Obviously, getting engaged is a huge deal, and it is often a great excuse to celebrate.
This is why a lot of couples choose to throw an engagement party; they may also be thrown as a surprise for the happy couple too. It is worth pointing out that you absolutely do not have to have an engagement party if you do not want to. You shouldn’t feel pressured. That being said, engagement parties are a great way to share your news and your joy with your nearest and dearest. Let’s get into it.
The Size of the Party
The first thing that you might want to think about is the size of the party. While some people do indeed throw an engagement party that is as big as their wedding is going to be, but you don’t have to invite everyone that you would invite to your wedding. Your engagement party can be as big or small as you like. Obviously, the bigger the party, the more it will cost, and this could potentially eat into your wedding budget.
Think about the guest list. Usually, you wouldn’t invite anyone to the engagement party that would also be invited to the wedding. However, the size of the guest list is entirely up to you. Developing the guest list for your engagement party is often great practice for planning your wedding. You need to strike a balance between your friends and family and your fiancés to ensure one side is overpowering the other.
When are They Thrown?
There is no real right or wrong answer as to when you should throw your engagement party. A lot of people like to throw them before they have started wedding planning simply to make it easier on themselves. Ideally, your engagement party should be within a few months of the engagement and at least six months before the actual wedding because as the date gets closer, there are bachelor and bachelorette parties as well as fittings, tastings and finalizing all other details for the wedding.
Who Throws the Party?
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. Some couples like to throw their own engagement party because they want to be afforded a greater level of control over the party planning. However, the tradition is that either one set or both sets of parents will throw and host the party on behalf of the engaged couple. If the party is being thrown for you, then those throwing the party are generally expected to pay for the party. Although if you are throwing your own party, then you will obviously need to cover it yourself.
There are a few different things that will affect your choice of venue. Firstly, if you aren’t hosting the party, then you will be expected to travel to the hosts. The next consideration is also obviously the location of most of the guests; it would make sense to choose a central location that is easily accessible for everyone. Lastly, you will also need to consider the size and formality of the party. An intimate backyard party might work. If you want something a little bigger and a little classier, then you could hire out a bar or restaurant.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what you need to include in the itinerary of your engagement party. It comes down to you as a couple and the types of things that you find fun. For some couples, it might mark the first meetings of the family or friends, which will mean that introductions are necessary. This is exactly why a lot of people choose to include games or other activities which can help to break the ice. Greenvelope has a great list of engagement party games that you should check out to help you with the itinerary for your party.
As a general rule, during an engagement party, there will be a few toasts to the couple – usually led by the father of the bride if he is in attendance. Upon this toast, the couple is usually meant to return to toast dedicating it to their guests. The toasts are unlikely to turn into full speeches, but it might be worth having a few words prepared. It is mostly simply thanking those in attendance and expressing excitement at the upcoming nuptials.
Remember to Network
Regardless of who is throwing the party on your behalf, the fact of the matter remains that the party is to celebrate you as a couple. Everyone there has made an effort to come in order to give you their congratulations and celebrate your news. These types of social settings can be a little overwhelming at times, but it important that you remember that the two of you will need to work the room. All of the attendees deserve to be acknowledged in one form or another. Some of your guests also won’t know many of the other people in attendance, so facilitating the making of introductions and connections will mean that the group will be much more close-knit at your wedding.
Should We Expect Gifts?
The short answer is no. Guests do not traditionally bring presents to an engagement party; the gifts are usually reserved for the wedding – especially if the two are within the year. If your engagement party is going to be a few years before your wedding, then you might get a few presents. If you want to leave the choice up to your guests, then you could simply not mention gifts at all on the invites, which allows your guests to make the choice for themselves.
On the other hand, if you are staunchly against your guests giving you gifts at your engagement party, then mention this on the invite. It lets your guests off of the hook and ensures that they don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable if they can’t afford to purchase you a present for both occasions. If you do want gifts, then it might be worth organizing a registry and including the information with your invites as a hint to your guests.
Avoid Upstaging the Wedding
It is really easy to find yourself putting your all into planning the engagement party because it is the first opportunity to celebrate the next step in your life together. However, in doing this, it becomes really easy to find yourself upstaging the wedding with the engagement party, especially if there isn’t much of a gap between the two. However, this might be intentional. There are those that plan an elaborate engagement party because they plan to elope when they marry. Or if you already know that you are likely to have along engagement, then you don’t necessarily need to worry about upstaging the wedding.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, you do not even have to throw an engagement party if you don’t want to. Some people do prefer to wait and save their money in order to be able to spend more on the actual wedding day itself. It comes down to the individual couple and what you want, so keep this in mind. If you do decide to throw an engagement party, then remember that there is no right or wrong way to do this; it can be as big or small as you like.