His second engagement… how should his family act?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  HappyG 3 years, 1 month ago.

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    Hi Ladies,
    I am new to this page so apologies if this has been discussed but I have looked for insight everywhere and can’t find it?
    My SO and I have been together for three years and are talking about engagement.  He has the ring and everything, and the only thing that is stopping us is his previous engagement.  We both are fine with each others pasts, and that isn’t the issue, what is the issue is more a case of simply not knowing the etiquette. 
    His family at the time of his engagement threw a huge engagement party for him and his ex, inviting all the family and showering them in gifts.  When they called off their engagement, they did not return any of the presents due to a couple of years passing in between.
    Now we are discussing this, I can’t help but wonder what to expect.  I get along wonderfully with his whole family, and they love me, but I also understand if I can’t expect them to behave the same way they did before.  I find it particularly difficult to anticipate the reactions of his extended family, who are not close.  My mother does not have any financial way to throw me an engagement party, though I think there are other family members who may rise to the occasion, however if that happens, should I let them know that gifts are not expected?  Do we even have an engagement party at all, or just focus on the wedding planning (something that never really got off the ground with the ex) at the same time our families are quite traditional, so I’m scared of offending them if I go without the party.
    Sorry for the long post, but has anyone else been in this situation before or have any advice?
    Much love x



    I think I you have an engagement party then have it within a budget you and your SO can afford, I wouldn’t ask other family to pay for it (I don’t think this is really good etiquette when they’ll give a gift for the engagement and the wedding, may need to travel etc…). You can have a lunch at a local park or take over a relatives nice backyard.
    Still have a party, you can put a note that gifts aren’t expected, especially if your already living together and have everything. In this case you can have a wishing well or similar then people can just give what they’re comfortable with. If people want to give you something they will, otherwise at least they’ll be there to celebrate.
    if you want to define that this engagement will be different to the last then wait until you’ve set the date for wedding (with the venue booked) then when people come to the engagement party they’ll know that the dates set, this engagement is for real and will be different to the last.
    i think you have an engagement party without a date set then family on his side might think ‘here we go again’ instead of ‘his found a keeper’.


    Hi Bec,
    Thanks for the advice, I like the idea of setting the date first, he has already discussed with me that pretty much the day he proposes he wants us to set a date, it never occurred to me he might want to do that to show his family it’s “for real” this time, but I assume that would be his thinking.  I think you’re right though, it would show his family that he’s actually thinking about marriage (last time was more of a “next step” in the relationship, as oppose to being ready for marriage)
    We have been living together for years, so I like the idea of putting little notes stating gifts aren’t expected due to us having everything already, it lets his family get out of a second engagement present, without feeling bad as to why.
    I don’t expect anyone to throw a party, but I was hoping I guess that his family wouldn’t feel obligated, since they already did for the ex, they might feel that I would be hurt if they didn’t do the same for me.  That’s not the case at all,  I feel if I was in there position, I wouldn’t want to go through all that again, though the other things like planning the wedding would be exciting for them.
    Thanks for the ideas! You’ve put my mind at ease :)



    Another idea is to have a small dinner, and just have parents & if already chosen, bridal party or just a couple of really close friends.
    My partner and I did that for our engagement, we just had a nice dinner that we paid for at a lovely resturant with about 12 people. It’s another option if you’re not sure :) 



    I have been married before and my Fiance was engaged before too.  We didn’t treat it any differently this time around – and neither did anyone in my family.  We most certainly didn’t ask anyone else to pay for anything though (my parents paid for my first wedding, but I was 21 years old and now I’m 34 -I wouldnt dream of asking them to contribute again).  We had an engagement party we could afford and we’re paying for our own wedding.
    We asked people not to bring presents to our engagement party though – not because we’d received them in the past, but because we have several people in our family who are not well off – I didn’t want anyone to feel like they couldn’t come because they couldn’t afford a gift.
    I assume his engagement was quite a long time ago since you’ve been together for 3 years – I think it would be very silly and disrespectful if his family thought along the lines of “here we go again”.  We don’t all get it right the first time! 😉  I was married for 9 years and everyone who knows me knows this wedding (Im getting married in 2 and a half weeks :)  is more special to me than the first :)
    If the fact that he’s worried his family will say something negative is preventing him from proposing to you, I think you both need to (and maybe more particularly him) develop a bit of a thicker skin and ignore any negativity that comes your way.  Believe me, the entire wedding planning will be full of people putting their two cents in (and that goes for whether you have ‘a past’ or not, and if you let what everyone else thinks dictate what you’re going to do, you’ll be in for a rough ride.



    You should think of your and his relationship as a seperate and individual journey; you can’t live comparing yourself to his ex or their relationship/engagement. Think of it as a fresh start, and try not to be hurt by the family passing judgement or perhaps not being as excited or involved.
    From their perspective they will have invested a lot of time, energy and emotion in your partner (even though not with you) and you may be lumped into the same category. But continue on and celebrate your special announcement as best you can.
    If you’re worried about their traditional views on enagement, make it more casual, comfortable and reflective of your individuality (we did) and maybe ask for donations to a charity you support or no gifts at all (unless you want gifts, if so by all means forget what I just said). As we learnt, if people want to provide gifts, give them some insight about the next stage of your relationship (for us it was moving in together so household stuff was handy), so if your next step is marriage, ask for contributions towards it, or if you’re embarking on a new business venture ask for things to help set you up (if you’re starting a bakery for example you may need some nice baking tools lke cookie cutters).


    Hi Vanessa,
    I was sort of in a similar situation. this is MY second engagement, and the first time around we had a huge party with lots of gifts and all the family and the big cake, etc etc. this time around we just wanted something really simple, and I didn’t want to have the big party because nobody would take back the presents from the last one. So instead we just had a nice lunch with my family and his family, so it was very relaxed and gave the parents a chance to sit and chat, since they’d never met.
    If you decide to go ahead with the party, you can ask for no presents, and I’m sure people won’t be offended. You could still have something low-key like a backyard party with a barbeque, so it won’t cost too much and people don’t feel like it’s too formal.
    Good luck!


    Thanks for the advice everyone.
    Yay, so we got engaged on the 10th of January while in Europe!  Unfortunately, upon coming home, his family acted exactly as I feared, lots of snide remarks about setting a date this time and barely even a congratulations, asking why didn’t we just post it on facebook instead of bothering coming around to tell them etc. His mum even refused to look at the ring when he asked her if she wanted to see it! (he’s very proud of it, I think more so than I am!) I’m not going to lie, it does really disappoint me since they do like me, it’s just that they all went to a tremendous amount of effort the first time around and they were REALLY mad at him when he broke it off, not because they wanted her to stay exactly, but just because they had wasted all this time and stuff.
    Oh well, I think I am just going to ignore the whole “engaged” thing until we have enough money saved to put a deposit on our venue and send off save the dates.  Hopefully, once they know this time a wedding will be on the way, they will get more excited.  If not, I am still excited to be marrying my man so I guess at the end of the day, that’s all that matters isn’t it? “_



    Oh Vanessa, that’s horrible! Every now and then my FW and I look through the forums and we were both so hoping things would work out. It isn’t fair for them to take out his previous relationship on you, you didn’t have anything to do with it.
    Unless you were directly the reason for their engagement not working out they have no right to paint you with the same brush. I probably shouldn’t get so personally involved but they’re treating you so nastily… I mean”just post it on facebook”? How rude! Ugh, sometimes family can be cruel and sour, but you shouldn’t ever be playing second fiddle to an ex; family, like your partner, also go through a break-up and need to learn to cut ties and be ready to move on and embrace someone new.
    You went to so much effort trying to put them first when it was supposed to be your special moment and they still treated you with disdain, I’m really dissapointed and feel terrible for you. I wish I could just meet you with chocolate cake and hugs!

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