oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen

Marriage after WWI

Downloaded from The Home Economics Archive, originally pointed out to me by trifles.

Encyclopaedia of etiquette: what to write, what to do, what to wear, what to say; a book of manners for everyday use: Volume I. Holt, Emily. Doubleday, Page & Co., Garden City: 1921.



The American girl claims the right to dispose of her own hand in marriage. Consequently her suitor seldom thinks it necessary to gain the formal consent of her parents before asking her the momentous question. This is not a radical departure from the European custom as would at first appear, for as a matter of fact, a young man seldom reaches the point of a proposal without having had his addresses tacitly approved by the more or less cordial attitude of the young lady's family. He is likely to be a frequent and habitual visitor at her house before he ventures to commit himself and if his attentions are unwelcome it is probable that means will have been found to discourage them before he has reached the point of a downright avowal.

Nevertheless, a well-bred man will, after declaring himself, seek an immediate interview with the young lady's parents or guardian in order to make a very frank statement regarding his affairs and prospects.


The announcement of the engagement comes from the young woman's family. Since there is a feeling against long engagements, it is often withheld until the approximate date for the wedding has been set. It is made as a rule in several ways. The young lady, before the formal announcement, either tells verbally or by note her nearest relatives and her closest friends. The young man follows suit. And it is a matter of courtesy that the parents of each should make known the engagement to their own very intimate friends. Formally, it may be proclaimed at a dinner party or dance, given at the young lady's house, on which occasion her father or nearest male relative announces the news to her guests. More commonly, or in addition, the formal announcement is made in the newspapers. Such an announcement is made in the name of the young woman's parents. It should not be published among the news items, but should be sent to the society editor of the paper selected, and should be signed with the full name and address of the sender.

"Mr. and Mrs. Howard Trumbull announce the engagement of their daughter Jane to Mr. Job Hall of Brockton, Mass. No date for the wedding has as yet been fixed, but it will probably take place in October."

Immediately after the engagement is made public, the family of the young man must call upon his fiancee. This they may do separately or together as is most convenient; but they should each manifest eagerness in paying their visit, and should welcome her into their family with great cordiality. In receiving this call, the young woman is assisted by her mother, for even when the friendship between the two families is of long standing, this first public recognition of the relation existing between the young people is in the nature of a ceremonial. In case the young woman lives at some distance, it is customary for the parents of her fiance to write cordial notes welcoming her into their family, and when possible, his mother should ask her at once to pay them a visit. If both families live in the same city or town, the parents of the young man invite his intended bride, together with her parents, to a formal family dinner, at which the young woman is placed in the seat of honor at the right hand of the host.

After the announcement the young lady's intimate friends may offer testimony of their interest and good will in the shape of simple little engagement presents. Flowers are suitable for this purpose, but pretty cups and saucers are perhaps the favorite gifts chosen by her friends.


The engaged couple are, of course, the objects of much friendly interest. They should bear themselves with dignity and circumspection, neither advertising their devotion to each other, nor belittling the just claims which each has upon the other. When they are invited out to dinner, the hostess will, of course, place the man beside his fiancee. But it is not well for them on this and on other social occasions to ignore the existence or the social claims of other members of the company.

The sensible girl will not allow her fiance to monopolize her time and attention either at home or abroad. Convention is less hard upon engaged couples in this country than it is in Europe. They may go together, unchaperoned, to luncheon at a restaurant, to church, to concerts, or to matinees. In many cities it is considered quite proper for them to attend dances together, or an evening performance at the theatre, provided they are not seated in a box. But it is not supposed to be the thing for them to dine together at a hotel restaurant without a chaperon. In these matters, however, circumstances alter cases.

Both parties should be especially careful to give no occasion for jealousy. The girl should not go out with another man, either with or without a chaperon, during the continuance of the engagement. The reverse of this proposition is, of course, also true.

If we except the engagement ring (a diamond solitaire, a cluster of diamonds, or diamonds set with other stones), it is not advisable for expensive presents to be given or received either previous to or during the engagement. Books, candy, and flowers are correct as presents, but the engaged couple should not go much beyond these. Articles of gearing apparel, except gloves and ties, are not supposed to be suitable presents.

Tags: wwi research

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