Planning an engagement party? Welcome to your first stop in the wedding celebration circuit. In just a few months, you'll be a pro at dodging inappropriate questions, making small talk with that aunt whose name you can never remember, and holding a smile until it hurts. But for your first event, let etiquette expert Carey Sue Vega guide the way with rules that'll ensure you make your fiancée-debut with grace.
The smaller the better, for one very important reason, says Vega. "If they're invited to the engagement party, then they also need to be invited to the wedding." That means that if you get caught up in engagement excitement and invite everyone, but then you book a venue that only holds 80, there's going to be a bit of a sticky situation. If there are ruffled feathers from your smaller list (or if you really do accidentally forget to invite someone) don't sweat it. "There will be more showers and parties to come so you can make sure to invite them to the next event," Vega adds.
When should it happen?
Vega says to host the party within 6-8 weeks of getting engaged. "That should give you enough time to think through most of your logistics getting some of your bigger decisions out of the way." Wait too long and you run the risk of running into other events like showers and bachelorette parties.
What about gifts?
"Engagement parties are usually celebrations without gifts," says Vega. And while of course, some may bring you a little something anyway to express their excitement, it's up to you to take the pressure off guests from the start. "I would encourage you to add something to invitation that makes it clear to the guests, maybe something such as 'your presence is the only present desired,'" suggests Vega.
Should anyone speak?
This might be the first time the bride and groom's extended family and friends are in the same room. Err on the side of caution and make sure everyone is on their best behavior. "Toasts are not expected at an engagement party but they do often happen," says Vega. "If you have any 'loose cannon' friends or family members…ask them to keep their toasts and other announcements to a G rating."