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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Relationships, Birth Control + More

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Mother-of-the-groom dress for February 2014.

Relationships are on everybody's minds around Valentine's Day – couples dealing with birth control issues, mother-of-the-groom dress code for a February wedding, and work related funeral etiquette, as well as thank-you note etiquette were all queries to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners.com.

Birth control etiquette

Dear Didi,

Our dilemma for the past 3 1/2 years has been that my boyfriend and I have been struggling with birth control. I won't go into details, but nothing seems to work whether they're barriers, birth control pills or an IUD. He won't get a vasectomy and I don't want to get my tubes tied. How do we resolve this gnawing issue amicably?  L.L., Providence

Dear L.L.,

When all else fails, he's not up for a vasectomy and you don't want a tubal ligation. It is time to get a period-tracking app. There are several popular applications (iPeriod, Clue, PTracker, and PeriodDiary) that act as an all-purpose tracker documenting your cycles to help you make informed choices about when to to have safe sex. The benefits of having your cycles documented are invaluable, and apparently the app is so much fun that everybody is doing it.  ~Didi

Thank-you etiquette today

Dear Didi,

Whatever happened to the handwritten thank-you note? Does it matter if I just text a quick thanks or do I still have to get out my unused stationery?  Ellie, Coventry

Dear Ellie,

We are so wired to our devices that handwriting skills are on the wane. We abbreviate the word 'tomorrow' when we text, so when we handwrite the word and we've forgotten the correct spelling, there's no e-helper to correct us. When we handwrite we remember we're in a wired world. We're used to deleting and correcting a mistake without the receiver knowing our original mistake; when we take pen to paper we become frustrated when we've made a mistake we can't correct, and the note will be less than perfect. Tear it up and start again. When there is no delete button do we start again or gently augment the mistake? It's far easier to type the thank-you note these days.

The point is to say thank you.

The current standard on this is that if you receive a written invitation or a gift of over sixty dollars, you handwrite a thank-you note. When the invitation was an e-vite and the gift costs under a hundred, it is fine to write an email thank-you. When the invitation for dinner or lunch was texted, you can text your thank-you. ~Didi

Funeral Etiquette for a former boss' husband

Dear Didi,

My ex boss' husband was killed and I am unsure if I should to go to the funeral service. We worked together for 3 to 4 years. One part of me feels like going because I want to give her support but the other feels I would be intruding. Name withheld

Dear anonymous,

You worked with your former boss for three to four years, which should give you enough rapport that she would recognize you had made an effort to take the time to support her at this very difficult and sad time. She is no doubt in extreme shock. Seeing past and present friends and colleagues from work will be a comfort to her. She will appreciate the effort you made to show your respect.  ~Didi

Mother-of-the-Groom Etiquette

Hello, I am the mother-of-the-groom. I need to know if it will be okay to wear a black tea-length gown to his wedding. The wedding is the end of Feb. @ 5pm. S.T., Boston

Dear S.T.,

Wearing black is considered ultrachic, even at your son's wedding. However, check with the bride first, because some cultures are superstitious about wearing black at a wedding. It could be perceived as a negative sign that you, the groom's mother, don't like the bride. On the other hand, there are those of us who feel there is nothing more elegant than a black dress in the evening.

Nonetheless, the tea gown length can be iffy. Firstly, you would have to be tall to pull the length off, because it cuts the calves in half making a woman look shorter than she is. Secondly, it is called tea-length because historically it is the length of a dress worn at an afternoon tea party. If the ceremony is at five o'clock followed by a evening reception, you would wear cocktail length. Meaning, knee-length dress, unless the wedding invitation specifies Black Tie or Formal Attire and the MOB is wearing a long dress. Think of the wedding photos. It just makes sense that the mothers would be dressed in a similar length and style.

Traditionally, you would start by asking the mother-of-the-bride what she is wearing: style, fabric, length, and color. You would then wear a outfit that was similar, but suited you.  ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at NewportManners.com. We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly GoLocalWorcester.com columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above righthand search. The slideshow below is not endorsed by her.


Related Slideshow: Valentine’s Day Events in Central Mass

Prev Next

Valentine's Music Fest

Jillian's, Worcester

Grab your favorite cowboy (or girl) and take them to Jillian's on Feb. 14 for the Valentine's Day Country Music Festival. The event features acoustic country singer Lisa Marie and Bobby Hogan and Sugar Creek. The concert goes from 7:30pm to 1:30am.

Click here for more information.

Prev Next

Valentine's Day Workshop

Crompton Collective, Worcester

The Worcester Historical Museum and Crompton Collective will partner for a special valentine workshop on Saturday, Feb. 8 to teach participants the history behind Valentine's Day cards.  Individuals can learn the real story and make their own cards in the style of Esther Howland the artist and businesswoman responsible for popularizing Valentine's Day greeting cards in America.

Click here for more details.

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Parent's Night Out

The Children's Workshop, all MA locations

Would you like a night out for Valentine’s Day? Bring the kids to The Children’s Workshop! They will provide supervision, fun, entertainment and snacks for the kids while parents enjoy a night off. This service is FREE and open to the community! You do not need to enroll to take advantage of this great event. Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 7th.

The Children’s Workshop has 7 locations throughout Massachusetts.

For more information, click here.

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Valentine's Day Symphony

University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester

The Seven Hills Symphony's Winter (Valentine's Day) Concert, which will take place Feb. 14 from 7:30pm to 9pm, features an all-Romantic program. The concert will showcase the winner and runner-up of SHS's concerto competition. Winner Spencer Kim will be the soloist for the first movement of Dvorak's Cello Concerto and runner-up Miranda Waltz-Peters will be the soloist for the first movement of Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1.

This is a free event, but donations are encouraged.

Click here for more information.

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A Lesson in Chocolate

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston

Make the most of your Valentine's chocolate and learn which chemicals elicit biochemical reactions in the human brain. During the presentation, you will also learn how to taste chocolate for quality and the best way to enjoy it. The event features presenter Mike Cross, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Northern Essex Community College.

Click here to register.

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Ice Skating

Buffone Arena, Worcester

Are you looking for a romantic and fun activity this Valentine's Day? Look no further than ice skating at Buffone Arena. In honor of V-Day, Buffone will host a live, ice-slide DJ event so you can skate and rock the night away.

Admission is $5 and an additional $5 for rental skates.

For more information, click here.

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Valentine's Day Ball

Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley

Enjoy a romantic night of dining & dancing at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, just 20 minutes from Worcester. Enjoy dinner and the upbeat music of Bellevue Cadillac, known as "The Most Danceable Band on the Planet." Doors open at 6pm for dinner & seating. Showtime is 8pm.

Tickets for the performance $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show.

Click here to buy tickets.

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Valentine's Day Dinner

Publick House, Sturbridge

The historic Publick House in Sturbridge will be offering a special Valentine's Day Dinner Menu on Feb. 14. Entrees include roasted prime rib, pan-seared salmon, roasted duck, and lobster pie. Click here to view the menu in its entirety.

Click here to make reservations.

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Valentine's Day Massacre

Lucky Dog Music Hall, Worcester

Why not do some head banging this Valentine's Day? Rock out with your mate from 8pm to 2am on Feb. 14 at the Valentine's Day Massacre at the Lucky Dog Music Hall. The event features six metal bands: Deception Of A Ghost, A Faylene Sky, It Lies Within, Kerrigan, Shred Of Salvation, and Promise Of Fire.

Click here for the details.

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Historic Valentines

Old Sturbridge Village

On Feb. 8th and 9th, children can make their own valentines and visitors of all ages can "meet" the local woman responsible for the popularity of sending valentines in the United States Esther Howland.

Admission is $24 for adults and free for children under 17.

Click here for more information.

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Dinner for Two

7 Nana Japanese Steakhouse, Worcester

Did you know that many components in Japanese cuisine have long been known to be natural aphrodisiacs? Ingredients such as rice, wasabi, ginger, unagi, sake, even shitake mushrooms can fuel romance. So if you’re looking to start your evening with some natural and edible sparks, join 7 Nana on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and either choose from their regular dinner menu, or make your reservation for one of their special prix fixe menu seatings and enjoy a special Valentine’s Day menu.

To make reservations, click here.

Prev Next

Chocolate Making

Old Sturbridge Village

Learn about the history of chocolate - from bean to beverage - on Feb. 8th and 9th at Old Sturbridge Village. OSV historians will demonstrate processing chocolate by hand using cacao beans in the original manner of ancient Mexico, where chocolate originates.  They will use a "metate" to grind freshly roasted chocolate "nibs" to make a hot, spiced chocolate drink. 

Admission is $24 for adults and free for children under 17.

For more information, go here.


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