Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Gilded Age Invitation Etiquette

IN SOCIAL LIFE – “Instead of answers to the social problems already set forth in this column, more questions continue to be sent in, which, being of themselves tacit acknowledgments that the suggestions for solving previous questions have been satisfactory, are a compliment that is appreciated since the position of social oracle is a greatness that has been thrust upon the department, rather than one with which it was born, or for which it has ever had the temerity to seek to achieve.”

Society Editor Herald – “A lady and gentleman, about to issue invitations for a society event, seeks information through your columns. As it is to be a joint invitation, by husband and wife, is it permissible to send invitations to the gentlemen friends of the host, and their wives,—all parties being of equal social standing—though the wife of the host may never, for many reasons, have called on the ladies? Would such action be just cause for unfavorable or invidious comment? Or, if it is not permissible, would it be “the proper caper” to invite the gentlemen and not their wives? Which action would show the spirit that should rule all society—true courtesy? You will, perhaps, say that the hostess should call on the ladies before the invitations are issued, but that may, under many circumstances, be impossible.”
Courtesy First—Regarding the “just invidious or unfavorable comment.” The class of persons who indulge in such witless little pleasantries are oftener actuated fey a spirit of envy or narrow-minded ignorance, than with any sense of justice, unless tbe cause for such comment be a flagrant breach of etiquette; and, except in the latter case, such persons should be charitably commiserated or their unfortunate and unenviable point of view. But, in order to avoid committing a flagrant breach of etiquette, it is as well to first be sure you are right and then go ahead in social as in other matters. And you most surely would not be right, if you invited a married man without his wife under circumstances above set forth; on the contrary, it would be little less than an open insult to both the man and his wife. 
Second—“All parties being of equal social standing” the circumstances which preclude a call before the issuance of invitations must be either ill-health on your part, or else that you have not lived here as long as the guests you would invite. Be that as it may, the wives should be invited if the husbands are to be; and since the calls have not and cannot be paid and the husbands are wanted for business or other reasons, the joint invitations should be sent to such gentlemen friends and their wives, with the visiting cards of both host and hostess enclosed. In such manner do you show not only the courtesy of an invitation, but that of a call as well from both your husband and yourself; and acceptance will follow if the guests know your reasons for not having actually paid the call; if not, and in the case of regrets, you have done all you could “under the circumstances” to show your courteous intentions. – Los Angeles Herald “Social Life”, 1895

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

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