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You’re engaged, now what? While it’s not required that you have an engagement party, they’re a great way to bring both families together and celebrate the upcoming nuptials. Since Matt is from Philadelphia, and I’m from New York, we knew right away that we definitely wanted an engagement party. Since most of our family has never met, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity. Now that we’re a week away from our own party, I thought I would share the steps we took (or should have taken), to plan our engagement party. I’ll be honest with you and say that organizing a party can be stressful, but if you’re organized and open-minded, it can be fun and exciting!
1. Decide who’s hosting. While the bride’s family traditionally hosts the engagement party, it’s honestly perfectly normal for the groom’s family, or anyone close to the couple to do so. For ours, my parents will be hosting, but Matt and I have been very involved in the planning of it.
2. Determine the budget. I know both myself (and my mom), have a tendency to go overboard, so setting a budget was crucial. Whether you’re having a low-key get-together or planning a huge catered event, it’s important to be realistic about how much you can spend. It’s very easy for an engagement party to turn into a mini wedding, so being conscious of a budget definitely helps. Before we looked at any venues, we already knew the maximum we were willing to spend per person, which made the process easier.
3. Pick a date. You can throw an engagement party anywhere from a few weeks after the proposal to six months later. My biggest piece of advice? Take a little time to enjoy your engagement before jumping into any sort of planning. Before we even got engaged, I imagined in my head that the engagement party would happen a month or two after Matt proposed. Once we got engaged in April, I quickly learned that there was no way we could plan a party involving families from two different states in a month. We also realized that it may be difficult to organize something during the summer months since people tend to travel a lot, which is how we ended up choosing September. Plus we prefer the weather in September too! I was afraid to wait too long because I thought the engagement wouldn’t be fresh in people’s minds (silly me), but it’s still just as exciting five months later. I definitely feel like we also had more options as far as venues and vendors because we had more time to plan.
4. Create the guest list. When we created our budget, it helped us realistically determine how many people we could invite. While we are having a rather large engagement party, we narrowed the list down from our wedding guest list by inviting mostly family and only close friends. It’s completely up to you who you invite, but just remember that it’s assumed that whoever you invite to the engagement party is also invited to the wedding.
5. Choose a venue. Before choosing a venue, you have to have an idea of the feel you want your party to have. If you want a formal cocktail party you’re probably not going to have it in your parent’s basement. That was a pretty bad example, but I think you get what I mean? We wanted a larger room that people could walk around and mingle in. We also wanted a room that was more of a blank canvas, since we knew we wanted to do most of the decorating ourselves. When choosing a venue, you also have to keep in mind the type of food you want served. We knew we wanted Italian food, so it was obvious we were going the Italian restaurant route. To find the perfect one, we did a few Google searches and called each place to learn more about their private rooms, prices, and availability. We ended up picking a restaurant that my family has actually hosted a few parties at already, since we knew we loved their food and service. When choosing a venue make sure to find out if cake is included, how early you can arrive the day of to set-up, if parking is available, and the maximum number of guests the space can hold.
6. Send out the invitations. It’s always best to send out your invitations as early as possible. Since we have a lot of family from out of town, we sent them 6 weeks in advance so that everyone had plenty of time to make arrangements. Your invitations should match the formality of your party. For a casual party, you can definitely send the invites via e-mail. Since our engagement party is on the more formal side, we opted for foiled invitations from Minted.
7. Plan your decor. Myself and my family are obsessed with party planning, so we always go overboard when it comes to picking a theme and decor. I tried to limit myself in an effort to not upstage the wedding by crossing a few ideas off of my list. Just like everything else when it comes to your engagement party, you can decide on a theme depending on the formality and feel of your party. For our party, since the space is pretty big and we’re having eight tables, we knew we wanted to have floral centerpieces made. If you’re on a budget, centerpieces are a great DIY. You can go to your local flower market and create the arrangements yourself. The one fun thing we knew we wanted at our engagement is a dessert table, so that’s something we’re focusing a lot of our energy on. You just have to choose what’s important to you, and what you think your guests will enjoy most.
8. Decide what to wear. Choose outfits that fit the setting of your party and your personal style.
9. Assign responsibilities for the day of. The day of your party will go super fast, so it’s best to be as organized as possible. Enlist family members and friends to help you throughout the day. You’ll need help setting up, taking photos, potentially picking-up food, or waiting on deliveries. My grandmother is beyond creative, so I already enlisted her to set-up mine and Matt’s table. Because my hair and make-up will be done earlier in the day, I assigned my brothers the role of packing the car (so I don’t sweat everything off). It’s a really exciting day and people are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask!
One really fun feature we’re going to have at our engagement party is a custom Snapchat filter! WeddingWire has an awesome tool that allows you to create custom snapchat filters for your wedding or wedding-related parties. They’ve partnered with brands like Framebridge, Bow & Drape, and Lilly Pulitzer to offer fun designs that you can customize. I think it’s going to be a really cool addition to our party that our guests will absolutely love! It’s always a great idea to include interactive things at a party.
As you can see, there really aren’t any rules or regulations when it comes to planning your engagement party. You get to decide how formal or informal you want it to be. The most important thing is that you’re surrounded by people who love and care for you, and are excited to celebrate the big news! I can’t wait to share our engagement party with you in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned! xo