There are many etiquette considerations when planning, holding or simply attending an engagement party. While an engagement party may seem just as stressful as an actual wedding, if everyone behaves in accordance with certain conventions, it is a great time for everyone to celebrate the happy couple in a relaxed atmosphere.
- According to A to Z of Manners and Etiquette, "Engagement party etiquette requires the bride's family to host the first social gathering to share the good news with family members and close friends." While some families follow this convention, traditions have loosened somewhat as The Wedding Channel explains, "Nowadays, those rules don't necessarily apply. Any friend of the couple can offer to host the bash, especially if the couple's family lives far away or if there are sticky family relationships." Regardless, it is important for the engaged couple to determine whether the bride's parents plan to hold the party. If not, things are flexible. Some couples even throw their own engagement parties.
Who to Invite
- There are no hard and fast rules on who to invite to an engagement party, except to make sure not to invite anyone who will not be invited to the wedding. Normally, the party will not be as large as the wedding, so the number of guests should be considerably less. The Knot suggests, "The engagement party is a more intimate affair than your wedding, and it's nice to keep it small, especially if your families are meeting for the first time." Keep things within bounds that are comfortable for the families. The Knot adds, "Consider making it a family-only affair---or doing two parties, one with family and one with friends---to maximize your time with each group."
- There are many options for party locations. The Wedding Channel suggests venues ranging from homes, restaurants or more creative locations like the beach or a vineyard. A place that is special to the couple is also a good idea. Where did they meet? Where did they go on their first date? Do they have a favorite restaurant? A location that is important to their relationship will provide for good memories and give guests a topic for conversation.
- Unlike the actual wedding, gifts are not required at an engagement party. Nonetheless, some guests may desire to give them. The Knot explains, "Gifts are optional at an engagement party, but it's smart to start a bridal registry for a few items in case people ask family or friends what they can get you. Don't mention that you have a registry unless someone you invite specifically asks about gifts. A to Z of Manners and Etiquette specifies that you should open gifts in private after the party. Guests who did not bring gifts will be uncomfortable if you open some in front of them. Also, it is essential that you send thank you notes to guests who do bring gifts.
- A to Z of Manners and Etiquette states that "The bride's father is the first to invite the guests to raise their glass in honor of the bride-and-groom-to-be." After the father's toast, it is common for the groom to say a few words, but, in recent times, the bride may say something instead. It is also acceptable for both bride and groom to speak. Next, other guests may raise a toast of their own. The Knot adds, "When well-wishers propose a toast to you, remain seated and don't raise your glass or drink." It is also important that the bride and groom make sure to formally thank their parents or the party's hosts.
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