Rules of Engagement

Posted September 23rd, 2010 by Penny Skoufaras. Comments (16).

So you recently got engaged and are swimming in a pool sheer bliss, enjoy these moments!  If you haven’t hired a wedding planner to deal with all of the worrisome details and etiquette for your upcoming bridal events, read some of the FAQ’s I get.

  • When am I engaged?

Don’t laugh … I get this  question more often than you would think.  Sometimes these lines can be blurred when proposals don’t work as planned – trust me, I’ve seen this happen.  This is kind of a trick question for most, but the simple answer to this question is that a couple is engaged at the moment they both agree to marry, not necessarily when offered a ring on bended knee.

  • How to properly break the news to your loved ones.

Once a couple gets engaged, its time to inform the family.  First on the list are your parents.  If possible, try to break the news as a pair in person, however if you are separated by distances and can’t do it in person, I suggest to call as a couple.  If your parents haven’t met your spouse-to-be yet, or if they had no idea of your intention to get married, I highly recommend to give your folks the proper time to acclimate the idea before breaking the news and making introductions.

After you have informed your parents, next on the list are your siblings, grandparents, close relatives, and of course your closest friends.  If you have children from a previous marriage you should inform your children and ex too; especially since it would be more than likely that your child would be entering a new home environment and lifestyle.

  • How to make the announcement.

The most appropriate way to announce your joyous news to the world is either at an engagement party (assuming it was kept secret to the mass populations till then), or by putting an announcement in your local paper (or of your hometown’s), or even online, which is becoming exceedingly more popular.  Check out Smilebox on how to post your announcement online.  If you are printing announcements, customarily it is the parents of the bride who send them out or supply the ad.  Today however, the engagement announcement has been replaced by save the date cards, which I personally finds more useful.

  • How long should an engagement be?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question as there is no set time or rules on how long your engagement should be.  The best answer I can offer you is that the average engagement time is a period of roughly 15 months.  This is mostly subjective to the size and style wedding you are planning, but on average that is the realistic estimate of how long it takes to put together all the details of your wedding.  If you are having a smaller venue and keeping it simple as far as details go, then the preparation time is obviously much shorter.

  • Engagement party.

The engagement party is your first public celebration of your new status.  It isn’t mandatory to throw a party and there are many people I know who choose not to, however in many culture, such as my own, it is customary as it is a right of passage in one’s life.  Regardless, I think having even the smallest or informal party is a great way to bring your new clan together!

Traditionally, the brides parents host the engagement party; be it cocktails and orderves at their home, or a nice dinner in a restaurant or even hall.  The momentous toast of the evening is usually given by the bride’s father who thanks all for coming and to announce the happy news.  If the party or toast cannot be given by the father of the bride, other likely hosts are the groom’s parents, a close relative on either side, or one of your closest friends.  Couples may choose to throw their own party and break the news on their own.  Parties are held usually 2 months after the engagement and no later than six months before the wedding.

  • Gifts?

This is my most FAQ.  Here is the simple answer to this one (as all cultures and traditions vary); no one is obligated to give an engagement gift, though you are mostly likely to receive quite a few, especially if having a party.  The proper etiquette on receiving gifts is to please not open them at your party!  This could make anyone who wasn’t prepared feel awkward.  Always open all gifts in the privacy of your own home.  Once you have opened them, it would be a thoughtful (if not expected) touch to send a heartfelt, hand-written thank you note.  Also, it is customary to thank your host with a small token of appreciation for your party.

If you have any etiquette questions that need answering, please feel free to post your questions in the comments or to send me an email.

16 Responses to “Rules of Engagement”

  1. Penny Skoufaras

    Sure!

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  4. Penny Skoufaras

    would you care to advise me on how I could join your mailing list?

    To subscribe to our RSS feed, please click this link. Thanks for your interest and I hope you continue to enjoy the blogs.

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    @ Horacio
    I had a hard time finding something I liked for my blog page, so I had this template custom made for WP – that’s my best suggestion if you can’t find something you like. Best of luck!

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  16. Anonymous

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