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Main Events - Wedding Parties

- Engagement Party
- Bridal Shower
- Bachelor Party
- Rehearsal Dinner

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Engagement Party

Even though engagement parties are optional- it's still a fun thing to do. If your relatives have not yet met your fiance an engagement party is a better place for them to meet than at the wedding itself. An engagement party is also a great way for either side of parents to show their support of your upcoming wedding, or it is a great way for you to pitch in to the wedding costs as a couple.

Usually an engagement party will take place within two months after the actual engagement. Of course, if you're having a particularly long engagement period (a year or more) you may want to wait a couple months before getting your friends and family into the wedding spirit.

Generally for an engagement party you will want to invite only a couple dozen of your closest friends and family. The idea of closest should be taken both ways- you don't want your aunt to fly in for one little party, so make sure you just invite those people who live close to you or close to the location of the party. Anyone who is left out of this party can receive an engagement announcement if you so wish.

Don't expect any gifts at this particular party, those will come later. However, it is a good idea to get started on your registry before the party, just in case someone happens to want to get you a gift. Make sure that you do stash away any received gifts until after the party- you don't want the guests who didn't bring gifts to feel bad.

Whether you decide to have a party or not, just enjoy your engagement and let everyone know how happy and excited you are.

 
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Bridal Shower

One of the most fun parts about being a bride is being the center of attention at the bridal shower. The bridal shower is a great place to hang out with your female family and friends (as well as future family). Everyone brings a gift at this party- which makes it even more fun because you can open all the gifts in front of everyone. The party is usually held at the most two months from the wedding. This means you can have it any time between the day before and two months before the wedding.

The bridal shower is typically hosted by the maid of honor. Of course, it can also be hosted by your mom, sister, aunt, or whoever else you (or your maid of honor) would like. Generally, whoever hosts the party pays for the party. However, it is not uncommon for all of the bridesmaids to pitch in if it is going to be a particularly expensive occasion. Remember, the shower can be anything from a picnic at the park, to a day at a beauty spa, to a formal dinner at a banquet hall.

One of the best things about the bridal shower is that it typically has a theme, and hence the presents you get will have a theme. This theme will usually coordinate with wherever you decided to hold the party, and is usually associated with the brides personality and tastes. As for the gifts- it is etiquette-ly okay to describe on the invitation what the guest should bring. For example, if you were to have a garden theme, you may ask the guests to give gardening tools, seeds, or garden decorations as gifts.

Typically, you'll want to invite only those people who you are really close with (and who your fiance is really close with). If the shower is going to be a surprise, you can always consult with your maid of honor (or alternative hostess) as to who you want invited. Make sure you give them a list of addresses as well so that they don't have to track them down. Some people think it is good to send invitations to those who you know will not be able to make it (because of distance), however, it is completely up to you who to invite, and if you think those out-of-towners will feel bad getting an invitation to something they can't go to- don't send it.

Some people are starting to get into having couple showers instead of a bridal shower. This is where the fiance is invited and the guests list consists of both male and female friends and family. No matter which way you choose to do it, make sure you have fun and enjoy the attention you'll be getting!

 
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Bachelor Party

The bachelor party is a men-only night/weekend of hanging out. Usually the best man will host the party and plan it, but everyone invited will be expected to pitch in for the cost. With so many fun things possible in this era, many parties are really just outings, maybe going to Vegas, going bungee-jumping, etc.

You may be worried about the whole idea of the bachelor party- convinced that your husband-to-be will be spending the night with strippers and alcohol. There are a couple things you can do about this. One option is to not insist on having every detail of the party- don't even ask where they're going. Just assume the best and get on with your life.

If you are really concerned about his party, tell him. You can have a serious talk with him and find out what he had in mind for his party. If he really wanted t go to one last mud-wrestling contest before your marriage, maybe you could accept his wishes. If he had something a little more raunchy in mind, you may compromise with him, or try to persuade him to do something different. You should also have him tell his best man what the party's "rating" should be. If he wants to keep it PG, the best man should respect that and plan accordingly.

Just make sure you don't make it a big deal- if you get too stressed about it, the issue may lead to a postponed, or even canceled, wedding. Don't try to force your fiance to do (or not do) something he would regret. This is his last big bash as a "free" man, and he should be able to have fun.

 
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Rehearsal Dinner

The name is exactly what the event actually is. It is the dinner after your rehearse the wedding. The dinner is usually held the night before the wedding. The couple and the wedding party will meet at the ceremony location and the officiant will go through the wedding process with them. Afterwards, the rehearsal dinner is held in celebration of the upcoming wedding.

The rehearsal dinner is usually hosted (and paid for) by the groom's parents. Sometimes the couple may choose to pay for the party, or it may be a collective effort by both sets of parents. The party can be formal or completely casual and does not need to be based on your wedding style (formal wedding doesn't mean formal dinner).

Typically, the rehearsal dinner guests will just be the couple, their immediate family, and the attendants. Some couples choose to invite more people though- up to 75 guests for the dinner. You may choose to invite close friends or relatives- generally whoever you want to invite can be invited. Make sure you get approval from the hosts for your total amount of guests.

The main activity at a rehearsal dinner is toasting. Everyone will want to get a toast in tonight if they know they won't be able to (or be able to take long) at the wedding. Since the party is hosted by the groom's parents- they usually make the first (and longest) toasts. The bride and groom may choose to give toasts to thank everyone that helped them plan their wedding, but it is completely optional.

The bride and groom may choose to give their attendants and family members gifts at this time to thank them for all the time and effort they put into your wedding. Some couples just choose to give a toast or just a hug to thank everyone that was involved. Just make sure you thank everyone somehow in your own personal way.

 
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