The great thing about an engagement party is that there aren’t expectations for when it needs to be held. It can be the week after you’re engaged or a few months down the road! Whatever works best for you as a couple and your friends and family. Typically, the only guideline is to make sure it’s not within six months of your wedding date. Otherwise, pick a date and celebrate away!
You’ll want to plan for a few hours, which will allow time for people to arrive, eat, enjoy dessert and then mingle amongst your guests. Usually, parties last anywhere from two hours to four hours. Setting a timeframe will be helpful if you’re booking a room or public space, otherwise, you can keep the time open and let people come and go as they are able to.
It’s usually a good idea to include immediate family and anyone in your wedding party, including friends or family who may be ushers, musicians, etc. You can stop the list there in order to keep the party small. Or having a small, more intimate, gathering with just your closest friends can be fun as well.
However, if you want a big party, then make the invite list as long as you want. When you think about celebrating your engagement, think of what size party excites you the most! If you are thinking of having a destination wedding and not holding a local reception upon your return, an engagement party is a great way to include more family and friends who won’t be at the wedding but that still want to be a part of the festivities.
Creating a Facebook event with invites or sending out invites over email is most common. However, you can make it as simple as a text or as formal as a mailed invitation. Again, this all comes down to your style. If your party is casual, keep the invite process casual and if your party is formal, keep the invite process formal. That way your guests get a feel for what to expect.
It’s usually best to give at least a month’s notice when sending out invites.
This really depends on your party style and your budget. If you want something nicer or more formal, rent a room at one of your favorite restaurants or book a banquet room at a hotel. If you are hoping for something casual, laid back or simple, gather in a nice park or at someone’s home. That gives you the option to cater in, host the party potluck style or even do the cooking yourself if you fancy being the chef. Pick a place that will make planning simple and will allow you and your guests to be comfortable and then go for it!
It’s always fun as the bride-to-be to wear a cute white dress or white outfit. If you have a specific dress code in mind make sure to share that on the invitation. Otherwise, guests will often wear what they are comfortable in, anything from casual apparel to dinner party apparel.
If you’re going to hold the party at a restaurant or hotel hall, check when you are booking the room and see what dinner options they provide for parties. Also, select a few drink options to offer as a choice with the meal.
If you’re hosting the party at a park or at someone’s house you can do the meal potluck style, cater it in, do an hors-d’oeuvres style dinner with finger food or even rent a local food truck! Drinks can be bought ahead of time and stored in drink or ice buckets to be easily accessible and chilled.
Dessert isn’t necessary but usually couples have something sweet for their guests to enjoy. If you decide you want to offer a dessert, make sure it is something that can be handled ahead of time and easy to bring out and serve. Anything from a cake, to cupcakes, to an assortment of bite-sized desserts, to an ice cream bar would be fun.
Music will help create a fun atmosphere for your guests to enjoy. Often times a playlist and Bluetooth speaker work wonderfully for that. If you’re holding the party outside at a park or backyard, then lawn games are fun if kids will be involved. But remember, people will mainly want to mingle and chat, so you don’t need to spend too much thought on entertaining guests beyond some simple music. If you are like me though, you love having games at a party and have prizes for the winners. The prizes can be something small like a hand lotion.
Decorations aren’t necessary for engagement parties. However, if you have the budget and desire to put something together, it’s fun to decorate with the color scheme and style you’ll use for your wedding. Then you can re-use the decorations on your wedding day to style the dessert table, guest book table or other ceremony and reception areas.
Guestbooks aren’t usually included at engagement parties since they are at the wedding instead and they’ll tend to include the same written sentiments. But, if you would like a guestbook then don’t let anyone stop you. It’s your party and you can include whatever will help you enjoy and remember the party best! So if that’s a guestbook, then definitely have one.
A short and sweet talk is perfect for an engagement party. Saying thank you to your guests for coming and publicly thanking anyone who helped plan or host the party is very kind. You can briefly introduce your wedding party if you want. However, don’t feel pressure to do anything more. Rehearsal dinners are a more appropriate time to give deeper acknowledgment to your family and wedding party.
I recommend keeping your wedding registry for bridal parties and the actual wedding. Engagement presents are optional, some guests may decide to bring something but most often, guests just come to celebrate you in person. If you want to clarify that gifts aren’t necessary, it is helpful to put that on your invite.
Writing & sending cards or sending individual messages to your guests is considerate and kind. They’ll feel appreciated by the thoughtful gesture. One way to make this step easier for you is to have envelopes at your welcome table for your guest to write their address.
I hope all these tips help you plan your amazing engagement party. Remember it doesn’t matter if its huge or small, what matters is the memories you will make with your loved ones! So, don’t stress it trying to make it the “perfect” engagement party. It will be perfect because everyone who will be attending is simply happy to hang out with you!
Happy Engagement Party Planning!
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