By Tina Byland
Traditionally, an engagement party is the first opportunity for extended family and friends from both sides of the aisle to mingle. It’s a time for grandparents to share family stories with each other, for parents to spend time getting to know one another in a relaxed environment, and for friends to chat about parties and showers. It’s also the time for everyone (for better or worse) to put in their two cents about wedding plans, honeymoon destinations, you future children’s’ names, and everything else that isn’t actually their business.
The bride’s parents typically throw the engagement party. If your groom has asked your parents’ permission before proposing, there’s a good chance they’ve already started preliminary planning before the question has been popped. The guest list should be an intimate group of people that will absolutely be on your wedding guest list. The exception to this rule is if you are planning a super small wedding, elopement, or destination wedding. In that case, it would be acceptable to invite friends and family to the engagement party that won’t be attending the actual wedding. If you opt for this route, make it clear from the beginning that this is your intention.
Engagement parties require speedy planning. In fact, if the bride’s family knows ahead of the engagement, it’s even better. That way they can send out invitations as soon as the big news travels. One of the magical components of an engagement party is that it occurs while the excitement is still fresh and the couple hasn’t yet tired of sharing their engagement story.
The classic engagement party would be a cocktail party at the bride’s family home. Anything will work, though. It could be as informal as a backyard barbeque or as a formal as a dinner at the country club. Whatever you choose, think about what will be the most comfortable environment for your family and friends. If one of your families attends fancy events on a regular basis, but the other one owns only one formal outfit, you may want to figure out a compromise so that nobody feels too far out of their element.
Here’s your chance to practice visiting with an entire party of people in just a few hours. As the couple everyone is celebrating, you should find time to spend with each guest. This is a great chance to dry-run such a daunting feat prior to your wedding weekend.
These are your favorite people! Your family and your best friends! They may have never met, or they may just know one another as acquaintances. Here’s your chance to kindle some relationships across the aisle. Think about having both parents and the couple greet guests as they enter and try your best to say goodbye to every guest as they leave. The key is to make everyone you care most about feel comfortable and a part of the group, which will in turn set the stage for the rest of your engagement and the wedding itself.
A Final Note:
Expect quite a few toasts. Expect embarrassing stories told by your siblings, uncles, best friends. Take it in stride as this is a great way for your family and friends to bond over the two of you. Try your best not to blush and keep it light with plenty of laughter. It will go a long way!