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Newport Manners + Etiquette: Dinner Guests From Hell + More

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


How to graciously handle guests who are distinctly lacking social graces? Don't frown... Didi Lorillard has the answer.

What to do with rude dinner party guests? What's the host etiquette for email RSVPs? Does the dress code 'Black Business' mean Black Tie? What do we wear to a funeral? All queries of interest this week at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com.

Dear Didi,
I am having a party and have given my email address for rsvps. Do I need to reply to say that I have received the rsvp message? Or is that like thanking for a thank you note? Can the sender assume I have received her rsvp?  C.D.C., Winston Salem, North Carolina

Dear C.D.C,
It's polite and good follow-up to 'reply' back by emailing, "Thanks for the message we're looking forward to seeing you both." Or if you're overwhelmed with replies, just email back "Great!" when it's an acceptance.  Or reply, "We'll miss you - next time!" when it's a regret. The sender will assume you received her RSVP, but you want to make your guests feel comfortable and really looking forward to your party.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Last weekend we invited two other couples for dinner. I went all out and made pumpkin soup, t-bone steak, fancy noodles and a delicious dessert. While I was getting the food on the table one of the husbands came into the kitchen to tell me that he and his wife had given up eating meat. I wrestled to bulk up the salad to make it more plentiful. When we sat down at the table the other husband announced that he and his wife Barbara no longer ate meat. Now, we've known these two couples for decades, but shouldn't they have told us about not eating meat on the phone when I invited them? When they were saying their good-byes, one husband had the gall to thank me for the "mediocre" dinner, and I sniped back thanking him for the mediocre company. Should I have made a vegetable option? I might add that one of the husbands actually ended up eating the steak. But of course we never called him on it.  B. J., Newport     

Dear B.J.,
The good news is that you had great leftovers. You're absolutely right. People with eating priorities need to voice them when invited, not at the dinner table. In the future, say, "We're doing t-bone on the grille Saturday night and hope you can come for dinner." That's their cue to tell you, "Didin't we tell you we're not eating meat?" Give them an opening to say, "Sally and I can't eat gluten, salt, sugar, nuts or shellfish."  

After the novelty has warn off, most guests with food allergies will warn you ahead of time and they'll also have a snack before leaving home. A good guest would have brought their own vegetable side dish to share with the table.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
What does "Business Black" mean for the men going to a designer gala in Manhattan in December? Does this mean a tux or a black suit? T.R., Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Dear T.R.,
More and more, we see the 'Black Business' suit as the new - slightly less formal - Black Tie. The dress code 'Business Black' means 'Suits & Dresses,' with black suits for the men. It doesn't mean tuxedo, because you wouldn't wear a tux to a 'designer gala' when the dress code has the word "business" in it.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I have a query .... My husband's cousin who was 22 years old just passed away and we have the funeral what is the dress code please?????  We had a quite close relationship .... I am 24 thanks a lot. A.L., Philadelphia

Dear A.L.,
Oh, dear, I am sorry for your loss. It is difficult to lose a friend who is family as well. Funeral dress code is equivalent to what you would wear to an important job interview. You don't have to wear black. If you don't have a black outfit, navy blue, grey, dark green, burgundy, beige and brown are all respectable colors to wear to a funeral.  You would wear a just-above-the-knee skirt suit, a day dress with sleeves or a sheath with a jacket, along with beautiful shoes and carry a small clutch bag. Your husband would wear his best dark suit or a blazer with grey flannels or dress khakis, a collared shirt with a solid or striped tie, and dark shoes and socks.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, business etiquette, entertaining, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook,TwitterLinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocalProv.com columns, some of which are listed below.


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