First off, congratulations are in order. You’re engaged! The beginning of any engagement is often the most relaxing time. It’s a chance to enjoy the calm before the (wedding planning) storm and celebrate this new chapter with family and friends. The best way to do that, of course, is with an engagement party.
Whether you’re throwing your engagement party or need to put together a guest list for your host, it can be tricky to decide who to invite to an engagement party. Friends? Co-workers? Roommates? Second cousins? The list of possible guests goes on and on. To help steer you down the right path (or should we say aisle?), ahead, we’re breaking down the proper etiquette for who to invite, how to invite your guests, and the best engagement party invitations to get you started.
Who should be invited to the engagement party?
Who you invite to your engagement party depends on what type of party you’re hosting (more on that in our guide to engagement party ideas), and if you’re having more than one. Yes, you can have more than one! With family in different cities or different friend groups, it’s common for the happy couple to have multiple smaller engagement parties to make sure everyone can help celebrate. (For example one in the groom’s parents’ or bride’s parents’ hometown, and one where the bride and groom live now.) But in general, these are the types of guests you will want to invite to at least one of your parties:
Both sides of the family
Invite yours and your partner’s immediate family. Plus, any extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) you plan on including on your wedding guest list.
Engagement parties aren’t just for family! Invite any close friends and loved ones of you or your partner who you are planning to invite to the wedding to your engagement party.
Your parents’ friends
It’s typical for parents to host the engagement party, so any friends they are planning to invite to the wedding are also welcome at your engagement party. It’s also a great chance to meet and introduce yourself to guests before the wedding that you might not have met before (like your partner’s parents’ friends).
Plus ones or dates
Typically, unmarried or single guests will want to bring a date or a plus one to the party. A good rule of thumb is to let guests bring a plus one if they will also be given a plus one at the wedding. Otherwise, stick to wedding guests only.
To avoid party fatigue, if you have more than one party, let guests know they aren’t expected to attend both events. If your family or parents’ friends are located in one city, they may prefer to attend an event there, but skip a party in the town where you live to save the trip. For even more engagement party ideas and proper engagement party etiquette tips, read our 101 guide.
Types of engagement parties
The answer to “who do you invite to an engagement party?” isn’t always the same, and it depends on what kind of party you’re throwing. Your engagement party guest list might look completely different from a family party to a couple’s cocktail party. Here are a few tips for building your guest list for the most popular types of engagement parties, depending on who’s hosting.
The traditional engagement party
The host: Your parents or your partner’s parents.
The guests: Anyone you’re planning on inviting to the wedding, including both sides of the family, your close friends, your parents’ friends, and your partner’s parents’ friends. You should also include all potential members of the wedding party, even if you haven’t officially popped the question yet. You know the “will you be my bridesmaid?” one.
The non-traditional engagement party
The host: You, or a close friend
The guests: Who to invite to your engagement party will look very different if you’re celebrating with close friends in a more casual setting, like a restaurant, brewery, or at home for a small dinner party.
The surprise engagement party after the proposal
The host: Whoever is proposing
The guests:Whoever is getting proposed to will be in shock, so keep the party intimate to avoid overwhelming them too much. Invite a small group of close friends and family—that can keep a secret! And make sure to be very clear in your engagement party invitation wording that it’s a surprise.
Do you invite everyone to the engagement party?
If every single wedding guest was invited to your engagement party, what would make it different than your actual wedding? Everyone at the engagement party should be invited to the wedding, but not everyone invited to the wedding needs to be invited to the engagement party. Typically, engagement parties are more intimate than weddings, with a range of 10 to 75 people.
Can you invite guests to the engagement party but not the wedding?
According to wedding etiquette, no. You should think of an engagement party as part of the pre-wedding festivities. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule:
Guests who can’t make the wedding day
Is your friend already in a bridal party on the same date as yours? Will your cousin be studying abroad in London during your wedding? Are you throwing a destination wedding where some older guests won’t be able to attend? There are many reasons why guests might know that they can’t make your wedding in advance, but you can still include them in the engagement party fun!
For elopements and micro-weddings
Suppose you’re planning to elope or have a micro-wedding with just immediate family. In that case, it’s acceptable to invite more people to the engagement party that won’t be included in the big day. As long as you let people know what to expect, and explain why you want to celebrate with them now instead of later, it’s okay. Plus, they’ll be more likely to RSVP yes if they know there won’t be another chance to celebrate.
Office engagement parties
Your co-workers might want to throw you an engagement party at work or take you to drinks or lunch to celebrate. Even though this is technically celebrating your engagement, you don’t have to worry about inviting your co-workers to your wedding, like you would with usual engagement party guests.
How do you invite people to an engagement party?
Sending a proper engagement party invitation is a great way to share all your details with guests instead of by phone or word of mouth. You can include a dress code or suggested attire, the hosts’ names, the names of the newly engaged couple, the engagement party venue, the start and end time, and a celebratory engagement announcement like “We’re tying the knot.”
Sending an invitation also helps you set the tone for the party, conveying a casual party or a more formal, romantic affair. Design is often the easiest way to express your party vibe to guests, so everyone knows what to wear, and what to expect. Though you should make sure your engagement party invitation design matches your party’s vibe, don’t stress about it matching your wedding invitation. You probably won’t have details like your wedding palette set in stone, so your engagement party invite doesn’t need to match.
Should I send engagement party invitations online?
Engagement parties are often hosted shortly after the proposal. Usually, there’s not enough time to deal with paper invitations and snail mail, so couples opt for digital engagement invitations. Sending engagement invitations online saves you time, money, and resources, and allows you to throw a party faster while the news is still fresh.
With online invitations from Paperless Post, you can easily invite guests, track who’s received and opened your invitation, and keep tabs on your final headcount. All you need are email addresses to send online, so you won’t have to worry about tracking everyone’s addresses. You can save that for when you start wedding planning. Don’t have everyone’s email addresses? You can send a Flyer invitation through Paperless Post with text message invites, too.
Ready to start inviting your guests? Browse online engagement invitations to match any style. Need to send your gratitude for your engagement party gifts? Send online thank you notes. Then when the dust from your engagement celebration settles, start planning the bridal shower or your rehearsal dinner leading up to your upcoming wedding.