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The Engagement party – What’s It For, Anyway?

You’re engaged and you probably want the whole world to know it. 

Congratulations on your engagement.

Before you broadcast the news across your social media feeds, should your parents be the first to hear it?

The Engagement Party

Which set of parents to call first?

  • Usually, the bride’s, although it’s a highly personal decision.

What if he’s never met your parents or vice versa?

  • Give your parents time, then bring your fiancé to meet them.

Remember the scene in Father of the Bride where Annie announces that she met the most wonderful guy in Italy, and they’re getting married, and he’s on his way over to meet them? The devastated look on Steve Martin’s face says it all. Lesson: dangerous tactic.

After you’ve told both sets of parents, call your siblings, close relatives, and good friends. And remember to call your grandparents.

If you already have children from a prior relationship and they’re old enough to keep a secret, you want to let them know before you tell anyone else.

The Engagement Party

Snap a Pic

The question has been popped, the happy answer is given, the ring placed on a jubilant hand; you may have followed up the tearful moment by snapping a sweetly beaming selfie.

There’s something undeniably special about this snapshot, which captures the first official moments of your journey toward marriage.

Many couples use this shot as the accompaniment to an informal engagement announcement via social media.

A formal Engagement Announcement

Not that long ago, the bride-to-be’s parents sometimes sent out written engagement announcements. These days, emails and phone calls are acceptable ways to announcing one’s engagement to family and friends, and posting an engagement photo on social media feeds takes care of the rest.

If you are having a particularly long engagement and do want to send out announcements, send them only to people you plan to invite to the wedding. Announcements are usually sent by the parents of the bride, though some couples send out their own. The wording is quite simple, typically making no mention of the wedding date or location.

The Engagement Party – What’s It For, Anyway?

It’s the first public celebration of your new status. There’s no obligation to have one, but it can be a lovely way for family and friends on both sides to start getting to know one another.

Although engagement parties date back centuries, there’s little formal protocol governing them, which means you have plenty of latitude. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at a parent’s home, dinner in a restaurant, a Sunday brunch, or an outdoor barbecue would fit the bill.

Traditionally, the bride’s parents would host the engagement party, inviting guests to cocktails at their home without noting the occasion.

These days, it’s not always practical to have the bride’s parents throw the party, especially if the couple doesn’t live near them. Other likely hosts are the groom’s parents or any close family member on either side. Moreover, you shouldn’t host your own unless you’re going to make it the occasion for a surprise announcement.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about when to hold the party, but it usually takes place at least two months after the engagement and no later than six months before the wedding.

The gifts. There is no formal tradition governing engagement gifts, other than between the couple. Although, some people may bring or send gifts. You should not expect gifts and they shouldn’t be opened at the party. Obviously, since you’re not supposed to expect gifts at the party, you don’t need to register before the event.

The guest list should be limited to the people who will be invited to the wedding, though of course there can be exceptions to the rule.

Activities are a way to bring people together. IF you’re having a backyard barbecue, set up croquet and volleyball. Consider drawing up a quiz or a crossword puzzle about the bride and groom, and have prizes for the highest scores on each side.

The engagement party is also a great place to incorporate any ethnic or family traditions.

The goal of your engagement party is to get the two sides mixing and mingling. The better people get to know one another, the easier all of your other pre-wedding events will be.

The Engagement Party

 The Toast

After most of the guests have arrived at the engagement party, or about an hour into the event, it’s time for the father of the bride to make his toast. IF he isn’t available, another significant family member can do the honors.

After the toast, the bride and groom should briefly address the gathering to thank the person who gave the toast, the host of the party, and the friends and family members who came out to celebrate their happy event

After the Party

Send a heartfelt note and a gift to the host the day after the party. If a parent hosted the party, you don’t need to send a gift. Flowers make a wonderful gesture, especially if the host is difficult to buy for. Candles, chocolates, beautiful soaps, a picture frame, or a special bottle of wine or champagne also make fine gifts.

And all those gifts you weren’t supposed to get? Send thank-you notes. They should be sent out as soon s possible, preferably within 2 weeks.

Resources: Mindy Weiss and Lisbeth Levine (2016), The Wedding Book, Workman Publishing, New York

 

Having or not having an Engagement party is something that you don’t need to worry about. There’s no obligation to have one, but it can be a lovely way for family and friends on both sides to start getting to know one another and is also a great place to incorporate any ethnic or family traditions.

I hope all these tips helped you to learn more about the engagement announcement and feel free to ask me anything in the comments. There is so much more to write about on this theme.

 

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