Sunday, May 15, 2016

Table Seating Etiquette

Original seating chart for State Dinner Honoring HRH The Duke of Gloucester, in 1934 — At diplomatic dinners, titles are abbreviated, “H. E. [for His Excellency] the Norwegian Ambassador,” “The Secretary of Defense.” Dinner partners refer to these gentlemen as “Mr. Ambassador” and “Mr. Secretary” in direct conversation, by the way.

The seating at formal dinners is the same as that at informal ones at which guests are present. Host and hostess are seated more or less opposite each other, with the hostess preferably near the entrance through which the formal place card. Monogram, in this case, in gold with matching border. 

Name of guest is handwritten. To the right of the host is placed the honored woman guest. If a young engaged girl is to be feted, for example, she is given this place despite the fact that older women are present. If among the guests
there is one woman who has come some distance and is rarely a visitor to the household, it is she who would be given this place of honor. 

Ordinarily, among people who see each other frequently, the hostess places to the host's right any woman who has obvious seniority over the rest or, if none has, any woman guest who will bring out her husband conversationally if he needs special incentive. 

To her own right the hostess places the husband of the guest of honor, if there is one, the man who has come the greatest distance and is an infrequent visitor to the household or a man who may be a little shy or difficult conversationally. To the host's left is placed the next most important woman guest and to the hostess' left, the next most important man guest.

At a long banquet table host and hostess need not sit at opposite ends but may sit across from each other at the center. The same seating of guests of honor maintains, however.

At each place will be a guest's name. The cards are usually plain white with beveled edges gilded, although in a household using a heraldic device the host's full coat of arms may be embossed in gold or the crest alone without the motto may be used. 

A widow or an unmarried woman may properly use only a lozenge for menu and place cards. Place card names are written "Mrs. Roberts," "Miss Sweeney," "Mr. Prudhomme" at formal dinners. 

At diplomatic dinners titles are abbreviated,  "H. E. [for His Excellency] the Norwegian Ambassador," "The Secretary of Defense." Dinner partners refer to these gentlemen as "Mr. Ambassador" and "Mr. Secretary" in direct conversation, by the way. — Amy Vanderbilt, 1952

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

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