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

by epi on May 4, 2014

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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

bride June 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm

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 June 19, 2014 at 9:17 am

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 June 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

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 June 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

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!


David June 19, 2014 at 6:41 am

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.”


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