Planning your engagement party may be the first big celebration you’ve ever organised. Throwing an engagement party is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your exciting news with your friends and family, give families an opportunity to meet each other, and a fabulous way to practice party planning for the main event. Hopefully someone will buy you a little white book too!
You’ll be excited to plan the future, but planning your engagement party is a great way to enjoy the present. Once you start planning your wedding, you won’t want to stop, so bask in this moment and make the most of it. Your engagement party is a practice run where you’re the hosts, the decision-makers, the centre of attention, and hopefully the life of the party.
All the decorations in this article link to talented Etsy creators!
When? Traditionally the engagement party is held 1-3 months following the engagement. If it’s going to be a long engagement, it may be held later, but ideally you want to host the party while you’re still newly celebrating the engagement, rather than being half-way to the wedding.
Who? Perhaps the trickiest question is whether all of the engagement party invitees are also those who will be invited to the wedding.
If it’s a small and intimate gathering, it wouldn’t make much sense that you’d invite those you weren’t going to have at the wedding. If you’d prefer a casual ‘come one, come all’ BBQ or night out at a local bar, it’s not necessary to restrict the guest list to your wedding ‘definites’ yet. Of course, as it is usually only 1-3 months into the engagement, it will be far too early for many couples to finalise their guest list. Keep in mind though, that older guests may assume an invitation to this will mean one for the other.
Where? There are countless suitable venues – as many as for a wedding: restaurants, bars, parks, you or your parents’ homes. We had ours at a restaurant at which we organised a set menu with 3-5 options for each of starter and main, followed by a cake that we provided. Your style will influence your choice, as well as the number of guests, but don’t be afraid to be creative.
Who pays what? We provided unlimited champagne and a cake for dessert, and our guests paid for their meals. Unless you’re planning to provide all the catering and alcohol, keep in mind your guests’ budgets, if you don’t want your friends missing out due to budget. If you’ve chosen a bar, perhaps provide champagne for toasting and platters.
How to invite? It’s not necessary to have expensive invitations made – you can treat it like you would another party by sending emails, Facebook messages or texts. Be clear about the details and give around a month’s notice if possible. Otherwise you could print invitations through an online program; through most large stationery stores with photo-printing devices or ask your wedding stationery designer to make something simple in the same style as your wedding invites. Of course, Etsy has incredible options!
– Consider having your engagement shoot done in the afternoon before the party. It spreads the excitement of the day out longer, and you can justify having your hair and make-up done for the event!
– If you have any idea of your wedding theme, style or colours, use them now: colours in the menus, a signature cocktail, flowers, candles, decor etc. We had a general idea of what we wanted our flower arrangements to be, so we showed our florist the wedding-invite and the menu design who then created something to complement them.
– As this is the first event leading to the wedding, take the opportunity to organise it properly! Make it count, have fun, show your guests a good time, and be sure to let your hair down!
– Ask for help (from the best man, bridesmaids, parents, etc!) and assign jobs in advance (a small speech, perhaps; a friend to take photos; another to make a cake or do your hair or make up?). Your attendants and close friends will love to get involved.
– You’re the host, so don’t start knocking back the wines until you’ve had a chance to thank everyone for coming and introduce your guests to each other.
– Have fun! I have some beautiful photos to share from mine, which makes the memories last longer.
– Just one last thought… If you’d have a small party anyway, and your friends are reliable, why not invite them to a BBQ or party, and then announce the engagement there?
Our Engagement Party
Photography by Sweet Events Photography – Cake by PaulaJane Cakes.
No wait… make that Donut Toppers!