Thursday, February 18, 2010

Engagement Parties

We were recently invited to an engagement party for good friends of ours in Chicago. This of course sparked my interest as a blog topic. Despite being a Professional Bridal Consultant, I myself have only been invited to two engagement parties. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around the Midwestern custom of engagement parties, but considering I’ve only been invited to two then I’m beginning to think they aren’t as popular. Hailing from the northeast (tri-state area N.Y., N.J., Conn.) I know that the custom during the engagement period is to actually send a gift. When my husband and I got engaged we got some very nice gifts from the east coast group, while the Midwest side wanted to throw a party. Readers, where are you from and what is your regional custom?

Before attending the most recent engagement party, I had to pull out my Peggy Post books to read up on what is the proper practice for throwing engagement parties and attending engagement parties.

The hosts. According to Peggy the bride-to-be’s parents usually host the engagement party, but any family member or friends may do so. When family lives in different parts of the country parents of the bride and groom may host separate parties in their hometowns.

What type of party? Cocktail and dinner parties seem to be the most popular, but there is no standard format. Sometimes, engagements are announced at surprise parties. Casual brunches to formal receptions, all are possibilities as long as it fits the couples taste.

The guests. Generally the guest list is limited to family and good friends. The size of the guest list is up to the hosts and engaged couple, but please keep in mind that whoever is invited to the engagement party should be invited to the wedding. Actually, it is in bad taste to invite people to any type of pre-wedding event and not invite them to the actual wedding.

Invitations. Any type of invitation is acceptable, depending on the type of party. The more formal the party, the more formal the invitation. Email invites, postcards, and simple emails are all options these days.

Gifts? Do you bring a gift or not? “It depends” is the answer Peggy gives us. Gift instructions are not to be included on the invitation, but if the couple feels strongly that they would not like gifts they can spread that by word of mouth through the hosts. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your local custom, your relationship to the couple, and your budget. Often close friends and family members do give a gift. An engagement gift is really a good-hearted gesture and does not need to be expensive or elaborate.

Ideas for engagement gifts:

§ Picture frame (wedding themed if possible) with photo of couple that you took

§ Wedding Planning/related book(s)

§ Gift card to couple’s favorite restaurant

§ Bottle of wine/liquor

§ Cookbook

Opening gifts at the engagement party is not appropriate unless everyone brought a gift to the party. Reminder that if gifts are received a thank you note must be sent, despite having thanked the couple at the event. Reminder: send that thank you note promptly after the party. If a thank you is sent too late then it becomes lackluster.

Tell me about your engagement party experiences and local customs.


  1. Two of our friends who are getting married in Summer 2011 are having an "Engagement Pub Crawl" this summer. I thought it was a cute idea and doesn't imply pressure to bring a gift or attend some formal event.

  2. Impressive points to be noted for the managing the engagement parties. Thanks a lot for these info sharing. Pre Wedding Photographers In Coimbatore | Wedding Photographers in Tamilnadu