The Engagement Party: Do’s, Don’ts, Guest List, Etcetera.

It’s been awhile since my last wedding blog post but I wanted to do something before our Engagement Party next weekend!

I thought throwing it in May when our wedding isn’t until next July was a bit too early but according to various webpages that came up in my engagement party Google search, throwing an engagement party a year in advance is the norm for a long engagement! :) Prior to my Google research, I also didn’t know what the do’s and don’ts of engagement parties were. Throw in the Vietnamese tradition aspect of it all and you’ve got a pretty clueless bride and groom. Lucky for us my mom is planning our engagement party and she’s basically got it all planned out for the most part.

First we’ve got the more traditional ceremony to do in the morning.

What I vaguely know of this is that it will include a presentation of “gifts,” speeches and introductions of family members and what we’re all here that day to celebrate, a re-enactment of putting the engagement ring on my finger (sounds kind of awkward, probably will be), and then general social niceties that may or may not include tea. (I think the actual tea drinking may be reserved for the wedding day ceremony). Then we will all go for an early dinner (or late lunch?) at a pre-determined restaurant (in this case it will be a Chinese restaurant where we’ve booked five tables, each table will be served a 10 course Asian-style meal).

Traditional Vietnamese Engagement Party Gifts! (Image shown is from my brother's engagement party in 2009).

That’s basically the plan. I am going to be wearing a traditional Vietnamese dress that was put together by a seamstress (my mom bought the material when she went on a trip to San Jose awhile back). Everyone else will just be wearing nice, formal clothes. My mother has commissioned one of our good friends John to film. I have also asked one of my bridesmaids to film to have some secondary shots (I’ll be putting together the clips for an engagement party video that my mom really wants to send over to our Vietnam relatives). My mother has also asked our good friend Jesse to emcee the event (which might be awkward because we don’t really know what he needs to emcee, lol).

The guest list is basically my immediate family (plus an aunt and uncle who are flying in for the occasion) and Mike’s immediate family, plus the bridal party (their respective girlfriend + boyfriends), and a couple of other close friends. It’s a very limited guest list, which is what actually prompted me to do the Google research on engagement parties in the first place.

We feel really bad excluding some of our friends (and extended family), but if it wasn’t a small gathering then we might as well be paying for a wedding dinner you know? Obviously not everyone is going to get invited to the engagement party and my thoughts of this were confirmed by a few wedding advice websites which said typically engagement parties are just for immediate family and the bridal party.

Here are a few other tips I’ve gathered from various websites on the topic of engagement parties:

  • Everyone who is invited to the engagement party should be invited to the wedding.
    Which is why if you’re unsure about your overall wedding guest list (and obviously things can change if your wedding is not for another year and some!) then it’s best to keep it small/just family.
  • Remember there’s still a wedding to throw, you don’t want to upstage the wedding – try for a different mood or style.
    Which is why we’re doing the reception of the engagement party at a Chinese restaurant. It’s the style my dad wants for our wedding but we’re compromising by doing it for the engagement party because we’d like our wedding to be at a hotel.
  • Come up with a budget and stick to it.
    Thankfully my mom is paying for the engagement party but it’s still quite a hefty price for five tables of 10-course meals, which is also a big reason why you should try and keep the engagement party guest list down to a minimum.
  • Think about specifying whether gifts are welcome or encouraged.
    I personally don’t really want or expect gifts at our engagement party, it feels like too much! The few people who have told us they are getting us gifts we’ve told it’s not necessary, but they still insist so that’s the most pushing we’ll do on that topic. Whatever people want to do! According to Google, you shouldn’t ask people for engagement party gifts but people will typically give you one.
But basically this post was just my way of saying sorry if anyone’s feelings are hurt if they weren’t invited to the engagement party – that’s what the actual wedding is for! :) So have you been to an engagement party before? Any do’s, dont’s, other tips or things to tell me? Reassure me it’s okay that we didn’t invite everyone because obviously that’s what the wedding is for? Lol.

– Linda

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