With wedding planning, the first thing on many couples' lists is the engagement party. Often this party can serve as a way to celebrate your newly engaged status, and for some couples, this may even be where you make the big engagement announcement.
However you choose to organize your party one of the biggest elements to tackle is the guest list. Now that you're engaged, who do you invite to the engagement party?
There's a few different scenarios you may find yourself in. When you're putting your engagement party guest list together, one big factor to consider is who hosts the engagement party. Ultimately, the host will get the final say on headcount—with the happy couple's input, of course.
Unlike other pre-wedding celebrations, the engagement party tends to be more open-ended in terms of how people approach it. And nowadays many couples even host their own party. Sometimes, though, a friend or even the bride or groom’s parents host instead.
When you're deciding who should come, there are a few things to consider. As a rule of thumb, if you invite someone to the engagement celebration, they should also be invited to the wedding. That doesn't mean you have to invite everyone to the engagement party, though. Many couples decide to have a more intimate celebration, which means a smaller engagement party that’s more manageable to plan. Limiting the guest list can also help keep the cost of the event in check. Generally speaking, the parents of both the engaged couple should be invited, as well as step parents and grandparents, siblings, close aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as members of your bridal party (if you're organized and know who they are), and of course, close friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. That said, some couples decide to really make it a small event and may choose to invite only family or just friends.
In some instances, whether it be due to family obligations or a couple's background, they may invite all wedding guests to the engagement party. If you’re able to invite everyone to the engagement party, one thing to keep in mind is that this is still the first pre-wedding party leading up the actual wedding. The tone of the engagement party should be different from the wedding. While it's still celebratory, remember it's still not a wedding.
Sometimes an engaged couple may decide to have two different parties. If both people getting married have large extended families, having a party for just the two sides is a great option. In this case, having a second party just for your friends could also be a great option. One thing to keep in mind regarding engagement party etiquette is that if you do decide to have two parties don't invite the same people to both. It will defeat the purpose and could get confusing for the guests.
When you're looking to make some cuts to your list, there are some folks you can consider not inviting. Generally speaking, inviting an ex to an engagement party probably isn't the best idea. While you may have maintained a friendship after the relationship ended, inviting them to the engagement party might be awkward for your significant other—unless, of course, you’ve already discussed it.
Depending on the kind of party you throw, think backyard barbecue with engagement party games versus a cocktail party, inviting children might not be the best idea. While you may have kids in the wedding party (think ring bearer and flower girl), if you are planning on a sit-down dinner for your engagement party, it might be easier to ask guests not to bring kids. If the event is more casual, having kids attend is perfectly acceptable.
Sometimes you may have mutual acquaintances and co-workers you might feel obligated to invite, but if you are not very close to them, then there’s no need to invite them. The engagement party is meant to be special and intimate. You'll want to be surrounded by the people who love and support you and know you best in the world.
At the end of the day, you have to make the best decision for you and your partner. Land on a guest count that feels most comfortable for both of you, your host, and any budget constraints. And remember: Having a party that celebrates you and the new life you are embarking on is what’s most important.