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Engagement parties: should you have one?

by | 5 September 2015 | Planning

Traditionally, engagements were announced unexpectedly at a party. The father of the bride would throw a shindig for close friends and family who’d be under the impression that it was just another party. But then, halfway through, he’d make a toast to his daughter… and her future husband.

Nowadays, things are a bit different. In the age of social media, it’s hard to keep a secret. We communicate faster which impacts the way we do things. So, when it comes to telling everyone you’re getting married, couples are doing it their own way.

Some people tell their nearest and dearest in person, or in between sobs of delight down the phone. While others share it over social media where close friends and not-so-close friends get the message with just one scroll of a newsfeed. However you choose to spread the word, it’s almost always followed with the same question: ‘Are you having an engagement party?’

To try and find the answer, I spoke to six couples who are either settling into marriage or have just got engaged.


“We aren’t going to have an engagement party. Planning the wedding is enough! But, when we told my soon-to-be in-laws that we weren’t doing an engagement thing, they offered to host a casual drinks reception in their garden. So next month our immediate family and some friends will all bring a bottle and we’ll mark the occasion in a garden in the Kent countryside.”

Leonie and Greg got engaged last month


“Our engagement party was a big affair. We had nibbles and champagne overlooking the beach at a hotel in Devon. To top it all off, the sun was setting. All of the guests ended up coming to our wedding too. And, because we’d made formal invitations and rented out such a nice space, our guests brought us engagement gifts. In hindsight, we should’ve reined it in a bit – to save some WOW factor for the wedding. But we just got carried away with the excitement.”

– James and Louise got married in September 2014


A party celebration
“Steve only asked me to marry him two weeks ago. So I’m still riding the wave of happiness. But we’re thinking about doing two engagement parties; one for our family at a really nice restaurant, and one for our friends at a bar. Because ours will be a same-sex wedding, we want to tell our families separately. We want it to be special. So we’ll treat them to a nice meal in a more intimate setting. Whereas with our friends, we’ll head to a bar where everyone can have a drink and a dance.”

– Phil and Steve plan to get married some time in 2016


“Engagement party? Who’s got time for that? We deliberately decided not to have one because our wedding day is only three months after our engagement date. Plus we’re getting married in Dubai. So, if we had an engagement party, it’d be an additional expense for our friends and family. And Dubai’s expensive enough! But we told everyone the news by sending them a homemade three-month countdown calendar that doubled up as an invite. And, of course, mine and Jane’s faces are all over it.”

– Charles and Jane are getting married in Dubai in October


A casual celebration with friends
“We got engaged on top of a mountain in France – we were three days in to a ten-day hike. Because we were so remote, updating our Facebook statuses or calling our parents wasn’t really an option. So we got to savour the excitement and, after a couple of days, we quite liked keeping it a secret. So, when we got back, we planned an impromptu BBQ at ours, invited our family and friends and told them. It was all really casual, so everyone was surprised. And, even though it was hard to keep schtum, we’re glad we did – their reactions will be with us forever.”

 – Kathrin and James got married in April 2012


“My husband’s originally from Australia. So getting them over to the UK for an engagement party as well as the wedding wasn’t affordable. But we made up for it in the run-up to the wedding and the actual wedding day itself. Before the big day, we went away for the weekend with just our immediate families. So mums, dads and siblings. And then, on the morning of the wedding, we all had a boozy brunch.”

– Ruth and Nathan got married in May 2015


It’s clear that tradition has taken a backseat in the world of engagement parties: all of the couples took a very different approach. Some went all out and had a big party. Others kept it casual. And some disregarded it altogether. But one thing they all have in common is that they considered their friends and family when it came to announcing their engagement. It wasn’t all about them.

We always love to hear your side of the story. So tell us how you celebrated (or plan to celebrate) your engagement, if at all.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.


Planning Engagement parties: should you have one?