Prewedding Celebrations: Celebrating the Celebration!
The Engagement Party: Usually hosted by either set of parents or a dear friend, the engagement party is less a request for gifts than a celebration of the forthcoming nuptials. It provides a festive atmosphere for introducing the families to each other, viewing the bride and groom together and having friends on both sides meet. Because some weddings are organized within a fairly short period of time – anywhere from three to six months – it may be difficult to negotiate everyone’s schedules for a large engagement party. Some couples consider a co-ed bridal shower as a substitute for a formal engagement party. When planning a pre-wedding celebration, invite only those who will be included in the wedding. If a party is being held in honor of the bride and groom, the guest list should be carefully edited so the host will feel totally comfortable with the head count and cost. If more than one friend offers to throw a party on their behalf, the couple should make every effort to accept.
The Bridal Shower: Bridal showers can be hosted by the maid or matron of honor, one or all of the bridesmaids or another close friend, but rarely a family member. Whereas guests may give lavish gifts for the engagement party, they are generally expected to give small and intimate gifts at the bridal shower. Invitations for the shower should be mailed after those for the wedding. Again, the guest list should be carefully reviewed and edited out of consideration for the hostess.
The Bridal Luncheon: It is a thoughtful gesture for the bride to host a party, whether it is a lunch, a brunch or a cocktail buffet, in honor of her bridesmaids and her maid or matron of honor. This celebration should provide the opportunity to present special keepsakes or gifts and personally acknowledge each attendant for her friendship and participation. Unlike the bridal shower or engagement party, where a bride must defer to her hostess, the bridal luncheon is entirely at her discretion. The schedules of all the attendants should be carefully considered to make the event leisurely for everyone. It can be held at any time, although it is probably most opportune two weeks prior to the wedding, when everyone is more likely to be around.
The Bachelor Party: When I was a bride-to-be, my husband’s inevitable bachelor party became an object of extreme scrutiny and anxiety for me. It was not that I feared a change of heart on his part, so much as a feeling of uneasiness brought on by the fully sanctioned ritual of a groom celebrating his last moments of freedom unsupervised. The only thing worse than my own paranoia was the thought of Arthur not having a bachelor party at all, as it represents such a special rite of passage. It is a privilege for a man to celebrate his loss of freedom with all of his best friends present. In reality, most bachelor parties are simply dinners with a lot of toasts and innuendo. The bride may offer to help the best man organize the celebration, should he need assistance.
The Rehearsal Dinner: The rehearsal dinner is usually restricted to the bridal party and members of the immediate family. Historically, the rehearsal dinner follows the rehearsal on the eve of the wedding. It also presents a wonderful opportunity to include those who have traveled a long way to attend the celebration. Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner, though some couples choose to offer the party themselves. A rehearsal dinner is the perfect occasion for more personal toasts. (Have a photographer or videographer present!) If the wedding is intimate, the rehearsal dinner may include a larger circle of friends and family.