With wedding planning, the engagement party is the first thing on many couples' lists as they look forward to the big day. 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, the guest list is one of the biggest elements to tackle. Who do you invite to the engagement party now that you're engaged?
There are a few different scenarios you may find yourself in. When you're putting together your engagement party guest list, 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, a friend or even the bride or groom’s parents host instead. You may have many wedding etiquette questions about your engagement celebration guest list, and Zola has the answers.
Lots of folks probably come to mind, from your close loved ones to family members you only see once every few years. Although you shouldn’t feel pressured to invite everyone on your wedding guest list, here’s who should come to your celebration for the newly engaged couple.
Bride’s Parents and Groom’s Parents — Essentially, it’s important to invite each set of parents. You must consider your family dynamics and current relationships with those folks if you have divorced families. In this case, discuss this with your partner, and do what you’re comfortable with.
Immediate Family Members — Invite siblings and any family members you’re especially close to, such as an aunt or your grandparents. Even if some of these family members are out of town, you should invite them out of honor and respect.
Wedding Party — Bridesmaids and groomsmen are close enough to you to be in the wedding, so they should certainly make the engagement party guest list.
Closest Friends — Again, don’t feel obligated to invite each and every one of the bride-to-be’s friends but limit the event to those closest to you. A lot of this depends on how many folks you want in attendance at your celebration.
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 get a wedding invitation. That doesn't mean you must invite everyone to the engagement party. Instead of a huge bash, 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, both sets of parents of 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 make it a small get-together and may invite only family or friends to a small brunch.
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 can invite everyone to the engagement party, remember that this is still the first pre-wedding party leading up to 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 good decision.
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. Another option is to have a more traditional event with family and then party with friends during a different type of celebration. The choice is yours!
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 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.
Also, consider who you’ll need to invite for other events surrounding the nuptials. In addition to the wedding day, you’ll also have to curate guest lists for the rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party, and bridal shower. For example, out-of-town family members may not want the pressure of traveling in for your engagement party, so invite them to the rehearsal dinner instead.
Whether you decide to do paper invitations or use your wedding website as a way to inform everyone, there is engagement party etiquette when it comes to your invitations. Add the elements below to have everything you need to inform guests about your event using engagement party invitations.
Include the date and time of your event, and make this very clear on your invitation.
Name the venue. Be sure to include the address and parking instructions.
Your first and last names. Feel free to skip last names if everyone knows both of you.
The host names if they would like to be included on the invitation.
State the dress code to help field questions on the formality of the event.
Add your wedding registry information if you feel comfortable having folks bring engagement party gifts.
Include how to RSVP and a final date for folks to let you know whether they’ll be attending or not.
At the end of the day, you have to make the best decision for you and your significant other. 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.
And once you’ve gone through all of Zola’s engagement party ideas, be sure to use the expert advice section as your personal wedding planner. Whether you’re hosting a destination wedding or an event at a nearby country club, Zola is here to help with traditional and trending topics for your special day.