How to throw an engagement party, from setting a date to styling your event.
Congratulations on your engagement! Having recently popped the question or gained a ring, you’ll be bursting to share the joy with your friends and family. Because this is a special party for a special occasion it pays to do a little planning to make sure everything runs smoothly. Tick off our simple 8 step plan to host the gala of the season. Or casual courtyard drinks of the season, if that’s more your style.
Saturday at three
Step one is setting the date of your party. If you’re inviting guests from out of town check your city’s calendar for large events that could book out accommodation. Also check your calendar for family birthdays to avoid people having to choose between Gran’s 90th and your engagement party. Once you’ve decided on a date run it past any must-haves like your parents. Unfortunately, some guests won’t be able to attend the date you’ve chosen. Stand firm on your chosen date but consider planning individual catch ups like a celebratory weekend brunch.
Be our guest
Step two is writing your guest list. This will help you decide who you want to invite and how large your party will be. First write a list of names then sort them into categories like family, friends, and acquaintances. If you’re planning an intimate wedding you might throw a large engagement party to include everyone who won’t be invited to the wedding. If you’re planning a large wedding you might choose to save money by hosting an intimate engagement party. See more detail on managing guests in our Seating Plan article.
Garden party or ballroom soirée?
Step three is choosing who will host your party. Traditionally the bride’s parents host the occasion, but modern couples have broadened their options to include restaurants, city bars, local gardens, and their own homes. You might choose the restaurant where you had your first date, or the rooftop bar where the proposal happened. A personal connection with the venue will make your engagement party even more special and memorable.
Invite your favourite people
Step four is sending out invitations. Or save the dates if you’re not ready to decide on the party details. Match your invitation method to the formality of your event. Social media or email invites suit a relaxed occasion while posted invites suit a formal occasion. There’s an entire industry surrounding event invitation. While you’re welcome to craft your own, you can also download templates for free, order personalised stock designs, or have custom invitations created specifically for your event. If you already know what your wedding colour palette is going to be it’s nice to link this to your engagement party palette, starting with your invites.
Style simple, beautiful décor
Step five is styling. Not sure what style you're after? Check out our Mood Boards (+ colour palettes)!
Your engagement party doesn’t have to match your wedding. However, if your wedding already has a theme nod to that by using a similar style of venue or decorations. Party styling is all about (wait for it) simple but effective details. Try a large bunch of flowers at the entry, a hand scripted welcome sign, and string lights above the party space. These three little touches create a special occasion atmosphere without the fuss. If you’re after something more dramatic consider hiring human-sized illuminated initials for a stylish statement piece.
Cater food and drink
Step six is catering. This is where budgets tend to blow out. It’s important to have a clear figure in mind when planning your party’s catering. The trick is to match your party’s time with your budget. A low budget suits an early afternoon garden party or pot luck dinner. A medium budget suits a late afternoon cocktail party with catered bites. A high budget allows for a five-course dinner.
Thank your guests for coming
Step seven is speech making. Speeches aren’t expected at an engagement party, but it’s always a good idea to tell everyone you’re glad they came. This is the opportunity to share your proposal story and thank that friend who introduced the two of you. Your favourite people have gathered to celebrate your love so they’ll enjoy hearing the details. If you’re not comfortable saying thank you in speech form, simply escort your guests to the door when they leave and thank them in person. Hosting etiquette 101.
Step eight is graciously accepting gifts. Gifts aren’t expected at engagement parties, but it’s possible that some guests will bring gifts. To avoid a large empty gift table, consider a thank you table instead. Here’s our Thank You Table article for more detail. Alternatively, you could start your wedding gift registry and provide the link to any guests who enquire about gifts. With a registry you’re guaranteed to receive useful gifts that you actually want. No tea cosy's in sight.
Happy planning love birds. Whatever party you throw everyone is there to celebrate you and your happiness. At a well-planned party you can relax and soak up the joy surrounding your relationship.
We love seeing and sharing your celebrations! #occasionlab for repost @occasionlab
Header Photography: Michael Negrete