Celebration Occasion: What is the purpose of an engagement party and are gifts expected?

Q: What is the purpose of an engagement party?  Are invited guests expected to bring a gift to the engagement party?



A: The purpose of an engagement party is to celebrate the couple’s engagement.  An engagement present is not a requirement.  Particularly if you are going to a large party, gifts are not expected, although lately, many people believe a gift is expected so more gifts are being taken, even though they aren’t required.  If you are invited to a small dinner party or other intimate gathering in honor of an engagement, then those invited are presumed to be very close and would likely take a gift.


  1. bride

    My fiance and I are having an intimate destination wedding with close family and friends. My soon to be in-laws would like to host a party in our honor to announce our engagement for people not invited to the wedding. Is there a way to have a party and not call it an engagement party or shower? I would want to put a note on the invitation for the party about not bringing gifts. Is this inappropriate? Thank you -

    • Jody

      Congratulations on your wedding. Maybe your new in-laws could just call it a party — not mentioning the engagement or wedding — and if anybody asks the reason they could say it’s so all their friends can meet their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. I do agree that “no gifts” should not be put on the invitation, but if people ask your in-laws can tell them “no gifts” at that time. If the invitation just references a regular party it should lessen the chances that people will think they need to bring a gift.

      I think David is missing a major point here — you’re not planning the party, your future in-laws are. You’re intentionally keeping your wedding small and limiting it to close family and friends. I applaud you for doing the kind of wedding you want and can afford.

      • Alicia

        If you ask your in laws to do it post wedding then you avoid hurt feelings.
        A prewedding party is generally only for those invited to the wedding.
        I agree in calling it just a party with then maybe a toast to the two of you

      • Bride

        Thank you, Jody. We are both in our early 30s, this is the 4th wedding in my fiance’s family, and his parents are in their early 70s. Since it is a destination wedding, his parents don’t want their friends to feel obligated to make the trip when they’ve already attended 3 other weddings. It’s a bit of a tricky situation!

        The idea to have the party after the wedding might solve the problem.

        Thank you!

  2. David

    A no-gift statement on any invitation is usually frowned upon, though it has become more common, however tasteless. Let the no-gift request spread word of mouth, if you’d rather.
    What puzzles me is that you are planning a party for people not worthy of a wedding invitation. If you decide to print the invitations with a no-gifts request, you may as well include the equally tasteless “You won’t be invited to the wedding.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *