Engagement Etiquette

Sometime ago I read in Ms. Manners that there is some rule of etiquette regarding how one should respond upon learning of an egagement, or attending a wedding. That is, whether it is appropriate to tell the bride “congratulations”, or something of the like. Can anyone refresh my memory on this rule?

I was educated long after the discontinuation of flogging, and I have no problems with spelling or grammar.
This is because I’m not a moron.
– Stolen from AuraSeer :slight_smile: Sorry, I just thought it was too cute!

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Gee, bummer?

Oh, no, that’s defiantly not appropriate! Sorry hon, IMHO I think a nice, “How wonderful!” or some such similar sentiment is enough. If you get invited to the shower or wedding then you get into the gift thing which is a bitch unless they’ve registered.

Even if they have registered I always MAKE my gift. A small stained glass window about their life or something that applies. A nice photo album of shots I’ve taken of them. Nice quilt or some other homemade gift… I don’t know what Ms. Manners says but as long as you don’t bust out with, “My God, SOMEONE wants to marry YOU?” I think you are okay.

Here’s some columns by Miss Manners about weddings:

Hope that helps somewhat.

I don’t do engagement gifts, but for showers and weddings, I always do gifts that are practical. One wedding we gave mula, but with a bottle of champagne ( a gift left over from our wedding, I hate the stuff) and a box of homemade (and albeit sorry looking) fortune cookies that had very personal and very funny fortunes in tune to the Bride and Groom.

another gift I’ve given is an answering machine with me on the message stating that the couple were to busy testing out their new sheets to answer the phone… hehe hehe

Thank you for the link, Louie, but I didn’t find what I was looking for.

Cess – you never congratulate the bride, or anyone in her family. You may congratulate the groom and his family, but the bride’s side gets “best wishes,” instead. This is according to Miss Manners and my (1950ish) editions of Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and Peg Bracken’s etiquette book.

I have always assumed that the prohibition arose because “congratulations” was thought to imply, “congratulations for catching you a MAN.”

BTW, with the exception of Miss Manners, none of the modern etiquette mavens seem to mention this at all. Perhaps it’s falling into disuse. But, better safe than sorry – I always “best wish” a bride.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

I don’t do the engagement gift thing. When it comes to wedding gifts, though, I prefer to give creative and/or practical.

One of the all time best gifts I ever got was at my wedding shower, when I got married the first time. It was an enormous picnic basket, packed to the top with every imaginable little kitchen gadget. It was great.

Jess - thank you! That was exactly the rule that I was (almost) thinking of (and the reason which I couldn’t quite remember).

Cristi, et al - Engagement gifts? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Sounds kind of silly. OTOH, please tell all my friends about it! :slight_smile:

Cessandra - I’m not sure about the “congratulations” vs. “best wishes”, although Jess’ answer sounds like something I read in Miss Manners a few years ago.

You should definitely acknowledge the engagement, though. I got upset when people didn’t acknowledge mine; it was a big deal to me, after all. I got married a few months ago, and my mother NEVER publicly acknowledged the engagement (no congratulations, no card, no party, no gift, no nothing). The first time that she mentioned it to her family was in my grandmother’s (her mother’s) obituary. You can do the psychoanalysis.

I think her honest response to the engagement would have been “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” but she didn’t have the nerve. Too late now, though!

The Cat In The Hat

Cat, congratulations on your marriage! (Yes, even now that I know it’s wrong. . .) I’m so sorry that your mother couldn’t have been happy for you.
I think, however, that I misrepresented my interest in the subject. I am the one who got engaged. A friend of mine congratulated me, and it reminded me of the article (though I was certainly not offended.)

Some people do have engagement parties, but from what I’ve heard, it’s kind of a really upper crust-ish thing (don’t quote me on that, though). I never had one, but I always figured that if people brought gifts, and the marriage never happened, what to do with the gifts? I suppose the same could be said of wedding showers, though, couldn’t they?

I do indeed congratulate on an engagement, though, the bride and the groom-to-be. I make a fuss over the ring, and ask if a date has been set, all that mushy stuff. I do like weddings, though, so my fussing is genuine. :slight_smile:

No problemo. For some reason I really love etiquette books – I have a crotch high stack of 'em. Old ones, new ones – you name it. Weird, huh?


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Thanks, Cessandra. My mother’ll get over it sooner or later.

Cristi, I think the purpose of an engagement party is for the bride’s parents to meet the groom’s parents. IIRC, etiquette says that the bride’s family hosts the party (although in my case, my husband’s family hosted the party, since my mother couldn’t deal with the whole thing). We received some gifts, but not many - we weren’t really expecting any, so it was a nice bonus.

BTW, there’s a really fun etiquette advice website called “Miss Abigail’s Time Warp Advice” (at http://www.MissAbigail.com ). The woman who runs it (Miss Abigail) has a collection of old etiquette and advice books, and gets answers to etiquette questions, lonely-hearts stuff, etc., from them. It’s great!

The Cat In The Hat