6 Steps to Planning an Engagement Party
Engagement parties are meant to be fun, festive celebrations, and an opportunity for families and friends to meet, have fun, and break the ice. Unlike the formalities that come along with the wedding itself, an engagement party can take on nearly any appearance – from a backyard barbecue, to a night out at a bowling alley, to an elegant dinner with a cocktail hour.
However, despite the more laid-back nature of an engagement party, they often require nearly as much planning as the wedding itself. It often falls on only the bride and groom to make all of the necessary arrangements, which can quickly become overwhelming.
Following a simple checklist and planning well in advance can help keep your engagement party from turning into a stressful affair. To help, here are 6 simple steps to planning your upcoming engagement party.
- Plan a Guest List
The guest list is the most important pillar to your engagement party planning. After all, one of the main purposes of an engagement party is for your wedding guests to get to know each other. But keep in mind that your engagement party does not have to reflect the number of people who you plan to invite to your wedding.
Many couples keep the engagement party much smaller than the wedding, with only close friends and family in attendance. Usually the bridesmaids and groomsmen are in attendance, as well as the best man and maid of honor.
After your guest list is set, it’s time to send out invitations. These should include the time and place of your parry, as well as your dress code and gift policy. Make sure these are sent out well in advance so that as many of your guests can attend as possible. Last-minute invitations aren’t particularly polite, and may leave you with fewer guests than you had hoped for.
- Set Your Budget
Your engagement party should be fun, elegant, and unique – just like your wedding. But there’s no need to spend quite so much as your wedding. Set yourself a reasonable budget that includes all the necessary expenses: food and drink, venue rental fees, equipment rentals, decorations, invitations, and party favors.
If you want to keep your engagement party low-budget, see if a friend or family member with a larger home or backyard would be willing to host your party. You can thank them for doing so with a generous gift, if they will accept it. Opting for buffet-style catering can also save money, rather than an expensive dinner out.
Unlike the wedding itself, you needn’t go out and purchase an expensive gown for the occasion. However, if you and your wedding party choose to dress to a theme, there are plenty of options available to make the day feel special. Bella Bridesmaids has a dearth of choices ranging from the summery and breezy to the formal and glamorous to match your budget.
- Pick Your Venue & Date
If you are lucky, your ideal venue will be available on the date you had originally hoped for your party. If this is not the case, however, you will need to decide where you are willing to compromise.
It is best practice to aim for a date that is most convenient for your guests to attend. A weekend will be more attainable for many people than a weeknight, but that may mean that your favorite venue will be booked. Book well in advance to make sure that you can have the best of both worlds.
- Decide on a Gift Policy
Gifts for the bride and groom are not necessarily customary for an engagement party. Most couples will receive gifts on their wedding day, so it may be considered bad form to expect them at your engagement party as well. If you want to avoid any confusion, simply disclose a no-gifts policy on your invitations.
However, if you do plan to accept gifts, it may be a good idea to set up a registry. Setting up a registry separate from your wedding registry can help direct guests towards nice, modestly-priced gifts that they can choose from if they feel compelled to bring a gift.
- Have a Back-Up Plan
As Robert Burns so elegantly put it, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Your engagement party is no exception, so it is important to have a back-up plan in place. If you choose an outdoor location, such as a backyard, park, or beach for your party, have a plan in place in case of inclement weather.
The same is true for other aspects of your party. If your caterer is somehow unable to serve you, set aside a budget and a plan for providing food and drink at the last minute.
The final and most important step of your engagement party? Enjoy yourself! If you plan well ahead of time and don’t stress about the tiny details, then you will have plenty of time to socialize and celebrate with your friends and family.