An engagement party is by no means essential, but it is a great excuse for a celebratory gathering. Ideally, the party should be held within a month or two of announcing the engagement.
One set of parents may choose to organise the party or, nowadays, it is also usual for the couple to host the party themselves.
It is often appropriate to hold two parties - one for families and family friends, and a more relaxed occasion for the couple's friends.
Check before setting a date that key guests will be able to attend.
The primary host should send out the engagement party invitations; on these it should be clearly that the party is being held to mark the engagement.
The scale and lavishness of the party will be dictated by budget. Finances permitting, drinks (preferably champagne) and canapés are a fail-safe formula for engagement parties.
The engagement party may be the first time many guests meet either the bride or groom and their respective friends and family so introductions are very important.
If the parents of the bride are hosting the party, it is customary for the father of the bride to give a small speech and toast the couple.
Remember that guests invited to an engagement party will expect to be invited to the wedding too, so don't get too carried away with numbers.
Engagement Presents and Thank Yous
Guests may wish to bring a present for the couple to the engagement party. This is not essential, but is a nice gesture from close friends. Members of the family may be more generous. Heirlooms, such as jewellery, furniture or paintings, are traditional; a financial contribution towards the cost of the wedding or the honeymoon is a modern trend.
The engaged couple should acknowledge presents with a handwritten thank you letter.
Guests should write a thank you letter to the host after the event.