12 Common Engagement Party Etiquette Questions

The love of your life popped the question and you said yes! Now it’s time to share the wonderful news with your friends and family. A fun and festive way to do this is with an engagement party. When you begin organizing your festivities, there’s some basic engagement party etiquette to follow. If you’re not sure how to create a memorable party, don’t worry. We’re going to answer 12 common engagement party questions so you two can celebrate in style. Afterwards, don’t forget to browse our engagement party invitations to get inspired.

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What is an engagement party for?

An engagement party is a time to bring your friends and family together to celebrate your upcoming nuptials. Once people hear the news about your engagement, they’ll want to congratulate you. Throwing a party where all your closest loved ones can celebrate with you is much more exciting than making a million phone calls. Plus, if your families haven’t met, an engagement party is a great time to introduce them.

Cheerful couple celebrating with love balloon at an engagement party

When should you throw the party?

Traditionally, you should plan your engagement party soon after the proposal while the news is still fresh. However, try not to schedule your party within the first month of your engagement. Take some time to enjoy this exhilarating new step you’re taking with your partner. Planning your party two to four months after the proposal is standard. This is the sweet spot between relishing in your newly engaged life and getting serious about planning your big day.

Who should host the party?

The next step is determining who throws the engagement party. Traditionally, it’s hosted by the bride’s parents. Today, any friend or relative who expresses enthusiasm about throwing your engagement party is welcome to host. If you can’t decide on one host, it’s okay to have more than one engagement party.

For example, you may have one with family and one with friends. Having multiple engagement parties may also be a great option if you live in a different city than your parents. If you want, you can even throw your own engagement party.

How formal or casual should it be?

Couple at engagement party

It’s time for the fun part. Start thinking about the vision for your wedding and how you want your engagement party to reflect your style. Chat with your host about engagement party ideas. If you’re planning a formal ceremony, you may want an engagement party that matches. You could go with a glamorous theme cast in silver or create a roaring 20’s speakeasy.

However, you may want to contrast to your wedding and keep your engagement party decor casual with a game night or ice cream social. No matter what style you choose, keep in mind your host is footing the bill and be respectful of the costs.

Who should you invite?

Deciding who to invite to an engagement party helps plan the vision for your wedding. Try your best to match the guest list of your engagement party to your wedding. You also may want to invite friends or co-workers who aren’t attending your wedding. However, if you’re having a more traditional wedding or if you’re not sure about your wedding guest list, keep your engagement party intimate.

Everyone you invite to your engagement party should be invited to your wedding. Think about your immediate family members, close extended family, and close circle of friends. Definitely make sure to invite those who you’ll ask to be in your wedding party.

Where should you throw the party?

Guests signing engagement party guest book

Once you’ve decided on a guest list and determined how formal or casual you want the party, you can start discussing possible locations. Throwing the party at the host’s home is often a perfect fit. This is a great location if you’re planning a more casual celebration.

You may also decide to book a space for your engagement party, like a restaurant, bar, country club, or neighborhood clubhouse. Renting a venue is a nice option if you’re having a formal gathering or if you have to accommodate more guests.

How should you distribute the invitations?

Traditionally, invitations are sent in the mail. If you’ve decided on your wedding invitations, you may want an engagement party invite that coordinates. If you’re not sure about the color palette or style of your wedding invitations, don’t worry. Your engagement party invites don’t have to match. Instead, they could reflect the mood you want to create or your personality.

You can also distribute your invitations over email, particularly if you’re having a casual celebration. No matter what type you choose, send them out at least one month before the party or even six weeks if many guests will be coming from out of town.

Should you expect engagement gifts?

Engagement party gifts

It’s not customary to give a gift at an engagement party. If you want, ask your host to make a polite note in the invitation–no gifts, please! However, some guests may still want to bring engagement party gifts. It can be smart to start your registry with a few low to mid range items, add it to your wedding website, and include your wedding website in your engagement party invite. For more information, check out our resource on what to ask for wedding registry gifts.

In the event some guests bring gifts, be sure to have a discreet place to keep them. You’ll definitely want to open any gifts later so other guests don’t feel uncomfortable. Last but not least, don’t forget to send thank you notes.

Should the host expect gifts?

Hostess gifts are a nice tradition to honor the person who’s throwing the party. Although every guest may not bring a gift for the host, it’s a good idea to be prepared for those who do. Set up a discreet place to keep any gifts for your host.

You may want to get a hostess gift yourself to show your host how much you appreciate them and thank them for throwing you such an amazing engagement party. Even if you choose not to give a hostess gift, you can write them a thoughtful thank you note to show your gratitude. Check out our resource on thank you card wording for inspiration.

What should you serve your guests?

Engagement party food

Deciding what to serve your guests depends on the time of day and the style of the engagement party. If you’re planning a more formal celebration, you may want to create signature cocktails, serve hors d’oeuvres, or even have a sit-down engagement dinner.

The dinner menu or appetisers should match the theme of the party. If you’re having an elegant affair, try to stay away from a serve-yourself dinner style. If the party is themed “Under the Stars” consider serving food and drinks that you can take outside for a romantic night.

However, if you’re keeping things casual, you don’t have to serve a full meal and should avoid throwing your party at dinner time. A buffet style, like a taco bar or light bites, are two great options for an engagement party.

What type of party activities should be planned?

You don’t need to have special activities or engagement party games planned other than the toasts. However, toasts aren’t required at an engagement party like they are at the rehearsal dinner or wedding reception. But it’s likely your host and other guests will want to share some special remarks. Plan for your parents or hosts to kick off the toasts and have anyone else who wants to say something follow. For guests who need some extra ideas for their toasts, check out these heartfelt wedding messages. Once the toasts are wrapping up, you should conclude with a thank you. As an added bonus, you could create engagement party favors so your guests don’t go home empty handed.

What should you wear?

Your engagement party is the first of many festivities celebrating your upcoming nuptials. As the bride-to-be, you should be prepared to dress the part and may even want to wear white. Keep in mind, you don’t want to outshine yourself before your big day, but you’ll also want to wear something special to stand out at the party.

Consider the style of engagement party you’re having and choose an outfit accordingly. If you’re having a more formal affair, wear a charming cocktail dress. On the other hand, if you’re having a more casual gathering, a fun sundress might be a great choice.

It’s also a great idea to enclose a dress code for the party in your invites. That way guests know whether to show up in black tie attire or keep it casual.

Woman looking at dress in mirror

What’s Next?

Now that you’re engaged, it’s time to share the good news and celebrate with your closest friends and family. An engagement party is an awesome way to kick off the festivities leading up to your big day. We hope the answers to these 12 common engagement party etiquette questions will help you and your host create the celebration of your dreams.

Once you’ve got your engagement party planned, it’s time to start thinking about the main event–your wedding! After deciding on your special day, choose the perfect save the date to send out so your loved ones can mark their calendars.