How to Introduce a Debutante

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A debutante is often introduced by her father.
A debutante is often introduced by her father. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

A debutante is a teen girl, usually 16 or 17, who is introduced to society at one of several possible celebrations. Debutantes were originally young female members of the nobility who were formally introduced at court as a way of advertising their eligibility for marriage. In those days, the rules for a "coming out party" were strictly defined. Nowadays, a young woman doesn't have to be privileged to be a debutante, and the customs for her debut party vary according to where she lives and what she prefers. Her entry to society may take the form of a formal debutante ball, a large cotillion or a private ceremony hosted by her family.

Determine the broad outlines of the event. If your debutante will be one of many, as is the case in a cotillion or ball, the group organizing the event will make the rules. The debutantes are usually introduced early in the evening, and each makes a grand entrance into the ballroom. Some groups choose a master of ceremonies who will call the girls up to the platform to introduce them one by one to the guests. It is customary for the debutante's father to walk her up to the stage, and in private ceremonies, he may also introduce her. If the event is held at a church, a priest or pastor may do the honors.

Keep your introduction simple. Long remarks aren't necessary, at least during the introduction, and it's customary for the debutante's father to take her to a young male escort for the evening after she's been introduced to the guests.

Step back. After introducing your debutante to her guests, your official part in the festivities is done. A prolonged dinner and dancing are customary after a debutante's formal entrance into society, and while her father may have a dance or two with his daughter, she will spend most of her evening dancing with young men her own age.

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