Friday, August 5, 2016

Ball Etiquette and the Patroness

 A ball's patronesses should see, as far as possible, that the proper introductions are made, and that every one is enjoying the evening, their own pleasure coming last. 
The Duties of, and Details on, Patronesses at Balls

It is customary for the management of any institution giving a public ball to formally invite six, eight, or more married women to act as patronesses, and for their names to appear on the invitations. If badges are worn, each patroness is sent one or given one at the ball-room. The patronesses, after being welcomed at the ball by the management committees, take their places, ready to receive the guests. The Committee of Arrangements should look after the patronesses, introduce distinguished guests to them, escort them to supper and finally to their carriages.

Their duties are varied and responsible – among them, the subscription to the expenses of the entertainments. The patronesses should be divided into various committees to attend to special duties – as, music, caterers, supper arrangements, the ball-room, and all other details. While affairs of this kind could be left in the hands of those employed to carry out the details, it is better and safer for each committee to follow the various matters out to the smallest details.


Those devising new features and surprises for such an occasion will give the most successful ball. The one most active and having the best business ability should take the lead. Lists should be compared, in order to avoid duplicate invitations. The tickets should be divided among the patronesses, who, in turn, distribute them among their friends.

The patronesses should be at the ball-room in ample time before the arrival of the guests, to see that all is in readiness. They should stand together beside the entrance to welcome the guests. They should see, as far as possible, that the proper introductions are made, and that every one is enjoying the evening, their own pleasure coming last. 

If time permits, a hasty introduction to the patroness beside her may be made by a patroness, but it should not be done if there is the slightest possibility of blocking up the entrance. A nod of recognition here and there, or a shake of the hands with some particular friend, is all that is necessary. Prolonged conversation should be avoided.


A patroness should not worry over the affair, or leave anything to be done at the last minute. If she has to worry, she should not show it, lest she interfere with the pleasure of others. They should be the last to leave as well as the first to arrive, to see that the affair closes brilliantly. – From a variety of sources, including "The Book of Manners"

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia