So your favorite couple is finally going to make it official. He proposed, she said yes, and now an engagement party is looming on the horizon. Once the excited squeals have quieted down, the proposal details have been procured, and her ring has been sufficiently ooh-ed and ahh-ed over, there are some questions concerning the upcoming engagement party that might leave you scratching your head.
If the logistics are a bit overwhelming, let our engagement party etiquette guide point you in the right direction. We’ll answer the tough questions—and offer up a massive gift guide (101 options to be exact) at a variety of prices that will make choosing one—or two!—a breeze. Read on, relax, and get ready to celebrate!
Since there technically aren’t any hard and fast rules surrounding engagement parties, it’s not always easy to determine what you should, and should not, be doing as it relates to gift giving. We asked top etiquette experts to weigh in on some VIQ’s: Very Important Questions.
When is the busiest time of year for couples to get engaged?
You’ve probably been noticing this time of year seems to bring more engagement news than, say, the middle of April. “Generally, special occasions are riddled with proposals such as Valentine’s Day or a Christmas holiday,” explains Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Men often pop the question around significant times of the year to add a bit of sentimentality to the event and make it even more meaningful.”
Are you supposed to bring a gift to the engagement party?
While tradition would dictate that it’s up to the individual attendee, it’s a good idea to show up with even a small token gesture rather than arrive empty-handed. Jennifer Spector, Zola’s Newlywed-At-Large and Director of Brand, suggests a bottle of champagne for an informal gathering, but “if you received an invite in the mail and you had to RSVP, then yes, you should give a gift.”
What is an appropriate gift for an engagement party?
“Nothing too extreme or over the top,” recommends Gottsman, “because there will be showers and wedding gifts coming up soon.” Spector adds if they haven’t registered, “give a personal gift reflective of them like a travel gift card if they’re adventurous or a cooking class. You can also play it safe with a set of wine glasses or a frame for their wedding photo.”
How much should you spend on an engagement gift?
When it comes to matters of how much to spend, a lot depends on your relationship to the couple and the formality of the party. Gottsman adds, “There is no set fee,” but points out that “$25 and upwards but not too extravagant” is the sweet spot you should aim for.
Should you purchase a gift from the registry for the engagement gift, or save that for the wedding?
The jury is still out on that one, but, if the couple has registered before their formal engagement party, feel free to shop from it. It’s really a matter of personal preference, however, since you’ll still have the opportunity to shop the registry for their actual wedding gift.
How should you allocate the wedding-related gift giving funds? Is there a percentage you should aim to spend on the engagement gift, shower gift, and wedding gift?
As a general rule of thumb, according to Spector, “I recommend that couples set a total budget for the wedding. If my budget were $200 for all events I’d probably spend $50 on the engagement gift and $150 on the wedding gift. If I was also invited to a shower, I’d budget for that within the $200, too. And, that’s a very generous budget!” Gottsman also emphasizes that “the bulk of the investment should be on the wedding gift.” Think of the engagement gift as a place where you can get something a little more intimate and fun, but also staying attuned to the couple’s specific personalities.
Check out our gift guides below for a variety of clever, cute, and original ideas that will delight any type of couple. We’ve got options for the avid entertainers, the globetrotting adventurists, the contented homebodies, and even the couple who makes gourmet food consumption their highest priority (after one another, of course).
The Foodie Couple