Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, also we published an article last year about the handkiss we are still receiving many questions about this topic. This is why we have updated it here: you will find who should do it, when, where and how. Then you will be ready to attend high-society balls! 


The hand-kiss is only ever practiced indoors, at formal parties in private residences or evening  social events, such as galas, with two exceptions: private gardens, or in the forecourtof a church. These are the only outdoor locations where greeting with a hand-kiss is deemed acceptable. 

Nancy Reagan and Denis Thatcher


It may be at the on the first meeting with someone or at a regular encounter, as greetings on arrival or departure. The rules are not strict here.

To Whom

A gentleman may kiss the hand of married or older women, but never young unmarried ladies. If you are attending an event at someone’s home, you may kiss the hand of the hostess,in which case you needn’t do it to other women present, unless they are particularly important or high status.

 Prince Charles and his mother, the QueenElizabeth II



In my opinion, the woman should initiate the hand-kiss, never the man. It’s up to her to decide whether or not she wishes her hand to be kissed. If she’s wearing gloves, she should remove the one on the hand to be kissed, unless gloves are required by the dress code of the occasion, such as a white tie gala.

 The lady’s hand

The lady should only be kissed on her right hand, and it’s up to her to decide how high to hold it. She should keep her hand and arm relaxed, not stiff.

The gentleman

Not only should a gentleman never ask to kiss a lady’s hand, he also mustn’t raise her hand to a height that suits him better. He should lower his head to her hand, while holding it gently.

The kiss

Despite how it might seem, it’s not a “real” kiss.The gentleman will only “kiss”the air about 1cm above the hand, and his lips shall not make contact with the lady’s skin.

The release

After the kiss, the gentleman will incline his head upwards slightly and look the lady in the eyes.This is the ideal moment for the gentleman to whisper any compliments he would like to share with her. 

Faux-pas to avoid

First of all, do not attempt a hand-kiss if you are not comfortable with it, or if you feel the other person won’t know how to do it.

If you plan to attend a social event where you think you might encounter hand-kissing, you may wish to remind yourself of the rules and practice in advance.

The hand-kiss is never mandatory; there isn’t a place or asituation where a lady must let a gentleman kiss her hand, or where a gentleman must do it to a lady. It is simply at one’s own discretion.

I hope this advice will be useful for your upcoming social events.Just keep in mind that the hand-kiss is only practiced as a gesture of courtesy and respect and you will be fine.