Engagement parties kick off one of the most exciting times of your life, so you've got to do it right! Justin Timberlake, Anne Hathaway, George Clooney, and Ashlee Simpson have all thrown personalized, fun bashes that set the tone for their wedding. But even non-celebs can (and should) still follow suit and celebrate engagement in style. Here, some etiquette expert-approved tips for planning and hosting an engagement party.
Who typically pays for the engagement party?
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the couple's engagement party. However, like many etiquette rules, this one has changed over the years and these days, pretty much anyone close to the couple is welcome to plan and pay for the engagement party. However, the bride's parents should still get the first chance to throw it. Also, it's perfectly fine to have two — perhaps in the bride's and groom's hometowns. If the groom's parents would like to plan a party as well, they should check with the bride's parents regarding dates, as their celebration should occur after the bride's parents' party.
My family invited several people to my engagement party that I'm not planning on inviting to the wedding. What should I do?
Here's a general rule to follow: If you send an engagement party or bridal shower invitation or a save-the-date card to anyone, you will also have to send them a wedding invitation. However, if the invitations have gone out there's nothing much you can do. You can't call them up and un-invite them to the party. Schedule a time to talk with both set of parents to let them know how many guests they can each invite. If the space allows more people, you may now have to invite these extra guests, or ask your parents to spread the word that the bride and groom have decided to hold a more intimate wedding with only immediate family and close friends.
Do we have to have an engagement party?
You aren't required to have an engagement party, but it isn't a bad idea. Often it's the perfect opportunity to introduce parents and attendants to each other before the wedding. And don't think you're doomed to a stuffy cocktail party. Anything goes when it comes to engagement parties — from backyard barbecues to clam bakes — so make it as laid-back as you want.