That beautiful Malka Diamonds sparkler on your finger marks the beginning of a season of wedding events — starting with the perfect Portland engagement party.
Need a lesson on engagement party etiquette? We have answers to all your questions. Keep reading for everything you or your engagement party host need to know to pull off a post-proposal event to remember.
Who hosts the party?
Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the engagement party. But many Portland brides don’t play by these rules.
It’s entirely appropriate for anyone close to you and your partner to throw the party, like a sibling, friend, or even a group of friends. You may decide you want to throw the party yourself — that works, too!
For those opting for the more traditional route, proper engagement etiquette is the following:
The bride’s parents are responsible for planning and hosting the engagement party.
If the groom’s parents want to host a party as well, that’s perfectly fine. However, their party should follow the bride’s parents’ party.
For couples whose parents both want to host a party, decide the order of party dates based on what works best for everyone.
For any couple, if it doesn't make sense for the parents to host, the couple or anyone else may host instead.
When to have the party
Most couples choose to capitalize on the fresh excitement of a proposal by planning the party within the first few months of engagement. We like to call it the carefree time between newly engaged and serious (potentially stressful) wedding planning.
Depending on the length of your engagement, the sweet spot will be around 1 to 4 months after you say “yes.” This allows enough time to organize details, send invitations, and ensure a successful party.
Who to invite
Etiquette states the guest list for your engagement party should only include those individuals who will also be invited to your wedding. Particularly when the party is hosted by you and your partner or by your parents.
However, the formality of engagement parties is really evolving, and expectations have changed. Today, there are many cases where you might invite people to the engagement party that you aren’t inviting to the wedding.
For example, if your friends want to host a large, informal party at your favorite Portland brewery, it’s totally fine to include people who may not make the wedding guest list. Another scenario might be a family friend who wants to host a cocktail party at their home. In that case, your parents may want to invite mutual friends or business associates you probably won’t have room for at your wedding.
As far as the specific headcount for your party — it’s up to you (or whoever’s hosting). Make it as large or cozy as you like. Just keep in mind: the larger the event, the more involved the planning process will be, so we recommend keeping the party a manageable size.
Where to host the party
Since your party can be as big or small, formal or informal as you like, it gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to the venue. To get started in the right direction, think about what kind of environment you and your fiance feel most comfortable. After all, this is a party to celebrate your love!
Some examples might be:
The rules on gifts at an engagement party
Gifts are not (and should not be) expected at an engagement party. However, it’s likely that some of your guests will want to bring something anyway. In fact, from the moment you get engaged, people will want to send you gifts.
So what should you do?
Start by queuing up your wedding registry with at least a few wanted items. That way guests who would like to purchase a present for any pre-wedding parties, like your engagement party or even bridal shower or bachelorette party, will have some guidance.
Since gifts are not expected and shouldn’t be encouraged at an engagement party, never put your registry information on your engagement party invitation. This is against wedding etiquette and is one rule we recommend not breaking.
Instead, list your registry links on your wedding website or rely on word of mouth.
Unlike with your wedding, there’s no need for a save-the-date for your engagement party. But sending out a formal invitation is a good idea. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of money on fancy invitations. Instead, your invites should match the vibe of your party.
For example, if you’re planning a casual outdoor BBQ, an E-vite is perfectly appropriate. For a more formal, sit-down dinner party, a mailed invitation will help set the tone.
Think about the decor
The biggest piece of advice we have when it comes to decorating for your engagement party is: don’t overthink it. This isn’t meant to be as elaborate as your wedding reception, so keep it simple and instead focus on the company.
This doesn't mean you should ignore decoration completely. The event is about celebrating, so do whatever will help you enhance that vibe. Some great ideas are:
A collection of candles
A few small floral arrangements
Decorative plates or flatware
Before the party: Introduce your parents (& polish your ring)
Although engagement parties are a great setting for your parents to get to know each other, it’s not the place for the very first introduction.
Your parents shouldn’t have to worry about having an audience the first time they interact with the people who will be big part of the rest of their lives.
Instead, take some time before the party (whether it’s a few hours before or a couple days) to introduce parents to each other, giving them a quiet opportunity to chat and learn about each other. It’s the best way to start their future relationship on the right foot.
One more thing to do before the party: get your engagement ring cleaned.
During your party (and throughout the first few months of your engagement) the first thing people will want to do after giving you a big hug is see your ring.
At Malka Diamonds, we happily offer engagement ring cleanings to our clients. Stop by our downtown Portland diamond store a few days before your party to make sure your stunning ring is polished and ready to knock the socks off of all your guests.
What happens during the engagement party
Most engagement parties don’t follow any strict schedule of events. Instead, it’s typically a chance to socialize and enjoy some food and drink together.
Still, there are a few key moments you can likely expect (and should plan for) during your engagement party:
Your proposal story — Everyone will want to hear about your proposal story. We recommend planning a condensed version of the tale so you don’t wear yourself out telling the story 20 times in a row.
Your relationship story — You can also likely expect questions about your dating relationship, including questions about what your partner does, how you met, and so on.
Plans for the wedding — Your guests will likely want to know what your plans are for the wedding, including date and location.
Toasts — During the celebration, it’s proper etiquette for the host to give a speech to thank the guests for attending and toast to the engaged couple. It’s also common for other friends and family to share a few words. You and your partner should also be ready to give a brief thank you toast as well.
After the party: Saying thank you
At the end of the party, thank your host by having a small gift or thoughtful note ready. You’ll also need to thank every guest who attended the party. We recommend writing personalized thank you cards — there’s just nothing quite as meaningful as a handwritten card.
Ready to start planning the big day? We’ll help you choose the perfect wedding bands
From the proposal to “I do”, Malka Diamonds is here to help.
With a specially curated selection of designer and vintage rings, we’re Portland’s resource for high-quality custom rings. Our team is GIA certified and will guide you in choosing the engagement rings and wedding bands that fully represent your love.
We’d love to meet you and are here to answer all your questions.