HELP! Engagement Party etiquette – Family gathering where guests pay for meals

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  RobbiesGirl 2 years, 8 months ago.

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    Cas M

    My fiancee and I recently got engaged and have begun thinking about our engagement party. I was thinking of having it at a local restaurant as a family get together where everyone can get to know each other. Then maybe we would do cake and drinks at my parents place after. Unfortunately we dont have the fiances to pay for all our guests meals (we both have many family members we want there and we want to save for the wedding). We also dont have room at my parents place or at our house to have a big BBQ engagement party. Is it considered rude to ask guests to pay for their meals? The resturant is not too expensive with proper meals ranging from $15-30 depending on what people order. 
    We are thinking we might still buy a couple of bottles of wine at the restaurant and then provide the cake and maybe nibbles back at my parents place. I figure this will give people enough options with which parts they want to attend and it won’t be too crowded.
    I have noticed however that people get really offended on forums and such about guest paying for meals! I don’t think its too unreasonable but I really don’t want to offend anyone. PLEASE HELP! Your advice would be much appreciated



    I hate to say this, but it’s really bad etiquette to ask guests to pay to attend the engagement party, you’re inviting them to celebrate in your happiness and their company should be enough;  as a good host you should make all possible attempts to reduce costs (whether this means booking a meal package to save cost or having friends pay only for their drinks etc.)
    If you really want them to pay, you may have to expect few gifts and grumpy guests, and a number of people who opt-out. I really think you need to contribute something as a thanks for their time, effort and support of your big announcement;  even if it is just paying for drinks and a course or extras like dips.
    Although times are changing, guests certainly still don’t expect to pay their way when invited to engagement parties or weddings,  and  it could cause some bitterness and issues, so discuss it with your guests well ahead of time and provide an alternative free component as a back-up.


    I am not completely opposed to guests contributing to the engagement party. However a lot of guests may not be okay with paying for their own food. I went to an engagement party recently where the couple organised it at a really nice looking bar/bistro. They were given their own designated area and payed for the venue to supply a few finger foods and told guest that if they wanted something substantial that they should eat dinner at home before they came out and to pay for their own alcoholic beverages at the bar. There were glasses and bottles of water on all the tables which were complimentary too. They also got a friend to supply their cake and cut it near the end of the party. The whole night was very inexpensive and there were no complaints about having to pay for drinks. 

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