If you’ve decided that you want to have a party or get together to celebrate your engagement, the planning can give you a little glimpse into the task that you have ahead of you for planning the big day itself! We’ve put together a handy guide to help you plan your (hopefully stress free!) engagement party:
1. Decide who will host your engagement party
Traditionally the bride’s family host the festivities although, as with many traditions, the rules are a lot more flexible nowdays. It maybe that both sets of parents want to co-host, that the bride and groom want to host themselves, or perhaps close friends want to throw a party to mark the occasion.
Just remember to always check with the bride’s parents if you want to deviate from the norm, they may not be as willing to break from tradition as you are!
2. Pick a date and time
Generally speaking you should pick a date that is no more than 4 months after the proposal, not only does this keep the buzz of a new engagement fresh, but it is usually before you get knee deep in wedding planning!
3. Decide on a budget
It is important to set your budget early on when planning an engagement party. Not only will it help you narrow down other options, such as venue and guest list, but if you don’t plan you can find yourself with a much bigger bill than you might have anticipated (especially with a wedding to plan!).
4. Create your guest list
Your budget may determine how many people you can invite (or your venue may), but as a general rule, make sure whoever you invite to your engagement party is on your wedding guest list too!
5. Pick a location & venue
If you live in London but your friends and family live in Manchester, you may decide to head to your home-town for your engagement party. You could, of course, get your guests to come to your neck of the woods, or even meet somewhere in the middle. Whatever you do, try to be mindful of how far people will have to travel – especially those who you are going to be seeing a great deal more of over the coming months.
It goes without saying that the venue you pick should be a reflection of the formality you want for the occasion, and will be determined by the budget that you have set. If this is the first time that your families are meeting, a more informal setting may help break the ice and put everyone at ease.
Your engagement party doesn’t have to have the same theme and/or formality as you plan for your wedding, so don’t get too stressed about finding something that matches what you’re thinking for the big day!
6. Send out your invitations
Send out the invitations to your event as early as possible – we recommend no later than 6 weeks before. The sooner you send out your invites the sooner you get responses and can plan for the number of people who can make it, plus any special requirements that they may have.
7. Plan your food and drink
The food and drink that you require will depend hugely on the type of event that you’re hosting. If you’re planning on having a sit down dinner at a restaurant try and circulate the menu before time so that your guests have time to plan and let you know if they have any requirements that aren’t catered for.
If you’re catering the party yourself, write up everything that you will need 2-3 weeks before the event, and buy/make as much as you can early. Some perishables will have to wait until last minute.
If you’re providing the drinks yourselves a good rule of thumb is to plan two drinks per guest for the first hour of the party, and one each hour after that.
8. Think about your decorations
Depending on the venue/type of party you’re hosting, you might not need decorations, but, if you do, plan for what you want about 6 weeks in advance, and buy them as soon as possible. This will give you time to source all the bits that you need, and make any decorations that require home assembly!
9. Engagement party gift list
Gifts aren’t necessarily given at engagement parties (they are usually saved for the wedding!), but it may be worth preparing a gift list at this stage just in case you get requests from your guests. If you really don’t want your guests to bring a gift, it might be worth adding a polite line to your invitations – you may still get some guests who bring something anyway, so make sure you have planned somewhere to put them on the day!
10. Prepare your outfit!
You’re going to be the centre of attention at your engagement party (whether you like it or not!) so make sure that you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in and that befits the formality of the event.
If you can get organised in time, prepare your save the date cards and hand them out at your engagement party – it will be a nice touch and save you on postage down the line!