Believe it or not, there are many dos and don’ts when it comes to throwing and attending an engagement party. Whether you’re throwing your own event, hosting the party for the happy couple or you have simply been invited as a guest, it pays to brush up on engagement party etiquette. Throw out your old engagement party ideas and find out what rules are relevant, what rules are out of date, and how to be the perfect host or guest at your next engagement party.
Who Hosts the Engagement Party?
Traditionally, the engagement party would be held by the bride’s parents. These days however, things are a little more relaxed. The couple can host their own engagement party; friends, work colleagues, or the groom’s family can also host the event. However, out of respect, the bride’s parents should be given the first option of hosting their daughter’s engagement party before anyone else takes over. Some couples choose to have a more formal event that involves close family and friends and another less formal party with friends, work colleagues and selected family.
When the Party Should Be Held
As a general rule, the engagement party is usually held one to three months after the engagement has been announced. However, this can depend on how long the engagement is. If the wedding date isn’t for another 12 months, then waiting three months to hold the celebrations is ideal. If the wedding is going to be held in six months time, then the party should be held within a month of the engagement being announced. These days however, there isn’t too much formal etiquette around this issue. Some couples even choose to hold a party and announce they are engaged at the event.
Who Should You Invite?
Should you invite only those guests who will be invited to the wedding? Is it inappropriate to invite guests to the engagement who will not be attending your wedding? Traditionally, engagement party etiquette was that only those who will be invited to the wedding should be invited to the engagement celebration. These days, the rules on who to invite are a little more lax. If you plan on having a very small, intimate wedding, then it’s a good idea to invite more people to the engagement party. Often, because of travel and living abroad, many friends and family members may not be able to attend both events. So it’s best to give these people the opportunity to attend both events or just one. If the party is being held by the bride’s parents, it is proper etiquette to invite family members from the groom’s side as well.
Gifts or No Gifts
Gift giving isn’t a rule, although some people do like to give gifts anyway. Traditionally, if gifts were received, they would never be opened at the event, and the couple would send out thank you cards to those who gave gifts. Now, however, gift giving can depend on how formal or informal the event is. A formal event is more likely to see guests bringing gifts for the couple. In this case, it is always a good idea for the couple to have a gift register ready and available so the host can provide this should they be asked. For less formal events, guests are likely to bring a bottle of wine or Champagne, or maybe a nice box of chocolates as a gift, similar to what they would bring to any other party event. If the couple specifies no gifts then the invitation can state this.
Thoughts on the Theme
Traditionally, an engagement celebration consisted of a cocktail party held at the home of the parents of the bride. The good news is that this is no longer the only accepted way to throw a party. Engagement parties today can be held at a range of different venues, from an exclusive hotel ballroom for the most formal event to a friend’s back yard for a relaxed BBQ. It really depends on what the preference of the happy couple or those hosting the party.