A. No sooner than the day after your engagement party, if you are having one. Otherwise, an announcement usually appears in the newspaper two or three months before the proposed date of the marriage. If the circumstances warrant, the announcement may appear up to a year before the wedding date, or as little as a week ahead. No announcement should ever be made, however, of an engagement in which either person is still legally married to someone else—no matter how imminent the divorce or annulment may be.
Q. Under what circumstances would it be in bad taste to announce an engagement in the newspaper?
A. The only time a public announcement is not appropriate is when there has recently been a death in either family or when a member of the immediate family is desperately ill. In these cases the news is spread by word of mouth, although a public announcement may follow some weeks later.
Q. My fiance's family is from another town. Should an engagement announcement appear in his local paper? Should it be in his parents' name or in my parents' name?
A. Your family should ask your fiance's parents if they would like to have an announcement appear in their locality. If so, your mother should send the same announcement that will appear in your town's papers to the papers your nance's parents specify. The announcement of the engagement is always made in the name of the bride's parents or her immediate family. Even if the groom's mother puts the announcement in her local papers, she does so in the name of the bride's parents.
Q. May we include a photograph of the two of us with our engagement announcement?
A. Certainly, if the newspaper has space and its policy permits the inclusion of photographs. The photo used with an engagement announcement used to be of the bride alone, but today it is more and more frequently a photo of the couple. A black-and-white glossy print must accompany the written information you send the newspaper.
Q. What is the general wording for an engagement announcement?
A. Each newspaper has its own special wording, and many have forms for you to complete from which they write the announcement themselves. Send your announcement to the Society Editor one to two weeks before it is to run. The date on which you would like the news to be published should be given to all papers so that the notices will appear simultaneously. The usual form for your announcement is as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lane Huntington of Larchmont, New York, announce the engagement of their daughter, Elizabeth [Adams, Huntington—optional], to Mr. Thomas Charles Cole,, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Francis Cole of River Forest, Illinois. A May wedding is planned. Miss Huntington was graduated from Northwestern University and is now Program Director for the National Broadcasting Company in Chicago. Mr. Cole was graduated from the University of Michigan. He is at present' associated with Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., in Evanston, Illinois.
Q. My mother passed away when I was quite young. My father wants to announce my engagement in the newspaper. Would my mother be mentioned in such an announcement?
A. Yes. When one of the bride's parents is deceased, the deceased parent is mentioned in the text of the announcement:
Mr. [Mrs.] Edward Patrick O'Hare announces the engagement of his [her] daughn ter, Miss Eileen Bailey O'Hare, to Dr. Francis Kelly . . . etc. Miss O'Hare is also the daughter of the late Mary Smith O'Hare [Edward Patrick O'Hare]. . . .
If one of the groom's parents is deceased the form differs slightly:
Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Brown announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Jeanine Frances Brown, to Mr. Christopher Long, son of Mrs. Allen Carter Long and the late Mr. Long. ...
Q. My parents are divorced. In whose name is the engagement announcement made?
A. The mother of the bride usually announces the engagement, but, as in the case of a deceased parent, the name of the other parent must be included:
Mrs. Ruth Helmsley announces the engagement of her daughter, Missjillian Helmsley. . . . Miss Helmsley is also the daughter of Mr. George Helmsley of Warrenville Heights, Ohio. . . .
When the divorced parents have remained friends, and if their daughter's time is divided equally between them, they may both wish to announce the engagement:
Mr. Glenn Parker of Pittsburgh and Mrs. Adam Zeitlin of New York City announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Mary Ellen Parker. ...
Q. How should an older woman, divorcee or widow announce her engagement?
A. A woman of forty or more, even though her parents are living, generally does not announce her engagement in the newspaper but instead calls or writes her relatives and friends shortly before the wedding. An older widow or divorcee announces her second engagement in the same way, although the engagement of a young woman marrying for the second time may be announced in the newspaper.
Q. I have lived independently of my parents since college. How do I announce my own engagement?
A. Assuming you and your parents have maintained a friendly relationship, they still announce your engagement in their names. If you and they have severed all ties, however, you may announce your own engagement in the following way:
The engagement of Miss Lisa Jean Barth to Mr. John Tyler Gibson is announced. . . .
Q. How are second-time engagements announced?
A. Second-time engagements are announced by personal note or telephone call. If it is important to you to have an announcement appear in the newspaper, however, you include the same information that you included the first time.
Q. What happens when an engagement is broken?
A. The bride must immediately return her engagement ring and all other presents of any value her fiancé has given her. Gifts should also be returned with a short note of explanation:
I am sorry to have to tell you that Brian and I have broken our engagement. Therefore I am returning the tablecloth that you were so sweet to send me.
A notice reading, "The engagement of Miss Andrea Rogers and Mr. Everett Brduk has been broken by mutual consent," may also be sent to the newspapers that announced the engagement.
If the groom dies before the wedding, the bride may keep any gifts she has received, if she wishes, as well as her engagement ring. If the ring is a family heirloom, however, and she knows the groom's parents would like it to remain with their family, she would be considerate to offer to return it.
Q. How long should an engagement be?
A. The ideal length of an engagement is between three and six months, unless there are reasons for a longer one, such as the need to finish college or a long term yet to be served in the armed forces.