The proposal is just the beginning. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of parties, showers, and, of course, the ceremony and reception. All totaled, there are nine events surrounding and including your wedding, if you choose to celebrate all of them. Tell your family and friends about the following list of possible different events that they will either host, organize, plan, or just attend.
1. Engagement Party
Typically hosted by either the parents of the bride or the parents of the groom, the engagement party should take place within one to three months of the engagement. Invitations are often extended to immediate family and a small group of friends, as all guests of the engagement party will also be invited to the wedding.
2. Bridal Shower
The bridal shower celebrates the bride and showers her with gifts. It is hosted closer to the wedding date, usually around two months to two weeks prior to the upcoming nuptials. These days, there are no specific guidelines regarding who should host this event, but close friends and/or family of the bride typically host this ladies-only soirée.
3. Bachelor Party and Bachelorette Party
Usually hosted by the groomsmen and the bridesmaids respectively, the bachelor party and bachelorette party take place at least one week prior to the wedding. The guest list typically includes same-sex members of the wedding party and any additional close friends and siblings.
4. Bridesmaid Luncheon and Groomsman Luncheon
Either the day before or the day of the first major wedding weekend event, the bride and her bridesmaids, as well as the groom and his groomsmen, attend a brunch or luncheon. The mid-day events usually take place on the same day, but in different locations. Traditionally, the wedding party hosted these celebrations, but most modern couples are opting to cover these costs in light of the myriad expenses the wedding party has already covered.
5. Welcome Party
For couples hosting a weekend-long wedding, especially a destination wedding, a great way to kick off the weekend’s festivities starts is with a welcome party. This is typically set up as a cocktail party that all wedding guests are invited to attend. The welcome party is hosted by the couple or by their parents, either the night before the wedding or two nights before the wedding.
6. Rehearsal Dinner
Traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents (though just as often hosted by the couple), the rehearsal dinner takes place one or two nights before the wedding. For local weddings, rehearsal dinner invitations may only include the wedding party and immediate family. For destination weddings, the environment usually means the invitation can be extended to all wedding guests. This event provides a great opportunity to give toasts and speeches.
7. Wedding Ceremony and Reception
The wedding ceremony and reception can be hosted by anyone—the bride and groom, one set of parents or both sets of parents. Most often, invitations are extended to all guests for both events, but church wedding ceremonies may provide an exception depending on capacity limitations.
8. After Party
With so many venues closing early due to noise restrictions, the wedding after party has become a popular event following most weddings. Hosted by the bride and groom or the wedding party, this post-reception continuation of the evening is usually open to all wedding guests to attend but is more popular among the younger crowd of friends.
9. Day-After Brunch
Especially popular for destination weddings, the day after the wedding offers a chance for guests to say goodbye after a weekend of celebration. Usually set up as a buffet-style meal in which guests can come and go as they please, this event takes place over a couple of hours and is fairly informal. The brunch may be hosted by whoever hosted the wedding, with invitations extended to all wedding guests.