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Engagement Party Etiquette

When it comes to weddings, it seems there are as many traditions as there are guests. Unless you've taken the trip down the aisle before, chances are you're in for a surprise or two with respect to what's expected of you once the pre-wedding planning and commitments start to take shape. One aspect of the wedding that isn't obligatory but has become popular over the years is the engagement party. While it's not mandatory, the engagement party is something more and more couples have chosen to include as part of their pre-weddingplanning. And just like most other things associated withweddings, the engagement party comes with its own etiquette as well.

  1. Invitations: While this might seem like a no-brainer, it's important that only those guests who will be invited to thewed ing are invited to the engagement party. No one who won't be getting a wedding invite should be invited to the engagement party. In addition, not all wedding invitees should be invited to the engagement party.

  2. Gifts: The engagement party is a celebration of the engagement and somewhat of a meet-and-greet for the couple's parents and other family members. Guests are not expected to bring gifts, but if they do, open them in private or after the party.

  3. Toasts: The bride's father is expected to offer the first toast of the evening in honor of the bride- and groom-to-be. Guests then take a drink, but the couple does not. The groom-to-be then says a few words before toasting his bride-to-be and her family. Other guests can then offer toasts if they're so inclined.

  4. Hosting duties: It's often considered the responsibility of the bride's parents to host the engagement party, but this isn't set in stone. If the bride's parents are divorced, for instance, the party can be hosted by another relative of the bride's. However, the best man or the maid of honor should not be considered as hosts of the engagement party, as they will have additional responsibilities down the road.

  5. Timing: Because the length of engagements varies greatly depending on the couple, timing can be another tricky element of the engagement party. For those who will have a particularly lengthy engagement, one to three months after the initial announcement is generally the norm for the engagement party. Another good rule of thumb for those with longer engagements is that the party should take place roughly a year before thewedding. Couples with shorter engagements, on the other hand, can get by with an engagement party roughly six months before the wedding.

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