Read The First Steps: The Announcement
The Clans Now Merging
Meeting your in-laws at the earliest should always be the top agenda, if for the many reasons you haven’t prior to the engagement, you need to set –up a meeting at the very earliest. Also get both of the parents to communicate preferably at first over the phone and then at a pre-arranged face-to-face if they possibly can.
Going by tradition, the bride became a part of the grooms family after she leaves her home, so it was always the grooms parents that call the bride’s marking a gesture that they are thrilled to welcome their daughter into their home and their family. Although, this tradition still holds, it doesn’t really matter who makes the connection as long as it happens at the earliest, preferably not more than a day or two of the engagement taking place, the longer it prolongs the more the awkward it gets setting off a negative vibe that one side isn’t very keen on the news. If the parents of either set are divorced, calls to should be made individually to each party.
Social graces might not be a highlight of every parent and in the very excitement of the big news some may simply forget their niceties; to dwell the thought put it across to them when you share the engagement news of calling your future in-laws along with your mum and dad. A gentle reminder in the next day or so if you haven’t heard back from them in this regard should be followed up with.
The next step would be to arrange for a celebratory dinner together with the couple can be arranged if all the parents live nearby. It is always required that the couple joins in for this dinner, both set of parents can meet by themselves as well, a decision that really up to each family.
For the first meeting of both the parents can be either one of the homes of the bride or the groom, houses of either of the parents or even at venues that are neutral such as a restaurant. Since this would be the first meeting between the two clans, give it sufficient thought, as it could set precedent to the things that will follow. Check to see if your spouse-to-be or his parents would be uncomfortable at a particular location change to a much more neutral location where everyone can be relaxed and on equal footing.
Going by experience, in most cases the parents must have already met, however, now that it is their children are engaged requires for an official get together. The social call is more for the two sets of parents to get to know each other and welcome the occasion. Parents may also end-up discussing the inevitable question: How major expenses would be tackled? Tackling such details during this interaction may now always be fruitful as unless you have experience planning weddings, you may not be aware of the costs, therefore, it is best you stay away from the topic until you have costs and budgets worked out. An average cost for a destination wedding in Goa would be a minimum of Rs. 25,00,000. It is best to work out budget details before this discussion is tabled.
Consider that your parents and in-laws would be have some kind of relationship after you’re married therefore it is extremely important that both sets of parents get off on the right foot- investing time and energy on each other will steer the relationship in the right path.
The Goal Is Harmony
To an extent almost everyone witnesses a cultural shock soon after getting married. Often this is witnessed due to a blend of customs and traditions of the new family when you visit each other homes, when both sets of parents get together and even when the both families come together as a larger group.
Broadly no one is immune for the clashes of each other cultures. The degree does get wider when you are faced with marrying someone from a different country, religion, race, ethnicity and social backgrounds. It does increase the potential for misunderstandings and conflicts to arise as every family is tied to a culture or race of their own clubbed with its own customs, taboos and rituals.
I would like to share a few tips that you can explore no matter how different your families are from each other:
- Hosting the first meeting at the home you and your fiancé live in if there is space to entertain comfortably. When it comes to food, pick a choice of foods that represents both sides of the family. If hosting isn’t a possibility, pick a neutral venue of choice such as a restaurant. Pick-up the tab to and save the awkwardness of the discussion over it. While selecting a place, look for location that is less crowded, not noisy and at the same time comfortable and reasonably priced.
- If yours or your beloved’s parents are flying into town for the meeting, you need not be compelled to have everyone spend time together the entire time that they would be around. Apart from the get-together dinner, at most another group activity would suffice. Spend time with your individual parents at this time, they could need your attention as children getting married can bring about sadness, as it is that time in life where their children are gown-up and ‘moving on’.
- Keep the conversation at the table very casual and neutral as everyone can participate. If certain topics should not be touched upon, given them a heads-up. Have prepared a few endearing stories that you can slip in if there is a lull and keep the mood light.
- Before the meeting, you and your spouse to must individually brief each other parents about positive and informative things about the people they will be meeting. Larger the cultural difference more is the detail that you may have to get to and you will be their best guide. The thumb rule though: “blood talks to blood” as most therapists would describe it- he and you- debrief separately.
- Put together a personally written note to both sets of parents thanking them for taking the time and effort they made to pay you a visit and how nice to experience meeting everyone together was. (Even if it wasn’t!)
If you looking for encouragement, think about the social savvyness you would employed to a group of people for which you are hosting a dinner party for who don’t know each other very well. A nice approach is to blend these details with what you know about each others families and go with your gut. Keep the panache to the maximum and the enthusiasm as well. It is all in tone for a harmonious future with each others families. The main reason is for them coming together is to get to know you and your to be spouse so bring out the confidence while you do so.
Engagement Party Beckons
The engagement party officially checks-off the celebration of your new status. Tradition does not call for it to be mandatory, but it is an excellent way that you can get together both sides of the family to get to know each other. There is no set formal protocol for this event although it is a social gathering dating centuries so you have it whatever way that pleases you. Cocktails and wines at home, an outdoor barbecue in the yard, dinner at your favorite restaurant or even a brunch over the weekend can be on the cards.
Going by traditions, it is the family of the bride that hosts the engagement party by inviting over close friends and family to their house without making an announcement of the occasion. It is during the course of the evening that the bride’s father would make the announcement followed by raising the toast to the couple. The gesture used to catch many by surprise but is still date considered to be an important gesture.
If the bridal couple does not live in the same city, having the parents throw the engagement party these days may not be practical. If such maybe the case, then relative that is close to the family or even the grooms parents can play host. More likely these days are the chances of a close friend stepping-up to host the event. Self hosting the event isn’t a thing to do, unless you plan for a surprise announcement. In this case, it should really spring out as a surprise to all in attendance rather than being an open secret. It must be the first time that anyone hears about the announcement other than the exception of your parents. Keep with etiquette for such notions of secrecy, the invites must state for an a party “in honor of” the couple and not an invite to an engagement party. On the other hand, it is always advised to make a mention of it as an engagement party as people are a lot appreciate and likely to be there knowing it is an engagement rather than just a casual event.
The occasion does not call for a particular date to host the party, but is generally hosted under two months of being engaged or not less than six months before the wedding. A date to close to the wedding and the guests might feel the it is too close to the big day itself and feel forced to cough-up gifts at such short and quick intervals. There isn’t a need for a party if the wedding date itself is under six months to the date of the wedding- all dependent on the length of the engagement.
On the subject of gifts, there isn’t a hard and fast rule pertaining to it other than the mandatory rings of exchanged by the couples. Gifts are usually borne by close long standing friends of the couple and parents and immediate family members. They are not obligated to do so though, and should they wish to they may bring them along or send it over, it is best to not expect it and certainly do not unwrap them at the party. A gift register wouldn’t be required in this case. A register may not even be practical just yet as creating one in a rush will not give you enough time to decide what you like. It is just fine if you are one of those brides that cant be stopped, there are many that would want one created.
Multiple engagement parties can be thrown as well, just not in the same city, more than one engagement parties are usually thrown when the couple and both sets of parents live in different geographical locations. Again, not a mandate to do so. Finances and schedules are the main concerns having multiple city events.
The guests you plan to invites should be limited to the guest list that will be a part of the wedding. There always can exceptions to this rule though. If you share concerns of the size of the guest list for the wedding you can always limit the engagement crowd to family members and close friends just to be safe. If you are unsure you can always hold off on the date of the engagement party until you have better clearing on the number in attendance for both events,
Not so long ago it was a part of tradition to have a receiving line on the way in, but many have sided of the idea lately. It generally leads to an uncomfortable start as a logjam is created at the entrance resulting in people having to wait their turn.
Anything planned that will make the event uncomfortable must be avoided. The goal is to have everyone mingling with each other, what is extremely wanted. The more than everyone gets to know each other the more comfortable they will be at pre-wedding events and also the wedding making it so much easier for you from a social perspective. A very popular icebreaker is creating name tag that mention the wearers relationship with the couple such as ‘Sam’s couzin’ or ‘Sandra’s Aunt’. Having a food station were everyone can mingle at is also a something is encourages congregation. Crudites, fish and chips, kebabs, skewed prawns, cottage cheese, chaat stalls live counters or any other finger food works great. Another social pit is the dessert station where people can make their own ice cream sundaes. Another conversation starter is having a win bar that is named after someone that is knowledgeable about the subject or even with labeled descriptions of what is being served works well.
Plan activities that will entice people to interact and bring people together. Simple games with a few props and team game events must be a part of the event. Games such as puzzles about the bride and the groom is always a winner getting both sides of the families involved. Engagement parties is great place to incorporate each other cultural or family traditions. Whether it means a game of charades that is super competitive or a meaningful desert you can gradually introduce the people in attendance to new customs.
If you one among those couples that like things to be low-key then a dinner at a restaurant would be great. Each one can introduce themselves in a very casual manner or the couple can together go around the table meeting few faces. This will help in breaking the ice and will be an effective conversation starter.
Raising the Toast
The time for the toast which is made by the father of the bride is generally an hour of so into the even after all the guests have arrived. If the father of the bride isn’t available, a chosen member of the family can do the honors. Besides a family member, the bride’s mother, either parent of the groom, a grandparent or even a close friend can raise the toast. For raising the toast it is generally spirits such as wine or champagne that are poured.
It may the first time that you may be toasted to so it necessary that you are aware of the etiquette involved. So, the toastmaster at the end of his speech would ask everyone to raise their glasses; it isn’t time to raise yours. Although it is tradition to not drink yourself after the toast is raised to yourself, but many do take a few sips which is still considered as proper etiquette.
It is then the turn of the bride and groom to reply to the toast starting by thanking the person who gave the toast, to the person who hosted the party as well to friends and family that gathered to grace the event. Parents of each side can be introduced to everyone at this time if in case it wasn’t a possibility earlier. Mention briefly how excited you are to tie the knot, but keep it to that and save the like of “I knew he was the one for me” speech for wedding day or the rehearsals. Using up all your good material this early in the game will make things pretty dull later considering that most if not all in attendance will be at the wedding celebration as well.
After The Party Ends
Proper etiquette dictates that an elaborate thank you note be sent to the host of the party the very next. If it was a parent that hosted it, a gift wont be necessary (yeah). If the host is difficult to buy for, flowers make a great gesture. Other fine gifts that you can opt for are spirits, scented candles or soaps or a special perfume set. Some of the most popular gifts trending off late are things like personalized stationary or a throw blanket that is monogrammed make excellent gifts for the host. These gifts can be brought and present to the host at the party himself however, the note still must be sent soon afterward.
Don’t forget to thank the people who brought in gifts that you didn’t expect. They deserve a note of thanks as well. Keep an deadline to send these across within two weeks of the party preferably at the very earliest. If you feel sluggish doing it, think of it as a trial of the many more you would be sending very soon. Probably the first purchase you would have to make prior to the engagement are a set of personalized stationary notes which will come in handy after the wedding as well. The couples can pen down their thoughts together. If you are not a big fan of putting words to paper or you simply cant make time, drop in an e-mail or simply thank the person over the phone, as it is better than doing nothing at all.
If You Ask, Why Have An Engagement?
An year long engagement is the typical period that has been followed overtime. To think about it, weddings does require a sufficient amount time to plan mainly due to the intricacy and complexity that surrounds it. It could also be looked as a period to save for the costs that the couple and their families would incur as well. There is so much that needs to be done before you walk down the alter thus a year long window only seems appropriate. On the other hand we could be only stretching things out not wanting to speed the process. Women today are a whole lot independent making their own money, and are not handed over her parents to her husband. The shift from dating to getting married as compared to the earlier days is also less intense. Couples live together, possibly even sleeping together making it no reason to rush.
The transitional period involves plenty of shopping and sipping of champagne no matter how short or long the engagement your period is. Not only for yourself for also for your spouse and immediate family. This period is a welcomed break from reality before getting used to it, not very often does this happen in life! No matter the length of the engagement, allow yourself to soak into the moment rather than allowing the planning and partying take most of it. It is period where you can enjoy the status of being in-between, explore the depths of your imagination and your spouses. You have the space and time to think about the other aspects of the wedding, such as etiquette, communication patterns, to how your world be with your in-laws in it, to the place you will then live in, to how your finances will be managed.
Don’t forget to focus on you as well. It could be one of the biggest transitions of your life with a ton of feelings, wondering about security, elation to fear and anxiety. For many, giving up their single life does not happen on a snap of a finger. Finding a healthy way to process it all lies within you.
It is great time to chat with your friends who have been married or even single for that matter about how to process things and how things are. You may have single friends that may be feeling bereft about a fading friendship post your marriage. Hang out with them whenever you can without having to bring out a major discussion of the wedding.
There are ton of emotions you could be experiencing after you are engaged; feelings of happiness, sadness, or are witnessing more than you can take-in, don’t fret. Even if you don’t feel the need of making it a public discussion keep in mind that these reactions are normal. Not having any reactions that involve anxiety, doubt and fear would strongly indicate that you haven’t been very honest to yourself.
Having said that, if at all you are experiencing feelings are meaningless arguments, feelings of remorse, intense self-doubt, you may want to give yourself time to reroute your plans giving it serious thought. If things are in a lighter vein such as being upset with the groom over choice of tuxedo or the occasional panic attack, you are sailing in same boat as most!
You could rest assured knowing that you are among the many other brides (or grooms) that have faced the same or similar issues that has got you upset. Foul moods and having trouble sleeping are almost second to everybody during this period. It is so very uncommon for brides to be obsessed with detail or even a feel tired and drained or for that matter not being able to relax. What is important that you are self aware about it and when it goes over the roof, break it down to finer details to track down the root of the cause. One handy way in doing so is to pen it all down in a journal that is completely private. Private enough to not keep it lying around if you live together with your spouse-to-be-
Also, take a moment to view things from another perspective, and think how the wedding is effecting people around you. Planning a wedding is undoubtedly stressful to all your relationship to a degree including that with your fiancé. It is not common for couples to voice that they are feeling apart, increasing frequency of arguments and even having less intimate moments with each other during the transitional period. No matter how unreal or depressing it may sound, it is true.
Things do go from a being only spending time with each other or even getting close to a proposal; before it had actual happened. Following the ‘yes’, it brings about the two families coming together and this does pose a new challenge. What used to be a cozy space is now filled with both sets of families showing up all through the week. Add the planning of the wedding to it and your lot of things on your plate that does have a significant impact on domestic bliss.
If you are looking for support, the good news is there isn’t any lack of it. The stress can be managed and there are plenty of places that you can go for support. Most faiths require the attending of a premarital program, if you are within the same faith these are very resourceful. Although they also highlight about religious doctrines as well, they are also spend sufficient time emphasizing touching upon curricula defined as ‘premarital education.’ This includes a numerous topics that aimed at enhance better communication and listening skills that will help you view situations from the other persons perspective, build empathy and values. It will also cover topics that include finances, expectations, families and more. The local church or temple may mandate this course, if so, don’t be cynical about it and avoid it. You will be better empowered when you are in tight spots, and help you understand what the other persons viewpoint is. More power to your overall success of the marriage. Interacting with other couples will help you realize what challenges others face or the challenges you are facing in your relationship. When trouble arises you are less likely to feel by yourself and despondent.
Programs such as PAIRS (practical Application of Relationship Skills) and PREP (The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) are programs available to individuals who do not belong to a particular faith.
Congratulations on the engagement! You are now officially on your way to the wedding of your dreams! A solid budget is what follows next!