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Wedding: Engagement Parties

by Meghann on May 14, 2012

I’ve only ever attended two engagement parties in my lifetime.

The first was for my cousin Angel. She was living in another state at the time and had only been dating her fiance a few months before he proposed. (FYI: they recently celebrated their 10 year wedding anniversary and have two of the cutest little girls on the planet). After the proposal, my aunt and uncle quickly threw together an engagement party for their next visit home simply so the rest of the family could meet the fiance and welcome him to the family. It was really a mix of a graduation party (Angel had just graduated from UAB) and an engagement party, but what it came down to was that we were all there to meet Jeremy and celebrate their recent engagement. I was only 16 at the time and remember being in awe of the whole engagement and wedding process.

The second was for a good friend of mine who was planning on having a long engagement so her future mother-in-law (who was apparently really into party planning) threw her and her fiance a gorgeous engagement party by the water. There was a good food, the obligatory through-the-years slideshow, and a dozen or so toasts wishing the happy couple luck on their future together. Unfortunately, the “long engagement” was put on an indefinite hold. The wedding never happened and the couple are no longer together. It was a lovely party though.

Because of my lack of experience with engagement parties, I never really considered even having one. Last weekend, the topic of engagement parties came up with my sister at lunch and we both weren’t even sure whether people still had them or not. My guess is, yes, they do, but probably when circumstances require one – such as giving the bride or groom a chance to meet the family, if there’s a long engagement, or the couple’s friends just want and excuse to throw a party!

Since the topic was still hot on my mind, I had to chuckle when I saw a post go up Thursday on Every Last Detail on the very subject.

Screen shot 2012-05-14 at 11.08.01 AM.png

Yep, people are still having engagement parties. There’s a proper etiquette behind it and everything. 🙂

Did you have an engagement party? Or are you planning one?

1 Lindsey d. May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I’m attending one next month. It’s a combination of “the hosts want to throw a party” and “the wedding party needs to meet.” There are eight of us bridesmaids and several of us don’t know each other. I’m not even sure who all the groomsmen are. Most of us haven’t met the couple’s parents, who all live out of town. So a fellow bridesmaid (her hubby is also in the wedding) are throwing a small get together for the wedding party and families.

I’ve also been to several engagement parties, including two for my brother and sister-in-law, and a couple for friends. They are fun, a way to celebrate immediately when the wedding is a year or so away, etc…

2 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I think having an engagement party is a great idea, especially if the bride and groom don’t live in the same area as their family. I do, however, think it’s something that should be put on my someone other than the bride and groom. My brother got married last year and my grandparents threw a party, and then some of my parents friends also threw a party. My mother said when she got married she probably had about 10 parties thrown for her! haha she said that was way too much, which I agree, but that’s how people did things then. One or two sounds good to me!
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3 Sarah May 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

My mom hosted an engagement party for us so that all her church friends (these people had known me since I was little) could celebrate with her and see me all grown up.

I don’t think it’s ever something you throw for yourself though. (Since there are gifts involved, I think it reads a bit greedy to throw one for yourself.) Usually parents or friends will throw one for you because they want to have that extra time to celebrate with people who may not attend the wedding. The icing before the cake I guess? Haha

4 Emily N May 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I didn’t have one. I figure there is enough pressure between the wedding, showers, and potential bachelorette party (mine was very relaxed!) for my guests that I shouldn’t do that… you know, more gift pressure, even when you say “no gifts please!”
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5 Caitlin @ This Bride's Joyride May 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I didn’t have one but I have a bunch of friends who have. Usually though I noticed the few who have were having destination or really small weddings, so the engagement party was their chance to celebrate with some family and friends who might not have been able to attend the wedding itself. I have even heard of people registering for gifts!

6 Rachel Wilkerson May 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

We had an engagement party because that was part of the proposal (the proposal was simply surprising our about-to-visit-us-and-meet-for-the-first-time families with the good news and throwing a surprise party for them). It made sense for us to do an engagement party for a lot of reasons, but I doubt most of my friends will have one. My very first friend to get engaged had an engagement party and it was something I assumed a lot of people did (I guess because I’d seen it in TV/movies?); it wasn’t until a mutual friend pointed out that engagement parties have become pretty obscure that I realized that it was an uncommon event.

I agree with the comments above that there are some really good cases for having an engagement party, and I also agree with those who said that if everyone knows each other/lives nearby, it can come across as just another expense/obligation for friends and family. But I’ve been to some casual “post-proposal” parties (i.e. the guy e-mails the couple’s friends and says, “Hey, I’m proposing on Friday, meet us at this bar for drinks after!”) and those make perfect sense to me. I think it’s natural that people want to celebrate with loved ones after big news like that so I think planning a low-key gathering is great.
Rachel Wilkerson recently posted..{the life} Reading Into It

7 kim May 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Our friends thew us an engagement party. It was a very casual BBQ and mostly an excuse to hang out and drink. They used evite in invite people which I think makes it seem very informal (I think formal invitations set a formal vibe which can imply gift giving). Also, I agree with what every one said so far, that you can’t host it yourselves. Good luck!

8 CaitlinHTP May 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

We had one! We mainly had one because our engagement was so long. It was fun 🙂
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9 Melissa @TryingtoHeal May 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

For the wedding i’m going to this weekend the bride and groom threw an engagement party about 2 weeks after they got engaged. I don’t know the reason behind it other than I was wondering why there was one taking place…I had never been to one and didn’t even know they existed!
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10 Sandra May 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm

My fiance and I are having one this weekend, actually. We got engaged back in March and will probably be getting married in about a year. It wont be very big -maybe 20 people. My parents wanted to celebrate our engagement so they put together a small party so that all our close friends and family could meet each other. We are really looking forward to it! 🙂

11 Morgan May 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

We had an engagement party only because his parents insisted they throw us one (probably to show their house/property off). I didn’t think it was at all necessary and I was sort of embarrassed some guests felt they had to bring a gift. It’s like a shower, though, you never, ever throw one for yourselves.

12 Lara May 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I’m not having one because we live in a different state than my family and a lot of our friends. I think it would be kind of rude to ask people to travel to a different state just for an engagement party when we’re going to ask them again for the wedding (and possibly bachelor/bachelorette parties and bridal shower). If you live in the same city as everyone you want to invite, then I guess that’s a different story. That said, I still think it takes away from the wedding when you have a bunch of smaller parties before, and it gets expensive!!

13 Army Amy* May 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

What serendipitous timing! My post today is about my brother’s engagement party, which was on Saturday! His fiance’s parents’ friends (that’s a mouthful!) really wanted to throw a party. I’m pretty sure that’s why they had it. No one else that I know has ever had an engagement party. Really, throw in a ceremony and it could have been a laid back wedding. It was a good time though. (Jason Castro from American Idol was randomly there, so that was fun.)*
Army Amy* recently posted..Engagement Fiesta

14 Mandy May 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

My fiance’s family threw us an engagement party just 1 day after he proposed. I would have never planned one myself but it was appropriate in our situation. I said goodbye to my family and then we drove 5 hours to visit his family for a few days before moving to Texas (from Wisconsin). Of course my family knew my fiance was going to propose so they of course wanted to see me after he proposed but before we moved to Texas. So they were able to drive the five hours to our engagement party before we moved to Texas.

15 Victoria May 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Engagement parties are pretty common in the South and I think they’re mostly given by the groom’s side of the family…at least in my experience.
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16 Victoria May 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm

We had an engagement party and we had a blast! Even though everyone pretty much knew each other, it’s fun to celebrate the couple as they embark on the next step 🙂

17 Katie May 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I’ve been in 4 weddings and invited to about 20 but have only gone to one engagement party. In that couple’s case they were about to move to Florida for medical school so it was a going away/engagement party. It was fun, but I don’t think its a “mandatory” event.
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18 Victoria May 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I forgot to mention, my parent’s threw the party… I think that is common- the Bride’s family hosting.
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19 Brittany May 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm

My parents threw an Engagement party for my fiancé and I about a month after we got engaged. I think it’s a fairly common thing to do in the South…it’s tradition to celebrate everything with family and friends. We really loved having all of the important people in our lives sharing in the ‘kickoff’ of our wedding year (:

20 Claire May 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

My sister hosted an engagement party for my fiance and I. We had a long engagement, and my fiance had a major health crisis right in the middle. So we had an engagement/celebratory party in December before marrying the next September. We kept it small and low-key. But it was so much fun!! Instead of gifts, my sister had everyone bring an ornament for our tree. So this past Christmas, it was such an enjoyable afternoon putting our tree up and looking at all the ornaments, talking about who gave them to us. The engagement party ended up creating what will be a lifetime of memories. It was such a great way for our close family & friends to come together before all the major “hoopla” and have a tight-knit celebration.
Claire recently posted..To All the Moms

21 Stephanie @ My Freckled Life May 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm

My future mother-in-law hosted an engagement party for my fiance and I a few months after we got engaged. She is from GA, so I guess it is more of a Southern thing, because I had never heard of one. It kind of reminded me of a joint shower, because there was finger foods and games and people brought small gifts. We probably had about 30-40 people there total. In terms of etiquette, one of the most important things is to make sure that you only invite people you are SURE you are actually inviting to the wedding. If there is anyone that you’re borderline about (i.e. coworkers or acquaintances), it’s probably best to leave them out.
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22 SpaceySteph May 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

We’re having an engagement party this weekend. We live in a different state than our families, who live in different states from each other!
We got engaged 2 months ago, and I woke up the next morning to tell everyone before heading off to work again so there wasn’t a lot of celebrating. I haven’t even seen my parents since then!
So we are going home to visit and my parents are throwing a small thing at their house with dessert and drinks. Our wedding is where we live but none of our guests are local (except some coworkers) so even though we are only inviting people to the party that we’re inviting to the wedding, some of them won’t make the trip and it’ll be nice to celebrate with them on their turf. Also I’m not expecting to have a regular girls-only shower, I’d rather celebrate with everyone, including my fiancé!
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23 Vanesa James May 16, 2012 at 8:08 am

My best friend had one but mainly because she (and her soon to be hubby) lived in Boston and all of us lived in Cali. It was a great way to meet him. Also her engagement was almost 2 years.

I decided not to have one because my engagement was less then a year … Instead we had a dinner at my mother’s to have both families meet.

24 cat melnyk May 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

When me and Mike tie the knot we’ll have an engagement party but it will be replacing a bridal shower and it will have a specific purpose. It will be a “stock the bar party” in which people come celebrate the engagement and bring a bottle of something to help us stock the wedding bar 🙂

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