What happens at a Livery Dinner
Attending a Livery Dinner is good fun, but if it’s your first time, you may feel a little anxious as to what to expect.
For men it’s easy
- Evening Dress (white bow tie, winged collar, white linen waistcoat and black tail coat)
- Black Tie (Black Dinner Jacket (never cream in the City!) black bow tie (never coloured or spotted!) and white dress shirt)
- Lounge suit (dark suit – now’s the time to wear a spotted tie!)
For women it gets a bit more complicated
- Evening Dress (long dress, shoulders covered (with sleeves or a stole/scarf)
- Black Tie (cocktail dress (short) or evening trousers)
- Lounge suit (business daywear or cocktail or evening trousers)
- Use a small evening (clutch) bag – avoid a large handbag whether carried or over the shoulder (bring it with you and leave it in the secure cloakroom)
Food & Drink
The evening begins witih a Drinks Reception, followed by Dinner and often a Stirrup Cup at the every end. All wines are included – there’s no “pay bar”.
The evening usually starts around 6.30pm with a Reception and ends by 10.30pm.
Stand behind your seat when you first enter the Hall for Dinner and stand for Grace, the Toasts, the National Anthem and when the Master, Wardens and Principal Guests leave the Dinner.
You should ensure you speak to those sitting to your left right and opposite you during the Dinner.
It is not considered polite to tweet, text, photograph during a Livery Dinner.
What to expect
There is a fairly standard format to any Livery dinner.
From time to time, something changes, but it’s pretty much the same each time (and pretty much the same in every Livery Company). If you’re not sure what to do, just ask someone.
There’s a fair amount of formality and if in doubt – do what everyone else is doing!
- every guest gives her/his name to the Beadle who announces everyone to the Master and Wardens (“the Greeting Line”). He has a very loud voice!
- after introducing yourself, take a glass of wine/fizz/softdrink from one of the waiting staff and spend the time in the Reception chatting to Liverymen and other guests
- when The Beadle announces that the meal is served, leave your glass on one of the trays held by the waiting staff as you go into the Hall for Dinner
- stand behind your chair and introduce yourself to the people sitting to your right, left and opposite
- wait for the Master, Wardens and principal guests to process into the Hall after which Grace will be said by the Chaplain – then it’s time to sit down and eat
- it’s customary to chat to those sitting next and opposite you during the course of the evening
- there are a number of formal toasts – to the Queen, the Members of the Royal Family and The City of London Corporation and the Lord Mayor.
- the Beadle bangs the gavel (sometimes three times, sometimes once) and you rise from your seat
- after the Master has given the Toast you drink from your glass
- the Loving Cup is a fun ceremony – don’t read how to do it, watch everyone else (it’s simpler that way) and enjoy the experience
- at the end of the Dinner, stand when the Master and Wardens process out and wait for them to leave the room before leaving yourself
- there is usually a short Stirrup Cup at the very end of the evening (a final drink before you go off on your horse!!!)
Here are some photographs
At the Dinner