Proper Engagement Announcements for Divorced Parents

It's important to use proper etiquette when announcing an engagement.

Engagement announcements share the good news with family and friends--and sometimes newspaper readers, of the impending marriage of a happy young couple. Whether you have the announcement printed to send in the mail, or post an announcement in your local and hometown newspapers, there is an etiquette protocol that should be followed. In these days when more and more couples have divorced, it's sometimes confusing as to how the announcement should be worded.

1 Who Issues the Announcement?

Engagements are traditionally announced by the parents of the bride, and might typically start as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. John Jones of Boston, Massachusetts are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Amy, to Mr. James Smith, and so on.

If Mr. and Mrs. Jones are divorced, the announcement may be altered like this:

Mr. John Jones and Mrs. Ann Jones of Boston.....

This indicates that while the Joneses are both announcing Amy's engagement, they are in fact no longer a couple themselves.

2 When A Parent Has Remarried

Once one of the divorced parents has remarried, that throws yet another wrench into the proper etiquette for announcing an engagement. The most important thing to recognize in this situation is the relationship between the future bride or groom and his or her step-parent. If there is no relationship to speak of, or if the relationship is very strained, the announcements may still be issued as noted in section 1. This still tells recipients that Mr. and Mrs. Jones aren't a couple, but still wish to jointly announce the engagement of their daughter.

The exception in this case would be if Mrs. Jones had remarried, making her new name Mrs. Adams. In that case it is still considered proper for the father's name to appear first on the announcement, especially if he is paying a chunk of the impending wedding expenses. It may be worded as follows:

Mr. John Jones and Mrs. Ann Adams announce the engagement of their daughter Amy Jones.....

3 When the Feelings are Amicable

Not all divorce situations cause animosity where engagements and upcoming weddings are concerned. In cases where both parents have remarried and the bride or groom has great relationships with all involved, the protocol is a bit loose, but typically goes like this. The family where the bride has spent the most time since the initial divorce will be named first on the announcement, with the other set of parents being named second. For example, if Amy's parents divorced when she was 12, but she spent many happy years living with her mom and eventually her new stepfather, but saw her real dad and stepmother on weekends or during vacations, the wording on the announcement might read like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Adams and Mr. and Mrs. John Jones announce the engagement of their daughter, Amy Jones.....

Since most engagement announcements also contain the names of the groom's parents as well, the same protocol will apply if his parents have been divorced, and one or both has since remarried.

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, N.H. She has authored five books and hundreds of articles and short stories. Her work has appeared various publications, including "Parenting," "Writer’s Digest," "Vacations" and "Discovery Travel." She studied at the University of Maine and later pursued her writing studies through numerous classes and workshops.