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It is good form to always notify the parents first because they will be most affected by the blending of the two families and will not take kindly to not being told right away.
Bride's parents first then grooms.

After that then move onto other relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Close friends should be told once the family has been informed.

The best way to do so is in person with both the bride and groom present. If this is not possible then a pleasant phone call announcing the news is perfectly acceptable. For relatives who are not a part of the immediate family or ones you do not see on a regular basis there is nothing wrong with sending an announcement through e-mail or even a written engagement card announcing your joyful news.

Many people choose to tell family and close friends at a party or family get together.

The parents of the bride often throw these soirees but it is becoming more and more common for the bride and groom to host their own parties in order to let loved ones and friends know of the upcoming nuptials!

According to Emily Post's "Wedding Etiquette" the groom may have a party for the bride to meet his family. Invite the bride's parents but they don't need to attend.

Engagement Etiquette

Send out 8-10 weeks in advance.
May want to send "save the date" cards 6-8 mos. in andvance.

See web sites or books below for wording. It will be different if wedding is in a house of worship than it is for some other place.

Rehearsal Dinners:
There are no rules! The guest list is pretty much up to you -- it can be as simple as you two, your immediate families, and wedding party and their spouses and/or significant others. Or, you can make it a bash and invite all your out-of-town guests.

The rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity to let your families hang out together in a more casual atmosphere. Sometimes, the more formal the wedding, the less formal the rehearsal dinner should be.

The invitations depend on your dinner. If it will be a big party with lots of out-of-town guests in a hotel banquet room or somewhere equally official, then you should send invitations.

Here's the deal with rehearsal-dinner wedding toasts: It does vary but chances are some people will toast you -- your parents, the best man, etc. When you are toasted, you should definitely rise in thanks, and perhaps make a toast in return. The bride may also do a toast if she likes. Truthfully, the rehearsal party is traditionally the groom's and his parents' thing, so you can't just fade into the woodwork. Don't stress out about it, though. You needn't say anything earth-shattering -- just thank whoever toasted you, tell your fiance you love her and can't wait for your day to begin, and thank your parents for all they've done for you. At the reception, the bride and groom generally do not respond to toasts, so you're off the hook there. If you get nervous, just remember -- it's the best man who's expected to be witty, not you! Links:
My Urban Invites - Wedding Invitations

Guest List:
1/3 couple, 1/3 bride's parents, 1/3 groom's parents
Or 1/4 bride, 1/4 groom, and 1/4 each parents.

Non-married couples:
Emily Post's "Wedding Etiquette" book says couples living together must be included.
See: EmilyPost.com/weddings/planner/guest_lists.htm

Bridal Guide Magazine says:
"Those who are engaged; those who are cohabiting; and those who have had a steady significant other for so long that it would seen awkward not to include him or her. The last instance is a judgment call, but in most cases your gut will tell you what to do."
See: Get a Handle on Your Guest List | Bridal Guide Magazine

- If you invite anyone, you should also invite your boss.

"Wedding Etiquette", 2005, Emily Post
"New Etiquette for Today's Bride", 2004, Bidal Guide Magazine
Martha Stewart Weddings, revised quarterly
One Perfect Day, 2007, Rebecca Mead. - According to Mead, the American wedding is an exercise in cheap sentiment and pricey self-indulgence, orchestrated by an industry that cunningly plays on the romantic delusion of the betrothed.
In her NY Times review, Jodi Kantor says: "Weddings, unlike most other things we purchase, reliably deliver heart-stopping measures of joy."

Bridal Guide
Modern Bride at Brides.com

Wedding Costs Spread Sheet
Emily Post
Bridal Guide magazine Traditions & Etiquette
Online Wedding Planning Guide, Wedding Ideas, Links & Information at TopWeddingSites.com
Atlantic City Weddings - Elaine's Etiquette Guide
Bridal Shower Gift Ideas

Return to Etiquette

last updated 2 Dec 2010