Post # 1
I realize this has been hashed over many times.
My fiance and I both have very large families (100+ combined) so our friends list is limited for the wedding. However, we have a very large community who has been there throughout our relationship and we’d like to thank them for fostering our relationship by throwing a party.
The party would be a fairly public invite through social media and would be in a public place (the back section of the bar where we met) and we’d provide the entertainment and give those who want to celebrate with us a drink ticket to put a beer on us at the bar. We in no way expect gifts. But the breadth of people we’d like to include is much much larger than the amount we’d be able to include in the wedding.
Would it be better to just advertise it as a community thank you rather than an engagement celebration in order to separate it from the “since you’re invited to this, you’ll be getting an invitation in the mail soon” etiquette? Or is it better to just scrap it and reschedule for after the wedding when it’s hot as balls in Houston?
Post # 3
First, understand that while I am going to go against what “everybody knows” about pre-wedding celebrations and the wedding guest list, that’s because I am going to invite you to a higher and more traditional standard. And then I am going to tell you how to do what you want to do.
The higher standard is this: do not have any “wedding-related events”. Just have the wedding. People who are not members of the head-of-state’s family in a monarchy do not have months-long pageants leading up to their wedding. They just get married and celebrate it with a party immediately afterward for everyone who came to watch the ceremony. BUT — have plenty of non-wedding related events. Give parties. Practice hospitality (trust me, it takes practice to do it right and starting with a party for eighty — let alone three hundred — without prior practice on smaller guestlists is a great way not to do it right.)
Somehow the word has gotten out in wedding-board land, that inviting someone to a party is placing an awful burden on them that you need to pay back by inviting them to a bigger party down the road. Planning and arranging a community-building occasion for people to come together and have fun is “gift-grabby” and “attention-whoring”. Offering a limited amount is cheap and selfish if you don’t offer the sun and the moon as well. The net result is that the world is a less communal, less cheerful, less hospitable place because too many would-be hostesses have been frightened off by pointing fingers and condemnatory verdicts of “RUUUUUDE!”
Fortunately, normal people outside of wedding-boards actually think you are quite nice to invite them to a party. Some people do not like parties, of course, but they are the ones who will politely say “Oh, gee, I already have plans to clip my poodle that night, shucks!” and not “well, I’ll come, but only if it means an invitation to your wedding.”
Now, if you advertise a big “engagement party” on facebook a reasonable number of those non-wedding-board-informed friends probably will falsely assume that they need to give you a gift, and they will probably expect to talk about the upcoming wedding, and you will be doing two of the things you learned not to do in kindergarten: grubbing for gifts and talking about a party to people who won’t be there. If, on the other hand, you advertise that “Chuck and I are sponsoring the entertainment at Bailey’s Pub on Saturday, so drop buy for a beer on us!” and then use the gathered crowd as a place to announce your engagement, you’ll be doing what traditional ‘engagement’ parties were designed for — spreading the news so that other hostesses know you have entered into the must-invite-together category of social contacts. Which is all that such an announcement implies.
Have fun. And I wish that you may be very happy.