Attending an Event as the
Guest of a Guest

Couple at a Party

Unless you are an outgoing person, attending an event or party as the guest of a guest can be overwhelming.  In fact, there aren’t very many people who enjoy it.

However, as with many things we dread doing, if you make it a game, it becomes a little easier – possibly even fun!

Be Prepared

Walking in to a gathering of people armed with no information about the occasion, host, or attendees will only make you more uncomfortable.  You’ll either spend your time there attempting to catch up or will be so removed from the environment that you leave a negative impression.

As a guest of a guest, preparation is five-fold:

  1. Research the nature of, reason for, and if applicable, the history of the event.

  2. Know something about the people attending.  Your wife’s boss?  Any VIPs?  Someone you’ve met before who wasn’t a nice person?  Find out what you can about the hosts and attendees, the companies or organizations they represent, and any significant accomplishments or projects that would be good to know about and make conversations easier.

  3. Select your attire tastefully.  Err on the side of conservative. 
     
  4. Have a clearly defined purpose or goal in attending.  Write it on a card and tuck it into your handbag or pocket.  This will keep you from feeling you don’t have a place or role among strangers.  On the back of the card, you may want to jot down possible topics or questions for mingling and dinner conversation.  If you are a bit shy, having done this will provide some relief in case you feel “topic-less” at some point.

  5. You represent the person whose guest you are, and others will associate you with that person.  The impression you make will reflect on the person who chose you to accompany her to the event.  Though of course you will be engaged in conversation with others, your goal will not be to stand out as a shining star.  Never assume that what happens at an event, stays at an event.

Your Supporting Role

As an attendee, you will be greeted and introduced politely.  Extending your hand after the introduction, or after the host has extended his/hers and introduced himself and perhaps others, your warm smile and “Pleased to meet you,” will make others comfortable in your presence. 

Don’t be off-put if people approach with eyes on the person with whom you are supporting by being there.  If someone fails to introduce you, and it feels appropriate, you may include yourself: “Mr. Johnson, I’m Celeste Holmes.”  The person you are with may or may not say something more about you.  The important thing is to not build any meaning into not being noticed beyond greetings. 

Your supportive role is very important, even if you are not in the limelight.  As a guest, be sure that a proper RSVP is made through the person with whom you will be attending.  As any other guest, you will be counted in the preparations for space and food.  Check with your partner to make sure it is known that you are attending.

If someone has invited you to attend an event and is paying your way as her date, or if you are invited as a partner or spouse, you are not expected to be a wall flower.  However, in a supportive role you will remain in the near vicinity if you are at a cocktail party, and it is fitting if your demeanor is authentically attentive.

It helps to pretend you are at a networking event, ready to introduce yourself and make small talk.  The only difference is, you are doing this alongside a friend, date, or spouse.  You wish to contribute to the success of the evening by being a good guest.  Remain friendly, upbeat and positive.

Guidelines for the Guest of a Guest

Being the guest of a guest makes you somewhat of an outsider.  Once you are introduced to other people attending the party or event, you will then be associated with the person who invited you. 

Though you are essentially doing a favor for someone, your representation and support of this person will be noticed.  

Some etiquette guidelines to keep in mind are: 

  • Apply a one-drink rule if you intend to drink alcohol.  You don’t want to be known as “Rachel’s rude friend who drank too much!

  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself in conversation, but shy away from being the center of attention.  If there is a lull in conversation, give others a chance to take the lead in introducing a new topic or telling a story.  But if you need to come to the rescue, do so with a neutral subject or event-appropriate anecdote.
     
  • If you are romantically involved with the person whose guest you are, be discreet with romantic gestures.
      
  • When leaving the party or event, courteous and kind words of thanks are called for, but the follow-up thank-you should be made by the main guest.

Attending a party or event as the guest of a guest can be a little uncomfortable.  These guidelines, preparation help from the person with whom you are attending, and the acknowledgment that you are appreciated for being so supportive will make the occasion pleasurable.



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