Do You Need to Bring a Gift to an Engagement Party? Read Our Etiquette Advice

Use this guide to help you decide.
wrapped present near champagne glasses
Djordje Boskovic/Getty Images
kim forrest the knot
by
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Jul 31, 2023

Have you ever gone to a BBQ with your partner, but then when you got there, you realized it was actually an engagement party? (Same. Big oof.) They definitely should've shared more event details. Now you're in athleisure and showing up empty-handed. Do you even bring a gift to an engagement party, though? And, if you were equally surprised by the engagement, should you send a gift after? Luckily for you, though it's a bit late, we have all of the answers. Keep reading for a few helpful engagement party gift etiquette tips to consider if you're on the guest list.

In this article:

Are gifts expected at an engagement party?

To put it simply, you aren't required to bring a gift to an engagement party, so don't feel embarrassed if you show up empty-handed. There'll be plenty of other events—like the couple's shower and actual wedding—that you'll be able to show your congratulations with a present. That said, it's certainly not considered bad etiquette if you do choose to give a gift at an engagement party. While you don't need to go crazy scrolling the couple's wedding registry just yet, a small token of your good wishes like a bottle of champagne, a candle or helpful planning journal is always appreciated. If you're still unsure what the best course of action is, keep reading.

How do you know if you should get one?

To bring or not to bring an engagement gift, that is the question. As aforementioned, engagement gifts are traditionally not expected, however, if you're worried that the style of the event lends itself more towards gift giving, consider things like the event's formality, who's hosting it and if there are other wedding-related events you're attending to figure it out. We've got more guidance below.

1. The formality of the event

If your friend just got engaged and texted you about impromptu celebratory drinks at a local bar the next weekend, you probably don't need to come bearing gifts. A gesture of congratulations, like a bottle of champagne or even a nice card, wouldn't be out of place, but don't worry about schlepping a toaster oven to drinks. The invite is casual, so the party will be too. If an engagement party is giving off more formal vibes—like you received a custom snail mail invite for a cocktail party at a snazzy venue and you know the couple's parents will be greeting guests (AKA taking stock of who brings what) at the door—either ask around to see what other close friends and family members are thinking of doing or bite the bullet and bring something with you.

2. Who's hosting

If the venue is laid-back, like a bar, restaurant or park, and, thus, the party isn't officially being hosted at someone's house or by someone in particular (such as one set of parents or the couple themselves), that's another sign the party will be relatively low-key—and that you'll probably be paying for your own meal or drinks. While a gift is not "payback" for free food and drinks, if you're opening your wallet at a party, you're usually not expected to bring a gift.

3. If your budget allows

On a tight budget? Take some pressure off yourself and know you aren't obligated to bring a gift, even if it's a formal event—especially if you're pretty sure you'll be invited to the shower and wedding. If you hate showing up to events empty handed, consider either dividing your gift budget to accommodate something for each wedding event. Otherwise, go ahead and save your funds to give the couple one nice wedding gift. Remember, the main thing they want you to give them is your heartfelt congratulations and for you to share in their happiness. A thoughtful, handwritten card always does the trick without breaking the bank.

4. Whether or not you can make it to the wedding

If you already know you can't attend the nuptials, but still want to show your love and best wishes for the couple, their engagement party is a great time for gift giving. But before you haul a big box of wine glasses to the event, comb the couple's wedding website to see if they're registered for the engagement party. If they do have a registry, it'll make the process infinitely easier on both of you (their gift will be delivered straight to their doorstep, so you don't have to worry about carrying it).

5. If they ask you not to

The happy couple might be very vocal about having a giftless engagement party. If the engagement party invitations, their website or their loved ones personally ask everyone to refrain from bringing presents, you're off the hook.

Should you bring the gift to the engagement party?

If you plan on purchasing a gift for the newly engaged couple, you should bring the gift to the engagement party. Engagement gifts are typically on the smaller side (gift ideas include a bottle of wine, a nice picture frame or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant) and can be easily given to the couple during the festivities. If you're planning on giving the couple a larger gift from their registry, you can send it beforehand, so the couple doesn't have to worry about transporting it.

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