Monthly Archives: June 2014

Query: wedding invitations for reception only

Dear EtiKate
I would like to invite a number of guests to my wedding reception only, and not the ceremony itself. Is this okay, and what is the most polite way to write the invitation?


Clip from Beyoncé’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’

Dear BeATrix and Readers

It’s becoming more popular to invite selected guests to the reception but not to the ceremony. It’s your big day, and you can do whatever pleases you, within reason.

You do not need to give a reason for not including guests at the ceremony. However, if your reason is to keep the ceremony private, (close friends and family only), it’s best to let guests know. You can write the invitation thus (posit that the bride and groom sending the invitation, and not the parents):

Mr Santos and Miss Dawlish are delighted to announce that they will be married at a private ceremony at Duneagle Court. We request the pleasure of your company at the wedding breakfast followed by dancing at The Grand Ballroom on 15th October 2014 at 3 o’clock.

Clip from Beyoncé's Best Thing I Never Had

Clip from Beyoncé’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’

If there is limited space at the ceremony or at the wedding breakfast, you may wish to invite people to the after party only. You can word your invitation this way:

Mr See and Miss Webb invite you to a cocktail reception in celebration of their marriage
Shell Cottage
7th November 2014, 8 PM

A very formal invitation.

A very formal invitation.

The more formal the occasion, the more formal the invitation and wording should be. Printers have scores of sample invitations to choose from. Do mention what you expect guests to wear to the reception. I have previously written a piece about what to include in an invitation. Remember though, you cannot strictly stop people from going into a church and attending a wedding ceremony, but polite individuals will respect your wishes.

My very best wishes,

Do read my previous post on the Rules of Engagement which is a guide for all things engagement related.

We will be delighted to answer all your etiquette-related questions. Send your queries, worries and dilemmas on our Ask Dear EtiKate section. Alternatively, you can get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.


#EndTheAwkward videos for disability charity Scope

I was waiting for the Disney film Maleficent to start when I came across the #EndTheAwkward advert for the disability services charity Scope. ‘What a brilliant idea,’ I thought, from an etiquette point of view.

The videos show potentially awkward situations between a person with a physical disability and another person who doesn’t know how to act. There’s a pause, where Alex Brooker, the narrator explains the best course of action.

Below is the advert I saw in the cinema. In it is a woman about to have a meeting with a man whose right hand was amputated. She hesitates for a moment, then decides to offer her left hand instead of giving him an “awkward wave”. Do watch the short video before reading on.

It is my favourite of the Scope videos, for personal reasons. When I was very young, my grandfather suffered several cerebral aneurysms that left him without memory or language and the right side of his body paralysed. After the unending months of therapy, Papi, as he was to me, was able to walk unassisted, his right leg dragging. Eventually he regained his ability to talk. He taught himself to do everything with his left hand, including write.

When it was time to introduce a gentleman suitor to the family, I remember saying, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t tell my brothers we went on holiday together. Also, remember to offer your left hand to Papi, alright?‘ My grandfather’s left-handed handshakes were so normal to me, it was almost secondary to the illicit couple’s holiday I was trying to keep secret.

My boyfriend did well, managed a ‘lovely to meet you,’ with their handshake. Papi had a wicked sense of humour, and was never one to sugarcoat his words. He asked my guest two questions, the first was ‘Do you smoke?’ And, well, the memory of the second question still conjures feelings of horrified disbelief for me. I’m glad I gave my gentleman friend prior warning. Soon he forgot about Papi’s encumbered walk and enfeebled right hand, instead he was simply scared of my protective grandfather and older brothers.

Meet the Parents. Photo from The Telegraph

Meet the Papi. Photo from The Telegraph

Living with a grandfather with impaired speech has taught me to be a better communicator. To this day, I am more sensitive than most, always the first to anticipate people’s needs. When I’m abroad, I find I have no trouble deciphering people’s gestures as they speak an intelligible foreign language.

Making friends in Seoul, South Korea

Making friends in Seoul, South Korea

I am not an authority on disability matters. I am an etiquette enthusiast speaking from experience. With that in mind, I suppose my own advice on how to #EndTheAwkward is, if you do tell friends how to act beforehand, they will be more at ease. This way, when a similar situation arises without warning, they will know what to do.

People will learn from their encounters and experiences, and they will act accordingly. I’m still learning. Not long ago, I told a lady in a wheelchair to ‘Have a seat; I’ll be with you shortly.’ I heard it as soon as I said it. We looked at each other, then we giggled together, hers a ‘heard this all before’ laugh; mine was more ‘oh I hope the ground opens up and swallows me whole’ chuckle.

Young love. Photo from

Photo from

I remember my grandfather saying that all he wants, is to be treated  as if he can run a marathon. Talk and interact with people with disability just like you would anyone else. A person’s inability to walk, move their hands or their limited vision does not affected how they think or feel. Unless they ask for help, avoid affectionate over familiarity that may come across as condescending.

As Naoki Higashida so poetically writes in The Reason I Jump, ‘True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect.’  


This post is not authorised by the charity Scope. I am however, promoting their #EndTheAwkward videos, as ever, with the aim to help everyone be at ease in every social situation. Learn more about Scope and their campaign on their website.

Country Life Magazine: Gentleman of the Year Awards

Country Life magazine has released their ‘Gentleman of the Year’ list. It looks like the key to being a modern gentleman is to be named David. There are four of them in the top five!

David Dimbleby- our Gentleman of the Year. Photo from The Guardian

David Dimbleby- our Gentleman of the Year. Photo from The Guardian

Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby is revealed to be the number one British gentleman based on nominations. ‘…Every week, with both fairness and humour, he brilliantly controls the rat pack on Question Time,’ says novelist Jilly Cooper, who is a member of the panel of judges.

Other names include footballer David Beckham, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins and former MP David Miliband, who has been commended for resisting the temptation to “smirk” at his brother’s political career.

Read the full list here.

Tea etiquette or “eteaket”

I love the whole ritual of tea drinking.

Photo credit: Tuscany diet

Photo credit: Tuscany diet

In my house, ‘How do you take it?’ and ‘I’ll put the kettle on’ is often said. As a child, I drank invisible tea poured from tiny plastic teapots with Panda and Barbie.
Years later, when I add milk to very strong jasmine tea, my horrified great uncle would ask in his Hokkien dialect, ‘What are you doing to the tea?’ Lately, lovers’ quarrels would be diffused (infused?) with a mug of tea, always punctuated with a ‘Let’s never fight again.’

In honour of afternoon tea and cream tea season, as promised, here is the first of many posts on Tea etiquette or “eteaket”. Let us start with what I like to call “different ways to have tea”.

Afternoon tea at Bettys in York, dare I say it, my spiritual home. Photo:

Afternoon tea at Bettys in York, my, dare I say it, spiritual home. Photo:

1. Afternoon tea– The most decadent way to have tea. This is the tea one has in a London hotel or Bettys in York or if you are Mary Berry, in your magnificent garden. It is always served with scones, crustless sandwiches and the most delectable cakes. If you are thinking of having afternoon tea alone, well, perish the thought. This is a treat to be shared with the people you love the most.

Do not call it “high tea”
During the Edwardian Era, the name “high tea” referred to an evening snack which the staff ate, because it consisted of a substantial meal of meat followed by cake, and was eaten on a high wooden table. Our friends from the other side of the Atlantic misinterpreted it as a name for glamour and richness.

Downton Abbey staff having high tea. Credit:

Downton Abbey staff having high tea. Credit:

Champagne afternoon tea– as above but with a glass or two of bubbly. I prefer pink champagne for a touch of An Affair to Remember.

Afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel in London

Afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel in London

Gentleman’s afternoon tea– for the most discerning of gents. It’s afternoon tea with meat pies served with whiskey, and a cigar for afters. My friend Laurie, connoisseur of all fine things in life, recommends the Gents Afternoon Tea at the rooftop of the Sanctum Soho Hotel.

2. Cream tea– a less sophisticated afternoon tea, but no less special. It’s always taken with scones and clotted cream. (Jam or treacle is served as well, see variations below.) It is sometimes called ‘Devonshire cream tea’ or ‘Cornish cream tea’ in some Commonwealth countries. I tend to have cream tea when I have house guests, at country estates or a tea room.

Cream tea perfection Photo from

Cream tea perfection. Photo from

No alternatives
If clotted cream is not available, do not be tempted to use whipped cream or God forbid, squirty cream.
Avoid further disappointment and bake yourself some madeleines or cupcakes to go with your tea. I am grateful that good quality long-life clotted cream is now available. We can now have cream teas at a moment’s notice.

Devon cream tea
– the freshly baked scone is sliced in half, covered in clotted cream then topped with jam.

Thunder and lightning– as with the Devon Cream Tea but with treacle or golden syrup instead of jam.

Cornish cream tea– Jam is spread first, then topped with the clotted cream (see photo below). To help you remember which is which, think, “Cornish Cream Top”, if the cream is on top of the jam, it’s Cornish.

Cornish cream tea- cream on top. Photo:

Cornish cream tea- cream on top. Photo:

3. Teapot tea– A self-respecting household keeps a tea set of bone china, as extravagant as you dare, for times of pure luxury. (Compare an inexpensive tea set with a Wedgwood, both are beautiful). I myself have inherited mother’s kitsch floral tea set.

Beautiful daisy print tea set

Beautiful daisy print tea set

Beautiful Josiah Wedgwood tea set.

Beautiful Josiah Wedgwood tea set.







There are moments for tea in mugs and there are other moments when you can want a proper tea in dainty cups.
This is the tea set that comes out when one wants to feel indulged or when a favourite aunt comes for a visit. Loose leaf tea and a strainer is called for on this occasion. Have a some all-butter shortbread or petit fours with your tea. The joy of these days is, that they are rare.

Eteaket, the tea etiquette

Eteaket, the tea etiquette

4. Cup of tea– There is always something deeply satisfying about hugging a mug of tea in your hands. This is the type of tea with which you start your days and your weekends. One of life’s great pleasures is when, on a lazy Saturday morning, you reach over to the other side of the bed, only to find your boy (or girl) is not there. Because this means he is in the kitchen, making you a cup of tea.
This is the tea you serve to console a friend or to unwind after a long day. For a special treat, have a biscuit with your cup of tea or do the TimTam slam.

Hug Mug Photo credit

Hug mug Photo from

Which goes first, the milk or the tea?
In the olden days of yore, bone china teacups were delicate and made very thinly. Thus, milk was traditionally poured first so as to not “shock” the cup and cause cracks. Nowadays, bone china is much thicker and can withstand the 90 °C or so of recently boiled water. To answer this age-old debate, pour the tea first, followed by the milk. This way, you can adjust to how strong you take your tea.

Pour the tea, then the milk. Photo from

Pour the tea, then the milk. Photo from

I do hope you found this tea etiquette post useful and fun. Do leave a reply below, your comments and questions are most welcome.

Enjoy your tea,
EtiKate (Yorkshire, milky, no sugar)