A Crash Course In Engagement Etiquette

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The ring has been presented, the question has been popped, and now, there are a lot of important things involving other people just waiting for you. Announcements, parties, questions about the ring, all of the wedding details, and new future in-laws are huge parts of your lives now. You must get the etiquette correct in order to have a wonderful wedding experience and in order to keep from hurting anyone's feelings. Follow these tips and it'll be smooth sailing!

The Announcement

Announcing your engagement may be a happy occasion for you and your spouse-to-be, but it can get you into some hot water if you don't tell certain people first. First of all, if you have children, they need to be told first about your impending nuptials. Speak to them in private so that you can answer any questions they may have. Encourage them to speak honestly and openly about their feelings, and reassure them (depending on their ages) that they are always your number one priority. If no children are involved, then you should go straight to both sets of parents. It is never appropriate for your mother or father to find out about your engagement on social media before you speak to them in person. Telling them can be a longer process if there are divorces involved, but be sure to tell all sets of parents at the same time. The rest of your family should follow closely behind your parents, and then you can spread the news to your extended family, best friends, and all of the people closest to you and your fiancé. Your public announcement via social media and/or newspaper should be the last way to announce your big day.

Preliminary Decisions

In order for your planning to go smoothly, you must get all of your major details in order before you work on the smaller things. A huge detail that must be planned with all (or most) of your family and friends in mind is your wedding date. Along these same lines, consider your location. Do you want to be closer to family or closer to your current living location? Do you want to have a destination wedding or get married in your family's church? There are many location details that should be figured out rather quickly. Once you have your date, location, and specific venue, you will have to decide on your bridal party, if you haven't already. Close friends and family should be there to stand up for you and represent you on your big day. Next, you'll need to decide on your theme. You can choose from a casual wedding, a traditional formal wedding, a farm theme, or whatever you heart desires. This day should be about you, and you should have the theme picked out before you delve into attire, décor, or reception food. After you've chosen your theme, make sure you lock in your caterer, then start with your colors and go straight into your bridesmaids' attire, groomsmen's attire, and one of your biggest decisions: your dress! Details that can wait just a bit include your cake, your DJ or band, and your honeymoon location.

Engagement Party

Once you have announced your big news to everyone, they might start to talk about an engagement party. Ask your family and friends to give you time to enjoy sharing your news and to make the important preliminary decisions before they plan your party. The best time to have it is between eight weeks and four months after you've gotten engaged. Keep in mind that most engagement party guests will assume that they will be invited to the wedding. If you have chosen to have a smaller wedding, be sure to let your friends know this in advance. If your engagement party is your opportunity to have your parents and his get to know each other, then a loud celebration with tons of friends may not be the best idea: Keep in mind that introductions are in order and have an intimate dinner with family instead. People are starting to bring gifts for the happy couple to engagement parties, so it may be necessary to start registering for your smaller gift items before your engagement party. Wait to unwrap these gifts, in case some guests did not bring anything. It is time to celebrate, but keep in mind that this isn't your biggest affair to throw. You never want to upstage your big day, so make your engagement party something entirely different from your wedding.

Introducing the In-Laws

If both sets of parents don't know each other, then the engagement party is an ideal time to have them meet. If that isn't doable, or if you'd rather have a huge (loud) party now and then introduce them later, then you'll need to have a special event just for the parents. A great idea for this is to have a meal together. Set up reservations at a great restaurant that isn't loud, so that you can talk easily to get to know each other. If this isn't an option, have a home-cooked meal together one Saturday afternoon so that you'll have time to sit and chat afterward. Plan to really get to know your in-laws, and have your parents get to know them well, too. Talk about wedding plans, funny stories, desires for the big day, and plans for afterward as well.

Refraining from Bragging

You must remember that as much as your friends are happy for you and are excited for your big day to arrive, it is not their wedding, and they may not want to hear or talk about it nonstop for six months straight. It's OK to talk about your exciting plans, but don't let them be the focus of every girls' night or every work lunch. As far as bragging about your ring, it is customary to announce your engagement with a picture of your ring, as long as you and your fiancé are in the picture as well. It can seem like bragging if you simply use a picture of your hand and the ring. It also makes it seem like the ring is more important than the relationship, and that isn't the message you want to send. When posting a picture of the ring (plus you and your partner,) be sure to thank every well-wisher on social media.

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Uh-Oh… You Hate the Ring

There are a few things to be said about this subject. Some brides-to-be tell their significant others that they want to be surprised, so their intended has to pick out the ring on their own. If this is the case, then you should have been prepared for receiving something that you wouldn't have picked out yourself. If you just can't bring yourself to keep the ring, then there are a few things to do. First, with respect and tact, let them know how you feel about the ring and be sensitive to their feelings. Let them know that you don't see yourself wearing that style, but be prepared to deal with hurt feelings. Suggest that you both go together to pick another ring out. If you look at it as a partnership, maybe they will be more inclined to look for something else. Remind them that they spent a lot of money, and it would be a shame if it were on something that you didn't care for. If you can't bring yourself to say anything, try to learn to like it. Remember that you aren't in it for the ring: You're in it for the person and for the relationship that the ring represents. If the ring is a family heirloom, then it would be very difficult (and possibly insulting to their family) to complain about the ring.

Etiquette for Others

In this age of technology, there are not many things that are kept private. Unfortunately, many people feel it's necessary to ask questions that are downright rude. In this case, be prepared to respond to any impolite questions and comment about how the ring's size doesn't matter to you or how the quality of the diamond makes up for the smaller carat weight. If the amount of money spent comes up, be sure to come back with how cherished the ring is and how meaningful it is that this person asked you to be their wife. Always remember (and remind rude people) that it is the thought that truly counts.

Asking about being in your wedding party can also be a wildly embarrassing thing. I remember a time when a former roommate of mine assumed that she would be in my bridal party. Fortunately, I was able to assign her the job of being my guest book attendant, which is an important job, too, as she was representing me to everyone as they came in to be seated. She felt that this was equally important (as did I), and for that, I was extremely thankful. Honestly, it is always best for the bride to ask instead of someone eagerly asking her to be in her bridal party. This could risk making the relationship awkward.