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A Guide to Pre-Wedding Events: 10 Parties & Festivities

Gather with loved ones as you blend families and strengthen your bond during these pre-wedding parties.

By Jennifer Prince

Your Guide to Pre-Wedding Events
Photo by Unsplash

The First Look ✨

Years ago, once couples got engaged, they had two celebrations to look forward to—the bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner. Although those traditions remain, as time’s moved on, couples have become more creative with the addition of other events. No matter your reasoning for scheduling more events to your pre-wedding itinerary, seize the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. Here’s our ultimate guide to doing so.

1. Engagement Party

The question gets popped, a ring is placed on your finger, and it’s time to celebrate with loved ones. Ideally, an engagement party takes place within the first month of the proposal, but if your schedule prevents that timeline, do it whenever is most convenient.

Since this is a more intimate celebration, hosting anything from a casual backyard barbecue with lawn games and a small guest list to a more upscale dinner is appropriate. Who hosts depends on your take on the event. If you and your future spouse want to have family and friends gather to meet each other, feel free to host. However, if you’re going to be hands-off, have someone close, such as a sibling or parent, orchestrate the event.

Remember: Unless your wedding with be very small or a destination wedding, only invite people who will also be guests on your wedding day.

Craig Adderley - Pre-wedding events Photo Credit // Craig Adderley

2. Wedding Shower

Once referred to as a bridal shower, today’s wedding shower is more inclusive than its formerly women-only predecessor. While you can keep it to just the ladies if you’d like, the main focus of this event is to shower the happy couple with gifts, which can take on several forms. Guests can bring items off the couple’s registry, or the event can be themed. Think giving articles related to experiences or stocking the couple’s bar.

It’s probably best to let someone else handle the hosting and inviting for your wedding shower. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be uninvolved. Talk to your sibling, Best Man, Maid of Honor, or parent—all appropriate choices for hosting a shower—about a theme and what type of gifts you’d like. Invite close friends and family members, and hold the event two to three months before the wedding at someone’s home or somewhere else that gives off intimate, celebratory vibes.

3. Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

Today’s couples have reframed the bachelor or bachelorette party to be more classy, while still partying and making memories with people they are close to. Think about inviting your bridal party, siblings, and close friends—as long as they don’t feel stilted by not being asked to serve as an attendant.

It’s perfectly appropriate for you to host this event yourself. Your wedding party can also take the reigns. Often, bachelor and bachelorette parties have everyone pay their own way, especially if you jet set out of town for a long weekend. That said, this pre-wedding celebration is more about getting together and being festive than major expenses, so feel free to be flexible so everyone involved can celebrate leading up to your wedding day.

4. Bridesmaids’ Brunch

It’s always great to get together with your wedding party—and if you’re a groom who wants to hold a groomsmen’s brunch, go for it! Traditionally, a bridesmaids’ luncheon or brunch is a meal for bridesmaids focused on socializing. Breaking the ice before the big day is a fantastic way to set the tone. The bridesmaids’ brunch usually takes place at a restaurant, café, or loved one’s home.

If you’d like to host this event, feel free to take the reigns. As for when it takes place, that comes down to your personal preference and everyone’s schedules. If everyone is local, picking a date should be simple, but if a few are long-distance, the event may have to tale place closer to your wedding day.

Melike Benli - Pre-wedding eventsPhoto Credit // Melike Benli

5. Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner follows your wedding rehearsal, in which your officiant or wedding planner guides you and everyone involved through your wedding ceremony. Along with these people, it’s nice to invite any close family members that are wedding guests, as well as those traveling in. As expected, the rehearsal dinner is usually the evening before your wedding and, as such, it’s best to host it somewhere close to the wedding venue. Choose a restaurant close by or see if your ceremony venue has a space that is not already dedicated to your wedding reception.

6. Henna Party

Borrowing beautiful influences from Hindu and Muslim traditions, the henna party is a unique way to celebrate while focusing on self and practicing ancient rituals. Also known as a mendhi, this event is generally held by the bride’s parents and involves placing beautiful, intricate designs on the bride’s hands and feet using henna dye.

Today’s celebrations often include other close family members and friends of the bride. Because these events can take hours—depending on how many henna artists are available and the intricacy of the designs—hosting at a spa, home, or Airbnb can be a nice touch. Henna also darkens over time, so if you’d like to have these designs on your hands and feet for your wedding day, it’s best to have henna applied three days beforehand to allow the natural ink to darken.

7. Tea Ceremony

Another unique cultural infusion is the Chinese tea ceremony, intended to show honor within the family. As elders—say, parents and grandparents—accept a new family member, the tea ceremony signifies approval of the marriage union. In addition, the nearly weds participate to demonstrate respect towards previous generations, which all adds up to a beautiful lacing within family lines.

Since this is an intimate, meaningful event, the only participants should be those taking tea. The couple can dress in traditional Chinese garments to serve tea to their families, and the elders should accept the tea signifying that they welcome their future daughter or son-in-law. Even if you don’t have Chinese heritage, having a tea ceremony showcases the strong bond created within families that lasts for generations.

Eugene L - Pre-wedding events Photo Credit // Eugene L

8. Sangeet

Often celebrated in India, sangeet is all about merriment with many family and friends. As a result, the number of folks invited to sangeet will often outnumber the wedding reception. Folks get together to party — sing, dance, eat, drink — before the big day to showcase their support for the couple and gather with those they haven’t seen in a while. Because this is a large celebration, hosts can often vary and may depend on the number of guests invited.

Because of the higher guest count, hosting should happen at a wedding venue or another location that can hold many people. Although, sometimes, the sangeet will include a smaller number of guests. When it comes to pre-wedding events, sangeets are one of the most flexible, meaning that the location, who hosts, and its proximity to the wedding day can all vary. However, one thing sangeets have in common is the presence of music, which is no wonder since the word means “music” in Sanskrit.

9. Aufruf

Jewish culture has many celebrations, such as Hannukah and Yom Kippur, but a wedding-centric event that many look forward to is the aufruf. Yiddish for “calling up,” the aufruf is traditionally only meant for the groom, although in more modern synagogues, both partners can participate. The entire congregation takes part in this pre-wedding tradition, which happens at the temple the Saturday before the wedding.

During the ceremony, the groom will give a blessing over the Torah. Inviting friends and family to the service is appropriate since this is a more public display. However, dash all thoughts of the aufruf being solemn. Sometimes the rabbi will give the couple candy, signifying a sweet union and fruitfulness throughout the marriage. Some folks will also schedule a post-aufruf meal to continue the festivities, depending on the circumstances. Additionally, the aufruf is not to be confused with Shabbat Chatan, which is also for the groom but takes place after the big day.

10. Mikveh

The mikveh is another Jewish tradition—albeit little known to those who practice other religions—centered around purification by immersion before the wedding day. Traditionally, the bride will enter the mikveh seven days after her last period and within the four days before her special day.

Essentially, the mikveh is traditional yet very private. A bride will often go alone or with a close family member, such as her mother. Sometimes the groom will enter the mikveh to purify himself before the wedding day, but it’s not a must like it is for the bride.

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Throughout wedding planning, don’t forget that others want to honor and celebrate you—both on and before your big day. Incorporating one or more of these events gives you an extra reason to celebrate with everyone (or a more intimate group, if you prefer).

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