Engagement Party Etiquette: From Invitations to the Guest List

Who should throw the engagement party?

Traditionally, the parents of the bride host the first engagement party, after which additional parties may be thrown by the family of the groom.

Modern takes on the engagement party include both sets of parents coming together to host a bash, or friends of the bride and/or groom hosting an additional event in the couple’s honor.

Engagement Party Etiquette

Engagement events are typically cocktail parties or casual dinners. You will want the happy couple to feel comfortable mixing, mingling, and simply having a blast.

In many cases, the engagement party will be an opportunity for the bride and groom to introduce their family and friends to one another. The number of guests and the setting of the event should take into consideration the comfort of the guests of honor. For example, if your friend is shy and nervous about mixing her family with her future in-laws, a large, formal 6-course dinner for 75 at a fancy restaurant might not be as intimate, or as comfortable for her, as a casual cocktail party at home.

Should guests bring gifts to engagement parties?

While gifts have not traditionally been given at engagement parties, they are becoming increasingly common. As the host or hostess of the party, there are a few options for directing guests toward an appropriate decision:

  • Encourage the couple to register before the party If the couple has registered for a wide price range of items before the event, guests will have some direction and will feel comfortable bringing a gift if they wish to do so.
  • Ask that no gifts be brought If the couple is uncomfortable accepting gifts, you may want to include a note on the invitation requesting that no gifts be brought.
  • Create a Gift Theme Ask that guests bring small, specific items, like a book or bottle of wine to help the couple start their collection. Another option is to ask guests to bring pictures and/or happy memories of the couple to be placed in a scrapbook in lieu of gifts.

When should the engagement party be held?

Make sure to let the happy couple enjoy their time of simply being engaged before you initiate the party season. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least a month in order to let them share the news with their loved ones and simply enjoy their engagement. Waiting 2 to 3 months will allow them some time to think about what they might want for their wedding and to set a date, which will help you in planning the engagement party. Like everything else, this will of course depend on the couple, their individual style and schedules, and the length of their actual engagement!

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