They popped the question, you said yes, and now there's this sparkling ring on your finger that you can't stop staring at. Sure, you've spread the word via text and social media, but doesn't this call for a celebration? You know, those in-person type shindigs.
Throwing an engagement party is a great way to kick off this major life milestone. Plus, if you time it right, it will be before you get into the nitty-gritty of wedding planning, which means it'll be a refreshing (read: stress-free) way to start this wedding adventure.
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Before You Get into Planning, Here's What to Consider:
- Party Vibe / Size: Decide if you want a traditional seated dinner party or something more unique. Are you looking for an intimate at-home gathering or a large, formal party? Whatever you choose, be sure to check with your partner, so you both are on the same page.
- Is One Party Enough? If you and your fiancé's families live in very different places, you might need to host two separate parties. This is pretty common these days, so not to worry. If you have a specific group of friends or coworkers who want to host a get-together in your honor, go for it. Happy hour on them is never something to turn down.
- Budget: If you're going to host the engagement party as a couple, make sure to set your wedding budget first. Then look it over to be sure there are enough funds to host your engagement party.
Bonus Points if You Consider This Too:
- If your parents haven't already met, set a different date before the engagement party for them to meet. You'll want them to get to know one another better in a smaller setting before being congratulated by a room full of guests.
- Want to get a leg up on wedding planning and save yourself some questioning at the engagement party? Then take the time to set the date & location of your wedding so you can spread the news in an organized and maybe even cute way at your engagement party. Plus, it'll save you the stress of having a blank stare when asked this common question.
How to Plan Your Engagement Party:
Follow this easy step-by-step guide to plan your perfect engagement party.
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Figure Out Who is Hosting the Party
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the engagement party. Still, these days many couples like to mix it up and nix tradition. Anyone can host, from your siblings to friends, your partner's parents, or even you as a couple. It's really up to you and them. Just know that whoever commits to hosting the party typically also pays for the celebration.
Tip: if you are planning a big blow-out party and need to enlist the help of a professional, be on the lookout for wedding planners that include engagement party planning in their packages.
Set the Date
The best time to throw your engagement party is within a few months from when you said "yes"! You want to celebrate while the news is still fresh but before you've gotten into the depths of wedding planning stress. If you have an extended engagement, it is okay to delay it to more than a few months out.
If you got engaged during a holiday, feel free to combine your party with a birthday party or Labor Day. But, if it's a holiday like Thanksgiving where people likely want to celebrate with their own families, better to steer clear of that date and let them do their own thing.
Decide Who to Invite
Likely you don't want your engagement party to be like throwing another wedding, so our advice is to limit your guest list. Invite your closest friends and family. If your ideal party size allows, you might want to also talk with the host of the party to see who they would like to invite.
Everyone invited to your engagement party must also be asked to your wedding. It's considered poor etiquette not to do this, so don't make this faux pax.
Pick Your Place
Your engagement party isn't a stuffy affair, so have fun with it. You don't need only to consider catering halls or restaurants. Pick a venue you love, even if that means your parent's backyard. This party can be as formal as you want, so go for it if low-key is more your speed.
Get that Registry Ready
Once the word is out that you are engaged, many people will want to send you a gift. This is an excellent time for you to get a head start on your registry to make their lives easier. Focus on adding smaller, more affordable gifts; you can always add the high-ticket items to your wedding registry later.
Just be sure not to list this on your engagement party invite; that would be considered tacky. Instead, list your wedding website and post the registry there or tell your nosiest Aunt, who is sure to spread the word to the rest of your family.
If people's presence is all you want and not their presents, it's okay to spell that out on your invitation.
Mail Out Invitations
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If you're going with paper invites, be sure to get them printed in time so they can be mailed out at least one month in advance. You want to give guests enough time to RSVP.
Are you hosting a more casual party? Opt for e-invites and pick from endless designs. Consider using a service like Paperless Post for a classy style yet a user-friendly online option.
No need to match these invites to the rest of your wedding stationery; go wild and pick a design you love, even if it ends up being an entirely different theme and style from your actual wedding.
Choose Your Menu
Even if you're mainly hosting a beer tasting or cocktail party, you're still going to want to make sure there's plenty of food for guests to munch on. So whether it's small appetizers, cheese plates, desserts, or a multi-course dinner, you need to plan it all out.
Keep your menu closely aligned with your overall theme and venue. Are you hosting a pool party in your parent's backyard? How about a barbeque or casual clam bake? Are you having your engagement party at a fancy restaurant? A seated dinner is a much better match.
Get the Good Vibes Going
Decide what theme, décor, and activities or games you want at your engagement party. It can be as over-the-top or straightforward as you want it to be. Think about your love story and guests and figure out what works best to help everyone celebrate this moment.
If you're not big into setting up, balloons and garlands with simple bud vase arrangements and votives always hit the right notes.
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Don't Forget to Plan Your Look
Many brides love to kick off their wedding planning by wearing white. Whether you choose to stick with this tradition or not, be sure to pick something you feel both fabulous and comfortable in. There's nothing worse than spending all night in something that doesn't feel right, so stay true to your unique style. Oh, and don't forget to complement your outfit to your honey's outfit too.
Steal These Fun Engagement Party Themes:
Let's Picnic Together
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Grab some blankets, bamboo utensils, bottles of champagne and beer, and individually packaged sandwiches and chips from your favorite deli or take-out joint. Decorate the trees with string lights or streamers and let the big party picnic begin. Just don't forget to bring out some speakers to liven things up.
Drive-in Theater Night
Drive-in movie theaters got a significant boost during the pandemic. Now that a lot of sites are open, why not take advantage? Pick your favorite movie and maybe even create a cinematic trailer of your real-life romance. Be sure to have enough popcorn, soda, and movie theater candy on hand to keep everyone happy.
Mix It Up
Hire a mixologist or a personal chef to host a lesson to create a special drink or menu recipe. Please keep it simple but flavorful. If it's something you love, you might even want to incorporate it into your wedding day menu as a reminder to all those who attend your engagement party.
Get a Head Start on DIY
If getting crafty is something you love, then consider a hands-on DIY workshop as your engagement party. Whether it's a paint night party, group floral arrangement, or pottery class, be sure everyone has all the supplies needed. And don't forget to put out a great spread of cocktails and appetizers.
Time for Some Retro Fun
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If you're into all things retro, you'll love the idea of a roller rink, arcade, or ice cream parlor party. Find your favorite oldies spot and ask your guests to wear their best retro attire. Play classic tunes, order-in pizza, and enjoy some good ole fashion fun.
Root for Your Home Team Together
Have a favorite sports team? Cheer them on and celebrate all at the same time. Reserve a party suite at the stadium and let the fun begin. To save, consider supporting your local minor-league sports team over a pro-league if that's something you are into.
If football, baseball, or basketball aren't your thing, how about making it a fancier sporting event? Get those oversized hats ready for an equestrian affair at the racetracks as you host a Derby-inspired party filled with bourbon and mint juleps.
Okay, maybe not quite yachting, but does any boat party count?! We say it does. Book a sunset sailboat to set the romantic mood just in time for your engagement. Just be sure to pack plenty of water, Dramamine, and life jackets. Oh, and tell those latecomers, they have to be on time not to miss the boat.
Many new campsites have opened, offering more luxury glamping options with upgraded blankets, furniture, and on-site food and drinks. Scope out a site or find a local campground with cabins that you can "glampify" yourself. Just be sure not to skimp on bathrooms and toiletries – those are essentials for those uninitiated to actual, less glorious camping.
Yay, It's a Chic Chalet
If winter vibes are what get you going, then there's no better place to channel that than at a ski lodge. Invite your guests to hit the slopes with you or chill by the fire with hot cocoa and fur blankets at your Aspen-inspired chalet.
Celebrate with a Carnival
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If you grew up going to the State Fair every year, then you know how much fun a Carnival can be. Rent some outdoor rides and games like a mini Ferris wheel or skeeball, and hire a balloon artist or face painter. Add some excellent carnival food like cotton candy, corn dogs, and funnel cake to the mix, and you know it's going to be a party to remember.
Keep Guests Entertained with These Party Games:
If the Shoe Fits
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This game is an engagement party classic. The couple sits back-to-back, and each holds their shoe and their partner's shoe. The host asks a series of relationship questions like "who said 'I Love You' first?" and each partner raises the correct person's shoe to answer the question. Without knowing their partner's responses, guests record their answers and see where they match.
Create a DIY "Guess Who?" board by printing pictures of party guests and gluing them to each board. Then let them play and guess who is left standing. This is a fun way for guests on both sides to get to know names and faces better.
This game works great, especially for outdoor parties. Grab some giant-sized plastic "engagement" rings and hide them throughout the space. Be sure to have some small prizes on hand to give to those who find the rings.
Mad Libs, Bridal Bingo, or Crossword
If you're looking for an easy icebreaker, leave some cards at the table to let your guests join in the fun. You can turn the couple's love story into a mad lib, grab a pre-made bridal bingo or crossword printable card or customize one yourself.
With these suggestions and tips, you're sure to have an engagement party you'll never forget. Just keep that champagne flowing and make sure you take time to enjoy it. If you're still not convinced you want to throw an engagement party, that's okay. Still, take the time to recognize this moment in your life and celebrate however you please. Our alternative suggestions? Take some engagement photos, plan a staycation, or indulge in some self-care with a spa day instead.