If you choose to celebrate your engagement by throwing a shindig — (some do and some do not)– here are some helpful hints on what and what not to do. 

First off, it is a great way to introduce and get to know family and friends on both sides.  However, there are not a lot of guidelines as to what and how to do it.  Good news is pretty much anything goes…as long as it is in good taste, of course.  Traditionally, the bride’s parents would host this party, but that doesn’t always make sense, depending on where everyone lives.  The groom’s parents could just as easily be the hosts, as could another family member or close friend. 

The timing of this event can vary, but most tend to take place anywhere from two months after the engagement up to six months before the wedding.  You don’t want to have it too close to the wedding, or any of the pre-wedding showers and parties.  If you are having a short engagement, then there may not even be time for a party…instead, get focused on the wedding itself!

Gifts should not be expected, although some people may bring them.  Please do not open any gifts at the party, as that would be awkward for those guests who did not bring one.  Also, it then stands to reason that you don’t need to stress about going out and registering for gifts before this party. 

One of the most important items to note:  The guest list for the engagement party needs to be limited to only those who will also be invited to the wedding!  If you are not sure about the size of your wedding, keep the party small and include those family and friends that you KNOW will be invited.  The other option is to wait until you do have a better idea of the size of the wedding. 

The timeline for the party itself is pretty simple — again, this is really an opportunity for friends and family to mix and mingle and get to know one another.  You might make name tags that denote how the person knows the bride and groom — that can serve as an easy ice-breaker / conversation starter.  The father of the bride will typically make a toast to the couple, once everyone has arrived.  (If the FOB is not available, it could also be the mother of the bride, a brother or uncle or grandparent, or one of the groom’s parents.)  Remember, as the person (couple) being toasted — you do not raise your own glass to yourself.  (And you are technically not supposed to drink to yourself either, but it seems like most people do, and no one thinks twice about it.)  It is also proper for the bride and groom to make a brief comment  to the guests thanking the hosts and everyone for attending. 

This will also be the first of several times you will need to send a written thank-you and a gift to the host of the party.  You will want to do this for all of your showers and other parties as well!  And don’t forget thank-you notes for any gifts that you received.