Basic Dining Etiquette – The Invitation

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 69,614
    Nancy Mitchell of The Etiquette Advocate discusses what you should do upon receiving an invitation to dinner.

    Nancy Mitchell

    Nancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).

    Nancy Mitchell: Hello, I am Nancy Mitchell, I am the owner of the Etiquette Advocate and today we are talking about dining etiquette. Your responsibilities as a guest begin even before you arrive at the event. Your responsibilities begin when you receive an invitation. Look very carefully at the invitation, notice how its addressed; is it to you and a guest is it to only you. Its very rude to respond to an invitation by saying youre going to bring a guest or to ask question may I bring a guest? your marching orders if you will are how your invitation is addressed and respond accordingly.

    Look at your invitation for clues about the event, the starting time, the dress code. If there is any question about what is the appropriate attire for the event, call, ask questions. If you have any hesitation about how to dress always go one level above what you think will be appropriate. You will always be comfortable, if you are little overdressed, youll always be uncomfortable if you are underdressed. Go with the signals that are given on the invitation. It is extremely rude not respond to an invitation. As a guest your primary responsibility is to say yes or no, are you attending? Dont make your host guess about this, its critical for them to know account for the caterer. They need to know a seating arrangement; they need to know exactly how many people are coming. Dont be rude by not responding to your invitation.

    At this point it is your responsibility as a guest to communicate any special needs you may have to your host or hostess. If you have food allergies, you have religious restrictions you have special needs because of disability. When you are invited you need to convey this information to your host. Dont surprise them the day of the event they sit down at the table with you, they dont want to know at that point that you are vegetarian they want to know ahead of time. Share your special needs your restrictions with your host or hostess at the point that you are responding to an invitation.

    That is how you respond to an invitation and how you prepare to go to an event. Next we are going to be talking about how to arrive at the event and what you do as a guest.