Posted March 31, 2020

Our Top Tips for Engagement Party Etiquette


We all know how to handle ourselves at weddings. Often, that simply means limiting the amount of alcohol we consume so that we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of the new family. Baby showers are easy to navigate, too. We play silly games and give tiny clothes that elicit a roomful of ooos and ahhhs. But engagement party etiquette can still be somewhat confusing, which is why we’ve put together some tips for when you find yourself panicking upon the arrival of those cute little Save the Date magnets with the couples’ picture on them.

RSVP (Thoughtfully) Please

The way invitations are sent today often leans a little more to the informal side with evites, but that doesn’t mean the tradition of responding to them thoughtfully has changed. Chances are that a “Woot! C U there” text isn’t what the happy couple is looking for when they send out their invites. So take two minutes to write a thoughtful message along with your e-RSVP. These are your friends or family, after all, and trust us – they read these.

Engagement party etiquette says it’s always a good idea to share a sweet story about the couple. Image Credit: @charityvictoria via Twenty20.

Dress It Up

If a dress code isn’t specified, time of day and location will give you clues as to what you need. If the party’s at the beach or park, cue a cute sundress, or khakis and a linen shirt, that will keep you cool. If the event’s held at a restaurant, dress a little nicer than you would if you were going there anyway for dinner. And if the party’s being held at someone’s house, dress nicely by default. Unless they specifically say it’s a very casual party, don’t show up in your “I Do It For The Tacos” t-shirt, no matter how cool you look in it. And if the party calls for costumes, then congrats, it sounds like you have some really fun friends.

To Gift or Not to Gift

A gift for the engagement party AND the wedding? Hard to say which you’d run out of first; money or ideas. The good news is that the engagement party etiquette means the gift can be simple, small, or even something sentimental. A plant, photo book, picture frame with your favorite shot of the two of them together, or even a bottle of champagne are great bets.

Simple, small and sentimental gifts work best. Image Credit: @kramyninasvetlana via Twenty20.

Come Prepared with a Story

Come prepared with a sweet story to share about the couple; maybe of the first time you saw them together, or the moment you knew they were meant to be. People love to hear stories about themselves at events like this, especially with a smidge of sentimentality thrown in.

Toasts are common at engagement parties, so come prepared if you’re close to the couple. Image Credit: iStock.

Be a Team Player

Dance, darn it. If the place has a dance floor and the couple is on it, that means they want people to join them. If there are games set up, they want you to play them. And if there’s a photo booth, step and repeat, Polaroid guest book – you get the drift. These experiences have been curated thoughtfully and the couple wants you to enjoy them. So do, and look like you’re having fun while you’re at it.

Who to Bring

Yourself. Unless the invitation states that you can include a guest, this is not the time to bring that cute guy from Tinder you’ve been telling your friends about. The engagement party is a more intimate celebration meant for close friends and family.

Often more intimate events than weddings, engagement party guest lists are often limited to close friends and family.

How Long to Stay?

Do yourself and your hosts a favor, and don’t be the last to leave. When you notice those obvious signals that the party’s winding down, politely grab your coat, say your goodbyes (bonus points for offering to help clean up before you leave) and go. There will be plenty of time for more celebrating at the wedding. Which, of course, comes with a whole new list of etiquette.

Susan McDowell


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