The engagement party officially kicks off the wedding festivities and starts the wedding-day countdown. Throw a flawless one by following our eleven easy steps.
1. Decide who's hosting
Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the couple’s engagement party. However, like many etiquette rules, this one has changed over the years and these days, pretty much anyone close to the couple is welcome to plan and pay for the engagement party. However, the bride’s parents should still get the first chance to throw it. Also, it’s perfectly fine to not have an engagement party at all, or to have two — perhaps in the bride’s and groom’s hometowns. If the groom’s parents would like to plan a party as well, they should check with the bride’s parents regarding dates, as their celebration should occur after the bride’s parents’ party.
2. Pick a date
Engagement parties are usually held soon after the couple becomes engaged, while the news is still fresh. You might even decide to announce your engagement at the party!
You’ll want to give guests about a month’s notice, so about 9 to 11 months before the wedding is the ideal time frame.
3. Create the guest list
Anyone invited to an engagement party must also be invited to the wedding, so the party host needs to work with the couple to compile the engagement-party guest list. And if you aren’t sure of the size of your wedding just yet, it’s better to limit the invites to those you are certain you will also invite to the wedding.
4. Decide on a venue
Think about the type of party atmosphere you want: If you like the idea of having everyone in the same room, you might want to rent out a private room at a local restaurant. For something more low-key, a house, backyard, or clubhouse might be a better choice.
5. Register for gifts (or not)
Some guests may inquire about a gift registry, so figure out if you want to register or not. If you decide to do so, select items in the low to middle price range (don’t forget, the wedding is still to come). If not, include a note in the invitation kindly requesting no gifts.
6. Send the invitations
Keep the invitations simple — hand-write them yourselves or send the invite via email. If you decide to go the printed-card route, choose a clean, classic design; don’t worry about color palettes or other details — your engagement party invitations don’t have to match the rest of your wedding stationery.
7. Plan the menu
There’s no need to plan a five-course meal with a four-hour open bar. Anything from passed appetizers to a simple buffet or a casual cookout will work. You can also get creative and serve dishes with special meaning to you.
8. Set the scene
If you want, choose a theme that reflects you as a couple or something that reflects your two families. The real trick here is that you don’t want to upstage the wedding — the point is to celebrate your engagement. If the budget allows, include a few small floral arrangements to perk up the space (it’s also a great way to try out a potential florist for the wedding).
9. Decide what to wear
Choose attire that complements your party setting, but keep it simple. A pretty sundress is great for an outdoor celebration; if your venue is a little fancier, a little white dress is a safe bet. As for your fiancé, while he doesn’t have to don a suit and tie (and definitely not a tux!), his outfit should nicely complement yours.
10. Make preparations for the venue
You want to ensure that there is ample amount of space for guests to sit down and eat, in addition to a separate area for storing gifts. If you are having a party at someone’s home, make arrangements to have the lawn cut and house cleaned. Be sure that the air conditioning and heating systems work, and be courteous to your neighbors by letting them know ahead of time that you will be having a party.
11. Have help on hand
Need to get a few last minute things done? Need some extra help? If you’ve managed to sort out your wedding party gang, then now is the time to get them involved and play a part in all the planning!
Featured Cover Image: Judy Pak Photography