Throwing an engagement party is a great way to announce that you’re planning to get married, and there are endless different ways in which to celebrate. But whether you’re engaged or planning a party for a recently engaged friend, how do you go about planning an engagement party?
Some people like to keep their engagement party themes fairly low-key, bearing in mind there is all the planning and cost of a wedding to think about once the party is over, but others take a more extravagant approach.
Bringing all your nearest and dearest together for a party not only saves you a job of visiting each of them in turn to tell them there’s a wedding on the cards, but also gives them all a chance to get to know each other before your big day.
Whatever your preference in terms of the size and scale of your party, follow our engagement party checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the basic steps to making your celebration a success.
1. Pick a host
There is a tradition that says the parents of the bride should host the event, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will be offended if you decide to overlook that particular relic of history.
The bride and groom in waiting might be the type of couple that relish the prospect of planning an engagement party, or perhaps their friends or family members are known for throwing a good bash. Picking the right person to host your engagement party is the first step to a night to remember.
2. Save the date
The date of your wedding is the big one that people will want to know about, but if you’re not ready to announce that yet you can still let people know when your engagement party is happening.
You could manage all your invitations by email or social media, or you might want to send out ‘save the date’ cards for people to pop on their fridges and noticeboards, keeping your party firmly in mind as they go about their daily lives. You could even use one of our thortful postcards and customise your design.
When choosing a date, keep in mind the times of year that people tend to go away on holiday, and if you’re inviting any parents perhaps spare a thought for arrangements they will have to make around school and childcare.
3. Find a venue for your engagement party
Of all the engagement party ideas you might have on your list, those pertaining to the potential venue are among the most important. The size, location and facilities of your venue will determine a whole host of other factors, such as the number of guests you can invite, the engagement party decorations you can use, and the activities you can include in your plan.
Some people opt for venues like pubs and social clubs, which tend to have all the tables, chairs, glasses and supplies that you might need for a party, but you could look elsewhere for a more unusual setting, such as an old barn for that rural party vibe, or a marquee for some outdoor fun.
4. Write a guest list
Now comes the really tricky part: writing an engagement party guest list. The main reason this part is so problematic is because you are, in a way, writing your wedding invitation list, given that if people come to your engagement party they may quite reasonably expect a wedding invite to follow at some stage in the future.
However, we believe everyone has the right to change their mind and, after all, your engagement party might predate your wedding by quite some time, so perhaps it’s best not to think too far ahead and simply invite along whoever you really want to be there.
Give some thought to whether or not you would like the party to be a children-friendly event or not, so that people know whether or not they should book a babysitter, and double check that the makeup of your guest list fits with the content of your party playlist – the combination of the two holds the key to a successful dancefloor!
5. Plan the night
Your engagement party might be a fairly informal, free-flowing gathering of your favourite people, or it might be a fully themed, fancy dress extravaganza, complete with lavish engagement party decorations, live entertainment and a luxury buffet. It’s completely up to you how you plan it, but remember it will set the tone for your wedding in the minds of at least some of your guests.
When you’re planning an engagement party, start with the timings of your event, and then make a list of all the things you would love to happen during the course of the party. It will be important to plan aspects such as food and drink, as well as music, decorations, and details of any engagement party themes you’d like to incorporate.
6. Decide on your engagement party decorations
Balloons always make classic engagement party decorations, especially filled with confetti in your favourite colours, but you can always go one step further. Here are some stylish engagement party decorations you might want to incorporate:
- A balloon arch in the happy couple’s favourite coolours
- Bunting or flags strewn across the area where you’re celebrating
- A sign with the couple’s name – check out our guide to calligraphy for some top tips on nailing pretty lettering!
- Make Polaroid bunting with photos of the happy couple through their relationship – the older the photos you can find, the better!
You might want to include some engagement party games and activities in your plan, such as a pub quiz to help your guests break the ice, or a food, beer, or wine tasting section of the evening where you get an expert in to talk the guests through some samples. The possibilities for engagement party ideas really are endless, so let your imaginations run wild!
7. Gifts or no gifts
While we certainly hope you’ll be receiving plenty of thortful engagement cards at your party, you might want to let your guests know if you would rather they did not bring you gifts. Engagement party gifts can range from fizz and flowers, all the way up to the kind of presents you’d expect to see at a wedding, such as kitchenware and large sums of money.
If you’re happy for guests to bring along whatever gifts and treats they wish to give you, then great, but if you’d rather avoid the potential embarrassment of some guests bringing gifts while others refrain, you could put a note on your invitations saying ‘no gifts required’. Another option is to point people in the direction of a charity you’d like them to donate to instead of bringing a gift, and do a little good while you have a little fun celebrating your engagement.
No matter what engagement party ideas you have, underneath all the balloons and confetti, it’s lovely to know that all of your loved ones will be coming together to celebrate your big news. And if you’re planning a surprise engagement party for your friends, don’t forget to send a lovely engagement card from thortful too!