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).