Engagement Party - An engagement party is used to announce a couple’s betrothal and is meant to be the first public appearance of the couple. Traditionally either the bride to be’s or the groom to be’s parents (or both!) will throw this party. However, it is now acceptable for the couple themselves, or even a close relative or family friend to throw this party. Whoever is hosting the party pays for it and it is perfectly acceptable to hold it at home. Usually only close family and friends who are most certainly invited to the wedding are invited the engagement party. People should be invited to an engagement party to be held no more than a month or two after the engagement is announced. Gifts are not usually brought to an engagement party but some guests may contribute a bottle of wine, a snack basket or other edible items. If a gift is brought to the engagement party beyond something you can eat or drink, a written thank you is still appropriate.
Rehearsal Dinner - The rehearsal is held no more than a day or two before the wedding and the rehearsal dinner immediately follows. It can be dinner at a restaurant, a catered affair, or just a BBQ or pizza party. Traditionally the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner but with so many couples paying for their own wedding, the bride and groom seem to host it just as often. Generally the bridal party and the parents of the bride and groom are the only ones invited to the rehearsal dinner. It is polite to also invite the significant others of the members of the bridal party as well. If the atmosphere of the party will be appropriate, it is nice to also invite the flower girl and ring bearer, as well as their parents of course. This party is just a chance to thank everyone who is closest to you for all their work and help with your wedding. Free food may also be a good way to make everyone show for the rehearsal!
Bridesmaids Luncheon or Tea - Usually held a day before the wedding, the bridesmaids tea is a tradition often skipped these days. The bride usually pays for this and it can be as simple as having all the bridesmaids meet the bride for lunch the day before the wedding. It is a thank you from the bride. It is also a great way to relax for once after months of planning and driving your bridesmaids nuts with planning details.