You are now engaged, that means a lot of things, like planning a very expensive celebration, emotionally readying yourself to commit to a lifelong marriage, and throwing a fun and exiting Engagement party.
The engagement part is essentially a gathering for you and your family and friends and whoever else you might want to invite to your wedding to have fun, mingle, and rejoice in the soon-to-be harmonious union of spouses.
Here’s how to keep it simple and chic.
1. Guest List
When it comes to planning your engagement party, there are no rules, except this important one: Any guest invited to your engagement party should also be invited to your wedding. That means you should think about the size of your wedding before you set your guest list for the engagement party – you wouldn’t want to have a 100-person engagement party if you’re planning an intimate 50-person wedding. If you don’t have a sense for your guest list yet, just keep it small with only your closest friends and family to make sure you avoid any hurt feelings later on.
So, who do you invite? Well, your families of course! It’s a great time for families on both sides to meet each other (often for the first time). Then invite your close friends, both locally and out-of-town. Then depending on how much space you have left fot your party, invite guests according to their relationships and importance to you and your fiancée.
A formal, printed invite is not required. They are a lovely touch, but not necessary with social media working just fine for this casual get together. If you need to cut your budget somewhere, this might be the place to do it, especially if your guest list is small.
2. Venue and Date
Your venue can often set the tone of your engagement party. Backyard BBQs and small restaurants are a popular option. Your venue will determine the formality of your engagement party, right down to the type of invitations you send out to the menu you will select for the party. Try to choose your venue at least a month in advance just so you’re not scrambling to find a big enough space for you and your guests in the midst of all the wedding planning.
As for date, engagement parties are commonly held two to four months after the engagement is announced. It also depends on the length of your engagement. This gives you ample time to plan the party, and with a lot less pressure.
While an intimate and impromptu family gathering the weekend after the proposal is the perfect opportunity to break out the bubbly, don’t schedule an all-out opulent affair the first month. Give yourself some time to revel in your newly engaged status and absorb the fact you’re getting married before you jump into planning your first party.
If you reserve your venue somewhere where they serve food, the main planner of the engagement party can select some main entrees and various side dishes for the guests to choose from. Parties held at home can have potlucks, family-style dinner, food bars, catering, BBQ and more. Also remember to consider different food options for your guests, whether it’s a gluten-free or vegetarian dish. You want to make sure your guests are well-accommodated for and as excited as possible for your skills as a host!
Additionally, don’t skimp out on the champagne if you have the chance. Lots of people enjoy the bubbly.
Make sure to set a party time that coordinates well with your budget. For example, if you only want to serve small bites, don’t host the event around a meal time. Put it at mid-afternoon or after dinner. You certainly don’t have to serve a five-course sit-down dinner with an open bar (unless you want to); but there should definitely be something to munch and sip on at your party.
4. Theme and Decor
Themes can be anything the couple want, but it’s nice to have it somehow directly relate to the couple’s relationship. Did you guys have your first date at a 50s milkshake dinner? Then don’t be afraid to incorporate that sort of aesthetic appeal into your engagement party!
But, is a theme necessary? Certainly not. You can keep it as low-key on the theme part of things; as you want and still throw an awesome engagement party. Themes just help in terms of cohesion of decoration, food, and venue.
If you want to throw a welcoming, easygoing party, decor doesn’t need to be a budget-buster. Hang a few string lights across your patio or in your living room. Purchase a flower arrangement for the entry way. Perhaps make a chalkboard sign or two. Give the décor some thought, but don’t overthink it.
Activities can be held on the down-low, especially if you think that mingling and great conversation is all that’s really going to happen at your party. However, if you do decide to have activities, make sure you’re not stressing yourself out over the complexity of them.
An engagement party isn’t like a bridal shower–no one will expect games. However, if you think that conversation may not be enough to entertain your crowd, you can always prepare a few activities to break out in case of emergencies. Play bar-style trivia games about the couple’s love story, have the game on in the background for a sports fan family, or plan on going out afterwards for karaoke.