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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Simple Restaurant Guidelines + Wedding Updates

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Newport is the premier wedding destination hot spot of the northeast, and NewportManners is the go-to for info on weddings, from the latest trends in bridal outfits to the most adventuresome wedding gifts. Questions to Didi Lorillard at Didi's Manners this week are in abundance as the island readies itself for another spectacular summer season.

Staff guidelines

Q.  We are renovating and reopening a restaurant in Newport under new owners. During the interviews and training session for the staff, what tips can you give us to assure repeat customers and good reviews? Formerly, it was a mid-scale tourist restaurant which we are taking upmarket. Since Newport is a resort community catering to the sailing crowd, ties and jackets will not be required. However, we would like staff, as well as guests, to wear collared shirts and shoes, preferably not flip-flops. There will be a smallish sign at the entrance: Shirts and Shoes Required. Can you suggest further guidelines?  --Name withheld, Newport

A.  Congratulations on your fine dining endeavor. As you know, your restaurant's reputation will be based on better than good food as well as on the consistency and approachability of your staff. The staff should be warm and welcoming and yet NOT overly familiar. They should be encouraged to smile at the customers, but they should NEVER offer their first name.

In other words, they shouldn't ask to be called by their first name as in, "Hi, I'm Johnny, I'll be your waiter this evening." Guests shouldn't feel that they have to remember the names of your staff in order to get good service. 

Good service should be a given. A good server doesn't wait to be asked, he/she asks, "Is there anything I can get you?" or "How is everything?" or "Is everything alright?" a few minutes into the first course and then the entree. You want staff to be accessible although not too informal. 

For instance, a typical ugly example: should a customer, who is overly pleased with himself, get fresh and ask a staff member if he or she "is on the menu," the staff member should ignore the rudeness. She or he should never sarcastically reply, "I'm only listed under the entrees." That could lead to trouble. 

Dress Code Women Staff

  • Wedding/commitment rings are fine, any other jewelry is not acceptable.
  • No nail polish.
  • Hair must be pulled back and off the face.
  • Uniform could be a white-collared shirt and black slacks or skirt and shoes.         

Dress Code Male Staff 

  • Hair should fall no longer than the bottom of the earlobes.
  • No more than two days worth of beard growth.
  • Mustaches and tattoos tolerated on a case-to-case basis.
  • Uniform could be white-collared shirt and black trousers with polished black shoes and black socks. 
  • Never forget the socks.


Alternative to the bridal gown

Q.  My 35-year-old sister is planning on wearing a white peplum top with white trousers instead of a traditional bridal gown. My parents are beside themselves because they are paying for her over-the-top wedding in Newport this summer. As the matron-of-the-bride, I am the monkey in the middle. Shouldn’t she be able to wear what she wants? Our parents are paying all the bills and insisting that she wear a princess frock bridal gown. Ugh! How do I broker a compromise?  --KG, Palm Beach, FL

A.  Lucky you, you’re going to have to sit your parents down and update them on the various trends in weddings today. Start by saying that their lovely daughter doesn’t envision herself at 35-years-old donning a big girl’s prom dress with a cathedral length veil. Tell them she’s not going to be the typical bride walking down the aisle in a traditional frilly white ball gown wedding dress. Add that your sister has a more modern vision of herself.

Meanwhile, talk to your sister about the various choices she has in choosing pants to wear instead of a bridal gown. If she's looking for a no-nonsense aerodynamic outfit, palazzo pants are a wonderful option. The same would be true of a pair of stunning and flattering satin, silk, or linen trousers, a jumpsuit or pantsuit.

Another suggestion, is to do what Amal Alamuddin did when she married George Clooney; she had two outfits and wore trousers to the ceremony and an evening dress to the reception. Palazzo pants are a comfortably contemporary option for any bride.  

Alternative wedding gift to the home-brewing kit

Q.  My fiancé and I were both previously married and by combining households we have more than enough material goods. Everyone keeps asking us where we're registered and we don't know what to tell them. We have tons of kitchen stuff, gadgets, and linens. As my husband is a beer drinker, we even have a home-brewing setup and for Christmas my dad signed us up for a wine-of-the-month-club. Is there something amusing we can suggest, aside from donating to a charity, which we've done?  --BN, Providence

A.   Take a look at some of these popular honeymoon registries for add-ons to your next adventure, whether it's sailing in the Caribbean, a ski trip to Austria, or a photo safari in Kenya: Honeyfund (the least expensive), Wanderable, Honeymoon Pixie and Traveler's Joy. 

Didi Lorillard researches etiquette at Didi's Manners.


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