Congrats! You’re engaged! While your wedding may be several months away, there’s no reason why you can’t start celebrating your commitment to each other now. This is a special time for you, your family and your friends and you’ll want to make the most of it.
Of course, an engagement party isn’t necessary, but can definitely enhance the entire experience of merging your two lives together.
Not only is it a great excuse to celebrate your love, it is also a perfect way to introduce the important people that will be involved in your wedding to each other. They’ll probably be spending a lot of time together prior to your special day, so making the first meeting fun might help things go smoother down the road.
Planning an engagement party is also a great warm-up for planning your actual wedding – after all, an engagement party still requires invitations, a guest list, and a venue. But what’s great about an engagement party is there’s less pressure to make it perfect.
We know that weddings can get expensive, and many couples look for ways to cut costs. An engagement party is often one of the festivities that gets cut to save money. If an engagement party isn’t in your budget, don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to celebrate in the future, from showers to bachelor and bachelorette parties.
But if it does make it in to your plans, here are some things you’ll want to consider to make your engagement party a success.
1. Who’s Hosting?
Traditionally, the bride’s parents will host the engagement party. But this isn’t a strict rule – a friend, a sibling, or even you and your fiancé can plan it together. Your parents can even collaborate with your partner’s parents to plan your engagement party.
Some couples have multiple engagement parties with multiple hosts. Your parents may want to host a large party just for family, while you and your fiancé may want to hold a party just for your close friends. Having more than one engagement party is especially common among couples with family members that live far away – if your fiancé’s parents live in Los Angeles and your parents live in Brooklyn, your future in-laws may want to hold a party on the West Coast while your parents may want to hold a party on the East Coast.
If you’d like to have an engagement party, you should run it by the bride’s parents first in case they were looking forward to hosting the event. If they’re not able to commit to hosting a party, you can carry on.
It’s generally the responsibility of the host to pay for the party and send out the invitations. Of course, if you’re doing the inviting, you should pay for the party.
2. When is it?
Most engagement parties happen a few weeks after the initial engagement. If you’re having a longer engagement or already have a busy calendar, it’s okay to hold your engagement party a few months after being engaged.
3. What’s the budget?
If you’re already spending a significant amount of money on your wedding, it’s wise to keep track of your budget – even if you’re planning a small party. Planning your budget will give you an idea of how many people to invite and what kind of venue to choose.
There are many ways to cut costs if you’re set on having an engagement party. You can host the party in someone’s home or backyard to avoid paying for a venue. You can also simplify the menu, or even make it a potluck or BYOB.
4. Where is it?
You’ll want to choose a venue that matches your vision of the engagement party – if you want to have a simple party, at home or at a casual restaurant will do. If you’re trying to host a more formal party, consider an upscale restaurant or a country club to host the event.
Just remember that you’re not trying to outshine your actual wedding, so try to create an atmosphere or theme that’s completely different than what you envision your wedding to be like.
5. Who’s coming?
Traditionally, you should only invite guests that you’ll also be inviting to your wedding. Most engagement parties will have a smaller guest list than their wedding guest list. If you have no idea how many people you’ll be inviting to your wedding, just try to keep your engagement party guest list small so no one’s feelings get hurt.
6. How should I send invitations?
Since an engagement party is less formal than an actual wedding, you can keep the invitations simple – this will also help cut costs for your party. You can make invitations by hand, or you can save time and money by creating online invitations. Your invitations don’t have to match the color scheme of your wedding. However, your invitation should match the formality of the party itself – so if you’re planning on holding a more formal party, you should skip the digital invites. However, a Facebook invitation is acceptable for a super casual casual backyard barbeque.
7. What food should I serve?
The food you serve is determined by your budget. You don’t need to have an elaborate meal at your engagement party – save that for your wedding. As stated earlier, having a potluck party is a simple way to cut costs.
Another option to spend less is to serve hors d’oeuvres or desserts for your engagement party. If your party will only have snack foods, plan your party in between meal times. Make sure it is obvious on your invitations that you won’t be serving a full meal. You won’t want your guests showing up on an empty stomach. You could write something on your invitations along the lines of, “Join us for hors d’oeuvres and champagne.”
8. Should guests bring gifts?
Gifts aren’t expected for an engagement party, especially for a casual one.You can kindly specify on invitations that gifts are not necessary. However, some guests will still feel obligated to bring gifts. You can create a preliminary registry with low to medium priced gifts – after all, you’ll still get wedding gifts later. If your friend, sibling, or parents are hosting the engagement party, they can share the registry with eager gift-givers.
At your engagement party, you should set aside a place to keep any gifts you receive out of plain sight in order to keep guests that show up empty-handed from feeling uncomfortable.
9. What should I wear to my engagement party?
Whatever you wear should fit the theme of the party. If you’re the bride, you may be wondering if you have to wear white to your engagement party. Many brides-to-be choose to wear white, but it’s not required. If your party is formal, avoid upstaging your wedding dress.
You probably haven’t even bought your wedding dress yet, which is normal if you are recently engaged. The best way to avoid upstaging your wedding dress is to wear something simple. You can still wear an elegant but simple dress to a formal party.
Above all, remember that an engagement party is supposed to be a celebration. Try not to stress out too much about the details, you’ll have plenty of time to do that with the wedding.