Your Guide to Engagement Party Etiquette: 18 Do’s and Don’ts

Updated: Oct. 13, 2023

After a proposal, a celebration is definitely in order! Here's the engagement party etiquette to know before you plan an event.

Friends congratulating couple at early evening engagement partyPETER MULLER/GETTY IMAGES

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. Here are the do’s and don’ts of engagement party etiquette.

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

1 / 18

After they announced their engagement they celebrate that with a romantic kiss
Kosamtu/Getty Images

Do: Keep It Informal

Ultimately, it’s up to the couple to decide what type of engagement party they’d like to have—but many agree the affair should be more informal. 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.

2 / 18

Directly Above Of Christmas Gift On Table
Aekkarak Thongjiew/Getty Images

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. 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.

3 / 18
Man serving friends salad at backyard dinner party
The Good Brigade/Getty Images

Do: Choose a Host

Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the newly engaged couple’s party. Today, that rule can still work, 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.

4 / 18

Laughing Black women hugging and using laptop
Granger Wootz/Getty Images

Don’t: Skip Formal Invitations

Online or hard-copy invitations are both totally acceptable in this computer age, but we do suggest opting for something more official than a simple text or email. Paperless Post and Evite are reliable, user-friendly platforms with abundant (and adorable!) selections. Send snail-mail invitations 4-6 weeks ahead of the party and digital invitations about 4 weeks beforehand.

5 / 18

Sharing Celebrations with Their Friends
SolStock/Getty Images

Do: Make the Dress Code Clear

Although guests should avoid wearing white out of respect for the bride-to-be, that doesn’t mean she needs to don the color. The party is for the newly engaged couple, after all, so they’re the ones calling the shots, including the dress code. Most engagement parties entail cocktail attire, but if the expectations aren’t clear on the invitations, double-check with the host.

6 / 18

champagne toasting celebration at the gay wedding
franckreporter/Getty Images

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 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.

7 / 18

Friends singing together at home
FG Trade/Getty Images

Do: Offer Activities and Icebreakers

Since it may be the first time new friends meet, provide a few activities to help break the ice. If it’s a casual picnic, outdoor 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.

8 / 18
Almond Bacon Cheese Crostini Exps Bmz17 35468 D10 25 5b 1
TMB Studio

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. These engagement party cakes will make the festivities all the sweeter.

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

9 / 18

Beautiful Boho Wedding Table Decoration with olive branches and rose drink glasses in Majorca
DianaHirsch/Getty Images

Do: Pick a Convenient Location for Attendees

Save the destination location and grand ballroom 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.

10 / 18

Girlfriend signing papers by man with laptop sitting on couch at home
Westend61/Getty Images

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.

11 / 18

It's So Great to See You!
SolStock/Getty Images

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 ideas for DIY centerpieces.

12 / 18

Group of friends having drinks at sunset. They are celebrating with a wine toast.
courtneyk/Getty Images

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

If you wouldn’t invite someone to the wedding, don’t 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.

13 / 18

Refreshing Summer Tiki Cocktail Drink
bhofack2/Getty Images

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.

14 / 18

Don’t: Include Registry Information on the Invites

Yes, the happy couple 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.

15 / 18

champagne toasting celebration
franckreporter/Getty Images

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 open a bottle of champagne.

16 / 18

Couple planning their future home, Tokyo
Ippei Naoi/Getty Images

Don’t: Plan Too Soon

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. The couple can take some time to themselves, allow it to soak in—and enjoy each other’s company—before getting family and friends involved.

17 / 18

Shot of a gift box on a chair at a wedding reception
LumiNola/Getty Images

Do: Offer Party Favors

Whether it’s a sweet edible party favor 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.

18 / 18
Close-Up Of Hand Holding Paper With Thank You Text Against Wall
Natthaphorn Khamdamrongkiat/Getty Images

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 to sing their praises for coming.