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What is an Engagement? Why get engaged? How to propose and How to announce an engagement.

Updated on September 3, 2011

What is an engagement?

An Engagement is the period of time before a couple marries. It is a special time in a couple's lives and has a special purpose as well as its own protocol.

When a couple have been dating for a while, there naturally comes a time when either one or both people start to assess the relationship and where they think it is going.

Often one person would like to take it to the next level and get married, and will ask their partner if they would like to marry them. This is a proposal of marriage.

Once both people have decided that they would like to marry each other, then for all intents and purposes, they are engaged.

In the past and in some cultures today, a marriage between a couple is often arranged by their parents. Sometimes children were engaged or betrothed to each other fom a very young age, often with no say in the matter. Today most woman are allowed to accept or reject their parents choice of husband.

How to get engaged and how to propose.

Often one partner will plan a proposal of marriage, often getting down on one knee and presenting his partner with an engagement ring. It is usually the man who proposes and has often planned the location such as a restaurant or a romantic place such as Paris or where the couple first met.

Sometimes a proposal is totally spontaneous and a spur of the moment decision.

Why get engaged?

A period of engagement serves many different purposes. Once a couple has decided to marry, their relationship changes, they have become more committed to each other and an engagement gives them the time to prepare and get used to the idea of the next step - marriage.

During the engagement, a couple get to know each other better and find out how each other views marriage and what their expectations are. Many couples go to church and attend lessons on marriage so that they are better prepared.

Engagement gives couples the chance to talk about future decisions, such as having children, where they will live and work, how they will share bills and money, their relationship with other family members, their roles in the marriage as husband and wife, the spiritual aspects of marriage and any dreams and goals they may have individually or as a couple.

An period of engagement gives each person time to get to know their partner better and assess whether they want to proceed to getting married.

Most times couple do continue on to getting married but occasionally an engagement will end for a variety of reasons. These included one or both partners realising they are not ready for such a big committment, or they realise their ideas are so incompatible that a marriage wouldn't work or one person may meet someone else.

How to announce an engagement

Usually the couple will announce their wish to marry to their parents. Sometimes the man asks the girls father for his permission. Then the good news is passed onto to other members of the family and frinds.

Some engagements are announced at an engagement party, traditionally hosted by the bride's parents. Traditionally, the family often hosted a party during which a engagement surprise announcement of the engagement was made by the father of the bride. In more modern times, an engagement party often takes place once all friends and family have been informed and guests usually bring a gift to the party.

Engagement Rings

In the past, in many cultures, it was customary for the bride to be accompanied by a dowry on her marriage. A dowry was a large gift of assets such as money, jewels or land, given by the father of the bride to the bridegroom.

In many cultures today,the dowry no longer exists, instear it is traditional for the future bridegroom to buy his fiancee a ring as a gift. There are no rules on how much a man should spend on an engagement ring, but as a general rule of thumb, it usually equivalent to one months salary. The engagement ring is often a simple band with a single diamond,although other precious stones and designs can be used.

How long should an engagement last?

The exact length of an engagement varies according to culture and the decision of the couple themselves.

In the past, when parents agreed a future marriage for their children an engagement would last many years until they were old enough to get married.

Once a couple have decided they would like to get married they are often keen to get married as soon as possible.

Today, couples can be engaged for any period of time from a few hours, to several months or years. Often it based upon how quickly it takes the couple to save up for and arrange the wedding.


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