A Question of Etiquette: Stand and be respectful for anthem


Color Etiquette 07.07.16What is the correct protocol when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played at events? I’ve noticed that some people stand and sing, with their hands over their hearts, others stand and face the flag but neither sing nor place their hands over their hearts, and some just sing. Is there a right and wrong for this?

One always stands when the national anthem is played, and remains standing while it is played, to show respect. Singing along and placing one’s hand over one’s heart is optional. If you are on your way to your seat, you stop where you are until the end of the anthem. You don’t walk, smoke, talk, chew gum loudly, or eat during the playing of the anthem. And if you are wearing a baseball cap, whether man or woman, you remove it.


I just found out that a close friend of my parents, both deceased, died two months ago. My siblings and I were part of that friendship for years. On behalf of my family, I would like to express condolences but am worried that it is too late. Is it?

Usually one sends a card or note of sympathy at the time of a death, but it is always important to share your thoughts, no matter how much time has passed. You can mention that you just heard of the passing of your parents’ friend and write a sentence or two about how much the long-time friendship meant not just to your parents, but to your whole family, or another memory of the deceased that his or her family would love to read.


When we go to a restaurant, my husband usually goes to the maître d’ to mention our reservation and then, because he is right there, follows the maître d’ to our table. I told him I, as a woman, should be the one to go first. What is the correct thing to do?

When walking to the table, the woman, or if a group, the women, follow the maître d’ to the table with the man or men following. Often, the maître d’ will hold the chair for the woman so she can be seated as her husband, date, or others in the group arrive at the table, so it makes sense for her to be the first to the table so that this is easy to accomplish.


My boyfriend has been invited to the wedding of friends of his with the invitation to bring a guest. He has asked me to attend with him. I have never met either the bride or the groom. Am I expected to give a wedding gift since I will be attending the wedding, and if so, what?

No, “plus-one’s” are not expected to give a gift, nor does your boyfriend have to include your name on the card that accompanies his gift. When he responds to the invitation, however, he should include your name on the response so the hosts know to expect you.

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