Timing, gifts, and guest lists: How to plan an engagement party

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How to plan an engagement party as seen on @offbeatbride
Engagement ring balloon from XoAS

Are you recently engaged? Aw yiss! Now it's time to start planning it all, including whether or not to have the totally optional engagement party. First: trust me that nobody will be bothered if you decide NOT to plan one of these babies. In fact, we even made a pros and cons list! But if you are (or someone else is throwing one for you — whooo!), here are our tips for how to plan an engagement party.

Engagement party timing

We suggest having your engagement party fairly soon after you announce if you're able, just to make sure everyone is still in the initial excitement zone. Alternately, you could gather everyone together for a faux reason and surprise everyone with the news at the party itself. Either way, do it as soon as you know you want everyone to know, usually one to two months of the announcement.

Also keep the season in mind, as you may get discount party rates if you wait until a slower month. Check with your potential venues unless you'll be kicking it backyard-style.

Who throws the engagement party?

Back in “the day,” the bride's parents often threw the party, but today is not “the day” anymore. You can totally throw one yourselves or give the opportunity to an enthusiastic aunt/family friend/best pal, etc. if they're game. Feel free to offshore this one. You'll have enough on your plate with the wedding itself.

What kind of theme should you have?

We've talked about some engagement party ideas over here. The engagement party might be a great opportunity to go weirder than you're able to at your wedding. Make it Harry Potter-themed, Rockabilly-themed, or fancy dress, if you like. The point is that it can be as large, as small, as informal, or as glammed-up as you like.

Who should you invite to your engagement party?

Here's where things can get tricky. If you're having a destination wedding, it can be a great opportunity to invite a bunch of guests who won't be able to make the wedding. But if you're having your wedding nearby, those invitees may be expecting a wedding invite as well. It's okay to only invite them to the engagement party, but plan to be up front about how large or small the wedding will be just in case your guest list will be dramatically smaller at the wedding itself.

Alternately, you can make the engagement party a much more intimate gathering with only your closest friends and family. This could be just a small cards and booze get-together at your local haunt, if you like.

If your party is going to be more formal/traditional, considering inviting both sides of the family, nearby extended family, friends and potential wedding party members, and close coworkers. Thankfully, the etiquette here is super flexible, so do what you need to do.

Engagement party invitations

You'll definitely want to let everyone know about it, of course, though formal invitations aren't at all required. You can create a Facebook event, an Evite, good ol' phone calls/texts, or pick up some paper invitations. If there's time and you're way ahead of schedule, you can sometimes include engagement party invitations in with your wedding invitation order.

What's the protocol on gifts?

Traditionally, gifts haven't been required at engagement parties. But you may receive some if you don't tell your guests otherwise. If you'd rather not request another gift, feel free to specify “no gifts, please” on your invitations. Alternately, if you're planning a wedding registry, you can set this up early for use by engagement party guests, too. Give this information to whomever is throwing the party so they can share it as needed.

More engagement party info:

What tips do you have for rad engagement party-throwing?

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