Your man or lady has just put the ring on your finger and you. Are. So. Psyched!!!
Now, before you go running off to figure out what color napkins you want at the wedding, you need to stop and take a deep breath and really take in the fact that you are now engaged. Being engaged means a lot of things, like planning a very expensive celebration, emotionally readying yourself to commit to a lifelong marriage, and throwing a HUGE KICKA** ENGAGEMENT PARTY. Or a tiny one. Whichever you prefer.
The engagement party is essentially a gathering for you and your family and friends and whoever else you might want to invite to your wedding to have fun, mingle, and rejoice in the soon-to-be harmonious union of spouses.
Engagement parties can often differ in size depending on how fancy you want your event to be. Whether they’re blown-up affairs or small, intimate gatherings, engagement parties are a lot more flexible in terms of etiquette than the wedding, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner. HOWEVER, the people that you invite to your rehearsal dinner should be the people you invite to your wedding. Otherwise, that’s just kind of rude to have someone take the time and effort to attend and celebrate your engagement just to realize he/she won’t be able to celebrate your wedding in person. Get your guest list down before planning anything else. If you have an approximate guest count, trying to find a venue, estimating how much food you need, etc. will be so much easier than if you’re planning your party blind.
So who do you invite? Well, your families of course! It’s a great time for families on both sides to meet each other (often for the first time). Then invite your close friends, both locally and out-of-town. Then depending on how much space you have left for your party, invite guests according to their relationships and importance to you and your fiancee.
One of the best parts to wedding planning is deciding with your fiancé where you’re going to take your honeymoon. Before you both choose a destination there are some important questions that need to be answered.
Sure we’d all love to go to the Maldives and Bali for weeks on end, but that may not be a realistic, both financially and with your time.
2. How much can you spend?
This is where you and your fiancé really need to sit down and speak candidly about how much you can afford to spend on your honeymoon. Airfare, hotel and odds and ends need to be considered without thinking of wedding gifts that guests may get off your honeymoon registry.
3. How much time will you be able to take to off for the honeymoon?
If you’re planning to go to an destination that will take a while to travel to – do you really only want to spend 5 days there? Probably not! Think of the time it will take to get to your destination and plan accordingly.
4. When should we go?
Sometimes leaving for your honeymoon right after your wedding won’t necessarily work with your schedules or your chosen location. For instance if you’re getting married during hurricane season, it might not be the best time to travel to those tropical destinations.
5. What kind of honeymoon do you want to have?
Are you both adventure seekers? Do you want to explore a city together? Or do you just want to relax after the craziness of wedding planning?
QUESTION: I’m having a small wedding, and unfortunately cannot invite all the family and friends that know about my wedding. However, some family and friends have been approaching me and asking about the wedding details. How do I delicately communicate that they actually are not on the guest list?
GINA’S ANSWER: I don’t really think you owe anyone an explanation. Send your invites and address any questions as they arise. If the uninvited person actually brings the topic up to you directly, simply say that you are having an intimate wedding and weren’t able to invite everyone you wanted to invite.
If that’s too direct for you, there’s always the, “my fiance’ has a huge family” or “the venue only fits ___ people” and unfortunately you couldn’t invite everyone you wanted.
JESS’ ANSWER: Mention that unfortunately your budget is limited and as a result, you aren’t able to invite everyone. If there are quite a few people you aren’t able to invite, it might be a good idea to have a larger celebration after you get back from your honeymoon, to allow those unable to attend the big day to still celebrate with you!
ASHLEY’S ANSWER: This is never a pleasant subject. Sadly, many people are not straightforward in their approach to communication either. Being upfront and clear about your guest list can be a hard thing to discuss with your partner, firstly, when creating it. Once you have a solid idea of your guest list it is best to make a “no exceptions” policy with your partner, if this is something you are comfortable with.
In the event that someone hears the news of your wedding and asks for the details, and they are not on the guest list, you may be tempted to make an exception for them. Next thing you know, you are doing this for a few more people and your guest list is growing.
There are sizable factors to consider. Usually it is a budget factor, sometimes a venue factor. This is just one scenario, there are many other situations that arise surrounding this topic. To delicately address this, I would again explain to the non guest that the venue can only accommodate a certain amount of people, or that it is not within your budget.
Another route is to apologetically explain to them that you have chosen to have your wedding in a certain manner and that everything is in motion and at this point you can not make any revisions. This approach is often very effecting in easing some upset feelings. At least, if they are an understandable person. Hopefully they are!
Need more wedding etiquette, advice and tips? See previous etiquette posts here.
Gina Heideman is a bride-in-training from Boise, Idaho. When she’s not planning her navy/preppy/downtown wedding, she spends her time perfecting her crab cake recipe, drinking wine and playing cribbage with her fiance, and playing outside. She’s an avid swimmer, runner, gardener and reality TV junkie. By day she works as Executive Director of a statewide nonprofit organization that focuses on meth use prevention. By night she’s a freelance graphic designer (www.designscribble.com).
Jess Keys is a Journalism graduate of Indiana University, a Chicago transplant and Founder of The Golden Girl Blog. She was first bitten by the wedding bug at age 11, when she purchased her first Brides magazine in the Lexington, KY airport. She’s partial to red lipstick, French Bulldogs, and a lover of the written word. When she’s not writing for Wedding Party, you can often find her at the closest Dim Sum establishment, or exploring the Windy City with her camera in tow.
Ashley Smith is the wedding planner for Buzzworthy SF. She believes that purpose, craft, design, and strategy are all cohesive elements to produce a successful event. Ashley is available for weddings in California and worldwide. Her expertise is in the Bay Area, but her heart is in Mexico, where she is certified by the board of tourism to plan and work. If she is not in San Francisco planning weddings and being social, you’ll find her on the beach at Playa Azul, Papaya Playa, or exploring the coast lines in Central America via bicycle.
This might not come as a surprise, but: we love wedding movies. From classics like Father of the Bride to hilarious flicks like Wedding Crashers or Bridesmaids, weddings provide some of the best backdrops for funny, heartfelt, and relatable movies.
That’s why we were just TOO excited when an up and coming indie movie about weddings, The First of our Friends to Get Married, contacted us at Wedding Party. Not only have they discovered and love our service…but they are going to be using our smartphone app and website! How, you ask?