Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 by Faye

Spreading the News: Engagement Announcements

Shout it from the valley; scream it from the hilltops-you’re getting married! Or… do you quietly whisper the news to your best friends and family? Not sure? Read on for hints and tips about how to handle the engagement announcement.

Have your parents met?
Yes, then the process is much simpler. Your groom may have even gone the ultra traditional route and asked your father’s permission first, in which case you just need to make a phone call to mom and he needs to break the news to his family. Then feel free to call siblings, close family, and friends. We love new fangled technology like Skype for these announcements, get your parents in front of a computer and use a video device to tell them “face-to-face”. One of our favorite ways, if both sides of the family live close, is having everyone over for a nice dinner and telling them all at once.

If your parents have not met your-soon-to-be then the situation needs to be handled with far more delicacy and tact. We suggest first giving them plenty of time to adjust to the news, don’t expect then to jump up and down with joy right away if they didn’t even know were dating a few hours ago. You might consider letting them know you have some news, meeting in a neutral place, and introducing all parties. Then let them know you’re engaged. The next step is informing siblings, close family, and friends.

Do you have children from a previous marriage? Is yes, consider their age(s) and decide the best method to tell them. If your ex is still involved in the kids’ lives, this is probably best handled as a joint discussion between both parents and the children. If your children are very young do not tell them before you make the announcement to other family and friends, they may not be able to keep a secret and expecting them to is not fair.

How this conversation happens depends entirely upon your individual relationships with your children and ex, but of course family changes should be discussed and usually away from children for the first time.  If custody or alimony will be affected a lawyer may be the best conduit for the initial conversation, or should at least be consulted when issues/questions come up.

Get them together!
Now that both sides of the family know the news, how do you get everyone together? Traditionally the bride was leaving her family to join the groom’s family; accordingly his parents would call the bride’s parents welcoming their daughter into the family and saying how happy they were to have her! This tradition is a bit outdated, but the sentiment is not. Give the groom’s family a subtle hint they should call the bride’s family within one to two weeks of the engagement being announced.

A small celebratory dinner might be in order as well! This event is to celebrate the fact that you are engaged, it’s less formal than an engagement party, and is most important when both sides of the family are just meeting or don’t know each other well. Host the get together in a neutral area like your home or a restaurant. Consider both families’ comfort level; don’t host the dinner at an exclusive country club or black tie restaurant if one set of parents is strictly blue collar.  Parents may want to immediately start talking wedding details and money, try to avoid this as you have barely started your own planning and realistically don’t know how much the wedding will cost.

Tell the world!
Now that your families are informed and feel good about the news there are a few different ways to tell everyone else. In the old days of snail mail, the bride’s family would send out engagement announcements to friends and family. Alas, email and phone calls have taken the place of the written note.  Another throwback tradition is a newspaper engagement announcement. We have a soft spot in our heart for this old timey-tradition, plus if you no longer live in your hometown, announcing your engagement in the local paper can be a quick and easy way to let everyone know! The announcement itself will serve as a wonderful keepsake too.  Some papers will print your announcement for a price, while other newspapers accept announcements as “news” and are under no obligation to actually print the announcement.  A typical announcement is printed three to eight months before the wedding and includes the names of parents, the names of the bride and groom, possibly the occupations of all parties, where they live (if out of town), and a casual photo of the couple.

Be prepared for plenty of hugging, jumping up and down, and squealing! You might even want to bring earplugs… OK we kid! Most people will be happy for you and excited to share in the news. But you should also be prepared for negative reactions, especially from family or certain friends. Have a chat with your soon-to-be about who you think might react negatively and how you both want to handle the situation. Negative reactions should be something you both handle calmly and together. Don’t jump to the defense, let everyone calm down and then explain yourselves and your relationship. Remember to respect people’s feelings, and realize that their reaction might not have everything to do with you as a couple. Your parents might be afraid you will move far away or your best friend might be upset because she is a little jealous and wishes she was getting married herself. Either way, respect their feelings, present a loving and united front with your soon-to-be, and chances are the upset parties will come around.

Maybe the next step is changing your Facebook status, or letting all your Tweeps know on Twitter! Be prepared for lots of reactions there!