The other day I went to an engagement party and here's a quick summary. Almost all of the guests were wearing black ( men and women). A party planner was involved as there were cookies, cakes, flowers, tablecloths, etc. with the same theme/color scheme. There were quite a few beautiful flower arrangements and presents on display in the corner.
Apparently, this was not unique to this engagement party as I've attended another one a few months ago which had similar characteristics ( except there were more colorful clothing choices as it was in the summer). So there is the l'chaim for the family/close friends, the engagement party, the shower, and the wedding. Apparently, if anybody is anybody they are expected to bring ( chip in for) a gift at each step of the way.
When did this become a norm? Is there a trend to give a smaller gift at the wedding which necessitated all the gift giving prior to the happy event? Or was I living in a cave and this has been happening for ages?