The Wedding Guest’s Guide to Engagement Parties
Yay! Your friend is engaged and you want to throw her and her intended a little party to celebrate. Or perhaps you just got invited to an engagement party and aren’t sure what’s expected of you. So…now what? Read on for everything you need to know about engagement parties.
Unlike many other wedding events, there’s no “designated host” for throwing the first official celebration for the married-couple-to-be. Sometimes it’s one set of parents, but it might also be godparents, an aunt and uncle, or a friend. And often it comes down to the one with the biggest/cleanest/most party-friendly home in the couples’ home city. So if you’re up for it, feel free to throw your hat in the ring!
SETTING THE SCENE
The rule of thumb here is not to upstage any wedding vision currently in the works. If the couple is low-key and planning a low-key celebration, then follow suit. (On the flipside, don’t feel pressured to create an engagement party that lives up to the wedding. The wedding hasn’t happened yet! And you’re a great friend for even throwing this party!)
WHAT TO SERVE
Cocktails are a must; a full buffet is not. Light snacks or appetizers are just as appropriate as a catered dinner. If you’re on a budget, think about food that’s great in batches; sangria, margaritas, tacos, and upscale pizzas feel like close-friend fare and are easier on your wallet than endless bottles of champagne.
WHO TO INVITE (IF YOU’RE HOSTING)
Believe it or not, this guest list is a lot looser than the ceremony—open to colleagues and neighbors, with out-of-town family members not required to attend. Some couples have multiple engagement parties throughout cities where different groups of loved ones can attend.
WHO TO INVITE (IF YOU’RE NOT HOSTING)
If you’re married or have a serious (or even a semi-serious) significant other, bring them. If not, don’t. Keep in mind that there will be a ton of focus—and toasts and inside-joking—around the engaged couple. (In other words: This could bore someone who doesn’t know them, to tears.)
On the other hand, inviting someone that you have in common—say, their co-workers or a cute casual friend of the couples’ who you’ve been eyeing—is totally fair game as long as you check with the couple and host first.
WHAT TO WEAR
Traditionally, the engagement party is the most casual thing that will happen between now and the (nearly inevitable) wedding reception after-party. Pretend you’re simply going out for drinks at the venue where it will be held (the couples’ favorite bar, a close friend’s home where you’d normally take your shoes off, a backyard BBQ, etc.) and dress accordingly. Erring on the side of informal is always good.
WHAT TO BRING
A gift is not required or even expected at an engagement party. If you want to bring something, keep it small and fun; think: personalized coasters, a fun bottle opener, or a hip art print.
BE PREPARED TO…
Give a toast (if you’re the host). Plan to be funny (if that’s your thing). And plan to help your bestie fend off questions about who’s invited to the wedding and who’s not (they shouldn’t have to know this yet and invariably everyone attending the engagement party won’t be at the wedding anyway).
EXTRA POINTS FOR…
Patting yourself on the back for introducing them or playing any part large or small in their engagement. Don’t be shy. They’ll eat it up, and so will everyone there!
— By Tiffany J. Davis
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