What’s an Engagement Party vs a Bridal Shower?

group of people celebrating a couple's engagement during an outdoor evening party

An engagement party is just like it sounds, a party thrown to celebrate a couple’s engagement. This gathering can be as simple as a backyard barbecue or as elaborate as a black-tie event and is an opportunity for a couple to formally announce their engagement. A bridal shower is another pre-wedding event that occurs after an engagement party, and is an opportunity to officially celebrate a bride-to-be. There are a number of different celebrations along the way to getting married, and each has its own special purpose. 

What Happens at an Engagement Party?

An engagement party is an event thrown to celebrate a couple’s engagement. Traditionally, engagement parties are hosted by the bride’s parents, but really anyone can throw one, and some couples even choose to throw their own celebration. Couple’s may offer a formal announcement of their engagement which may include a short speech or toast expressing their joy and gratitude. Following that, guests may also offer toasts and well wishes to the couple. 

Much of an engagement party revolves around socializing. Guests mingle, chat, and get to know each other, especially if the couple’s families or friend groups are meeting for the first time. It’s a great opportunity for the couple’s loved ones to connect and build relationships. These parties typically include food, drinks, activities, music and dancing, but it’s entirely up to the planner and what the couple’s interests and preferences are. 

An engagement party generally happens pretty soon after you get engaged. Because there are many other festivities along the way to getting married, it’s good to spread them out. This is the first of many pre-wedding celebrations; next comes a bridal or wedding shower, followed by a bachelor and/or bachelorette party, and then the main wedding event.

What Happens at a Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers traditionally focused on the bride and attendees included female friends and family, while wedding showers are more inclusive, where family and friends gather to honor the couple. Simply put, a bridal shower is a party thrown for the bride, while a wedding shower is for the couple. Showers are also sometimes referred to as Jack and Jill style or co-ed, where all genders are invited and both the groom and his dad may make a special appearance towards the end of the shower. Ultimately it’s up to the bride and couple how and with whom they’d like to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. 

A couple can have both a wedding shower and a bridal shower, in which case the events should have different hosts, different guest lists, and be held in different locations. The general outline is usually the same for both a bridal shower or a wedding shower: food, drinks, games, mingling, and an opportunity for the bride or couple  to be showered with gifts and support. It’s also common to have more than one shower to accommodate different guests in different locations. 

Unlike engagement parties where gifts are optional, guests are usually encouraged to bring a gift to a bridal shower; there’s usually a set time when everyone will sit down with the bride or couple while they open presents. While a bridal or wedding shower is generally more of an adult event, some couples welcome children and include a kid-friendly menu and activities. A bridal shower can often be confused with a bachelorette party, but the two are very different, though they often take place on the same day for convenience. Ultimately, the details of the party will be determined by who’s coming and where the gathering will happen. 

If you’re looking for an engagement party venue in Hershey PA, consider Historic Acres. Our stunning property features three spaces including indoor and outdoor options and can accommodate small and large groups. Contact our team and let us help you plan your special event.