Kissing the back of a lady's hand is a tradition not often seen in American culture. Performing such an action at a formal event shows that you possess the class of a true gentleman. While following a formal code is not necessary in a relaxed setting, such as a date, you don't want your kiss to result in receiving a slap from an unsuspecting woman. The proper method prevents you from being embarrassed or offending the lady as you go in for the kiss.
Remove any hat as soon as you are introduced to the lady. You have the option of simply removing your hat as normal or moving your hand from your head down to your torso in a sweeping motion as you remove the hat. If you choose the second option, a gentle bow is appropriate, as well.
Wait a second or two for the lady to present her hand. If the back of her hand is facing the ceiling, proceed with the hand kiss. Otherwise, shake, don't kiss, her hand. Proceed to Step 3 if she doesn't present you her hand.
Rotate your handshaking hand so that its palm is facing the ceiling. Extend the hand slightly toward the lady, and offer a salutation such as "a pleasure" or even "my lady." Leave the hand extended for only a second or two and be prepared for her to simply want a hand shake or even nothing at all. Move on to Step 4 if she extends her hand for a kiss.
Grip her hand very gently with your preferred hand. Place two to three of your fingers around the bottom tips of her fingers, and your thumb around the outside tips of her middle and ring fingers.
Bow gently over the centre portion of the back of her hand. Lift her hand slightly toward your lips to shorten the distance, if necessary.
Kiss the centre of the hand once gently with your lips. According to the Sam-Hane website, do not make contact with the hand if this is your first time meeting the lady. The "Service Etiquette" book explains that kissing the hand of a woman who isn't married is not appropriate unless she is an "older woman."
Make sure no moisture is on your lips before kissing the lady's hand. Slobbering on her hand is extremely inappropriate. Be confident and loose when performing this ritual. Nobody is going to "punish" you if your form is slightly off, especially if it's your first time.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure no moisture is on your lips before kissing the lady's hand. Slobbering on her hand is extremely inappropriate.
- Be confident and loose when performing this ritual. Nobody is going to "punish" you if your form is slightly off, especially if it's your first time.