Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Debutante ball


I am a member of a local social club.  I am divorced and remarried.  I am sponsoring my stepdaughter as a debutante and she will be presented at our annual debutante ball.  Should her biological mother be invited to the ball?  If so, should her mother or I be seated next to her father and to whom should she curtsy?

Dear Ellen:

Wow! I haven't been asked about a Debutante Ball for a long time.  I was presented when I was a senior in high school and that seems like a lifetime ago.

Your first question about whether your Stepdaughter's biological mother should be invited depends whether she is active in her daughter's life. If she has left to live a life apart, then no. If she is currently involved with her daughter, then yes.  Since you are the sponsor (as the mother is always the sponsor of a debutante) you should assume your place next to her Father with her Mother on the left side if she wishes. She may also sit behind you two.  Leave that to her discretion.  As her presenter, you assume your position as if you were her biological mother.  
Your Stepdaughter curtseys to the court - in other generations if there was a member of royalty, the girls would curtsey to the Royal. Since that isn't likely at your ball, the girls curtsey to the court who will be seated at the front of the room.  

I hope you have a wonderful event!

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

©2017 All rights reserved.