Newport Manners & Etiquette: Relationships, Birth Control + More

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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Mother-of-the-groom dress for February 2014.

Relationships are on everybody's minds around Valentine's Day – couples dealing with birth control issues, mother-of-the-groom dress code for a February wedding, and work related funeral etiquette, as well as thank-you note etiquette were all queries to Didi Lorillard at

Birth control etiquette

Dear Didi,

Our dilemma for the past 3 1/2 years has been that my boyfriend and I have been struggling with birth control. I won't go into details, but nothing seems to work whether they're barriers, birth control pills or an IUD. He won't get a vasectomy and I don't want to get my tubes tied. How do we resolve this gnawing issue amicably?  L.L., Providence

Dear L.L.,

When all else fails, he's not up for a vasectomy and you don't want a tubal ligation. It is time to get a period-tracking app. There are several popular applications (iPeriod, Clue, PTracker, and PeriodDiary) that act as an all-purpose tracker documenting your cycles to help you make informed choices about when to to have safe sex. The benefits of having your cycles documented are invaluable, and apparently the app is so much fun that everybody is doing it.  ~Didi

Thank-you etiquette today

Dear Didi,

Whatever happened to the handwritten thank-you note? Does it matter if I just text a quick thanks or do I still have to get out my unused stationery?  Ellie, Coventry

Dear Ellie,

We are so wired to our devices that handwriting skills are on the wane. We abbreviate the word 'tomorrow' when we text, so when we handwrite the word and we've forgotten the correct spelling, there's no e-helper to correct us. When we handwrite we remember we're in a wired world. We're used to deleting and correcting a mistake without the receiver knowing our original mistake; when we take pen to paper we become frustrated when we've made a mistake we can't correct, and the note will be less than perfect. Tear it up and start again. When there is no delete button do we start again or gently augment the mistake? It's far easier to type the thank-you note these days.

The point is to say thank you.

The current standard on this is that if you receive a written invitation or a gift of over sixty dollars, you handwrite a thank-you note. When the invitation was an e-vite and the gift costs under a hundred, it is fine to write an email thank-you. When the invitation for dinner or lunch was texted, you can text your thank-you. ~Didi

Funeral Etiquette for a former boss' husband

Dear Didi,

My ex boss' husband was killed and I am unsure if I should to go to the funeral service. We worked together for 3 to 4 years. One part of me feels like going because I want to give her support but the other feels I would be intruding. Name withheld

Dear anonymous,

You worked with your former boss for three to four years, which should give you enough rapport that she would recognize you had made an effort to take the time to support her at this very difficult and sad time. She is no doubt in extreme shock. Seeing past and present friends and colleagues from work will be a comfort to her. She will appreciate the effort you made to show your respect.  ~Didi

Mother-of-the-Groom Etiquette

Hello, I am the mother-of-the-groom. I need to know if it will be okay to wear a black tea-length gown to his wedding. The wedding is the end of Feb. @ 5pm. S.T., Boston

Dear S.T.,

Wearing black is considered ultrachic, even at your son's wedding. However, check with the bride first, because some cultures are superstitious about wearing black at a wedding. It could be perceived as a negative sign that you, the groom's mother, don't like the bride. On the other hand, there are those of us who feel there is nothing more elegant than a black dress in the evening.

Nonetheless, the tea gown length can be iffy. Firstly, you would have to be tall to pull the length off, because it cuts the calves in half making a woman look shorter than she is. Secondly, it is called tea-length because historically it is the length of a dress worn at an afternoon tea party. If the ceremony is at five o'clock followed by a evening reception, you would wear cocktail length. Meaning, knee-length dress, unless the wedding invitation specifies Black Tie or Formal Attire and the MOB is wearing a long dress. Think of the wedding photos. It just makes sense that the mothers would be dressed in a similar length and style.

Traditionally, you would start by asking the mother-of-the-bride what she is wearing: style, fabric, length, and color. You would then wear a outfit that was similar, but suited you.  ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above righthand search. The slideshow below is not endorsed by her.


Related Slideshow: 12 Valentine’s Day Events in RI

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Most Romantic Couple Contest

XO Café, Providence

Now through February 7, 2014, contestants can submit their inspired story of romance in 500 words or less for the chance to win a gourmet Valentine’s Day dinner for two with wine pairings, as prepared by Executive Chef Marty Lyons. 

For more information or to submit an entry, please visit

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Black Valentine's Day Celebration

Ocean Mist, Matunuck

Ocean Mist knows Valentine's Day can be either an awesome holiday or a very annoying one, so they are choosing to celebrate Black Valentine’s Day. Come celebrate everyday love and friendship with a spectacular dance party. All you awesome singletons and even you adorable couples - go down to Ocean Mist and check out what exactly black valentine's is all about.

For more details, go here.

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1st Annual Sweatheart Dance

Mount Hope Farm, Bristol

Celebrate Valentine's Day in Bristol at the 1st Annual Sweetheart Dance at Mount Hope Farm on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 8pm to 11pm. Festivities include cash bar, cupcakes and other goodies. Also, enjoy tunes by Luke Renchan Entertainment, one of RI's premiere DJ services. Prizes will also e awarded for best Valentine-themed outfits.Tickets are $10.

Reserve your ticket now by calling 401-254-1745 or click here.

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Farmhouse Valentine's Special

Langworthy Farm, Westerly

Show that special someone you care by booking a Valentine's Day Special at Langworthy Farm. This two-night stay includes a full New England breakfast each morning and a special wine and chocolate tasting for two. Rates start at $270.

To make a reservation, call 401-322-7791.

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Valentine's Day Dinner

Ocean House, Watch Hill

End Valentine’s Day on a romantic note this year with a spectacular dinner in Seasons at the Ocean House. Ocean House chefs will take you through five palate-enticing courses, each highlighting the best of the New England bounty. Celebrate one another and the passion that you share over a decadent dessert.

Price: $95/ per person (plus tax and gratuity); Wine pairing is an additional $40/ per person.

Click here to reserve your table.

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Month of Love Special

The Attwater, Newport

Surprise your sweetie by sweeping him/her away to Newport. Stay two nights or more between February 6-28, 2014 (excluding Feb 14-17, 2014) and receive chocolate covered strawberries, a long stem rose and a box of Lark Fine Foods artisan cookies - all complimentary.

For more details, go here or call 401-846-7444.

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Valentine's Day at the Inn

The Weekapaug Inn, Weekapaug

Surprise your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day with a spectacular four-course dinner in The Restaurant at the Weekapaug Inn. Enjoy intimate conversation in their candlelit dining area and steal breathtaking views of the star flecked New England sky from across the pond. Sip a cocktail (or two) in the Garden Room and pull your lover close as you relax by the glow of the crackling fire. The Weekapaug Inn is the destination for love this February.

Price: $80/ person (plus tax and gratuity)

Click here to claim your table.

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2nd Annual Cupid Ball

Center by the Blackstone, Pawtucket

You're invited to attend the 2nd Annual Cupid Ball - a Pink Tie Affair at the Center by the Blackstone. The evening includes pink wine upon arrival, hors d'oeuvres, four course meal station provided by Pamfilio's, and entertainment provided by WRIK Entertainment.

Prices: $60 per individual or $100 per couple.

Click here to buy tickets or call 401- 724-2200.

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Parent's Night Out

The Children's Workshop, all RI locations

Would you like a night out for Valentine’s Day? Bring the kids to The Children’s Workshop! They will provide supervision, fun, entertainment and snacks for the kids while parents enjoy a night off. This service is FREE and open to the community! You do not need to enroll to take advantage of this great event. Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 7th.

The Children’s Workshop has 12 locations throughout Rhode Island.

For more information, click here.

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Valentine's Day Concert

Blithewold Mansion, Bristol

Opera Providence will present “A Happy Valentine’s Day Concert” on Friday Friday, Feb. 14th, at 7pm and Sunday, Feb. 16th at 3pm at the Blithewold Mansion. The event features the voices of the Opera Providence Ensemble. All concert tickets are $40 per person. Tickets for the entire concert series are $75 per person. 

For more information please contact the Opera Providence office at 401-331-6060 or visit their website.

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Valentine's Day Burgers

Harry's Bar & Burger, Providence

Harry’s Bar & Burger is celebrating Valentine’s Day weekend with a selection of menu specials available Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th. Located at 121 North Main Street, Harry's will feature Fried Mozzarella Triangles with marinara sauce ($3.50); Harry’s Cheesy Lover Burger topped with house made mac and cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickle, and special sauce on a toasted potato roll ($6.50), and Fried Oreos dusted with powdered sugar ($2.99).

For more information, please call 401-228-7437 or visit

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An Exclusive Dining Experience

Aldrich Mansion, Warwick

Make your special someone feel like they're the most important person in the world this Valentine's Day by partaking in an exclusive dining experience in the opulent, historic Aldrich mansion. Enjoy a three-course prix fixe menus prepared on site by Executive Chef Al Langeveld.

Price: $145 per couple, incl. gratuity, taxes, complimentary glass of champagne, cash bar, live music during cocktails, and free parking. RSVP by Feb. 6 with menu selections.

For more information, go here or call 401-739-6850.


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