Congrats – you’re engaged!
Throwing an engagement party is the perfect way to celebrate this exciting milestone with your loved ones. But what are the rules when it comes to engagement party etiquette?
If you’re recently engaged, you may have a few questions about engagement parties and the different “rules” involved. Like, who hosts? Are gifts encouraged? And is it okay to invite people who might not actually be invited to the wedding?
Keep reading for our take on engagement party etiquette as we answer your frequently asked questions below!
Do You Need to Throw an Engagement Party?
An engagement party definitely isn’t essential, but it can be a great way to celebrate this new chapter with your friends and family together in one place.
As soon as your loved ones hear about your engagement, they’ll no doubt want to congratulate you both in person, and an engagement party allows you to do just this!
Another benefit of having an engagement party is being able to introduce any friendship groups or family members who haven’t yet crossed paths. It’s the perfect opportunity to get both sides mixing and mingling before the big day.
When Should you Host your Engagement Party?
Ideally, you’ll want to host your engagement party sooner rather than later while the excitement is still fresh! Between 2-4 months of your engagement is generally a good window.
This way, you can allow yourself a few weeks to relish in your “just engaged” bubble, before diving headfirst into the wedding planning.
With this being said, your wedding date might also influence when you decide to host an engagement party. For example, if you guys are planning on a short 6-month engagement, you’ll probably want to host your engagement party within the first 6-8 weeks instead.
The last thing you want to be doing is planning two big events at once!
Who Should Host an Engagement Party?
Traditionally, engagement parties were hosted by the bride’s parents – but in modern times, it’s totally appropriate for anyone close to the couple (or the couple themselves) to host.
If one (or both) sets of parents offer to host, you can graciously accept their kind gesture, but if you’d prefer to host it yourself, that’s fine too. There really are no rules!
Can You Have More Than One Engagement Party?
In certain situations, it might be more practical to host more than one engagement party – for example, if your families are based in different areas. If this is the case, you might decide to host a couple of small, informal engagement parties or gatherings, rather than one big, formal event.
Who Pays for an Engagement Party?
This will depend on who’s hosting, and what you and your partner feel comfortable with. If one (or both) sets of parents have insisted on throwing you an engagement party, this generally means they’re happy to foot the majority of the bill. But if you’ve decided to host the party yourselves, you guys will be responsible for covering costs.
If your parents are already contributing financially to the wedding, you may feel uncomfortable with them chipping in for your engagement, too. An upfront conversation is always the best approach for anything money-related!
Regardless of who’s hosting, traditional etiquette states that you should never expect your guests to pay their own way, so keep this in mind if you’ve decided to host your wedding at a venue or restaurant.
And if you’re already freaking out about saving for your wedding, let alone an engagement party? Don’t stress – engagement parties don’t have to be expensive, and you can always tailor the celebration to suit your budget. A casual barbecue at home might be the perfect low-key event for you and your closest crew.
Who Should Be Invited to Your Engagement Party?
One of the biggest engagement party etiquette rules is this: anyone who receives an invitation to your engagement party should also receive an invitation to your wedding. It’s considered impolite to invite someone to contribute their time (and possibly, money) to celebrate your engagement if they won’t actually be invited to the main event.
For this reason, it’s best to think carefully about your guest list before planning your engagement party. And when in doubt, keep your engagement party small – you’re better off hosting an intimate engagement party, and then inviting more people to the wedding.
Can I Have an Engagement Party if I’m Planning to Elope?
This can be a tricky one. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to celebrate this exciting milestone with your loved ones. On the other hand, it might upset people once they realise they won’t be able to join you on the day.
Our tip? Proceed with caution, and make sure you mention your elopement plans upfront so that guests can celebrate with you without any expectations of an invitation. You might want to address this in your engagement party invitations by including a simple line like, “As you may know, we’re planning to elope in July, but wanted to share the excitement of our engagement with our favourite people!”.
Alternatively, you could skip the engagement party and host a “We’re Married!” party after your elopement. This means you can celebrate your nuptials and share your wedding photos and/or film to help your loved ones feel more involved.
What Should Happen at An Engagement Party?
How you decide to throw your engagement party is totally up to you. An engagement party is typically relaxed and informal – you wouldn’t want it to outshine your wedding reception, after all!
If you’re hosting an intimate engagement party, you might decide on a leisurely long lunch, afternoon drinks and tapas, or dinner at your favourite restaurant. If you’re hosting a bigger engagement party, a cocktail-style event tends to work well, as it encourages mixing and mingling with guests.
An engagement party simply involves spending time with your loved ones, meeting the friends and family of your spouse, making the appropriate introductions, and basking in the love of your favourite people! Food, drinks, music and speeches will also help you create the right atmosphere and ensure guests are comfortable.
Who Should Give a Speech at an Engagement Party?
Traditionally, the father of the bride will propose a toast to the couple, and the couple will then toast back to their guests. But these days, anyone close to you and your partner can give a speech at your engagement party.
Engagement party speeches are usually short, sweet and less formal than what you would expect for a wedding speech. We recommend taking this time to welcome your guests, thank everyone for coming together, and share your excitement about getting engaged. You might also want to talk a little bit about your relationship journey and your proposal story (but save the good stuff for your wedding speech!).
Do you Need to Send Formal Invitations for an Engagement Party?
Not necessarily. Your engagement party invitations should ultimately set the tone for your event and let guests know what to expect.
If you’re planning a very small, family-only affair like a casual barbecue or informal lunch, something like a group text or Facebook event is totally okay. For something a little more up-market taking place at a venue or restaurant, digital invitations would work perfectly. But for a more formal or sophisticated engagement party, traditional paper invitations would be the best fit.
No matter how you decide to send your engagement party invitations, they’ll need to include the right details, like:
- Your names
- The host/s (if relevant)
- The time, date and location
- Dress code
- RSVP instructions
We recommend sending your engagement party invitations at least 1 month prior to the party, or even earlier for any guests that may need to arrange travel.
Should You Expect Gifts at Your Engagement Party?
Gift giving is traditionally not expected at an engagement party. It’s considered impolite to request gifts or create a gift registry specifically for this event. You may even want to include “please, no gifts” or “your presence is our present” on your invitation to set the right expectations upfront.
With this being said, some guests will inevitably still arrive bearing gifts or cards, so it can be a good idea to have a small area reserved for them. In this case, don’t forget to send a thank you note after the party!
On the flipside, if someone else is hosting your engagement party, you should definitely consider gifting them something thoughtful to thank them for their contribution.
Can You Wear a White Dress to Your Engagement Party?
Absolutely! A white, ivory or cream dress is the perfect way to stand out as the bride-to-be, but steer clear of anything too formal or “bridal” – you’ll want to reserve that moment for your wedding.
What Happens After Your Engagement Party?
Once your engagement party has been and gone, you can get started on planning your wedding (yay!).
The early stages of wedding planning can feel a little overwhelming, so we recommend making a priority list and getting your key decisions (think: wedding date, venue, budget and guest list) locked down first. You can get started with these 8 things every couple should do after getting engaged here!