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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Divorce Etiquette & Children At Weddings Etiquette

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


The newest etiquette for getting rid of your husband, Wedding Etiquette for inviting children, the etiquette of gender job discrimination and Condolence Etiquette were all questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners the last week in February.


Q.  My husband and I separated a year ago. I've tried many times to persuade him to get a lawyer and let bygones be bygones, however, he's lazy and cheap and can't seem to find time to deal with our fizzled out marriage. I've tried talking to our mutual friends for support, but he doesn't listen to them either. Help!  AW, Brooklyn

A.  Do online research to look for how to get a quickie divorce. For instance, Angelina Jolie's divorce lawyer, Laura Wasser, offers quickie online divorces (as well as annulments and separations) starting at a fee as low as $750 at: It's Over Easy - 



Q. We're concerned about having uninvited small children at our daughter's wedding, because it is child-free. The groom's niece is the flower girl, but aside from her, she is the only child in the wedding. The groom's sister and brother-in-law have said that the child will be at the church to perform her duty as flower girl, but will go home with a sitter after the ceremony and not be at the cocktail hour or seated dinner reception. The child's parents are both in the wedding party. We were grateful for that info and the fact that we wouldn't have to worry about a four-year-old running loose on a soda and cake sugar high.

The problem is that the grooms' friends are assuming that because little Harriet is a flower girl, they can bring their children to our daughter's wedding. They are actually listing the names of their children on their return reply card for the reception. How do we politely contact them to say that their children weren't invited? Their names weren't on the invitation envelope or written on the invitation itself. Is it rude not to invite them? Are we expected to have to provide childcare? It seems like an unnecessary expense for us, and we don't want the added responsibility.  AW, Charleston, SC


A.  What child doesn't look cute all dressed up participating in the ceremony, but don't let kids kidnap your daughter's wedding reception. Especially if you're paying the bills, so you draw the line and set the formality of the wedding. 

  • You don't have to invite children and you didn't. 
  • So you can stick to that excellent decision.


 The only reasons you would invite children to a wedding:

  • They are the child of the bride and groom.
  • They are the child of the bride or groom from another relationship.
  • They are siblings or step-siblings of the bride or groom.
  • There is nobody to watch the child while his/her parent(s) attend the wedding. 
  • The child is twelve-years-old or older, and then -- only if there is a connection with the bride or groom.


The reasons why you would NOT invite children to a wedding reception:

  • The wedding is very formal, either white tie or black tie.
  • The reception is held at six o'clock or later in the evening.
  • The dinner is seated formally with place cards and table cards.
  • There won't be any accommodations to feed, seat or entertain small children.
  • There won't be any childcare available at the wedding ceremony or reception.


Most importantly, this wedding is all about the bride and groom and really isn't about children who are not directly connected to the wedding couple in some significant way. 

  • You want all of your guests to have a good time.


With that goal in mind, pick up the phone and call the invitee to say that your daughter's wedding is child-free. 

  • If it is a guest coming from out of town, offer to help find a caregiver that can stay with the child during the wedding reception. 
  • Invite the guest to bring the the child to the ceremony, and then gently remind her/him that there won't be any accommodations for the child at the reception or seated dinner. 
  • After all, the parent wouldn't want their child to be the only child at the reception.




Q.  This may be an ethics question or it may be about etiquette, perhaps you can help me. I've applied for a big job that I know I'll be good at. Am I under any obligation to give information about my children? Friends, who are also mothers in a similar dilemma and "confessed" to having children, didn't get the job. I am totally covered as far as childcare is concerned, but if something did come up and it was discovered that I have children, will it seem that I've done something remiss by not volunteering that information?  Name Withheld


A.  On the job application there should not have been a question about children. During a job interview you're not obliged to bring up your parental status, or should you be asked. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Equal Opportunity, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin and sex. Legally, you cannot be penalized for being a mother.  

  • Remember that a man who makes it known that he has children is traditionally paid a higher salary or/and accrues more benefits than a woman in the same job. 
  • Men in the workplace are rewarded for having children, while women doing the same job are penalized. 


Keep your parental status private: My best advice is to keep quiet about the kids until after you're weathered and tested. Leave your children's photos in your office desk drawer and on your cellphone. Eventually when you've secured the respect of your colleagues and those you report to, gently let out tidbits of news about your brilliant off-spring. Sorry, that's the way it is.

  • Should a colleague say, "I didn't know that you had children," nonchalantly respond saying, "I didn't think anyone would be interested."


The biggest mistake in terms of office politics is swearing one or two coworkers to secrecy. Your maternal status shouldn't be a secret per se, as a man wouldn't have had to keep his adorable kids hush-hush, because strutting paternity is considered macho.

It's the gaming system. You're not alone. I know that it doesn't sound fair, but until you're sure of safe footing, you may have to play the game. Of course, if you're directly asked at an job interview (which is illegal) it may be the first clue that the job really isn't for you. Check out the company culture at glassdoor.com.



Q. A childhood friend died two months ago and we can't figure out how to contact his family, because he wasn't married nor did he have a SO -- that we know of. He was visiting friends of his in Palm Beach as a houseguest when he died, but we don't know their names. We just found out about it. The man did not have a next of kin, so we don't know how we can express our condolences. What would you suggest?  Name Withheld

A.  Go to Legacy.com to find information about your friend. He may not have had a close next of kin, but information as to who that closest person might be, can possibly be found there. The site will list the name of the deceased and person in charge of his estate (either a partner, significant other, lover, cousin, lawyer or closest blood relative), along with the name of the funeral home director, who handled the burial and should respond in a timely fashion to a quick phone call to provide you with that contact's information. 

  • There is no time constraint on sending a condolence note. Whoever is handling your friend's personal affairs will appreciate your taking the time to write him or her a note.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.


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