The Emily Post Institute has been answering the world’s questions about etiquette since Emily published her definitive guide in 1922. Five generations later, the Post family carries on the mission of keeping society civil through consideration, respect and honesty.
Lizzie Post, 35, Emily’s great-great-granddaughter and the youngest of the clan, said growing up she was the least likely of the family members anyone would think would be involved. When she was in college, however, looking at the next set of projects for the Emily Post Institute, there was “a complete break in life stages.”
Lizzie began writing, working on projects like “How Do You Work This Life Thing?” and co-authoring “Etiquette,” now in its 18th edition, “Wedding Etiquette,” sixth edition, and “Great Get-Togethers (2010)” with her sister, Anna Post.
“Folks nowadays don’t get married right out of college or high school,” Lizzie said, and for some, it’s easier to be single.
“Generations that grew up watching their parents who tried commitment — for 50 percent of them it’s not working,” Lizzie said.
This generation “came out of college to a job market that was not ready for us,” and many 20- or 30-somethings don’t feel like marriage is right for them.
On the flip side, that commitment can be exactly what modern couples are looking for, with something comforting about the tradition of marriage.
“Weddings are major life moments and big milestones,” Lizzie said. “You don’t want to mess up someone else’s big day — and on your big day, you don’t want to be thinking about what etiquette faux pas might be happening.”
The Institute receives countless questions about all things weddings, from questions about gift-giving and receiving to bridal parties and showers, guest lists and RSVPs.
It’s natural to question how we’re perceived in all sorts of social situations, Lizzie said, and she loves being able to help people work through those moments of uncertainty.
“It’s like when your friend comes in and makes your problem easy,” she said.
It’s not always easy to let people down — like if you need to exclude some family members or friends from your guest list, for instance — but there’s a big difference between saddened and offended, Lizzie said.
“We’re often worried that we’re going to disappoint people,” Lizzie said, but if you’re honest and respectful in your communication, you can help others understand your decisions.
And that’s what Lizzie loves about Emily Post etiquette. “It’s based not just on manners for the individual situation, but on the ideas of consideration, respect and honesty … you figure out what avenue to take to positively impact the most people in your situation,” Lizzie said.
“Etiquette is limitless.”
Make it your own
“Make it your own” is really the definition of weddings nowadays, Lizzie said.
Couples often fall into one of two camps — a super casual, relaxed, ‘I’m over the idea of a big party’ vibe, or the opposite — we’re taking a big step, and we want to celebrate!
No matter the size or scope of the festivities, “weddings are about these two individuals, what they feel and what they are comfortable with,” Lizzie said.
Want to have your beloved pooch serve as the ring bearer? Great! Kombucha toast instead of Champagne? Delicious. Designate your event as child-free?
Totally fine, as long as you’re clear (and kind) with your guests.
The Post Institute suggests keeping in mind the 3 C’s of good relationships: communication, compromise and commitment.
Take a step back and ask yourself, “‘what’s going to make me feel like I’ve made a change in my life, that I am committed to another person?’” Lizzie said.
Her favorite answer to give to couples is one Anna Post came up with while planning her wedding: “Do what’s going to make you feel married on your day.”
Flowers, food and beautiful spaces may be part of your wedding, but in the end, it’s about two people joining their lives together.
“It takes the pressure off the check-box items, and turns it into what you want and what you need for your wedding,” Lizzie said. “My favorite moment is when I get to tell a bride to stop listening to the noise.
“Focus on your partner, your family, your friends.”