In the Events area of the Couple Relationship screen, an option needs to be added for Betrothal information. Sometimes the Betrothal information is in a different part of the parish records separate from the marriages. This creates two entries (one for the betrothal and one for the marriage) when the records are indexed. Also, sometimes the betrothal is the only indication that a marriage took place. The reason for this is that the marriages entries were destroyed or the minister forgot to record the marriage. And sometimes the marriage didn't take place for various reasons (death of the future spouse, etc.).
So please ADD a betrothal option to the Events area!
Unfortunately, until/unless the sorting and display options for the couple relationship area are sorted out, this would be a Bad Idea: the Family Members section only shows the event with the earliest date, so you'd be replacing everyone's wedding with something earlier. Instead, I suggest entering them as a Custom Event in each person's Other Information section.
I find it interesting that you've seen betrothals so often that you want to be able to enter them in Family Tree. I've never encountered an actual betrothal in a church register. What I have seen, many times, are announcements or banns. These usually come in threes, often on the three consecutive Sundays before the wedding. The other thing I've seen are dismissals, which were basically permission from one spouse's church for him (or rarely, her) to go get married in the other spouse's church.
It's tempting to consider such entries as substitutes for a marriage that can't be found, saying that the priest must've forgotten to enter the actual event, but I suggest being very careful of such assumptions. If the couple later appear to be married -- their babies are baptized as legitimate, or they're listed as husband and wife somewhere -- then yeah, the wedding likely happened, but otherwise, the existence of an announcement or dismissal is not a guarantee.3
Gordon Collett ✭✭✭✭✭
Here's some historical background you may or may not be interested in. In some of the older Norwegian parish registers betrothals are routinely recorded. Here, for example is the betrothal of Gregorius Nielsen Nyesæter and Guro Fridrichsdatter Watne on 2 February 1812:
Here is their marriage record on 20 April 1813. Yes, over a year later:
I've seen some of these sets of betrothal/marriage records where the marriage record does not even include the couple's farm name/residence which makes is really hard to know if you have the right couple, but the betrothal record will. This added information makes the betrothal record very valuable.
In some parish registers all there is is the betrothal record with the marriage date added to it later.
I'm not sure of the time period or the reasons, but at some point in Norwegian social history, once a couple was betrothed, the community pretty well considered them married. They would set up their household and get on with life without waiting for the wedding. Any children born were viewed as legitimate. There were probably some couples that never actually got around to the ceremony but in all future records they would clearly look married.
I suspect this was mainly in areas of small populations, huge parishes, a priest that only occasionally came to the local church, and the cost of a wedding.
I do know that a similar situation existed around death. Norwegian parish registers throughout the 1800s have three dates associated with death. The death date, burial date, and funeral date are all recorded. Dying was free. Getting buried was free. Having the priest hold a funeral and consecrate the grave cost money. While the burial date is generally within days of death, the funeral date could be weeks to months after the burial and be either the next time the priest came to town or when the family had been able to scrape up enough money to pay the priest for his services.
Here is an example of the child of a factory worker who was born 6 September 1878:
He died, September 20, was buried September 25, but the funeral wasn't held until December 8.
But back to recording these dates. I agree that for now it is probably best to record betrothals in the couple relationship notes section. However, I hope this changes in the near future. If you look at the marriage information in the new pages, it now is contained in a button that acts almost exactly like all the event data buttons under Vitals and Other Information:
Hover over it and it turns grey. Click on it and a Data View popup box opens. It looks like it would be very easy to turn this into a section, on a small scale, that acts just like Other Information and has an unlimited number of buttons making a chronological list of every marriage event.
I really hope this is high on the list of upcoming new features.1
"The death date, burial date, and funeral date are all recorded. Dying was free. Getting buried was free. Having the priest hold a funeral and consecrate the grave cost money. While the burial date is generally within days of death, the funeral date could be weeks to months after the burial and be either the next time the priest came to town or when the family had been able to scrape up enough money to pay the priest for his services."
As a complete aside - thanks @Gordon Collett for this indication of how other countries did things. Burials and funerals are the same thing in the UK, with burials always taking place in consecrated ground (with notable exceptions), so it's interesting to see why some researchers have reason to not realise this when looking at their UK ancestry.
Re "Burials and funerals are the same thing" - obviously I know their purposes are different but they are separated only by the time taken to walk from the church to the graveside.0