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Q. How do we tell our parents that we are engaged?
A. Your parents are the first to be told, but it is up to you and your fiance whether you each want to tell your own parents privately or whether you go together to share the news. If your families are far away, you each should telephone or write your own parents. Although it may seem old-fashioned, it is courteous for the prospective groom to explain his plans to the bride's parents. This discussion is important evidence of respect for them. Today the bride participates in this conversation, possibly during the news-breaking visit.
Q. We've just become engaged. My mother is waiting for his mother to call and his mother is waiting for my mother to call her. Which family makes the first move to meet the other?
A. As soon as the prospective groom has talked with his parents, his mother should telephone your mother, tell her how happy she is about the engagement and suggest they get together. If your parents live far away from the groom's parents, a visit should be arranged between the families. Whichever parents can travel most conveniently should make the trip.
If, however, the groom's parents do not realize they should make the initial move, your parents should quickly do so. The only thing that's really important is that your families get together in a spirit of friendship.
Q. My parents are divorced. Whom should my fiance's parents call?
A. The first call is made to the parent with whom you lived after the divorce or with whom you live now. If you also are close to your other parent, he or she should be called shortly thereafter.
Q. My fiance's parents aredivorced. Which one of them should call my parents?
A. The parent with whom your fiance has been living, or with whom he lived after the divorce, is the one who makes the first move. If he lives alone, and neither his mother nor father has thought of contacting your parents, your parents should arrange to see his parents separately, usually meeting his mother first and his father shortly thereafter.
Q. What should we do if one set of our parents disapproves of our engagement?
A. You have a difficult decision. Either you assent to your parents' wishes, or you proceed with your plans to marry despite their disapproval. If you choose the latter course, you should inform them when your wedding will take place and that it would make you very happy if they would attend. In no case should you give your word that you will not marry if you really intend to do so.
Q. May our engagement be announced before I receive an engagement ring?
A. Yes. An engagement ring is not essential to becoming engaged. If you have an engagement ring, you first wear it in public on the day of the official announcement of your engagement.
Q. Does an engagement ring have to be a diamond?
A. It doesn't have to be a diamond. A diamond is still the usual choice, but colored stones, semiprecious stones, or your or your fiance's birthstone, have become popular in recent years.
Q. Is my fiance supposed to choose a ring by himself or may we select it together?
A. You may select it together, certainly, but have an idea in mind as to what the budget is so that you are not looking at rings that are too expensive for the limits you have set or tinier or less expensive than your fiance has decided he is able to spend because you are worried about spending too much. Communication is key here, and neither of you should be embarrassed about having a guideline to use for ring shopping.
Q. How long should an engagement be?
A. The ideal length of an engagement is between three and six months, unless there are reasons for a longer one, such as the need to finish college or a long term yet to be served in the armed forces.
Q. Who gives an engagement party and when is it held?
Once your and your fiance's parents have met, an engagement party may be held. The bride's family usually gives the engagement party. If they cannot afford to do so or are deceased or perhaps live far away, the groom's family may give the party. The one requirement is that both you and your fiance be present.
Q. Who makes the announcement at an engagement party?
A. There are innumerable ways of breaking the news at the party, from balloons or cocktail napkins with your names printed on them to a decorated cake, and there is not a rule in the world to hamper your own imagination. Since your mother, you and your fiance should be standing at the door to greet the guests, there is really little need for an announcement at all! However, the conventional announcement is made by the father of the bride-to-be, in the form of a toast.
Q. How should a toast to the future bride and groom be worded?
A. There are many simple but lovely toasts the bride's father may propose, such as, "Now you know that the reason for this party is to announce Sarah's engagement to Hank. I would like to propose a toast to them both, wishing them many, many years of happiness." Another choice could be, "Please drink with me to the happiness of the couple who are so close to our hearts--Sarah and Hank." A very brief toast may be, "Will you all join me in a toast to Sarah and Hank."