Top Tips For Celebrating Your Engagement
As soon as word of your newly engaged status leaks out your friends and family will want to know if you intend on having an engagement party. Whilst throwing an engagement party is by no means necessary, it does give you the perfect opportunity to officially announce your engagement and a chance to celebrate this exciting time with your friends and family.
An engagement party is the first of many pre-wedding parties that you are likely to be the star of! Nowadays before you even make it up the aisle you are likely to be attending your own wedding shower, stag/hen party, wedding luncheon, rehearsal dinner and bridal brunch.
Advantages of throwing an engagement party:
- It gives you the perfect opportunity to officially announce your engagement.
- A party gives you a chance to celebrate your newly engaged status with your friends and family and show off your ring!
- It also provides an opportunity for both you and your partner’s family and friends and (if you have an inkling of who you might choose) your intended bridal party to meet each other prior to your wedding day.
- An engagement party provides a perfect excuse to get your friends and family together for some fun!
Here are some tips and ideas on how to throw a memorable engagement party.
Traditionally an engagement party is held up to two months after you become officially engaged.
If you prefer you can choose to postpone organizing the engagement party until you have chosen a wedding date or until the wedding date you have chosen is closer.
Who is the host?
Traditionally it is the couple’s parents who organize and host an engagement party. However if it is not feasible for either set of parents to organize the party (if they don’t live in the same town as the couple or if there are any awkward family relationships) it is acceptable for a friend or family member to host the event.
It is also worth keeping in mind that it is becoming increasingly popular for couples to organize the party themselves. This is a great idea, particularly if you want to surprise your guests with your engagement news at the actual party (you could send out party invitations without revealing the true reason behind the celebration).
There are no hard and fast rules, so do whatever is appropriate for you. Try not to offend anyone though if they offer to host an engagement party for you. Make the decision of what you and your fiancé want and politely decline any other offers.
Something to bear in mind is that whoever hosts the party is also expected to foot the bill, so think long and hard if your parents or a generous relative or friend is offering to throw a party for you! Remember too that if someone else actually hosts your engagement party it will allow you and your fiancé the freedom to circulate at the party rather than greeting guests, taking coats and serving food and drinks.
Work out whether you want a small or large scale engagement party and calculate a budget for it. Write down all the elements of the party including the invitation, the food, the drink, the entertainment and the decorations.
Be realistic if you are paying for the event yourself. You don’t want to be still paying for the engagement party once you are into the wedding planning stage!
Engagement parties can be as formal or as casual as you choose. The purpose is to celebrate your engagement with those who are close to you, not to spend copious amounts of cash on food, drinks and party decorations.
Try to keep in mind that some of the most enjoyable and memorable engagement parties are simple low-key events. That being said, if you or your parents have your hearts set on a full-blown elaborate sit-down dinner at a classy restaurant then I’m sure your guests will be more than happy to join you at such an event.
You might prefer to have a formal engagement party for your parents and then a more casual party with your friends. It is completely up to you.
Here are some ideas for celebrating your engagement:
- If it is within the host’s budget then how about a brunch or lunch buffet at your favorite restaurant.
- If you want something less formal then how about a casual cocktail party at your local bar? You could block off a room for a private party at your local bar and provide cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
Remember that with either of these options you cannot under any circumstances ask your party guests to pay for anything.
Here are some popular options which are more affordable if you are on a tight budget:
The most popular venue for engagement parties is at the home of either the couple or their parents. At home engagement party ideas include:
- Host a champagne or cocktail party with a casual buffet or hors d'oeuvres. Serve tasty food that is easy to eat and serve. For menu ideas take a look at Entertaining.about.com. If you prefer you can call in a professional caterer who will be able to devise an engagement themed menu and provide staff to serve and clean up at the party.
- With regard to drinks, concoct some romantic themed cocktails and ensure that wine, beer and soft drinks are also available. You can bulk buy these from a discount or club store.
- You could just serve a selection of delicious desserts with drinks.
- Host a cheese and wine themed party.
- A backyard barbecue is the most common style of outdoor engagement party. Decorate your backyard with strings of fairylights and candles in the evening to create a romantic atmosphere.
- How about a group picnic in the park, on the beach or at another scenic local area, such as a vineyard, a museum or on a party boat. Try to choose somewhere that has a special significance to you both (e.g. the location of your first date).
- Host a simple afternoon tea party. You could provide an assortment of teas, coffee and sandwiches served on pretty platters and decorated cakes displayed on elegant cake stands.
- To add a further element of fun to your party how about hosting a themed engagement party. There are many different themes which you could choose from, such as a Mexican theme (you could have a Mariachi band and hire a margarita machine, have piñatas and serve Mexican food!). Just because you choose to celebrate your engagement with a theme your guests will not automatically assume that you are likely to use the same theme for your wedding!
- Remember that if you are hosting an engagement party at your home then you must make sure that there is enough parking space available for your guests. If you are planning a large-scale party perhaps you should consider hiring a valet service.
Just because you might be on a tight budget does not mean that you cannot be creative with decorations for your engagement party.
- Decorate the engagement party venue with photo collages of the two of you including photos of you both growing up and once you met one another.
- Use romantic yet inexpensive decorations such as heart-shaped balloons, red tablecloths and napkins, banners, heart-shaped chocolates or candies in elegant bowls and candles casting a soft atmospheric glow.
- Order a pretty cake with either a photo of the two of you printed on it or simply with your names upon it.
- Whilst you have all of your potential wedding guests in one place (and if you have decided on a wedding date) why not hand out save-the-date cards, magnets or candies.
- You could use flowers to provide a stunning centerpiece on your engagement party serving tables or simply place vases of flowers around the room.
Choosing engagement invitations is a lot more fun than choosing wedding invitations so make the most of it! There are no ground rules with these party invites – they can be formal, informal, or even made verbally.
Once you decide on a date and venue for the party let your guests know so that they can mark their calendar. By sending out an invitation you are also giving them a chance to RSVP. You will need to have an idea of how many people you will be catering for.
You could create unique party invitations by using your engagement photo or a photo of the two of you together. If you are planning on having a themed engagement party (e.g. a barbeque, tea party or a Mexican party) you can use this as a basis for the style of your party invitation.
If you are planning on making your own party invitations you might find it helpful to check out sample invitation wordings available online.
How many guests you invite to your engagement party is up to you (and whoever is hosting the party), your budget and the number of people your venue will allow. Etiquette dictates that anyone who is invited to the engagement party must also be invited to the wedding.
If it is the case that even at this stage you are thinking that your wedding will be an intimate family-orientated affair then you should make those non-family guests you have invited to your engagement party aware of this so that there are no surprises for them when your wedding invitations are sent out.
It is common knowledge that gifts should definitely not be expected at an engagement party. However it is likely that some guests will want to buy you something. If you do decide to register for gifts at this early stage of your wedding planning, do not put the registry information on the engagement party invitation. Let your parents know where you're registered in case people ask them.
If you don’t know what type of gifts to register for then how about asking for engagement gifts which will help you to organize and plan your upcoming wedding? For example, a subscription to a wedding website or bridal magazine, tickets to a local wedding show, books on wedding planning.
If receiving gifts would make you uncomfortable you might prefer to explicitly state on the party invitation that engagement gifts are not necessary.
Entertaining your party guests
Contrary to popular belief you do not have to subject guests at your engagement party to endless cheesy party games. The most important thing is that your family and friends get to know one another in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Here are a few simple ideas of how to entertain your guests and hopefully encourage them to mingle:
- If it’s a daytime barbeque or picnic you are hosting, then why not organize an outdoor sporting event such as a game of softball, volleyball or even croquet for your guests. This will give them the perfect opportunity to bond.
- Just as you would at any party try to make introductions between guests and point out possible common interests.
- You can use visual props as icebreakers at your party. For example type up your engagement story and the story of how you met, frame it and display it for the guests to read. This will be sure to get them talking.
- Arrange to have an official engagement photo taken of you and then display it at your engagement party. A cute idea is also to display old photos of you and your fiancé as children, when you were growing up and when you first got together. This is traditionally a great conversation starter.
- To give your guests a heads up on who is who and your families structure display a family tree showing both families.
- Music at a party definitely enhances the atmosphere and encourages guests to interact. If you are hosting a large-scale party then how about organizing a live jazz band, a Mariachi band (perfect for a Mexican themed party), a pianist or a classical musician (violin, harp, acoustic guitar etc). Choose musical entertainment to match the theme and style of your party.
- By throwing the party in the evening your guests are more likely to relax and let go of their inhibitions and will be more inclined to get up and dance.
- If you have already started planning your wedding by the time the engagement party comes around then why not create a video photo montage including in it pictures of the church or wedding venue, the intended reception venue, your chosen transportation and other wedding planning ideas you have had. If you have decided on your bridal attendants you could even include footage of each of them to introduce them to your friends and family. This will give your guests a taster of the upcoming wedding.
- It is definitely a good idea to set up a microphone so that your host can make a toast to you both. If you place it in a prominent location it will encourage guests, as the party progresses, to make spontaneous toasts to you both.
- If you want to save money then rather than hiring an official photographer, why not ask a family member or friend who is reliable and has a certain amount of expertise with a camera to capture your engagement party for posterity in pictures or even on video. Alternatively ask party guests with cameras to share their photos with you after the party. It’s great to have photos as a keepsake of such a special event.
- This is a great and unusual idea; you provide two large white sheets of poster board and write "Wedding Advice From the Women" across the top of one and "Wedding Advice From the Men" on the other with a heavy marker pen. Attach a pen to each board and encourage your party guests to leave notes about things they learned while planning their own weddings or simply wedding planning suggestions from non-married guests. Not only will this give guests an opportunity to offer you their advice but you will inevitably come away with lots of helpful information which will serve you well in the upcoming wedding planning stages! If you want something less obtrusive than poster boards you could use pretty stationary or even index cards on a table at the party instead. You could stick them into an engagement scrapbook after the party alongside your photos and other engagement mementoes.
For more unique ideas on how to encourage your party guests to mingle check out our Guide to Wedding Guests.
Don’t get stressed out by the details of your engagement party. Make the most of this special time before the ensuing chaos of planning your actual wedding begins! Organize a party that feels right for you and your fiancé. If you are relaxed and enjoying yourself then your family and friends are sure to have a great time too!
The last but most important piece of advice we can give you is to relax, enjoy your engagement party and have a good time with your friends and family. Remember that they are all there to celebrate your love and upcoming nuptials not to judge you on your choice of party nibbles!
Congratulations - We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating your engagement!
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