Tips for the Wedding Guest

Have you ever been faced with an invitation to a wedding and you didn’t know what to do? Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve attending a wedding and you don’t know whether or not the rules have changed. I’ve been there. Within the past year, we’ve been invited to 11 weddings. Y’all, before I met my husband I had only ever been to 3 weddings in my 26 years of life. (Yes, my husband is an extreme extrovert with an amazing social life.) Naturally, I had to read up on wedding etiquette. I studied it front to back and became obsessed to the point where he threatened not to take me. It’s quite a funny scene to think back on.

With wedding season is in full swing, this is the perfect time to remind ourselves of a few important wedding etiquette rules that haven’t gone out of style.


1.) Do RSVP before the deadline. The couple needs a headcount so they can reserve seating, catering, and favors.

2.) Don’t wear white. Of all the fashion rules that are no longer relevant, this one still is. Unless the Bride herself has requested all guests wear white (which I have seen once) please leave that color for her. RobertsBaldwin00416

3.) Do be on time. 10-15 minutes prior to ceremony start time is recommended. Don’t be the person walking in at the same time as the bride.

4.) Don’t take pictures during the ceremony. (and be discreet about photography after. Whatever you do, don’t get in the professional photographer’s way.)

5.) Don’t post pictures before the bride and groom (or photographer in some cases). Posting pictures of yourself and your friends is fine, but reserve photos of the Bride and Groom for the special couple themselves.

6.) Don’t get drunk. If there’s a bar, drink responsibly and do not cause a scene. If the couple choose to have a dry wedding for religious reasons, but you just have to have your flask, please be respectful and discreet about drinking.

RobertsBaldwin003787.) Don’t verbally compare the decorations to the last wedding you went to. Everyone has a different style, and much more important, everyone has a different budget.

8.)  Don’t criticize the food. Someone paid a lot of money to feed you. Be appreciative.

9.) Do get up and dance. Don’t sit there and sulk at your table. Even if you’re not a great dancer (raising my hand) anyone can at least learn the Cupid Shuffle. It’ll get your blood pumping and give you some energy for the remainder of the party.

10.) Do keep the chit-chat with the Bride and Groom to a minimum. There will be a host of people wanting to talk to them and the couple will have a lot on their minds. Offer congratulations and love, but don’t sit there and discuss every detail with them while in the receiving line.

11.) Do talk with your tablemates. Chances are you’ll make some new friends! You will have a much better time compared to if you just sit there sullen and bored.



12.) Do sign the guestbook. The Bride and Groom will have a hard time remembering every detail about the guests. They will appreciate having a record of who was there.


I love attending weddings now. And I can *mostly* attend with no anxiety. (There’s still that gut sinking feeling of oh no! I’m going to clash with the wedding colors! It’s ok. It won’t be the end of the world.) Weddings are a great time to let your hair down, mingle, and have a fantastic time. Just so long as we do it with class and consideration.

Happy Wedding Season!


***For Brides and Wedding Proffesionals, check out our Wedding Etiquette Seminar

Tips for Hosting a Backyard BBQ

July is almost here and that means that we are gearing up to celebrate our 243rd birthday as a country. There will be countless parties, picnics, and backyard barbeques administration-america-american-flag-1202723in the works. Today we’ll look at how to host a backyard barbeque with a few helpful tips and tricks.

For backyard party, the easiest way to plan and invite is through Facebook Events. You can create an event, invite guests, and post details in one area. This especially works well if you’re doing a potluck style where everyone invited brings a side dish because everyone can post what they will be bringing. I would recommend sending the invite 2-4 weeks in advance.

The best way to handle food for this type of event is potluck style. The host/hostess provides meat, drinks, and a side dish or two. Every guest that attends brings a side dish or a dessert. Menu options for meat can include burgers, hotdogs, beef brisket, shrimp, sausage kabobs, or steak. Almost anything tastes good grilled so there really isn’t any limitation. Watch grocery ads closely as many markets will have fantastic deals in July. It’s always beneficial to compare pricing for a large party .


Grocery stores that typically have good summer sales (in St. Louis) include Aldi, Dierburg’s, and Fresh Thyme. When I do my shopping, I usually go to Dierburg’s for meat, Fresh Thyme for produce, and Aldi for everything else. I’ve found the best deals by doing this. You may have different grocery chains where you live, so I encourage you to watch ads and online sales closely.

Side dishes for outdoor events are fun. You want to be sure that whatever you’re sitting out won’t spoil within an hour of being out. Limit dishes with a lot of cream cheese and milk. During the Summer, seasonal dishes full of flavor are going to be magic. Lot’s of fresh ingredients and colorful choices.

Popular BBQ party sides include:
Potato salad
Veggie skewers
Corn on the cob
Veggie tray
Chips and dip
Caprese skewers
Grilled pineapple and watermelon (see recipe below)

barbecue-bbq-dinner-111131.jpg           caprises            grilledwatermelon.jpg

There are all kinds of smart hacks for keeping bugs out of drinks and food, keeping children occupied, and keeping guests comfortable. Some of my favorite include:

1.) Use cupcake liners upside down over drinks to keep bugs out. Insert a straw straight through the liner to keep drinking.

2.) Use large apothecary jars with lids to hold potato salad, fruit salad, and pasta salads.

3.) Use a garden flag pole and bucket to keep things like sunscreen, bug spray, and extra sunglasses on hand for guests.

4.) Plan a simple scavenger hunt for children to keep them occupied. If you really want to take it up a notch, you can draw and copy “maps” of the back yard and have a treasure or prize at the end.

5.) For super easy clean ups set out a roll of paper towels, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a tub of baby wipes. This will also minimize indoor traffic.

6.) Use large metal tubs or large planters full of ice to keep canned and bottled beverage cold.

7.) Have a playlist with soft party appropriate music set up and ready to go. My husband and I use Google Play music with our Google home system, but there are many other options.

I’m looking forward to backyard barbeques and parties this Summer. I hope you are too. I’ve created a guide to food amounts for parties, completely free for you! Click the link below to download and use.

How Much Food do I Need for My Party

Happy barbequing!


Grilled Watermelon:

1/2 Watermelon sliced into triangles

Olive oil of coconut oil for brushing
Juice from 2-3 limes
2 TBS Honey
Sea salt to taste
1/3 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 cup mint leaves

1.) Brush triangles with oil. Grill on hot grill just until charred. Do not overcook.
2.) Drizzle with lime juice and honey, sprinkle with sea salt and walnut, and garnish with mint leaves.
3.) Serve as fresh as possible.




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Why Hospitality and Etiquette?

I was recently asked why I focus on hospitality and etiquette. What do they have in common?

The term etiquette makes a lot of people cringe. The brain automatically goes to stuffy pretentious people, sipping tea with their pinky stuck in the air. Etiquette is simply the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group (Merriam Webster). The truth is you can have etiquette without hospitality. But at that point, etiquette is nothing but behavioral and you run the risk of being labeled as “stuffy”.

Hospitality, however, is relational. And while you can have etiquette without hospitality, baked-beverage-breakfast-2377474I believe it’s harder to show hospitality without certain aspects of etiquette. Hospitality, the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers (Merriam Webster), goes hand in hand with respect and love for one another. I believe that we demonstrate that respect by using etiquette, or good manners.

“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)

A few weeks ago we looked at 3 different basic groups of etiquette and I explained why I felt that they were important to a hospitality ministry. You can read the first post here, Do Manners Matter? Part 1: Basic Manners.

We show respect and consideration for others when we apply the behavioral aspects of etiquette to our relationships. We change the outcome of an interaction, improve the chances of a good impressions, and increase our potential for influence. Whether with our family, friends, or out in our community, using etiquette shows that we have character. But we must remember that etiquette without a hospitable heart, is nothing more than empty actions.

“Manners are like the shadows of virtues. They are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect” (Sydney Smith)

I have a deep desire the change the world. Not only through radical hospitality, but also in seeing those we love pulled in by the way we act and present ourselves. That’s why etiquette is so important to our hospitality ministry. However, as with all things, you must have balance. You should certainly dress up to go to a wedding, but if you wear a cocktail dress to Pizza Hut and try to eat your wings with a fork and knife, you’re just weird. You should learn how to sit and hold yourself for an important meeting, but if you go to a movie with your best friend and spend the entire time sitting on the edge of your seat with your legs bent duchess style, you’re weird. Practicing etiquette is wonderful, but you must learn a good balance and use common sense.

Three important things to remember:

1.) If I feel pretentious and stuffy, then I’m probably coming across pretentious and stuffy.

2.) If all I’m noticing is the bad etiquette of my guest, then I am not being hospitable.

3.) If I graciously open my home, but spend the whole time picking my teeth while on my phone and slurping cola…my guest isn’t going to come back. (This sounds ridiculous, but it happens. My family once went to dinner where the host spent the whole time picking at scalp acne and talking about dog bowel movements.)

A great resource for etiquette is Emily Post’s “Etiquette”. This is one of the books I
recommend for my workshops and classes. Find Emily Post’s Etiquette here

The more we practice hospitality and etiquette, the better and easier it will get!


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An Inhospitable Marriage

I don’t usually write marriage related material. Having been married just under a year myself, I am no expert and I don’t pretend to be. But, when God lays something so heavy on my heart, I feel I must share it with you. I want to talk about practicing hospitality in our marriage.RobertsBaldwin01268

Hospitality isn’t just for guests or neighbors. Your spouse desperately needs your hospitality. Unfortunately, so many marriages today are inhospitable. Inhospitable is defined as being harsh and difficult to live in. Studies are showing that nearly 50% of marriages are ending in divorce. I have seen many end myself, especially over the past few years. Couple are splitting, and then before papers are even signed, they’re with someone else. It’s a fast run to the next person that can make them happy. Unfortunately, that’s the key to this broken covenant. Everyone is out to be made happy, to feel satisfied, or to get something out of the relationship. If you go into a relationship with high expectations for what your spouse will do for you, it’s going to fail. If you think your spouse is there to make you happy and feel fulfilled, then it will fail. If you think that everything will be easy and all about you, then your marriage will fail. Romance novels, television shows, and Instagram marriages today give us unrealistic and false views on how a marriage works. When our spouse fails to meet our expectations, we respond with anger, hostility, hurtful words, and withdrawal. This creates an inhospitable environment for our relationship and eventually, it will fall apart.

Ways couples create an inhospitable marriage:

marriagequoteforblog1.)  They discuss their spouse’s flaws with others.

2.) They wake up every day asking what their spouse will do for them.

3.) They don’t have open honest discussions.

4.) They constantly complain.

5.) They don’t place a value on a relationship with God.

6.) They deny one another grace to fail.


Sometimes, these things happen without us even realizing. We get so busy and caught up with every day life that we lose sight of the importance of how we treat our spouse and marriage. We don’t intend to complain or be selfish, it just happens. Friends, we have to be intentional about our marriage. We can’t afford not to. We have to wake up every day and ask ourselves “am I being hospitable in my marriage?”

Ways to create a hospitable marriage:

1.) Do not talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever.

2.) Every morning ask yourself  “What can I do to be a blessing to my spouse today?”

3.) Talk about the hard things. Have those difficult open and honest conversations.

4.) Every day, write down 3 things to be thankful for regarding your spouse/marriage.

5.) Spend time with God every day. As you draw closer to Him, you will naturally draw closer to your spouse.

6.) Learn to accept , or give, an apology when failure occurs.


When you become intentional about practicing hospitality with your spouse, you will notice how much closer you draw to one another.

Romans 12:10  reminds us “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 



Do Manners Matter? Part 3: Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette is, by far, my favorite to teach. I especially enjoy teaching young children to set tables correctly. My 6 year nephew recently learned how to position napkins, knives, and forks and it made him so proud to see his work. Some may deem dining etiquette unnecessary, but I wholeheartedly disagree. There are many reasons why I feel the way I do, but I would like to share the top three with you.  silver.jpg

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place. This also applies to setting a table. When we practice discipline in the way we complete a task (such as table setting), we are improving our character. A disciplined character shows that you have self-respect. “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect” –Bruce Lee
  2. We are constantly making impressions. Everything we do, or say, leaves an impression behind for someone else to interpret. When we practice good table manners and dining etiquette, we are leaving behind positive impressions and therefore gaining the respect of those around us. Respect often opens up opportunities that the best education cannot.
  3. Being neat and orderly clears clutter from our minds and lifts our spirits. This leads to a more grateful and satisfying life, which lead to improved health.

The two main tables I set for company are breakfast/brunch and dinner. We’re going to look at these two tables today and talk about proper positioning.


Breakfast/Brunch setting includes: Breakfast plate, bread plate, coffee/tea cup and saucer, water glass, juice glass, fork, knife, spoon, teaspoon, and napkin

To set a breakfast table, clean table with washcloth and dry thoroughly. Dress table with tablecloth, placemats, or just a table runner (not pictured). Use your thumb knuckle as a guide to place the edge of you plate 1 in from the edge of the table. To the left of the plate, place your napkin and fork (for breakfast it is acceptable for the napkin to be placed under the fork). To the left of your plate, from the inside out, place your knife (blade in), your table spoon, then your teaspoon. Above the spoons, place your coffee/tea cup and saucer, left to the upper left place your juice glass, then you water glass. (For Brunch, you may add a champagne flute to the upper right of the juice glass.) Finish with placing your bread/muffin plate directly above your fork.

Dinner (Formal)

Formal dinner setting includes: Dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, soup bowl, water glass, red wine glass (can be used for non-alcoholic beverage), white wine glass (optional), butter knife, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, teaspoon, soup spoon, napkin, dessert fork, dessert spoon, and place card (not pictured)

To set a formal dinner table, clean table with washcloth and dry thoroughly. Dress table with tablecloth, placemats, or just a table runner (not pictured). Use your thumb knuckle as a guide to place the edge of you plate 1 in from the edge of the table. To the left of the plate, from the inside out, place your dinner fork, your salad fork, and then your napkin. To the left of your plate, from the inside out, place your knife (blade in), your teaspoon, then your soup spoon. Above the spoons, place your wine glasses (white first, then red), then your water glass to the upper left. Lay your dessert fork directly above your dinner plate facing right, then your spoon above facing left. Finish with placing your bread plate directly above your fork with your butter knife laying across the plate. The name/place card should be placed directly above your dessert cutlery.


(TIP: A fun way to teach children how to set a table is with their hands. Fork has 4 letter just like Left. Knife has 5 letters just like Right. Also have them make a small “b” and “d” with their thumb, index, and middle fingers. The bread plate goes to the “b” and the drinks go to the “d“.)


As a dinner guest in someone’s home, there are a few important etiquette tips to remember:

1.) Do not start eating until everyone has been seated and the host/hostess begins their meal.
2.) Your napkin should be placed in your lap during the meal. It should not touch the table until the meal is finished. When the meal is finished, the napkin should be folded and placed to the left. Not crumpled and thrown just anywhere.
3.) Regarding cutlery, always start with the outside and work your way in.
4.) Chew with your mouth closed.
5.) Unless someone specifically asks for a dish, always pass food from left to right.


The more we practice our etiquette skills and table manners, the easier they become. Soon, they’ll become second nature and our efforts can go from remembering our manners, to concentrating on those around us and holding conversations.

“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)


We live in a world that is starved for true authentic hospitality. With so many magazines and TV shows displaying what a perfect home should look like, so many people are unwilling to open their home to others unless they achieve that level of perfection. From pristine living rooms that are unbelievably uncomfortable to picture perfect meals that take hours to prepare, we are so busy trying to impress others that we fail to bless others. God did not call us to perfection, He called us to love. Authentic hospitality is sadly undervalued among our culture today.

Blue flowers

We read a story in the New Testament of two sisters. Mary and Martha. Jesus had come and was having supper in their home. Martha was running around making sure her table was perfect and the food was just right, but Mary was sitting at His feet listening. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I seem to contradict myself. One day I talk about planning the perfect tea party and the next I’m telling you to forget planning. Let me clarify. I’m not against a planned out event, a pretty table, or delicious food. I will continue to offer guides and posts on all things lovely when it comes to hosting different events. However, the motivation and heart behind our hospitality must be authentic and must be out of genuine love for others. We cannot get so lost in the planning that we forget the people. Now you’re asking “ok well how do I do that” I’m glad you asked!

  1. When you have company, especially someone in need of a shoulder to cry on, try your best to limit distractions. Pour a couple of cups of tea, turn off the TV, put your phone down, and listen.
  2. When you have company show up while you’re cooking or in the middle of a project, invite them to join you. (This mainly applies to unexpected company)
  3. When you are hosting an event, put your phone down.
  4. Don’t apologize for the things you don’t have, or the imperfections in what you do have. If a glass of water is all you have to offer, offer it humbly but don’t apologize that you don’t have lemonade to offer.

Authentic hospitality is not just for our friends and family closest to us. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” It’s opening your heart to the neighbor next door, the single mom down the street, the broke college student who needs a nutritious meal, the elderly shut-in desperate to see beyond their four walls, or the lonely widow who just needs some company. We read in the Old Testament a story of King David. He desperately wanted to show kindness and hospitality to the family of Saul after his death. So he reached out to a complete stranger, a shut-in relative, and brought him to his home. What a difference we could make if that was our mindset. When we treat people with kindness, we often open the door for them to receive a witness of the gospel.

Some good ways to seek out those people in desperate need of hospitality:

  1. Ask your church pastor or leaders. I am sure they will have a name for you to reach out to.
  2. Get to know the neighbors on your street. Maybe consider holding an open house and inviting your neighborhood to stop in for lemonade and ice cream this summer.
  3. Contact your local university or seminary and ask if you can be a blessing to a struggling student.
  4. Offer to cook supper for a family with an illness or a new baby.
  5. Pick up a shut-in and take them for lunch or a picnic in a park.

Our world is starved for true genuine hospitality. Let us be the ones to show them that kindness and let them experience God’s love through our lives.