Engagements are something you want to shout from the rooftops, so putting a wedding announcement in the newspaper is an easy way to effectively do so and save your voice. However, it's also a storied tradition, rich in history.
Wedding Announcement in the Newspaper History
Announcing an engagement wasn't always about the joy of the event. It was quite serious, related to the old tradition of "reading of the banns." This was important, because it gave anyone in the community ample time to step forward and say that the ceremony should not take place.
Until very recently, marriage was regarded more as a business arrangement than anything else, and it was a way even middle-class families could better themselves. If a son or daughter was marrying into a good family with money, saying as much to the world at large could change both families' fortunes for years to come.
What Should the Announcement Say?
In some ways, the wording of a wedding announcement in the newspaper hasn't changed much in several generations. Whether you are announcing the engagement or the wedding itself, the standard procedure is to give the name of each party and where they are from; where they went to college and perhaps give their degree information; where and what kind of work they do; who their parents are and where they are from; who their grandparents are and where they are from.
You might also say when and where the wedding is taking place. Beyond that, it depends upon the limitations of the paper and your budget, as most papers charge by the word. Couples should also be aware that some newspapers have a standard format for wedding announcements and extra information may not be permitted.
Many papers, however, do welcome creativity and storytelling, particularly if there is something unique or amusing in the couple's story. Many of the wedding announcements printed in The New York Times say something about how the couple met, for example. If the announcement is made after the wedding, there is something said about the ceremony itself - such as details about the dress or the wedding location.
When to Send It In
A big city newspaper is going to have a different procedure from a smaller, more local publication. They all typically have websites that will advise as to the best time to send something in for publication consideration, including deadlines for announcements that include photographs.
Part of it depends on you. If you want to announce the wedding before the date, you'll have to be very proactive. Many newspapers have limited space and a lot of competition, so preparing the announcement well in advance for submission consideration may be important It's worth it, however, because it looks beautiful and is makes a nice keepsake in addition to its functional purpose of announcing the wedding.
Newspaper Traditions in a Digital Age
Local newspapers are suffering as more and more people turn to the internet for their news. This is not healthy for small or big towns, but it does seem to be a reality. It's definitely unfortunate where wedding announcements are concerned. While you can still have the same information printed online, it doesn't have the same look or feel. You might do it anyway, though -- you can always print it and keep it in the wedding album as another lovely token of the day.