An engagement party can mean a lot of different things to different people. In some circles, an engagement party is a fun, casual bash for the couple. In other social circles, an engagement party is a quiet, intimate affair held by the bride for her closest friends and relatives. There are a lot of different factors at work, including the history between the families of the couple, and the expected length of engagement before the wedding. These are just a few of the factors that contribute to different engagement party outcomes.
Some people think of an engagement party as a celebration thrown for or by the happy couple right at the start of the wedding planning process, and the engagement party is primarily a chance for a carefree evening with family and friends before the stress and chaos of planning the wedding begins. This kind of engagement party can be thrown at any location, with common settings including the couple's shared home or the home of a close friend or relative of the couple. This kind of engagement party usually includes engagement party gifts for the couple which are similar to wedding gifts in that they are household goods which will help the couple start their life together, but are usually less expensive and less formal than the gifts a couple will receive at their wedding. Engagement party gifts of this kind are to wedding gifts as a set of simple drinking glasses are to a set of engraved crystal goblets. This kind of engagement party is all about having fun and wishing the couple well during their engagement. An engagement party invitation for this kind of party is usually casual and fun, often featuring a candid photograph of the couple. If a couple's families are well acquainted with each other and live in nearby areas, they will often throw an engagement party together to celebrate the couple and show their support for and blessing of the engagement.
Another common kind of engagement party is similar to a bridal shower in that the engagement party is thrown for or by the bride and consists primarily of female guests. This kind of engagement party is an opportunity for the women of the two families to grow closer and get to know each other. Often, this kind of engagement party is thrown by a female relative of the bride or by the bride's circle of friends. This kind of engagement party is less likely to feature engagement party gifts, although the engagement party invitation may be somewhat formal. This kind of engagement party is sometimes an afternoon affair, and is mostly a chance for conversation in a pleasant atmosphere. An engagement party of this kind is usually thrown a few months after the engagement, and can provide the future bride with a relaxing escape from the hectic pressures of wedding planning.
During the period of wedding planning, many future brides become overwhelmed with the amount of decisions to be made about the wedding ceremony and reception. This kind of engagement party is a chance for the bride to get support from women who are sympathetic to her plight.