How to Decide When to Have Your Engagement Party

Here's the sweet spot in between the proposal and the wedding.
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
by
Samantha Iacia
  • Samantha writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in wedding decor, trends, and fashion
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Samantha was a features and weddings contributor for The Baltimore Sun
  • She is based in Washington, D.C. and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism
Updated Feb 26, 2024

You (or someone you know) just got engaged—bring on the excitement! Sooner or later, you might be wondering when it's appropriate to kick off the festivities. We're here to debunk the questions surrounding when do you have an engagement party and how soon after the proposal you should start planning. The engagement party, which is either hosted by the couple, their parents or a friend, is a chance for loved ones from both sides to meet and celebrate the soon-to-be-newlyweds. Keep reading for the best time to throw an engagement party, plus everything you should consider before setting a date.

When Do You Have an Engagement Party?

The sweet spot for when to have an engagement party is two or three months after the proposal.

This window is based on the average engagement length, which is about 15 months for most couples. It gives you time to enjoy the giddy, recently engaged phase for a couple of weeks, but it's not too far into your engagement that it cuts into venue shopping, menu tastings and honeymoon planning. If you're getting married sooner (anything less than a year away), we recommend throwing the engagement party within a month of the proposal—and in that case, it may need to be a smaller, more informal celebration.

Things to Consider About When to Have Your Engagement Party

You don't need to celebrate right away…

The great thing about engagement parties (as opposed to most other prewedding events) is that the timing is a little ambiguous. As we previously mentioned, there is a sweet spot for how soon you should have your engagement party, but it's also okay to take your time to plan whatever you're envisioning, especially if your wedding plans are still a long way from being finalized. Depending on the type of party, whether it's casual cocktails in a friend's backyard or a formal, fully-styled bash, you might want more time to coordinate the details.

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…But the party should take place before you dive into wedding planning.

After three or four months, you (or the engaged couple) will likely be in the thick of the wedding to-do list, so we recommend getting the engagement party out of the way before diving in headfirst into the actual wedding planning. Keep in mind that there are several other prewedding events that need to follow suit after the engagement party, like the wedding shower and bach parties, so it's important to leave plenty of time for those.

Decide who is hosting and who will be invited to the party.

Figuring out when to have an engagement party also depends on who is hosting the event. If you're planning it yourselves as the engaged couple, you might have no problem making it your number-one priority and finalizing the details right away. On the other hand, if a friend or family member has offered to host the party in your honor, they may need more time to plan while balancing their own schedule and responsibilities. Brush up on the basics of engagement party etiquette to figure out how you want to approach the process.

You should also factor your engagement party guest list into the equation. If a majority of your guests will have to travel from out of town to attend the party, they'll need more time to make arrangements. It's best to send the engagement party invitations at least a month ahead of time, with a few extra weeks' notice for anyone who will be traveling. And remember: Don't invite guests to the party if they're not also shoo-ins for the wedding day.

Take the time of year into account.

Depending on the time of year that you get engaged, you might prefer to hold off until a different season. For example, maybe your partner proposed during the holiday season but you love the idea of celebrating your engagement with a flower-filled garden party in the spring. There are also certain dates you might want to avoid. We're always down for an NYE engagement bash (just tell us where to be), but certain friends and family members might have their own plans firmly set in place already, especially on holidays that are associated with strong family traditions.

Consider the location of your engagement party.

It wouldn't be a proper celebration without your most important friends and family. As we mentioned, if you have loved ones who don't live nearby, you should wait a few months to ensure that everyone has enough time to make travel arrangements for your engagement party. And in some cases, you might even want to plan a destination engagement party—think of it as a weekend getaway for all of your friends on both sides to meet each other if you've already decided who's in your wedding party.

Decide if you need (or want) more than one engagement party.

Yes, you might need to have more than one engagement party. If you and your partner have close friends in your current city but you both have family in different states, you'll obviously want a chance to celebrate with every group (because they're important to you). Ideally, you could get everyone together in one place, but in some cases, you might have to settle on more than one party.

Planning multiple events will directly impact when you should have your engagement party. The first one might take place with just a few local friends a couple of weeks after you get engaged, while you can plan a more elaborate engagement party with extended family a month or two later.

Think about how much you need to save.

Having more than one engagement party could also eat into your budget, especially if you're paying for the event(s) yourselves. Traditionally, the cost of the engagement party is covered by whoever is hosting, whether that's the engaged couple, their parents or a group of friends pitching together. When you're also budgeting for an upcoming wedding, you may want to get the engagement party out of the way as soon as possible so you can start saving for other wedding-related expenses.

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