Etiquette: Family goes out of its way to thank veterans

For the News-DemocratMay 27, 2013 

Q. I think it is wonderful that so many of our small towns have Memorial Day parades and that American flags are put on graves in cemeteries by little children. In our house, we take it one step further. I take our children down the street of the houses in our neighborhood knocking on the doors of those we know who have served in the military and personally thank them for their service. We have some little American flags to give out. We are also planning to go to a nearby nursing home where my father lives to do the same.

I would like to encourage other families to instill this kind of activity to teach their little ones. From an etiquette perspective, my question is: Do I have to have approval from the nursing home to do this? We go in there all the time to visit my dad, their grandfather.

A. What a wonderful tribute to teach your children!

It is not a matter of asking permission to go to the nursing home to pay tribute to those who have served our country. It is, however, a necessary courtesy to notify the proper person at the nursing home and discuss what you plan to do, so as to coordinate the best time in the nursing home's daily schedule of events and any special activities they have planned.

Q. Can a bride dictate to her guests the color she wants them to wear to her wedding? My niece has this crazy idea that she wants the female guests who come to her wedding to wear red and for the men to wear a red tie. It's her favorite color. She wants to have this printed on the wedding and reception invitation.

She's not getting married until next Spring, so I am trying to tactfully tell her this is not proper.

A. I must be getting old, because I find myself saying more often: "My, my, my, my, my, what next?" Then I tell myself, "It could be worse. It could be a request for everyone to wear swimming attire, or their favorite movie star costume or a Halloween costume."

To answer your question: "Can" she ask? It is her wedding and, yes, she can ask. But it does not mean everyone must adhere to her request, and there are some invited guests who may choose not to attend because of her request. Requesting her mother and the mother of the groom to select a red dress may reasonably be made, as well as red accessories for her father and the father of the groom.

Now, the real question from a truly etiquette perspective is: "Should" she request her guests to wear red.

No. There are so many other aspects of her wedding activities in which she can carry out her "red" theme.

For example: Naturally the color red for her bridesmaids' dresses and the accessories for the groomsmen (e.g., bow ties and cumberbunds). She might choose a red satin sash for her dress; a red rose bridal bouquet and some red in the bouquets for the bridesmaids, and a red garter.

Red can show up in the corsages and boutonnieres, flower arrangements for the alter area and other locations in the church. pew bows, red petals dropped by the flower girl. red ink or flowers on the church wedding program, red bows on the cars in the wedding procession.

For the reception: red accents on the wedding cake made of red velvet on the inside; red floral centerpieces for the tables; red candles; red satin or tulle trim; red cocktail napkins engraved with their names and the date of their wedding; red cloth napkins for dinner; red glass bobble pieces strewn on white tablecloths; or crystal bobbles on a red tablecloth; red-ribbon tied gift boxes or picture frames or a red rose for each female guest at their dining table.

These are some "touches of red" which you could suggest to her to satisfy her desire for a red wedding. After all, most of the pictures in her wedding album can focus on these areas to remind her of her beautiful, elegant "red" wedding.

Note: Congratulations again to the outstanding 8th-grade students at St. Libory Consolidated School District 30, who were graduated last week, and my thank you for inviting me to be your guest speaker.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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