Planning the Perfect Engagement Party
If you look in the mirror, you probably have that recently engaged glow (if that’s a thing).
First things first, congratulations to you and your partner, a marriage between two loving individuals is such an exciting moment in life! The planning process isn’t all about wedding dresses and wedding cakes though, so let’s get the two of you ready and go through what it takes to plan the first of many events – the engagement party. (If you’re not hosting, send this link to the person in charge, so they’re covered too.)
Reality check: Saying yes was an easy decision for you to make; now comes the hard stuff.
- Establish who is Hosting the Engagement Party
Traditionally, the engagement party is covered and hosted by the bride’s parents. This tradition has changed over time, and now many couples find themselves footing the cost themselves. The main reason brides and grooms add the engagement party into their budget is to obtain full control over the event. Even though it may be your wedding, if someone else is paying, it’s customary to let them have the majority say over how the event goes (hopefully, they’re kind enough to get your input throughout).
- Select the Date
Whoever is hosting (if not the bride and groom themselves) should coordinate with the wedding pair, and if possible, recognize whether it’s an optimal date for your guests’ schedules as well. Typically, you’ll want to avoid holidays where it’s likely that people will already have plans. However, your engagement party can be grouped with a less family-oriented holiday; for example, New Year’s Eve is an excellent choice.
- Determine who’s on the guestlist
You’ll want to make sure whoever is invited to the engagement party, you also intend on inviting to the wedding itself. If they’re going to start this journey with you, it only fits that they’re present for the final event. Keeping things decently small and intimate is the best way to avoid over inviting before you’ve had the chance to finalize the wedding guest list. Something that can grow your numbers is if your parents are hosting, they may have a few people to invite, and since they’re paying, they should be able to do so. On the other hand, what might put a constraint on your numbers is the venue size; if you had a small restaurant or home in mind, that’s a vital detail to remember when creating your guest list as it will limit the number of people you can invite. The only required people should be the immediate families, grandparents, closest friends, and (if you’ve chosen them) the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
- Pick a Venue
You can choose the guest list and the venue interchangeably since they’re almost directly correlated and very dependent on one another. When considering the venue, you’ll want to think about how big a party you want to host. Also, think about the formality of the event, as that will help narrow down your options a lot easier; is it going to be a formal dinner or a casual barbecue?
- Creating a Wedding Registry
Throughout the pre-wedding events, you will receive many gifts, and it makes things easier for your guests if you have a registry set up. If you’re not sure what to include on your wedding registry just yet, as it’s still early on, that’s understandable; for now, only list low to middle priced items; there’s plenty of time for you to add to the registry as time goes on.
- Send the Invitations
Once the details start to come together, send out your engagement party invitations, and make sure there’s enough time for guests to respond and make any necessary arrangements. One month ahead of the party date will work best for your timeline to keep on top of planning. Keep information such as the wedding registry off of the invitation; instead, consider setting up a wedding website where anyone interested can visit to get all the necessary information regarding dates and the registry link (you can put the wedding website on the invite).
- Plan Out the Menu
The menu will likely be on par with the event’s formality; if it’s a casual event, you could consider home-cooked food, buffet, or a barbecue, whereas if it’s a formal event, it may require a seated 5-course meal. Whatever you do, don’t forget the alcohol (if that’s how you roll). You’ll need plenty for all of the toasts the bridesmaids and groomsmen will be making. The engagement party also doesn’t have to be a dinner at all; it can be a simple cocktail event with hors d’ oeuvres, which leaves you with the option of making things fancy or casual.
- Decide on a Theme and Decorations
As mentioned above, the engagement party does not have to be a replica of the upcoming wedding; in fact, it’s recommended to plan something contrasting to add variety to your wedding events. Where you may not know what you want your wedding to look like, you can still choose a beautiful theme and decor that fits you and your partner perfectly. Remember not to upstage your wedding. Try keeping things simple (think candles, flowers, tablecloths)
- Think About What to Wear
It might not be the wedding dress, but what you wear to the engagement party can be just as important as it will be your first event together. Take into consideration the formality and event location, as it will be your primary guide to determining your outfit. Consider if it’s indoor or outdoor, fancy or casual, and also make sure you and your partner’s outfits complement each other and are on the same level.
- Consider What Might Happen
Has anyone ever discussed what happens at the engagement party, and what usually takes place? Think of including one of these activities to keep your party entertaining, fun, and informational:
- Share the story of how you met each other
- Have guests roast you and your groom
- Play a video montage of your relationship from the beginning till now
- Present your partner with a gift, and have them gift you as well
- Introduce immediate family members that have yet to meet one another
- Have guests share their marriage advice and experiences
- Take family photos
- Announce wedding details
It’s the very beginning of a new chapter in your life, but there’s no need to worry. Planning the engagement party can be fun (plus someone may be doing it for you). You’ll also have your bridesmaids by your side to help prepare any necessary DIY details if you ask for their involvement. Best of luck to you and your future, this is only the beginning! For more information on events that bridesmaids can be of help with visit The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Perfect Bridesmaid.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado
Photo by pure julia