What is an Engagement Party?

Don’t know what an engagement party is or if you should host one? Find out now.

By Jennifer Prince

Wedding engagement party
Photo by Stocksy

Planning the engagement party is the first in a series of social events that are centered around the biggest one of them all––the wedding. The party itself is a way to celebrate the couple and their engagement. It's a chance for both friends and loved ones of the soon-to-be-married couple to come together and make a toast for the bride and groom’s new life together.

When you've finally said “Yes” and people find out the great news, you’ll be flooded with good wishes. Having an engagement party is a great way to both celebrate this happy occasion, but is also a chance for members of the family from both sides, as well as close friends and members of the wedding party, to meet one another.

This might even mean that family members, such as your parents, are meeting for the first time. With the upcoming wedding, having a party to celebrate the engagement is a great way to set the tone and also get the ball rolling with some of the larger planning details that come with a wedding. It can also help ease the tension of everyone meeting extended family and friends in an intimate setting.

Do You Need One?

The larger intention behind the party is to have everyone come together to celebrate the engagement and to get to know one another from the couple's lives in a casual way. When you’re planning the party, it’s customary to host the gathering within two to three months of the engagement. This is also the period when getting engaged is still new and exciting.

How to Host an Engagement Party

Times have changed, and what was once a very stuffy and formal affair, has since morphed into a very individualistic event. The great thing about the party, and the wedding itself, is that it can be as formal or informal as you like. There are no hard or fast rules as to how to throw an engagement party, and it's really about doing what makes the most sense for you.

Whether you're a relaxed kind of couple and prefer a BBQ in the backyard, or you want to spring for a seated dinner with formal attire, or head to your favorite restaurant or banquet hall, these are all great options depending on the kind of engagement party that you want to throw. It's really about coming together to celebrate you and your partner and the next chapter of your life.

Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first official celebration, and sometimes the groom's parents host their part (and let’s be honest two parties are way more fun than one). Although this is what people have done in the past, it doesn't mean that you have to do it this way. In some cases, both sets of parents will throw a combined party, sometimes it's a close relative or even friends of the couple that takes on the honor. And, sometimes, even the engaged couple will host their party.

The party is really about bringing together everyone in your life that you care about and having them share in the excitement with you. One additional note about the party is that whoever is hosting is generally fitting the bill as well, so keep that in mind when you’re moving forward with your engagement party planning.

Keep the Event Slightly Understated

What Is an Engagement Party? | Zola Photo Credit // Stocksy

You also don't want your engagement party to be the biggest event of all. Think about it as a prelude to the bridal shower and the wedding, which is the most important event of them all. When coming up with the guestlist for the party, it helps to keep things on the smaller end, plus it makes it more manageable in the long run. Remember, not everyone you invite to a wedding needs to come to an engagement party. The larger point of the party is to have guests become acquainted with one another and to take part in this special moment with the happy couple.

You'll also want to give guests at least a month's notice so that they can plan accordingly. Remember to send out your invitations (either through snail mail or digital) at least a month before. If you’re having guests from out-of-state, give them a six-week window so that they can plan their travel arrangements accordingly.

At the actual engagement party, everyone will meet and socialize over delicious food, drinks, and, sometimes, even engagement party games and dancing. It's a time for people to congratulate you, and typically you'll be given customized gifts echoing these sentiments. As the host of the party, you'll want to make sure that everyone is comfortable and that there’s enough food and beverages, seating, and all of the other elements that make a successful party. It’s also customary for whoever is hosting the event to give a toast to the soon-to-be bride and groom.

The party is meant to be fun and all about celebrating the new life that the bride and groom will have together. However, you choose to plan it, remember it’s about you and your partner at the end of the day. This is about your wedding journey, and the engagement party is just the kickoff of the next chapter in your life together.

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