Have a newly-engaged friend or family member? That means it's engagement party season! You'll be getting that engagement party invitation soon, so we're here to help refresh your memory on the rules of engagement (parties).
You've swooned over the Instagram pictures of the engagement ring and the invite is likely already on its way. Many people are uncertain about engagement party etiquette, especially since the event can range from post-proposal surprise party to an extravagantly-planned evening. Do you bring a gift to an engagement party? What should engagement party hosts expect? Learn the answers to these questions and more in our guide to engagement party etiquette and avoid a social faux pas.
For Guests: Do You Give a Gift at an Engagement Party?
With all the different kinds of engagement and marriage-related social events, wedding season can be an overwhelming and stressful time, especially if you've got several newly-engaged friends in your social circle. You want to attend the parties, find the perfect gifts, and make sure to follow proper etiquette, which is an increasingly social grey area. Armed with the right knowledge, your concerns should melt away.
The short answer? No. Unlike weddings and bridal showers, you do not have to bring a gift to an engagement party. It's completely optional, but here are some good guidelines to follow:
1. Optional is Relative
While it's not customary, many people still choose to bring an engagement gift for the new couple based on how well they know them. Go with your gut.
2. Small and Sentimental
If you do bring an engagement gift for the happy couple, focus on thoughtful and sentimental items over extravagant gifts or wedding registry options.
3. Pre-engagement Party Gifts
For a personal touch, send a handwritten note and flowers or a nice bottle of champagne in the mail prior to the party. That will suffice as an engagement party gift and mean much more to the couple, especially if you're pretty close with them.
4. Context Matters
Engagement parties can be black tie formal or as informal as drinks at the bar with friends. Consider the type of couple, the formality of the party and the closeness of your friendship. If it's your best friend's engagement party at a private club, it's probably wise to bring a gift.
5. Opt for a Card
If you're afraid to show up empty-handed, stop at a local card shop and pick one up. Pre-written is okay, but we recommend a blank card with brief, handwritten congrats and well-wishes. As the saying goes, it's the thought that counts.
For Hosts: What to Expect and Thank You Notes
If you're the lucky couple hosting the engagement party, congrats! There are some expectations and responsibilities to keep in mind. You should not ask for or expect anyone on your guest list to send or show up with gifts. In general, guests usually do not bring gifts unless they're close family members or close friends. Show your gratitude enthusiastically when you receive gifts or thoughtful notes and cards.
To follow engagement party etiquette, send out thoughtful thank you notes to guests who brought gifts. It's even better to send thank you notes to everyone who helped celebrate your engagement at the party, regardless of engagement presents. If possible, it's also nice to provide brief, handwritten thank you notes instead of pre-written ones. It takes a bit longer, but gratitude is always worth the extra time and thought.
Whether you're a guest or the host, follow this guide to make your engagement party experience unforgettable.