Attending the 2013 Presidential Inauguration

by Diane Marcus, Essential Business Etiquette

If you want to attend the 2013 Presidential Inauguration there is still a small chance you can get tickets. Most of the balls and galas are by invitation only. These would have gone out to anyone who has given a significant donation to the campaign. Many invitations will also go out to certain campaign workers. The next invitations go out to several people who will be honored at one of the balls.

This year, Mike McIntyre, a Democrat Congressman from North Carolina will be honored. He is on a number of important committees and has been a Congressman for many years. Two wounded warriors will also be honored at another ball. One is Monte Bernardo, Sergeant, United States Army and the other is Justin Constantine, a Lieutenant Colonel, USMC Reserve. Finally, there is the 2012 DC Teacher of the Year, Ms. Perea Blackmon.

There are many websites online that are offering the few tickets that are left to the public. One website is www.about.com and another is www.inauguraltickets.com . Tickets run from about $100.00 to $250.00 per person. You will also have to consider paying for your transportation to get to Washington DC, your hotel, food, and parking expenses. You must also add in the cost of your attire; a long gown, jewelry, shoes, purse and wrap for the woman and a tuxedo and shoes for the man. Don’t forget tips, to the hotel maid, concierge, taxi driver and bell hop who may park your car and bring up your bags.

Security
Security is at an all-time high this year. Many streets and bridges will be blocked off. In fact, taxis may not even be allowed. Therefore, you must check with the person who is in charge of the ball or gala and find out if an official bus will be taking guests to the event. The best thing to do is to get a room in the hotel where the ball will be held. You will be scanned before entering the ballroom in case President and Mrs. Obama will attend. No firearms, tripods, knives, coolers or back packs will be allowed.

Which Ball Should You Attend?
This year there are more balls and galas than ever before. Some are official and some are unofficial. One website said there would about thirty-five or more! Naturally, President and Mrs. Obama will not attend all of them. Most of these will be on Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20. Some of these are The Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball, The National Bar Association Inaugural Legacy Ball, The American Indian Inaugural Ball, The Arkansas Inaugural Ball, The Maryland Inaugural Ball and The Ambassador’s Inaugural Ball.

What to Wear
You will need to check the invitation. Does it say Black Tie or White Tie? More than likely it will say Black Tie. That means a man needs to wear a tuxedo. If you can’t afford a custom tuxedo, then a well fitted rental will do just fine. You will wear a white tuxedo shirt, a black bow tie, black socks and shoes.

Women should wear a long gown. Although black is always safe, many are wearing the pastel colors in very dressy materials such as silk or taffeta. Consider wearing a jacket with the dress as it will be cold. You may also need a faux fur wrap, a clutch purse, jewelry, and high heels. Consider getting your hair and makeup done by a professional. An upsweep hairdo is a bit more formal and it will show off your earrings if your hair is long enough.

Networking
You will want to look your best and use your very best manners. You never know who you will run into and you may make a business connection. Be friendly and remember etiquette is more about the conversation at the table than picking up the right fork or wine glass. Introduce yourself to everyone at the table, give everyone a chance to talk and try to keep the conversation light and friendly. If someone is hogging the conversation, ask a shy person what they think about what someone just said.

Considering that one million people may be attending the various events, you may need to be very patient. This is also a time that you will want to use your very best manners. By all means enjoy yourself and the experience. For many of us, this will be a once in a lifetime experience.

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