I am writing this post in my hotel room for the 157th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska, otherwise fondly known as, Grand Lodge. This is my first year attending, and although we are only about halfway through the weekend, I have learned a lot. Many of these are things I wish I had known, most of which I attempted to weasel out of T before
hand with limited success. Presented in easy to read chunks!
Dress according to agenda
This was probably the one I had the hardest time getting information about. The Grand Master’s Banquet is listed as formal, but how formal do they mean? The guys have it easy, formal means tux. For the ladies though- short dress? Long dress? Party dress? Cocktail dress? Evening gown? Business suit? I decided to follow the instructions given as closely as possible, and went with a simple, but elegant, floor length dress. When we got to social hour, the other women were wearing every style of formal I could think of: nice shorter dresses, gowns, long skirts and a jacket, and as tends to be loved with the older crowd- lots of sequins. Which brings me to my next point.
Always choose the more conservative outfit
Let’s be realistic here, Masonry is not exactly a young organization. Most of the people I know through it are old enough to at least be my parents (and a few even hit the great-grandparent level!) So, while that cocktail dress that hugs every curve might look awesome on you ( and it does!), something like Grand Lodge is not the place for it.
“With Jewels” doesn’t mean what you think
Dinner on Friday night was listed as “formal, with jewels”. I thought to myself, ‘Well, I don’t have any major jewelry, I will just wear something nice and it will have to be okay.’ It took me the weekend to realize that this is making reference to jewels of the office; the big golden and velvet collars the state officers wear are referred to as “jewels”.
Sleep when you can
It’s no secret that Masons love to do two things- talk and drink. This can lead to some late nights. Expect to be up late if you are into socializing, with most meetings being early (8am or so). If you can sneak in a nap, no one will fault you for it.
You will have down time
Right now, T, and our roommate Z are at meetings. They have been since about 1pm. This morning, we went to the public opening, afterwards they opened lodge while I had about an hour before the ladies luncheon. After lunch (about 1pm), I checked in with T, before heading back to the room. There is nothing scheduled for the ladies until cocktail hour at 6pm. So, be sure and bring a book, things you need to catch up on, that hobby you’ve been neglecting, check out what the town has to offer, or just relax.
Stay at the hotel
This is easy if your Grand Lodge is not in your hometown, but if it is, and this is your first year at Grand Lodge, I would recommend staying at the hotel if you can afford it. It’s kind of like college, you only get half the experience if you don’t stay in the dorms.
Do/don’t carry cash
This one is up to you. If your Grand Lodge is anything like Nebraska, there will be vendors at the convention center, a silent auction, and charities looking for donations.
Ask for help
Forget a pair of heels? An important pin? Tux studs? Dress tape? Don’t be afraid to ask your new friend. Chances are they are more than willing to help, and may have brought extra. Have questions about what’s going on? If your guy isn’t sure, chat with a Grand Officer (past or current). These are the guys with the fancy collars. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Put yourself out there
In the words of T, “I love Masonry, ’cause I love schmoozing.” A big part of masonry is friendship. Not just between masons, but also between masons’ ladies, as well as between the two. This is the mostimportant thing I can tell you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I was intimidated when I walked into the cocktail hour last night. However, once I relaxed (and had a drink) I realized I knew more people than I thought that I did. If you are a member of OES, you will know people at Grand Lodge. If you go drinking with the guys, you will know people at Grand Lodge. If you have dinner at your MM’s lodge once in a while, you will know people at Grand Lodge. If you’ve ever done anything with masonry before, you will know people at Grand Lodge! If not, you will by the end of the weekend! Don’t rely on your guy to introduce you to people either. Go off on your own, say hi to people you recognize, they will introduce you to more people. See the lady about your age looking as lost and confused as you feel? Say hi!
Overall, Grand Lodge is all about seeing people you only see once a year, meeting new people, and having a great time!