Wedding Receptions
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

The Ins and Outs of Throwing An Engagement Party

Whilst engagement parties are characterised by their sense of humming excitement and guaranteed fun, they are a little more invoved than throwing some cocktail weiners on toothpicks and calling it a day. So we've broken down all elements of how the party should proceed, as well as the pros and cons of throwing this potential event. So don't dial your party planner until you've read through our basics!

( Courtesy glamourandgraceblog.com)

Before proceeding any further, it's worth taking a step back and asking yourself whether it really is worth the time, money and effort to set up an engagement party. An engagement party is by no means mandatory, so this is a case of dancing to the beat of your own drums. Consider the following before coming to a final decision:

Pros:

  • A fun way of announcing your engagement to your friends and family, if you love the idea of surprising everyone.
  • A great way for your families and friends to get to know one another.
  • Any excuse for a party with your nearest and dearest, right?
  • If you are planning a destination wedding, the engagement party may be the only opportunity for your friends to celebrate with you.

Cons

  • You'll have to begin thinking about your wedding guest list, as you should'nt not be inviting anyone to the party who you're not planning on inviting to the wedding itself.
  • There is a lot of work and expense involved in the organisation of the party.
  • Depending on the length of the engagement, it may be awkward to have an engagement party close to the wedding.

When should you hold your engagement party?

This depends mainly on two things; the date of the wedding and the seasonal opportunity. Some people have their party literally on the same day as the engagement, but more commonly, it's held within one to three months of the announcement. Those who are having a more formal engagement party may leave it for later on, as the general rule is that the fancier the party, the longer it takes to organise. Usually, there is at least 6 months between the engagement party and the wedding.

Who should host your engagement party?

Although traditionally the enagement party is hosted either by the bride's parents or a close friend of hers, these rigid customs are becoming increasingly relaxed. Today, the part can be held by either the bride or groom's parents, a close friend of the couple, or the couple themselves. 

Can you ask someone to host your engagement party?

If no one volunteers to host the event, you should host it yourself. Again, this is considered to be within the parameters of modern etiquette and a very common practice. You shouldn't impose on anybody by asking them to hold an event for your benefit if they don't express the natural and unpressured desire to do so themselves.

What sort of event should it be?

There are no rules or norms for engagement parties- this will depend solely on your personal style and budget. It can be as formal or informal as you choose, and at any time of the day. A cocktail party with canapes and drinks a- flowin' is always a safe bet.

Who should you invite?

The engagement party is a great opportunity for members of the bride and groom’s respective families to meet and get to know each other. Invite the same people you're intending to invite to the wedding. If you forget to invite anyone to the engagement party, you can still invite them to the wedding without coming off as rude, but do not invite anyone to your enagagement party whom you know you will not be inviting to the wedding- that is considered a clear etiquette no-no.  Apart from family, often there are work and sport colleagues that you may want to invite.

How should you send out invitations?

Obviously the guests will need to be invited one way or another. If you are organised enough, you could include engagement party invitations with your stationery order, save a few dollars and be consistent with the other wedding events. Some people use email invitations and rsvp’s and others simply use telephonic invitations.

Should you expect gifts?

Etiquette doesn't dictate that your guests bring a gift to your engagement party, so don't count on them. Some guests, however, may want to bring gifts and ask where you're registered. So in order to cover all bases, register for your gifts before you send out the invitations (you can always reuse your registry for your wedding gifts). If people do happen to bring presents, put them aside and open them after the party- they shouldn't be a central focus of the event. And remember to send out pointed 'thank you' notes to those who have been so kind as to buy you a little something special!

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