Everything You Need to Know About Planning an Engagement Party (2023)

  • Engagement Party

    A Guide to Engagement Parties



    Everything You Need to Know About Planning an Engagement Party (1)

    Part of

    Throwing the perfect bash is easier than you think.


    Kristi Kellogg



    Jaimie Mackey

    Jaimie Mackey

    (Video) Engagement Party - Planning Tips

    Jaimie Mackey was the real weddings editor at Brides from 2013 to 2015. She also worked as a luxury wedding planner and produced over 100 high-end weddings and events in Colorado

    Brides's Editorial Guidelines

    Updated on 09/29/22

    Congratulations, you're engaged! It's now time to kick off the wedding celebrations with a bang. An engagement party is a great way to share this exciting news and get family and friends together to commemorate your forthcoming union.

    If this is your first time throwing an engagement party, etiquette questions are probably swirling around your brain. To help, we consulted with party planner Heather Lowenthal to provide insider tips, plus answer key questions about the guest list, invitations, gifts, and everything in between.

    Meet the Expert

    Heather Lowenthal is the founder of Posh Parties, a full-service luxury event planning company specializing in destination weddings in Palm Beach, Florida.

    Ready to get the festivities going? Read on for everything you need to know about pulling off the perfect engagement party.

    Engagement Party Etiquette Questions, Answered

    You may be asking yourself, who plans and pays for an engagement party? Who gets invited? What is the best way to send out invitations? Ahead, here are answers to the most frequently asked engagement party etiquette questions.

    Who throws the engagement party?

    Traditionally, engagement parties are hosted by the bride's parents, but really anyone can throw an engagement party. Some couples even choose to throw their own celebration!

    (Video) Party Planning Tips | How I planned my Engagement Party in LESS THAN 30 DAYS

    When do you throw an engagement party?

    "Throw your engagement party soon after you get engaged," Lowenthal says."There are going to be many other festivities in your honor along the way, so it's great to spread them out." If you’re having a longer engagement or don’t have time to travel home right away, a slight delay is no problem.

    Who do you invite to an engagement party?

    As with all of your pre-wedding parties, anyone who makes the guest list for your engagement party must also be invited to the wedding. This is particularly the case if the engagement party will be hosted by you or your parents.

    Do you need to send formal invitations?

    Deciding whether or not to send formal invitations to your engagement party depends on the type of event. If you have a little time and are hosting a seated dinner, paper invitations are an elegant option. Going more casual? Opt for an e-vite with a playful theme. The great thing about e-vites is that the design options are endless, so you can choose a formal design for a fancier engagement party.

    Should you include registry information with the invitation?

    While it's A-OK to complete a registry for guests that want to bring a gift to your engagement party, it's not appropriate to include registry information in your engagement party invitation. Instead, include registry links on your wedding website or rely on word of mouth. Just remember that giving gifts, while certainly customary, is not mandatory for engagement parties.

    Can you have more than one engagement party?

    Having more than one engagement party is quite common, especially if the bride and groom are from different places (or live far from home) and want to have a party with non-locals, too. If your friends or a coworker want to plan something informal, like after-work drinks, you can invite a larger group without worrying about an etiquette faux pas.

    Can you combine the party with a holiday or birthday?

    Whether you got engaged over the holidays or any other time of year, you have the option of combining your engagement party with another celebration. Just try to avoid holidays for which people will have other plans and will be focused on family traditions, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a date like Valentine's Day.

    When should the parents meet for the first time?

    At an engagement party, the atmosphere isn't going to be right. Your parents’ first meeting should give them a chance to really talk and get to know each other in an intimate setting.

    Key Steps to Planning an Engagement Party

    From key decisions you'll make early on to final touches the day of, here's how to plan an engagement party.

    Decide Who’s Hosting

    Whether it’s you and your partner, your siblings, your BFF, or your partner’s family, just about anyone can plan (and pay for) the celebration. You can call in the help of a professional if you're going all out for your engagement party (some wedding planners even include it in their overall package).

    Pick a Date

    The best time is within the first few months of engagement. The excitement is still fresh, and any potential wedding planning stress has yet to kick in.

    Create the Guest List

    The best bet is to keep the engagement party more intimate and invite only those who will be at the wedding as well. If someone is throwing the party on your behalf, consult with them before ordering invitations.

    Choose a Venue

    Engagement parties can be as big or small, and as formal or informal, as you’d like, giving you lots of flexibility when it comes to the venue. A party at your parent's home or in your aunt’s backyard is a lovely low-key option, while the private dining room at your favorite restaurant is a great choice for something a little more intimate and formal.

    Send Invitations

    "Send out invitations at least a month before and make sure to have an RSVP date on there as well," Lowenthal says. The type of invitations you choose will depend on the type of event you’re throwing. The good news is there’s no need to match these invitations to the rest of your wedding stationery, so pick something festive that you love!

    Plan the Menu

    If you’re serving booze in any form, you’ll also want some food available. For an evening of cocktails, opt for passed appetizers or a display of cheeses, meats, and crudités. Gathering in the backyard? Your favorite cookout fare is a must. If the evening will be more formal, a plated meal is a nice touch but doesn’t have to be a drawn-out five-course meal with wine pairings.

    Set the Scene

    As with just about every other engagement party detail, the theme and decor can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. The focus is on celebrating, so do whatever will help you enhance that vibe. Candlelight is always a good choice, and a few small floral arrangements will really perk up the space.

    Choose an Outfit

    Choose attire that's appropriate for the party’s setting. You don’t have to go all white if you don’t want to (we love a white-based floral pattern or a soft pastel), and, of course, you can wear another color if you’d prefer. Your partner’s attire should complement yours as well as fit the type of celebration.

    (Video) Engagement Party Planning 101


    What should happen at an engagement party? ›

    What Happens at an Engagement Party? Speeches, toasts, love stories, some dancing, and fun questions happen at an engagement party. It's also an opportunity for families and friends to meet, have fun, and break the ice.

    Who is supposed to plan the engagement party? ›

    Who throws the engagement party? Traditionally, engagement parties are hosted by the bride's parents, but really anyone can throw an engagement party. Some couples even choose to throw their own celebration!

    What do the groom's parents pay for? ›

    What Does the Groom's Family Pay For, Traditionally? The groom's family is responsible for corsages and boutonnieres for immediate members of both families, the lodging of the groom's attendants (if you have offered to help pay for this expense), and sometimes the costs of the rehearsal dinner.

    How much do you spend on an engagement party? ›

    Average cost of an engagement party: $967.50. Average cost of a bridal shower: $1,025. Average cost of an engagement photographer: $325.

    Do you give a speech at an engagement party? ›

    Speeches, or toasts, are a heartfelt part of an engagement party. The best of them will be touching, funny, or a combination of the two, and they usually happen once the celebration is well underway.

    Do you have cake at engagement party? ›

    Should we have a cake? This is completely up to you! We've seen couples organise anything from a gelato cart to a dessert buffet and some not worry about this detail at all.

    Do you give favors at an engagement party? ›

    Should I provide party favors for the guests? Inexpensive favors, such as save-the-date magnets or personalized chocolates and candies that serve as reminders of the wedding date are a great way to thank guests. Can my engagement party be a surprise? Absolutely!

    How long should an engagement party last? ›

    Engagement parties generally last about 4 hours only so plan for food and drink accordingly. Also, you don't need a fancy expensive cake like you'll want for your wedding. You can serve any dessert you like, no worries.

    What should the bride wear to an engagement party? ›

    An engagement party is all about having a good time and celebrating this life milestone with your nearest and dearest, so it's important that you feel amazing! Traditionally, the bride-to-be will wear a dress in white or cream that is shorter than the customary full-length wedding gown.

    What is the dress code for an engagement party? ›

    "A woman can wear a day dress or dress slacks or a skirt with a nice top. A man should wear a suit, with a tie and jacket," advises Meier. For a nighttime party, Sabino suggests that men pull out their best fashion-forward looks.

    How long after you get engaged do you have an engagement party? ›

    Ideally, you'll want to host your engagement party sooner rather than later while the excitement is still fresh! Between 2-4 months of your engagement is generally a good window. This way, you can allow yourself a few weeks to relish in your “just engaged” bubble, before diving headfirst into the wedding planning.

    How do you host an engagement party? ›

    You can have fresh flowers and streamers or fairy lights, if the party is outdoors. Food and drink: You don't need to host a formal sit-down dinner. Instead, opt for finger food and snacks, so that guests can help themselves as they mingle. A simple buffet or a cookout in the garden is also a great option.

    How long should an engagement party last? ›

    Engagement parties generally last about 4 hours only so plan for food and drink accordingly. Also, you don't need a fancy expensive cake like you'll want for your wedding. You can serve any dessert you like, no worries.


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