Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Edwardian Etiquette of Luncheons

Formal lunches, just like formal breakfasts, could be several hours long and with several courses. Place settings were very complicated for a novice hostess. Books like the Wallace Silver Hostess Book were very especially helpful to new brides.

Rules for Simple Luncheons

THERE is no easier mode of entertaining guests than by asking them to luncheon, and. It may be said, none pleasanter. Luncheon commends itself to a hostess in various ways, and to guests also, under certain conditions. There is a slight difference between giving a luncheon party and asking two or three people to luncheon. 


For the former? A notice of a week to ten days is given. For the latter? Two days, or even one day suffices, if verbally given. When an invitation is given by note it is as imperative to answer it by return of post, as it would be were it a dinner invitation, and having made such an engagement it is necessary to keep it, be the weather wet or dry, fair or foul. It may be noticed the non-dinner givers are those who give set luncheon parties and the dinner givers give the almost impromptu invitations to two or three of their neighbors on each occasion. 

The luncheon parties are rather formal: three of a family are invited—father, mother and daughter; two families, perhaps, and three or four from different households, making a party of twelve, including host and hostess. There is a tendency at these gatherings to follow dinner etiquette and to go in arm in arm, more particularly on the part of elderly people. At all luncheon parties, large or small, the ladies should go in first together, followed by the men. The hostess should either walk by the side of the lady of highest rank, or, if she is acquainted with the house, she leads the way. The hostess follows last and all the ladies precede her. 

The size of the party naturally regulates the extent of the menu as regards quantity. The style of luncheon given is very much the same in most houses, save where men cooks are kept and plain dishes are out of the question. At ordinary luncheons, a cold entree of salmon or chicken precedes a roast, or two hot roasts, or a hot entree and a roast. Two sweets, one hot and one cold, seldom a savory cheese, taking its place. Fruit is now invariably given; sometimes it is eaten before the cold entree, but this only as regards melon. 

Name cards are not used at luncheon, except at very large parties, when to tell them where to sit would occupy too much time. The places of honor are, of course, at the right and left hand of the host, and the left and right of the hostess, and these are given to the guests according to the precedency due to them. Ladies are, as a rule in the majority to a great extent, and when a host is not present the place of honor is by the side of the hostess, unless her son or brother acts as host. – Los Angeles Herald, 1904



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

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