Just Engaged and Proposals

Engagement Party- is it weird to have one?

Hi all! : )

I live in Pennsylvania and I'd say about half the engaged couples I know have Engagement Parties. I'd really, really like to have one (just a small low key thing) since my fiance and I aren't getting married for awhile. My mother and I talked about it and she's totally on board (she'd never heard of one, since it's a fairly new tradition, but I've been to a few and thought they were nice). We are planning something at her home or possibly at a small hall. We're planning on keeping things cheap (pasta bar we make ourselves,homemade mason jar favors, etc.) I'm footing a good portion of the (very small) bill myself with my fiance. So... what's the problem?

That's what I'm wondering! Some of my family, one of my aunts and her daughters in particular, are making me feel really bad about it. Every time the party is mentioned, they wrinkle their noses and say "What is that?" or "Do you really NEED that?" I know they don't really realize they're being rude, but they've started to make me feel guilty. I think they think I'm trying to gift gauge or shower myself with attention (Even though I've explained to them repeatedly Engagement parties aren't traditionally gift giving events). I think a lot of their comments are fueled by envy, since I'm the youngest of all the grandchildren in the family but I'm the first to be married. I know their comments may seem small and inconsequential, and in reality they are, but I still don't know how to take their comments.

I guess I'm really just looking for people's opinions on Engagement parties. Is it normal to have one? Are they "too much"? And what would you guys say is a good response to my aunt and her family's somewhat rude comments in a way that will let them know it's none of their business while still being nice?

Thanks!
KnotRiley
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Re: Engagement Party- is it weird to have one?

  • lovegood90lovegood90 Ontario member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited January 2015
    It's fine to have one, but you can't host one for yourself. That goes for any pre wedding parties (showers, Bachelorette, etc). That's probably why you're getting strange reactions, because you're essentially hosting a party in your own honour.

    Formerly martha1818

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    charcoalandblushesstee33CMGragainMandyMost
  • It depends who you ask. TBH I have been invited to engagement parties hosted by the bride and groom. However it's definitely not a must.
  • As PP have said, this is really a personal decision as to whether or not to have a party. I agree it is a bit off-putting to be invited to an engagement party hosted by the couple, however is it the worst etiquette blunder you could make? Probably not. If your mom offered to host and you want one- great! Do it and have fun. I just wanted to chime in to say that, as with all other pre-wedding parties please remember that anyone invited to the engagement party should also be invited to the wedding. 
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I know my family would side eye an engagement party. When people aren't used to them, an engagement party can be....... showy and ostentatious. Since you're involved with the planning, it can easily come across as "LOOK AT ME". 

    Also, when you see your Aunt and cousin, does talk of your engagement party come up every time? Are you or your mom the one to bring it up?  If so, back it off a bit. They might be a little happier for you if it isn't the center of attention at all times.
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  • Hey! So my fiance and moved from New Jersey to California three years ago, and needless to say our lives are now in California even though our families are in New Jersey. My mom wants to host an impromptu engagement party for us when we visit home in March because not everyone will be able to make it out to California for the wedding. More to the point, there are a lot of people (family members) I won't be inviting to the wedding because I know they won't be able to make it some due to newborns others illnesses that won't allow them to travel. Is it still rude to invite these people to the engagement party? Should I plan to send them wedding invitations regardless?
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    ajflkdafs said:
    Hey! So my fiance and moved from New Jersey to California three years ago, and needless to say our lives are now in California even though our families are in New Jersey. My mom wants to host an impromptu engagement party for us when we visit home in March because not everyone will be able to make it out to California for the wedding. More to the point, there are a lot of people (family members) I won't be inviting to the wedding because I know they won't be able to make it some due to newborns others illnesses that won't allow them to travel. Is it still rude to invite these people to the engagement party? Should I plan to send them wedding invitations regardless?

    Anyone invited to wedding-related parties and events should be invited to the wedding. Don't assume they can't come to the wedding and not invite them. If you would want them to come if they could, send them invitations.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited January 2015
    ajflkdafs said:
    Hey! So my fiance and moved from New Jersey to California three years ago, and needless to say our lives are now in California even though our families are in New Jersey. My mom wants to host an impromptu engagement party for us when we visit home in March because not everyone will be able to make it out to California for the wedding. More to the point, there are a lot of people (family members) I won't be inviting to the wedding because I know they won't be able to make it some due to newborns others illnesses that won't allow them to travel. Is it still rude to invite these people to the engagement party? Should I plan to send them wedding invitations regardless?
    When you don't invite people who have to travel long distances, or are ill, or have newborns, you have made the decision for them. You have also eliminated their being invited to any prewedding parties as you can't invite one to a celebratory event without inviting them to the main celebration.

    You should send them wedding invitations regardless, so that they can be invited to the pre-event. 
  • I don't personally like engagement parties.  I feel obligated to bring a gift, then a gift for the shower, then a gift for the wedding...just seems like too much in my opinion. 
  • You should do what you feel is right!  My fiancé and I are having an engagement party next month, and we are not getting married until May 2016.  It is part of a family's culture and there is nothing wrong with that.  The families want to "present" the future bride and groom and have a gathering where both families can meet and get to know each other.  A lot of people aren't used to it because they have never attended one so they may have a different opinion, but the party is about the families being together and celebrating you, not about any gifts people may choose to bring.
  • lilacck28lilacck28 member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited January 2015
    I've been to a few engagement parties. They don't bother me. If the couple also has a shower, bachelorette, the wedding itself, etc,, then its a lot of events and yes, I do have "ugh, what's the point?" thoughts every once in a while.  But, if it works into my schedule, then I'm usually happy to attend and see everyone. In my circle they also seem like more of a party for the parents to brag and see their friends then for the couple. FI and I did not have an engagement party. Seemed entirely unnecessary to us (and to our parents, and my grandparents... my grandma is blunt. When I told her I was engaged she said "you're not doing an engagement party, are you? I'm not throwing you one" I laughed).

    But, again, they're not against etiquette and they don't bug me. If they ever DO bug me, its not actually the party that annoys me, rather, the couple's (or the parents') attitudes/ braginess/ entitlement.


  • I like engagement parties. My Fbil kind of had 2 - one was RIGHT after he proposed, like the same evening, everyone went down to Earls (which his friend manages) and just kind of had dinner and drinks together. This one was more for the friends. Then a few months later they had a larger party at an art gallery, with an open bar, appies, and that was more for both sides of the family to mingle. I don't think anyone brought gifts to either, except maybe buying shots/champagne that sort of thing.

     

    I think favours are weird for a engagement party though. None of the oens I've been to ever give those out. That's the only thing I'd leave out. But honestly, everything else you're doing sounds fine. Just a small get together with some good pasta, sounds nice to me.

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  • My engagement party was a surprise party, and everyone had a blast enjoying free wine and food. Parties are ALWAYS appropriate.

  • My fiance and I along with our parents threw an engagement party.  We had already been to a few and we wanted to celebrate with our close family and friends since we hadn't seen most of them since before the engagement.  We had a wonderful time and our friends put together a board with funny pictures of us for people to caption (best caption what written on the board next to the photo) and his aunt set up a game to see how well we knew each other. We paid for the alcohol and my parents and his parents paid for most of the food.  We had such a wonderful time!  We had the party 8/30/14 and our wedding date (which was already set) is 11/14/15.  We agreed that since the wedding was over a year away, we were fine with having an engagement party.  If it was less than a year, we wouldn't have done it.  I do get the feeling that if it's within a year, it's a little much.  I don't see an issue with the couple hosting the party.  No one was expected to bring gifts, and it was a little celebration to see our families and friends in person after telling them over the phone about the engagement.  Who can pass on free food, booze and a pool?? 
    EunoiaPhoenix
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Engagement parties don't seem common in my area. In fact, engagement parties kind of happen by accident: "We're engaged! We should probably get our immediate families together," or "We're engaged! Let's go meet everyone at the bar!"  It's super informal. 

    I did go one one official engagement party hosted by the bride's brother. They had engagement ring key-ring favors (ick). Great party though, and I kind of got the impression it was important to the family to celebrate all the milestones because the bride had a long history of health issues. 

    I get the impression most people can take them or leave them. It's good right after official engagement and it's good to have only the very nearest and dearest so as to avoid invitation issues in the distant future. 
    ________________________________


  • Traditionally, engagement parties were parties hosted by the bride's parents to formally announce their daughter's engagement to THEIR friends, who would be, of course, invited to the wedding.  They were not common, except in wealthy circles.  Go watch the original "Father of the Bride" with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.

    If you mother wants to host such a party for you, there is nothing wrong with it, but you should not be part of the planning, except to approve the guest list.

    If you just want a party, go ahead and have one, but don't call it your "Engagement Party".  I didn't have one.  My daughter didn't have one.
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  • arrrghmateyarrrghmatey member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    edited February 2015
    Personally, I'm not a fan of engagement parties. I've been invited to them and with the exception of a very good friend, I never go to them. I just don't see the point when we're already going to be celebrating the wedding. My mother wanted to throw one for my FI and I at my parents' house all of the way across the country, but none of the people who we actually have on our wedding guest list would be able (or want) to make the trip out there just for that--the only people who would attend would be my mother's friends, none of which would be invited to the wedding. I had to explain this to mom and said "Thanks, but no thanks." FI and I don't like that kind of attention anyway, and we don't want to have to spend $$$ on plane tickets just for our engagement party.

    BUT, that being said, if your mother wants to throw you an engagement party, that's great. Let her know that everyone who attends has to be on your wedding guest list, and make sure you approve the party's guest list. Everything else should be planned by her.
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  • hicocohicoco Chicago member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited February 2015

    We got engaged in March and my parents gave us an engagement party in September. Not everyone in my family has one, but it wasn't unusual. We only invited (partly due to capacity issues) our family and people in the wedding party. We had a buffet, my dad gave a toast, etc. Everyone told us after how nice it was and how it made them really excited for the wedding. Personally, I love dressing up and going out to celebrate something so I would say if you think your crowd would be fine with it then there's no problem having one. That being said, if my parents hadn't offered to do one, we wouldn't have done it ourselves. I would have felt weird.


    ETA: We aren't getting married until this October so the party was sort of at the midway point between our engagement and wedding.

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  • My fiancé and I have talked very little about having an engagement party, but we plan on talking about it more. We're still unsure if we want to have one, but we haven't been engaged all that long, and the wedding is around a year and 4 months away, so we have time if we want one. We probably will, just invite the wedding party and people that will be a big part of planning and keep it cheap and on the casual side.
  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer

    My fiancé and I have talked very little about having an engagement party, but we plan on talking about it more. We're still unsure if we want to have one, but we haven't been engaged all that long, and the wedding is around a year and 4 months away, so we have time if we want one. We probably will, just invite the wedding party and people that will be a big part of planning and keep it cheap and on the casual side.

    Engagement parties are not to be thrown by the couple, they are to be hosted by another person or persons. Just an FYI :) 

    We had one and it was weird. It just turned into a large house party with better food.

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  • My fiancé and I have talked very little about having an engagement party, but we plan on talking about it more. We're still unsure if we want to have one, but we haven't been engaged all that long, and the wedding is around a year and 4 months away, so we have time if we want one. We probably will, just invite the wedding party and people that will be a big part of planning and keep it cheap and on the casual side.

    Engagement parties are not to be thrown by the couple, they are to be hosted by another person or persons. Just an FYI :) 

    We had one and it was weird. It just turned into a large house party with better food.
    Yeah. One of my bridesmaids said she'd host it, we just weren't sure about much of the planning and stuff. Our definition of hosting is a bit weird lol
    mikenberger
  • I think we are going to have one at my mom's house in a month or two. Mostly because FI and I are military and live in a different state, so not many people in my family have met him. I think it will be a very casual get together mostly for the purposes of introductions and mingling. I will say, however, I hadn't really heard of engagement parties in general until very recently.

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  • You mention you're making favors? For an engagement party? That seems a bit ridiculous.Would you make favors for any other party you threw? If you want to have a party, then have a party, with nothing to do with the wedding. If your mom wants to throw you an engagement party, then let her.

    As others have said, the rules for an engagement party are 1) you can't throw it for yourself, and 2) everyone invited MUST also be invited to the wedding, 3) gifts are not expected.


    The only exception to this that I see is if you want your families/friends to get to know each other better. You can throw a party and invite them. I would try not to call it an "engagement party" but really that's what it is...a party because you're engagement and want your friends/family to get to know each other. However, this is really not a party in your honor, it's a party in their honor. After I got engaged we invited our immediate families to our house for a barbeque (about 10 people total) just so our mom's in particular could get to know each other better--they had only met one other time. We called it an engagement party for lack of a better word..."get to know each other barbecue" sounded a bit tedious.
  • Eh, we co hosted our engagement party with my parents.  Only invited our families, and our closest friends.  We split the cost and it was an absolute blast.  We invited everyone to stay over (lots of drinking involved) and we had such a good time.  It was for our families to get to know each other, but also to celebrate with our friends who hadn't seen us since before the engagement.  No one thought this was weird at all.  I didn't give out favors.  His aunts put together a game for us to see how well we know each other.  Another friend made a board with funny pictures of us and asked guests to come up with the best captions.  We barbecued all day and played games till 2am.  I think the less formal the better.  It's a time to have fun and celebrate that you are taking the next step in your relationship together.  Free food, free booze and good times so I don't think anyone found it to be boring or too stuffy.   


  • I'm originally from PA, just outside of Philly and just moved to NJ...my fiance and I had an engagement party but I did catch some grief from my family too. Really it all comes down to what YOU want. We had a low-key party at our house and everyone had a great time - good luck!
  • We totally threw our own because 1. any reason for a party! and 2. we wanted some family members who have never met before to meet before all the wedding stuff began. We didn't expect anyone else to throw us one, or more importantly pay for one. We called it an engagement gathering and it was SO MUCH FUN! We mostly invited close friends and family, about 30 people overall. No one gave us a hard time about it, and everyone enjoyed themselves. 

    As for your aunt, the traditional, "it's my wedding, I do what I want" works... but honestly, tell them exactly what you told us, IF you feel like you need to justify it, which you really don't. It's their issue and they're making it yours. Good luck... it might not end with the engagement party, so at some point, you may need to put your foot down. 
  • allyballyoopallyballyoop member
    Fourth Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited March 2015
    I don't think you should feel guilty if it's a family member or friend throwing it for you. My bridesmaids threw us one, but if it were us who threw the party, it might've seemed a bit strange. 

    As a side note! I was surprised to find that people brought gifts as I didn't think it was that kind of occasion. In my mind, it was just to celebrate us FINALLY getting engaged lol
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I also live in PA and I have only ever know one couple in the span of 10 years or so to have an engagement party.  I think the question as to whether they are common or not has to do with your social circle.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • nycgal85nycgal85 member
    100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited March 2015
    We're hosting our own "engagement celebration open house". We're careful not to call it an engagement party. It's also this weekend, so only two weeks after we got engaged. The purpose is less formal and more hey we want to see friends and family and celebrate. It's at our apartment and we're ordering in pizzas and we'll provide soda, beer, wine, some snacks (chips and guac and hummus), and we think we're going to order a sheet cake. It's an open house though, from 5-10pm and we are telling people come for 5 minutes, stay for 5 hours. It's a lot of our friends and family. And while traditionally engagement parties are supposed to be only for those select few and all will be invited to the wedding, that's not necessarily what we're thinking. 

    Also, my parents are probably going to host us an engagement party in Ohio (probably at my parents house, and cater in food) over Memorial Day when we go visit, which would be mainly to celebrate with family and friends there who will likely not be able to make the wedding in NYC.
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  • I don't really have an opinion about the engagement party, but I would make sure not to tell that aunt and her daughters any of the details of your wedding while planning. Even if any of them are BM, all they need to know is the when to show up, where to show up & what the guidelines are for their dress & that's it. When planning your wedding try to limit what you tell anyone because then you won't have to hear their rude comments or facial gestures. They may still do it at your wedding, but then you'll be too busy to notice.

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