Packed with Protocol: When the US Entertains at Home and Abroad
The information contained herein is quoted from Social Usage and Protocol Handbook: A Guide for Personnel of the U.S. Navy (OPNAVINST 1710.7 dated 17 JUL 1979) Here is the suggestions that form the basis of official US Protocol.
Receptions are the most popular form of official entertainment for they allow wide variance in the number of guests invited and in the formality of the occasion. They range from the very formal, which might be a reception after 8:00 p.m. hosted by an ambassador in honor of his visiting chief of state, to the less formal, perhaps that hosted by a military attache from 8 to 10 o’clock in the evening in celebration of Armed Forces Day. The most common and least formal affair is held from approximately 6 to 8 o’clock, frequently in honor of a visiting official or in celebration of some event.
Characteristically, receptions differ from the simple cocktail party in that they are intended to honor individuals or a specific occasion, the atmosphere is somewhat more formal, their duration is prescribed, and there is always a receiving line.
The thoughtful host/hostess who plans a reception in honor of a high-ranking official will consult with the latter regarding a mutually agreeable date and time before ordering invitations. As indicated in Invitations, the person or the occasion being feted may be indicated on the invitation in one of several ways.
Guests should arrive before the receiving line disbands, normally within the first 35 minutes of the reception. The order of persons in the receiving line may vary with the type of occasion and desires of the hosting official.
The sequence which the Department of State follows for official functions in honor of high-ranking dignitaries is:
Announcer –– Host –– Guest of Honor –– Guest of Honor’s Wife –– Host’s Wife –– Extra Man
The announcer is often a military aide whose responsibility is to announce each guest by name.
The extra man avoids placing a woman at the end of the line. It is his function to move guests into the reception area. Very often, however, this extra person will make the line entirely too long, in which case he may be eliminated.
An alternative which is equally appropriate and which makes the relationship of those receiving clearer to the guests is:
Announcer –– Host –– Host’s Wife –– Guest of Honor –– Guest of Honor’s Wife –– Extra man [Read more…]