Planning a wedding often means finding a balance between modern and traditional, especially when it comes to etiquette. There was a time when receiving lines were de rigueur and first looks were unheard of, but things have changed. While today's engagement announcements are more often ring selfies and Facebook posts than cards in the mail or newspaper clippings, we spoke with wedding and etiquette expert Elaine Swann about why a traditional engagement announcement shouldn't be relegated to the history books.
Even in an era of tweets and emails, sending an announcement in the mail really sets the tone for your wedding. "Whether it's going to be casual or formal, a wedding is still a monumental life event, like the birth of a child, and having announcements printed and sent in the mail recognizes that," explains Swann. And who should they go to? "In my opinion, you should mail the announcement to everyone you plan on inviting to the wedding," Swann says.
Unlike a wedding announcement, which you can send to anyone who didn't make the guest list once your wedding has taken place, she recommends treating engagement announcements like the first of four pieces of wedding-related mail, followed by the save-the-date, the invitation itself, and finally your thank you notes.
When it comes to content, Swann suggests keeping the announcement simple. "It's just what it sounds like: an announcement of your engagement. The card should formally announce that the two of you are engaged and that details about the wedding will follow." One thing you should definitely include? A photo of the two of you. If you're planning a more formal wedding or will be sending the announcement to people who might know your parents better, you can include their names in the same way that you would on a wedding invitation (i.e. John and Sally Smith are thrilled to announce the engagement of their daughter Emily to Michael, son of Steve and June Brown).
If you'd like to announce your engagement to a wider audience, including people who won't be receiving invitations to your wedding, consider submitting an engagement announcement to your local newspaper. "It's a great way to share the news with people in both of your hometowns without the obligation of quadrupling the guest list," says Swann. It also makes a beautiful keepsake. "We so often remember our weddings vividly, but don't assign as much importance to the engagement even though it's just as deserving," she says. As far as content is concerned, check with your local paper to see what the requirements are—and include a photo if you can!
"Getting engaged is the beginning of a wonderful journey," says Swann. "Sending out engagement announcements is a way to invite your family and friends to join you, and to get them excited. We've lost touch a little bit with social media, and sending out an engagement announcement is a way to turn back the hands of time and connect with one another."