When a man proposes to a woman, the whole family and group of friends surrounding them wants to celebrate the happy occasion. An engagement party is planned and thrown shortly after the engagement is announced. Family members from both sides and friends gather together and have an opportunity to get to know each other before their families are combined.

The time you schedule an engagement party can vary greatly depending on the length of the time before the wedding takes place and the availability of important family members. There are no rules, but most occur within a week or two of the announcement that the man and a woman will be getting married. This leaves plenty of time for the family members and friends to meet and begin talking to each other before wedding planning gets under way in earnest. It also leaves plenty of time at the end of the engagement for a bridal shower party.

The common tradition is for the mother and father of the bride to host the engagement party, but other family members or friends can organize as well. More formal engagement parties can be held in private rooms at fancy restaurants, while casual events occur regularly in someone's living room or backyard. Make sure to have enough room for all the people you want to invite. This should include family members, close friends and associates who will be invited to the wedding. It is considered a bit bad mannered to invite people to the engagement party who will not receive a wedding invitation.

Unless being held in a restaurant or being catered professionally by someone with a large budget, an engagement party usually serves a simple meal of takeout food or some snacks and appetizers. Exactly what goes into the engagement party depends largely on the bride and groom's personal tastes and style and the budget of the family and friends who are organizing the do. A bride and groom should not expect gifts at an engagement party.

Many couples who are going to get married soon have a smaller, intimate gathering with just their parents before the larger engagement party happens. This allows the mothers and fathers to get to know each other and is also a sign of respect for them. These are not necessary if everyone can attend an engagement party together. If there are strained relationships between any family members, the larger party with other people and plenty of friends can help make the whole thing smoother.

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