Engagement Etiquette 101: Everything You Need to Know

By Kat Collings

In case you’ve been oblivious to the ring selfies popping up on Instagram and Facebook, engagement season is in full swing. Around 40 percent of engagements happen from the holidays leading up to Valentine’s Day, making it the perfect time to delve into the modern day etiquette for both the bride-to-be and her friends and family.

Scroll down for answers to the trickiest questions—from the right way to share the big news via social media to whether or not it’s ever okay to ask about the ring’s carat count.

Is it bragging to post a picture of my ring to social media?

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

According to Brides.com, the most gracious way to show your ring on social media is by posting a photo of your left hand that also includes you and your betrothed. Your friends and family (and, yes, probably random acquaintances and high school classmates creeping on your profile) are likely dying to see your ring, so obliging them with a picture shouldn’t be considered bragging. However, posting close-up images of your new engagement ring can be a bit much. While it’s fairly common and may not bother anyone in your circles, an editor for The Cut argues that the “context-free diamond” takes away the focus from the happy couple’s announcement, and puts it on carat comparisons and consumerism. Whichever type of photo you ultimately decide to post, make sure to show your gratitude by responding to each of your well-wishers.

Who should I share the news with first?

Photo: Carolynn Seibert

As silly as it seems, it’s smart to have a strategy for sharing your engagement. Imagine how your mother would feel if she came across the announcement on Facebook. Accordingly, if you have children, sharing the news with them first is very important. Many sites recommend doing this alone with the child so they can express their honest emotions. Your closest family should be next to hear about the good news, followed by your best friends, extended family, and anyone especially close to you. Lastly, a social media and/or newspaper announcement can follow.

What do I do if I hate my ring?

Photo: Bhldn

We’ve devoted an entire article to this question. Check out three strategies for dealing with a surprise ring you find less than lovely.

Related: 16 Subtle Engagement Rings for Girls Who Don’t Love Bling

How do I deal with uncomfortable questions about the ring?

Photo: Bonadrag

While questions about the cost, carats, or authenticity of your new diamond may seem wildly rude, they do happen. This editor has witnessed a man earnestly ask a newly-engaged woman if her diamond was cubic zirconia—so it’s best to be prepared with a response. Manners expert Emily Post recommends saying something along the lines of, “It’s not the size or quality that matters to me. I just love it!” Humor also works well: If someone asks if the diamond is real, a response like, “It had better be, or I’ll have some questions for the jeweler!” will diffuse the situation. When it comes to questions about price, Post offers this one-liner: “Dan probably spent more on it than he should have, but I’ll cherish it forever.”

Related: 28 Engagement Rings for EVERY Type of Girl

When do I change my relationship status on social media?

Photo: lmaxTree

According to Emily Post, this is entirely up to you and there are no etiquette guidelines, whether you want to do it within minutes of the proposal (after alerting family and close friends, to be safe), or months later.

When do I start calling my future mother-in-law and father-in-law “mom” and “dad”?

Photo: Scott Clark

Our best answer is that it has to feel natural. Don’t force the situation, and don’t feel like you need to immediately start referring to your mother-in-law as “mom” the second you’re engaged or married. If you’d like to make the gesture, but aren’t sure how, it can be nice (and relatively less awkward) to refer to your new in-laws as “mom” and “dad” in a card.

Who do I invite to the engagement party?

Photo: MK Sadler Photography

The most important thing to keep in mind is that anyone who you invite to your engagement party (or any pre-wedding event such as a shower or bachelorette party) should traditionally be invited to your wedding, so choose carefully. This is the reason that many engagement parties are often kept relatively small. Usually the guest list is limited to family members, the bridal party, and close friends.

Who hosts the engagement party and when should it be held?

Photo: Real Simple

Traditionally, the parents of the bride are given the first opportunity to host the engagement party, followed by the groom’s parents. However, anyone can throw the celebration, whether it ends up being your friends or yourself! Keep in mind though, that it’s not good etiquette to ask your best man or maid of honor to take on these duties, as they’ll have other parties to host. Engagement parties are usually held closer toward the engagement than the wedding. Experts recommend holding it one to three months after the proposal if it’s a long engagement, or six months before the wedding if it’s a shorter engagement.

Should I register before my engagement party?

Photo: Paige Jones

It’s proper etiquette to prepare your registry before the party, lest any guests wish to purchase a gift to bring to the engagement celebration. Make sure to include some relatively inexpensive items from which to choose. However, do not include the registry information on any invitations, as this is considered bad manners. You can inform guests of your registry if they ask, but not otherwise. That said, when it gets closer to the wedding, it’s acceptable for the couple to list the registry information on their wedding website.

Should I wear white to my engagement party?

Photo: Azahara Fernández

You should wear whatever color you please to your engagement party. It is tradition to wear white, and some brides-to-be enjoy standing in the spotlight in white, while others may feel more comfortable wearing a color or print, so as to not draw more attention.

Is it ever appropriate to ask specific questions about the ring?

Photo: Next

It’s natural to want to know every detail including the cost, clarity, and carats, but try to keep your questions to yourself. This is okay: “How did he ever find such a gorgeous ring?” This is not okay: “It’s huge! How much did he drop on it?” Trust us, if the bride-to-be wants you to know those details she will most definitely share them with you.

Can I ask if I’m going to be in the wedding party?

Photo: Bhldn

It’s best to wait and let the bride-to-be ask you. You don’t want to put her in an awkward position if she is having a small bridal party and wasn’t planning on including you.

Related: What to Wear for Your Engagement Shoot—12 Brilliant Outfit Ideas

When can I publicly post my congratulations?

Photo: Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

Again, we’re going to tell you to wait, at least until the engaged couple has posted publicly about it themselves. They likely have a plan for announcing their news, and you don’t want to spill the beans too early.

Do I have to get the couple an engagement gift?

Photo: Paige Jones

In most places, engagement gifts have become customary. That said, weddings and all the events leading up to them can leave a heavy dent in your pocket, so it’s completely acceptable to pick an affordable gift. A small token that communicates a gesture of affection is perfect.

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