Etiquette

Points of etiquette.  All guests are instructed to study the following lest their manners be scrutinized by others.

Wedding Customs and Etiquette

  • On such festive occasions, all appear in their best attire, and assume their best manners.
  • Peculiarities that pertain to past days, or have been unwarily adopted, should be guarded against; mysteries concerning knives, forks, and plates, or throwing ‘an old shoe’ after the bride, are highly reprehensible, and have long been deemed unfashionable. Such practices may seem immaterial, but they are not so.
  • Married or young ladies, cannot leave a reception or any other party alone. The former should be accompanied by one or two other married ladies, and the latter by their mother, or by a lady to represent her.
  • In giving the hand for ladies at the wedding reception, those dancing should wear a smile, and accompany it with a polite inclination of the head, in the manner of a salutation. At the end of the dance, the gentleman returns the lady to her place, bows and thanks her for the honor which she has conferred. She also bows in silence, smiling with a gracious air.

Etiquette for Gentlemen

  • Rising to one’s feet when being introduced, or when someone enters the room. A true gentleman tips their hat to greet a lady, opens doors, and always walks on the outside.
  • Gentlemen should be seen and not smelled. They should use but very little perfume, as too much of it is in bad taste.
  • A gentleman may delicately kiss a lady’s hand, the forehead, or at most, the cheek.
  • If you meet a lady who is a good friend and who signifies that she wish to talk to you, you turn and walk with her if you wish to converse. A lady should not be seen talking in a street.
  • A gentleman is always introduced to a lady – never the other way around. It is presumed to be an honor for the gentleman to meet her.
  • At a public exhibition or concert, if accompanied by a lady, he goes in first in order to find her a seat. If he enters such an exhibition alone and there are ladies or older gentlemen present, he removes his hat.

Etiquette for Ladies

  • Ladies do a little curtsy and men greet with a bow.
  • A lady, when crossing the street, must raise her dress a bit above the ankle while holding the folds of her gown together in her right hand and drawing them toward the right. It was considered vulgar to raise the dress with both hands as it would show too much ankle, but was tolerated for a moment when the mud is very deep.
  • A young lady should be expected to shine in the art of conversation, but not too brightly.
  • When introduced to a man, a lady should never offer her hand, merely bow politely and say, “I am happy to make your acquaintance.”
  • A lady should never join in any rude plays that will subject her to be kissed or handled in any way by gentlemen. ie: If a hand reaches out to admire a breast pin, draw back and take it off for inspection.
  • Meekness and modesty were considered beautiful virtues.
  • Conversation is not to talk continually, but to listen and speak in turn.
  • Do not monopolize conversation or interrupt another speaker to finish his story for him. If you are conversing with people who know less than you, do not lead the conversation where they cannot follow.

Fan Communication

Fans were not only a fashion accessory, but a means of flirtatious communication. Wherever young men and women intermingled, the click of a fan sent a message.

The Young Ladies Journal of 1872 reported on the significance of each charming gesture:

  • Fan fast – I am independent
  • Fan slow – I am engaged
  • Fan with right hand in front of face – come on
  • Fan with left hand in front of face – leave me
  • Fan open and shut – kiss me
  • Fan open wide – love
  • Fan half open – friendship
  • Fan shut – hate
  • Fan swinging – can I see you home?
  • Twirling in right hand – I am watching you
  • Drawn slowly across the cheek – I love you
  • Resting fan on right cheek – yes
  • Placing the fan behind your head – don’t forget me
  • Touching the fan against your left ear – go away!