You see that ring on your finger? That means it’s time to celebrate because you’re engaged! We hope that the proposal was everything you could have dreamed of and more! Now that you are officially engaged, it’s time to celebrate with all of your family and friends and get to planning your engagement party!
Planning your engagement party is the perfect practice for planning your wedding. While planning your engagement party you don’t want to overshadow the actual wedding, but will still need to find a venue and caterer as well as create a guest list, send out invitations, and set a budget.
Let’s talk about exactly what needs to be done while planning your engagement party! Remember that not all engagement parties have to be a huge and lavish event. Instead of finding a venue, an engagement party can take place at your house or a family members house.
Figure out who will host
The engagement party is traditionally hosted by the brides parents but times are changing and it is more common for anybody close to the couple to take on the host role. A host could consist of either set of parents, the maid of honor or entire bridal party, the couple themselves, or a wedding planner could be hired. Sometimes couples even have multiple engagement parties; one is formal and hosted by the couples parents and one is usually more low key and hosted by friends. Ultimately, there should be no stress about who is planning it because then you don’t have to worry about it. Trust me, you will have enough on your plate trying to plan the actual wedding event.
Set a date
What is the timeline between engagement and wedding where you should host your engagement party? It is common to host an engagement party anywhere from 1 month to 6 months after your engagement. A small family gathering is usually done the weekend of the engagement but that shouldn’t be super planned out. That should just be to revel in the new engagement and enjoy the moment.
No matter who is hosting it, obviously scheduling between the host, the couple, and some essential guests need to be considered. Anybody who should attend, such as the parents, sibling, grandparents, etc. should be considered including those who may have to travel from out of town. A date may also depend on where the engagement party will take place. If you have to schedule it at a venue, you may have to work around their event booking schedule as well and check their availability.
Set a budget
It is important to figure out who will be paying for this event first thing. If somebody else is hosting, they may incur some of the expenses but be cautious of their generosity and be sure to discuss numbers up front, even though it may be uncomfortable. You don’t want to spend a lot of your wedding budget on a pre-wedding event so always keep track of your numbers and be cautious with your spending if you are paying. Even if you are just planning a low key event, you should still keep a budget. If nothing else, at least you can practice keeping a budget so that you are fully prepared for the wedding budget.
Create a guest list
When creating a guest list and coming up with who to invite to the engagement party, there are no rules. The only “rule” is that anybody who you invite to the engagement party should also be invited to the wedding. Do not invite somebody who you don’t plan on inviting to the actual wedding because then things will be awkward. If you have no sense of your wedding guest list yet, then it is best to keep the engagement party small and intimate with just your family and closest friends. The guest list may very well also depend on the space in which the venue has. Usually there is a venue capacity and if it is a smaller venue, it may not be able to hold a lot of people. Be sure to check with you venue on the guest count maximum so that you don’t over invite.
Send out invitations
Engagement party invitations should be sent out as soon as possible so that guests have ample time to plan to attend, especially those coming from out of town who have to plan travel arrangements. I would say to send them out not later than one month before the event. With engagement party invitations, there is no need for a save the date but you should let your closest family and friends know when you have chosen a date so that they can ensure to be there. Your invitation method will depend on the formality and theme of the event. If you are having a formal sit down dinner event, then formal paper invitations should be sent. If you are having a backyard low key party, then something as simple as an evite will suffice. If you are sending formal invitations, there are a few options: use an online invitation creator or hire an invitation designer. If you already have an invitation designer for your wedding invitations, ask if they can give you a special rate to do your engagement party invitations too. It never hurts to ask.
Choose a menu
You must have food at an engagement party and it should fit the theme and style of your event. The menu doesn’t have to include an entire five course meal with an open bar (though it totally can if you want) but you should definitely have some sort of food and drink for your guests to enjoy. Any sort of food from served appetizers to a buffet or even a plated meal will all work. You want to make sure to include what your food and beverage plans will entail on your invitations so that your guests come prepared. You don’t want them to show up expecting a five course meal when really you are just serving appetizers. If you warn them, then they can plan their daily meals around your event. Some more common engagement party ideas now are brunch and mimosas or a tacos and tequila bar.
Choose a theme & decorations
Of course you will want to decorate, but don’t go overboard here. The engagement party does not have to match what you will be doing at your wedding and in my opinion shouldn’t match your wedding colors or theme. You are going to want them to feel like separate events and you are going to want to save your wedding colors to surprise your guests at the wedding. When thinking décor for an engagement party, some fresh flowers, votives, or colorful linens will be sure to dress up any space. Some photographs are always a great decoration as well and you can show off the couple. Keeping the engagement party simple and elegant is always key.
Create a gift registry
Gifts are not often given for an engagement party however there is a chance that you will receive some so getting a registry together before hand might be helpful for your guests. Creating a registry is easy and in doing so, if you receive any gifts then they will actually be something that you want. If you don’t want your guests to bring gifts, then it is best to specify that on your invitation. Even if you do specify, there are still people like your grandma who might try to bring a gift anyways. It is best to be prepared for people like that. There are also other options such as asking your guests to donate to a certain charity in your name instead of bringing you a gift you may never use. If a guest does bring a gift on the engagement party day, find a discreet place to put them so that guests coming empty handed don’t feel bad.
You have a family and posse of bridesmaids and groomsmen for a reason! It is okay to ask them to help out the day of your engagement party, especially if you are planning the entire thing. It isn’t uncommon for a wedding coordinator to be hired for a more formal engagement party as well. Other vendors often hired for engagement parties include photographers or videographers so that you can remember the day and possibly have more photos for your wedding day too.
Get dressed up & enjoy the night
Even if the event isn’t exactly formal, you should still get a little bit dressed up and enjoy being in the lime light. You are the couple getting married and the engagement party is about celebrating your love for each other. Also, photos are going to be taken throughout the entire event so you will probably want to look your best for that. The only rule with getting dressed for you engagement party is that you and your partner should be dressed to the same formality level. You don’t necessarily need to have coordinating outfits but if he is wearing a suit and you are wearing jeans and a tee shirt, it might look a bit strange. After you get dressed up for your party, don’t forget to enjoy it. You are there to celebrate your engagement and your love for one another so don’t let the stress of the event get to you. Have fun, eat some food, get yourself a drink, and heck…maybe even dance a little bit.
The engagement party is meant to be fun so no matter what don’t forget that. Enjoy the planning process and if you need help then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Do your best and that is good enough. An engagement party doesn’t have the same flow as a wedding does so you can make it your own and do as you please.
Friday: NO BLOG (Christmas)
Tuesday: Bridesmaid Dress Trends