Emily Post on Response Cards

While helping a friend plan an event, I ran across this passage in the book, Emily Post’s Etiquette.

And before you go categorizing this as old-fashioned or outdated information, you should know that this is a modern-day edition, edited for today’s society.

Besides, putting other people before yourself is never an outdated principle!

In this passage, the author specifically addresses the subject of response cards in wedding invitations. It is safe to assume that this is applicable to any event – not just weddings.

Response Cards (from Emily Post’s Etiquette)

It is regrettable that it is necessary to write these paragraphs, but the custom of enclosing response cards with wedding invitations is so widespread that it must be discussed.

The custom has arisen, I am afraid, out of sheer necessity. Too many people are lazy, thoughtless, or ignorant of good behavior and simply will not take the time or make the effort to answer invitations. When a caterer is hired, or the reception is held at a club or hotel, those in charge want to know the exact number of guests as soon as possible. While a rough estimate may be made from the quantity of invitations mailed, the more precise estimate must await the replies. Therefore, in an effort to get this information to the cater in plenty of time, brides and their mothers often feel that the responses will arrive more quickly and surely if cards are enclosed.

She goest on to state that she “… thoroughly deplore[s] the lack of appreciation shown by guests who would not otherwise bother to answer promptly…”.

Let’s step it up, folks! Responding in a timely manner is not complicated or difficult. If you can’t get a definite response together in time, respond that you will not be attending.

As always, put others before yourself. Think of the host or hostess – not just your own schedule or desires.

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Dance Etiquette Basics: Off the Dance Floor

The dance is coming to an end, and I’m sure you’ve done a fabulous job. Despite an alarming number of left feet in the crowd, there are smiles all around. But, as the music stops, what do you do? Just walk away?

Ending the Dance

Ladies & Gents, when the music ends, look your partner in the eye, bow or curtsy, and thank them for the dance.

Gents, bow; ladies, curtsy… as shown in A&E’s 1995 Pride & Prejudice. (found on Pinterest)

Gentlemen, now is when you offer your right hand again, as when you first asked her to dance, lead her off the dance floor, and ask if she would like a drink.

Ladies, follow your partner off the dance floor, and respond “Yes, thank you!” or “No, I’m fine, thank you,” to his offer to fetch you a drink.

And the rest is completely up to you. This may be a natural time of talking and laughing over the previous dance. Or, if another dance is starting, it is time to find another partner. At times, the next dance may start so quickly that it makes it only practical to dance with the same partner for a second time (Note: this would probably not be wise for a third, fourth, etc.). If it seems appropriate, and your partner agrees to it, this is fine.

Ah, thank you, Snoopy. What a wonderful example of gentlemanly behavior. 😉 (found on Pinterest)

Dance Etiquette Basics: On the Dance Floor

So, you’ve made it. You’re standing with your partner on the dance floor, and the music is about to begin. Thankfully, in our dance coming up this week, we have a dance caller who will help us through the dance. So, she’ll be letting you know what to do, as far as dancing. But, what should you be doing as far as socializing? Anything?

On the Dance Floor

Gentlemen, you are now honored to have a few minutes of care over your partner. Your job is to lead her through this dance, and socialize with her – giving her as enjoyable an experience as you can. Don’t neglect or ignore her.

However, being social with her does not mean being obsessed with her. Make eye contact with her – do NOT stare at her through the whole dance. Smile at and with her – but, smile at and with everyone else, as well. Don’t be afraid to take her hand(s) or her arm, as the dance requires – do NOT be the creep that won’t let go.

Mr. Collins, showing us how to be too attentive to a partner. It’s awkward for everyone. (found on Pinterest)

Dancing is a civilized sport. It is active, it takes effort, and it takes cooperation. Enjoy it! Please don’t abuse it. 😛

So, we see now that it is possible to be too attentive. But, I also mentioned not neglecting your partner. You may not be an enthusiastic participant in this dance, but you are giving your partner an opportunity to dance. Try to make it enjoyable for her, even if you’d rather be almost anywhere else. If you ignore her, look bored the whole time, or even mention that you’d rather be elsewhere, you are doing your best at ruining her dance. Take it from me! I have been the partner of visibly reluctant gentlemen. I would rather not dance at all than feel like I’m a burden or nuisance to my partner. So, for the sake of your partner and everyone around you, step up to the challenge, and make the evening as enjoyable as you can.

Darcy, at the beginning of the story, displays clearly what NOT to do at a dance. (found on Pinterest)

Ladies, I could repeat nearly all of that for us. Just be respectful and pleasant, easy to get along with, and encouraging (even if you’re by far the better dancer…).

The point is always to be respectful, have a good time, and do your best to give others a good time.

Dance Etiquette Basics: To the Dance Floor

You’ve responded to the invitation, chosen appropriate attire, found a partner for the first dance… Now what?

Hands and Partners

Gentlemen, now that you have found a partner, offer your right hand to her. (Your hand should always be supporting hers, so yours will be on the bottom. See pictures below…). Now, lead her to the dance floor, and find a place among the other dancers. Traditionally, there are two positions that you will use… Either your partner will go on your right, or directly in front of you.

Ladies’ hands go on top, with the gentleman supporting and leading them. (This is a picture, I believe, from Pride & Prejudice, found on Pinterest.)

Ladies, when he offers his right hand, give him your left, and follow him to the dance floor. A dance is not a time for you to be pulling, tugging, dragging, or coaxing. 🙂

Dancing really is a beautiful and enjoyable display of willing cooperation, that only truly comes together when the gentleman leads, and the lady faithfully follows.

Another image from Pride & Prejudice (found on Pinterest), shows again how to properly take hands for the dance.

The Basics of Dance Etiquette

As I have said in the past, this subject is important enough to warrant it’s own series. So, I will be doing a quick series, as I have time this week, covering just the very basics.

Our dance is taking place in the evening, but is not a formal “ball”. We’re doing a combination of English and American country and square dancing, with very simple live music (provided by yours truly, on fiddle, and Kyle on guitar).

So, here’s what I would recommend for, first, responding to the invitation, and, second, how to choose what to wear:

R.S.V.P. – As always, when an invitation says “R.S.V.P.”, without any qualifications (e.g. if it doesn’t say “with regrets only”, etc.), you should respond on or before the date given with whether or not you hope to attend. If you can’t make it, the host or hostess needs to know. If you are planning to come, they still need to know. You get the idea. 🙂

A Norman Rockwell favorite… found on Pinterest, of course.

What to Wear – Events (even, specifically, dances) come in all shapes and sizes, but I’ll speak to this one in particular. This is not a formal event, so wearing a ball gown would be overdressing… by a lot. This is more of a barn dance. However, dancing in a barn does not imply that wearing your farm chore clothes and boots is okay.

  • Footwear

Gentlemen, if it is possible, please refrain from wearing heavy chore boots (or anything similar). If you want to wear boots, riding boots, and such, are lighter weight and will be much easier/safer to dance in.

Ladies, wear shoes that you are comfortable in. If you can’t wear high heels comfortably (and without endangering your ankles and the toes of other dancers), please don’t wear them to the dance… Or, just remove them before getting on the dance floor.

Flip flops, and other shoes that slide off easily, should not be worn while dancing.

  • Clothing

Dress comfortably, but nicely.

Gentlemen, wear shirts with collars, and avoid pants or shirts with stains/holes, etc.

Ladies, pay special attention to your tops: while dancing, you will be stooping (so be aware of those necklines!), as well as reaching up high (so hemlines should be checked).

The point is not to stress about your clothing, but wear something that is comfortable for both you and the mind of those around you.

  • Perfume/Cologne, etc.

You will be in close contact with many people throughout the evening. Please don’t wear strong scents, for our sakes. 🙂

Review Some Feasting Basics

With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about family get-togethers, gift-giving, and feasting. Here are a few basics you might want to review with the family prior to the holidays:

For children (Yes, trust me, they can do this! It just might take a little practice.):

  • Remain seated at the table until you have been excused. Ask to be excused if necessary.
  • Never complain about any of the food (this goes for adults, too, of course). Instead, be gracious and try everything.
  • Be considerate by remaining quiet, or carrying on pleasant (“inside voice”!) conversation when appropriate. No rowdy behavior at the table!
This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I'm talking about...

This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I’m talking about…

For everyone:

  • Your napkin goes in your lap.
  • The salt and pepper always travel as a pair. If one is asked for, both are passed.
  • Be aware of your elbows. Family gatherings often mean tight seating arrangements, so try not to invade your neighbor’s personal space even when cutting into that steak…
  • Always thank the host, the hostess, and compliment the cooks. This makes for positive, uplifting conversation.
  • Wait to start eating until everyone has been served.
  • Try to keep the conversation appropriate to mealtimes (e.g. Avoid disturbing/gross topics, etc.).
  • Being an adult does not win you the right to complain about the food, or be inconsiderate by appearing “picky”. Please don’t ever make a big deal about foods you won’t eat. Be gracious and try everything. It’s simply not that hard.
  • If you or a loved one has food allergies/sensitivities, now is not the time to make a fuss over it. In fact, the topic does not even have to come up at the table. If you’ve brought special food, allow it to be enjoyed, but not as a focal point. It’s just not all about you. It’s about a feast, family time, enjoying the blessings that God has given us.

Be Happy

It doesn’t matter how elegant, how drop-dead gorgeous, how accurately polite you are if you are always discontent. Happiness… Smiles and laughter… These will make you more beautiful and likable than any amount of proper etiquette or expensive clothing.

This is on my “Quotes” board on Pinterest, via bloglovin.com.