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The Charleston Debutante

The Charleston Debutante

Oh how every young girl loves an excuse to wear a beautiful gown or dress. Coming-of-age ceremonies are not uncommon in the world. Sweet 16’s, Quinceañeras and Bat Mitzvahs are just a few examples.

In Charleston, many celebrate the coming of age ceremony known as the Debutante Cotillion or Debutante Ball.  Long ago, the Debutante Ball presented young ladies to potential husbands; in modern times, it’s a fun experience, celebrating adulthood with family and friends with an eye towards giving back to the community.

During the ball, the young ladies wear white gowns with white gloves. Each one is formally introduced to the audience, takes the arm of her escort and participates in a grand march. The grand march ends with a distinctive to- the-floor curtsy. Once all the debutantes are introduced, dinner and dancing begins.

For history buffs … Queen Elizabeth I, began the custom of formally presenting eligible young women at court in the second half of the 16th century. Later, Queen Victoria of England instituted requirements such as the white dress and gloves as we still see today. American society brought the continental tradition to stateside. The oldest Debutante ball in the United States, The Christmas Cotillion in Savannah, Georgia, began in 1817.

Charleston’s oldest and most famous Debutante Ball is by The St. Cecilia Society. The society was formed in 1766 as a musical society and in 1822 evolved to the ball is it today.The St. Cecilia Society Ball continues to flourish today as one of the countries oldest and most exclusive social institutions.

As the Debutante season is fast approaching, many young women in Charleston are hunting for the perfect white gown and gloves.

Many (and actually most) “Deb’s” find their gowns in bridal salons. We asked our friends at Southern Protocol Bridal ( to show us the ropes of Debutant season in Charleston. Located on beautiful Market St. in downtown Charleston (with onsite parking), the exclusive designers of Southern Protocol Bridal are the go-to-source for many, when finding their cotillion gowns and gloves … always making sure you are the absolute belle of the ball.

The Charleston Debutante. Southern Protocol.;p