Rules of Etiquette For The Mother of The Groom – Ask The Expert Answer

Question from Gayle:

I am mother of the groom to be. My ex and I are both been re-married.  My future daughter n law’s mother knows and has meet me and my husband but we live out of town. My ex and his wife live in the same town as the future in laws. Both parents got together to give an engagement party. I was invited, but was not included in the planning, in fact I found out by getting my invitation in the mail. (the week before the party) how should I deal with this. oh and by the way I am close with all my children and I live in driving distance from my ex and the new future family.

Answer from Wedding Expert Angela:

Hi Gayle.  First, it is the mother of the bride who is responsible for the engagement party.  It was rather tacky that she did not think to include you in the planning, but I believe that it was not an intentional thing.  I lived and commuted from “out of town” for years, and my many ‘city’ friends always felt that I was so far away—meanwhile I could get to my city job faster than they could and they lived right in the city!  It is a prejudice that many city people have about those who live outside the city.  Don’t take it personally.

When it comes to planning a wedding, it is the bride and her family that do most of the planning (and paying).   The rehearsal dinner is traditionally the responsibility of the groom’s family, so, you can talk to your son and future daughter-in-law about your willingness to take that on, if you so choose.   With the rehearsal dinner, it is common to have wedding favours that reflect the theme that the couple have chosen for their wedding.

If you wish to contribute to the cost of the wedding, you should speak to your son about it.

I hope that helps, and feel free to email again.

Angela Fiebelkorn, The Wedding Expert

When Should I Announce My Engagement? – Ask The Expert Answer

Question from Christine:

I just got engaged this month but there is no date set for a wedding as it will be in 2-3 years. Is it wrong to send out annoucment cards or even have an engagement party if it is going to be a while before an actual wedding?  FYI wedding is so far due to Financial issues.

Answer from Bridal Expert Angela:

Hi Christine, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.  You can announce your engagement any time that you like, and the same goes for your having your engagement party.  When you announce your engagement, it should be done through the newspaper, not through engagement cards—although manufacturers of cards encourage engagement cards, it is not proper etiquette.  By the way, announcement cards are to announce your wedding once it has been held.  Usually announcement cards are sent to family and friends who were not invited to the wedding which usually occurs due to cost constraints.

Newspaper announcements are usually worded as follows (although newspapers can change what you have submitted).

Mr. and Mrs. William Smith of Winnipeg, Manitoba, announce the engagement of their daughter Susan Beatrice Smith to Dr. Tom Alfred Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Jones of Vancouver, British Columbia.  A June wedding is planned.

Miss Smith, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, is a cardiology technician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.  Dr. Jones was graduated from the University of British Columbia and is employed as a Doctor with Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.

Enjoy the process.  Start early.  Remember it takes about 250 hours to plan a wedding—go give yourself time to explore things fully so you aren’t rushed.  You might enjoy the wedding planning timeline I have published, or our series of 20 wedding planning videos.

Angela Fiebelkorn, Wedding Consultant

Planning Weddings Take Time, So Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

Question from Pam:

The wedding date for my daughter is 9/9/2009. Send any and all advice you want and can to start to prepare. Thank you.

Answer from Wedding Expert Angela:

Hi Pam.  Since you have only 7 months left before the wedding, the most important things to be done first are to book the ceremony and reception sites, clergy, caterer, florist, music, photographer, and videographer.  These places and people get booked up quickly, so this need to be done immediately.  Usually this is done 9 to 12 months, or earlier before a wedding.  Check out these wedding planning books.

The tasks that are usually completed 6 to 9 months before the wedding are to order the wedding gown and accessories (bridal shoes, headpiece, wedding night lingerie, wedding handbags, etc.), order bridesmaids dresses, and men’s attire.  The wedding colour scheme and decor should be decided so planning of decorations can start.  The guest list should be finalized, invitations ordered, and save-the-date cards sent to out-of-town guests.  The bride should register at the bridal registries by the sixth month.

Anything not confirmed with the caterers, musicians, ceremony or reception sites, rental of tables, chairs, tents, fountains, arches, etc., should be completed by the sixth month.  A system to track guest invitation responses, gifts received, and thank you notes sent is needed.  The bride should help the mother of the bride and groom choose their dresses so it fits the decor/wedding colours chosen.

Some other things to be done by the sixth month are for the engaged couple to start dance lessons if needed, and start beauty treatments like teeth whitening, facials, brow shaping, etc.

The more complex and larger the wedding, the longer the details take to plan.  If you are planning a smaller wedding, it will be easier.  I have received many a sad story from brides who did not get their wedding gown in time for the wedding, or have things not turn out the way they wanted because everything took so much longer than they thought it would.  I suggest that the planning process steadily move forward every week, or there will be more stress before the wedding.  Many a bride and groom have shared how exhausted they were by time the wedding came that they barely remember it.  Good planning will alleviate this problem.

All the bridal magazines have a wedding planning checklist, and there are many on-line that are available to you if you “google” it.  If you have any other questions, feel free to email me again.

Angela Fiebelkorn, The Wedding Expert

Engagement Announcements and Party Invitations

You are engaged!  You are feeling excited, and your first thought is to share the news with everyone you know.  Then comes the first choices in a long list of wedding planning choices—do we send out engagement annoucements or do we have an engagement party?

An engagement notice is a formal notice that you send out to family and close friends.  Usually the wording announces the upcoming wedding that is planned for a specific date, it asks the recipient that they ‘save the date’, and it states that wedding invitations will be sent out closer to the date.  An alternative is to send out save-the-date cards which basically has the same message.  Since you state you will later be sending out wedding invitations, be sure that the people you send this to will actually be on your wedding guest list.  For this reason, it is usually sent to family and close friends only.

Another way to announce your engagement is to put it in your local newspaper.  If there is a group of family members living in another city or town, be sure to also put the announcement in their local paper.  Usually a photo is included with a newspaper annoucement, and the newspaper has a format that they give you to follow when writing up the announcement.

Another unique way to send out your engagement announcement is to take a photo and create photo cards at your local drug store or photo store.  These can be made right at the photo kiosk from a digital picture, and there are usually a number of templates to choose from which allows you to put in a personalized message.

Sometimes, couples opt for an engagement party and announce the engagement at the party.  Although tradition states that the engagement party is hosted by the bride’s mother, and the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s parents, today engagement parties are often jointly hosted by the parents of the bride and groom.

Whether you choose to send out engagement announcements or throw an engagement party, there is a large selection of invitations to choose from that will set the tone for your wedding theme or motif.

How Do We Announce Our Engagement?

When you are first engaged, you will want to tell anyone who will listen how happy you are to be engaged. Although announcing your engagement need not be a formal thing, there are some things to consider before announcing your engagement.
In the past, it was common for the man to have a formal interview with his prospective father-in-law to ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The custom of the groom asking permission from the bride’s father before proposing is alive and well, and one you may consider in your engagement process. In the past, the bride might not even know the groom or know of his interest in her. Today, the couple decide to get married, and then the prospective groom approaches his soon-to-be father-in-law to get his blessing on their union.
Did You Know…..
  • 47% of grooms asked for permission from the bride’s father before proposing
  • 62% of grooms got down on one knee to propose
  • 88% of brides received an engagement ring at the time of engagement
  • 30% of the time the ring was picked out together

– Weddingbells’ 2008 Reader Survey

Whether you choose to ask the bride’s father or not, it is tradition to tell the bride’s parents first. Then the groom’s parents are told the happy news. Usually the engaged couple visit each set of parents to tell them the happy news. It is important to share this information with each set of parents on the same day, so there are no hurt feelings or offence taken for any delay.

If the parents are in a different city or part of the country and personal visits are not practical, a phone call by the couple to the parents is in order to share the happy news. It is proper etiquette that the parents are always the first to learn of the engagement.

It is also proper etiquette to let family and friends know of the engagement at roughly the same time. So the couple must decide how they will spread the news throughout their family and friends, but it should be done at roughly the same time so there is no offence taken. Your options are a personal visit by the couple to those closest to you, a phone call by the engaged couple to friends, or a letter or email announcing the engagement.

Usually, the announcement is coordinated with a public notice of the engagement in the newspapers where most of the family live. If the engaged couple’s family live in two different cities, then newspaper announcements should be in both city newspapers, for example. The traditional way of making the announcement is for the Mother of the Bride to take responsibility, and make a formal announcement in the newspaper. For example, Mr. and Mrs. William Smith are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Susan to Mr. Tom Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Jones. A look in your local newspaper will show alternative engagement announcements for you to choose from.

Another option is an engagement party. Traditionally, this should be a party given by the bride’s parents, and both sets of parents should know of the engagement. The Mother of the Bride issues the invitations, keeping the purpose of the party a secret. Then, at the party, either the Father of the Bride, or the Fiancé will announce the upcoming marriage. Sometimes, the couple opts for a separate party with all their friends, and sometimes it is a combined party.

The main thing to remember from an etiquette point of view is that the parents must be told first, and then family and friends be told next at roughly the same time. How you choose to do this is up to you. The engagement ring should not be worn until the engagement is formally announced.

After the engagement has been announced, it is customary for both sets of parents to meet. If geographical distance is not a hindrance, the engaged couple should arrange a dinner party with both sets of parents invited. The purpose of this meeting is to allow the parents to get to know each other.

The final preparation for announcing your engagement should be a list of people that you want to make sure to tell of your engagement. Note next to their name what method you will use to tell them. Certain people you will want to tell personally, and others can be notified as part of a group at an engagement party, or through phone calls or email. Making the list may seem unimportant, but it IS important to make sure you don’t forget anyone and create hard feelings. In addition, this list will become your starting point for your wedding guest list. Your parents will help you to make sure you don’t miss a distant relative or other important person, so get their help in creating this engagement list. Either when you announce your engagement to your parents, or when the parents meet for dinner, creating a wedding engagement list will give you an activity to do together.

This way the parents have a say in who gets informed of the wedding, and from it you will get an idea of who they think is important for the wedding guest list. The wedding guest list is strictly for the couple to decide, but this early input will put the parent’s minds at ease that you are organized and taking control of the wedding planning process, and may stop future interference in planning your perfect wedding.