You’re engaged — congrats! It’s time to celebrate with a party. While engagement parties were originally held as a means of announcing your engagement to the world, these days, they’re much more about celebrating the happy couple. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules or traditions to follow. Here’s what you need to know about engagement parties, including some tips on planning.
Engagement party tips and etiquette
Traditionally, the bride’s parents were responsible for hosting the engagement party. In fact, the true intent of the party was kept under wraps until the father of the bride could surprise the guests at the party with news of the engagement. However, this is one of those traditions that’s not really followed anymore.
These days, just about anyone can host an engagement party, and more and more couples are choosing to host it themselves. It’s also not unusual to have more than one engagement party, especially if the bride and groom are from different states or countries. In that case, it’s not unusual to have two parties.
Try to host the engagement party shortly after you get engaged, typically within three or four months. Some people recommend waiting at least a month so the two of you can just enjoy being engaged, without the pressure of planning a party. However, don’t wait too long, or you might find yourself planning the wedding and engagement party at the same time.
If you can’t travel home right away after the engagement or the engagement period is unusually long, then, by all means, hold the engagement party later on. Conversely, if you have a very short engagement period, then you probably want to hold the party sooner so you’re not planning too many major events at the same time.
3. Guest list
Avoid inviting anyone to the engagement party who won’t be attending the wedding. This is the case for other pre-wedding festivities and events. It’s better to have a smaller party. But if you must have a large engagement party and you’re planning a small wedding, then let guests know. Most guests at an engagement party would expect to be invited to the wedding as well.
Whether you choose to send a formal or informal invitation is entirely up to you. Whatever means you choose, the invitation should include the information relevant to attendees, such as the timing, location, and whether additional guests are allowed.
You should also make it easy for invitees to RSVP. It’s frowned upon to include registry information on the engagement party invitation, though it’s usually a good idea to let guests know if they should bring a gift or not.
5. Party venue
The engagement party does not need to be formal at all, and many couples prefer the event to be more casual. That being said, if you want it to be formal and have a sit-down dinner at a fancy restaurant, then, by all means, choose a formal engagement party venue. You will probably want to indicate on the invitation if the event is expected to be formal so guests know what to wear.
There’s no clear rule on gifts for an engagement party. Some couples encourage gifts, while others would rather avoid them. Whatever the case, it’s a good idea to let your guests know ahead of time so they can be prepared.
Even if you choose to eschew gifts, some guests may bring them along anyway. In that case, put the gifts away out of sight and open them at a later time.
Engagement party gifts are typically not that extravagant. Suitable gifts include a bottle of champagne or wine, flowers, gift cards, or a small gift with sentimental value. Always send a thank-you card to anyone who gives you a gift, or ideally, anyone who attended your engagement party.
The engagement party is not the time for games. It’s really a time for conversation and celebration, with a few toasts and announcements.
The nearlyweds often share details on the proposal and their relationship during the engagement party. It’s also a time for different people in their lives to meet and get to know each other. Try to keep the conversation light. This is not the time to get into deep political battles.
In some cases, the parents may be meeting for the first time. If that is the case, try to have them meet in private, away from the entire party. Some couples even choose to have their parents meet just before the engagement party itself.
Final thoughts on planning a great engagement party
Your engagement party will be the first of many pre-wedding and wedding events. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This article sets out some of the key things you should be aware of, including etiquette rules, when planning an engagement party.
Start planning early so you have more than enough time to prepare. You can hold the party at home, but if you’d rather not, there are plenty of great party venues you can use to host your engagement party.