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What is it called before you get married?

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting and important events in someone’s life, but what is it called before you get married? The answer is “engagement” or “betrothal.” An engagement is the period of time between the declaration of acceptance of a marriage proposal and the marriage itself. During this time, the couple may plan and prepare for their wedding day, but they are not yet legally married.

The History of Engagement

The concept of engagement dates back to ancient times, where it was used as a formal agreement between families. In many cultures, marriages were arranged by the families of the bride and groom, and an engagement was a way to seal the agreement. It was also a way for the couple to get to know each other before their wedding day.

During the Middle Ages, engagement rings became popular, and were often used as a sign of a promise to marry. These rings were not always made of diamonds, but were often adorned with other precious gemstones. In the 1700s, the diamond engagement ring was introduced by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, and it eventually became the most popular choice for engagement rings.

The Purpose of Engagement

The purpose of engagement has evolved over time, but it remains an important tradition for many couples. One of the primary purposes of engagement is to publicly announce the couple’s intention to get married. This can help to prevent one of the partners from backing out of the relationship without consequences. It also allows the couple’s family and friends to celebrate with them and offer their support.

Another purpose of engagement is to give the couple time to plan and prepare for their wedding day. This can include choosing a venue, selecting a wedding dress, hiring vendors, and even taking premarital classes. This time can be used to create a strong foundation for the couple’s relationship and help them to prepare for the challenges of married life.

Engagement Traditions and Customs

There are many traditions and customs associated with engagement, and they vary by culture and religion. In Western cultures, the man typically proposes to the woman with a diamond engagement ring, and the couple may celebrate with a dinner or party. In some cultures, the parents of the bride and groom may exchange gifts to signify the union of their families.

In Hindu culture, an engagement is formalized in a ceremony called sagai. During this ceremony, the groom gives the bride a ring and a necklace, and the bride’s family offers sweets and other gifts. In Jewish tradition, the engagement is called tena’im, and it involves signing a contract outlining the couple’s obligations to each other and the community.

The Legalities of Engagement

In most countries, engagement is not a legally binding agreement. However, there are some legal implications that should be considered. For example, if the engagement is broken off, the engagement ring may need to be returned to the person who gave it. In some cases, there may be legal action taken if one of the partners backs out of the engagement without a valid reason.

It is important to note that the rights and obligations of a couple in an engagement can vary by jurisdiction. In some countries, couples may be considered common-law spouses if they cohabit for a certain period of time, even if they are not legally married. It is important to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific laws and regulations that apply to your situation.


In conclusion, engagement is the period of time between the declaration of acceptance of a marriage proposal and the marriage itself. It is a time for the couple to plan and prepare for their wedding day, and to create a strong foundation for their relationship. Engagement traditions and customs vary by culture and religion, but they all share the common goal of celebrating the couple’s love and commitment. Whether you are engaged or not, it is important to understand the legal implications of engagement and the specific laws that apply to your situation.