Etiquette: Halloween wedding theme can be pretty scary for grandparents

Q. My granddaughter recently became engaged and she is naturally all excited about planning her wedding. She wants to get married next year near the end of October. She wants a Halloween theme of some kind, such as everyone wearing black and orange or a costume. Sounds rather unusual to me, but if that’s what she wants, that’s what she wants. The wedding is not going to be in a church, but outdoors in the country.

As an older couple, I definitely don’t think my husband and I would want to wear a costume, and our skin doesn’t look really good with orange, so I’m thinking if my husband wears a black suit with an orange tie, that would work. I have a tea- length black chiffon dress, so if I bought some kind of orange-ish necklace and earrings, and a silk flower in orange, do you think that would that be enough to meet the orange and black request? I know I have a year to think about it, but I always like to get organized early, make a decision and not have to worry about it after that.

A. Yes, your fashion choices sound fine. You may not want to look for a silk flower for your dress because, as a grandmother, you will probably be provided with anorange corsage. I know you are anxious to finalize what you are wearing so you do not have to worry about it, but you might want to wait on purchasing your jewelry. The wedding is over a year from now, and since your granddaughter is in the beginning stages of planning her wedding, she may change her mind on some of her ideas.

Q. Haven’t done this for a while, so if I have some of my girlfriends in for a light lunch of chicken salad (not on bread), fresh fruit, carrot and celery sticks, and a regular size muffin, should I use a dinner plate and include the muffin on the plate? Or should I use a salad plate, then have a bread and butter plate for the muffin? I plan to pre-plate everything, then just add the warm muffin as I bring in each plate. I’m figuring one muffin per person. Or do I need to have more available? Should I use a charger plate?

A. I think it would be best to use the bread and butter plate for the muffin, and include butter on that plate. Some of your guests may use butter and others may not, but it is proper to provide it. Keep the bread and butter plate in the kitchen, add a warm muffin, and carry that plate in at the same time you bring the pre-plated lunch plate in for each place setting. One regular sized muffin per person should be sufficient.

I would not add a charger plate when using a salad plate for a luncheon and no follow-on entree.

Reader’s Wedding Beard Opinion: Thank you for your comments. To clarify: The grandmother and I were concerned about the groom’s month-before-his-wedding decision to grow a “scruffy” beard for his wedding, not a groom who had worn a neatly trimmed beard for many years. And, yes, I agree another concern the grandmother (and mother of the bride and bride) might draw their attention to is “the amount of cleavage their great-grandchildren will be viewing when they look at their parents’ wedding album.

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