Newport Manners & Etiquette:  2017 Wedding Trends + How to Accept A Compliment

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


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The manners and etiquette for accepting a compliment and wedding trends for 20017 were the most interesting questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week.

Weddings 20017 update 

Q.  We're getting married in September and for both of us it is our second wedding. What can you tell us about weddings now after an interval of six years? Both or our first weddings were quite simple, but this time we're going all out.  JL, Buffalo, NY

A.  At NewportManners, we're seeing a lot of questions about the importance of pre-nuptial agreements. Also, problems tend to arise in unconventional families where there are different cultures and when step-relatives have to be placated by the wedding couple. Pulling it all together gracefully and economically are top goals.

In a nutshell, here are the most asked questions that you should be aware of and talk about amongst yourselves:

  • Pre-nuptial agreements can set a nasty tone. Unless the dos and don'ts of what points should be included - and which could be eliminated or altered - are made by agreement, work for both. Like any agreement, you have to compromise. 
  • What percentage of the guest list is taken up by the parents? At least sixty percent of the quests are those of the bride and groom. The other forty percent are divided between the parents of the wedding couple to include their closest friends and family members.
  • There are problems when you invite young children to a formal or semiformal wedding. Children can be invited to the ceremony but not to the reception.That information has to be made clear on the couple's wedding website.
  • Find a way to make the fathers and stepfathers feel they have a role by giving them specific responsibilities for the day of the wedding.
  • Make the mother-of-the-groom feel included by asking for her advice and ideas.
  • Come up with ways to maximize the photography investment.
  • The problem with the cost of the wedding for attendants. The bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen's outfits should be affordable. When possible the hosts should offer to help cover expenses for attendants who are students or others who are known to be under financial strain.
  • Be sure to include customs of the melding families in the various festivities.
  • The timeline for the wedding day - and especially the reception - are the key to a great wedding.
  • Design a monogram.  
  • The bride should decide whether of not to take her husband's surname after the wedding.
  • Someone should be appointed to be the point person on coordinating transportation.
  • Listen to the band or DJ first hand before hiring.
  • Be sure to get signed contracts from all the vendors: the hairdresser, videographer, florist, caterer, the band manager, wedding cake baker and chauffeur, etc. And don't forget to find out whether the tip is included in the cost.


Wedding fashion 2017

Q. What are the dos and don't trending in wedding fashion in 2017 for the wedding families as well as the wedding guests? As a wedding planner I have to keep up on what's in and what's out.  LB, Newport, RI

A.  From the wedding dress to the last dance, watching fashion walk down the aisle and on the dance floor is entertaining. Here are some concerns we're seeing about wedding fashion this year:

  • The Strapless or backless wedding dress is fine as long as the church, or house of worship, doesn't mind if the bride is showing a lot of skin. Some religious institutions require covered shoulders, which is easily done with the addition of a bolero that can be unbuttoned and taken off for the reception. You would have to ask about a dress with an up-high slit to reveal a thigh.
  • To tan or not to tan is always a concern because if the tan isn't professionally applied, it is apt to rub off and stain clothing. A certain amount of tan looks better in the wedding photos, but you don't want to overdo it with a fake orange glow. If the bride looks tan that's OK, especially if the groom is tanned as well. 
  • Like shoes, undergarments you will wear at your wedding should be worn to dress fittings. Wedding shoes should be broken in, even if it is around the house while cooking dinner or doing laundry.
  • Likewise, experiment with makeup and hairstyle ahead of time so there is no disappointment with the wedding photos.
  • It is still NOT acceptable for women guests to wear white, because the bride is the only person wearing white. Black is always chic, but red is an attention-grabbing color, as are loud prints. A guest's outfit shouldn't be seeking scrutiny. 
  • However, guests don't have to be dressed in perfectly color coordinated outfits from hat and dress, to to and shoes.
  • Hats are great at the ceremony whether it is held indoors or out, but leave the hat in the cloak room or car before going into the reception. Hats don't belong on the dance floor, unless the hat is a fascinator or a small brimless cocktail hat. Any hat with a brim can deter social kissing.
  • Comfort is always key, which is why a handbag on a small chain is easier to handle than a clutch. Hanging gracefully from the shoulder, a bag with a long strap is easier to manage when you have a glass of champagne in your left hand while the right is handshaking.


Monogram etiquette

Q.  With wedding seasons fast approaching I'm considering various gifts from the wedding registries and am wondering how to monogram initials on bar glasses, leather goods and towels?  Ali, Brooklyn, NY

A.  Find out what monogram the wedding couple have chosen. Once I gave a set of towels from the bridal registry and my friend the bride was upset because the monogram wasn't in the right order. Monograms can be tricky, but they can also be fun.

In general, this is the drill for monograms:

  • For gifts to the bride of linens and lingerie, use first, last, middle initial with her new last name initial centered larger. The monogram for Edith Lorillard Cowley: ECL
  • For the groom monogram on leather or bar items including glasses for Robert William Cowley: first, middle and last first initial all the same size: RWC or all 3 initials with first and middle initial stacked next to the slightly larger last name initial.                                                                                
  • The monogram for a married couple on silver, for instance, would be simply the last shared initial C, or for Edith and Robert Cowley:  ECR
  • For a same sex couple, such as Andrew Brown and Jared Kelly, use both first initials:  A+J or both last name initials: B+K or stack both last names with the K directly underneath the line:  B         
  • When the bride keeps her maiden name, that's when you can get really creative with two large last name initials centered between two smaller first name initials on either side:  ELCR
  • Monograms for children are the same, but only using the child's first initial or first  name spelled out can be charming: Olivia or Felix                         


Accepting a compliment

Q.  When I try to compliment my daughter, who is a wonderfully caring mother, wife, and daughter, she pushes it away by saying,"Oh, that's nothing. No worries." In trying to show my appreciation of her, I would like this extremely accomplished person to be able to accept compliments graciously. What can I tell her?  AE, Beverly Farms, MA

A.  A recent study found that nearly 40% of women surveyed feel awkward about accepting a compliment and 18% will attempt to shrug off the compliment. Answering, "Oh, that was no problem."

That's because when someone gives you a compliment your brain immediately tries to figure out if the compliment is genuine or manipulating.

  • When someone you barely know gives you a gushing compliment that makes you feel queasy, you probably won't trust the person's intentions. 
  • Flattery, as you know, is often used to butter someone up because they want something and they'll go as far as being hypocritical to get what they want.


When you're in a clothing shop and the salesperson gives you too much attention in the hope that you'll buy something, they often pay a compliment.

  • When that flattery feels false we assume the person complimenting the tattoo is actually appalled by it. 
  • We do this to others and suspect others do it to us.

It is engrained in our brains to respond to a compliment with modesty by saying, "Oh, it's a castoff I've had this dress at the back of my closest for years." 

Get over it. We're pretty much hardwired to be embarrassed by praise and so belittle or reject the compliment. Simply reply with a sincere "thank you."

How to react to a compliment without feeling clumsy:

  • Slightly surprised that an older person would compliment your tattoo, immediately say "thank you." 
  • Resist returning the compliment because it could come out sounding stiff. 
  • It is better to change the subject and then later on discreetly slip in a compliment.


In relationships compliments are key to making the other person feel good about himself. 


In long-time relationships we tend to criticize more than compliment. 

  • Try to compliment your child, lover, partner, spouse once a day. 
  • Even if is sounds insignificant, it can make them feel good when you show your appreciation by saying, "Thanks for taking all that stuff out to the garbage." 
  • Or tune in to the fact that you like that he brought your morning coffee to you in bed and hope he'll do it again. 
  • If you see something you like, just say, "I like the way your green sweater goes with your corduroy trousers."

The internet is a place where people go to find compliments from people they know - as well as from complete strangers - who are all, also, desperate to be Liked and praised. 

  • Nevertheless, it is the insults that will be embedded in the brain more than the compliments.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


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