 Formal response in the instance when a response card has been included with the invitation: Handwrite additional detail on the bottom of the card. For example, “”Dr. Henley accepts with pleasure for the wedding ceremony, but due to illness, Mrs. Henley is unable to accept.”

~ When a couple accepts for a portion of the event but must regret for another. Most commonly for weddings, perhaps a couple may be able to attend only the wedding ceremony, but not the reception.

Most Formal:

Mrs. Julia Henley

accepts with pleasure

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm’s
kind invitation  

and regrets that due to absence from the city
Dr. Barrett Henley will be unable to accept

for the Saturday, eighth of June

 Formal response in the instance when a response card has been included with the invitation: Again, handwrite additional detail on the bottom of the card. Example, “Dr. & Mrs. Henley accepts with pleasure for the wedding ceremony, but sincerely regret they are unable to attend the reception.”

Society, do you now feel confident that the next time you receive an invitation to a special event or celebration, you will RSVP with savvy and ease?


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