It’s time to start planning your engagement party – this is an exciting time at the start of your wedding planning journey!
Now, there is a lot to think about when organizing your engagement bash – how formal are you going? how many guests will there be? And what kind of venue will work best?
For some, this may be the first time that certain family and friends are meeting each other, so you want it all to go smoothly.
Here we discuss your options and give you an engagement party checklist to make sure you have everything covered.
When and Where?
It may sound obvious, but everything will fall into place once you have a date and a venue for your engagement party.
Try not to wait too long after the proposal – your family and friends will be wanting to celebrate this exciting news so try to have your event as close as you can to the engagement itself.
As for the venue, think about what you would both like the most. You could pick your favorite restaurant if you like the thought of an intimate dinner, a lively bar if you want cocktails and dancing, or even a home or backyard if you want something very relaxed. Talk to each other about what feels right for you.
Your venue choice will also depend on the number of people you are inviting.
Traditionally, it was the bride’s parents who hosted the engagement party, but these days there is no reason why you and your new fiance (whoop!) cannot host the party yourselves.
You may even choose to have two different engagement celebrations if, for example, your families live far apart from each other.
If someone other than yourself is hosting, be clear about how involved you would like to be in the planning of the event. We suggest planning it together if possible.
Very important on the engagement party checklist… Who do you want to be there? And how big do you want to go?
Some couples use this as the perfect opportunity to get the two families together in a fun way, especially if they don’t know each other that well yet. So it would be a smaller family affair with a few close friends in the mix too.
Others want to go all out for a big party with pretty much everyone who would be invited to the wedding. The decision is yours.
Speak to your parents about what they think, but ultimately it is up to you and your partner how you want to mark this important occasion, and with whom.
Do You Want Gifts?
You will probably find that people will want to bring gifts to your engagement party.
If you are open to the idea, it could be a good idea to set up a gift registry so that you receive gifts that you actually want or need. Make sure there are plenty of small to medium-sized gifts included on the registry, reflecting various budgets.
And a top tip – make sure that you keep track of who gives you what so you can send thank-you cards afterward.
Some couples do not want gifts at the engagement party – if this is the case then make sure you state “no gifts please” on your invite.
Will There Be a Theme?
Will this be a formal affair, a fun colorful fiesta, or a black tie dinner? If setting a theme for your engagement party feels fun and exciting then do it! Just make sure you give everyone plenty of notice so they can be prepared.
Think about potential color schemes and decor ideas that match your vibe and your chosen venue.
Incorporate personal touches where you can – photos of yourselves throughout your relationship, personalized balloons, cupcakes, or even signs.
We like something like this to welcome your guests:
You could even have a neon sign made up, something that could be re-used at the wedding!
Are You Setting a Dress Code?
As above, people need time to prepare. So will there be a dress code at your engagement party?
If there is a theme and you’d like people to wear something specific, make sure you include details on the invite.
Have You Chosen Your Invitations?
Whether you are choosing to do handwritten invites or digital email invitations, try to get them out 3-4 weeks before the event.
Don’t worry if you haven’t chosen your color schemes for the wedding yet — it’s early days so your engagement party invites don’t have to match the rest of your wedding stationery. You can keep them simple!
Make sure you make it easy for people to RSVP so you know exactly who is coming.
Buffet, Picnic, or Set-Menu?
Are you supplying a full meal for your guests? Decide whether it will be a sit-down meal, a buffet, or a picnic kind of vibe.
If you are opting for a restaurant you could pick a nice set menu of your favorite foods. If it’s an evening affair then most bar venues will give you a good selection of options for buffet style or canape style dining.
If you are having your party at home then make sure you plan your catering – will it be a BBQ, an afternoon tea, or a picnic? Set aside time to shop for ingredients and cook if you’re not having the event catered. If you can, put someone else in charge of the food so you are not worrying about this on the day.
And don’t forget drinks! If you are out at a venue, could they make up a “bride” or “groom” cocktail that you love for everyone to try?
Also, make sure you have something sparkly on hand with the right glasses for any toasts.
What’s on Your Soundtrack?
I always think the music at a party is important, so make sure you select your perfect party soundtrack for the event.
It’s a lovely activity to do together one evening over a bottle of wine at home. You may even find that the playlist gets used frequently for dinner parties and maybe even the wedding itself!
Make sure you’ve got the right speakers/setup for your chosen venue.
Should We Plan an Activity?
This will depend on the type of engagement party you are having and how well people know each other.
Some couples choose to have some ice breaker games that can be fun if you are wanting people to get to know each other better quickly.
This could be a light-hearted bride and groom trivia quiz, where family members from different sides are put together on teams.
Do You Want To Make a Speech?
An engagement party is a great time for a speech or toast. It may be that you plan a short speech together – basically sharing your excitement and thanking everyone for coming.
If someone other than yourselves has hosted the event then make sure you thank them especially.
It doesn’t have to be long but it’s a nice touch to have a formal toast. Make sure you write down some notes so you are prepared for the night!
What Do the Couple Wear?
All eyes will be on you both at this celebration, so you want to make sure you look and feel great.
If you can, get something new that makes you feel amazing when you try it on. I also love the idea of stepping outside of your fashion comfort zone – try a different fit or style of dress for example that makes you stand out – it’s your special day!
Match your style to the theme or venue – a sparkly dress or dark smart suit for evening fancy affairs. And for something less formal how about a floral dress for her or a shirt and chinos combo for him?
Ladies, do not feel you have to wear anything white – you’ve only just got engaged so you don’t need to be bridal just yet! (Unless you want to be of course!)
We hope this has given you some inspiration and ideas for your engagement celebration.
The most important point on the checklist however is to HAVE FUN! This is your first official event with your husband/wife-to-be, it is the start of your future together, so make sure you enjoy every moment of this unique celebration!