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Engagement Party 101: Tips, Etiquette, and Planning

Congratulations on your engagement! This is an exciting time in your life, and it's only fitting to celebrate before the wedding planning frenzy begins. If you're unsure of how to plan an engagement party, don't...

Congratulations on your engagement! This is an exciting time in your life, and it's only fitting to celebrate before the wedding planning frenzy begins. If you're unsure of how to plan an engagement party, don't worry - we've got you covered. In this article, we'll provide you with our best tips and tricks to get you started.

What is an engagement party?

An engagement party is a celebration of your proposal and the first event leading up to your wedding day. It's usually held before the bridal shower, bachelorette party, or any other pre-wedding gatherings. The guest list for an engagement party is typically smaller than the wedding guest list. It's an opportunity for you and your partner to celebrate with close friends and family, and for everyone to get to know each other if they haven't already.

A well-set table in a manicured garden. The decorations are white-on-white and there is a tub of champagne in the foreground. Image via Hygge Studio; "Knitted" by Schumacher for Paperless Post.

Is it normal to have an engagement party?

Engagement parties are quite common, especially for longer engagements or destination weddings. If you're planning to celebrate your engagement for an extended period, there's no reason to hesitate. However, it's not necessary to have an engagement party if you don't wish to.

An animated engagement party invitation with a floral backdrop and a big scripted “Cheers.” "Arrow Heart" Flyer by Paperless Post.

When do you throw an engagement party?

There are no specific rules about when to throw an engagement party, but it's typically held within a few months of the proposal. Send out invitations four to six weeks before the event to give guests sufficient notice. If you're using online invitations, you can send them closer to the four-week mark as they arrive instantly. You don't need to have all your wedding details finalized before hosting an engagement party, but it's nice to share them if asked.

If you're already gathering with friends and family for another holiday or your birthday, you can combine both celebrations. This works well for couples who don't live in the same city as most of their wedding guests. However, if hosting around the winter holidays, avoid dates that are too close to avoid double bookings.

A white engagement party invitation with a floral and palm motif in the upper right corner. It is paired with a blush envelope and a matching liner. "Florissant" by Paperless Post; image via The Perfect Palette.

Who hosts an engagement party?

Traditionally, the bride's parents host the engagement party at their home. However, modern couples have more flexibility. Anyone can host an engagement party, including both sets of parents together or close friends and members of the bridal party. You can even choose to host it yourselves, especially if you want to share the exciting news right after the proposal.

Who do you invite to an engagement party?

The general rule is to invite guests who will also be invited to the wedding. However, not everyone on the wedding guest list needs to be included in the engagement party. Keep the guest list smaller and more intimate than the wedding. Invite close family members and your closest friends to ensure a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

What happens at an engagement party?

Engagement parties can take many forms, from casual cocktail parties to activity-based events. Toasts are customary, usually made by the hosts and the engaged couple. Keep them short and sweet, saving the longer speeches for the wedding. You should also consider sharing your proposal story, but try to avoid repeating it too much. Remember, engagement parties are not gift-giving occasions, and there's no need to provide a registry or ask for gifts.

A drinks table at a party with various types of wine poured. Image via Honey Lane; "Garden Path" by Oscar de la Renta for Paperless Post.

How to plan an engagement party?

Planning an engagement party is similar to preparing for any other celebration. Here are some key steps to consider:

Choose a date and time

Select a date that works well for your guests, preferably on a weekend evening. Give them enough notice by sending invitations four to six weeks in advance. Specify the start and end time for the event.

Pick a venue

Consider choosing a venue where the majority of your guests live or your parents' hometown. If your guests are scattered across different locations, you might consider hosting separate parties for each group. Avoid hosting the engagement party in the same city as your wedding to minimize travel fatigue.

Decide on a theme

Create a unique atmosphere by choosing a theme that differs from your wedding. For example, if your wedding will be laid-back, plan a fun and glamorous engagement party. If your wedding is formal, opt for a casual outdoor event.

Create the guest list

Keep the engagement party guest list smaller and more intimate than the wedding guest list. Use your Paperless Post address book to easily organize and invite guests.

Send engagement party invitations

Send out engagement party invitations four to six weeks before the event. You can have a different design for your engagement invitations compared to your wedding invitations. Online invitations through Paperless Post are a budget-friendly and stylish option. You can even include a link to your wedding website for guests to get a sneak peek of your wedding details.

Plan a menu

Food is essential for any celebration. Decide whether you'll have a full dinner or serve light appetizers and specify the menu on the invitation. Make sure your guests know what to expect.

Choose an outfit

Dress up and make a statement at your engagement party. It's the beginning of your wedding celebrations, and you'll want to look fabulous in the photos. Plan your outfit ahead of time to avoid last-minute stress.

You're now armed with the knowledge to plan an incredible engagement party. Get inspired and start browsing our selection of modern engagement party invitations. It's time to celebrate this special time in your life!

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