So, you’ve taken a moment to enjoy your engagement bubble and shared the news with your nearest and dearest. Now it’s time to pop the champagne and start planning an unforgettable engagement soiree!
While it may not feel as daunting as planning a wedding, there’s still a fair amount of work involved in hosting a seamless, stress-free event. From choosing a date and venue to organizing food, decor and attire, read on for our tips on planning your engagement party to perfection, along with some etiquette tips to help you avoid any major faux pas along the way.
1. Decide Who’s Hosting
First, you’ll need to decide who’s going to be hosting the event. Traditionally, an engagement party would be hosted by the bride’s parents – but these days, there are absolutely no expectations!
You might decide to host the party yourselves, or accept an offer of hosting from one (or both) sets of parents. It really depends on your family situation and what you feel comfortable with.
Don’t forget you can always have more than one engagement celebration if that suits your needs better. For example: if your families live in different states or countries, or if you want to host a formal dinner with family and a more casual get-together with your extended group of friends. There are no rules, so choose what works for you!
2. Pick a Date
Next, you’ll have to pick a suitable date for your engagement soiree. The perfect date will depend on your availability, the availability of your hosts (if relevant) and the length of your engagement. Ideally, you’ll want to give yourself a bit of time to enjoy your engagement before organising a big party – but, you don’t want to leave it too long, or you may find yourself planning your engagement party and wedding at the same time!
The sweet spot? We think between 2-4 months after popping the question is an ideal time for your engagement party. This way, the excitement is still fresh, but you’ll have some space to recover before diving headfirst into the wedding planning process.
3. Set a Budget (and Stick to It!)
Remember – you still have a wedding to plan in the not-too-distant future, so you don’t want to blow out the budget on your engagement party!
Whether your budget is modest or extravagant, sit down with your partner to work out how much you’d be happy to spend, and then create a spreadsheet to track your expenses. If one or both sets of parents are hosting your engagement party, it’s worth having an upfront conversation about their expectations, too.
You’ll find the biggest costs will likely be food, drink and venue hire, but there are plenty of ways to tailor your engagement party to suit your budget. For example: hosting the party at home in lieu of a venue, or opting for a relaxed brunch over a fancy dinner.
4. Create Your Guest List
Okay, now it’s time to figure out who should receive an invite to your engagement soiree! When it comes to drafting up a guest list, you’ll need to consider the correct etiquette to avoid any major faux pas.
Whether your party is big or small, there’s one golden rule to follow: anyone who receives an invitation to your engagement party should also be invited to your wedding. Think about it like this – your guests will likely invest in an outfit and gift for your party, and may have to travel or organise childcare. With this in mind, it’s considered impolite to exclude any engagement party guests from your wedding.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to invite your entire wedding guest list to your engagement party if the budget doesn’t allow it. You can absolutely plan an intimate engagement party with your closest loved ones, and invite your extended friends and family to the main event.
5. Choose a Location
Now it’s time to choose a suitable location for your engagement celebration! The options are endless, and it will ultimately depend on your budget, guest numbers and the formality of your event.
Planning something luxe and lavish? A fancy restaurant or hotel rooftop would be the perfect backdrop for your party.
Prefer something relaxed and low-key? A backyard barbecue or beachside gathering would be a great fit.
Want to meet somewhere in the middle? A stylish cocktail bar or family estate would work beautifully.
6. Send Out Your Invites
Once the essential details have been locked in, you’ll want to get the word out to your guests!
Again, draw cues from the formality of your event to help you create the perfect engagement party invitations. If you’re planning a luxury soiree, you might choose traditional paper invitations to set the right tone. But if you’re planning something more low-key, you might opt for digital invitations as a modern alternative, or even a Facebook event to communicate the details with your guests.
Not sure what to include on your engagement party invitations? Simply outline the most important information your loved ones need to know about your upcoming event. This should include:
- Your names
- The names of the host/s (if relevant)
- The time, date and location
- The dress code
- RSVP date and instructions
Your invitation wording should also hint at the formality of your event. For a high-end event, you should use sophisticated wording – but for a relaxed cocktail party, you can keep it casual.
An example invitation wording for a formal engagement party would be:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith request the pleasure of your company at a dinner reception to celebrate the engagement of their daughter,
Matilda Smith to Matthew Johnson
On Saturday the Tenth of February, at Six o’clock in the evening
Hillview Country Club, Portland
The favour of a reply is requested by January Fifteenth.
Kindly RSVP to (insert email address).
An example invitation wording for a relaxed engagement party would be:
Eat, Drink and Celebrate!
You’re invited to celebrate
Amy and Anthony’s engagement.
10th February 2022
Sails Rooftop Bar, Seattle
RSVP by 10 March to Amy
at (insert phone number)
Timing-wise, we recommend sending your engagement party invitations at least 1 month prior to the party, or earlier for any guests that may need to arrange travel.
7. Choose an Outfit
Your engagement party is definitely deserving of an extra special outfit. When it comes to choosing the perfect attire, consider the venue and vibe of your event. A cocktail dress would be perfect for a formal party, while a pretty sundress would be great for a relaxed outdoor barbecue.
Can you wear white to your engagement party? Absolutely! Dressing in white can be a great way to stand out from your guests. Just avoid anything too “bridal” – you don’t want to outshine your wedding day look, after all.
8. Decide On a Menu
Food and drink are always the most important elements of any good party, including your engagement bash. Cocktail food is typically the best choice for an engagement party (unless you’re planning a formal sit-down event).
Think about the kind of menu that best suits the atmosphere of your event. This could be a roaming selection of canapes and hor d’oeuvres, a lavish grazing table with cheeses, crackers and dips, or even specialty food stations or food trucks.
Drinks-wise, stock up your bar with a selection of champagne, wine and beer – or even ask guests to BYO for a casual backyard celebration.
9. Think About Gifts
Gifts typically aren’t expected at an engagement party, but you might find some guests will want to give you a little something to say congratulations. We don’t recommend sharing a gift registry on your invitations, but you may want to create one that you can share directly if anyone asks for ideas.
On the day itself, we’d also recommend finding a discreet, safe place at the venue for your guests to leave gifts and cards. Don’t forget to send a thank you note or text following the event for any gifts received!
10. Set the Mood
Now, let’s talk about decor and styling. You don’t need to go extravagant with lavish floral installations and balloon displays, but some hanging festoon lights and scattered candles can go a long way to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. A photo backdrop is also a great idea for your guests to capture some happy snaps throughout the event!
11. Make a Toast
Do you need to give a speech at your engagement party? Traditionally, the father of the bride would give a toast to the happy couple – but really, anyone close to you and your fiance can give a short speech at your engagement party.
While you don’t need to give a formal speech (save that for the wedding day!), it’s a nice idea to welcome your guests and thank them for being there. Be sure to thank the hosts of the party if relevant, too.
12. Start Planning Your Wedding!
Engagement party done and dusted? Take a breath – now it’s time to start planning the main event!