One of the first events associated with a wedding is the engagement party. It’s the beginning of a time filled with memories.  An engagement party is thrown to commemorate the bride and groom. It begins a season filled with events from showers, teas, outfit shopping, bachelorette and bachelor parties, and finally, the big day itself. That’s a lot of outfits to plan! Josephine Dease, CEO of savavia, says, “At the engagement party, be mindful of your own family expectations -will it be formal or casual- and to dress accordingly to match the overall themes.”

The magic and romance of a wedding has everyone excited. The details associated with that magical event can be overwhelming and stressful.

Whether you are the bride figuring out your engagement party dress or simply a guest at the party, determining what to wear for an engagement party can be daunting. 

At one time, a cocktail engagement party was held to announce the big news with a speech, and everyone knew to adhere to the standard cocktail dress code. Now, they can run the gamut from traditional to a very informal backyard barbecue. This leaves the guests—and sometimes the future bride and groom—wondering what to wear for this happy occasion. We’re here to help with some tips for choosing the perfect party attire for the event. 

Coordinate with Your Partner

couple embracing

A step that shouldn’t be overlooked when dressing for an engagement party, especially if it’s your own, is to coordinate with your partner. There is nothing sweeter than a couple who look like they belong together with coordinated outfits. The outfits don’t have to be exact matches, but the colors should work well together with matching degrees of formality. 

Why should you coordinate with your partner? The answer to that is simple: pictures! The engagement party often has a photographer involved, and if not, there will be people snapping photos with their smartphones. You want your photos to be beautiful, so coordinating outfits with your partner is a fantastic tip to keep those photographs looking amazing.

Have a Theme and Match It

Couple Celebrating

When it’s your engagement party, you can set the theme for the event. You can even set a theme around your favorite color. Do you want a formal, black-tie affair, or do you prefer a casual backyard barbecue? Perhaps you love the atmosphere at the pool, and you want to have a pool party to celebrate your upcoming nuptials. Whatever it is, you control the engagement party dress codes.

Remember, when you are setting the theme, you are also taking some of the mystery out of the choices for the dress code. You and your guests will have an easier time choosing engagement party outfits if you have a theme and match it. 

This party is all about the happy couple, no matter how long their engagement, so incorporating their favorite things into the theme will make the evening extra special. Your theme could be something classy or it can be something fun. Themes can be simple, like, “The bride’s favorite color is blue, so everyone, please wear blue,” or they can be more involved, like, “You’re invited to a Hawaiian luau to celebrate the happy couple.” Whatever the theme, have fun with it!

How to Dress for a Formal/Informal Party

Events like engagement parties tend to have a dress code. The parties can span the spectrum of formality. So, choosing your attire should be based on the level of formality of the event. Even an informal party, unless otherwise stated, requires a level of dress that is equal to a nice dinner party or a cocktail party. 

Formal parties require formal dress attires. The time of the party dictates how formal. Night party attire and day party attire are not the same.During the day, you can dress down a little and opt for a more casual engagement party outfit.  For example, mens engagement party outfits can include a casual suit with a jacket and tie, whereas a woman can wear a day dress or lovely coordinated skirt and blouse. At night, really dress up. Think Saturday night formal rather than corporate meeting with the boss formal.

Attire to Avoid at Your Engagement Party

Just as there are guidelines for things you should wear to an engagement party, or to the wedding, there are guidelines for what not to wear. If you’re the bride, you set the tone for the party. However, you don’t want to go too far in setting that tone. 

Really, for a bride and groom, there are fewer rules than there are for guests as far as what not to wear. There are a couple of things to note, though.

Attire Infographic


  1. Make sure you wear clothes that fit. Sure, you want to look nice, but you also want to be comfortable. This is the beginning of a new step in life, so you want to exude confidence. Ill-fitting clothing doesn’t do that.
  2. Don’t go overly casual. This is not the occasion for your favorite ripped blue jeans, frumpy sweatshirt, and worn-out shoes. This is an engagement party, and even a casual party deserves more effort than that. (Unless there’s a backyard football game to be played—there’s a different set of rules for that). 
  3. Don’t over-accessorize. Your engagement ring is the show-stopping accessory of the event. Keep it that way. 

Remember, tradition dictates some of the rules of an engagement party, but you can choose whether you follow those traditions or choose your own path. After all, the engagement party dress code and all other events associated with the wedding are about you and your partner. 

Dress for the Occasion and the Weather Tips

Dressing for the occasion is simpler than you might think, but here are some tips to help you choose the right outfits successfully. 

  • If you are wondering what to wear to an engagement party, check the invitation for a dress code. Sometimes the host will state, “Black tie, please,” or “Business casual attire, please.” If that’s the case, follow the guidelines as they spell them out.
  • Pay attention to the time and location of the event. If the host didn’t spell out the dress code, the time and place will give you clues to how you should dress. If it’s a backyard engagement party, you can assume that a full suit will not be necessary.

  • When all else fails, ask someone. A simple phone call to say, “I’m coming to your party; could I ask what the dress code is, please?” is preferable to arriving dressed inappropriately. However, don’t wait until the day of the party to call; call ahead. 
  • Another tip is to keep shoes and accessories in the car that can be used to either dress up an outfit or dress it down, should the need arise. If it doesn’t end up being a relaxed engagement party you can always sneak back to the car and slip on some dress shoes.

  • Don’t go overly casual. Cocktail party casual is not the same as watching your favorite television show casual. You want to be comfortable, but you also want to be dressed appropriately. 
  • Engagement party guests should avoid wearing white. An engagement party dress for the bride might include  white as it is typically the color associated with brides for all events related to a wedding. So, let her have her time to shine and reserve the whites for another occasion.

What about the weather? Weather is definitely a factor in your choice of attire. If it’s going to be cold, it’s a simple matter of adding a coordinating sweater or blazer to your dress or a jacket to a shirt and tie for the men

Rain or snow presents a different set of problems. Mud boots are certainly not attractive additions to a formal dress. The simplest way to deal with rain is an umbrella or a rain jacket that can be checked at the event.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Stand out from the crowd

For engagement pictures, it is recommended that you wear clothing that is comfortable and flattering. You should also avoid wearing any jewelry that could be seen as too formal or pretentious. Cotton or linen clothing is typically the best option for engagement pictures, as it is both comfortable and stylish. If you are not sure what to wear, it is always best to err on the side of caution and dress too casually than too formally. As a general rule, avoid wearing anything that would be considered too out of style or trendy. Ultimately, the most important thing is to be comfortable and confident in what you are wearing. After all, these pictures will be a cherished reminder of this special time in your life.

Wrapping It Up

An engagement party is the first of many events surrounding a couple’s wedding day. The couple wants to share their happiness with their friends and family and announce their commitment to the world. These events can span the spectrum of formality, so choosing the appropriate engagement party attire for both men and women can be a little overwhelming.

Consider a themed party. It will make choosing an outfit easier for everyone involved. At the very least, coordinate your outfit with your partner or date. There will likely be many photo ops at the event, and you don’t want to wear a color that clashes with the person you are beside in most pictures.

Do you want to learn more about taboo wedding guest colors or lapels? We’ve got your back! Check out all of the latest articles at The Groom Club, we’re glad you’re here!

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