Things You Apparently Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Just Got Engaged

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I don’t know about you but I’m done with hearing about all the things we’re not supposed to say to certain types of people in certain situations. Like what we shouldn’t say to pregnant women, what we shouldn’t say to someone who’s lost a loved one, what we shouldn’t say to someone with depression, what we shouldn’t say to someone with a terminal illness.

I understand that articles like this are meant to be share bait bullshit and they encourage a comments section where readers tear shreds off each other’s kitten avatars but when regular people start sharing these articles on their Facebook walls as if they’re facts, that’s when it starts to get worrying.

The craze of recent months has been What Not To Say To Someone Who Just Got Engaged. As a veteran of the internet I can recognise a shit stirring article when I see one but when my non-social media savvy pals start reffering to these posts, incredulously saying ‘Apparently it’s rude to ask to see someones engagement ring! I’ve done that every time someone got engaged! I’m so embarrassed!‘ it’s time to set a few things straight.

Things You Apparently Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Just Got Engaged

How long have you been together? 

I literally asked a friend who I haven’t seen in ten years this exact question a month ago and she replied ‘4 years’ without missing a beat. If someone is embarrassed to tell other people how long they’ve been with their fiance whether it’s 2 months or 20 years, that’s their issue. This is not an offensive question. I get asked all the time how long I’ve been with Mr Smaggle and I don’t treat this question any differently to ‘How long have you lived in Melbourne?‘. It’s totally fine to ask this question as long as you don’t follow it up with 15 years? Why hasn’t he put a ring on it GIRL-friend???’.

Have you set a date yet?

I only really care about 1% of the weddings that I hear about and they’re generally the ones that I’m invited to. If I meet a woman at a party and she’s flashing around her ring and talking about her fiancé, this is going to be one of the first questions that I ask because she clearly wants to talk about it and I know nothing about her so the usual request for a blow by blow of the proposal seems a little too intense. It’s totally fine to ask someone who is engaged if they’ve set the date, especially if you don’t know them well. I can talk about a season specific wedding date for at least 20 minutes, it’s a fabulous conversation mover. And if they haven’t set the date? They’ll say ‘We haven’t set the date yet.‘ and no one will self combust from embarrasment. You’ll just keep talking about other things.

Three months! You’ve known her for THREE MONTHS!

This kind of ties into the first one but if a close friend told me that they were marrying someone after being with them for just three months, honestly, it’s going to be a shock. If people want to get engaged after knowing each other for a short time, I say go for it, but they’re going to have to be prepared to deal with the reactions of their friends and family. I think most people would have a similar reaction if they suddenly quit their jobs and decided to travel overseas without much warning. Shock is an extremely normal reaction to a sudden life change and it’s often pretty difficult to mask. This is not indicative of whether or not they support the marriage it’s a just human reaction to news that they weren’t expecting. I would avoid shouting the length of the relationship directly and repeatedly in their face if you’re able to though. A simple ‘Wow. Congratulations!‘ coupled with your involuntary bug eyed amazment might be a little easier for them to swallow.

Oh my god this is a big year for you! 

How anyone can find this insulting is beyond me. I’ve been a bridesmaid three times and planning a wedding is INSANE! Getting married makes a year ‘a big year‘. Like moving cities would make a year ‘a big year‘. Same with changing jobs or having a baby. It’s a literal observation of the upcoming events in the engaged persons life. No one needs to feel weird about saying this. I feel like a doofus for even having to address this. 

Here’s my advice.

Don’t be a dick. 

If you say something ‘wrong’ just apologise. You’re a human. Not a politically correct, non-offensive word machine. Also if someone says something that offends you, assume that 99% of the time it was completely unintentional. I once had my hair straightened and a lady I work with said ‘Oh my god! Your hair looks SO MUCH BETTER STRAIGHT!!!‘. She honestly meant it as a compliment and it just came wrong. No biggie. We’re still friends. Everyone be cool. 

Have you ever totally put your foot in it? What’s the most cringey thing you’ve ever said to someone?

Feature image and image.

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. No baby, just fat 2 years ago

    I don’t have one that I’ve said, but the most cringey thing anyone ever said to me… I was out for a walk with the guy and the dog and this older woman came up and asked when I was due. When I responded that I wasn’t pregnant, just fat, she started patting my belly saying that I held myself like I was… like that somehow justified her taking my fat belly for a baby belly and made it okay? Ugh. So, the only ‘thing you shouldn’t say’ is when’s the baby due, unless you’re actually watching a baby being delivered from the woman’s body parts.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh yeah that’s the universal Shut The Fuck Up phrase. One of my friends had a stranger say her little girl was a beautiful boy and when my mate corrected her and said her baby was a girl she went ‘Oh sorry! I was going by the face.’ Fail.

  2. Rachel Pierce 2 years ago

    These all seem pretty standard to me. People can be stubbornly stupid sometimes.
    I find these list articles frustrating, because they’re so busy telling us what we shouldn’t do rather than giving ideas for what we could say instead. I’m all for not triggering bad memories, but what SHOULD I say about the elephant in the room? To ignore it seems just as insensative.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I totally agree. And there are certain ways to carry on a conversation and I think people decide that a question is offensive if they don’t want to answer it. Which is just silly.

  3. Nicole 2 years ago

    I did get a little bit of the shock from people because I’d only been with Anthony for 3 months when we decided to get marry. But I think it was only a little bit about the short time and a lot about me being anti-marriage before that. I actually think I offended more people just by having nothing to show them when they asked to see a ring. Then they would imply that he was a bad person.

    Not to sound like a sad sack, but I’ve kind of had a lifetime of “offensive” things said to me. I’m also very analytical so, except for when my sarcasm has been read as too harsh, I think(?) I tend to avoid offending other people. Mostly because I’ve thought about how and what to say to people 57 times before it comes out my mouth.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I’m definitely a person who speaks before they think. Thankfully I’m good at backtracking and I always have nice intentions so if I’ve ever upset anyone I can usually fix it pretty quickly. I have ‘offensive’ things said to me all the time. I had an old man call me a ‘strapping young lady’ when I heaved a pile newspapers at my job one morning when I was 16. I was so self conscious about being twice the size of everyone at school and it made me feel like shit. But he wasn’t to know that’s what I felt so self conscious about. Even though it was a weird thing to say there’s no way he meant it to upset me. I always try to think about whether what the person was trying to convey. xxx

      • Nicole 2 years ago

        I’ve had people, both close to me (relatives), and not so close (co-workers, including a company taxi driver who met me twice) tell me I was too fat throughout my life. Not said in a “maybe they meant it as a compliment” way.

        But I think the time that sticks out the most was when I was in a store here and an employee approached Anthony and I from behind. When we turned around he, without hesitation, tells me “oh, I thought you were a guy, you kind of look like one”. I had a short mohawk at the time. He then says my hair makes him think of this musician that they have the album of in the store and insists I go and see the CD cover. He shows it to us and says he thinks I look just like her except that “she has three fat rolls and you only have two”. Surprisingy we didn’t leave immediately ( I think we thought he worked on commission and felt guilty or something). But he would just not shut up and ended up making us late for the thing we were supposed to be at next.

  4. Cilla 2 years ago

    Offence is taken not given.
    But be prepared to smile and nod if the answer is not what you were expecting.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I really love that. Offence is taken not given. Brilliant.

  5. 26 Years & Counting 2 years ago

    ‘Rules’ are getting a bit over the top. I have a (probably) bad habit of people telling me they’re pregnant and me going “Was it planned?”. But that says more about me & not having plans for kids & being unable to relate more than them!

    • Yeah, my usual response is something like “is that good news?” Not in a mean way but just checking before I congratulate them.

  6. What? There are things you shouldn’t say to someone who’s just got engaged! Most people I know are just looking for a chance to tell you everything the moment you ask them anything after they get engaged.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I know that’s what I was thinking! I’m like are there off limits topics for people who just got engaged? Everyone I’ve ever met can’t stop talking about being engaged, which is fine! I love talking about it but they can’t then get their panties in a twist when I ask an ‘offensive’ question.

  7. Amber-Rose Thomas 2 years ago

    My step-sister is a nanny to twins in London. She was out with them in a park one day when a woman came over and said “No wonder you look so awful, you’ve had twins!” Erm, awkward. This comes under the heading of ‘don’t be a dick,’

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      That totally comes under the ‘don’t be a dick’ heading. Just never say someone looks awful. Not okay,

  8. Niki 2 years ago

    This article reminds me of a feeling I got every time I (stupidly) logged on to facebook when I was on holiday overseas. I was feeling so free and positive from the travel, then I’d go online and everything was ‘don’t eat this’, ‘why everything you knew about THIS is wrong’, ‘don’t shampoo in the shower’, ‘what you shouldn’t say to someone who’s BLAH’ and it immediately pulled me down into a sad, anxious space. One time I literally threw my phone across the room because the feeling was so toxic. Anyway, very refreshing to read this. Stop feeling bad for doing normal things and having normal reactions everyone!

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      That’s exactly my point. I’m tired of everyone being total wingers about everything all the time. And as Cilla said, offence is taken not given. I think there’s a massive difference between someone being a real prick and the person just being over sensitive. I have a friend who’s like that and she’ll call me and be all ‘Oh my god! You’ll never guess what such and such said to me today!’ and then she’ll tell me something totally normal and I’ll be all ‘And…?’. It’s bizarre.

  9. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 2 years ago

    I don’t think any of those things would be offensive at all. Now asking if someone is pregnant, that is offensive unless you know for sure. I’ve been asked a few times and it makes me want to punch someone 😛

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I actually think that’s the one thing that you should say ever. Unless you are perosnally witness a baby crawling of her then no. Just no.

  10. Veggie Mama 2 years ago

    Oh god, I love this. Some people are just reeeeally sensitive, and are offended at other people’s possibly obtuse ways of making conversation. Small talk sucks, but at least I’m pretending to care!


  1. […] few weeks ago I wrote a post called Things You Apparently Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who Just Got Engaged. A writer friend of mine sent me through a rebuttal of things you REALLY shouldn’t say to […]

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