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Invited to an Engagement Party? Gifts, Dress Codes, and everything else you need to know

When you’re invited to a Wedding, you know what to expect (and you’re often told quite clearly what to wear, and what gift to bring) but when it comes to Engagement Parties, it’s not so clear. Do you bring a gift? What about a date? Is there a dress code? Must you be on time…? And back to the engagement gift… what do you spend if you choose to bring one?

Should you bring a gift to an Engagement Party?

Whether or not a gift is expected at an engagement party really depends on your relationship with the couple, and also what kind of party they are having. For instance, if they’re hosting and paying for you to have drinks or a meal, you might wish to bring a small gift like a nice bottle of wine for the couple.

If you’re close friends with the couple, or even part of the wedding party, you might wish to purchase a gift for the couple together. Bridesmaids often purchase the little white book wedding planner & our love story together, it’s a perfect engagement gift for the couple that you know will be enjoyed.

Other thoughtful gifts for an engagement party could be something which helps them along the way to their wedding day, such as a cake knife set, Champagne toasting glasses, or even a bridal robe for the Big Day – you’ll know the couple best, and whether a wedding-specific gift, homeware piece, or bottle of wine will be most appreciated.

If the invitation is more casual, and you’re paying for your own drinks at a bar, unless you’re very close with the couple, it isn’t necessary to bring an engagement gift.

What to wear to an Engagement Party? Should you wear white?

An engagement party is not as fancy or formal as a wedding, so unless the venue choice necessitates it, you can save the evening gown or dinner suit, but I would still err on the side of caution (and be polite) and not wear a white dress or all-white attire to another couple’s engagement party. Quite often, a bride-to-be will choose a semi-formal white dress for their engagement party, so unless the engagement party was a same-sex male couple who I knew wouldn’t mind me wearing white, I would just be extra polite and avoid wearing all white attire. Of course…. there is always the chance that an “Engagement Party” becomes a surprise elopement, so there’s another reason to dress accordingly.

Besides wearing all white, just dress for the formality of the venue of choice. Semi-formal, cocktail attire is almost always appropriate – have a look at Wedding Dress Codes for ideas. If you’re still unsure what to wear, ask the hosts.

Do I need to RSVP? Must I be on time? Can I bring a guest/plus one?

Ideally, yes, yes, and not without asking! The couple may be choosing to cater for you, so your RSVP will be important for them to communicate to catering, as well as just generally being polite. Even if the invitation is informal and send via a Facebook event, it’s still necessary to let them know at least 1-2 weeks in advance whether you can make it.

If you can’t be punctual, be polite and let them know in advance too – you don’t want to arrive in the middle of speeches, or interrupt any other part of the event, so do be on time. If you are running late, offer to pick up something on the way, in case the hosts have forgotten something. Unless you’ve arranged to help out with preparation, try not to be early either – last minute party prep can be stressful enough. Within 15 minutes of the invite time is advisable.

Don’t bring a guest or plus one to any event you have been invited to, unless specified, or extremely casual. It is very impolite not to ask before bringing a plus one.

How can I make myself Useful at an Engagement Party?

As above, an offer to pick up something en route will never be unappreciated – there’s so many things for the couple to organise, it’s easy to forget a bag of ice, extension cable to a microphone, or something else.

When you arrive,

greet and thank the hosts for inviting you – for an engagement party this may not necessarily be the couple themselves (greet them too!), but a friend or parent, who will often go to a lot of trouble to make the event happen.  If the host is preparing food at home, you could certainly offer to help and be specific, i.e. “Can I help with that salad/fill water-glasses/pass food around?”

Bring your most confident self to the party and mix and mingle with other guests (handing around food and helping with drinks is a great ice-breaker if you feel uncomfortable) as the couple will be busy trying to see every guest during the event.

Polite Conversation (avoid Controversial Topics) &

The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for some, and even more-so than usual, a formal and celebratory event is not the time for any controversial topics (I’m sure I don’t have to give you examples) or gossip.

Be mindful of how much you are drinking if it’s a family event too, respect the host, couple and event and don’t overdo the drink, especially early on in the evening. There are few things as obnoxious as being the overly (and inappropriately) drunk one at another’s celebration, and you’ll regret it the next day (or forever).

Unplugged Wedding - Why you Won't Regret Banning Phones on your Wedding Day...

Craft Party Wedding DIY: Time to call in Favours

If you’re struggling with all your wedding planning to-do’s, or even if you aren’t, it’s time to call in favours – crafty friends’ DIY favours that is!
Chances are you’re inviting around 75-150 guests to your wedding: people who love you and can’t wait to celebrate the beginning of the next chapter of your lives.  Chances are also that of all those people, many of them will have (possibly hidden) talents they’d love to share to help out and get involved.

Traditionally, the wedding party will already be helping out by organising parties and going dress or attire shopping, but this doesn’t mean you can’t ask your other friends for help too!  In my experience, people love weddings, and no-one will resent you asking them to provide their skills, services or time.

– Great Aunt does calligraphy? Perfect for invitations!
– Mum has a beautiful garden?With a few months notice, she could grow some of your reception flowers!
– Passionate bakers are a dime-a-dozen these days, so if it’s not a priority to have a 3-tiered fondant masterpiece, why not ask a friend to pitch in!
– Lots of my friends are fantastic at make-up and hair, so I won’t need to hire a HMUA if the budget gets tight.

At a recent wedding, various guests brought DIY cakes for the dessert table and it was perfect – and delicious.Just because the saying goes “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” doesn’t mean you can’t have lots of old and borrowed elements: vintage jewels, a friend’s beautiful party shoes, the family’s mismatched collection of vases…There’s also jobs which can be done by those who don’t have a particular skill.  You provide the wine and DVDs, and a Sunday afternoon turns into a crafting session to craft your favours and make your invitations or place-cards.

Get Etsy! Head to the online hive of creativity that is Etsy for these crafty DIY supplies and get the girls together to get productive.

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Hand Stained Vintage Look Tags for place cards at weddings, save the date cards, gift tags, labels on mason jars, or in a project life scrapbook! They create a beautiful vintage rustic look to anything.

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Unprinted drawstring bags made in USA from all natural, unbleached mill cloth muslin – for your wedding or shower DIY – add your own personalized stamp, screenprint, or use as-is.

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Wedding place cards template – perfect for printing at home or through a professional printer.

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Date Stamper for Weddings: Save the Date, DIY Wedding Invite, Vintage Typography, Roller Date Stamp – a 10 year stamper and has dates up to the year 2026.

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Pearl garland: wrap it around vases, candles, napkin rings, wine glasses, favor boxes, flower bouquets and more — and the wire is reusable! The ivory pearl beads will nicely accent any vintage, rustic or beach themed decorations.

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Mini jam jars just waiting to be filled with candy or homemade preserves for a country wedding.

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Honeycomb balls are the perfect way to decorate your bridal shower or wedding.

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White Paper Gift Bags with Twisted Handles – perfect for wedding guest’s welcome bags, favor bags, gift bags, bridesmaid bags and more.

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100 gift boxes for party or wedding favors, small gifts, cupcakes, candied apples and more. Classic and versatile. Easy to personalise.


Modern geometric box in gold linen that perfectly fits a variety of special treats, favors or gifts. Great for weddings, showers & bachelorette party favors. Creatively package your mixed drink kits, candied apples, cupcakes, a candle, soap, jewelry, scarf, belt or watch.
Adorable custom stamp for your wedding decorations, invites or wedding favors. 1″x1″ rustic heart stamp with your initials. Perfect the DIY bride or bridal shower.

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Personalised return address stamp – add a unique handmade touch to your office mail, pen pal letters, save the dates, RSVP’s, and more!A word of warning, don’t ask for too much on the day.  Of course, you don’t want to burden your guests with doing everything for you at the wedding.  Even the keenest amateur photographer among your friends would probably prefer to enjoy the celebrations than get snap-happy for 8 hours, and you don’t want your Aunts stuck in the kitchen putting together canapes all afternoon (though both might be able to help with the next-day event). I suggest leaving the big day to the professionals, but asking friends to help you as much as they can in the lead up.

P.S. If you’re reading this and not getting married yourself, but someone you know is, now’s the time to do a friend a favour!


Head to our wedding advice blog for an index of our content, and if you haven’t already seen our wedding organiser and diary, take a little look at the little white book.

Will you wear a veil on your wedding day?

The veil is perhaps the single most symbolic piece of a bride’s wedding day attire. Even for those who have occasion to wear elaborate gowns on more than just their wedding day, it’s hard to picture when else one would ever wear a veil!

While traditionally a wedding veil was as expected as a white dress, nowadays a veil is certainly not essential. However, you are still likely to be asked whether you will wear a veil on your wedding day, so you may wish to consider your options.

Tradition – The lifting of the bride’s veil was originally part of ancient wedding ritual, symbolising the groom taking possession of the wife, either as lover or as property, or the revelation of the bride by her parents to the groom for his approval. Various theories exist as to why a bride customarily wore a veil. Ancient-Roman brides wore a flame-colored veil, thought to scare off vindictive spirits who might bother the wife-to-be, whereas in cultures in which arranged marriage is customary, dark veils were worn to completely obscure the bride’s face. In a number of religions, the bridal veil was worn as a symbol of humility and respect before God during the wedding ceremony.

The Veil in Modern Times – Nowadays, the bridal veil is worn less for superstitious reasons, and more as a unique accessory for the wedding gown. Like many other exclusively bridal traditions, it can help differentiate the wedding day as one that is special and unique, but of course is not essential!

Depending on the wedding dress you choose, a delicate veil could be the perfect accessory, or be wholly OTT, so consider your style, the feel of your wedding, and your dress.

Types of Veil and How to Choose – The length of veil you choose can completely change the style of your ensemble, or be totally inappropriate for it!

Take the Cathedral Veil for example, which can range anywhere from 7 ½ feet to 10 feet or more.A cathedral length veil is also best worn at indoor locations, because if your wedding ceremony is outside, wind, grass, and sand will be a factor, and the veil will need constant adjustments.  For a casual beach wedding, or a tea-length gown, the Cathedral Veil is just not suited. The perfect dress for this type would be full length classic wedding gown. If your dress is beautifully beaded or features a lace train, pick a cathedral length veil that is simple and sheer, as you don’t want the veil to take away from your wedding dress. On the other hand, if your dress is on the more simple side, you may want to pick a veil with lace at the end to add detail. While a little more difficult to manage (you’ll need your bridesmaids to help!), the Cathedral Veil is a show-stopping and stunning look, and will look fantastic in photoshoots (imagine the veil blowing in the wind atop a mountain, or caught in a sea-breeze…) but you may not wish to wear it all day.


Cathedral Veil via Etsy

Going to the Chapel (Veil) – The ‘Chapel’ Veil or ‘full veil’ will fall to the ground at your hem, or around 6-12 inches past it. This veil length will add a soft and incredibly romantic feel to your dress. Like the Cathedral length veil, the Chapel length veil is great for indoor and formal locations. It also requires less attention since it drapes down but hangs just above the floor. The chapel veil can be combined with a second layer of tulle which finishes at your elbows. To ensure the perfect length when buying a chapel length veil, be sure to measure where it will be placed in your hair to the end of your hem. There is no doubt that a Chapel veil will make you look and feel like a real princess.


Chapel veil via Etsy

Fingertip length veil – Suitable for both a formal wedding or a more casual, even outdoor wedding (because it doesn’t touch the floor, and therefore won’t get dirty or caught on the ground. It is called ‘fingertip length’ because the length is approximately 36 inches, extending to the bride’s fingertips. This length will help elongate your body, and it perfectly matched to a mermaid shape gown (on which a Chapel or Cathedral veil can look a bit much. The fingertip length veil is also universally flattering and is a commonly worn style of veil.


Fingertip veil Via Etsy

Elbow length veil – This is a very common length of veil, at around 25 inches, pairing well with most wedding dress styles, while not overwhelming even a casual wedding. The elbow length veil is stunning for a ball gown shaped dress, because the veil ends where the fullness of the skirt begins.

For a Vintage Feel – The Birdcage – The birdcage veil length is the shortest out of any type, usually reaching just to your cheeks, the longest would be down to your chin, and typically made of up simple netting. The birdcage veil paired with a simple beaded clip would give you the ultimate vintage look, and has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years as this style has come to the fore.


Birdcage veil via Etsy

Colour and fabric of Veil  You can’t go wrong with a tulle veil – the most budget-friendly option, and it offers a few benefits over pricier fabrics—synthetic materials like tulle tend to keep their shape better and have a lighter, airier look than silk and satin, which are more likely to appear heavy and hang straight.

With colour, you should either match your wedding gown to your veil, or choose a colour-contrasting, or colour-blocking colour. Be careful with dying an antique veil as they can be so delicate. As long as the colors are close enough don’t worry if they’re not a 100 percent match—the appeal of an heirloom style is in its uniqueness, so it won’t matter if it’s slightly off in color.

For something completely different, consider an Ombre veil!


Ombre Veil via Etsy

Embelishment – As a general rule, if your wedding dress is heavily detailed, your veil should be clean and simple, with minimal embellishment. A simple, streamlined gown allows you to be a bit more adventurous with your veil – think diamante detailing, lace and layers.

For a less detailed dress, you may choose the beautiful Spanish Mantilla Lace veil, which sits on top of your head, just back from your hairline, and drapes elegantly down your face and across your shoulders. Although this style won’t work with all dresses and settings, the lace-edged mantilla can be combined with a more traditional veil to retain traditional lengths and shapes.

Mantilla Veil – via Etsy

Hairstyle – Consider your hairstyle before you look at veil options – a more elaborate veil might need an up-do to hold it in, especially if you have thin hair. Alternatively, a talented hairstylist can work with you to create a hidden plait to lodge the veil’s clip into to secure it. Halo veils, bridal caps and mantilla veils work best when hair is worn down or in low updos, while blushers and birdcages are much more versatile and can be worn with most hairstyles. Once you’ve purchased your veil, don’t forget to take it (along with any other hair accessories you plan to wear) to your trial appointments, so you and your stylist can find the perfect ‘do (and there won’t be any last-minute surprises!).

Jewellery – If you’re wearing an elaborate dress or veil, or have flowers in your hair, go easy on the jewellery – less is more (a voluminous veil isn’t going to pair well with an equally dramatic tiara).

Heirloom – You shouldn’t need to splurge on your veil (all photos listed are linked to affordable ones on Etsy), but you could also see if there’s an heirloom veil in the family. Likewise, a veil is an easy accessory to pass on to your future children. While I’m planning on selling my wedding dress, I’ll hold onto my veil as a small token of my wedding day attire.

Dodgy Wedding Advice (what NOT to pass on!)


I read a great article on (a little known site called Brides.com) this week on the “Worst Wedding Advice” brides-to-be have been given.  I’m happy to report that I haven’t given out any of this advice, but I’d love to know what advice you’ve been given which you’ll never pass onto other engaged women!
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To summarise the article:
  • Making the day ‘all about you’ (As I said in What Guests Look for at a Wedding these people are not the extras in ‘Your Big Wedding’).
  • Not using a wedding planner when your wedding isn’t in your city
  • Inviting people you don’t actually want in attendance (Read Guest List How-to’s !!)
  • Taking out a loan to pay for the big dream wedding
  • Not having an open bar: “That was my mom’s advice to cut costs,” says another woman. “My friends are still griping about it! Yes, shame on them. But at the same time, I’d gladly give $800 more now to get them to shut up about how limited our alcohol selection was, and what they had to pay to enjoy themselves.” (Eek… sorry girls I’ve said it before… it’s an inconvenient truth, I’m afraid.)

Some other pearlers of dodgy wedding wisdom found online:

  • “The worst wedding advice anyone has told me was to sing our vows to each other.” Erin
  • “My mother-in-law said that it was perfectly fine to spend $9 a plate on dinner for our guests. She based this on my sister-in-law’s wedding, where they served cold meat sandwiches, au gratin potatoes, and questionable-looking fruit salad.” Morgan
  • “A lady I worked with overheard me telling another coworker how much my fiance and I were planning on saving up for our wedding. She decided to pipe in and say, ‘Wow, you might as well just buy a house, you’ll get divorced anyway.'” Caroline
  • “You’ll want a short engagement so the groom doesn’t change his mind.” — Margo
  • “You can always get divorced.” A friend actually gave me this advice right before my wedding, when I was suffering from a mild bout of cold feet.
  • “Greet your husband at the door with a smile and a drink.” First off, I get home from work after him. Secondly, no sense turning him into an alcoholic. I will smile when I see him though.
  • DIY-ing everything will save you tons of money.” This is not necessarily true. Supplies cost money. Trial and error costs money. Labor costs you…valuable time, if not also money. Be sure to thoroughly assess the costs of both buying from a vendor or DIY-ing any item on your wedding checklist before you commit to doing it yourself.
  • Similarly… “Save money by skipping the photographer and crowd-sourcing your photos.” The only thing you’ll have after the day is done are the photos (okay, and a husband!). There are numerous apps and websites that do allow your guests to post all their fuzzy, blurry, dimly lit photos into one convenient web location, but while that’s super fun for your guests, are those really the photos you want to commemorate your special day forever?
 
And from Brides Magazine, no less!
  • “For a romantic wedding look that will last straight through the honeymoon, consider the beauty of a perm.” — June/July 1990
  • “A nice idea, and not too costly, is to have an accordion player who moves around among the guests playing their requested songs” — Early Spring 1950
  • “Never, never, never act disinterested in anything your husband says or does from now until the day you die.” – Spring 1938
  • “[An older bride] may wear white if it’s her first marriage, but she won’t choose a typical wedding dress, and of course, she won’t have a real wedding veil.” — Summer 1949
  • “Remember, men… have delightful illusions about the women they love. Such things as sloppiness and hair in curlers are death to dreams.” — Late Spring/Summer 1950
  • “Did your best friend recently get engaged too? Consider a double wedding.” — February/March 1980
  • “Without a doubt, the most requested song right now is the ‘Macarena’… If it’s good enough for Al Gore, it’s good enough for us.” — February/March 1997

Head to the wedding planning page for an index of our good wedding advice and if you haven’t already, check out the little white book wedding organiser and diary.