Engagement Party Etiquette 101

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angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team.
This piece about engagement parties was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

An engagement party is a gathering to make the engagement announcement, introduce your families, and celebrate with close family and friends. Here are some things to keep in mind while planning an engagement party.

Traditionally the parents of the bride hosted a gathering to announce the engagement. With social media, the announcement of the engagement gets around much faster! This doesn’t mean you can’t still have a party to celebrate. Keep in mind, the bride’s parents no longer have to be the hosts of the party. The groom’s parents can host, bride’s and groom’s parents can host jointly, or another close family member can host the party.

Timing is key to hosting an engagement party. Plan on hosting the party two to four months after the engagement, and make sure to NOT host the first month after the engagement. Give the couple time to enjoy the engagement and start to envision their special day. Make sure the engagement party takes place before the couple has sent out save-the-dates or invites for the actual wedding.

Invite immediate family, close extended family, and intimate friends. Include the bridal party and make sure anyone invited to the engagement party will also be invited to the wedding to avoid hurt feelings.

When considering the style of the party, think about what will make everyone feel comfortable. A five-course dinner could make guests feel very intimidated and out of place; however, a backyard BBQ may not be appropriate for a formal family. Do not plan an extravagant engagement party and then have a small intimate wedding in the works. Keep the big bang for the big day.

More formal parties, including the five-course dinners, can use snail mail invites; less formal backyard BBQs can use email invites. Avoid using social media to invite guests.

Do not expect gifts at an engagement party, and make sure that you do not advertise that you are registered at such and such location on the party invite. Keep in mind that some guests still feel obligated to bring a gift, so make sure to register prior to the party for some gifts in the low- to middle-range dollar amount. If someone brings a gift to the party, thank the guest and place the gift out of sight of other guests. Make sure to send a hand-written thank you after the party.

Ensure the engagement party allows a special time for the announcement of the engagement and toasts. No other activities or games need to be played during the party. Keep conversations light and friendly and allow this to serve as a time for families and friends to get to know one another.

Food and alcohol are generally appropriate and recommended. Keep in mind religion and culture when selecting the menu and whether or not to have alcohol at the party.

Do NOT make an engagement party a huge affair. Keep the guest list small and intimate. Do NOT invite someone who may object to the engagement to avoid awkward situations. Make sure to introduce bride’s parents and groom’s parents privately before the party officially starts. Save the detailed décor, elaborate menu selections, and over-the-top entertainment for the actual wedding day. You want the engagement party to be enjoyable, but you want the wedding day to be unforgettable!

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