There are plenty of great reasons to throw a party, but celebrating the announcement of your recent engagement is one of the most exciting. Engagement parties can be formal or have a more relaxed vibe, but should primarily be a chance for you to celebrate with your loved ones – before the countdown to the big day truly begins.
In this guide, we’ll run through everything to consider when preparing for your event. From invitation designs and snacks to engagement party ideas, let us be your starting point in organising the engagement party of your dreams.
Give yourself some time to relax and absorb the fact that you're getting married before you jump to the planning stages. When you're ready to start organising your engagement party, it's important to make the big decisions early on. How many people do you want to invite? Do you want to make a grand announcement or keep it casual? Will there be a theme? Do your research and check out the latest magazines and blogs for inspiration. It's useful to set a budget in advance to give you a sense of what's realistic in terms of spending; this can also help you narrow down venue options and guest numbers.
The next thing to consider is invitation design. Traditionally, engagement party invites are less formal and detailed than wedding invitations, so this is your chance to get as creative as you like. You’ll want to keep the text short and sweet. It should include an introductory phrase that announces the engagement and extends an invitation to the addressee. Follow with the date, time, location and address, as well as how to RSVP. You can include an RSVP deadline so that you know how many guests to expect in advance.
One rule to bear in mind when deciding on your guest list is that anyone who receives an invite to your engagement party should also get one for your wedding. Therefore, think about the size of your wedding in advance; it wouldn't make sense to throw a huge engagement party if your wedding is going to be an intimate gathering of family and close friends only.
If you don't have a sense of guest numbers for your wedding yet, then keep your engagement party small to avoid any hurt feelings. It's not uncommon for guests to give you your wedding present before the big day, so it can be helpful to come up with a small list of engagement gift ideas. If you're super-organised, you could start putting together your wedding present list early and make it available on the invitation.
SHOP WEDDING GIFTS
Once you've picked a date and decided how many people will be on the guest list, you can embark on your search for a suitable venue. Traditionally, the bride's parents host the party, and although this is no longer a rule, it remains an obvious option – particularly if they have plenty of space and a well-stocked wine cellar! If not, you could go down the route of hiring a cocktail bar or hotel rooftop, allowing guests to raise their glasses to you in a more formal setting. If you are planning to include dancing, let your guests know in advance so they can wear their most comfortable party shoes.
Another alternative is to throw a simple picnic-style gathering in your local park or back garden. You can bring rugs and cushions to make your guests comfortable, and pack some delicious hampers with drinks and snacks for when they become peckish. With the help of some decorative garden accessories such as lanterns, you can celebrate well into the evening.
Your first party as a bride-to-be calls for a special outfit. Choose something that won't upstage your wedding dress but that will set you apart from the rest of your guests. Keep the venue and level of formality in mind, as well as what your partner is likely to wear. A bright floral sundress makes a pretty option for garden parties or outdoor events, or if you've planned something more upscale, you could select a shimmering slip dress with heels. Another sleek option is a tailored jumpsuit, which you can dress up with your favourite jewellery.
If you do have a dress code, don't forget to mention this on your invitation, so your guests know exactly what's expected of them. People will want to look at their best, especially if you intend to have photos taken at the event. Advise them of any unusual elements, too – if they may have to walk over grass or bare earth to get to your venue, for example, they might want to consider different shoes.
SHOP WOMEN'S DRESSES
The style and colours of your engagement party don’t have to match those of your wedding, especially as you may not have decided how you want things to look on the big day just yet. Be creative! You could create a rustic farmhouse vibe with fresh flowers, fruity cocktails and hay bales to sit on. For a more formal effect, consider a black tie event with a sit-down dinner, linen tablecloths and a centrepiece or table runner. Remember to keep the bubbly flowing, and invest in getting some beautiful champagne glasses for your toast; you can re-use these on your big day, or simply keep them at home for other special occasions.
If you don't have a sit-down meal planned, make sure to offer a series of canapés and snacks to keep your guests' stomachs from rumbling. A buffet-style lunch is a more relaxed option that will allow people to stop by the party when it suits them. You can hire a caterer to do the work for you, or keep it simple with a mouth-watering selection of home-cooked dishes. Just make sure you have enough plates and serving platters.
An engagement party is a wonderful opportunity to bring all of your loved ones together under one roof. It will also allow you and your partner's families to meet in a relaxed setting and get to know one another better. You should take advantage of this stress-free period before the wedding planning kicks in: relax, share the story of how he got down on one knee, and toast to your future together with your nearest and dearest.