I've attended a number of engagement parties, and I still can't figure out the etiquette of gifts. Some people bring presents; others don't. Do I need to bring a gift to an engagement party?
It depends. In the past, engagement gifts were not obligatory or expected, and sometimes this is still the case. However, in many parts of the country, bringing a gift to an engagement party has become de rigueur. Close friends and family usually do give the couple an engagement gift, either when the engagement is announced or at the engagement party. An engagement gift is really a good-hearted gesture of affection, and it need not be expensive or elaborate. Something simple such as a cookbook or a good bottle of wine - intended to help the couple establish a collection - makes a great engagement gift. Or if you prefer, save your money for the wedding gift.
Couples who are conscious of taxing their friends' budgets may ask the host the pass the word to friends not to bring presents. If you really aren't sure what to do, call the host and ask. Or check with a local wedding planner to ask about the customs and trends in your area. Ultimately, your decision whether to give an engagement gift depends on local custom, your relationship to the couple and your budget.