The Differences In Etiquette Books

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I’m often asked which etiquette book is my favorite. To be 100% honest, most from the 1920s-1950s hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. I love The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, 50th Anniversay Edition. This is not the exact one that I have. Mine is much older, but from what I’ve reasearched, a lot of the “older” etiquette remains in this 50th anniversary addition. I feel like Ms. Vandernbilt went into great depth explaining various rules of etiquette. She not only explained the basics – she covered it all.

Another favorite is Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today (Emily’s Post’s Etiquette). Now, this is one I’ve really noticed changes in over time. The writers of Emily Post Etiquette have relaxed a lot of the rules, which, being fairly traditional, I don’t love. Overall, though, the bones hold true, and it’s an easily understood etiquette book, which I feel is important. Should etiquette change? Absolutely. I just feel that some of the guidance is a little too casual for certain circumstances and enjoy a sense of formality many seem to miss in the world?

I really enjoy studying how etiquette books have changed and evolved over time. I always teach that etiquette is the culmination of cultural and societal norms. I’ve never seen a more accurate example than that of etiquette books and how they evolve over time. I hope this post helps you find the etiquette book that is best for you! Thank you for reading!

My Favorite Etiquette Books

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I’ve had a few reader questions on which etiquette books are my favorite. In truth, I’m careful recommending etiquette books because, unfortunately, not all actually follow etiquette. Some of the newer ones are more of a “hey, let’s just do whatever we want, regardless of how we come across to others” feel. That is not remotely how I want to come across. However, I do have a couple I tend to lean on more than others, so I wanted to share those with you today. Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today (Emily’s Post’s Etiquette) is a good standby. While it isn’t written by Emily Post any longer, as she is deceased, I still turn to it for table settings and other areas of etiquette that don’t fluctuate as much. However, I have found it isn’t as traditional as it once was. If you don’t want to spend $25 on a book, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition (Emily Post’s Etiquette) is nearly $10 less. Very little has changed between the two.

Another etiquette expert I really enjoy is Amy Vanderbilt. This book, The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, 50th Anniversay Edition, is very user-friendly, and she gose into a little more of upscale situations than Emily Post does.

Regardless, I think you’ll find either book easy to understand and use! Thank you for reading!

Nicest of Them All….Weddings Decoded

Alright, so earlier this week I asked the question of which type of wedding would be considered the most formal – morning church, evening church, at-home or venue. The answer? It’s actually an at-home wedding. Let’s jump into the “why” that y’all know I’m so eager to always explain?

Now, remember, this is for the USA, and this is actually the traditional etiquette answer, per Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post. Weddings, by definition, are formal events. This does not equate to formal attire, though. While weddings have been held in churches for centuries, in the USA, it was more common until about the 1950s for weddings to be held at home, provided the bride’s family was wealthy enough to do so. It was considered a very formal affair. Full meals would be provided by servants for hundreds of people. After about the 1820s, families who could afford it went all out for weddings. A minister would still perform the ceremonial part of the wedding, and the reception would commonly follow.

In the 1950s, the USA experienced a religious resurgence with a big push to hold wedding ceremonies in a church building, such as a sanctuary. Still, even then it was popular for the bride’s family to host a full meal and reception at their home or at a family home. As peoples’ homes have decreased in size, the idea of having a receptions at a venue has increased in popularity. In Amy Vanderbilt’s 1954 etiquette book, she declares home weddings “nicest of them all,” showing a preference for tradition over trend. Think plantation home size.

Going by this etiquette precedence, the “nicest” type of wedding and reception a couple would most likely have today would be to have a church wedding and an at-home reception, provided the home is large enough to accommodate a large number of people. It would include a full meal with people serving the meal. An alternative that would be considered just slightly less formal would be a church wedding with a reception at a venue.

Now, if you choose to have a venue wedding, does any of this mean it’s not ok or “nice?” Not even in the least. It is, however, stating that there are certain expectations for choosing a more formal wedding type. That may rub some people the wrong way, but in all areas of life, there are expectations. I have a certain level of expectations when I come to work. Never feel obligated to host any event, including a wedding, that you can’t afford.

Now, going off of the comments, someone mentioned the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess. That, in my opinion, was a perfect combination of old and new. It was a morning church wedding, followed by a luncheon reception. Finally there was an evening “home” reception. The duchess also changed dresses between the events. It was elaborate, but it had an element of youth to it that I loved. She also kept in mind appropriate dress for both venues. As we’ve talked about, the later in the day it gets, the more formal your attire would be. You’d never wear an evening gown to a church, regardless of time, so she kept it before 7 (well before, as it was morning). Prior to the evening event, many of the guests had also changed clothes into more formal threads.

Etiquette helps us to better understand others’ expectations. I hope you enjoyed this post! As always, thank you for reading.