Engagement Parties: Etiquette and Presents

November’s vendor feature is blogger, lawyer, newlywed and now author, Megan of She Said Yes.
In anticipation of many engagements over the upcoming months, here’s a few handy tips on Engagement Party Etiquette. Although, equally, most of these tips apply to whatever social engagement you’re invited to this summer!

RSVPing: RSVPs (répondez s’il vous plait) are not optional.  The formality of the invitation will give you an idea about the required formality of acceptance.  If the invite specifies any way of RSVP’ing (email, text or evenFacebook acceptance), you should respect that your response is expected, and assist the host’s preparation.  Often catering or even seating will be determined by guest numbers(like at a wedding), so if you’ve said you’re going, it’s very rude not to turn up.  RSVP as soon as possible.

Do you bring a gift?: If it’s an Engagement Party – then yes, absolutely take a small engagement gift (see the perfect engagement gift).  For any other party, if you aren’t specifically told not to, it’s sensible to err on the side of presents – it’s never inappropriate to bring a gift for your host.  It need not be an expensive gift though, something personal, thoughtful or simple will suffice.  Think a bottle of wine, a small piece of home ware, or something unique that you know the couple will love.  I bought the bride a wedding planning book and some glassware.  Of course, attach a card with a brief message, which will make it easier for the couple to remember whom the gift was from, and how to thank you.
Can you bring a guest to an engagement party?: Again, revert to the invitation.  If the invitation is made to you individually by name, and doesn’t specify a guest, it’s a no-brainer.  If the invitation is generic, and is posted or handed to you without explanation, politely enquire whether you can bring your significant other. However, it’s not okay to expect to bring a friend or group, unless specifically suggested on the invitation, “Come one, come all”.  Facebook invitations are a grey area, because unless the couple are ‘friends’ with your significant other, they may not be able to invite he/she, so again, politely enquire.
Dress Code: Keep the location and couple in mind when dressing for an engagement party.  This weekend I attended a casual garden-party engagement party at the groom’s parents’ house, but knowing the venue and couple themselves, I wouldn’t expect to rock up in ripped jeans and a t-shirt.  While black and white is alright, I’d steer away from wearing all white to an engagement party, in case the bride chooses to wear a white outfit – as I did to mine – you don’t want to appear to be competing for attention. See the Dress Code Guide for more. If you’re still unsure what to wear, ask the host.

Be punctual: If you must be late to an Engagement Party, let the host know as far in advance as you can – and be careful not to interrupt toasts, speeches, or other “officialties” of the evening.  If you are running late, why not offer to pick up something on the way, in case the hosts have forgotten something?  Unless you’ve arranged to help out with preparation, try not to be early either – last minute party prep can be stressful enough. Within 15 minutes of the invite time is advisable.
Greet & help the host: It’s only polite to greet and thank the host for inviting you – for an engagement party this may not be the couple themselves, but a friend of parent, who will often go to a lot of trouble to make the event happen.  If the host is preparing food, for example, offer to help and be specific, i.e.”Can I help with that salad/fill water-glasses/pass food around?”Also, don’t be shy – bring your most confident self to the party and mix and mingle with other guests.
Keep conversation casual: Summer parties and engagement celebrations call for light and positive chat, so when meeting other guests or chatting loudly among friends, be mindful of what you’re saying and who’s listening.  Engagement parties are not the time to recount stories of the groom’s psycho ex-girlfriend, or get into an argument with someone about politics or religion. It should go without saying, but avoid gossiping.

Hold your liquor: Whether an open bar, BYO or you’re paying for yourself, respect the host, couple and event and don’t overdo the drink, especially early on in the evening.  It’s great to be a party animal, but wait until the hosts are doing shots before you do.  There are few things as obnoxious as being the overly (and inappropriately) drunk one at another’s celebration, and you’ll regret it the next day. 
If you’re running between engagement parties and magazine launches, you might like to try Hydrodol (for hangovers) – I took 4 tablets prior to drinking on Saturday night, and my head wasn’t pounding too hard come Sunday!
Give thanks: If the host threw a great party, it never hurts to say thank you, either by a brief email, next-day telephone call or for a formal event, a thank-you card.The perfect engagement party gift: the little white book wedding organizer and diary

Head to the wedding planning page for an index of Megan’s content.
Photo Credit: Shutterfly, OOBW & Bridal Guide