An engagement party is a great way for your friends and family to celebrate a couple’s new status, especially since a social gathering is more fun than just a phone call or greeting card. It’s also important because a wedding brings together people from different social spheres and generations.
The key people in the bride and groom’s lives may not have had a chance to mingle and get to know each other yet. Especially if they’re helping to plan the wedding, they will be seeing a lot of each other over the next year or so. It’s nice to have a relaxed event to break the ice before the wedding planning stress sets in. A fun party will alleviate any jitters.
Hosting an engagement party
Traditionally, an engagement party is hosted by the bride and groom’s parents. But, over the years, engagement parties are now hosted by close relatives, friends and even the couple themselves. There may even be two parties: one for family, one for friends. The engagement party is usually scheduled about a month after the engagement. This gives the couple a little breathing room from all the excitement.
If a couple decides to through their own engagement party, it’s good to keep in mind that the bill is their responsibility. Location can be casual—the couple’s favorite restaurant, a small venue or someone’s house.
Preparing your engagement party guest list
It’s a good idea to start working on the wedding guest list before the engagement party, since traditional etiquette dictates that everyone invited to the engagement party should also be invited to the wedding If you or your parents are hosting, you should be aware that an engagement party invite translates to a wedding party invite in most people’s minds.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as if your friends decide to host an informal gathering. In that case, you may invite acquaintances such as coworkers and newer friends that won’t necessarily make the wedding guest list.
It’s also worth noting that this rule is changing to accommodate the fact that many people have smaller weddings or destination weddings that may be far from friends and even family.
Once you have an idea of who you will invite to the wedding, you can pare the list down to your immediate family and closest friends. If you’ve been invited to an engagement party, you can consider yourself in the inner circle and an important part of the couple’s lives.
Engagement party activities
Typically an engagement party is a time for the bride’s close family and friends and the groom’s close family and friends to meet and celebrate the couple. It’s also a good time for the wedding party to meet if they haven’t yet.
Engagement parties typically consist of eating, drinking and conversing with one another. Games are not usually played.
During the party it is traditional for the father of the bride to toast the couple. Following this, the bride and groom both give a toast.
Gift-giving etiquette for engagement parties
When it comes to how much to spend on an engagement party gift, you should consider your relationship with the couple and what your budget entails. Traditionally, etiquette calls for only close family and friends to present an engagement gift (customarily for the bride). If you’ve been invited to the party, you already know that you are considered close to the couple.
Since you’ll likely be giving gifts at the bridal shower and wedding as well, don’t feel obligated to go all out on an expensive gift. Something small and sentimental is perfectly acceptable. For informal parties, you might even arrive with just a bottle of wine or some flowers.
Some couples even ask guests not to bring gifts. If you still don’t want to come empty-handed, make it a host or hostess gift like a special food or beverage.
If they aren’t hosting themselves, the bride and groom may want to thank the host or hostess with a special gift that is as thoughtful as the party itself. Tickets to a show or a first edition of their favorite book are some ways a couple can show their appreciation toward the host.
Gift ideas for an engagement party
Most likely, the couple hasn’t yet registered anywhere at this point. If they have, you could choose one of the smaller gifts to bring. Keep in mind, an engagement gift is not the wedding or bridal gift. If they are having a celebration at home, you can also offer to bring something to eat.
- Spa kit to help the couple relax amongst hectic wedding planning
- Picture frames (it’s a nice touch to add a photo of the couple)
- Restaurant gift certificate
- Scented candles or a set of votive candles for their romantic evenings together
- Photo albums so they can have a place to keep their engagement party photos
- Wine coasters
- Tea towels
- Personalized stemware for wedding toasts or a romantic dinner
- Crystal vase for flowers
- Book of poetry or a classic romantic story
- Wine chiller for the champagne gifts they are likely to receive
- Wedding planner or calendar for all the important dates and details they’ll need to remember
- Floral bouquet
- Engagement guide to answer all the tricky etiquette questions surrounding weddings
- Gift basket of coffee, wine, or fruit
- Box of gourmet chocolates
- Ring holder to keep their small valuables and wedding rings safe on the bedside table
- Cake server set for their wedding day and beyond
- Personalized cutting board with their new monikers
- Corkscrew and wine stopper set
- A picnic basket full of essentials for a midday date
Most couples simply desire your presence at an engagement party, not your presents. However, a thoughtful gift is always appreciated, especially when it’s sentimental or tailored to the personalities of the couple. Whether they are the type to appreciate something elegant or something whimsical, personalized engagement party gifts are sure to make the new couple feel celebrated and loved.