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Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition

William Morrow, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY

Copyright © 2011 by The Emily Post Institute, Inc. 

By Emily Post’s great-great-grandchildren: Anna Post, Lizzie Post, and Daniel Post Senning


I discovered a gem of a book at this past October’s PhotoPlus trade show in New York. Drawn to the Photo Book Press booth by their elegant custom photo books, signage for Emily Post Photo Books soon caught my eye. I asked if this was THE Emily Post, whose etiquette, style, and manners tips I had seen for decades. Affirmative.


Indeed, Photo Book Press had collaborated with The Emily Post Institute to create the exquisite—and new to me—Emily Post PhotoBook Collection of wedding books, which debuted in October 2011. Adding to the trade show booth traffic, Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter Anna was present, signing copies of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, which she co-authored. 


Emily Post's Etiquette

18th Edition Cover—The #1 topic that Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, tackles is Technology.


Bounty of Information

Opening Etiquette, I reveled in its contents. This 700-page treasure trove shows that modern day manners are ultimately a combination of kindness, confidence, and awareness—and a fair amount of common sense. The book revisits traditional subjects such as weddings, table settings, tipping, RSVPs, job interviews, and appropriate attire, and adds considerable insight and wisdom to new topics such as cell phone behavior, navigating social networks and other online communication forums, and succeeding in new family structures.


Why review this book for a photography website? According to the authors, “Though times have changed, the principles of good manners remain constant. Above all, manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. Being considerate, respectful, and honest is more important than knowing which fork to use. Whether it’s a handshake or a fist bump, it’s the underlying sincerity and good intentions of the action that matter.” 


Emily Post's Etiquette Book Review

Your photographer isn't a mind reader, so communicate clearly and in advance. Anna Post advises brides-to-be.


As a group, photographers are enthusiastic, sensitive, caring, open-minded, passionate people, in the business of helping people realize their visions and preserving their memories. Who better to appreciate—and derive benefit or enjoyment from—this friendly guide to today’s shifting societal hot buttons? 


“Twitter, Facebook, and mobile devices such as smart phones and iPads, all part of our everyday life today, were just beginning or didn’t exist when the previous edition was produced in 2004,” says Anna Post. “We need to know how to use these devices in a way that works for the people around us and the people with whom we use them to communicate. “


Emily Post's Etiquette Review

Anna Post advises wedding photographers to be clear about who will do the photography if they don't work alone.


Other topics given special attention in the book include generational differences—“Parents are moving in with their children, college students are moving back with mom and dad, and the economy is creating new family relationships, which can lead to rudeness and hurt feelings”; the new economy—sprinkled throughout Etiquette is an awareness of the economy we have to deal with now, including sections on job interviews and using sensitivity in money discussions. The book was updated and streamlined “to accommodate new areas and to make the book more conversational, less referency,” says Anna. 


Wedding Photographer Tips

Photo Book Press and The Emily Post Institute collaborated to create the exquisite Emily Post PhotoBook Collection of wedding books.


Based on some of the authors’ basic tenets of consideration, respect, and honesty, I asked Anna to provide readers with tips for soon-to-be-brides and the wedding photographers they may select. 


Anna Post Ettiquette

Coauthor Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, answered several questions for readers. 


Anna Post customized list of tips for brides:


-View your photographer's work online and always meet in person to be sure you are compatible.


-Discuss examples of photos you like from magazines and the Internet.


-An engagement shoot is a smart way to get to know your wedding photographer, and you can use the photos for your wedding website, save-the-date cards, and custom guest book.


-Talk about having a separate shoot for posed and/or group shots before or between the wedding and reception, as this affects your cost and timetable.


-Always have a written agreement with times, places, number of hours, types of photos (posed vs. candid), key shots, number of touchups, and copyright permissions.


-Be considerate of the photographer. He or she isn't a mind reader, so communicate clearly and in advance. 


-After spending the entire day by your side, giving a hand written note to your photographer is a nice way to say thank you. If you give a tip or a gift, do so at the end of the wedding day or send it afterward.



I also asked for some etiquette dos and don’t’s for photographers. This list was more challenging to craft, but Anna did come up with some pointers for wedding photographers:


Be clear about who will do the photography if you don't work alone.


Be on time and dress appropriately for the time, place, event.


Be prepared with alternatives in case there is a change in timing or location.


Smile and be upbeat, steer clear of arguments between the couple, their family or guests.


Skip the hors d'oeuvres.


Good etiquette says you should be fed a meal, but check with the couple about when and where.


Communicate clearly about when the couple will be able to see their wedding photos.


8 Reasons to Read Edition 18 

What drove the Post family as they developed this edition? Here, Anna Post identifies key subjects for the reader: 


1. Undivided attention. “Even if you’re good at multitasking, it does have its  cost, whether or not you’re successfully doing two things at one time,” she says. The impression we give others, for example, when we shift from a shared activity to look at a new phone text message isn’t good. 


2. Respond to rudeness. “Technology places a lot of new demands on us,“ explains Anna. “Today, your phone can ring in the car, so you try to answer it because it might be the baby sitter. Or you’re at dinner and you might get a text message from the boss so you keep the phone with you on the table, checking every message that comes through. While it can feel sometimes that no one cares about etiquette anymore, I still see people deeply invested in this in all groups and categories. But technology can heighten differences between generations when what’s normal to one generation isn’t normal to another.” 


3. Tipping uniformity. Across the U.S., tips run 15%-20% in restaurants and are trending up because this is how waiters are paid. “Unless service was bad enough to complain to management, I don’t think its fair to leave less than 15% without stating what you were upset about,” says Anna. “Same holds with taxi drivers. I would base the tip within 15%-20% and wouldn’t go below that without a pretty good reason.” 


4. RSVP on time. If you receive an invitation, respond by the date requested.


5. The write way. When someone gives you a gift, hosts a big meal or does a major favor for you, send a handwritten thank you note. The gesture shows your appreciation and says a lot about the sender.


6. Dressing appropriate vs. formal. Dress is trending toward more casual but there are certain occasions that you need to step it up. In business it’s more important to be appropriate than formal. “When in doubt, dress up a notch,” says Anna. “Whether you’re talking about everyday, a wedding, party, or business interview, if you’re unsure between two styles, dress one notch up.” 


7. Silverware still a biggie. In business, people may judge you on your table manners. Says Anna, “How you behave at the table still tends to make it or break it with clients. What matters is that the company has confidence in your ability to represent them well, so the focus stays on business. Common sense needs to override when you don’t know the answer. Do the most reasonable thing.”


8. Time and timing. For business meetings, house visits, phone calls, discuss beforehand how much time you have. This respectful effort makes the most of the time you have with people. “Then during the meeting, visit, or call, say, ‘I have about five more minutes. Is there anything else we need to cover?’” 


Etiquette’s structure parallels that of the website,, with landing pages for each book section and subpages for each chapter. Visit Etiquette Daily, accessible through the website or at, to find commentary by the authors, and discussion of the Question of the Day.

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