When you first hear the announcement that a friend or family member is engaged, your first reaction may be pure delight. But then you may start to wonder, “Am I supposed to throw them an engagement party?” If you are very close to the newly engaged, you may want to consider the following when deciding whether or not to host an engagement party.
First off, relax. There are really no set rules these days regarding an engagement party. Though an engagement party would be a great way to celebrate and get great couple gift ideas, many couples never have one, or even want one, and that’s perfectly fine. It really depends on a combination of the wishes of the couple and the person who’s offering to host the party. Even if you are chosen as the Maid of Honor, you are not required to throw an engagement fete. But if you are the bride’s closest friend—or parents—you may want to step up and offer to host.
Typically, it is the bride’s family who finances the engagement party, if there is to be one. But, today with families scattered across the globe, and step-families a big part of the picture, it can be just about anyone who can offer to plan the party. If you’ve decided you want to go for it, here are some factors to consider.
Should you invite everyone who will be invited to the wedding? Yes and no. Yes, if you are planning an intimate family engagement party, you should include everyone in the immediate family who will be invited to the wedding. However, you’re not required to invite extended family from far away who will be invited to the wedding. Just make sure that everyone at the engagement party is also invited to the wedding. So, if you want your neighbor Sue at the engagement party, make sure she gets an invite to the wedding as well. If you break this one guideline, you may risk offending someone. They may wonder if they did something wrong at the engagement party to get themselves crossed off the wedding list!
There are of course exceptions to every rule. If you are intending to invite a huge number of people from various areas of the couples life—coworkers, family, neighbors—you do not have to have each and every one of them at the wedding. Say you’re inviting 30 people from the groom’s work to the engagement party. Those people would not expect to all be invited to the wedding. But the few closest of his co-workers would probably expect an invite. When in doubt, check with the happy couple. They will be able to give you a far better idea of who’s in their closest inner circle without you trying to guess and risk making an awkward mistake.
There are two schools of thought on the engagement party invite list. One says go small and intimate. That way, you can have it at someone’s home and not risk leaving anyone from the immediate family out. The other says go big. The bigger the engagement party, the less you have to worry about hurt feelings. The bride’s favorite manicurist can be invited to the engagement party, but won’t expect an invite to the wedding ceremony.
Another very important aspect to consider when first thoughts of an engagement party arise is that the bride and groom must be consulted. This is not a time to throw a surprise party. Both the bride and groom should be asked exactly who they would like on the invite list as well as when they are available for a party. They should be consulted every step of the way. Would they prefer small and intimate at mom’s house or a loud mariachi band and over the top margaritas on the beach? If you’re the host, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if you find out up front what the bride and groom are most comfortable with.
And no, gifts are not required. People may want to show up with a wedding gift, but they are not necessary. After all, these same people will be giving shower and wedding gifts, so they are not expected to also provide another gift here. You, as the host, need to take care of allaying guests’ anxiety about this by putting “No Gifts” on the invitations.