Proper Engagement Party Etiquette

Engagement party etiquette and wedding customs vary from country to country. However, there is a standard of engagement etiquette that serves most engagement celebrations and it's as simple as following basic common sense and courtesies.

Who to invite? What is proper engagement party gift etiquette? What about the timing of your engagement party and how soon is the engagement celebration before the wedding reception? First time round, we all need a helpful mentor to guide us through these hurdles, don't we?

A Special Toast to the Newly Engaged Couple at their Engagement Party.
A Special Toast to the Newly Engaged Couple at their Engagement Party.

Engagement Parties and Proper Etiquette

When it comes to proper etiquette and your engagement party, some say you must invite all the guests you plan to invite to your wedding. As you might well imagine, planning your wedding guest list so far in advance is incredibly difficult and fraught with nervous breakdowns. There is of course a simpler, gentler course – invite only immediate family, dearest relatives, the intended bridal party attendants and of course your absolute bestest friends and life-long cronies and henchpersons. This keeps things uncomplicated.

Or you can go in the other direction and invite all the people unable to attend your wedding or that have not been invited to the main wedding reception. As we all know wedding reception guest lists can get out of hand – some go as far as 600 guests or even more. In this case invite your much loved work chums and long distant friends unable to attend the wedding reception.

Fairy Godmother note; I knew of a couple who wanted an engagement party for all the people they wished to invite to their wedding reception but their wedding budget just didn't allow for it. They made a very clear announcent informing their very dear friends of their party plans. No one was offended. Everyone was flattered that the couple went all-out to create a special engagement celebration just for them.

It is also recommended to not have your engagement party too close to your wedding reception party, except in the case of shotgun weddings or impending apocalypses. Wedding planning shouldn't seem like an endurance event or a war of attrition. It can and should give you a little time to stop and smell the bridal bouquets.

If family members and close friends wish to make a special engagement toast to your happy announcement, this is the perfect time and place. It is perfectly appropriate to accept their invitation for drinks and/or dinner to celebrate your news. How hard you choose to party can be determined by age and stamina of your friends (as well as the strength of your livers).
It is naturally considered unfortunate taste to celebrate your wedding engagement where there's been a death in the family, incarceration of the groom (or bride), a family member hospitalized or straight-jacketed for their safety in a home for the bewildered and so-forth. Common sense should prevail as always.

Engagement Gift Etiquette

Engagement Party Gift Etiquette

As you know, a wedding engagement party is that special time to celebrate your news with the people you love. It isn't really a time and place for gifts. Bridal gifts are more the preserve of bridal showers and the wedding reception party.

Situation 1: When it comes to engagement party gift etiquette, the rules of etiquette are very specific. If you are inviting the same guests to your engagement party that are invited to your wedding reception, make it clear to your family and guests to not bring gifts.

Situation 2: If you have only invited special friends and work pals that have not been invited to your wedding reception dinner, it is still not appropriate to ask for gifts or have an engagement gift registry. The wedding engagement party is purely that moment in time, when you can stand on your soap-box and share your news with your nearest and dearest.

Some of your guests may insist on bringing congratulatory gifts. In such cases, it is perfectly proper to open the gifts the very next day, and send them thank you cards (don't forget).


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