Bridal shower vs. engagement party: what’s the difference?

engagement party

When someone is getting married, there’s a variety of events to plan. From the engagement party to the bridal shower to the bachelorette party to the actual wedding to the honeymoon, there’s so much to do – and sometimes it can seem like in so little time! Whether you’re a bride or a friend who’s been invited to different events, it’s important to understand the difference. One of the most common confusions or questions is what the difference between a bridal shower and an engagement party is. Let’s walk through the difference between the two and what gifts are good to give at each!

Engagement Party

An engagement party would come first in the list of events for a bride and groom. This is where they announce their engagement to everyone! It’s their time to let everyone know they’re starting a new journey together with the intent of getting married. If you’ve been invited to an engagement party, you should feel special! Usually, the bride and groom only invite the closest of friends and family to their engagement party. They typically pick their bridal party from these attendees.

As far as gifts go for an engagement party – and yes, you should get the newly engaged couple a gift! – any sweet personalized gift will do. Whether it’s a canvas print that has a romantic quote on it or something that represents your relationship with the couple, it’s important that you get them something to congratulate them on their engagement! Here are some other gift ideas to give a couple at their engagement party:

  • A Gift Card: Just because they’re engaged now doesn’t mean they don’t need a night out or two! Give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant so they can have a date night on you before they get married. Planning a wedding is hard work, so they’ll love the chance to take a break and enjoy a night together on the town. You can also get them a gift card to a grocery store or home goods store for them to pick up anything before they create their registry. That way, they can spend it on whatever they need as they start their new lives together!
  • An Ornament: Why not get them an ornament to commemorate their engagement every Christmas? Find a unique personalized engagement ornament and include their names and engagement date on it. It’s a sweet way for them to commemorate the date in the future, even if their wedding anniversary doesn’t share the same date. They can always use an extra ornament for their tree!
  • A Bottle of Wine or Bubbly: Give the couple something to have cheers with when they get a moment alone. Once they announce their engagement, they’ll be bombarded with messages and congratulations, and the wedding planning will take up much of their time. The bottle of wine can be used for a night when they just want to relax and spend it together.

Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is one of the next events before the wedding. Some brides only host women, while other couples actually host both men and women. The bridal shower is typically the time to spoil the bride with lots of gifts and games before her big day. These gifts are usually practical in nature, given by Mothers, Aunts, Grandmothers and close friends. The more “fun” gifts – if you know what we mean – are typically given at the bachelorette party by the bride’s bridal party.

bridal shower

You should expect to see gifts at the bridal shower that are from the couple’s registry. In fact, that’s what you should use to guide you in determining what gifts to give at the bridal shower! These are items the bride and groom specifically need or want as they start their new life together. If the gifts on the registry have already been bought, or you completely forget to give them a gift and need a couple of last-minute ideas, here are some bridal shower gifts the bride is sure to love!

  • A Picture Frame: A wooden engraved picture frame is a great gift to give at the bridal shower! You can either include their last name on it, or go for their wedding date. Either way, a picture frame is a wonderful gift that they can use to put one of their bridal portraits in! You can also look for a metal one or one in a bright color. Ideally, you’ll want to pick one that goes with their current decor so they can hang it up and it’ll look seamless!
  • A Decorative Hanger: When she gets married, the bride will probably have her photographer there to take some “getting ready” photos or some “detail shots.” These photos are of the small details of the wedding, and the dress is one of them! However, you don’t want the photos of her dress to include the plastic or metal hanger that comes standard from the dress shop, so get her a decorative hanger! It’ll add that special touch to her photos, and she’ll be so grateful to have something to hang her dress on after she gets it dry cleaned.
  • A ‘Mrs.’ Jean Jacket: She’ll need a jacket to wear at the reception, probably (especially if it’s outside in the fall or winter!). Instead of having to wear her new hubby’s jacket, she can wear her own! A jean jacket with her new last name printed on the back is a cute gift to give her that she can even use after the wedding!
  • A Bouquet Charm: Give her something to add to her bouquet on her wedding day! You can use a charm with her birthstone, her future hubby’s birthstone or you can include something that represents a loved one she’s lost recently as a way for them to be with her on her wedding day. She’ll love the sentimentality behind it.

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