Engagement Party Question

1-25-2009-heart_engagement_j0173999Question about engagement party etiquette. “We were just invited to an engagement party, and I’m completely unfamiliar with the concept. What is proper etiquette for an engagement party? Is it simply an opportunity to meet the bride and to congratulate the groom who’s been off at school for many years and just graduated from med school and lives far, far away? Simply a time to socialize with all the family and friends back in town? I’m anxious about whether a gift is proper. I hate to appear at a party empty-handed. Thanks!” Mindy

Answer: How fun! Yes, engagement parties are a long standing but optional tradition in many regions and a social and celebratory time to meet and greet a newly engaged couple who are the guests of honor. Truly you are in “Niceville”, who I also understand have a delicious boggy bayou fish dish.

The engagement dinner or party is often hosted by the bride’s parents or a close relative so family and friends can meet and visit with the engaged couple. Gifts are usually NOT expected or given at engagement parties, but if you suspect this is not the case with your group, you can always have a small gift, wrapped and ready, in the car where you can retrieve it if you see others bearing gifts.

Most generally a card is the thoughtful and sufficient gesture of good will at engagement parties. Bring a card expressing “best wishes” (not “congratulations”) and at an appropriate time give it to the bride-to-be if there’s not a table on which to leave a card. Most of all enjoy the evening as you have opportunity to mingle with all guests and learn more about the engaged couples plans. The etiquette is much the same as other times when you are an invited guest so be sure to greet with the hosts and honored couple as soon as possible on your arrival if they are not near the door when you enter and thank them again before you leave. Thank you for sharing your question with friends of Protocol Matters.

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