Engagement Parties: Who to Throw One, and How to Throw One
Engagement parties are a tradition we love. They’re also a tradition that’s evolved, a lot.
Engagement parties used to be hosted almost exclusively by the bride’s parents. They were relatively lavish affairs because traditionally, engagement parties weren’t used to celebrate an engagement; they were used to announce an engagement. Pictures were taken that would appear in the following day's newspaper. This meant brides bought special dresses and often had their hair and makeup done just for the party.
So that the bride wouldn’t feel overdressed, guests and parents of the bride were expected to don their best attire, too.
Sometimes engagement parties were arranged at restaurants or social clubs, but often, they were thrown at home as a means for the bride’s family to showcase the type of environment their daughter came up in. After all, the engagement party was very commonly the first time the groom’s parents would meet the bride’s parents, and so it was also the first glimpse they’d get into the family background of their future daughter-in-law. For all these subtle reasons, engagement parties used to have an element of pretense.
Thankfully, that really doesn’t exist anymore. Social media has made announcing your engagement easy, which means the engagement party can be nothing but celebration.
As a result, it’s more and more common for other people to host the party. Often, the couple will arrange the details themselves. Sometimes a dear friend or sibling want to throw the party for them. In any case, there are a few keys attributes to a successful engagement party.
Here’s our five tips to ensure an effortless, enjoyable night!
1. Unless the bride’s family and the groom’s family live really far away from one another, don’t throw multiple parties.
The only exception would be if you want to have one with family, and another with friends. In general, though, one party of your closest and most intimate family and friends is plenty. Try to limit it only to immediate relatives, (or those who feel like immediate relatives) and the friends who are close enough to be in your bridal party. The last thing you want to do is invite a friend who doesn’t get a special role on the big day.
2. Don’t ask for gifts.
An engagement party isn’t a shower. It’s just a chance for everyone to share in your joy with a toast, and maybe a few stories of how you met or how he proposed.
3. If this is the first time your parents are meeting each other, be sure to have them come a little earlier than any other guests.
It’s important they get at least a few minutes to meet each other and congratulate each other in private. You want them to become comfortable with one another, and they won’t be able to do that if they feel like they’ve been put on the spot in front of all your other guests.
4. Pace the Alcohol
If anyone on either side of the family doesn’t drink, consider toasting with mocktails instead. You don’t want anyone to feel conspicuous or judged. Even if everyone on both sides would enjoy some bubbly, don’t go overboard. You don’t want your engagement party to become embarrassing for either side of your new family.
5. Don’t overspend.
This is not your wedding. You don’t need exquisite decorations or lavish floral arrangements.
You don’t need loads of games and planned activities to lock people in.
You don’t want things to feel over-the-top before your big day, as that kind of pretense can actually put an unsuspecting guest more on edge than at ease.
Save the red carpet and the fancy gown, and put all your emphasis on making a comfortable, lighthearted, atmosphere instead. Some of the best engagement parties we’ve been to have been held around a single dinner table, where guests can chat and toast, and disperse naturally when the meal is over.
Don’t be afraid to keep your party simple. Clean your ring. Everyone will want to see it, but beyond the diamond, dress in something you feel great in, even if that’s jeans and a sweater.
The point is to celebrate you, so be yourself. Don’t feel pressured to make anything go a certain way. The more you plan, the more you’ll be caught up in whether or not details are going according to plan. You’re better off to let all of that go. Pick a place you know you love, or, if friends or family are throwing the party for you, let them know where you’d like to have it. Then relax and enjoy the night. You already said yes. Now, it’s time to celebrate!