With bridal showers, bachelor parties, and the actual big day itself, an engagement party isn’t a mandatory event. But it sure is a fun one.
“An engagement party is considered an ‘extra,’ so if it’s being done, people tend to go all-out,” says Francie Dorman, cofounder of 42° North Weddings.
If you do choose to host this pre-celebration celebration, here are a few things to consider, according to this expert party planner.
When should a couple host their engagement party?
It’s best and most special to have an engagement party as soon after the engagement as possible (within a month or two). The focus of this party is to celebrate the incredibly special moment of the proposal and to build excitement for all that’s to come with the future ahead. If you wait too long to celebrate the engagement, it starts to feel jumbled with all of the other celebrations to come (shower, bachelorette party, etc.).
Is it assumed that if someone is invited to this party, they’re invited to the wedding?
Yes, definitely. The engagement party sets the tone for the entire celebration ahead, so you should put some time into thinking about the guest list. Be sure you’re inviting people you definitely want to have at the wedding. Conversely, you do not have to invite everyone you would invite to the wedding to the engagement party.
Should the engagement party reflect the wedding theme or can it be its own entity?
The engagement party can be its own vibe entirely. Often, a close friend or family member will come forward and offer to throw the party, so they may have their own ideas on a theme or a setting. Go with it! It’s a wonderful time to sit back and let others spoil you and show their love and support. Certainly, it’s fun to incorporate special touches that reflect you and your new fiancé and the life you’re planning together. The engagement party is a nice opportunity to do so.
Should it be casual at someone’s house or more formal at a venue?
We have clients who have done both! There are no rules here. It mostly depends on the couple and what would be the most true reflection of them. The main focus of an engagement party is to truly celebrate this exciting chapter in your lives. It builds excitement among friends and family members, as well as giving everyone a chance to meet and mingle before all of the other more formal occasions to come. Focus on that rather than the details of linens, flowers, and theme (there will be plenty of time for that during wedding planning).
What are some themes that are hot right now?
We have seen a lot of people including their pets in the engagement parties! It’s a fun way to sort of announce “Look at our little family.” We’ve seen napkins with dogs’ or cats’ silhouettes printed on them, or a cute favor incorporating the pet. The engagement party can also be an opportunity to showcase a theme that the couple loves but wouldn’t necessarily incorporate into their wedding plans, such as a beachy/nautical vibe with a clambake, or a Southern feel with Mexican food and margaritas.
The perfect engagement party consists of two people in love, having a party for all of the right reasons—to share in joy, to mix and mingle as a new combined family, and to celebrate all that’s to come in the future! When there’s love in the room, as a guest, you can feel it.
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