How to Throw an Engagement Party
An engagement party is a once-in-a-lifetime event to celebrate a couple's plans to marry. It is the opportunity for people to congratulate you and introduce the bride and groom’s friends and families to one another. Throwing the engagement party can be a lot of time and effort but if you follow a few steps and keep organized then you should have a blast!
Planning and Budgeting for the Party
Agree on a host.Traditionally the parents of either the groom or the bride will host the engagement party, but it is also common for the couple themselves to host the party. Other options include a friend of the couple, both families co-hosting the party or even the groom planning the celebration.
- Since it is not always customary to have an engagement party, the couple may not even know that there is interest in giving them one. It also isn't the type of party that a couple could ask someone to do for them, so letting them know you are interested in throwing the party will open the door for them to talk to you about what type of party they are interested in. This will help you to get a tentative guest list from them.
- While the best man or maid of honor can throw the engagement party, it is usually better for the families or the couple themselves to throw the party since the maid of honor and best man will have to organize other parties later on.
- If the couple is announcing their engagement for the first time, then they likely will host the event.
Pick a date and time.The engagement party is usually held one to three months after the proposal but this will depend on the individual circumstances of the bride and groom. If the couple plans to have a short engagement then the party should be sooner rather than later. If it is too close to the time of the wedding then it can feel like an early wedding shower and this is not what you want.
- Nine to eleven months before the wedding is a good time for the engagement party.
- Holding the party on a weekday rather than a weekend can significantly reduce the cost of the celebration.
- While many parties are held in the evening, the engagement party could also be a breakfast or brunch event, a mid-day pool party or held during happy hour at your favorite bar. Be creative.
Determine a budget.The engagement party does not have to be costly. It should be a fun and happy celebration so it can be as relaxed or high-energy as you choose. Some prefer to hold just a small get-together while others prefer to hold an evening filled with dancing and music.
- A formal dinner party would be more expensive than a backyard barbecue but either are acceptable for an engagement party.
- Set a budget that includes all aspects of the party: invitations, food, drink, entertainment, decoration, venue and favors.
Create a guest list.The purpose of the engagement party is to bring together the bride and groom’s friends and family so that they can all meet one another. The engagement party is usually an intimate occasion and it is usually inappropriate to invite anyone who will not be invited to the wedding. Get lists from the bride and groom of close family and friends.
- If you are on a tight budget, reduce the guest list by inviting only immediate family members and close friends.
- Sometimes you can invite people to the engagement party that are not invited to the wedding. This is especially true nowadays when many couples live and/or host their weddings far from friends and families.
- If the engagement party is going to be a surprise, make a guest list including the family members and close friends. Ask two or three other people to review the list to make sure you don’t forget anyone.
Determine a venue.The venue can be anything you choose: your own home, a park, the beach, a restaurant, a hall or a bar for example. Remember your budget and the theme of your party when deciding on a venue.
- Consider having the party at a place that is special to the couple. For example the location of their first date, a park they enjoy going to or some other location.
Decide whether or not you will be accepting gifts.Gifts can be a source of confusion for guests and it is important to inform people ahead of time if gifts are accepted or not. Many do not accept gifts at their engagement party and the invitations should read “no gifts please” to clarify this fact.
- If you do choose to accept gifts then you should expect low- to mid-range priced gifts and can register for these. The location of registration should be marked on the invitations in this case.
- If you have requested no gifts yet guests bring them, wait until after the party to open them so that other guests do not feel uncomfortable.
Find others to help you organize the party.Throwing a party can be a lot of work so try to find a few other people in the planning and preparation. If you already know the members of the wedding party then you can involve them in the engagement party.
Send invitations.These should be sent out around one month to six weeks before the party. Invitations can be elaborate but it is also perfectly acceptable to send email or another kind of electronic invitation. This will also reduce the cost of the party. They should be kept with the theme of the party.
- Invitations should be sent out four to six weeks before the party.
- The invitations do not have to match the rest of your stationary, especially if you have not decided on a theme or color palette yet.
- You can include a return card for RSVPs or not depending on your preference.
Decide on party favors.It is not necessary to provide party favors but if you do want to then you can choose something small like baked goods or treats. You may also choose to give a small gift to your wedding party to show your appreciation.
Create a back-up if you plan to have the party outdoors.If you choose an outdoor location like the beach or a park for the party, make sure you have a back-up plan if the weather does not agree. You do not want to wake up to rain and have nowhere to host the party!
Go shopping in the week before the party if necessary.If you are hosting the party at your home or another outdoor location, make sure you give yourself enough time to buy the food, drinks and any other goods you might need such as plates and cups.
Prepare the venue.Ensure that there are places for the guests to sit and eat. If the party is hosted at a private residence then make sure the yard is tended to, the house cleaned and that the AC/heating system is working.
- If you are accepting gifts, make sure there is an area to put them.
Make sure there is space for vehicles to park.Depending on the size of the party and the venue you may need to arrange special parking areas. Make sure there is space for the guests to park their vehicles to avoid traffic jams.
Handling Food and Entertainment
Decide on a theme.Pick a theme that excites you and makes you want to party and have fun. The theme can go along with the theme of the wedding (if you know it already) or it can be different. The engagement party is meant to be fun so choose a theme that means something to the couple or reflects the two families being joined together.
Decide on decorations and centerpieces.Keep the decorations simple such as streamers and balloons. Photo boards of the couple are also great decorations and a fun way to show off the couple. Flowers are great centerpieces and can be as simple as a sunflower or hydrangea.
- If you have a theme then you can tailor the decorations according to the theme.
Plan a menu.Whether you will host the party at a restaurant or private home, you can plan a menu according to the theme and preferences of the couple and their families. Be careful of any allergies or food specifications of your guests.
Choose a cake or other dessert.You do not have to have a cake but if you do want one, putting a picture of the proposal on the cake can be a great idea. Alternatives include ice cream sandwiches, assorted baked goods or seasonal treats like candy apples or cotton candy.
Decide on the entertainment.Most engagement parties will have music and this can come from either a playlist you create on your computer or hiring a DJ for a few hours. The entertainment does not have to be expensive or extravagant; remember that the party is meant to introduce your families and friends together so they should be able to talk to one another.
- You could also hire alternative entertainment such as a slideshow or video of the proposal, magicians, circus performers, or live music. Better yet, you can host the party in a location that already has such entertainment.
Prepare a few games to play.A fun idea would be to prepare a few games to play. The games should be fun, simple and get everyone involved. For example, you could hold a “team scavenger hunt” to get the two families acquainted.
Create a song list for the party.If you are not having a DJ, which isn’t necessary, create a playlist of songs to play during the party. Think about what people might like to dance to, or what would be most fun for the party. You can also include songs important to the couple.
Ask for marriage advice from guests.Ask for marriage/relationship advice from the guests. Leave out a book for all the guests to write their advice in. This is a nice keepsake for the couple to read through after the party.
Hosting the Party
Get plenty of rest before the party.Throwing a party takes a lot of energy and work. Make sure you get enough sleep the whole week before the party- you want to be able to enjoy the party once it happens!
Introduce guests to one another.The engagement party is an opportunity for friends and family from both the bride and groom’s side to meet one another. Make sure you introduce people to one another to help people mingle and interact.
- Don’t let forgetting someone’s name prevent you from introducing the guest. Just politely ask for their name and apologize for forgetting. It is better to ask then to not introduce the guest.
Create space for an informal receiving line near the front door.Everyone will want to greet the lucky couple and give them their congratulations. Make a little space near the entryway so that everyone can have their time to speak to the couple.
Be prepared to give a toast.As the host you would usually be expected to welcome everyone and give a toast to the couple. Others may also be interested in making a toast so try to find out ahead of time if others would like to do so.
- It is traditional that the father of the bride gives a toast although this is not required.
Be able to conclude any uncomfortable or negative remarks or long-winded speeches.Some people may make inappropriate remarks about the couple, exes or other topics. Similarly if someone is making a very long speech then you should be prepared to encourage them to finish. Prepare a few alternative topics or conversation starters to avoid these situations.
Enjoy the party!The most important part is to enjoy the party. An engagement party should be a happy and fun celebration of the couple beginning their wedding preparations together. Make sure you have energy and are not too stressed to have fun during the party.
QuestionWhat time should I put the ring on my fiancee's finger?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou wouldn't put the ring on your fiancee's finger at the engagement party. An engagement party is thrown after a couple is already engaged. In terms of proposing, you can propose whenever and wherever you'd like!Thanks!
- Remember to have fun!
- Keep organized and plan in advance so that you do not have to worry or stress before and during the party.
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