Proper Phrasing: Expressions to use for a bride to be

by epi on June 20, 2012

Q: What is the appropriate phrase to acknowledge a recently engaged bride to be? I offered, ‘congratulations’ yet, was informed the correct phrase to use is, ‘best wishes.’ Which is most appropriate?

A: It is more appropriate to extend your best wishes to a bride-to-be. Some believe saying congratulations can be interpreted as congratulating her on “catching” a husband.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eileen June 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

I don’t think of “congratulations” as having that connotation. “Best wishes” may be the official proper thing to say, but I think any well wishes would be welcomed. I was recently married and was offered congratulations during many parts of the process from engagement to the wedding, and I was most certainly not offended (although maybe they were happy I “caught a husband”…).

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Nina June 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

I have never heard of this rule–I have been congratulated many times on my engagement, and so has my fiance. Perhaps we’re all just ignorant of the connotations of the word “congratulations” but I think it’s much ruder to reject someone’s kind comment and tell them what they ought to have said. Surely, we can accept genuine good intentions in whatever harmless form they take, can’t we?

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Lilli June 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I agree with the previous posters that any form of well-wishing is appropriate. I’d also add that, prior to the engagement, she was probably hoping he would ask and he was hoping she’d say yes! I think “congrats” are in order for anything one hoped to get and did.

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Winifred Rosenburg June 21, 2012 at 10:41 am

I think some of you are looking at this backwards. This is not advice to brides that whenever someone says “congratulations” they should respond “How dare you!” Of course brides should just say “thank you.” The advice is for people who speak to brides, not brides themselves. The fact is we should all try to know what the right thing to say in these situations is, even if it seems silly and like no one would ever take offense to saying the “wrong” thing. Yes, a bride would have to be very foolish to take offense at someone saying “congratulations” (particularly considering the stupid things that are sometimes said to brides) but that doesn’t change the obligation of the person speaking to the bride to try to say the correct thing.

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Heather June 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I didn’t know about this guideline. However, I have to say that “Best Wishes” to me sounds like “Good Luck.” But not in a good way! It sounds like, “Oh you’re engaged?… Well, good luck with that!”

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Julia June 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm

A small thing — I just wanted to remind EPI that not all couples are heterosexual!

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Emily February 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

“All the joy to you both!”

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