Who, When, and How to Tell Friends and Family About Your Engagement

Congrats -- you're engaged and you want the world to know! But wait: Prioritize who you tell first. Here's how to spill the beans with care.

There are few times more fun than the hours and days following your engagement, when you're practically exploding with happiness and anticipation. You're so excited you could run naked across a football field with the words, "We're getting hitched!" tattooed across your chest (trust us). But a little restraint can go a long way, and potentially ward off any hurt feelings. Here's who to tell, when, and how (when you're ready to start telling people, of course!).

Kids Come First

If either of you has children from a previous marriage, they should be the first to know -- even before your parents. They're the ones who are getting a new stepparent (and maybe a stepsibling or two), and they'll need time to get comfortable with the idea. Give your kids lots of undivided attention: The two of you should have a one-on-one with each child. Also organize a fun stepfamily outing (picnic, bike trip, or movie and dinner) -- you might find that the old saying "the more, the merrier" is right on target. If not, give it time. Ex-spouses can wait -- your kids shouldn't hear the news from them first.

Parents or BFFs?

Who you tell next depends on how your parents feel about your relationship. If you know they'll throw a fit, turn first to friends you know will be thrilled. After they've showered you with love and approval, then tell your parents; you'll be fortified against their potential disapproval. Likewise, if you're not speaking with your parents for whatever reason, send them a thoughtful letter. Now is a time of new beginnings -- perhaps the spirit will be contagious.

Immediate Family

Traditionally, your parents are the first to know and, if you want to get technical and traditional, the bride's parents have first dibs on the news. How you tell them depends on how well your parents know your mate's parents, how well they know your new fiance, and whether they will be ecstatic or dismayed.

Unless your folks are already great friends, your best bet is to tell one set of parents at a time, so they'll be able to express their emotions freely and avoid uncomfortable group-hug situations. If they like your new fiance, tell them together. Invite them over for dinner, or wait until your next planned get-together. In your perfect universe, they'll leap from their chairs to hug you both, crying with joy. (Of course, if you get engaged on a trip or live far apart, by all means call!)

If your parents don't know your intended, this is the perfect time to visit home, but we don't recommend introducing your one-and-only and announcing your engagement on the same occasion. If you can, wait until at least the second visit. If you're pressed for time or simply feeling awkward, it's A-OK to go solo when telling your parents about your engagement; in fact, they may appreciate your discretion.

Definitely break the news sans partner if your parents are less than enamored with the love of your life, are overprotective, have concerns about religious or cultural differences, have seen you go through one (or two or three) messy divorce(s), or are otherwise opposed to the idea of you getting married. Telling them solo means you'll be able to have it out openly, without dragging your beloved through unnecessary and unpleasant stress and strain.

Family and Friends

Who you tell after your parents depends on your relationships within your family and friend circle. If you haven't told your BFFs by now, definitely do so, and also tell any siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. Consider telling any other close acquaintances who you'd like to know before you do the social media sweep.

Social Media

Before you drop the mic on social media, do a last-minute check to make sure you've told, texted or called anyone in your family and inner circle of friends who would be offended if they found out online. We know that your hands will be itching to Instagram your first ring photo ASAP, but trust us, it's much better to do a mental sweep and make sure you've told everyone in your family and friend group (who you're close with) then have to deal with an offended cousin or steprelative while you're on cloud nine.

When you're 100 percent ready to Facebook, Instagram and tweet, have at it -- and wait for your phone to blow up and start ringing off the hook! But don't get stressed out. When people call or text you, graciously thank them and tell them everything that you want to -- or text back and tell them you can't wait to tell them the whole story in detail when you see or call them next. You can also set up your wedding website and share your proposal story there so others can read it word for word too.

Your next assignment? Enjoy this very special time in your life -- it'll never be the same!

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