Traditional Debutante Ball Etiquette

by Kelly O'Gea

Debutante balls used to be a way for families to debut their marriage-aged girls to society and symbolized their entry into society. Times have changed, but these traditions are still upheld for young girls who may not be ready for marriage, but would like to celebrate their entry into womanhood with a formal dinner and dance. There is a certain etiquette that is required for a debutante ball, as it is considered a very formal event.

Dress Code

There is only one dress for a young woman that will ever outdo her debutante gown: her wedding dress. The proper attire for a debutante is a white gown with a full skirt. Debutante clothing should be the height of formal attire. Anyone in attendance who is not a debutante should still be dressed at their finest. Women should select a formal gown for the occasion, and men should be dressed in a tuxedo.

Entrances

A debutante ball will begin with a grand entrance. The debutantes are assigned two male escorts who will accompany them into the main ballroom. They will then bring the girls to the front of the room or in some cases up onto a stage, where they are introduced and must perform a special curtsy known as a Texas Dip. All other attendees are expected to watch the events and supply applause when appropriate. Otherwise, silence should be maintained.

Dinner and Dancing

After the entrances, a formal dinner takes place. Proper manners should be used at the dinner table, such as laying the napkin on your lap and placing it on the table when you are finished eating. Take small bites, do not talk with your mouth full and use the correct silverware for the corresponding course. Speeches may take place after dinner, at which time attendees are expected to cease eating and listen quietly. Once dinner has finished, the evening usually ends with dancing.

Debutnante Etiquette

Debutantes are expected to uphold tradition by maintaining a certain level of decorum. Elder guests should be addressed as "sir" or "ma'am." Debutantes should speak in a pleasant tone, use proper language and wait to speak until everyone else has finished speaking. Debutantes should also stand with their backs straight and use good posture at all times. Everyday manners should also be remembered, such as always saying "please" and "thank you."

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Kelly O'Gea entered journalism in 2009. Since then, she has been the general editor of the collegiate publication "GAMBIT." O'Gea has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southeastern Louisiana University.