The purpose of an engagement party—usually scheduled no later than three months after the big announcement—can be threefold: to share the news of your imminent union with future wedding guests, to introduce your families to each other and to celebrate the impending, well, celebration. Tradition has it that the bride's parents host the initial gathering, but the groom's parents can then throw their own party, or both sets can come together to host the fete. As you decide, here are five things the hosts should keep in mind:
1. Your family should give you time to breathe.An impromptu family gathering the weekend after your partner proposed is the perfect opportunity to break out the vintage champagne, but don't schedule an all-out opulent affair during the first month of your engagement. You both need some time to revel in just being engaged. Plan to have an engagement party two to four months after the question was popped. That gives you the chance to envision your eventual wedding (our app can help with that!)—a crucial element to consider when deciding on the type of event to throw.
2. Find out the size of your wedding.Everyone who's invited to the engagement party should ultimately be invited to the wedding. Otherwise, guests might wonder what they did at the engagement party to insult you. That said, if you decide to host your own wedding and keep the list small but you want to throw an extravagant engagement party, go for it. Just be sure to let people know that the wedding will be small so no feelings will be hurt when guests aren't invited to the wedding. If you're worried your friends will think you want to have a big bash solely to garner gifts, include a note in the invitation that requests no presents.
3. Consider what will make the in-laws most comfortable.Since the engagement party custom was actually designed to help you start building bridges between your families, consider their style. If one of you has a very formal family, an impromptu picnic in the park might not be the most appropriate setting for getting to know one another. Likewise, a five-course sit-down dinner attended by all your friends might be a bit intimidating for them. Settle nerves by including as many people from their side as you can reasonably accommodate.