3 Oct 2022

How to announce an engagement

You’ve finally agreed to get married. This momentous decision is about to unleash a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of plans and celebrations. Now is the time to pause, reflect, take a deep breath and then go about systematically announcing your news to the world.

Clearly the old-fashioned practice of formally announcing an engagement in a newspaper was a practical way of publicising the news and ensuring everyone – from close relatives to a wider circle of acquaintances – had access to the news at the same time. It was a very effective way of ensuring that nobody felt left out, or had to hear about the engagement second-hand.

Today, ways of announcing an engagement are more haphazard and scattershot, and there is always a risk of omissions and oversight. So what is the best way of spreading the news?

Social Media

• You will understandably be anxious to share your news with your followers, but it is imperative that you do not post anything about your engagement until your immediate family and closest friends have been informed. In the case of the older generation, this might involve paying visits or making phone calls.

• It doesn’t matter if there is a delay between becoming engaged and telling you inner circle and broadcasting it to the wider world. It’s up to you to set the timetable and you should not feel any obligation to expedite the announcement.

• It’s eye-catching and effective to post a great engagement photo – this can range from a professional shot to a charming snapshot that’s been captured on a friend’s phone. The main thing is to choose an image that you feel evokes your personalities – don’t go for a posed and formal shot if you’re essentially a bohemian couple who will probably choose a non-traditional wedding. The photo is a useful first signal about the kind of wedding you’re planning.

• Now is not the time to tag certain friends telling them to get ready to be bridesmaids or ushers. Building a wedding team is an important stage in the planning process and should be done person-to-person.

• If you’re going to have a wedding hashtag (useful for updates, instructions and uploading of photographs), don’t use it in your announcement or you may find yourself spammed by planners, caterers and suppliers.

• There are no rules governing how much you should share. Some people prefer to keep the news private, and choose to tell their inner circle individually, using calls, emails, cards or letters. Some people feel that posting a photograph and a factual announcement of engagement is a useful tool, which ensures that the news is quickly disseminated. Other people live their lives on social media and will be anxious to tell all – they may accompany their photo with a blow-by-blow account of the proposal and so on. It’s a matter of personal taste.

• Don’t feel you have to announce your engagement on social media. Many people prefer to send a group email or text announcing the news to a targeted audience.

Formal Announcements

Although for many people social media has supplanted the old-fashioned newspaper announcement, more traditionally-minded couples are still choosing to announce their engagement in local newspapers or national broadsheets, such as The Times or Daily Telegraph. These days, announcements will appear both online and in the printed paper.

It was traditional for the father of the bride to organise this if the bride’s parents are hosting the wedding, but it is increasingly common for the couple to organise this themselves.

A contemporary style would read:

Mr R Cooper and Miss K Fremantle

Mr Richard Cooper of Nant, Shropshire, and Miss Kate Fremantle of Drem, East Lothian, are delighted to announce their engagement.

A more traditional announcement would read:

Mr R Cooper and Miss K Fremantle

The engagement is announced between Richard, elder son of Mr and Mrs John Cooper of Gask, Devon, and Kate, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Rufus Fremantle of Bayswater, London.

For a same-sex engagement:

Mr J Simpson and Mr P Hardy

The engagement is announced between James, younger son of Mr Richard Simpson of Holt, Norfolk, and Piers, elder son of Mr and Mrs Michael Hardy of Ripponden, Yorkshire.

If one or both sets of parents is divorced the name and address of each divorced parent is spelt out:

Mr R Cooper and Miss K Fremantle

The engagement is announced between Richard, elder son of Mr John Cooper of Gask, Devon, and Mrs Jane Cooper of Hammersmith, London, and Kate, only daughter of Mr Rufus Fremantle of Bayswater, London, and Mrs Lily Coote of Helensburgh, Scotland.

If one set of parents is divorced and remarried:

Mr J Debrett and Miss C Berkeley

The engagement is announced between John, first son of Mr George Debrett of Lewes, East Sussex, and Mrs Jane Mount-Jones of Cobham, Surrey, and Charlotte, third daughter of Mr and Mrs Hugh Berkeley, of Stroud, Gloucestershire.

If a parent is widowed:

Mr R Cooper and Miss K Fremantle

The engagement is announced between Richard, elder son of Mr John Cooper of Gask, Devon, and Mrs Jane Cooper of Hammersmith, London, and Kate, only daughter of Mrs Rufus Fremantle of Bayswater, London.

Second marriage (for a widow or divorcée)

Mr T Hill and Mrs I Maddox

The engagement is announced between Thomas, only son of Mr and Mrs James Hill of Highgate, London, and Isla, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Andrew Stratton.

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