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  • November 24, 2017, 06:34:07 PM

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Author Topic: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding  (Read 8475 times)

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Bexx27

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My brother is getting married next summer and is having a destination wedding close to the city he lives in, on the West coast of the US. He and his fiancee both grew up on the East coast. They will be visiting over the winter holidays and my mom has been planning to host an engagement party.

She has a large guest list for the engagement party, including family friends and parents of my brother's friends. Today she was looking online for engagement party etiquette and learned that people who are not going to be invited to the wedding should not be invited to the engagement party. Now she is rethinking the whole idea. As I see it, the options are:

1) Invite everyone to the engagement party as planned even though they won't be invited to the wedding. I know this is typically poor etiquette, but does that change for a destination wedding? It seems unlikely that anyone who isn't currently on the guest list for the wedding would actually attend if invited.
2) Reduce the guest list for the engagement party so that only those who will be invited to the wedding are included.
3) Expand the guest list for the wedding to invite everyone who's invited to the engagement party (assuming no objection from the HC). This could look like a gift grab since there's a 99.9% chance they won't come to the wedding.
4) Cancel the engagement party altogether.

What do you think?
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

TootsNYC

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 03:35:04 PM »
Well, what I did was just invite everybody to the far-away wedding. They didn't come, of course (and given that your mom's guests would have just been to a big, fancy engagement party, that might make them even less likely to come), but I invited them!

If they -had- come, I was totally ready to receive them. (Of course, we did a cake-and-punch reception at the church, and invited family & out-of-town guests--80% of the list--to my mom and dad's for a low-key buffet reception. So it wasn't expensive.)


But I actually think that in this case, you could invite more people to the engagement party. It's a technical breach, but I don't think most people will object.

Zizi-K

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 03:40:36 PM »
It's my understanding that you don't invite people to gift-giving occasions (like showers) if you're not going to invite them to the wedding. But given that it's a destination wedding, and that an engagement party isn't normally a gift-giving occasion, I'm wondering what the harm is? I mean, is the engagement party not its own celebration--of the engagement--rather than a pre-wedding party?

TootsNYC

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 03:43:11 PM »
One problem is that you will make people assume they're going to be invited to a wedding, and then they don't get invited.

also, fewer people will be interested in a mere engagement than will be interested in the actual life-changing event of the wedding. So the list presumably should be smaller.


But when distance is such a big factor, I think it's excusable.

The other thing that would excuse a bigger engagement party is if there is a bigger reception in the region.
That might be a pathway--a smaller engagement party, but a big reception shortly after the wedding.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 04:03:25 PM »
I don't consider inviting close friends and family to a wedding that requires travel, even long distance travel, a gift grab. So I'd invite the people I want to attend and let them decide if they want to travel. Geography shouldn't play a part in selecting your wedding guests.

I also don't consider a wedding that requires a couple of hours drive from the couple's home a destination wedding. I define those as ones that requires the couple, wedding party and all guests to commit 3 or more days to travel, attend and return home.

I also think when you're planning a small intimate wedding there is some room for relaxing of the "rules". Say a couple is planning to marry with only their parents and siblings in attendance. I'd be thrilled to be invited to the engagement party or even a shower to have the opportunity to celebrate with them.

Also, before travel to weddings was common, it was common in my area for the couple's parents to host an engagement party so that their friends could meet the future SIL or DIL because they knew most of their friends wouldn't be traveling cross country to the wedding.

LtPowers

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2015, 04:24:26 PM »
An engagement party traditionally was simply a party at which the couple's engagement was announced by the bride's proud father. You would probably be best served by returning to a similar philosophy. Not to say you need to keep the engagement secret -- but that you should make it a minor part of an otherwise standard dinner party. That reduces the chance that guests will feel pressure to bring gifts, nor will they be as likely to expect a subsequent wedding invitation.


Powers  &8^]

Alicia

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 06:02:54 PM »
It is not a destination wedding if it is where the couple lives.
Why doesn't your mom just host a large holiday party and at the party do a toast to the engaged couple.  That gets over the feeling of needing to bring gift or expected wedding invite.

gramma dishes

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 06:56:45 PM »
^^^  I think that's a great idea! :)

sammycat

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 07:15:22 PM »
I don't consider inviting close friends and family to a wedding that requires travel, even long distance travel, a gift grab. So I'd invite the people I want to attend and let them decide if they want to travel. Geography shouldn't play a part in selecting your wedding guests.

I also don't consider a wedding that requires a couple of hours drive from the couple's home a destination wedding. I define those as ones that requires the couple, wedding party and all guests to commit 3 or more days to travel, attend and return home.

I also think when you're planning a small intimate wedding there is some room for relaxing of the "rules". Say a couple is planning to marry with only their parents and siblings in attendance. I'd be thrilled to be invited to the engagement party or even a shower to have the opportunity to celebrate with them.

I agree.

3) Expand the guest list for the wedding to invite everyone who's invited to the engagement party (assuming no objection from the HC). This could look like a gift grab since there's a 99.9% chance they won't come to the wedding.

I have never been invited to anything, least of all a wedding, and thought it was a gift grab. I can't recall anyone in my life ever expressing that sentiment either (although obviously I don't know their private thoughts).   I don't understand why that seems to be such a prevalent theme/thought process on this boards.

Lynn2000

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 07:35:40 PM »
I'm probably wrong about this since no one else has mentioned it; but my thought was that the engagement party guest list and the wedding guest list had nothing to do with one another, because the engagement party was held so early in the process that the couple legitimately hadn't decided on their wedding guest list or size or anything much yet. I also never thought of them as gift-giving occasions (or nothing beyond, like, a bottle of wine). In this case it sounds like the engagement party will be only about six months before the wedding, and that a lot of wedding planning has already happened.

I understand why your mom might want to throw an engagement party on the rare occasion that the HC are on her side of the country. Can she find out the prevailing norm for engagement parties in her circle? If people will expect it means a wedding invitation, then I think it would be most tactful to either reduce the engagement party guest list, or expand the wedding guest list. Or, throw a big holiday party at which the HC are present and sort of "featured guests." Or, wait until after the wedding, get the HC back there, and throw a local reception.

If the whole idea of this party is to give people who specifically won't be invited to or won't attend the wedding a chance to celebrate the HC, then I think the holiday party idea or the local reception are better ways to go.
~Lynn2000

#borecore

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 08:13:37 PM »
My mother had a holiday party with all her friends in my hometown and announced my engagement at it, and it was quite nice. I vote for that option if it's feasible.

If it's not (e.g., she's having a different holiday party earlier or later), then I don't actually thing there's anything wrong with having a big, 'the more the merrier' engagement party. As in, I'd make the guest list pretty darn expansive, such that many people wouldn't even guess they'd be invited all the way across the country for a wedding. (Not that having a smaller engagement party is bad, it just sets the couple up for 'so when should we expect our invitation?' questions that the whole room can hear the answer to. (And the answer is a noncommittal, 'We've hardly begun planning yet!'))

Bexx27

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2015, 07:53:26 AM »
Thanks for the responses. I wanted to add that while I do like the idea of having a holiday party and toasting the engagement there, 1) my mom is Jewish and is actually hosting a Hannukah party earlier in the month (Hannukah is Dec. 6-14), and 2) my brother and his fiancee aren't arriving until after Christmas. Depending on how long they're staying a New Year's party might be an option (although that also happens to be my dad's birthday :)). I'll run it past my mom.

Also I'm calling it a destination wedding because, while the venue is only a few hours' drive from the HC's home, it is a somewhat remote "retreat" where the HC and many of the guests will be staying on site Friday-Sunday. That setup seems destination-y to me.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

LonniesMom

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2015, 02:55:20 PM »
Will all a lot of people be talking about the wedding? That would make it awkward for the ones who are not invited. Or, because invitations aren't out yet (I think?) maybe they will assume they are invited or be left wondering about it.

I, personally, would stick to only inviting the people invited to the wedding, and/or invite everyone who is invited to the engagement party to the wedding.

LtPowers

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2015, 03:37:44 PM »
I'm probably wrong about this since no one else has mentioned it; but my thought was that the engagement party guest list and the wedding guest list had nothing to do with one another, because the engagement party was held so early in the process that the couple legitimately hadn't decided on their wedding guest list or size or anything much yet.

In general, I believe you're correct; see my post above about the engagement party simply being a party at which the engagement was announced. The two are separate events.

But then I made the mistake of expressing a similar thought on the Etiquette boards over at The Knot. There, the rule that anyone invited to any wedding-related event must be invited to the wedding as well is inviolable, and an engagement party is absolutely a wedding-related event (no matter how early its held) and woe betide anyone who suggests differently.


Powers  &8^]

Lynn2000

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Re: Invitation etiquette for local engagement party and destination wedding
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2015, 03:48:06 PM »
I'm probably wrong about this since no one else has mentioned it; but my thought was that the engagement party guest list and the wedding guest list had nothing to do with one another, because the engagement party was held so early in the process that the couple legitimately hadn't decided on their wedding guest list or size or anything much yet.

In general, I believe you're correct; see my post above about the engagement party simply being a party at which the engagement was announced. The two are separate events.

But then I made the mistake of expressing a similar thought on the Etiquette boards over at The Knot. There, the rule that anyone invited to any wedding-related event must be invited to the wedding as well is inviolable, and an engagement party is absolutely a wedding-related event (no matter how early its held) and woe betide anyone who suggests differently.


Powers  &8^]

Well, I like that rule better than, "Invite everyone you know to bring you presents at the shower--who cares if they're invited to the actual wedding." So there's that.

I wonder how many people really have engagement parties still, of the sort that are so early in the process that no planning has really been done? Well, I can imagine a couple throwing a casual backyard thing themselves early on, if they're the type who like to have parties for whatever reason. But the OP's situation sounds more formal than that. It seems like wedding planning takes longer and is started earlier these days, such that the "engagement party" would just be one more step in the process as opposed to realistically happening well before any planning.
~Lynn2000