Traditionally, an engagement party is hosted by the bride’s parents to announce and celebrate the good news with close friends and family. Today, an engagement party may be hosted by anyone close to the couple including the couple themselves.
The engagement party serves several purposes. To announce the engagement, to celebrate the engagement, to introduce the bride and or groom to close friends and family and to give family members an opportunity to meet before the wedding.
The party may be of any type. It is usually a small dinner or cocktail party, but could include anything from an outdoor barbecue to a beach party.
Gifts are not expected at an engagement party. It is a celebration and not a gift giving event. However, those very close to the engaged couple may choose to give a gift for the trousseau or new household. A family heirloom may be passed down at this time as well. Gifts brought to an engagement party should be placed aside and opened after guests have left. This will eliminate any embarrassment to guests not bringing a gift.
Often, the engagement announcement is a surprise at the party so the party is then a celebration rather than a gift giving event and guests are not worried about whether or not they should bring a gift.
If family and friends are traveling many miles to meet with the engaged couple, a new tradition is to hold an engagement shower so friends and family do not have to make the long trip again for a bridal shower. This also allows the men to attend the shower. If your invitation reads “engagement shower”, then a gift is expected.