An engagement party is a party thrown to celebrate a couple's recent engagement and to help future wedding guests to get to know one another. Traditionally, the bride's parents host the engagement party, but many modern couples host their own celebration.
Originally, engagement parties were normal parties at which a surprise announcement of the engagement was made by the father of the bride to his guests. The engagement party was to share the engagement news with family members and friends. Therefore, it was not a traditional gift-giving occasion, as none of the guests were supposed to be aware of the engagement until after their arrival.
In ancient Greece, an engagement party was a commercial transaction. It was essentially an oral contract, made between the man who gave the woman in marriage, usually her father, and the groom. The bride was not present.
In modern times, engagement parties may celebrate a previously publicized engagement. It is a party like any other, except that usually toasts or speeches are made to announce the upcoming wedding.
While it varies, an engagement party is thrown at the beginning of the wedding planning process. It is often thrown at the couple's home or the home of a close friend or relative of the couple. Gifts are never obligatory, and if one is brought, it should be small and less expensive than a typical wedding gift.
In the United States engagement parties are currently a more common practice in the Northeast, particularly the New York area, though they are becoming more common in the southeast as well. In most other parts of the country relatively few couples have them. Unlike publishing the banns of marriage, it has never been required.
In Africa, what is now known as an engagement party may in fact be the last remnant of the traditional, pre-colonial marriage ceremony itself. Such is the case with the Yoruba people and their bride price rites and the Nguni people and their lobola practices.
- Glossary Terms for Wedding Stationery Retrieved on 2009-04-29
- A perfect union? Marriage has seen many makeovers, Hartford Courant, Ron Grossman, February 29, 2004
- Martin, Jacobina; Martin, Judith. Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. W. W. Norton; 2010. ISBN 9780393077155. p. 50–53.
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