Opinions: Engagement Party Etiquette

posted 7 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
7173 posts
Busy Beekeeper

I didn’t have an engagement party – but I wouldn’t invite someone to my engagement party that I wouldn’t invite to my wedding.  My response is based on the guest perspective – meaning, if I was invited to someone’s engagement by not wedding – it would make me feel slighted.

Post # 4
1488 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

My family threw us an engagement party – only people who will be invited to the wedding were invited to the e-party. It’s only right.

Think of it this way: Would you want to be invited to a bridal shower but not the wedding?

Post # 5
10287 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011

Engagement parties are not really done in my circle (we didn’t have one and I’ve never known anyone who did) but it makes perfect sense to me to only invite those who will be invited to the wedding. I guess I kind of consider engagement parties to fall along the same line as bridal showers. Obviously there aren’t as many gifts involved but it’s still a pre-wedding celebration that I think should only be attended by those who will be invited to the wedding. 

Post # 6
28 posts
  • Wedding: July 2012

Yup, I’m with oracle… I didn’t have an engagment party either but, as a guest, I’d feel kind of “used” if I was invited to one and not the other.

Have a great party!!

Post # 7
1561 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

If they aren’t invited to the wedding, then they shouldn’t be invited to any pre-wedding parties.  

Post # 8
2714 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I considered my engagement party the same way I did my bridal shower. If I wasn’t inviting them to the wedding I wasn’t inviting them to the engagement party or bridal shower.

Personally, I’d be upset if I was invited to someone’s engagement party and not their wedding.

Post # 10
148 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

I  think a large engagement party is a great way to celebrate with as many people as possible even when that isn’t feasible at the actual wedding. There are tactful — even charming — ways to convey, via the invitation, that the engagement shingdig is more inclusive than the wedding can be. But I did attend one engagement party with a massive guest list and it was awkward knowing that some people had no idea they weren’t getting invited to the wedding.

Also, and Martha Stewart agrees, guests at engagement parties are not expected to bring gifts. What is certainly bad form is inviting people to gift-centric or otherwise costly events (bachelorette parties and the like typically requre some financial committment) when you don’t intend to invite them to the wedding.


Post # 12
1696 posts
Bumble bee

No such rule exists in formal traditional etiquette: under those gracious rules a hostess is permitted to invite whatever guests she chooses to honour with fine food, good company, excellent conversation, elegant entertainment and conscientious attention to every detail of their comfort. Of course, no-one would ever feel “used” by being treated to such luxury.

And, of course, under those old rules no hostess and no bride ever felt entitled to gifts, nor dreamed of holding parties in her own honour to spotlight herself. An old-world-style engagement party took one of two forms. Either it was a small family-only gathering to allow the close members of the grooms family and bride’s family to mingle and get to know each other; or it was a general social party hosted ostensibly for “no reason in particular” at which the bride and groom announced their engagement. Obviously no gifts would be given, because the guests didn’t even know until the announcement that there was anything special being celebrated.

Modern manners nowadays, at least in some circles, allow the bridal couple to host their own festivities in their own honour, even shadow-hosting explicit gift-giving events like showers. The dubious Post Institute assures them that they can expect gifts from everyone they invite whether accepted or declined, and that they can specify the kind of gift even to the point of asking for cash. By these newer standards a typical engagement party is advertised as such in advance and guests typically expect that they must give gifts. The hostesses are often inexperienced and often see details like seating plans and introductions as “too much work” — especially since the new rules emphasise that wedding-related events are supposed to be all about the marital couple, not the guests.

Obviously, under the new standards, guests often DO feel used. But supposedly the guests get repaid by the extravagant food and entertainment they can expect at the main event. For that reason, the new standards require that anyone on whom you impose your expectations of gift-giving and attention-centering at all those pre-wedding parties, be rewarded with an invitation to the main event.

Now, in practice, the main event is often no less of an obligation, and no more fun and social, than all those other parties. And the new rules haven’t replaced the old standards, they’ve just given you an alternative standard (and in some opinions, a lower one). You can choose either standard. Just, for credibility’s sake, try to pick one and stick to it.

Post # 13
1284 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Only close family and our bridal party have been invited to our engagement party. It will be about 40 people — all of which will absolutely be invited to the wedding. 

Post # 14
573 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Nowadays anything goes it seems. Usually you dont throw your own e-party but I will and I’m inviting some people that wont be in the wedding bc well I’m sort of eloping. I could understand if youre having a big wedding and some people that attended the eparty arent invited end up feeling slighted.

Post # 15
305 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Not speaking as much to the engagement party thing, but I will say that I was once invited to a bridal shower and not the actual wedding and I was VERY confused.  It was a very close friend from my hometown and I finally called to make sure this was the case, as I did not want her to think I was being disrespectful by not RSVPing… let’s just say it was a VERY awkward conversation about their finances and ‘close family and friends’…

…hey, and there I thought I was close enough to you to FLY home to attend the shower you invited me to and buy you a thoughtful gift from your registry to boot.

grr.. to avoid situations like this, I would keep it to those you are inviting, and if they choose to bring extras, so be it.

Post # 16
487 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I was once invited to an engagement party but not a wedding.  Even got a nice professional invitation for it.  I felt a little offended and we just kind of drifted apart after.  I felt I was good enough to go to a restaurant and celebrate my friend’s engagement, but apparently not enough to be invited to the actual wedding.  I’ve always considered engagement parties to be more intimate events with family though.  For out of town weddings, I always think a party after the wedding for those that can’t attend is the best option.  That’s what my friends who had destination weddings always did.

But I also don’t consider 80 people to really be intimate so it really depends on perspective.

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