Planning an Engagement Party

1. Who hosts an engagement party?

Traditionally, the bride’s parents or groom’s parents host an engagement party (but they can co-host the event, too). For a more informal engagement party, friends or relatives can throw an engagement party for a couple, but it is encouraged to wait until after the official formal engagement party to do so. The couple can host their own engagement party, if they prefer. (Want to throw an engagement party for a friend? Find out if they’re having one by their parents first, just so you don’t step on anyone’s toes, so to speak.)

2. When is it held?

An engagement party is typically held nine to twelve months before the wedding. Guests should have a one-month head’s up before the party.

3. Where should an engagement party be held?

If you’re getting married in your hometown, and friends and family live nearby, a local engagement party is perfect. If you live out of state (and your wedding is being held there), have a party on your (new) home turf and another in your home town, if you wish. However, this rule applies: wedding guests or wedding party attendants should not expected to attend if it is out-of-state, since they’ll be expected to travel for the wedding itself. Wedding etiquette dictates you shouldn’t expect people to travel to an engagement party and your wedding. If they can come — great! If not, it’s really not worth fretting over. In terms of venue, a backyard, house, restaurant, or bar are a few perfect places for an engagement party.

4. Should you register for gifts beforehand? Do guests give gifts?

Gifts are not expected at an engagement party. A guest can give a gift if he or she wishes to, but it is certainly not an expectation. If you do register before the wedding, guests will know specific items to buy (if they wish). However, you should never include registry information on the engagement party invitation.

5. Who is invited?

If the engagement party is informal and hosted by friends, there is no set rule (since they won’t really know who is on your wedding guest list yet). However, if you or your parents are hosting an engagement party, invite only those who are going to be invited to the wedding. This is one reason why you may want to keep your engagement party fairly small, since you might not have the guest list nailed down yet.

6. Do you need formal invitations?

No, formal invitations are not required. Engagement party invitations should be simple. You can even email invitations, if you prefer. If you’re sending invitations in the mail, the colors or style do not need to coordinate with the wedding (since the colors or theme probably aren’t even picked out yet). The invitations should be thematic to the type of engagement party being thrown, however, such as a cocktail party or outdoor bbq bash.


7. What should you wear?

The bride should wear attire that coordinates with the location of the engagement party. For instance, if it is a cocktail party at a restaurant, the bride can wear a cocktail dress. Outdoor bbq? A white sundress is a perfect option. The groom should dress in the same formality as the bride: a suit and tie for a formal setting or dress pants and a button-down shirt for a more casual location.

8. Should you send thank you notes after an Engagement Party?

Yes, you should send thank you notes to guests after the engagement party to thank them for attending. If a guest gave a gift, be sure to include a thank you for the gift in your note.