Planning your engagement party

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Throwing an engagement party is a great way to celebrate your decision to get married. Make sure you’ve got the basics covered here…

Congratulations, you’re engaged and you’ve decided to hold a party to mark the occasion! An engagement party serves a number of purposes. It could be a way of introducing both sets of parents to each other over an informal meal. It could be much bigger affair to which not only family, but friends and colleagues, are invited too. And, if you’re known for having parties, it is also an effective way of ‘announcing’ your engagement as a surprise to unsuspecting friends.

Timing

There’s no set time as to when an engagement party should be held, but, in general, it tends to work best as an evening event. If, however, you want to make it a more informal occasion, perhaps with lots of children, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be held on a Saturday afternoon in your garden.

An engagement party does not have to be thrown the day of your announcement, unless of course you’re thinking of springing a surprise on your guests. However, it should not be planned too far in advance otherwise it could end up too close to the actual wedding date.

Numbers

This will depend entirely on whether you’re going for a small and intimate family gathering or throwing a bash for all your friends. Do you want to introduce people to your partner and get as many people together as possible? Or are you after something more focused, a celebration based around your closest family and friends?

Unlike a birthday party, say, everyone invited will be good friends of the bride and/or groom-to-be, which often has the wonderful effect of making a fairly large party seem smaller and more intimate than it actually is.

Venue

An engagement party can simply be a get-together in the family home, in which case, it’s traditionally hosted by the bride-to-be’s parents. Alternatively, it can be a more formal affair in a hall with caterers or a private function room in a restaurant or pub.

Invitations

Send these out one to two months in advance. If the bride’s parents are hosting the party, then the invites should come from them. An engagement party is not a dress rehearsal for the big day, so don’t feel that you have to invite ALL your relatives AND your parents’ friends AND business associates etc.

Timing

There’s no set time as to when an engagement party should be held, but, in general, it tends to work best as an evening event. If, however, you want to make it a more informal occasion, perhaps with lots of children, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be held on a Saturday afternoon in your garden.

An engagement party does not have to be thrown the day of your announcement, unless of course you’re thinking of springing a surprise on your guests. However, it should not be planned too far in advance otherwise it could end up too close to the actual wedding date.

Numbers

This will depend entirely on whether you’re going for a small and intimate family gathering or throwing a bash for all your friends. Do you want to introduce people to your partner and get as many people together as possible? Or are you after something more focused, a celebration based around your closest family and friends?

Unlike a birthday party, say, everyone invited will be good friends of the bride and/or groom‐to‐be, which often has the wonderful effect of making a fairly large party seem smaller and more intimate than it actually is.

Venue

An engagement party can simply be a get‐together in the family home, in which case, it’s traditionally hosted by the bride‐to‐be’s parents. Alternatively, it can be a more formal affair in a hall with caterers or a private function room in a restaurant or pub.

Invitations

Send these out one to two months in advance. If the bride’s parents are hosting the party, then the invites should come from them. An engagement party is not a dress rehearsal for the big day, so don’t feel that you have to invite ALL your relatives AND your parents’ friends AND business associates etc.

Food/drink

Even if you’re holding the party at home, it’s a good idea to have it catered, leaving you and your family free to enjoy themselves. You may want to think about having a few bottles of Champagne to open when the announcement is made too.

Entertainment

If you’re throwing an informal gig at home, you’ll probably get away with your CD player and a couple of party tapes. For a bigger event, if you haven’t got a friend to oblige with the DJing, it’s worth hiring a professional DJ or even a live band or singer.

Making bookings

Allow at least two months to book up caterers or a restaurant. Remember: the bigger the party, the longer the notice you need to give. Even if you’ve decided to cater for yourself and only want to book in more glasses and plates, you’ll need to book these up too. The more you can plan in advance, the better.

Checking dates with key people

At any engagement, large or small, it’s important to check that both sets of parents are free. For some couples, this may be the first chance for their respective parents to meet and welcome each other into their families.

To source party suppliers in your area, check out our supplier directory.

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