Holiday Proposal Etiquette - Blog - Wedding Guide Mag

AdviceProposalHoliday Proposal Etiquette

November 21, 2019Kate Eadie

If you’ve seen an uptick in advertisements related to getting engaged, that’s because it’s engagement season. If you’ve been thinking about popping the question, it may feel like these ads are following you around (or haunting you, even though Halloween has passed). The reason there are so many engagement ring ads starting in November is that a majority of people get engaged between American Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Considering that this is the season of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Yule, and so many more, it’s the time when many people start to think about family and the future.

With advertisers working overtime, you may find the perfect ring before the holidays, or you may have already had it sitting in your pocket for months. If you’re planning a proposal or announcing your engagement to your family during the holidays, here are some etiquette tips so that it goes smoothly.

First to Know

Many people have multiple holiday celebrations with both sides of their family, and when you have blended families, that means even more holidays! It can all get a bit tricky and overwhelming. There is very different advice here for if you’re announcing an engagement versus proposing. Let’s start with announcing an engagement!

Announcing an Engagement

When announcing your engagement, the first rule is not to wear the ring. I know it’s tempting, and you can definitely bring it along to show off once you tell everyone, but someone’s keen eye will zero in on it before you want to make your announcement. There is also the question of who you want to tell first. When announcing, unlike when proposing, we recommend telling the families in the order that you see them that holiday. If you celebrate Christmas and have one Christmas on the 24th and then go and celebrate with the other half of your family on the 25th, announce it chronologically, regardless of whose family hosts which.

You may also want to consider the best time to tell everyone throughout the night. You don’t want to burst in the door and shout it into the house when you don’t even know if half the people are there. A great time would be once everyone has arrived, after dinner and before dessert. This time is perfect because it allows enough time for everyone to bombard you with questions during dessert, but allows for other topics of conversation during dinner.

One of the most important things to do is to make sure everyone knows they need to keep the engagement news quiet. Let them know that there should be no texts to friends and neighbours, no Facebook posts, and no secret calls! You need the chance to tell the other people on your list (immediate family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and best friends minimum!) before it reaches them through the grapevine.

Christmas couple at home in Winter. Happy young couple sitting on floor at home with dog and gift box in Christmas time. Christmas tree and fireplace in background.


If you’re planning to pop the question at a holiday surrounded by family, we recommend two things: letting at least a few people in on the secret (especially whoever is hosting) and doing it at your soon-to-be fiancé’s celebration and not your own. Being proposed to and saying yes can put someone in an incredibly vulnerable position (we’ve all seen viral videos of someone bursting into happy tears the moment they’re partner asks, “will you marry me?”). Being surrounded by their family (in most cases, but not all) is the right call.

If your fiancé’s holiday celebration took place after your family’s, then you can either call them immediately to tell them the good news, or try and get together again as soon as possible. Though we suspect that they may have already known that you were going to pop the question any day.

Who Else Might Be Announcing A Surprise?

One of the other most important things to consider is who else might have a surprise that they want to announce during the holidays. If you are planning to pop the question or tell everyone at your holiday celebration that you are engaged, then take a minute to go over who is going to be there. Do you have siblings who may be thinking about doing the exact same thing as you? Is anyone going to announce a pregnancy? Even a significant life change like a brand new job or going back to school?

Obviously, more than one person’s good news can be celebrated during the holidays. There is no set limit on how much joy you can share. However, sometimes, tact is key. If you’re putting out feelers, and it looks like someone else is going to make a big announcement, we recommend talking to them. They would probably love to be in the know about your news early, and you can decide together how to handle the situation. One of you can always postpone your news until New Year’s Day, which is not far off. Some people, however, don’t want to share in the attention and excitement of a proposal or big announcement. Mind stepping on the toes of those around you, and we know the holiday season will be a breeze.

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