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Rules Of Engagement Party: Crucial Questions For Planning

Written By Chateau Briand | 01/31/20 | 5 min read

When you finally get that ring on your finger, the first thing you want to do is tell everyone you know and show them all your brand-new bling. Actually, the first thing you’ll likely do is post about it on social media—but soon after that, you’ll definitely want to tell everyone the great news in person. 

One of the most fun ways to tell everyone about your impending nuptials is to throw a truly memorable and celebratory engagement party. This gathering with friends and family to kick off the journey to your wedding day isn’t the exact moment you’ll tell everyone, but does signal the official start of the wedding-planning process. But engagement parties don’t happen on their own and there’s lots of planning involved in pulling off a great one. Now, it’s not necessarily the same level of planning that goes into staging a wedding (thank goodness), but there are important questions that need to be answered.

These questions include: Who hosts the engagement party? Who’s invited? When is the best time to have it? And where’s it going to be held? Get to know the ins and outs of planning an engagement party so that you can get the most out of your pre-wedding celebration.

Who Throws The Engagement Party?

Tradition holds that the bride’s parents host the engagement party—but traditions have a tendency to change with the times. These days, there’s no hard and fast rule on who assumes hosting duties for an engagement party. Parents from both sides of the families can take on the role of host, and so can other family members or even close friends of either the bride or the groom. What’s more, sometimes the couple chooses to host their own engagement party. There can even be separate parties for family and friends, with parents hosting the family festivities and your closest friends hosting the friend party. When planning to hold an engagement party, keep an open mind and always be gracious to whoever ends up hosting!

What Kind Of Food Do You Want At Your Engagement Party?

While your engagement party should be glorious and lively, it definitely shouldn’t overshadow or overpower your actual wedding day. Engagement parties should be smaller and more low-key—but you still want everyone to have a good time, and one of the best ways to ensure that is to provide plenty of food and drinks. Whether your engagement party ends up being a backyard barbecue, a bright brunch time, a cocktail hour-type event, an oyster roast or an elegant sit-down affair at a formal restaurant, it should all come together in a way where your engagement party menu complements your style as a couple, while also entertaining your guests. 

Where Should Your Engagement Party Take Place?

The type of food and drinks you serve at your engagement party depends greatly on where you decide to hold the event. Private family homes and even public beaches can make great engagement party locations, but the logistics of actually pulling off those events can be tricky. While it might seem more affordable on the surface to hold your engagement party at a “free” location like a house, you’ll be responsible for all the food and all the utensils, along with the cleanup, while also ensuring there’s plenty of parking and all the minute details are accounted for. This is why if you live in a location with plenty of venues and restaurants, it might be a better option to let those professionals host your engagement party. Choose a spot that really speaks to your style as a couple.

Who Should Be On The Engagement Party Guest List?

Your engagement party guest list should resemble your wedding guest list, but far less extensive. No matter who is hosting the engagement party, you and your partner are ultimately responsible for deciding who gets an invite to the event. The most important rule of thumb to follow is this: Don’t invite someone to the engagement party that won’t be invited to the wedding. If they’re in for the engagement party, they must be in for the wedding. There’s no way around that. But keep in mind that you can keep it small and intimate—you’re not obligated to invite everyone you know. The engagement party is reserved for the key people in your life and this includes your family and close friends. 

When Should You Hold The Engagement Party?

Picking the right date for your engagement party can be a tad complex, as you should give some thought into when exactly you want this shindig to take place. You don’t want it to happen immediately after you get engaged, partly because you want time to bask in the excitement, but also because you want to ensure all of your closest family and friends have been personally informed of the pending nuptials. You also don’t want it to be too close to the wedding because you’ll be way too busy with all the wedding-planning craziness that you won’t have time to stop and spend an afternoon at your own engagement party. Ideally, if you’re getting married in more than a year, holding your engagement party within six months should suffice. However, if you're getting married sooner rather than later and someone wants to throw you an engagement party, it’s best to have it as soon as possible.

Should You Send Engagement Party Invitations?

The short answer is “yes,” whoever is hosting the engagement party should send some kind of invitation to the guests. But don’t feel like you have to send invitations that rival the ones you’re mailing out for your wedding day. Engagement party invitations can be far less formal than wedding invitations and you can even opt to send digital invites should you choose. If you’ve already picked out your wedding invitation designer, ask them if they can also design your engagement party invitations—they might offer you a special rate. Along with typical information like party date, time, location, and RSVP instructions, remember to include a link to your wedding website, this is the easiest way to get the word out about your wedding registry

What Happens At An Engagement Party?

Unlike bridal and baby showers, engagement parties aren’t typically the kind of party where everyone brings a gift and then watches you open them for what seems like an eternity. Instead, your engagement party should focus almost entirely on eating and drinking, with intermittent moments of love and affection, along with plenty of catching up with old friends while you introduce the different sides of the family to one another. At some point during the party, the host or the couple might be expected to say a few words. But don’t stress about writing a long speech—keep it short and sweet by thanking everyone for attending and telling them you can’t wait to see them at the wedding.