Do You Congratulate a Newly Engaged Couple? Your Etiquette Guide

Here's how (and when) to say "congrats" the right way.
Two women congratulate their friend who just got engaged
Photo: Urbanzon | Getty Images
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by
Jenn Sinrich
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenn writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in planning advice and travel.
  • Jenn also writes for a myriad of other large-scale publications, including SELF, Women's Health, and more
  • Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Jenn worked as an on-staff editor at WhatToExpect.com, American Baby, Fit Pregnancy and FreshDirect.
Updated Jun 12, 2023

Millions of couples get engaged every year, which means that, chances are, you know at least one couple who recently said "yes" to an upcoming wedding. If so, you're probably thrilled for the couple and may even be part of the celebration both now and as the wedding timeline progresses.

Whether or not you heard the big news directly from the couple, through friends and family or even through social media, you're probably wondering: Do you congratulate someone for getting engaged? It might sound obvious, but there's a lot involved when it comes to the proper etiquette of congratulating—and celebrating—a recently engaged couple. Etiquette, which is deeply rooted in traditions, values and social norms, is important, especially when it comes to weddings. "Because weddings are milestone occasions that bring together family members and friends from locations near and far, it's vital that guests and hosts remain attentive to recommended norms and practices," says etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, a.k.a. Mister Manners. "When hosts or guests disregard established etiquette mores, hurt feelings and broken relationships are often the result."

Here's everything you need to know to make sure you're giving your congrats in the best and most well-intentioned way possible.

In this article:

Do You Congratulate Someone for Getting Engaged?

Believe it or not, but old-school etiquette long held that congratulating a woman on her engagement is insulting, according to Farley. "It was as if you were somehow implying that she has finally found someone who deems her worth marrying," he says. Congratulating a man, on the other hand, was acceptable, as it was seen as conveying that he had found himself a spouse for whom he may not even be worthy. Of course, Farley agrees that these old distinctions are not only antiquated, but condescending. Luckily, time has softened the etiquette in a manner that makes congratulating someone for getting engaged a polite thing to do as is showing elation at the couple's joy.

Why Congratulate Newly Engaged Couples

Here is a look at some of the main reasons why it's customary and encouraged to congratulate newly engaged couples.

It's a major milestone in their lives—both individually and together

The first and most important reason to congratulate a newly engaged couple is because it is a significant milestone in their lives, notes Jaclyn Watson, a New England-based wedding planner. "They have just committed themselves to each other, and it truly is the beginning of their very own story that they get to share," she says.

It makes them feel special—and supported.

If not for any other reason, wishing a newly engaged couple congratulations makes them feel special, supported and shares good will that you are happy for them. "Their joy can be infectious as they respond with authentic appreciation," says Pamela Eyring, expert in protocol, etiquette and communication skills, and the owner and president of The Protocol School of Washington.

It's a great way to reconnect with the couple.

If, for any reason, you have lost touch with one or both of the individuals, reaching out to them to say congratulations on their engagement is a great way to reconnect—and potentially even get on the wedding invite list. "It is a great way to show kindness and bring positivity into your own life—think of it as good karma!" says Eyring.

When to Congratulate Someone on Their Engagement

The timing of when to congratulate someone on their engagement is often put into question, as some couples prefer to enjoy the initial period of the engagement on their own without all of the attention that comes with so many people knowing their big news. That's why Maryanne Parker, etiquette expert and founder of Manor of Manners, recommends only extending best wishes if the engagement was officially revealed to you or publicly announced. "If you were expecting that the couple might be getting engaged or if there is a rumor going around, congratulating them is not appropriate," she says. "However, if this is confirmed officially, or if we are very close to the to-be weds and they share the happy news with us, we should congratulate them immediately."

Ways to Congratulate a Newly Engaged Couple

Once you're ready to give congratulations, follow these expert-tips for how to do so with etiquette top of mind.

Give them a call.

One of the most basic and straight-forward ways of congratulating a newly engaged couple is by calling them via audio or Facetime. This is especially ideal for couples who might live far away. Even if they don't answer, leaving a congratulatory voicemail is sure to be very much appreciated.

Send an engagement gift or card.

While you certainly don't have to send an engagement gift, especially if you think the couple will be having a formal engagement party, it's a nice gesture. Parker recommends selecting gifts that can involve both of the individuals—think spa vouchers, matching t-shirts and coffee mugs with funny pictures, a memory journal with images from the beginning of their relationships, cooking books of a specific geographic region which they both like, saber for champagne sabering, etc. If a gift isn't within budget right now, a handwritten engagement card is a thoughtful alternative.

Post on social media.

This should only be reserved for couples who they, themselves, are active on social media. Also, Parker points out that social posts are appropriate only if the couple wants the world to know that they got engaged. When doing so, Parker suggests expressing that you wish the couple best wishes instead of using the word "congratulations." "The connotation is slightly different, however using the word congratulations is perfectly acceptable," she adds.

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