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SIB Gala Etiquette

Disclaimer; It is not necessary to have a date for the gala, but it is a lot of fun and we recommend that you get one! It can be a friend, sibling or romantic partner, feel free to fill it in any way you want.

In some time, the annual SIB-NL gala will come around again! This event is accompanied by a bit of etiquette. For those who are unfamiliar with the rules and opportunities surrounding a formal event such as a gala, we present you with a three-part mini-series: SIB’stiquette. In these three paragraphs, we will elaborate on different parts of Gala courtship.

Part 1: The Gala gets better with a letter!

It all starts with writing a letter, the customs are gender oriented. Men write a blue letter with a silver pen and women a pink letter with a golden pen. In this letter, you invite the addressee to dinner and subsequent gala.
Instead of replying with a “yes” or “no”, etiquette dictates that the invitee, which receives the letter, will reply with a letter in the appropriate color (again blue for men, pink for women). In this letter, you will not mention the previous letter nor the Gala itself, instead, you invite your suitor to have a tea date with you.
Most of the time men will write the first letter and are then invited by the respected lady to come over for tea, however during a leap year this rule is reversed and the women are expected to initiate the date by sending their pink letters first. Another exception is when your prospective date resides in the Gala committee or a SIB-board. In these cases, you should not be so bold to write the first letter but instead, be patient and hope they’ll invite you.

In the flowchart below you can find out if you need to write a letter inviting someone to a dinner you’re organizing or if you will receive one.

Part 2: Let’s glee with some tea!

During this tea date, the two persons again don not bring up the gala as a conversation topic. However, the suitor still needs to know a couple of things from his/her potential date.
Here are some ways to communicate about the gala without talking or writing explicitly about it.

The most important thing to know, is if you will really be each other’s gala date. The inviting party of the tea date will give an answer to this question by serving tea and presenting a delicacy to her/his suitor.

  • With a (homemade) (apple) cake topped with whipped cream, you will be asked: “Do you want to go to the gala with me romantically and go home together after the gala?”
  • With a (homemade) (apple) cake without whipped cream, you will be asked: “Do you want to go to the gala with me romantically?”
  • With a cookie with whipped cream, the question is: “Do you want to go to the gala with me as friends and go home together?”
  • With a cookie without whipped cream, the question is: “Do you want to go to the gala with me as friends?”
  • With nothing (or candy) the answer to the first letter is: “Sorry, I think it’s very nice that you have sent a letter but I do not want to/can not go to the gala with you.”

By taking a bite, the suitor accepts the given answer. When the suitor does not take a bite, he refuses the given answer. When candy or nothing is presented, the suitor does not have a choice and thus has to accept the refusal.

When a dress is worn, a corsage must be purchased and adjusted by the suitor. The person wearing the dress has to make clear what color the dress is. This can be done by leaving flowers on the table in the same color or presenting a delicacy in that color or making the dress visible in a subtle manner or hint the color of the dress in a different way, and then hope that the suitor gets the hint.

Part 3: Corsage Montage

Now that the letters have been sent and it has – hopefully – become clear what color the dress of your date is, it is time to arrange corsages in a matching color. The easiest way to do this is to order these at a florist, as these professionals can advise you on color schemes and flower types. Otherwise, black or white are safe options, as they clash with a few other colors.

When you pin the corsage on your outfit (or use fancy magnets that don’t ruin your clothes, but fall off easier), remember that gentlemen always wear their corsages with the flower facing up, while ladies wear them with the flower facing down.

A little mnemonic device: Just like the toilet seat for men is up, for women it’s down.