Engagement parties are such an awesome way to celebrate this important milestone with friends and family, but the dos and don'ts about events like this can feel a little intimidating. Don't worry. Engagement party etiquette really just comes down to making sure everyone feels included and no one's feelings get hurt.
These events tend to be a lot more relaxed than other wedding parties. From who throws the party to when you should have it, there are only a few basic etiquette rules you need to focus on. Then turn your attention to what really matters: celebrating your great news. We've got your answers to a few common questions.
When Do You Have an Engagement Party?
There's no wrong time to have an engagement party, but it makes the most sense to have it pretty soon after you get engaged. After all, it's really about celebrating the engagement itself, and when you get close to the wedding, there will be other major parties and showers. The best time to throw the engagement bash is within a couple of months after you announce your engagement.
You'll need to give family and friends a bit of a heads up to include your engagement party in their schedules. Send invitations (usually email or text) at least two to four weeks before the party.
Who Throws an Engagement Party?
Showers have etiquette rules about who hosts the event, but engagement parties are a little more relaxed this way (okay, in lots of ways). Traditionally, the parents of the bride throw the engagement party, but that's not a rule at all. When it comes to engagement parties, who pays for the event isn't really that important. Anyone can host it, including the couple. This is especially true if you're not asking for gifts.
What Is the Engagement Party Etiquette About Gifts?
So, here's the thing: engagement parties don't usually involve gifts. This makes sense; you've got showers and the actual wedding a little later. Some people may still bring a gift, and that's totally okay. Just thank them and make a note of what they brought so you can send a thank you note later.
Even though engagement parties don't usually include gifts, it's nice to be clear about this in your invitation. A simple "no gifts please" on the invite will keep things from being awkward for anyone.
Who Should You Invite to an Engagement Party?
Even though the couple probably hasn't made an official wedding guest list yet, you'll need to know a bit about who they plan to include when you're deciding who to invite to the engagement party. All the guests at this pre-wedding celebration need to be people who will be invited to the wedding. However, not everyone on the wedding guest list needs to be invited. It's totally normal (even expected) to keep the guest list for an engagement party way shorter. This is an intimate event, and it's expected it will be small.
Should You Only Have One Engagement Party?
It's totally fine to have more than one engagement party, especially if you know different groups of people. Just don't invite the same people to more than one event (unless it's your family or wedding party).
What Should You Wear to an Engagement Party?
Most engagement parties these days tend to be fairly casual, but you can look to the invitation for guidance. If it doesn't specify, go with what you might wear to a nice dinner - nothing super fancy but still something nice. You can't go wrong with pants or a skirt and a dressy shirt.
The couple being honored might want to dress just a little fancier than the guests. This is, after all, a once-in-a-lifetime party. A cute dress or favorite dress shirt or jacket is a win.
Three Engagement Party Etiquette Tips to Keep in Mind
There are three more tips to keep in mind when it comes to basic etiquette for engagement parties.
Invite People Who Will Be Comfortable Together
Because you can have more than one engagement party, think about the people on the guest list and how they feel about each other. They don't have to know each other yet, but invite people who will get along with each other. If you have groups who won't, just have more than one party. This event should be about celebrating the engagement.
The Couple Should Greet Everyone
No matter where you have your engagement party or how many people you invite, the couple should be available to greet each guest personally and chat for a little while. After all, everyone is here to celebrate with them, so it's important to make sure guests feel included.
Don't Make a Big Deal Out of Gifts
Whether someone brings a gift even when you said they weren't expected or almost everyone brings a present, keep your response to gifts on the DL. Don't open them at the party or display them on a table. It's likely some (or most) guests won't bring them, and no one should feel bad about that.
Make Engagement Party Guests Feel Included
Ultimately, engagement party etiquette comes down to taking other perspectives. Anything that makes guests feel included and avoids hurt feelings is the right choice, and anything with the potential for awkwardness is probably not. If you're not sure what to do, just consider how the choice might affect other people. You'll almost always get it right.