By Doc Rogers
As bodyguards we attend ceremonies and social events this article provides basic guidance on protocol matters. Bodyguards who know proper protocol can provide better protective coverage to their clients and feel more comfortable within the environment no matter the type of forum they are attending.
First rule of business, prior to the function during your advance phase you should make contact with the event’s protocol manger and inspect the venue. Ask the protocol manger any questions you are not sure of (attire, parking arrangements, formal seating plans, foreign dignitaries in attendance, other bodyguard personnel attending the function, etc.).
While bodyguarding your client at ceremonies and social events to be successful and blend into the surrounding you need a combination of set rules to include courtesy, rules of etiquette and common sense. Many high-level clients attend official luncheons or dinners, usually given in honor of a politician (senator, mayor, congressman, etc.). Second rule of business make sure you bring you and your client’s official invitations, this is critical or you don’t get into the function. Normally your client should receive the invitations about three weeks prior to a gathering.
Third rule of business know what to wear. Most official invitations will include a written dress specification of either “informal” or “formal”. The definition of informal means casual dress; open collars and sport shirts for male bodyguards and casual dress, slacks, blouse or skirts for female bodyguards. The definition of formal attire for male bodyguards means black tie or tuxedo and female bodyguards usually should wear an evening or cocktail dress.
Upon entering the ceremony or social event you and your client will be given a name tag and a “YASA” (you are seated at) and will be seated at a table with pre-set place cards and a specific seats. Fourth rule of business sit in your designated seat. Another important rule; get acquainted with the table setting beforehand.
Your table may include the following silverware: a teaspoon, place knife, place fork, salad and dessert fork, a butter knife, a soup spoon, a cocktail or seafood fork, demitasse spoon, iced beverage spoon and steak knife (most bodyguards are only intimately familiar with the steak knife). There will also be serving dishes and various sized plates for different purposes.
If you don’t know which utensil or plate to use, carefully observe what the other guests doing. Fifth rule of business never start eating until each person at the table have been served and the hostess begins. While eating always use your best dining etiquette and do not:
• Place your elbows on the table.
• Squash or mix your food on the plate.
• Soak your bread into gravy or sauces.
• Place napkin on the table (place it on your chair).
During these ceremonies and social events alcohol (wine and champagne) is free flowing and there may be a number of toasts in honor of various dignitaries and special guests before, during and after the meal. Bodyguards on duty never consume alcohol of course, while performing their official duties. If participating in toasts bodyguards should toast with wine and only touch the glass to their lips. However, generally it’s best not to get involved with toasting if possible.
Normally after the meal bodyguards quietly take a position on the sidelines within close proximity to the client’s table without drawing attention. By following these basic protocol guidelines you’ll make a good impression at ceremonies and social events while bodyguarding your client in a low-profile but first-rate manner. Keep safe and God speed.