Etiquette guide: Do I have to invite all engagement party guests to the wedding?

Planning a wedding can often be fraught with the curliest of etiquette questions.

From whether you and your beau should opt for a pre-nup, if you should invite work friends to your big day, to choosing which friends or siblings should be in the bridal party.

One of the trickiest areas to navigate though is the invites for your engagement party versus wedding.

Popular opinion dictates that if you’re inviting a guest to your engagement they automatically score an invite to the big day. However, if you’re planning a small or destination wedding a large engagement party can be a good way of involving people who cannot share in your day.

To help with this etiquette conundrum we have turned to Anna Post – great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette.

“There are few ironclad ‘rules’ about wedding etiquette: 1) guests send a wedding gift; 2) couples thank guests for gifts with handwritten notes; 3) couples thank every guest in person at the wedding for attending; 4) couples make guests comfortable; 5) guests respect the wishes and customs of the bride and groom. And… anyone invited to a pre-wedding party must be invited to the wedding itself. There is no gracious way to ask someone to help you get ready for something that they won’t participate in – it’s like pulling the rug out from under them.

“This goes for all pre-wedding parties: engagement parties, showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner or any other party thrown by you or anyone else on your behalf to celebrate the upcoming wedding. This rule also applies to anyone who receives a save-the-date, as there is no way to ‘uninvite’ a guest.

“Because of this, the invitation lists for any pre-wedding parties are usually on the intimate side, and should be checked with the bride and groom. The couple may not yet know their full guest list at the time of the party, so keep the guest list for these affairs limited to those you are certain will be invited to the wedding. It’s also the reason why surprise showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties can backfire – because they obligate the couple to invite guests they weren’t planning on accommodating. Hosts of surprise parties should always check their guest list with someone who knows the couple and their guest list well, such as their parents or someone in the wedding party.

“It may seem easy to have a huge engagement party to celebrate, fully intending to invite everyone to the wedding. But budgets and venue restrictions can bring limits you may not have foreseen. The good news: Any and all pre-wedding parties are made even more special when the guest list is more intimate, and the larger guest list won’t have wedding fatigue by the time the Big Day rolls around.”

While one would be reticent to argue with the doyenne of etiquette herself, at Bride Tasmania we are firm believers that your day is exactly that – your day. So when it comes to the guest list – engagement or wedding – we say, invite whoever you and your groom desire!


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