Engagement Party 101

Engagement Party Photo

Getting engaged is a cause for celebration, a time for two families to celebrate becoming one. To do so, many families are throwing engagement parties shortly after the groom pops the question. Contrary to popular belief, an engagement party is not actually a traditional event. As such, it is not considered a requirement — but why pass up a chance to celebrate and have fun with your family and friends? Engagement parties can be anything from a casual backyard BBQ to a more formal, cocktail affair. The options are endless and can therefore work for ANY budget.  Since this party is one of the first occasions thrown in the wedding planning process, there is often a lot of questions concerning proper engagement party etiquette. Below are 11 key etiquette tips to keep in mind when planning your own function:

  1. The bride’s family typically hosts the engagement party since it’s the first wedding-related social gathering.  It is also common for the bride and groom to host their own engagement party.
  2. The groom’s family can throw an additional engagement party if the majority of the family resides out-of-town.
  3. Base the timing of the party on the length of your engagement.  If you plan to have a longer engagement, plan to have your party 1-3 months after your engagement or one year before your wedding.  You want to ensure your party takes place closer to the engagement rather than the wedding.
  4. Gifts are NOT required, but many close family and friends may bring them.  If they do, keep the gifts in a separate room and open them in private once the event is over (You may want to create a preliminary registry for this function just in case.  Your family can provide the registry details if anyone should ask).
  5. Send thank you notes for any gifts received at the function.
  6. Everyone invited to the engagement party should be invited to the wedding as well.  To avoid any mishaps, try to create a draft guest list for your wedding before sending out any engagement party invites.
  7. Do not ask your maid of honor or best man to host the party.  Both of these individuals will be planning a multitude of other functions later on in the wedding planning process.
  8. Base your invitations off the level of formality.  If you are having a casual cookout, invites can be made by phone or via Evite.  If you plan to have a more formal affair, send each guest a paper invitation.  No matter the type of invite, send them out at least a month in advance.
  9. In terms of decor, pick a theme that’s completely different than your intended wedding day look.  Your engagement party should never upstage your wedding!
  10. The only real formality is the order of speeches.  It is customary for the father of the bride to make the first speech — honoring the bride and groom to be.  Next up is the groom’s speech, where he will make a toast to his bride to be and her family.  Any other speeches can follow, but are not required.
  11. The bride can present the groom with an engagement present (since she has a shiny new ring for all of the guests to admire!).  A common gift is an engraved watch (see other groom’s gift options here).

As you can gather from above, engagement parties are open for interpretation.  There are endless creative options and only a few rules — take advantage of this now, because everything later on in the wedding planning process tends to be very different (if you choose to follow the traditional path).

Take risks.

Make it personal.

Most importantly, have fun and create lasting memories!

For event inspiration and other wedding planning tips, visit With An I Do Event Planning & Design on Pinterest.


Photo Credit: praisewedding.com

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