Planning An Engagement Party

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engagement party

Planning an Engagement Party

Just engaged? Congrats! Here are some simple steps to keep in mind as you plan an engagement party.

Photo: Gruber Photography

The Rules

There is a bit of etiquette surrounding engagement parties. Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first engagement party. If the bride's family was not able to do it, the duties would fall to the groom's parents. Nowadays, those rules don't necessarily apply. Any friend of the couple can offer to host the bash, especially if the couple's family lives far away or if there are sticky family relationships. Just be sure you're not stepping on any family toes by playing host.

Have the Talk

If you're throwing an engagement party for someone else, make sure you complete this step first. Have a talk with your newly engaged friends and make sure they're not planning something already. You may also want to call the bride's parents (and the groom's)and make sure they weren't hoping to host the party themselves.

A Very Important Date

Whether it's your engagement party, or one that you're hosting for a friend, coordinating your calendars with the VIP guests is essential. Make sure parents, relatives, and close friends can all make it.

Pick a Spot

Engagement parties are most often held at home or at restaurants. But that doesn't mean you can't get creative. Your party can be as casual or formal as you like, and there's no rule against hosting the party on the beach, on a boat, at a vineyard, or anywhere else. Just keep in mind the number of people you'll be having and the kind of mood you'd like to set.

Dollars And Sense

Come up with a budget and stick to it -- from the start. Write down all of the elements of the party: the invitations, the food, the drinks, the entertainment, and the decor; and come up with a realistic estimation. Keep in mind that some of the nicest engagement parties can be laid-back at home affairs. Another way to save on the party is to make it a "just desserts" party or serve only cocktails and hors d'oevres. If you go this route, just make sure you make a note of it on the invite so guests aren't expecting a sit-down dinner.

The Guest List

When it comes to making the list, keep in mind that everyone invited to the engagement party (or any other party pertaining to the wedding) should ultimately be invited to the wedding as well. Not sure what you want the wedding to be like yet? Then keep your engagement party relatively small to avoid any hurt feelings in the future.

Please Join Us

When it comes to picking the invitation, there aren't nearly as many rules to follow as there are with formal wedding invitations. The invitation should still set the tone for the party, but it can be as creative as you like. Just don't forget to proofread the invitation before sending.

Eat & Drink

If you're having an at-home party, consider making it a potluck and inviting each guest to bring a dish. Otherwise, it's best to let a pro handle the food issue. They can estimate exactly how much you need based on your guest list and come up with a creative menu that suits your party's theme. If it's a caterer you've already worked with and like, consider asking about an overall package to have them cater for your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and the actual wedding. It may end up saving you money. As for drinks, when it comes to at-home parties, consider serving only wine and beer. You can buy drinks in bulk at discount or club stores (and don't forget to buy lots of ice!)

Be Merry

Toasts aren't just for rehearsal dinners -- they're traditionally included at engagement parties as well. The father of the bride-to-be is generally the first to toast, followed by the groom, and then whoever else wants to say a few words. You can ask your family formally who would like to give toasts, or keep it informal and let anyone speak. Start your toasts about two-thirds of the way through the event.

That's Entertainment

Entertainment can indeed enhance the mood at an engagement party, although it’s not necessary. How about a pianist playing that piano in your living room while guests mingle in your home? For a bigger party, consider a Mariachi band, a lounge singer or a steel band -- whatever works best with your theme. Call different musicians to request their tapes and compare costs before hiring one.

Flowers & Decor

Flowers are great additions to any party -- and this one is no exception. You can create some simple centerpieces or hire your favorite florist to do some for you. If you're having a theemed engagement party, keep things elegant by not going overboard with party shop supplies.

Gift Giving

Despite what a lot of people might think, gift giving is not mandatory at an engagement party -- and as the bride-to-be, you should not be offended if people don't bring something. If you've already set up your wedding registry on, remember that it's still never appropriate to include gift information with the invitation. Guests can ask your close family and friends about your registry if they'd like to bring a gift.

The Day Of

Don't stress over the last minute details! Whether it's your own engagement party or one you're planning for a close friend, keep your hosting duties under control by delegating simple tasks and having a few friends there ahead of time to help you set up. If you're not hiring a professional photographer, make sure you've designated someone to take photos throughout the evening. As the host, just focus on making introductions so no one feels left out and having a good time.

See More: Engagements , Parties