Getting engaged, or betrothed if you prefer, is basically like making an official announcement that two people are committed to a future marriage. It’s a huge milestone in any relationship and one which, like the accompanying ring, sparkles with light, love, and promise for the future. Engagements can be an extremely special time for any couple. However, those with children may be left wondering how they will feel upon hearing the announcement. Because of this, it’s often a good idea to try and involve your children in the engagement as much as possible. We’re going to take a look at some of the ways that you can do so in this article.
The New Face of Engagements
In the past, it could be assumed that most couples who became engaged were young, most likely child free, and generally making a serious commitment for the first time in their lives. These days, though, things have changed quite a lot, and it’s not at all unusual for engagements to defy one or more of these expectations.
Along with the tendency to delay marriage, (the average woman tying the knot is now aged 30, while men are around 32, compared to 1972 when these figures were on average 23 and 25 respectively), there are also more couples having children before they wed, plus of course those planning to marry for the second or third time who may have children from previous relationships. This means that engagement celebrations don’t tend to follow the traditional norms unless of course, you’re from a family who expects them.
Getting Engaged When You Have Children in the Family
Unlike child free couples, those planning to get engaged who have children to consider will be very aware that the legal and emotional commitments ahead really involve a marriage of an entire group, and that calls for a whole different approach to planning the future. It is crucial that as a couple you make good decisions on how to set the scene for the changes ahead, and one of the most fun, and ultimately most beneficial for everyone, ways to do that is to make sure all and any children you have been involved in the engagement plans.
There are lots of exciting ways you can involve the children from the very start of the process or at any/several points throughout. Some may need tweaking depending on whether you share biological offspring and/or form a blended family, but although only you as an actual or potential family unit can make the decisions on what would work best for you all, there are enough ideas here to provide inspiration to absolutely anybody looking to make this happen.
The Official Proposal
If one-half of the couple is planning to make a surprise proposal to the other, then having the children play a starring role in this can be a lot of fun. Some ideas include: dressing a baby in a shirt with the important question on it, or for older children having them help you write and perform a song which leads to the same point. Creative kids may love to help make a cake which could be decorated to suit what you want to say, and older children may like to be involved in the actual asking of the question itself.
If you go for this approach do bear in mind that you cannot guarantee 100% the secret will be kept until the big moment if children who can speak are involved! You might want to, therefore, let them know what you are planning to do as close to the occasion as possible, or inquire as to their thoughts without letting them know that you plan to propose.
Announcing It to the Kids Together
Lots of youngsters really hope their parent(s) will get married someday, but even if they are the type who nag and pester about it week after week it is still going to be a surprise – albeit a good one. Plan to have them be the first to know, and to deliver the news at an extra special occasion.
One good option is to organize a family date night. It’s likely that going out for dinner and some drinks with your partner is something that you look forward to all week. It gives you a chance to get away from your household for the night, avoid distractions, and enjoy some much-needed couple time. However, after an engagement, your children may feel slightly distanced from you. To prevent this from happening, why not invite them out on a family date night? Follow the same routines that you do as a couple including getting dressed up. Have your partner deliver flowers or chocolates to you and your kids. And then go out to a child-friendly restaurant and to see a child-friendly movie. Your kids are sure to love this!
Another special idea is to write letters to each of your children, letting them know that you are getting married. This is an especially good idea for step-dads as your man can express in the letters how happy he is to become a part of the family. Letters are likely to be something your children will treasure forever, and they’re a great way to express your love and commitment to them at the same time.
Choosing the Ring
If your children are older, you may want to get them involved in choosing the rings the two of you will wear. This is a great way for the children to feel like they are playing an important part in the marriage, and can also be a way to tie you all closer together. Even younger children can get involved if you make sure to show them a few of your choices, so they aren’t suggesting wearing Lego on your fingers!
To choose the ring, you could either all visit a jewelry store and have a look at the options available. Or, better yet, take a look online. Even the top jewelry stores have an online presence, and the internet will give you access to a much larger selection than you may find in your town or city.
One great ring trend at the moment is split shank cushion cut engagement rings. These are a gorgeous take on the classic diamond ring and are perfect for the couple who oozes style and sophistication. They are also available to suit numerous budgets. However, you’ll find plenty of options made from different materials and containing different stones.
Of course, if the proposal is going to be a surprise, it probably won’t be possible to let your children help pick out the ring. In this case, you could ask them to help you choose the wedding rings instead. If you can afford it, you may also want to purchase some jewelry for your children as well. An engraved bracelet or a personalized necklace is sure to be treasured.
Most couples like to have a large celebration to announce their engagement, however even if you’d prefer to have a small party, you can choose to get your kids involved. Whether they help you bake or choose a cake, help you pick or hang decorations, or they help you write the invitations, give them a job that will make them feel important. You don’t want your children to feel like your engagement is pushing them out, and involving them in the celebration will help to alleviate this.
One thing that many couples are choosing to do is have a theme for their celebration. This could be something classy like a James Bond and Audrey Hepburn night, or it could be something totally offbeat, such as a superheroes costume event. If you choose to go down the theme route, let your children decide what they want to dress up as and help them pick out a great costume each for the event. If they can coordinate with you, that’s even better!
Most official engagement photographs tend to feature just the happy couple. However, there’s no reason why you cannot include your children in these as well. In fact, Chelsea Houska of Teen Mom 2 fame, made a point of including her daughter Aubree in her engagement photos, and they really did look fantastic. This is an especially good idea if your children are from a previous relationship, as it can help to portray cohesion, and again, make your child feel like he/she is a part of the new family unit.
Hire an engagement photographer and ask him to take candid photos of you and your partner laughing and playing with your kids. You can take some official photographs as well, but the candid shots usually make for better memories due to the natural emotion involved.
If you are planning to propose to your loved one, or are currently planning an engagement party, do keep these tips in mind. There are plenty of ways to involve children in your engagement, it’s picking the ways that make the most sense to you that may be difficult.