Engagement Etiquette...Expert Commentary

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times in your life. The decisions you make during your engagement are important and could have long lasting repercussions.

In the tradition of getting engaged, the man will speak to the bride-to-be's parents first. This is a time for the parents to ask the groom about his financial situation and any prospect he has for the future.

Customarily, the engagement and wedding rings are chosen after the proposal so that both can make the selection. The groom-to-be may make a preliminary trip to the jeweler and arrange to have only those rings shown which are within his budget for when they come together. The bride may not chip in for the ring, but may buy the groom's wedding ring.

After the proposal has been accepted, it is the responsibili ty of the groom's parents to invite the bride's parents over, or out, to meet each other to celebrate the engagement privately. Giving an engagement ring dates back to the days of cavemen when they would tie long strands of grass around the ankle of his chosen to "claim his territory." This was awkward and was abandoned in favor of strands of grass tied around the finger of the chosen.

The tradition of the diamond engagement ring began in 1477 with the ring that Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave to Mary of Burgundy. A diamond is chosen because it is one of the strongest stones. It can be worn daily without damage, unlike other stones such as emeralds and rubies.

The ring is to worn on the third finger because of ancient ceremony. During the wedding, the clergyman would sprinkle the ring with holy water and bless it. Then the groom picked up the ring and placed it on his bride's thumb saying, "In the name of the Father." He transferred it to the first finger saying, "And the Son." Next, to the second finger as he said, "And the Holy Ghost." Finally, he placed it on her third finger with, "Amen."

When choosing a diamond, it's very important that you educate yourself about the four C's (cut, carat weight, clarity, and color) before you visit the jeweler. Having a jeweler that you can trust and has a good reputation is key to finding a good stone.

It is not considered appropriate for a bride-to-be to wear her engagement ring until after the announcement is made. This announcement of the engagement should be made not more than a year, and no less than 6 weeks before the wedding. The announcement is made by the bride-to-be's parents, or if both parents are deceased, then the announcement is made by a close relative of the bride.

A formal announcement is made in a local newspaper and a private announcement can be made at an engagement party thrown by the bride's parents. Both announcements do not have to be given, you can choose one or the other. This information is a combination of tradition and origin. An engagement is always best when it is personalized.

With wedding season approaching, please send in any questions, pet peeves, disaster, or success stories you've experienced at weddings.