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Your Guide to Engagement Party Etiquette: 16 Do’s and Don’ts

An engagement party is the best way for new fiances to celebrate a huge milestone, but planning the soiree can be a little intimidating.

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Woman showing engagement ring to friends in cafe celebratingAila Images/Shutterstock

Your Engagement Party Guide

Congratulations! You—or someone you know—is engaged. But now what? If you’ve got more questions than answers about an engagement party, like what to do, what to wear, what to eat, who to invite and whether or not you should bring (or expect) a gift, have no fear. We’ve got the top dos and don’ts when it comes to engagement party etiquette.

Hosting the bridal shower, too? These easy party recipes will have you covered.

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Bride and groom with guests at wedding reception outside in the backyard.Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Do Keep It Informal

Ultimately, it’s up to the couple when it comes to the type of engagement party they’d like to have—but many agree the affair should be more of an informal one. Instead of confining guests to one specific table, engagement parties should follow a cocktail party menu, complete with a buffet-style set up or self-serve finger foods. This way, everyone is free to walk around and engage in the fun and well wishes.

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Christmas Cheers Celebration Party Concept;

Don’t Expect Gifts

Sure, being engaged comes with a ton of perks—and receiving thoughtful gifts is definitely one of them—but guests shouldn’t be expected to bring presents. Still, while it’s not required to bring a gift, many will want to. So if you’re hosting, set aside a designated area for cards and presents…just in case! (Here are the best engagement party gifts.)

If the couple feels uncomfortable accepting gifts, direct guests to give to a cause instead. On the invite, suggest that guests bring one of these items that food banks need most. Be sure to set up a station to accept the donations when guests enter, so they don’t have to carry around canned food the entire party.

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Couple toasting cheers at engagement party celebration engaged happy lovers with friendsEl Nariz/Shutterstock

Do Choose a Host

Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the newly engaged couple’s party. Today, that rule can still be applied, but it’s more than OK for a close friend, another family member or a fellow couple to host an engagement party as well. Choosing a host is crucial, though, so that the party is run smoothly by the designated person in charge.

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Guests eating at the wedding reception outside in the backyard.Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Don’t Separate the Families

Forget about a his or hers side. During an engagement party, both the bride and groom’s families should be encouraged to mix and mingle throughout the party. This might be the very first time the newly engaged couple’s families are meeting, so it’s important to make it count and give them time to get to know one another. Here are a few ways to gift your most cherished family recipes to the happy couple.

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Group Of Mature Friends Playing Croquet In Backyard TogetherMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Do Offer Activities and Icebreakers

Since it may be the first time families and friends are meeting, provide a few activities to help break the ice. If it’s a casual outdoor party, lawn games are a great starting point. Otherwise, an informal photo booth is a great way to get people to crack a smile and to capture some fun memories. Here are a few other smart ideas for your backyard party.

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Cucumber CanapesTaste of Home

Don’t Repeat Food on the Wedding Menu

There are so many delicious wedding food ideas to serve on the big day. Engagement parties, though, should really not mimic the wedding menu. Instead, engaged couples and their host should offer a mixture of yummy finger food and appetizers that suit the theme and time of day.

Here are some of our favorite engagement party recipes to get you started.

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Wedding table outdoorsnadtochiy/Shutterstock

Do Pick a Convenient Location for Attendees

Save the destination locations and grand ballrooms for the wedding. For the engagement party, opt for convenience for the sake of your guests. A nearby restaurant or a friend’s home with plenty of entertaining space are both good options.

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Black couple hugging

Don’t Overspend

Sure, newly engaged couples are excited to celebrate their huge announcement. Regardless, it’s crucial to keep a budget in mind, regardless of who is hosting the party or handling the bill. Save the splurges and big-ticket purchases for the wedding day.

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Romantic dinner setup with fresh flowers in a restaurantTinatin/Shutterstock

Do Incorporate Personalized Touches

You can personalize almost anything, and engagement party decor is no different. You can have all sorts of decor monogrammed for the occasion. Or go subtle and use a certain color or flower throughout the space—it can be a nice preview of the wedding day theme. Here are a few crafty ideas for DIY centerpieces.

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Beautiful mix race couple celebrating their engagement with champagne and their friends on the beachDaxiao Productions/Shutterstock

Don’t Invite Someone Who Isn’t a Wedding Guest

If you wouldn’t invite someone to the wedding, do not invite them to the engagement party (or the bridal shower for that matter). This will likely hurt someone’s feelings. Even if you’re not having a huge wedding, save the engagement party invites for wedding attendees only.

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Friends party drinks healthy

Do Decide On a Theme

If you love a good theme and get to host an engagement party, this could be your time to shine. Since engagement parties are often less formal than weddings, you can opt for something cheeky and fun like a tiki theme! Be sure to make the theme clear in your invitations so guests can dress appropriately.

If “no theme” is more your style, that’s OK, too! Just let guests know the dress code in advance.

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wedding decorViktor Lysenkov/Shutterstock

Don’t Include Registry Information On the Invites

Yes, the bride-to-be and her future groom might be ahead of the game when it comes to knowing what type of wedding gifts they’ll want to receive, but invitations—for engagement parties or weddings—are not the place to share registry info or links. This holds especially true for engagement parties since gifts are not obligatory in the first place.

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bride and groom holding beautifully decorated wedding glasses with champaignStudio Peace/Shutterstock

Do Toast Your Guests

Being surrounded by amazing food, your favorite people and a whole lot of love can make an engagement party fly by for any newly engaged couple. Just don’t forget to take a minute or two and raise a glass to all of the family and friends who came out to support you on such a special occasion. When you’re ready to toast, follow this guide for how to pop open a bottle of champagne.

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Woman writing on her daily

Don’t Plan Too Soon

Couples and hosts may be eager to send out those engagement party invites as soon as they break the news, but it’s perfectly fine to wait before diving right into the engagement party planning process. Fiances can take some time to themselves, allow it to soak in—and enjoy each other’s company—before getting family and friends involved.

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Raspberry Truffle Cake PopsTaste of Home

Do Offer Party Favors

Whether it’s a sweet edible party favor (cake pop, anyone?) or another memento, hosts and couples should provide guests with some type of favor. It’s a good way to show you appreciate your guests. Here are 33 other edible wedding favors you can make at home.

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Wedding invitationsirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Don’t Forget the Thank You Notes

The day of an engagement party is hectic and busy, so it can be common for the new fiances and hosts to miss a few people before they leave the party. Make sure to designate someone to keep track of who attended the celebration, so that thank-you cards can be mailed accordingly to sing their praises for coming. This set of classic thank you cards ($ 17) is an elegant choice engagement party.

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Taylor Murphy
Taylor is a food, parenting and health writer. When she's not writing about the newest Oreo flavor or her favorite kitchen appliance, she can be found searching for her next coffee fix or taste-testing recipes with her daughter.