Knowing who is invited to an engagement party can help couples plan celebrations of their relationship without committing etiquette faux pas that could lead to hard feelings just when they will most need the support and strength of their families and friends.
Engagement Party Guest Guidelines
The engagement party guest list can vary depending on the purpose of the party and who is hosting the event. If the party is arranged by the bride's parents to formally announce the couple's engagement, all major relatives and close friends would generally be invited. If, however, the couple is using the party as a simple celebration of their engagement and is throwing the event themselves, they may only invite their close, mutual friends or other couples. Regardless of the party hosts or purpose, however, two distinct rules apply to who is invited to an engagement party:
- Only local guests are invited, as it is considered impolite to expect guests to travel for an engagement party when they will later be expected to travel for the wedding.
- No one should be invited to the engagement party who isn't also going to be invited to the wedding. While a couple's plans and budget may change between the time of the party and the wedding, it is impolite to invite people to the engagement party whom you know will not be on the wedding guest list.
Who is Invited to an Engagement Party: Planning the Guest List
An engagement party is generally less formal than a wedding, but it is still important to carefully plan who should receive engagement party invitations. The individuals who should always be invited include:
- The parents of the couple, including divorced parents if possible
- Close or significant family members, such as grandparents
- Close friends who may be asked to be in the bridal party
- Significant coworkers, neighbors, or friends who will very likely be invited to the wedding
Of course, if the engagement party will be a small affair, it is acceptable to invite fewer guests without breaching engagement party etiquette. The tone of the party should also be considered: a beer-and-barbeque engagement party is not as appropriate for the grandparents on the guest list, while a sedate tea may be less appealing to the couple's friends. If many people want to attend the engagement party, the couple can consider multiple events in order to celebrate with a larger number of family members and friends in appropriate ways.
Who Isn't Invited
There are certain people who should not be invited to an engagement party, even with the best intentions.
- Ex-Significant Others: Even if the bride- or groom-to-be has remained friends with an old boyfriend or girlfriend, it is not appropriate to invite them to the engagement party because it could be too awkward not only for them, but also for the new fiancé. After the couple has had the opportunity to discuss these old relationships, exes can be invited to the wedding but it is best to leave them off the engagement party guest list.
- Non-Wedding Guests: If casual friends or coworkers whom the couple knows will not be invited to the wedding, it is best not to invite them to the engagement party. An engagement party guest may assume that being part of this party will lead to a wedding invitation which can be awkward and impolite if it does not.
- Children: Even though a couple may have young children in their wedding party, it is inappropriate to invite them to most engagement parties unless the event is a casual family affair and there will be many children attending.
When to Break the Rules
Despite the best planning intentions, there are times when a couple has to break the rules with their engagement party guest list. If, for example, a couple plans a very private wedding or an elopement, it is acceptable to invite individuals who will not be on the wedding guest list. When a couple does not control the guest list, such as with a surprise engagement party at work, it is also understood that some individuals may be invited who will not be invited to the wedding.
Knowing who is invited to an engagement party can help couples begin considering their wedding guest list even as they celebrate their engagement. While a variety of types of parties exist and the guest lists can vary for each of them, couples who take care with their engagement party plans will be able to celebrate their relationship with everyone close to them.