It’s that time of year where engagements are in the air! Maybe it happened over the holidays or maybe with Valentine’s Day right around the corner it’s about to happen. Once you hear that “Yes!” and after much celebrating, it’s time to consider a few things. Here are my top etiquette tips to remember.
Sharing the News
Before you post that photo of you and the ring on social media, you’ll want to tell a few people about the engagement. Share the news with close family and friends before making a public announcement. This can be done in person or over the phone.
Traditionally, the gentleman would go to the father of the young lady to ask for his blessing and consent before proposing. Some may consider this obsolete, but I still think it’s a lovely gesture. We were so pleased when our son-in-law came to see my husband to ask for his permission to marry our daughter. We were also proud when both our sons went to see their future father-in-laws to request their daughter’s hand in marriage. It warmed my heart when I learned that my youngest son flew across the country to do this.
If the groom followed this tradition, then the parents already have an idea that it’s coming. You just want to make sure you tell them about the engagement as soon as you can so they don’t hear it from someone else. You’ll also want to tell any close family and friends before you shout it from the mountain tops.
Social Media Announcement
After informing close ones, it's common to announce your engagement on social media. Be mindful of your wording and consider including a photo of the two of you.
If you have received an engagement ring, it's customary to wear it on the ring finger of your left hand. When showing it to others, extend your left hand with the palm facing inward.
Holding an engagement party for the couple is a custom that some families follow. This is a great opportunity for both families to meet if they haven't already. If your family does not follow this practice that’s perfectly fine. Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the engagement party. If that is not possible, then another family member or friend may offer to host one. If the parents live in different parts of the country, then both sets of parents may opt to host a party locally.
Engagement Party Guests
The guests at an engagement party are generally family and close friends. Depending on your family, it can be a large or small affair. Make sure to invite people who you also plan to invite to the wedding. It could create some awkwardness or resentment if you invite someone to the engagement party and not to the wedding. The only time this would be acceptable is if it’s a very small wedding or a destination wedding.
Gifts to an Engagement Party?
Traditionally, gifts were not expected at an engagement party. If you don’t want to show up empty handed, a nice card or bottle of wine is a lovely gesture. In some cultures, and in some parts of the world, giving the engaged couple a gift is the norm. If some people bring gifts and others do not, put them aside and open them later. Make sure to send a thank you note for any gifts received.
Throughout all the planning and celebrating, keep in mind that every family and situation is different. There is no one-size-fits all guide for an engagement. Remember, these are general guidelines, and personal preferences may vary. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and celebrate this special time in your life.
Suzy Lins is a certified etiquette trainer located in Southern California. Educating on manners and etiquette to help people gain confidence to master business and social situations is the core of her teaching.