Let's get planning..
The question’s been asked, you’ve said “Yes!” and the sparkle in your eye matches the one on your finger. Congratulations, you’re getting married!
While it can be tempting to dive head first into wedding planning as soon as possible, there’s one event you may like to plan first - the engagement party. Throwing an engagement party provides the perfect setting to celebrate this exciting time with your nearest and dearest, allowing them the opportunity to meet and get to know each other before your big day. The best part? This is also a great way for you to practice planning the main event!
Put on those party shoes and let’s go xoSet the Scene
There are no rules when you decide to host your engagement party. Many choose to do this while the news is still fresh (usually within 1-4 months of announcing the engagement) but it is completely circumstantial and unique to the couple.
Now you’ve picked your date, start thinking of the type of atmosphere you’d like to create. Is it a classy cocktail party, an outdoor BBQ or a 3-course meal at your favourite restaurant - the choice is yours. Keep in mind the season when planning the style, you may not want to opt for the backyard BBQ in the middle of winter if you can help it.
Once you’ve picked the date and party, the venue is next. Hosting the party at yours or a family member’s home is perfect for an intimate, relaxed setting. Alternatively, if you’re after something a touch more formal with a bigger guest list, look into hiring a function room or area at a local restaurant and/or bar. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box (did somebody say boat party?!) and get creative.
While you’re at it, why not decide on a theme for the occasion? Choose a theme that suits you as a couple and one that you can have fun with. If you know your wedding style already, you could also include little touches of this (without giving too much away!). Then, the fun part - decorations. Use your theme to influence colours, textures, props and other party elements. Don’t go too crazy though, you want some surprises left for the wedding!
The style and theme of your party will dictate the food and beverage options you select. If you’re hosting the party at home, you may like to provide a small selection of beverages as well as organise catering. On a budget? Ask guests to bring a plate and/or BYO beverages to help keep costs down. If you have opted to hire a venue, many offer food and drink packages to keep things simple. Bar tabs are appreciated, but not mandatory. Instead, you may like to have a glass of champagne available on arrival or serve a range of canapés or platters throughout the night.
Determine the Guest List
Traditionally, those attending the engagement party would receive an invitation to the wedding. However, due to the cost of weddings and many opting for smaller celebrations, this is changing. No matter what you decide to do, keep in mind that everyone invited to the engagement party may assume this covers the wedding as well. It pays to be transparent throughout the night with what you have decided (or think you might do) to avoid offending anyone.
There’s no need to splurge on expensive, printed invites (unless you want to, of course) - a digital invitation is fine. If that’s too much hassle, a simple email, phone call or text would also do the job. There are also free and paid invitation options available online, including printing and event management systems. Try and provide everyone with as much notice as possible, especially if you’re planning on throwing your party in summer (aka peak wedding season).
Get ready to strike a pose
This is one of the few occasions where all your favourites are in one room so photos are a must! If the budget allows, I recommend hiring a professional to take some shots of the party. If not, enlist the help of friends and family, sending them around to take photos throughout the event. Not only is this a great way to get people meeting each other, photos are a lovely keepsake to remember your party!
You may also like to consider creating a photo backdrop in the party. Whether you hire a flower/greenery wall or create this yourself (think streamers, fairy lights or balloons), these are always guaranteed to be a huge hit.
The Final Touches
Try to have some background music, whether it’s a live band/DJ or a playlist off your phone, music really sets the tone of the event. Plan your playlist around the event theme and guest list and don’t be afraid to break the night up into multiple playlists to really set the mood.
A small speech thanking guests for attending is always nice, especially when delivered by the couple (not to mention it’s great practice for the wedding) or hosts. Close family members or friends may also like to express their best wishes for the couple, but it’s up to you if you decide to open the floor.
Gifts are not expected at an engagement party, however a few guest may bring a little something along. Stash these somewhere safe to open later on and don’t forget to send a thank you message after!
Rally the troops and don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’re going to need it! Enlist the services of your wedding party (if you haven’t already chosen them, check out our range of Bridal party products here) or close family members/friends to share the party-prep load. That way you’ll be able to enjoy getting ready for the party and have a great time!