Engagement etiquette covers a lot of territory from planning to popping the question, to engagement ring etiquette, and bridal shower gift etiquette. To make matters even more confusing the practical guidelines for engagement have not only changed somewhat with the times, but also have unique cultural variations to consider. So, let’s tackle this one step at a time.
Step one is planning to propose. Customarily the father of the bride would be consulted about this decision. However, with divorces, same-sex marriage, and other twists of modern reality that process may simply not work. If the father-in-law to be isn’t available for whatever reason, then the next best sensible thing is going to another member (or members) of the family. It’s very considerate and sets the tone for your entire future relationship with these people. Help them feel involved from the get-go.
Step two is proposing. Modern proposals aren’t always the stereotypic, one knee bent request. People put up lit message boards, go on TV, sneak rings into Champaign glasses etc. If we return to the proactive foundation of respect and consideration for engagement etiquette, what you do in this moment needs to be meaningful above all else. Choose words that reflect your relationship, consider your timing, and presentation does count. You can be as creative as you wish so long as you keep your partner’s tastes and comfort zones in mind.
At the time of engagement a ring is not always necessary, particularly if you feel uncertain about your partner’s tastes. You can always go shopping for a ring together, and find the perfect token that commemorates this moment. Oh, and the old saying that rings should cost two months salary is also no longer a rigid standard in engagement ring etiquette. In fact, if your partner really doesn’t like rings then maybe a necklace is the way to go. Remember that you’re about to enter a long-term relationship. Don’t go heavily into debt – that only leads to greater premarital stress. Choose something that suits your budget and your lifestyle together. This is a good rule of thumb for wedding etiquette too!
Now comes the fun part – telling the rest of your family and friends. Once the person has said, “yes” then you can share the news with both sets of parents. If there is extended family involved from your parent’s other marriages, make sure they hear the news from the two of you personally. Second hand information can lead to hurt feelings. If you have any previous marital partners, they should also be among the first to hear about your news.
One hint: never announce an engagement during a celebration for someone else. A person’s birthday party or wedding should be focused on them. Engagement etiquette definitely says – don’t steal their thunder. Wait, and if need be send out newspaper announcements that can reach people you may not otherwise be able to contact.
At this point you might consider an engagement party. It’s customary for the bride to leave her engagement ring off until this affair. Parents of the bride offer speeches, as does the groom-to-be. A toast to the future bride is welcome. Financially speaking this party can be co-hosted by both sets of parents to ease the overall cost.
Following this basic engagement etiquette guideline should help everything flow more smoothly. Best wishes to the two of you for a long and happy relationship.
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