What Should You Not Wear to an Engagement Party?

What Should You Not Wear to an Engagement Party?

Are you going to an engagement party? Fun! Let’s look at some tips on what to wear and what not to wear to celebrate the upcoming nuptials.

Anything That Can Be Misinterpreted

This may seem like a vague category, but you want to focus on the engaged couple in a joyful, festive way. Don’t wear anything that can be misinterpreted as disapproving. Whether the wedding is for a bride and groom, two grooms, or two brides, as a guest at the party, it's your job to share their joy. Guests at an engagement party are kind of like “joyful scenery." The main attraction is the engaged couple, so you don’t want to detract from them. If there are family politics afoot, don’t let yourself get hooked. And if you disapprove of the wedding for any reason, either smile and zip your lip effectively or choose to stay home. This is their celebration.

There is an old joke about a mother-in-law who wore black to her son’s wedding because she hated the bride and was in mourning at the nuptials. While in fact, black dresses can be appropriate wedding attire and also great fashion statements. It all depends on where and when the party is, and how you style it. 

Anything Too Dressy

An engagement party is not a formal wedding. Your special occasion dress could be over the top. When deciding what to wear, consider the engaged couple’s personalities, the venue, and who is hosting the party. Is the engagement party taking place at someone’s home or a casual restaurant? It will probably be more on the dressy casual side as opposed to semi-formal. When in doubt, feel free to ask what other people are wearing.

Nice dressy casual ideas could include black pants and a pretty blouse, a simple skirt and top with heels, or a casual (but not “beach casual”) dress.

Anything Too Casual

Even if the engagement party is described as a “picnic," “cookout," or “get together," be careful about going full casual in your cut-off shorts and tank top. Many engagement parties have multiple generations present, which means multiple sets of expectations about polite behavior and dress. Once again, don’t be afraid to ask what people will be wearing.

For an engagement party that is decidedly casual, consider capri pants with a neat top, a maxi dress, or your neatest pair of dark wash jeans with a white blouse, nice flats, and some classic jewelry.

Anything That Makes Too Loud of a Statement

Do you have a killer dress or pantsuit that you have been wanting to wear somewhere just hanging in your closet? If it will draw attention away from the engaged couple, leave it for another occasion. Unless the engaged couple and all the other guests are fashionistas, too, you could be in danger of upstaging the guests of honor.

There’s no need to dress in a boring way, just recognize that this party isn’t about you. That great fit and flare dress with the A-line skirt that you can always count on to fit and flatter you could be just the ticket with a pair of basic black heels or cute flats. You’ll want to look great and feel comfy while not being the center of attention.

Anything That Makes You Look Like a Bride or Groom

This may sound surprising but keep wedding attire in mind when choosing your outfit. Do you have a great white dress that has some detailing to it or a cool pantsuit that has a tuxedo look to it? Leave these in the closet for the engagement party. Depending upon their tastes, the engaged couple might go for playful outfits like this. You don’t want to risk looking like a copycat of either their outfits or a bride or groom in general.

When in doubt, just dress like yourself, but a bit spiffed up. Do you have a favorite pair of dress pants and a blouse that you know will look great with them? Wear that combination with some pretty jewelry and a neat pair of shoes.

An engagement party is also a great opportunity to get to know the friends and family of the engaged couple if there are some branches of the group that is new to you. These also are the easiest conversational opportunities. You can always walk up and ask someone how they know the couple, compliment the parents on what a fine son or daughter they have, or ask how the wedding planning is coming along. Family members often have fun childhood stories to share that will get everyone laughing. Also, start thinking about what would make a good wedding gift for the couple. Seeing them “in their element” surrounded by family and friends may spark some great ideas.

Enjoy celebrating at the engagement party!


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