The Complete Guide to Engagement Party Etiquette
— By Lorna Urwin
29 March 2017
If you’re recently engaged, congratulations! Before you get down to the business of wedding planning, it’s time to celebrate in style. Here are some etiquette tips for pulling together the first of your wedding parties.
1/ Should you have one?
Image by Patina Photography
An engagement party isn’t obligatory. It can serve as a lovely way to bring the two families and the bridal party together, giving them an opportunity to get to know each other in a relaxed and fun environment. But if you’re in budgeting mode or planning a short engagement, adding another event to your plate may not be ideal. If you’d like to mark the occasion but without spending a fortune, scale it back to an event that suits you – whether that’s champagne and dinner with your new fiancé, a meal with your nearest and dearest or drinks with your best friends.
Images by Abby Jiu Photography
Traditionally the party follows hot on the heels of the engagement itself, to fully capture the celebratory mood. Alternatively, you could organise a surprise engagement party, gathering people together without revealing the news and then making the announcement once everyone’s gathered together!
3/ Who hosts?
Traditionally this role goes to the bride’s parents, and etiquette suggests giving them hosting honours so that they can be the first to celebrate the engagement. (This can be especially meaningful if your parents will have less involvement in the wedding planning itself.) Of course, having others host is perfectly fine too, whether it’s a friend, other relative or the bride and groom themselves.
4/ Who’s invited?
Image by Redeemed Photography
It’s customary to only invite guests who will also be invited to the wedding, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you’re planning a very small or a destination wedding, including friends that may not receive an invite to the wedding itself can be a thoughtful way to keep them included in the festivities. The guest list should include close family and friends, but beyond that it’s up to you whether the party will be a large gathering or an intimate soirée!
5/ Gift Etiquette
Image by She N He Photography
Gifts are not required at an engagement party, though some guests may choose to bring them. While you can register for gifts before the party, don’t include this information on the invitation. Instead, let the hosts know the details so that they can pass on the information to guests if asked.
If you do receive gifts from guests, be tactful to avoid any embarrassment from those who didn’t bring presents! Store them discreetly and hold off on opening them until after the party, but of course be sure to send a prompt thank you note.
You may also want to present the engagement party host with a gift by way of thanking them for all their efforts.
Images by Lane Dittoe Fine Art Photographs
At a more traditional event, the host of the party - usually the father of the bride - finds an opportune moment to say a few words and toast to the couple and their future happiness. The groom then follows with a toast to his future in-laws to thank them for their welcome, and may also toast his bride and his own parents. At a less traditional event, anyone can make a toast if they wish!
7/ Types of parties
Image by Dominique Fierro
Finally, here are some creative ideas for a variety of engagement parties to get you feeling excited and inspired for your own!
- Garden Feast – move the dining area to the garden and serve up a picnic-style spread. (Add in an extra theme – bohemian, tea party, fiesta – to make it even more memorable.)
- Champagne brunch – set up a DIY bar serving mimosas and your favourite breakfast foods
- Backyard Campfire – a laidback affair perfect for Autumn with hot drinks and marshmallows to toast
- Wine and Cheese – serve cheese and charcuterie platters alongside a selection of wines, or arrange for a group wine-tasting session.
- Restaurant or bar – cut down on the prep by hiring out a room or space at your favourite local restaurant or bar!