Etiquette

When planning any Event or Festival, you need to ensure that etiquette and protocol are generally maintained, so that every guest will know as to how matters will be organised, and the dress code and behaviour that is expected.

As your Toastmaster I will ensure that each function apparently flows quite effortlessly, by carefully managing each and every element.

You can safely be assured that your Special Occasion will become something you will remember with great pride for many years to come.

Below are some helpful suggestions/hints in the area.

 

 

 

Black Tie
Black Tie or more often termed Dinner Jacket or Tuxedo, is the correct formal wear for Luncheon parties, Dinner parties, and all semi-formal events.

Jacket:
Black Barathea or Wool in either single breast or double breast style. Lapels should have silk facings, or a ribbed outer edge. In many circles it is now acceptable to have different colours to the traditional black.

Trousers:
Black with a silk or a light braid stripe, on the outside of each leg.

Tie:
Black bow tie, although other colours are acceptable at semi formal events.

Shirt:
White plain fronted with black stud buttons, or pleated (buttons not showing) or more formally, a Marcella shirt with a french (double) cuff.

Waistcoat:
A single or double breasted waistcoat may be worn with the single breasted jacket. It should preferably be in black or grey, but other colours are also popular.

Cummerbund:
Where a waistcoat is not worn, a cummerbund can be worn instead with a single breasted jacket. The pleats should be worn so that they face upwards.

Socks:
Plain black socks made of either wool or silk.

Shoes:
Highly polished lace up shoes or brogues, or patent shoes should be worn.

Accessories:
Not too much jewellery should be worn. Cuff links should be fairly simple. Never wear a belt and braces together. White gloves can be worn.

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White Tie
White Tie or more often termed Evening Wear, is the correct formal wear for State and Formal Evening events. It should not be worn at daytime unless specifically requested.

Jacket:
Black Barathea or Wool double breast style, but worn undone. Tails to just below the rear of the knee. Lapels can be plain or have silk facings.

Trousers:
Black with two silk stripes, on the outside of each leg.

Tie:
White Marcella or silk bow tie.

Shirt:
White plain fronted with white stud buttons, or a stiff front shirt, or a Marcella shirt with a french (double) cuff, may be worn. The collar should be of the stiff wing type of collar.

Waistcoat:
A single or double breasted plain white and starched waistcoat must be worn. At formal presentations it is becoming acceptable to wear a grey waistcoat on occasions.

Socks:
Plain black socks made of either wool or silk.

Shoes:
Highly polished lace up shoes or brogues, or patent shoes should be worn.

Accessories:
Silk Top Hat is to be worn.
Not too much jewellery should be worn. Cuff links should be fairly simple. Never wear a belt and braces together. White or yellow chamois gloves can be worn. Black Cape.Black cane.

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Morning Dress/Suit
Morning Dress, is the correct wear for State & Civic formal daytime events. It is also worn at Ascot races, at Presentations, and is the correct dress for the Groom, Best Man, Gentlemen Ushers and the Bride & Groom's Fathers at a Wedding Reception.

Jacket:
Black Barathea or Wool in the cut-away style, with tails down to just below the knee level. In many circles it is now acceptable to have a grey jacket rather than a black jacket and this is often styled as 'Ascot' wear.

Trousers:
Grey striped or grey with a small check pattern.

Tie:
Plain grey silk, grey cravat, Regimental, or Old School ties may be worn. At many Weddings it is conventional to now wear a colour co-ordinated cravat.

Shirt:
White plain fronted, with a soft traditional fold down collar. A cravat can be worn with a wing collar, at weddings only.

Waistcoat:
A single or double breasted waistcoat may be worn and it should preferably be in black or grey, but other colours are also popular at weddings.

Socks:
Plain black socks made of either wool or silk.

Shoes:
Highly polished lace up shoes or brogues,should be worn.

Accessories:
A black silk Top Hat or a Grey Top Hat should be worn with the appropriate colour of jacket. It is becoming customary at some weddings to wear a grey top hat with a black jacket, which is acceptable providing that all the persons wearing morning dress are clothed similarly.

Not too much jewellery should be worn. Cuff links should be fairly simple. Never wear a belt and braces together.
Yellow chamois gloves can be worn with a black jacket, and grey gloves can be worn with either jacket.

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Highland Dress
Formal Highland wear, is the correct dress to be worn for Luncheon parties, Dinner parties, and all semi-formal and formal events both in and out of Scotland.

Jacket:
The 'Prince Charlie' jacket is made from black Barrathea or wool, is single breasted and is usually left undone.

Kilt:
The kilt is made usually from worsted and varies in weight from 11 ozs to 16 ozs.

Care must be taken to ensure that you are entitled to wear any particular tartan, as your lineage can be challenged.

Virtually any person may wear the 'Royal Stewart Tartan' since 1822.

It is traditional since the time of Queen Victoria to use a kilt pin to hold the open folds of the kilt together.

Sporran:
There are many styles and types available, which can be worn on almost any occasion.

The sporran is held in place by a sporran chain.

Tie:
Black bow tie, on all formal occasions.

Shirt:
White plain fronted with black stud buttons, or pleated (buttons not showing).

Waistcoat/Vest:
A black single breasted waistcoat (vest) should be worn.

Socks:
Knee high woollen beige socks should be worn, which are held up with a garter and a coloured flash.

Skean Dhu:
A Skean Dhu (small dagger) is placed in one sock, depending upon whether you are right or left handed.

Shoes:
Black 'Ghillie Brogues' are traditionally worn.

Accessories:
Not too much jewellery should be worn. Cuff links should be fairly simple.

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Ladies' Festivals
The most usual type of Ladies' Festival is held to celebrate the end of a Master's year in his Masonic Lodge.

It is expected that a good deal of effort will be taken to raise money for charitable purposes, during the whole evening.

Whilst the 'President' is usually the reigning Master, the event is held to honour his lady in particular, and all other ladies in general.

The top table will usually consist of the President, his lady, his immediate family, and any honoured guests.

The meal will usually consist of 3 to 7 courses, and the Loyal Toast is always given at the end of the meal.

Often, a toast will be proposed to the President to which he will respond. This toast is most often given by the incoming next President.

A toast is always proposed to the Ladies, and the President's lady will usually respond, with a short speech.

Small gifts are usually given to each lady that attends as a momento of the occasion. Very often, flowers are also distributed.

Gentlemen will normally wear black tie dress.

Ladies will wear either cocktail dresses, full evening dresses or ballroom gowns - as dictated on the invitation.

Ladies gloves would be optional, but hats should not be worn, and gentlemen should not wear gloves.

Jewellery is worn in full.

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Formal & Corporate Dinners
Virtually all formal and corporate dinners follow the same pattern as adopted at Semi State and Formal Banquets. Dress is usually 'black tie' with ladies wearing cocktail dress, or in some very formal events, it is 'white tie' with ladies in evening or ball gowns, with gloves.

A top table will comprise of the 'President of Table' and his or her consort, who will be placed centrally at table.

Other honoured guests will be seated at top table in a manner whereby they are placed in order of seniorority moving away from centre.

The top table party as a whole, or possibly just the 'President of Table' and his or her consort, will be formally greeted at table, after all guests are assembled.

Grace will always be given. This is usually conducted by a member of clergy if present at top table, or by the Toastmaster. In some instances it is given by the President (i.e. Military Mess Dinners).

Taking of wine with honoured guests should be carried out between the courses of the meal. No more than three should be taken at any one time.

The meal should formally end with the 'Loyal Toast'.

Port may then be circulated and smoking may be allowed at table, or Ladies may withdraw depending upon the custom and tradition of each event.

It is usual custom after 'port & cigars' for any formal speeches to be given. The speech programme should be known in advance, rehearsed, and formally announced. A Toastmaster is usually employed to oversee all such arrangements and functions.

When formal speeches are ended, the President and consort (and possibly all the top table) formally take leave of the table.

Guests then proceed to leave the tables so that the dancing part of the evening may commence.

At the end of the dancing period, it is customary to 'strike up' the National Anthem.

As your Toastmaster we can advise on all matters of protocol and etiquette.

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Civic Dinners / Reception
Virtually all civic dinners follow the same pattern as adopted at Semi State and Formal Banquets. Dress is usually 'black tie' with ladies wearing cocktail dress, or at many evening events it can be 'white tie' with ladies in evening gowns, with gloves.

The Mace may be formally received if the Mayor is at top table.

A top table will comprise of the 'President of Table' who is most often the Mayor. The Mayor and his or her consort, will be placed centrally at table.

Other honoured guests will be seated at top table in a manner whereby they are placed in order of seniorority moving away from centre.

The top table party as a whole, or possibly just the 'President of Table / Mayor' and his or her consort, will be formally greeted at table, after all guests are assembled.

Grace will always be given. This is usually conducted by a member of clergy if present at top table, or by the Toastmaster. In some instances it is given by a senior Alderman.

Taking of wine with honoured guests should be carried out between the courses of the meal. No more than three should be taken at any one time.

The meal should formally end with the 'Loyal Toast'.

Port may then be circulated and smoking may be allowed at table, or Ladies may withdraw depending upon the custom and tradition of each local authority.

It is usual custom after 'port & cigars' for any formal speeches to be given. The speech programme should be known in advance, rehearsed, and formally announced. A Toastmaster is usually employed to oversee all such arrangements and functions.

At the end of all the speeches, it is customary to 'strike up' the National Anthem. However, local traditions could mean that the National Anthem is played at the commencement of the meal, at the end of the meal as well as after the speeches.

When formal speeches are ended, the Mayor or President and consort (and possibly all the top table) formally take leave of the table. A Mayor will most probably receed from table with the mace proceeding him or her.


As your Professional Toastmaster, we can advise on all matters of etiquette and protocol.

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Wedding Attendants
Matron or Maid of Honour:

Quite often this honour is afforded to the eldest sister of a Bride, or some other close relative. A married woman is usually referred to as a 'Matron of Honour' , whilst a single woman is referred to as a 'Maid of Honour'. Her duties include holding the Bride's bouquet during the wedding ceremony, helping to adjust her veil, and arranges the train on the egress from the ceremony. She will be escorted from the ceremony by the Best Man, and will usually form part of any receiving line, and will usually be seated on or close to the top table at the reception.

Bridesmaids:

In 'English or Traditional' style ceremonies, the bridesmaids will follow behind the Bride, and will be responsible for attending to and holding the train. In the USA and some other countries, the bridesmaids will preceed the Bride.

At the reception, the bridesmaids are expected to act as deputy hostesses, and on many occasions will serve the wedding cake to the guests.

Pages - Page Boys:

In the U.K. the pages will preceed the bride, and in the USA they will act as train bearers.

Flower Girl:

The ideal age for a flower girl is between 3 and 7 years of age. She will preceed the Bride, and will scatter petals when local circumstances will allow, or will simply carry flowers or even organic confetti.

Best Man:

The duties and requirements of the Best Man are both numerous and important, in that he should relieve the Groom of as many details as possible.

The Best Man will often organise the 'Stag Party' and is responsible to ensure that the Groom is ready, able and alert for the wedding ceremony.

At the ceremony, he should have the wedding ring(s),which he hands to the person conducting the ceremony or to a ring bearer.

He will escort the Maid / Matron of Honour, or the Chief Bridesmaid, from the service.

He will pay all fees on behalf of the Groom to the Minister / Civil Authority / Chauffeur / Toastmaster / Photographer etc.

He is responsible to ensure that transportation is available for all guests.

At the wedding reception he is usually part of the reception line, and will be seated at or near to the top table. At the reception he will be expected to respond to the toast to the bridesmaids, and will read out telegrams and messages from persons not able to attend.

Should the Bride & Groom change clothes before leaving the reception, it is the Best Man's responsibility to care for all luggage and all clothes, and ensure that they are available and also removed safely and securely.

Ushers:

Gentlemen Ushers should ensure that all guests at the ceremony have an order of service and hymn books (if appropriate) and that each guest is seated appropriately.

During the recessional, it is becoming more usual for each usher to escort a bridesmaid.

Ushers can also be invaluable at the reception in that they can help escort guests to their seats after they have been officially received.

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Weddings - Different Religions etc
By their very nature, all wedding receptions which involve or require religious practices to be performed, can be quite complicated.

As a very brief guide, you would need to consider:


JEWISH WEDDINGS

All males should wear cuples (small caps).

The officiating minister will ceremonially wash his hands before the meal.

Bread and salt will be taken with Grace before the meal - Hamotze.

Two wines will be mixed and given to the Bride & Groom during the Grace after the meal - Benching.

Two Loyal Toasts are always proposed after the meal, and before the speeches.

The National Anthem and the Hatikvah will be played.

3 hours must elapse between eating meat and taking tea.


CARIBBEAN WEDDINGS

Similar to a Traditional style.

The receiving line is formed by all guests forming a 'tunnel' down each side of the building, for the Bride & Groom to walk through to the reception.

Small cakes, fruit and sweets should be available on each table.

Speeches are made informally whilst the dancing takes place.


INDIAN WEDDINGS

The wedding ceremony is a long procedure which takes place away from the reception venue.

Often the food is provided by relatives of the Bridal couple, and cooked by friends at the venue.
Drink is usually supplied by the family of the Groom.

The wedding cake is usually made from sponge and sweet icing, and is served during the meal and without any formalities.

When the Bride & Groom ingress to the meeting area, the Bridesmaids will generally proceed the Bride, and sprinkle rose petals on the floor.

There is usually no set table plan.


ISLAMIC WEDDINGS

The receiving line would not include the Bride & Groom.

The Bride & Groom enter the room in silence.

The religious ceremony and the exchange of vows takes place in complete silence by the guests.

The Toast to the Bride & Groom is proposed before the meal commences.

When the wedding cake is cut, the Bride & Groom will offer a piece to each other.

The Bride & Groom will traditionally 'visit' each table at the reception, during the meal.


GREEK WEDDINGS

Similar to a Traditional Style.

The Bride and her Bridesmaids will normally serve the portions of wedding cake to the guests, from platters.

Instead of bringing presents, it is more traditional for guests to 'pin' money onto the Bride's dress.


ITALIAN WEDDINGS

Similar to a Traditional Style.

Often the Bride will carry a small bag or purse, and envelopes containing money are placed in the purse by the guests.

The Bride & Groom must kiss each other each time that a guest taps a glass with a spoon.

Generally the Bride will take the first waltz with her Father.


POLISH WEDDINGS

Similar to a traditional style wedding reception.

The Bride & Groom are received at the reception by their parents who will present them with bread, salt and wine.

Unmarried ladies will circulate the bride whilst her wedding veil is removed, and then married ladies will circulate the bride, whilst a cap is placed on her head - to signify her transition into becoming a married lady.

Guest do not usually bring presents but instead will place cash in the Bride's purse or into a receptacle - usually a large wooden apple - for the privilege of dancing with her.


The above notes are very simplified and are intended purely as a brief general guide only.

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Wedding Breakfast - Table Layout
There are three basic styles of top table layout, namely; Traditional (known as English Style), American and French. In addition, there are certain requirements for particular religious reasons.

However, any style or arrangement is satisfactory, and should be designed to reflect the wishes of the Bride in particular.

In many families it is not unusual for one or more of the parents to have divorced and / or re-married. The table plan would then need to be altered to take this into account. Further alternatives might need to be considered if any such divorce was acrimonious.



TRADITIONAL STYLE:

The Bride & Groom sit at the centre of the Top Table, with the Bride seated to the left of the Groom. The Groom's Father sits to the left of the Bride, with the Bride's Mother to his left, and the Best Man seated to her left. The Mother of the Groom sits to the right of the Groom, with the Brides Father to her right, and the Chief Bridesmaid to his right. Any other Bridesmaids would be seated to the right of the Chief Bridesmaid and / or the right of the Best Man.

However this arrangement whilst being very traditional means that the Groom's family have precedence at table. Far more often the Father of the Bride sits to the left of the Bride with the Groom's Mother to his left, and the Mother of the Bride, sits to the right of the Groom with the Groom's Father to her right. This gives the Bride's family (the official hosts) precedence at table.

An alternative arrangement is for the respective parents to be seated together as a family group, with the Brides Mother & Father to the right of the Groom, and the Grooms Mother & Father to the left of the Bride.

AMERICAN STYLE:

Very similar to the above except the Best Man sits immediately to the left of the Bride, and the Chief Bridesmaid sits to the immediate right of the Groom.


FRENCH STYLE:

Similar to the Traditional Style except that the respective Mothers and Fathers do not sit at top table.

Instead each family has a seperate table with the respective Mother's & Father's heading each table.


JEWISH & INDIAN

Similar to a traditional style with the one exception that the Bride's parents sit together, and the Groom's parents sit together.

At a Jewish style wedding, it is generally necessary for the officiating Minister or Rabbi to also be seated at top table.

 

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Passing the port
One of the most important elements in any formal dinner, is the protocol attached to the 'passing of the port'.

Port is usually brought to table with the cheese, and on some formal occasions is used as the signal for ladies to withdraw to the 'drawing' room, so that the men may smoke cigars etc.

In certain Regiments and some Universities, it would be considered most unbecoming, if port went around the table in the incorrect manner.

Port should be passed by the 'President' or 'Chairman' after he or she has served him/her self, and possibly the honoured guest to their immediate right. Thereafter, the port should be passed to the next person on the left, and continue to circulate around the table, without the bottle or decanter touching the table.

Should you miss your turn, the port will not be passed back to you, but you may send your glass down the table instead, or otherwise you should wait for the port to be re-circulated.

Each guest should help themselves, by pouring an amount into a small stemmed port glass, and only sip the contents after the 'President' has first sipped his/hers.

At Royal Navy (and some other functions) the President will only take the stopper from the decanter and then immediately pass the port to the person on his/her left. This method ensures that everyone has a fully 'charged' glass by the time the President receives the port, so that he can then announce the 'Loyal Toast'.

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 13 July 2010 21:06)