You just got engaged, and now it's time for the engagement celebration. Usually the engagement party is the first event in a series of pre-wedding party celebrations that also includes a bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and the wedding.
Traditionally, the engagement party is hosted by the bride’s parents. This tradition started centuries ago; given today’s larger views about gender, this can be viewed as a little dated. Back then, many people thought they were attending a regular party. Then, at the end, the father of the bride would make the big engagement announcement.
Today, a lot of things have shifted in terms of how people view the traditions associated with weddings and the engagement party etiquette around it. Namely, hosting has become more relaxed. Nowadays, when trying to determine who’s supposed to host the engagement party, it's not uncommon for close friends of the engaged couple, or even the couple, to host the engagement party themselves. And, in some instances, there may even be multiple engagement parties. There may even be one party for friends and another for the couple's family. Usually both friends and family attend the party, since it’s a great way for everyone to meet one another. The main takeaway is that there is no one right way to host an engagement party. Every couple has to decide what works for them, whether that be the bride’s parents, friends of the couple, or the couple themselves choosing to host.
The party itself should be a reflection of who you are as a couple, and it generally falls within the first few months of the engagement when everyone is still caught up in the excitement and newness of it all. One major factor to keep in mind, however, is that whoever ends up hosting the event—whether it be the engaged couple, their friends, or family members—is generally expected to pick up the bill for it. This is part of being a good host/hostess, however there are a variety of ways to handle this.
Perhaps the event is hosted by a few of your close friends and they choose to divvy up the tasks. For example, one person could have the event held at their house, while another close friend could provide the beverages, and someone else could offer to cover the cost of food. Or, another option might be to have the party at an event space, then divide the cost by all individuals who offered to have it.
Another aspect to consider is the toast. Usually the party might start off with a toast by the hosts of the event, followed by the parents of the engaged couple, and family members and close friends. Perhaps some co-workers or acquaintances might add a few words as well. If you choose to go the more traditional route, the couple will toast one another. Also, the couple will conclude the event by thanking their hosts and company for coming to celebrate with them as well.
There are no hard-and-fast rules as to who should host and how to go about having an engagement party. For couples who decide to host it themselves, this can free you up to plan things as you see fit and to scale the party up or down as you choose. In some instances where the engaged couple hosts the party, they can even use it as a chance to announce their big news to their family, loved ones, or friends.
The engagement party is entirely optional and should be a no-stress event. At the end of the day, you have to decide what works for you. However you choose to have your engagement party, the focus of it should be on the couple getting married and how they are building a new life together.