First of all Bonjour! A conversation never starts in France without saying “Bonjour” first. A good European Manners Tip. I have a question for you!
What do you do when an ‘almost’ friend has painted a portrait of your dog and it is the worst painting you have ever seen. To boot, I have a collection of professional painters that have painted my Violette and they are hung in my long entrance hallway. I can’t hang this one. Honestly, not to hurt her feelings what do I do? I’m attaching a photo of my favorite painting of Violette to date.
–Cynthia, Uzès, France
- Be sure to first tell your new artist friend exactly what you like about her painting of Violette, before detailing exactly what you don't like.
- Even if that's a hard conversation to initiate.
I have two questions about my daughter’s upcoming wedding: escorting her up the aisle and my toast. My former wife and I have come to an agreement that both parents escort the bride up the aisle at our daughter’s backyard wedding next weekend. My former wife at first insisted that just she should escort our daughter up the aisle. We reached a compromise and we’re both walking our daughter up the aisle. My questions are: On which side do we each take, and at the altar where do we, her parents, stand during the ceremony? It’s a backyard wedding. They were supposed to be married in a church followed by a large reception at the height of Covid-19.
Instead of paying for a big wedding, I helped my daughter and my future son-in-law finance a house in New Hampshire (where their wedding ceremony and reception are taking place) with the money I would have spent on their large pre-Covid wedding. My toast has been relegated to the rehearsal dinner the night before, because the groom’s father “isn’t up to it,” and my wife is giving what should be my toast at the wedding reception. I prepared a fifteen minute toast, and was told it was too long. Then I pared it down to eight minutes. Please advise.
–A Traditional Dad, Newport, RI
- At the altar you would stand on your daughter's right side. Your daughter the bride stands to the left facing the officiant at her father's right side.
- Welcome the guests to the wedding and specifically to the rehearsal dinner; if you are not also paying for rehearsal dinner, thank the groom's family by name(s) for hosting the rehearsal dinner.
- Introduce yourself with, perhaps, a short story about when you first met the groom.
- Thank the guests for coming to the wedding couple's happy celebration.
- Make it clear that you're proud of your daughter for making such a wise choice.
- Tell your daughter you love them both.
- Toast the wedding couple to have a brilliant loving future.
- Time your toast to last three to five minutes.
I have an etiquette question about giving a cash wedding gift. My nephew was married last weekend. My family of five adults–me, my husband, and three children, all in their twenties, attended. So I thought $200 per person would be the $1,000 wedding gift. Is that correct? I typically ask my sister these questions, but she’s the mother of my nephew and I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable.
Last question, our daughter who lives and works in Paris is attending a wedding in the south of France and she is a bridesmaid. Do you know what the protocol is for a wedding gift in France? Does she give cash to a wealthy couple? Sorry to pester you with these questions. Any advice would be appreciated.
–Deb, Portsmouth, RI
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–Didi, Newport, RI
The protocol on Memorial Day for raising the American flag is that it is flown at half-staff only until noon. But when raising the flag to half-staff, first raise it to the top of the flag staff for sixty second before lowering it to half way down the flag staff.
- At twelve o'clock raise the flag up to the top.
I am from Florida and have been invited to a black tie optional wedding in Newport. The ceremony is at 1:30 pm and the reception is at 5:30 pm at The Bohlin. Am I supposed to wear 2 different dresses?
–Jennie, Brookline, MA
- For instance, in Belgium, "Two sets of four people make a 'corona bubble' who can visit each other's homes. No one else is allowed into the domestic social circle." Eventually that first bubbles enlarges as trust and caution become the normal.
- Social bubbles allow some social contact, while continuing to limit the risk of further Covid-19 transmissions.
- The goal is to get to level 3 where your household bubble can include people such as close family members, care-givers or someone who needs care.
- Beware that if the number of deaths does not continue to drop or the average number of people infected for every Covid-19 case increases, people will then not be allowed to use the bubble scheme.
- Two sets of four people make a "corona bubble," who can visit each others houses but there are no hugs or other physical exchange like kissing.
- In Northern Island now six people from different households can meet outdoors as long as social distancing is practiced.
- Your social bubble is the people you live with. With extreme caution you can manage adding to your bubble.
- Anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms, or who is at a higher risk, should not be in a bubble, and needs to self-isolate.
- When do you go out? For what reason?
- Do you where a mask?
- Do you keep 6 feet away from others?
- When are you communicating with family?
- What happens if someone in the bubble has symptoms of Covid-19?
- What questions do you ask others?
- What is the process for entering a bubble?
- How would we set up protocol and etiquette?
- What would be the protocol and etiquette?
- There is the possibility of extending the bubble.
- The bubble doesn't have to be forever.
- The bubble gives everyone something to look forward to.
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–Althea and Ben, Washington, DC
- Depending upon the location regulations, a mini-mony, a small ceremony, consists of a total of a dozen participants, and has the possibility of a follow up celebration or sequel wedding at another date.
- If you already have a wedding website be sure to update it so that you won't have to be answering the same questions over and over from guests. When your wedding is a go, add local hygiene guidelines; suggest they time washing their hands to the chorus of "Marry You" by Bruno Mars.
- Remember many churches and wedding venue sites may have to integrate tighter restrictions on the number of people in the church or the banquet hall after the restrictions are lifted. Seating may still be limited.
- Keep in touch with your wedding planner or venue.
- Keep up to date on local government developments: state and town.
- If your wedding insurance policy was taken out before the lockdown and venue closures were put in place, check to see if your policy covers cancellation or rearrangement due to issues relating to travel bans, flight cancellations or government acts, including bans on public or social gatherings or any kind of travel restrictions.
- Call your wedding insurer to ask about the terms and conditions.
- If you paid any of the downpayments with a credit card, you could be covered, so check that.
- Most travel insurance policies cover trips cancelled due to government restrictions, be sure to check your individual plan.
- Check on your wedding dress as many are made in China and you want to be sure you have time to get it fitted properly whether your wedding is huge or mini. If there is a problem, you can buy wedding dresses on line to try on at home.
- Hygiene guidelines for your wedding should include asking the venue to have antibacterial soap and disposable paper towels in the restrooms, additionally ask that staff spritz every guest with high quality alcohol-based sanitizers and provide for everyone to wear a mask, except the bride and groom.
- Chic gift bags could include additional masks and hand sanitizers.
Whatever you decide to do,
working it out together
will deepen your love for each other.
- I am (Sharon and I are) deeply sorry for your tragic loss. Bob was my best guy friend, I couldn't have had a better friend.
- It is with a heavy heart that I (George and I) write to send you my (our) deepest sympathy. Charlotte was the kindest, dearest friend and neighbor from that first day when she arrived after we moved in twenty years ago with blueberry muffins, to only last week when she picked up our curbside grocery order.
- A few warm words to say how sorry I am (we are) for your great loss. Charles had to be one of the wittiest raconteurs I've ever met, always with a friendly smile and an amusing anecdote to start the conversation going.
- Our whole family is mourning your great loss. It is our great loss, too. Thanksgiving won't be the same without Aunt Susanne, always curious to learn what the kids and their own families were up to and joyfully praising their many accomplishments.
- One of my favorite stories about Harry is the time he found a woman's wallet in the ATM entrance to his bank, where he had gone to take out money for the long holiday weekend. It was late on a Friday afternoon after the bank had closed. He ran out looking left and right, but he didn't see anyone in sight. Leaving the wallet where he found it wouldn't have been safe, so Harry took it home and found her name and address on her driver's license, called 411 and was connected to her house phone. The woman was grateful that she had answered the phone because she had been on her way out the door to do an errand without realizing that she didn't have her wallet. Long story short, he left the wallet in a manilla envelope in his porch mailbox, she picked it up while he was out, and two weeks later he received a hand written thank-you note and a gift certificate to her restaurant. They met, they dated, they fell in love.
- Alison was an amazing person, full of surprises, and truly one of the most capable, unassuming people I've ever known. Once I took her out on a sailfish, I was at the helm because she had never been on a sailfish and said that she didn't know how to sail. We were curious about a particular cove and our goal was to find it. Once there we had a swim before starting back to the dock in the harbor, but just as we were entering the bay a fierce gust of wind came out of the northeast and swept us out to sea. The sky suddenly became dark as black clouds headed our way and I had a really bad cramp and couldn't move, Alison without saying a word took the helm and the jib and brought us safely back to the dock.
- End with words of praise for the deceased. "As a working mother I could have never finished my thesis and kept my job, if it hadn't been for Susanne's support, she was a real friend pitching in when my son was sick and I couldn't miss another day at work, and helping me through postpartum depression and rough patches in my marriage. Susanne was always there for me, never judgmental, though always helping me question my values. I don't know how I could have gotten through the early years of parenting without a true friend, as true as Susanne.
- Conclude by writing something such as this: Gordon joins me in saying we are (deeply) sorry for you and your family, and hope that you will receive the comfort and strength to bear this tremendous loss.
- Ideally, a letter of condolence should be hand-written without delay, "to bolster the surveyor for the funeral," which gives a sense of convivial urgency. If you missed the boat, receiving words of sympathy after the funeral are also greatly appreciated. Not that there are funerals these days, but there may be memorial services and burials eventually. Sometimes, I think, those later letters are the hardest to write because they express the deepest sentiments. The writer has taken a lot of time to mourn.
- A widow or widower would be happy to read a praise of their happy marriage; that you thought their marriage was perfect in it's happiness. An unforgettable happiness that would survive always in your memory, and be an inspiration to you and all who knew the couple.
- Be ware: If you're not totally sure of the recipient's religious belief, steer clear of expressing your faith. The condolence letter is not about the writer. The surveyor could become angry and annoyed by any hint of proselytizing.
- In the event that the condolence letter is to a member of the your staff or to the staffer's family, the letter can be printed out on office stationery.
- Signing off "With dearest love," to someone you you've known for a long time or "Alex joins me in sending our love (to you and your family)," are sincere; or more formally, "Kindest regards," or simply, "Sincerely."
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What is the etiquette for social distancing outdoors in terms of greeting and meeting during COVID-19?
How can we make the experience of going out to exercise less anxious and more friendly without seeming snooty or overly friendly. Everyone I am about to encounter either walks out into the street to avoid me or ignores me by looking in the opposite direction or at his feet.
–Jason, Providence, RI
- Give right of way. The person on the right has the right of way. It's right to give right of way to the person on the right. When passing on a sidewalk or steps, the person closest to the street gives the person closest to the building or railing the right of way--even if she or he has to move out onto the street.
- Greet even strangers with one word: Hi, Hello, Hiya! We're all in this together, whether we like it or not; their life right now probably isn't any easier than yours whether they're pushing a stroller, carrying groceries, or skateboarding.
- Patience has never been more of a virtue.Always use please and thank you. To anyone and everyone who assists you in any way -- from holding the subway door open to bringing out your curbside grocery order to you.
- Smile to ease their pain and yours -- even if they can't see your smile through your mask.
My mask protects you;
your mask protects me.
Our son is home from college where, of course, he was used to being around people his own age all the time, so how do we get him to understand socializing and social distancing etiquette? Yesterday he went over to a friend’s house while he was out walking the dog. My husband pretty much blew a gasket when he found out. Were they passing joints? Were there girls there? Any kissing? Vaping? How many of their other friends were there? Why doesn’t he get it that he can’t just go to someone’s house and hang out? We understand that it was the house of someone he grew up with and they’re both home indefinitely from their respective colleges, but come on – we’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic!
We’re so annoyed we can’t think straight. Can you, please, send guidelines for our quite brilliant college student who appears to live in la-la land, or as the kids call it, it’s a corona-cation.
–Kathleen, Middletown, RI
- He minimizes the number of people he interacts with physically.
- He sticks with one friend who limits their other social contacts, too.
- If that friend feels sick, he stays away.
- As long as his friend is well, social contact by going for a bike ride or hike is fine, but they should keep six feet apart.
- That means NOT sharing finger food, liquids, bodily fluids, or joints, cigarettes, e-cigs or vaps.
- The significance of adult and children's temperatures differ.
- Plus, we all have our own normal temperature baseline, based on weight, gender and activity level; it's helpful to find out what everyone's is, so it's precisely monitored.
- Normal can be anywhere between 97.7-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fever is likely to be between 99.5 or 100.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hyperpyrexia would be dangerous at 104.0 or 105.8 degree Fahrenheit.
- Baseline temperatures vary based on age, sex, physical activity and health, and whether it is taken in the mouth or armpit, which can be lower.
- To find a person's normal, take the temperature every day at the same time for at least three days, sticking to either mouth or armpit.
- Know the facts, but don't overdo it, too much information can aggravate stress.
- Put the coronavirus pandemic in perspective.
- Refrain from blaming and shaming.
- Ask for help, now is the time to turn toward one another.
- Encourage him to partake in social distancing in a positive way by calling his friends to actually talk about what's happening in the world around them.
- Discuss the difference between social and physical distancing, if, in fact, there is a difference. What does he think?
- Advice to avoid the coronavirus through social distancing can increase the risk of physical and emotional harm from inadequate social contact.
- But without physical distancing the virus spreads like falling dominos.
- Prepare him for when, not if, the coronavirus strikes.
- He should know where to find your estate will and your living will; in the event he has to make choices for you.
- Having a down-to-earth conversation with your son can be both heartrending and heartwarming.
- Honoring your wishes when you are unable to do so is one of the most loving and bravest things an adult child can do for a parent..
- Scientist call our longing for human touch "skin hunger."
- Physical touch triggers the orbit of frontal cortex in the brain, according to Daniel Keltner, professor of psychology at University of California, Berkley.
- Regular touch reduces levels of stress hormones, says Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
- Hugging stimulates the thymus gland regulating the body's white blood cell production, which helps fight infection, according to research at the University of North Carolina.
- Women who are frequently hugged have lower blood pressure, than those who are not according to research at UNC.
- People who received regular hugs had fewer flu symptoms than participants who were hugged less frequently in a study at Carnegie Mellon University.
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For years I’ve been making and jumping on conference calls, but now that I am working remotely I feel I need to figure out video conferencing etiquette. I’ve witnessed some sloppy ones first hand that were really embarrassing. Some have become a joke. Most of which I won’t go into, but you can guess what happens when dogs and kids are cooped up at home.
Would you, please, give us your guidelines for video conferencing. Thank you for your time, Didi.
- You're going to need to choose the right background, but it should be plain, neutral beige (if possible) with no knickknacks or such that look kitschy and foolish. And certainly don't have your TV muted with Netflix in the background.
- Make sure you're secluded from people or pets who might pass behind you or jump in your lap. And there shouldn't be a pile of laundry waiting to be folded in the background.
- It is best to be seated at a desk, which is more professional than mansplaying, slouched on a couch.
- A glass of water in a plain glass? yes; a cup of coffee in a cutesy Red Sox mug? no! Avoid the coffee mug as it is too laid-back. You're not on the Stephen Colbert Show. You want to appear composed and easygoing but, I repeat, you're not a talk show guest.
- You don't want anything on your stage set to distract the viewer from the conversation. No cat in your lap, because if the viewer doesn't like cats, he'll be distracted by that. You wouldn't take your cat to your office for a meeting. No Giants pendant or Madonna on the wall behind you.
- Nix the tie and three piece suit as you'll only come off as pompous. You want to look slightly relaxed.
- A collared shirt and a sports jacket or blazer, but no need for a tie, would be just right. Play to your audience, if it is the black V neck T-shirt audience, then fit in and wear a fresh black T-shirt.
- Be well-groomed, nobody wants to see a bedhead or greasy locks, or to see white specs of dandruff on your black T-shirt.
- Shave, but don't look half-shaved, as though your shaver broke down half way through your morning shaving ritual.
- Don't wear too much make-up if you're a man, (because you don't want to look like orange-faced Donald Trump); a woman's make-up should be no heavier than what she would wear to a board meeting, church or to a job interview.
- Since the viewer won't see you from the waist down, the same goes for a woman, a crisp top would do perfectly with or without a jacket or blazer. Hold off on the jewelry as it could be a distraction, with the person out of focus wondering if your pearls are real or faux, real gold or not.
- Save the sweater fireside look for another time. Perhaps a video conferencing with family or friends.
- Stage a dressed rehearsal videoing yourself in your costume and at your desk to make sure that the lighting is just right and that there isn't anything weird in the background.
- Try turning light fixtures off and on and/or pointing the camera at a different angle.
- The lighting will either be flattering or you may actually feel you need a bit of makeup if your nose shines too brightly, or that there's food left over from breakfast in your beard.
- Likewise test whether to wear your eyeglasses or do without.
- Do all this before the call begins so you're not muddling about trying to fiddle with the lighting or looking for your notes.
- Where you wouldn't be looking around for your notes.
- Be visible and clear to your clients to garner rapport with clients.
- Remember that face to face adds a level of extra communication that you don't have in a regular conference call.
- Video conferencing is sociable and that is what makes it a more productive tool.
- Remember to mute yourself while other people are talking.
- Preview your webcam.
- Test your set up: microphone, Internet speeds, lighting, background.
- Make use of mute default when you're not speaking to eliminate the amount of possible disruption, especially if there are only a few people on the call.
- Keep video chats sharply focused.
- Start by having a roll call acknowledging the participants.
- Set boundaries: no shouting + no interrupting.
- Follow an agenda.
- Pay attention.
- Limit the number of meetings.
- Avoid the lingering wrap-up.
- Don't you dare wave good-bye.
- Instead graciously thank people for their time.
- Limit long periods of social interactions, whether with family or housemates, before the conversation becomes tedious. At the first sign of vibes going downhill--with criticisms, grievances or accusations--simply say, "Let's take a break," and leave the room. Know when to say to yourself, 'no more of this.' Like turning the TV to a different a channel, but this is reality TV.
- Self-designate work spaces and/or set up a schedule for computer time. Let everyone choose their own workspace or set up a flexible schedule where they can trade workspace time.
- Combatting the psychological heaviness. In these gloomy uncertain times we're all down-hearted. The ongoing combination of having a sense of foreboding mixed with terror and boredom is difficult to endure. Making it worse is the lack of physical comfort we derive from person-to-person contact.
- Surprisingly, some anxiety can be productive. It motivates us to wash our hands more often and to distance ourselves from others physically--anxiety gives us an important reason to do so.
- Even though watching the news can exacerbate anxiety, it's important to get the facts straight. For instance, outbreaks of influenza tend to wan in warmer weather. Wrong, the coronavirus might not ease so easily. Look at Singapore (located in the tropics) and Australia (where it is still summer), which is why summer plans need to stay fluid to avoid further disappointment. Along with sticking to physical-distancing to avoid person-to-person transmission, which is the only way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- Draw straws as to who chooses what you're watching on the family TV, then if others don't want to watch they can go off and read or stream from their laptops.
Create a rotating chore list:
- Wastebasket and garbage patrol and disinfecting the containers.
- Emptying the dishwasher, putting away the dishes and refilling it, and disinfecting the kitchen sink and counter.
- Washing pots and pans, and cleaning table tops, stove, and counters.
- Emptying and loading washer and dryer and folding laundry (if family members are not responsible for washing their own sheets, towels, washcloths, laundry bag and clothing).
- Watering house plants.
- Walking the dog.
- Disinfecting bathrooms.
- Vacuuming and mopping floors.
- Disinfecting hard surfaces. Including doorknobs, remote controls, phones, fridge handles, faucets and toilet handles, and cabinet pulls.
Beware, a few words of caution about using
99.99% disinfectant with clorox:
droplets on your clothing while cleaning
with spray will permanently
bleach out into little white spots.
- Switch it up with chores by rotating the chores, including showing sons and fathers how to use a vacuum cleaner, mop the kitchen floor, and clean a bathroom.
- Help maintain other people's privacy. Let them carve out a space of their own.
- Know when you're being annoying and self-correct.
- Don't press other people's buttons, and who knows how to do that better than siblings?
Respect other people's private space:
- Knock on closed doors before entering.
- While walking into a room when the door is open, clear your throat or hum--before entering--to signal that you're on your way in, so as not to startle someone deep in concentration.
- Be considerate of others by thinking about how other people might be feeling. For instance don't leave dirty tissues laying around and clean up after yourself in the bathroom, as well as at the table or after lying on the couch; when you'll want to fluff up the pillows, refold the blanket and put your empty glass in the dishwasher or sink.
- Nip it in the bud. Any issues that come up should be resolved or diluted by communicating them to everybody as soon as they surface. Otherwise bottled up frustrations, resentments, and grievances will dwell and exacerbate.
- Show real empathy. Understand that we all deal with stress in our own way and in our own time, so don't let minor quirkiness, idiocrasy, eccentricity and gripes get on your nerves and bring you down.
- Learn to talk to each other again. Strive for drama-free family dinners; learning to live together--perhaps all over again. It's an opportune time for family members to talk about their aspirations; what they would like to do with their lives after they get out of hibernation.
- Be social. After dinner, play boardgames, chess, backgammon, pingpong, poker or cards. Make popcorn and watch movie classics on TMC.
- Check your own emotions. Fear can be contagious. Monitor and manage your own sense of worry.
- Be a listener. Disappointment and sadness over missing an anticipated event and even fear of the unknown can cause worry and anxiety. Validate emotions whether the emotion is disappointment, fear of the unknown, or something in between.
- What can we learn from this? Encourage freedom to express frustration. There is definitely something therapeutic about having a person who is willing to listen to you and hear you out.
- Encourage consistency. Keep meals on time. Get bathed and dressed as usual. Keep to a schedule.
- Lastly, despite rain, wind, and fog, take a walk once a day--even for twenty minutes.
- Give the gift of listening today.
It sure is awkward greeting friends, a person you know pretty well, on the street or in the supermarket during this coronavirus pandemic. And it could go on for six months. Gosh, I’m so happy when I see someone I know–as I’m isolated working remotely from home–but not knowing how to react to their warm smile and/or approach leaves me wondering what to do, how to react. How do we show someone we’re fond of that we’re fond of them, but no hugs.
On the verge of tears, a friend in the checkout line at the supermarket became distraught while telling me about her husband’s recent stem cell transplant and when I went to put my arm around her to hug her, we both took a double take and withdrew. With all the cares of the world on her shoulders, she offered to help carry my grocery bags to my car.
–Helen, Charlottesville, VA
- Nobody wants to go in for a hug and get pushed away. Nobody wants to be the person doing the pushing away.
- Wave, smile and keep your distance of six feet, create your own space.
- If the person looks as though they're about to come in for a hug, keep waving, smile and get them talking. The fact that your hand is waving will signal that you're hesitant about going in for the requisite hug. You're not waving them away, merely carving out your space.
- Using your body language and facial expressions, let him or her know that you're thrilled to see them, but you're being cautious. So smile. Everyone wants to see a smile right now.
- Bringing up the subject of the coronavirus pandemic first thing will remind them as to why you're reluctant to pull them in for a hug or a kiss. Even if you don't have the coronavirus yourself and don't believe you've been exposed.
- Hold your pocketbook, hat, sunglasses, small child, knapsack, or shopping bag in front of you to your chest as a visual barrier. Of course, a shopping cart or stroller make a perfect barrier.
- Chat with your friend warmly asking questions about their family, pet or work, or simply plan to talk on the phone after the kids are in bed.
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When I think of weddings the image of double-cheek-kissing in the receiving line comes to mind – but what about the coronvavirus? Do we postpone our daughter’s June wedding because of the coronavirus? If so, how do we go about postponing the wedding? When would we postpone it to? We booked a lovely wedding event space in Newport a year ago, and I dare say our daughter and her fiancé don’t wish to wait another year.
–Parents of the Bride, Brooklyn, MA
- Purportedly, the number of new coronavirus diagnoses will slow down in the warmer months.
- Have a quiet wedding now.
- When the coronavirus fatality rate stops growing and, for instance, the state of Rhode Island is no longer in a State of Emergency, you can reset your plans. I know that's painful, but everybody loves a wedding and all those who intended on attending will make a good show.
- On the upside, if the wedding dress you ordered is being made abroad, there will most likely be a delay in receiving it on time, but with a change of date you'll have it.
Postponing your daughter's wedding would definitely take finagling.
- Talk to your wedding coordinator and have her or him speak to the events manager where your daughter's wedding is booked about a contingency plan. Ask for a date later in the year, even if it's in the fall. Newport is absolutely beautiful then, and double-cheek-kissing will be all the rage again.
- Another upside is that the wedding couple can keep guests and family amused and in the loop through their wedding website. The trick is to lightened up and have fun with the delay.
- Your guests who received the save-the-date card will be wondering about their hotel and plane reservations, so it is important to act quickly.
Happy to talk to you further about your
daughter's upcoming wedding by phone
or by text at #917-816-0800.
Accepting A Compliment