You’ve had the perfect proposal, you own the perfect diamond engagement ring, and you now want to throw a dreamy engagement party.
Planning an engagement party is very different from planning a wedding day. For a start, the etiquette requirements levels are huge for a wedding but really don’t exist for an engagement party.
Here, we have our Top 10 Tips for planning the perfect engagement party.
- Where to Hold the Engagement Party?
- Picking a Date for Party
- Setting Your Party Budget
- Choosing a Venue
- The Guest List
- Gifts for Engagement Party
- Engagement Party Invitations
- Party Menu
- Choosing the Décor
- What To Wear to Engagement Party
- Showcasing the Engagement Ring (Bonus)
Where To Hold The Engagement Party?
Traditionally, the bride’s parents get the first refusal on any engagement party. But, if they are open to being less than firmly traditional, there are no real rules on who should pay or where it should be held. In fact, it’s less likely than ever before that a newly engaged couple will hail from the same town.
This might mean hosting two parties half a world away. It might mean a formal dinner for both families together or one in each location. Or it might mean a formal dinner for the close family, and a separate party to which all friends and family will be invited.
The point is that you can do whatever works for you. There’s no need to have people traveling a long way when it’s as easy to take the party to them.
Paying for the party, including sending invitations and so on, should also be considered. Again, this would traditionally fall to the bride’s parents. However, that might not be practical for any number of reasons. Splitting the costs accordingly allows everyone to be involved and also means that the same parents don’t need to find the money for both the engagement and the wedding.
Nowadays, it’s common for the couple themselves to foot the bill.
Pick A Date For The Party
It’s nice to be able to formally announce a date for the engagement party. For some couples, choosing the date is the first thing they do before telling anyone they’re engaged. For others, there will be work to do that ties in with availability. Only then will a date be announced.
As a result, don’t be afraid to wait a little while before choosing a party date. If that means waiting a month or two, so be it. Obviously, the sooner after the proposal you can hold the party, the nicer it all is. But it isn’t crucial. If you must sort some other things out first, go ahead and do that. Because the party is much less intense than the wedding, there is no pressure to conform to any rules. Even the engagement party seating arrangement can be informal.
Setting Your Engagement Party Budget
Parties can be expensive, and costs can easily get away from you if you’re not careful. For that reason, set a budget before doing anything else. Hosting a party can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want to make it. If there is a limit to your budget, don’t worry. It’s perfectly possible to have a great event with limited finances. At its simplest, a party can be a dinner for the family, or it can be renting a big hall with a DJ and a bar. It doesn’t need to be a black tie and canapés or held at the country club.
Keep in mind that this party will be following the expense of purchasing the engagement ring.
Sometimes, all it needs is a good old get-together with a few drinks, a little food, and a lot of dancing. This brings us to…
Choosing an Engagement Party Venue
Indoors, outdoors, a marquee in the backyard, or even the local hall. The lack of formal requirements means you can choose whatever works for you. Whether you’re marrying your next-door neighbor or the equivalent of local royalty makes no difference. You can choose the formality to suit the two of you and your budget.
It’s important to remember that the engagement party should never be better than the wedding. If your budget for the wedding will be restricted, then don’t be tempted to go all out on the engagement to try and make up for it. An engagement party isn’t supposed to be the social event of the year. It’s simply a celebration of your engagement. Let the event be the occasion itself, without too much effort, money, or time, which could all be better spent elsewhere. That’s not a suggestion to be cheap, of course, just that it should all be relative.
The Guest List
You have your venue, and your budget, so now you can plan your guest list. So sit down, and plan your wedding guest list. Why your wedding? Well, if you’re going to invite someone to the engagement party, they also need to be invited to the wedding. If they aren’t going to be, they could feel pretty insulted to be at the engagement and then ignored for the big day. Start small with family and friends who absolutely need to receive an invitation. Your next step is to add people who you would like to be there, wedding budget allowing. Only then do you go to the relatives you haven’t seen in twenty years, and who would get an invite purely out of duty.
If your wedding is to have a two-stage guest list – one for the ceremony and wedding breakfast and an extended list for a separate evening occasion – it’s fine to use the extended list as the basis for the engagement party guest list. If you don’t yet have a list for the wedding, that’s okay. Just keep your engagement list within the “certainties” and you’ll be fine. If you’re not paying for the wedding or engagement party yourselves, do ask to be involved in compiling the guest list.
Gifts for Engagement Party
Engagement gifts shouldn’t necessarily be a requirement for you or your guests. In addition, you may not have room to store them until you have your own home together. However, some people will want to buy a gift, regardless. For that reason, consider registering for gifts somewhere, but keep the list to low-middle budgets. Again, this isn’t your wedding list, so don’t expect people to spend a lot. Alternatively, if you don’t need or want gifts at this stage, simply say so on the invitation. Those guests who truly want to send a gift will do so.
As a final option, consider accepting contributions through Charidy or a similar website. You can then split the total between one or more charities of your choice. This is an increasingly popular way of helping others through both engagement and wedding gifts.
Engagement Party Invitations
For a more informal occasion, e-vites may be appropriate. But, do remember that not everybody has access to email, even in this day and age. For more formal parties, paper or card invites may feel like a better option. Given the quality produced by home inkjet printers today, don’t be afraid to design and print the invitations at home. Alternatively, if you already have providers in place for the wedding, you might be able to negotiate a deal for the engagement party invitations.
Your engagement party invitations don’t need to match the wedding palette or design, so don’t worry either way. Remember to send them out in plenty of time, though, and do ask for an RSVP, even if you just provide an email address for the purpose.
This needn’t be as involved as choosing a wedding menu. Depending on the location and degree of formality, it can be as simple as chips and dips or desserts and champagne. If you are organizing a sit-down dinner, then you still don’t need to go overboard. Keep it simple and tasty, and people will love it. As we mentioned at the top of this article, everything, including the menu, can be as formal as you need or want it to be. Let your budget be a consideration, but don’t be afraid to keep it casual.
Although having a nice menu is great, it isn’t as big a part of the occasion as it will be at the wedding.
Choosing the Décor
If you have a venue for the party which allows you to dress the room, then it needn’t be too expensive to do so. Some flowers as table centerpieces always work well. You don’t need big expensive bouquets, just simple sprays will be just as nice. If you go for the B-B-Q and hoedown approach, then balloons and banners are also absolutely fine. To make things just a little smarter, candles or other little decorative items will be a nice touch.
If you are having dinner in a restaurant and have no control over the décor, don’t worry. Just go with what you have. If you have a private room, ask if you can provide a few flowers or other simple things which will be easy to add and remove.
What To Wear To Engagement Party
This, again, really all comes down to the formality of the occasion. If it is a truly formal dinner or event, then a black tie is perfectly acceptable. If it’s a backyard affair with finger food, then it’s okay to be casual. We guarantee that nobody will judge you for what you choose to wear. Just to make sure, feel free to add a dress code to the invitations.
You may want to think about the two of you having matching degrees of formality, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Color coordination – or not – is also entirely up to you. Your guests will be in all sorts of colors, assuming you haven’t requested the wearing of a tux, so there’s no reason to be different. Remember, as enjoyable as the event will be, you will be in great demand to greet people, talk to everyone, and make a speech or two! For that reason, make comfort the driving force for your choice of outfits.
Showcasing the Engagement Ring
Most women attending the engagement party will want to see the engagement ring. You don’t have to answer all their questions, but we do recommend having the answers to the most commonly asked questions:
- How big is the diamond? (in carats)
- Is it vintage? When was it made?
- What color, clarity, and cut is the center diamond?
- What metal is the mounting? (platinum, gold, or silver)
If you need to learn more about your ring, you can always ask a jeweler online.
We strongly recommend that you have the ring cleaned before the party. If the ring is loose, bring it to the jeweler and have the ring sized. You will want your ring to look perfect at your engagement party!