It’s Officially Unofficial!

Another friend has officially joined the dark side, and Bad4 is officially confused about the official part of it.

I’ve never understood this “not officially engaged until tomorrow night” business. Either you’re engaged or you’re not. If he proposed and you accepted, then you’re engaged. If he didn’t propose and you didn’t accept, then you’re not. And if he didn’t propose but you both know he’s going to propose and that you’re going to accept, that makes you, apparently, unofficially engaged, and also, in my opinion, quite weird. Why not get it over with already?

How do you end up in that sort of situation anyway? He calls up and says, “I’m going to propose tomorrow at 4 pm,” and if she doesn’t say, “I’m going to refuse you tomorrow at 4 pm” then they go ahead and tell everyone that they’re “getting engaged”? But you can’t say mazal tov yet, because they’re not engaged. So what’s the point? I guess so you can be parked outside their house when you get the call on your cell phone, “I’m engaged!” so you can run in to their l’chaim shrieking, “Ohmigoshohmogosh! You’re engaged?!!? Mazal tov! When did it happen? I had no idea!”

I used to not understand this “unofficial” business at all, but I think I have a handle on it now. I’ve been getting a lot of this “when you get engaged, you better tell me” business. Ironically, the more you tell people that you’re not getting engaged, the more firmly they believe that you’re a hop skip jump from a diamond ring, and the more urgently they press upon you the importance of letting them know ASAP – preferably before it happens. In fact, while trying to notify people that Friend #7 is now “officially” engaged, I had at least two conversations that went roughly like this:

Me: Guess who’s got herself engaged?

Her: You?

Me: No! Would I go and do something like that? Friend #7 is engaged to Guy #7 from Location #7! How cool is that?

So when I run down the list of people who absolutely must know the minute I get engaged, it makes me want to crawl into bed and not go out. First there’s your parents, because heaven knows they’ve been waiting long enough for the opportunity to hang up the phone, slap each other five, and go, “Ye-ah! Finally she’s someone else’s problem!” Then there’s your grandparents because you can’t have them find out second hand – that’s just rude. And any siblings who are married need to be informed as well.

Then either you or your parents need to call the aunts and uncles who would be insulted to find out from anyone else, even though you know they’re going to wrinkled their foreheads and wonder, “Someone proposed to her? Well, every pot has a lid. Can’t wait to meet this guy.” But before them come your close friends who you really want to tell because you’ve been dying to tell them about this super-awesome guy you’ve been dating for weeks, but couldn’t. And then there are the good friends who absolutely cannot find out from OnlySimchas first, or you can kiss your bridal shower goodbye. And a handful of friends you need to call because they’d want to hear it from you, for some reason. In summary, getting engaged sounds like a headache of obligations.

This “unofficial” engagement takes care of all that. The first tiers of people to find out are of course the parents and grandparents. They surreptitiously spread the information to immediate relatives so they can be strategically nearby when it becomes “official.” Meanwhile, since no secret stays a secret once more than one person knows it, it somehow gets leaked to a single loudmouth friend. Because it’s a leak, nobody feels insulted that they weren’t told directly, because of course no friends are being told directly, because it isn’t official. And of course they only spread it among the upper tier of friends, who are all primed to be available the minute you call them. But you don’t need to call them. Because along with the information that you’re “unofficially engaged” comes the release time for the official engagement. As soon as the clock strikes, your name is on OnlySimchas and friends are calling each other, and everyone understands that they’re not hearing second-hand because nobody has yet heard first hand. So when you finally get around to calling, nobody minds that you’re the fifth person to tell them that you’re engaged. How efficient is that?

It works very well, but it’s still silly. If and when I get proposed to, I’m going to give my answer and go home and go to bed. My parents will sleep better if I don’t tell them until the next morning, and I can do all my phone-calling over a leisure breakfast. Nobody will be insulted because everyone will be insulted. It’ll work great! I think.


25 thoughts on “It’s Officially Unofficial!

  1. I was not expecting my husband to propose to me the night he did. He didn’t want to deal with the whole unofficial thing and wanted us to be officially engaged already. But the problem was that I was extremely secretive about the fact that I was dating someone seriously and none of my friends knew anything about it. So we agreed that until the lchaim tomorrow night we would tell whoever we need to tell but tell them it’s still a secret.
    The next morning when I woke up I called all my friends and told them I was getting engaged. They were all happy that they heard before it was official. What can I say, it worked out well.

  2. In the Chabad world (of which I am part) there’s more significance to the whole Official/Unofficial thing. In the good old days, Lubavitchers went to the Rebbe for a brocha on their engagement…BEFORE announcing it to the world. As chassidim, it’s understood that you “tell the Rebbe first.” These days, couples go to the Rebbe’s ohel to daven for a brocha for their future married life together. After they leave the ohel, they are OFFICIALLY engaged. If anyone is told beforehand, it’s UNOFFICIAL and you hope they don’t spread the news to the world yet.

    Of course, the same crazy things go on with who’s important enough to need to know while it’s still unofficial.

  3. Good grief! I actually understood that, and never have I ever been more thankful for having gotten engaged in the “bad old days” then now. I suppose what is actually needed today is a new job for someone–maybe the title could be Official News Purveyor. Their office would handle all the narishkeit and you could get on with your life. Might be worth the money you would have to pay.

  4. I agree, usually this official/unofficial business is pretty stupid. But once in awhile there’s a good reason.

    Also, you’re a very funny girl. 🙂

  5. Oooooh! It’s going to be a big surprise, cuz, you know, she thinks he’s proposing Sunday morning, but really he’s proposing Saturday night! So we’re calling everyone in the neighborhood to let them know the l’chaim is going to be Motzei Shabbos. But don’t tell her, cuz, you know, it’s a surprise! Cuz, she she thinks he proposing Sunday morning….

    God I hate that.

  6. This is part of the general problem of everyone being busybodies… That people should be insulted about when they learn news is ludicrous… Also people have to ‘know’ in order to be prepared to come to a vort (a waste of time and money as documented by B4S elsewhere)…
    I called my parents the next morning since we both lived (far) away from our parents and we were visiting my parents for Shabbos (engagement is the lovely period of sleeping at neighbor’s houses when going ‘home’), talked to a couple of relatives before Shabbos, and didn’t talk to anyone else until around Monday. Then I called a some people and some people I told as I bumped into them. And you know what? Everyone survived without a vort and with all friendships intact (our friends did throw us an engagement party against our wishes)…

  7. lol. I never understood the wait. I mean, if both the boy and girl know, just propose! But maybe that’s because I am not so good with patience 😉

    Calling people in the morning… hah. I think that will not happen.

  8. Well out in the secular world, I proposed to my wife after we had shopped for and purchased an engagement ring, but before the ring arrived. I got down on one knee in a restaurant and sang to her – I was told by the spectators it was very romantic, but most of the restaurant was too busy with their own affairs to notice. I must confess I have no recollection of just when we told people about it.

  9. you just wait untill you try it. you’ll be screaming at the top of your lungs so loud the neighbors around the block will call the cops…
    who will join the festivities too.

    don’t forget to remind them its still a SECRET…

  10. yeh it is a a bit confusing! this ‘unofficial’ business cuts out the surprise part of it all. i have to agree with you – get engaged and then tell people when you’re ready and word does travel fast these days so to hear things first hand is getting unusual!

  11. The “unofficially engaged” thing always drove my wife and I crazy… we went with the “we’ll get engaged when we get engaged”, but that was delayed due to other factors, such as being asked by the in-laws to wait. [Long story.]

    I did however inform many friends the night before that it would be happening, as most of said friends lived/schooled in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn and the l’chaim (which I’d never heard of, being from “out of town”) had to be *that night* in Monsey, and that my friends should all come. So I wrote a fun, delirious e-mail at 5am, and everyone knew in advance that it was going to happen, so I guess that’s the same thing. Ah well.

    Then I was told that there was something called a “vort”, too, and that my parents were invited (!), and that so were all my friends. I just couldn’t figure out why I had to go through all that trouble of inviting friends *again*. Why’d I have to tell them the first time?! Oy.


    My brother – Chofetz Chaim guy and all – did it right. He got engaged at 1am in Harrisburg, PA, where nobody could possibly get to, called my parents to tell them, and did exactly what you want: He went to sleep and called everyone else the next day. Much better.

    My brother-in-law proposed to my sister, they called the folks, she changed clothes, and they went out to eat sans phones.

    I just made sure that my phone died after calling the grandparents/siblings. 🙂

  12. First there’s your parents, because heaven knows they’ve been waiting long enough for the opportunity to hang up the phone, slap each other five, and go, “Ye-ah! Finally she’s someone else’s problem!”

    My parents say the same thing!

    Er . . .


  13. Ok, bad4, this is officially the best dissection of the way it works I’ve heard- well- ever!!!

    But what’s with the “if and when” line at the bottom??? 😦

  14. If he proposes and she accepts, but something happens before it becomes “official” and it breaks off, they never have to tell people that they were “engaged” because it was never “official”. (Unfortunately, I have heard of some cases where this happened — fairly or unfairly.)

  15. Dor Yesharim.

    Sometimes due to someone along the way not being responsible. He proposed, she accepted but they had to wait and see. There are other valid reasons why a couple would get held up after they discussed their mutual desire to marry one another. Maybe the word “Engaged” is the problem.

  16. went so quick at my end, that i really did tell the blog world before almost anyone else… lol.

    I actually got engaged mid-day and had to meet his grandparents before we told anyone… the minute I walked into his grandparents’ house, it became official… so i really didn’t have to call anyone (had the excuse that i was visiting..)

    Though when i did get through to one of my closest friends, and apologized for not informing her beforehand, she told me “if I would get insulted because you didn’t tell me, then I wouldn’t really be considered your friend. I’m ecstatic that you’re (finally) engaged. and that’s that.”

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  20. I don’t know if anyone is going to see this, but I as a prospective mother of the bride-to-be and mother-in-law, and 3,000 miles away with very little money to book a ticket in 4-5 days to the l’chaim of my unofficially engaged daughter. Anyone had to deal with this? And yes, there’s the whole ohel thing. I am very upset and stressed out about it all, getting presure like “you’d better book your ticket”, “everyone can’t wait to meet you”, they want me to come for Shabbos, and the l’chaim’s on Sunday at 4PM. But it’s all unofficial. And tickets today are hovering around $500, and by Thursday when I’m supposed to fly out, they’ll be twice that. HELP!!

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