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Friend's engagement 'celebration' – questions about etiquette

Home Forums Engagement Friend's engagement 'celebration' – questions about etiquette

This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  HappyG 2 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #437521

    JessicaFay
    Member

    Last night, my partner and I received a Facebook invitation to the engagement celebration of a friend of ours. The celebration is for friends only and is taking place in about a month at a restaurant/show at a cost of $50 a head (this includes dinner but not drinks). My partner was a bit putout when he saw this, as he thinks it is incredibly rude to hold an engagement party and ask the guests to pay their own way. I pointed out their use of the word ‘celebration’ rather than ‘party’. I had spoken with this friend months ago (before this night was organised) and she was telling me about her issues with her fiancé – he wants to invite all of his friends to the engagement party/wedding but she thinks they can’t afford to invite everyone and that they should limit it to close friends only. He disagrees. Because the wedding is still a few years off (she wants to finish university and he wants to finish his apprenticeship first), she decided to compromise at the moment by having a family only engagement party and then going out for dinner or something to celebrate with whatever friends wanted to come. I also got the impression that she doesn’t want any gifts (there is no mention of gifts in the invite either). So, these are my questions: – Do you think it’s rude that they are holding this celebration rather than inviting their friends to the official engagement party (like my partner does)? – My partner has said that we are not buying a gift (we’ve got a mortgage so don’t have a whole lot of disposable income), but I’m not sure if we should or not. Should we get a gift for the couple or is our attendance (costing us minimum $100) to the event enough?

    #438349

    Ky1iei1yK
    Member

    I can only speak from my experience – we had a party to celebrate our engagement – it was a bbq at our house.  Only friends and family who lived locally got a facebook invite.  It wasn’t an actual formal engagement party – my parents are in another state and so I didnt even invite them.
    We didnt think to say anything about gifts on the FB event as we weren’t expecting any/didnt want any but yet SOME guests, (not all), did turn up with gifts – mostly alcohol though lol
    I did supply the food & some drinks at the bbq though but it was only for about 25 people.
    I would assume that if they are expecting you to pay for dinner then a gift woud not be required…

    #438519

    HappyG
    Member

    This is a tough one, on principal I don’t think you should have to pay your own way, however a lot of brides-to-be have restaurant-based engagement parties now, and it has become a bit of a norm. Different people do it in different ways, a lot will have a package which will cost a certain amount per-head (it works out cheaper over-all) and some couples have the disposable income to pay for it themselves, while others need guests to cover some or all of it. The meals could be $120 per head and they could be covering some of it (and not be able to afford all of it) so you just can’t know what the situation is. The best thing to do is talk to them, explain your concerns, tell them if you can’t afford it or need them to cover a portion of the cost.
     
    As for separate family and friend engagements, that’s not so strange,  a lot of couples do that for different reasons. Usually the family function is more traditional and stuffy, while the friends one will let them blow of steam and be themselves with the people they care about.
     
    It’s bad etiquette to ask for gifts, which is why it wouldn’t be on the invitation;  it is a matter of courtesy that you give something (even a card), the sentimental value is what matters; you could make/craft something like a framed photo you have of them, or something to have at the wedding like a wreath with their initials; or you could get them something inexpensive like a cheap toaster from KMart. Just because it is an engagement, doesn’t mean you have to splash cash around. However thinking of your mortgage first when there are plenty of free and cheap options out there seems strange to me (is it more a matter of jot being close, or not supporting the match?). The gift is more a symbol than anything else, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
     
    Celebration VS Engagement Party? I don’t really think it matters,  it is just how they’re choosing to label the day, maybe they want it to sound less formal? Or maybe they don’t like how “Engagement party” sounds because they’re waiting for the big day in a few years.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    #438697

    JessicaFay
    Member

    Thanks to everyone who has responded!
     
    Since posting this question a few weeks ago, I have spoken with family and friends (who do not know the couple involved) and many seemed to think it was rude that we are expected to pay our own way. The more I have thought about it the more I am inclined to agree, however, I do appreciate that there was no offence intended on the behalf of the couple and that my friend is just looking for a way to celebrate with everyone (and keep her fiance happy on the friend front – I don’t envy being in her position). They have also said that a gift should not be necessary given the circumstances and that we should just buy them something for the wedding (if we end up getting an invitation). When it was pointed out to me that we recently attended a housewarming for the same couple and purchased them a gift then, I decided that we would forego a gift on this occasion.
     
    As for HappyG’s comment regarding what the couple have arranged with the restaurant, I have actually been there before and it always costs $50 a head – you have to prepurchase your ‘ticket/seat’ because it’s dinner and a show. On the night, you choose your meal off the menu (a choice of 3 mains with shared starters) and purchase drinks at the bar. They are not covering any of the costs nor have they got some sort of package from the restaurant. As of now, we can afford to attend but we have another week or so to make a final decision.
     
    I don’t think it’s strange that I put my mortgage before buying a gift – I am not an artistic person by any means (anything I make seems to look nothing like how it is meant to) and nor is my partner, so we prefer to actually purchase a gift. And I have always felt bad turning up with a $10 gift instead of a $50 gift (no idea why, I’ve always been like this). As mentioned above, we recently bought the couple a housewarming gift (which was pretty decent) so I think we’ll just stick with a card on this occasion.

    #438705

    HappyG
    Member

    I think a card is more than enough,  my point was simply that a gift doesn’t have to be expensive,  it the end it is of sentimental value, and a card or letter with a heartfelt message would be of more value (at least to me anyway). I love to craft (though I can’t claim to be an expert in any way) so doing something artistic would be my way of solving the issue of a gift if I couldn’t afford it at the time.
     
    I have to wonder why the couple haven’t at least bought a tab for the bar, it seems strange to cover none of the cost, but not knowing all the details (such as the set price or house-warming info previously) makes  it  hard to get an accurate picture of the situation. Have you discussed with the couple if they’d be willing to cover the drinks or if they’ve considered a different restaurant or set-up? I know it probably sounds silly,  but I wouldn’t have had an issue with friends and family making suggestions; I don’t know your friend,  but perhaps it may give them some perspective.
     
     
     

    #438726

    JessicaFay
    Member

    Thanks for clarifying HappyG, I am with you on the sentimental thing. I do, however, feel that the people around me place much more emphasis on physical things than I do – I am always worried about offending people, which is unfortunate. And I guess I’m feeling a little torn because it’s not as if we can’t afford a gift, it’s just that attending their engagement dinner is going to cost us a bit of money as it is. I guess I just need to draw a line on what is enough and stick to it.
     
    I’m really hesitant to approach the couple regarding the cost of the dinner. As far as I know, they have already made a tentative booking and just need to confirm numbers and it’s quite a large booking so I’m not sure if they would get in anywhere else now. Also, I feel uncomfortable discussing them paying for part of the evening – I wouldn’t have a problem with either of my best friends but this woman and I just don’t have a friendship like that (we have been friends for almost 11 years now but don’t live in each other’s pockets like I do with my besties). They have also made it clear that everyone should only attend if they want to/can afford to – I get the feeling that they (mainly her more outspoken fiance) will basically say that if we aren’t happy with the arrangements we shouldn’t come.

    #438977

    HappyG
    Member

    It sounds like a bit of pickle.
     
    I know what you mean about gifts I don’t really care much for receiving them myself as, to me, those sorts of things don’t matter (as a result I tend to get nervous and buy multiple gifts even if it is outside my means because other people get so caught up in gifts). In my experience, the kinds of friends who want you to pay to come to an event tend to expect presents, so it usually just helps to keep them quiet.
     
    It sounds like you’re not hugely close to the couple (especially not the fiancé). It’s a shame you don’t feel comfortable discussing the cost with her, it seems like nothing is finalised yet (no final booking or confirmed numbers) so there’s still a chance of changing her mind; but, in the end if the fiancé is going to be so nasty about it, it might be better to just push through or pull out, either way will be a strain on you, so weigh up the options and see if it is worth the cost.
     
     
     
     
     

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