What Is an Engagement Party and Should You Have One?

Consider it another reason to celebrate!
Guests and couple laughing together at engagement party
Photo: Drazen / Getty Images
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
The Knot Contributor
  • Heather contributes wedding, honeymoon, travel and relationship content for The Knot and WeddingWire.
  • Heather also writes for publications including Apartment Therapy, StyleBlueprint, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles and The Everygirl.
  • She holds a degree in Art History and Architectural History from the University of Virginia.
Updated Dec 04, 2023

Once it's official, the party suggestions start rolling in. Are you having a bridal shower? A stock-the-bar party? A bachelor party? An engagement party?

And, there you are, wondering, what is an engagement party? Am I asking people to attend too many events? Will people think they need to bring a gift to everything? Do our friends and family even want to celebrate with us in the months to come?

But there's no better time than your engagement for your people to rally around you, using any excuse to get together and toast to the happy couple. From soirées thrown by friends to opportunities for parents to bring their longtime pals together to see how you've grown up, this season is filled with fêtes. And the engagement party is one of the most inclusive pre-wedding celebrations, with an invite list that typically includes friends, family and anyone else who might make the wedding cut.

Still wondering if you should have an engagement party? We asked the experts for their thoughts on engagement parties, how to throw one and whether it's something you should plan to have during your engagement.

In this article:

What Is an Engagement Party? | How Often Do Couples Have One? | Purpose | What to Do | History

What Is an Engagement Party?

An engagement party is a celebration of a recently engaged couple that brings together friends and family to toast to their happiness, likely months before they walk down the aisle. Often an engagement party is thrown as a kick-off to the wedding season, giving your loved ones the opportunity to mix, mingle and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting. It's when you pop the champagne, let your aunts ogle over the ring, and let the "Oh my gosh, this is really happening!" feelings set in.

How Often Do Couples Have an Engagement Party?

Sarah Klingman, CEO and Founder of Gather, says, "We've noticed a resurgence in popularity, possibly influenced by social media and the desire for more celebratory events leading up to the wedding," says Klingman. While not all couples will have an engagement party, it's not unusual to receive an engagement party invite in your mailbox or inbox, and it can even be the first indication that an invite to the wedding may follow..

Plus, when the choice is no party or a party, why not use another excuse to gather all your favorite people in one place?

Are Engagement Parties Traditional?

Traditionally, engagement parties were hosted by a bride's family to announce the engagement to their community. It was a more formal event that has both evolved and become more mainstream as couples are more integrated into each other's families before the wedding. Today, you're just as likely to get an invite to a casual afternoon at a brewery as you are to a cocktail party evening hosted by parents.

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What Is the Purpose of an Engagement Party?

If you're already having a wedding, why gather people beforehand for an engagement party, especially if the invite list is similar? There are good reasons to host an engagement party that can only be achieved by celebrating with your nearest and dearest before the big day.

Announce the Engagement

"The traditional purpose of an engagement party was to announce their engagement to friends and family," says Klingman. While people today are more connected and have likely already sent their congratulations (or at least a text!), it's still a perfect opportunity to come together in person to celebrate.

Get to Know Each Other

"These groups of people will be spending time creating forever memories together. An engagement party is a great primer for people to get to know each other; bringing the families and friends together from both sides," says Jung Lee, Event Architect and Founder of Fête. This may be the first time your extended — or even your immediate — families are coming together, and there's less pressure when you do that before the wedding weekend.

Have Another Reason to Celebrate

We need more reasons to gather and celebrate the happy things in life, so why not use an engagement as another reason to celebrate?

What Do You Do at an Engagement Party?

As you're running down your checklist ahead of the party, you're thinking, there's no ceremony. While you may receive presents, you're probably not opening them. And there might not be a dance floor. So what do you do at an engagement party? As Lee explains, "Engagement parties should feel like a really great cocktail party, or something unexpected and casual like a Sunday brunch," says Lee.

Want some inspiration? Here are a few ideas for what to do at an engagement party.

Celebrate With a Theme

An engagement party can be a whimsical way to introduce your loved ones to something unique about your wedding plans or celebrate something you're both passionate about. Klingman says, "One couple we're working with is having an Italian countryside-themed party in Chicago, with their nuptials in Tuscany next year." Use a theme to guide the decor or activities.


Per tradition, an engagement party is the time to introduce family and friends. Maybe your bridesmaids from different walks of life haven't met yet, or your grandmother hasn't been introduced to your fiancé's parents. This is the time to get all of the hellos out of the way, bond over a shared commitment to the couple, and kick off a season of celebrating together.

Toasts to the Couple

Whether your venue is a winery, a friend's house, a bar or a country club, toasts to the couple are almost always featured in the flow of events. Parents, grandparents, siblings — there's no rule on who gets to grab the mic. But, just like any wedding occasion, toasts should be kept short and sweet.


"The focus is usually on socializing and celebration," says Klingman, who adds that lighthearted games can be a fun addition to the party. These can be games testing the newly betrothed couple's knowledge of each other or crowd participation games where everyone gets involved. You could even have corn hole set up to get people moving and loosen up the small talk.

History of Engagement Parties

Engagement parties have been around for thousands of years, though their purpose has evolved dramatically throughout the millennia. From logistical meetings in Ancient Greece where they laid out the terms of the marriage to parties where parents would surprise the guests with a jubilant engagement announcement to the casual celebrations that are more popular today, engagement parties have kept pace with the times.

When Did Engagement Parties Originate?

The history books tell us that ancient Greece was the first to celebrate engagement parties, but they were joyful gatherings with champagne and dancing. Instead, they were a meeting between a family, including parents and the couple, to discuss the ins and outs of the marriage. Think of it as an annual planning meeting — except it's for a lifetime.

Where Did Engagement Parties Originate?

While the tradition of an engagement party may have originated in its initial and unconventional form in Greece, engagement parties have been held worldwide for thousands of years. From Scotland to India to Africa, the idea of families and friends coming together to celebrate a happy couple starting their life together is a tale as old as time.

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