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Guide to Etiquette for the Engagement

Oct 26, 2007
There are many aspects to an engagement. However, as outlined below, the three main aspects are the announcement, the engagement party and the ring.

Announcing the Engagement

The first step towards getting married is the formal announcement of the engagement. There are several ways in which it can be announced - publicly, in the Press; personally, by means of notes; and verbally, at an engagement party - or by all three means.

The press announcement should be worded somewhat as follows:


An engagement is announced, and a marriage will shortly take place, between Alan Everett Brookman, son of Mr. and Mrs. S. Brookman, of 18, Pont Square, Westminster, and Rosemary Ann, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Walters, of Oak Cottage, Bramfield, Gloucester.

Divorced Parents

Where the parents of the bridegroom are divorced, the wording of the announcement could be as follows:

The engagement is announced between Alan Everett Brookman, son of Mr. S. Brookman of 18, Pont Square, Westminster, and Mrs. Brookman of Dublin, and Rosemary Ann, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Walters, of Oak Cottage, Bramfield, Gloucester.

Where the bride's parents are divorced, the situation is necessarily more complicated. Sometimes in such cases, the engagement is announced by only one parent. This is quite wrong, for the names of both parents must appear in the announcement. A divorced parent's name might be omitted, if, for example, the bride was adopted by her step-father and bore his name. In this case the engagement would be announced by the mother and step-father.

Dead Parents

If the bride's mother is dead, the newspaper announcement will refer to "the late Mrs. Walters". If neither parent is living, another relative - an aunt or uncle - or perhaps a guardian will announce the engagement, in which case the bride will be the daughter of "the late Mr. and Mrs. J. Walters".

The Engagement Party

The engagement party is given by the parents of the girl. It may take the form of a luncheon, tea, dinner or buffet-supper.

For a formal evening party, written invitations should be sent. The engaged couple should draw up the invitation list with the assistance of their respective parents.

The party may be a small one, with only a few close friends present, or it may be a large one, and include friends of the parents.

At the party, the health of the happy couple is proposed by the girl's father. In his absence, a friend can do this. The fiancee proposes the health of the parents.

No other toasts are necessary.

Family Etiquette

If the two families are not well known to one another, the parents of the groom should call on the fiancee's parents soon after the engagement has been announced, preferably within twenty-four hours. In the event of the families living at a distance from one another, a meeting should be arranged as soon as possible.

The Engagement Ring

The custom of the groom giving an engagement ring is very old, dating back hundreds of years. The bride-to-be usually selects the ring, but sometimes the groom presents her with a family ring or heirloom. The engagement ring is not worn publicly until the engagement is announced.

The ring is presented as soon as possible after the engagement is agreed, and the fiancee wears it on the third finger of her left hand. Until the wedding ring is added, only the engagement ring should be worn there.

The man will sometimes buy the ring in advance, hand it to the girl, and abide by her decision as to whether or not she accepts it: if she does accept it, they are automatically engaged. Again, he may produce the ring as soon as he receives a favorable reply to his proposal. However, it is best for the girl to have an opportunity of selecting the ring she likes best, after the engagement is agreed.

Once these aspects have been taken care of, it will soon be time to plan for the wedding!
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