A wedding means parties, as friends and family honor the bride and groom with an array of pre- and post-wedding celebrations. The bride is the center of attention at showers, luncheons and dinners where her biggest responsibility will be enjoying herself!
The Engagement Party
Parents traditionally host the first engagement party, held either on or soon after the day the announcement appears in the newspapers. Occasionally, the parents of the bride and groom will host the same party, but more often separate parties are held. Engagement parties often serve an important function. It is a convenient way for parents to introduce their child's fiancé to family and friends. And of course some parents find this party an enjoyable way to get to know their child's fiancé better as well.
Traditionally, showers are given for the bride, but today it is not unusual to find the groom at these lively functions as they are now generally more involved in the wedding planning than in the past.
Showers are given by any friend or relative who wants to do something special for the couple. Customarily, members of the immediate family of the bride and groom do not host a shower, however that is changing in recent years and is now more acceptable. Every bride is entitled to at least one shower—the laws of etiquette are there to help, not hinder, the effort. Often, it is the honor attendant with the help of the maids, who volunteers to host a shower. Since the shower is always given by someone other than the bride, this is one instance when registry information can be included with the invitation.
The Bachelor and Bachelorette Party
Today both bachelor and bachelorette parties are equally popular. These types of parties are generally very casual and emphasize having fun, unwinding and celebrating the wedding. The party may or may not include a dinner and takes place in a home, a club or the private dining room of a restaurant. These celebrations often incorporate a theme and can include attending a sporting event, going to a comedy club or on a shopping excursion. Some enjoy activities such as laser tag, paintball, gambling, golfing, bowling or even camping.
Getting there can be half the fun when you hire a limousine, bus or other transportation service to take partygoers from one destination to another. This also alleviates the responsibility of designated drivers, allowing everyone the opportunity to celebrate.
If alcoholic beverages are served, the party should be a minimum of several days before the wedding, if not a few weeks prior. No one will want to look less than his/her best for the day of the wedding.
The Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal dinner, held immediately after the rehearsal, can be as simple or elaborate as the host wishes. However, it should never upstage the wedding itself. It is best to go to a restaurant or club. This eliminates anyone in the immediate family having to deal with entertaining and clean-up the night before the wedding.
Traditionally, the groom's parents are responsible for the cost of the rehearsal dinner. If they are from out of town, they may ask the mother of the bride to help with reservations. But it is perfectly acceptable to have a godparent, friend or member of the bride's family do the honor of hosting this function.
The guest list will include the attendants, the bride and groom's immediate family, the ceremony official (and spouse, if any), plus any out-of-town guests, family or friends the couple or the host wishes to invite. If it has not already been done, the attendants' gifts may be distributed at this occasion. All will fare better if they make it an early evening. The best party—the wedding —is yet to happen!
Gift Opening Party
Nowadays many couples plan gift opening parties. This small gathering usually only includes the bride and groom's families and members of the bridal party. More often than not, gifts are opened the day after the wedding or soon after the newlyweds return from their honeymoon.
When held the day after the wedding, the gift-opening party is often planned around a meal. Snacks and refreshments left over from the reception may also be served.
But the purpose of the party, of course, is to open the wedding gifts. A few moments of planning will save headaches later, therefore a careful record of who sent what is a necessity. A guest book with a gift record section, available from stationers, book stores and bridal shops, is recommended.