The man at the door, after asking the guest's name, hands him an envelope, with his name upon it, enclosing a card with the name of the woman he is to escort to dinner; or these envelopes may be in the dressing- rooms, if preferred. It will also be designated at which side of the table (right or left) a man is to sit; or a diagram of the table, with the names of the guests, should be hung in each dressing-room. The guests pair off as indicated.
As soon as possible a man should seek the woman assigned to him, and inform her that he will be pleased to act as her escort, disguising any personal preference he may have otherwise.
This was written in 1866. The complete text is available here. My 2003 version would be more like this:
The man closest to the door, if he can hear the doorbell over the music, opens the door. After examining the guest to make sure he or she is not a door-to-door salesperson, the greeter hands the guest a beer. The beer should be clearly labeled with the name of a respectable local microbrew. The greeter then makes a large, dramatic gesture towards the back of the house and yells, "the grill is going out back! The girls went to the store to get more wine or somethin'! Did you bring fireworks?!"