Engagements are obviously cause for celebration. You and your fiancée are looking forward to a bright, happy future — and the feeling is contagious. Your families are thrilled for the two of you, and someone may raise the issue of hosting an engagement party. (The issue of the bachelor party — which may be more to your liking — will be addressed later in Chapter 9.)
You might think that this sounds like a very formal, upper-crust way to celebrate impending nuptials. This isn't necessarily true. An engagement party is simply a time for your family and friends to come together and toast you and your bride-to-be.
If you've never been to such an event, you might not know what to expect. The truth is, an engagement party in this era can take any form, so if you're agonizing over what to wear, for example, your best bet is to check with your host. He or she will tell you if this is a formal or a casual event … and you can take it from there.Who's Hosting?
Traditionally, the parents of the bride have the option of hosting the first wedding-season party. Of course, this is the twenty-first century, so all bets are off as far as tradition is concerned.
Whoever is hosting should pick up the tab for the party. Although couples these days are by and large paying for their own weddings, your engagement party is different. This is an event to honor your impending nuptials. You and your bride-to-be are
An engagement party in this day and age can range anywhere from a formal evening in an upscale restaurant to a clambake at the shore to a luncheon in someone's home — and the setting may or may not influence the size of the guest list (more on this in a bit). More and more people are eschewing tradition in favor of what's easiest (and most economical), and that often means moving a party's location to a place that suits your host's budget.
Can the bride and groom throw a party for themselves?
Traditionally speaking, you shouldn't throw a party to honor yourselves — but it's a safe bet the Etiquette Police won't break things up if you decide to anyway.
While comfort may be an issue for you (you wear jeans every day, so why
Once your host has chosen the location, you may be asked to help with the guest list. Some tips:
Work with your host. If your future mother-in-law is asking you for a list of your closest friends and family (which probably means she's looking to keep this party on the small side), don't hand her what amounts to a local phone directory.
Look to the future. You should only be inviting guests who will make it onto your final draft of the wedding guest list. To invite them to your engagement party and exclude them from the big day is in incredibly bad taste.
Gifts are not guests. If you're including Aunt Marguerite, whom you haven't seen in years, to this small soiree only because she's renown for her gift-giving, cheese it. She'll see right through your ploy. Invite her to the wedding instead.
Traditionally speaking, gifts are not given at engagement parties. And anyway, your friends and family may or may not be familiar with engagement party protocol. You shouldn't
If socializing ranks right up there with taking a bath in battery acid as far as you're concerned, consider this party a practice run for your wedding, which will be at least as large as (and perhaps larger than) this celebration. There are some things in life that you just have to do. Small talk is one of those things, at least in this situation.
If a guest brings a gift that you and your bride just hate, pretend you love it. You may both despise phoniness and both of you may go out of your way to be brutally honest with people no matter what the situation, but you need to curtail that instinct until after your wedding. Learn the art of saying, “Thank you so much — we love it!” It goes a long way toward cementing your reputation as decent human beings.Your Duties
Normally, the host of a party carries the weight on his or her shoulders for the entire evening. The guests of honor are not entirely off the hook, however. At your engagement party, you will be expected to be sociable, pleasant, and helpful. You will not be expected to walk around with a tray offering appetizers and champagne to the other guests, but you should speak to everyone in attendance; you should put on a cheery face; and you should, from time to time, ask your host if you can help with anything.
You hate making conversation with near-strangers, you say? The upside of undertaking the chore of chitchatting: You'll win admirers from both sides of the family, and your bride will recognize that you made an all-out effort for the occasion. That will mean a lot to her.