Our question is about engagement party etiquette. Our son is getting married this September at City Hall in San Francisco where they live. Afterwards there will be a party with their friends and coworkers at an event space. As the groom’s parents, this coming July we are hosting an engagement party in the form of a cocktail reception for our son and his fiancée at our home in Newport, and we would like to know what to call this event?
–Anonymous, Newport, RI
- Be sure you get the word out, by word-of-mouth, that all presents should be sent to the wedding couple in San Francisco, and make sure that the wedding couple’s CA address is on their wedding website. Loud & Clear.
- Also, on the wedding couple’s website: the RSVPs have to be recorded accurately for a realistic headcount by tracking the engagement party acceptances and regrets separately. Make sure both events, engagement party and wedding reception, are listed separately, and that they are identified as such on the wedding couple’s website.
- As the groom’s parents, you don’t want to be caught off guard not knowing what’s up, which is why you must have the name of the wedding registry on the tip of your tongue so that you can say, “Crate & Barrel,” or whatever. Then the guest’s gift is sent from the store directly to the CA address–not to Newport. The days of feeling one has to walk into a party loaded down with a wrapped gift box are clearly over.
- Call the event what it is: Engagement Party for _______
- Don’t forget that the introductions made at the engagement party will be invaluable on the wedding day, not only for some of the guests to see familiar faces, but also to relieve you, the groom’s parents, from having to make too many introductions – and having to remember all those new names.
- Be sure to have a photographer at the engagement party. I know it sounds silly with everyone taking shots with their phones, but those photographer’s photos (with everyone all dressed up) in an album would make a lovely gift to the newly weds as a first Christmas present.
- I know cocktail napkins with the wedding couple’s first names or entwined monograms sound cheesy, but they are an elegant touch–and everyone will know the bride’s name. If she isn’t from Newport, they’ll learn your son’s fiancée’s name from the eighty odd cocktail napkins floating around the engagement party.
- Most importantly, presents should not be expected for an engagement party.
- Nonetheless, over the decades you’ve no doubt given engagement and wedding presents to family and to the children of your friends, and those of whom are invited to the engagement party will want to send the wedding couple a gift from their wedding registry, regardless as to whether or not they are invited to the wedding reception in San Francisco.
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Accepting A Compliment