Right now, you might be in the middle of planning the biggest party of your lives in the form of your wedding, which will be a brilliant way to celebrate your marriage with your loved ones. But, just because you’re focused on that, don’t forget it’s also important to celebrate your engagement. And you’ll no doubt have plenty of family and friends who’ll be excited to come together to enjoy some good food, a few drinks and play some games to mark such a fantastic milestone in your lives.
But, how do you plan an engagement party, who do you invite, and what theme should you choose? Do you tie it into the wedding or should it have its own theme? There are so many questions it can be tricky to work out what’s right for you.
In this post, we’re here to offer you plenty of tips and advice for planning the perfect engagement party. We’ll answer the most common questions, offer you some creative party ideas and give you a step-by-step guide for what to do when planning your engagement party.
After your engagement, an engagement party probably isn’t right at the top of your list of priorities, but if it’s something you’re keen to do then you shouldn’t leave it too long. When you have your party you should still be riding the high of the engagement itself, and definitely not have it too close to the actual wedding. Anything between two and four months after your engagement is usually a great time to have a party. Any longer and you’ll probably be in the thick of wedding planning and the engagement will be slowly pushed to the back of your mind.
For more information, read our step-by-step guide to what you should do and when to do it after your engagement.
Traditionally, anything to do with the engagement itself – including the engagement photos and engagement party – are paid for by the bride’s family. But, of course, there are plenty of reasons why you might not want to stick to traditions.
For more useful wedding payment-related insights, read our post on who traditionally pays for what at a wedding.
Who you invite to your engagement party is entirely up to you. If you want a big, sprawling celebration, it’s absolutely fine to invite your family, friends, co-workers, neighbours and even your orthodontist if you wish. Or, you might want to keep things small and intimate, inviting close family and any future members of your wedding party. It all depends on you and your preferences.
But, one important thing to remember is that generally, whoever gets an invite to the engagement party will probably expect an invite to the actual wedding. So, if you don’t want your distant cousins at your wedding, you’re best off not inviting them to your engagement party.
How much your engagement party costs depends entirely on your preferences and how many people you invite. Naturally, the grander your choices are, and the more people you ask to come, the more expensive it’ll be. It might be tempting to throw a huge and extravagant soirée, but remember you’ll soon spend thousands on a wedding. In the UK, the average amount couples spend on their big day is £19,184, so spending thousands or even hundreds on a second party might stretch your budget a little too thin.
If you’re happy to host your engagement party at home or at the home of one of your parents, you can throw a party for as little as a couple hundred pounds. If you’re looking to hire a venue, as well as a DJ and caterer, it might cost a few thousand.
The great thing about an engagement party is that no one goes to one with any kind of expectations. Your party can be as formal or as casual as you like, so whether you want a four-course meal in a fancy restaurant or a few drinks and games at home with pals, any option is absolutely fine.
So, you’ve decided to throw an engagement party to celebrate the engagement of you and your fiance before you get stuck right into the fun and thrills of planning. But, where do you start? How do you choose where to have it, when to have it and who to invite? Follow our step-by-step guide below to make sure you cover all bases when planning your big engagement bash.
By this point, you’ve probably had a serious think about your finances and what you want to spend on your wedding. If not, make a start on this as soon as you can, such as by using our simple wedding budget planner. That way, you’ll know how much of your budget you can spare towards your engagement party and whether you can go all out or host a far more informal do.
Do you want a big party or a more intimate get-together with your very closest family and friends? Once you know how big you’d like to go, you can think about whether to have the party at home, at the home of one of your parents or at a venue like a restaurant, hotel or function space.
Next, choose the date you’d like to have your engagement party on, bearing in mind that if you want to have it in a week or two, many of your guests might already have plans. If you book it for in four or six weeks’ time, more guests should be available, plus you’ll find it easier to secure a venue if you’re not having your party at home.
If you’re hosting your party at home or at the home of a family member, you won’t have to worry about this step, but if you’re looking to have your party accommodate more guests, start your search as soon as possible. You’re more than likely going to want to have your engagement party on a Friday or Saturday night, which is when other people will want to use venues for parties of their own. If you’re lucky, you might be able to grab a bargain by booking a venue with a cancellation.
Browse our comprehensive range of venues to find a fantastic location to host your engagement party. There are also plenty of venues that offer much lower rates if you take advantage of a cancellation.
At this point, you’ll know roughly how many guests you’d like to invite to your engagement party. Is it less than 20, more than 80, somewhere in between or even more?
Once you know where you’re hosting your party and how many guests you hope will be there, you can think about the type of party you want to throw. Will it be an afternoon barbecue in the garden, a pizza picnic in the park, or a huge blowout with drinks and dancing at a countryside hotel?
Once you know the whos, wheres and whens, you can send out your invitations, remembering to give your guests at least a month’s notice. Invitations to your engagement party don’t always need to be quite as formal as the wedding itself – in all honesty, even a text might do if it’s super informal. Just make sure you keep a note of who you’ve asked and whether or not they’ve said they’ll come.
The food you offer will depend entirely on the style of your party, the number of guests and where it’s being hosted. If it’s at a restaurant, they can take care of the food. If it’s at home, are you going to hire a caterer or bust out your Costco card and do it yourself? Just make sure you think about all dietary requirements.
Of course, this is if you choose to offer food at all. If it’s only a get-together for drinks and games, just a few choice nibbles will do the trick.
If you’re not supplying alcoholic drinks, make sure your guests know to BYOB when you invite them. As it’s an engagement party, there will likely be a toast or two to mark the occasion – so you may want to keep a few bottles of fizz in the fridge so your guests can raise a glass to mark such a special occasion. But don’t forget a non-alcoholic version for the young ones and those who don’t drink.
You might not want to go all out with decorations, but it is a celebration after all, so a few balloons, flowers and bunting will remind your guests why they’re there. If you’ve already spoken to florists about your wedding flowers, see if they’ll do you a deal to put together a couple of custom arrangements to mark the occasion.
Depending on your budget, preferences and venue, you might want to hire entertainment to get your guests in the party mood. This could be a DJ or live band if you’re partying through the night, or a kids’ entertainer or bouncy castle if you’re having it outdoors. Or, you might want to save some money and simply stick to a Spotify playlist.
What you wear will be influenced by the style and formality of your party. If it’s a summery afternoon barbecue, a dress or polo shirt and shorts should be fine. If it’s a three-course sit-down meal, you might want to dress up a little. Make the call based on what you have planned – just remember to let your guests know in the invite if they should wear anything specific.
As with other parts of your wedding, there are likely to be speeches at your engagement party. This could be anyone, such as the party host, your parents, siblings, friends or even you. You don’t have to say much – just thank your guests for being there to celebrate this special time with you.
Some couples love to document the various stages of their engagement, and you could arrange a package deal with your wedding photographer to take photos at your engagement party too. This depends on the scale and formality of your party – for example, you might not want a photographer if you’re having a movie night at home. But, if you’re going for something a little more extravagant, a photographer will capture many of the night’s great moments.
You may be planning favours for your wedding, but you might also want to give the guests attending your engagement party a token gift too. It certainly doesn’t need to be anything too big – a magnet, some sweets, or a hot chocolate kit are more than enough if you choose to give anything at all.
After all that prep and build-up, the time has finally come for the party. You’ll no doubt focus on making sure your guests have a great time, but it’s also important to take some time to enjoy it yourself. Your guests are there to celebrate your good news, so make sure you have fun and soak up all the love.
After the party, you could send out thank you cards to each of your guests to show your appreciation that they came. At the very least you’ll probably want to send thank you cards to any guests who gave you a gift. Not everyone who attends your engagement party will, but don’t be surprised if you receive a couple of gifts from one or two attendees.
Now you know how to plan an engagement party, how about some inspiration for what to do for themes, locations, food and more? Below are 75 engagement party ideas so you can throw the perfect celebratory bash.
When it comes to a theme, the world’s your oyster. You could go smart and sophisticated, a garden barbecue, or tie it into the overall theme of your wedding. Here are 10 ideas for engagement party themes.
For more great party inspiration, read our post featuring creative engagement party ideas.
Not quite sure about the best location for your engagement party? Where you choose depends on your budget and the number of guests you’d like to invite, but there’s a wide range of choices out there that are great for hosting parties. Here are just 10 location ideas for you to consider:
If you’re providing your guests with food, what to serve them is often one of the most difficult choices. Do you serve a three- or four-course meal or put on a buffet and allow your guests to help themselves? Here are just a few mouthwatering ideas.
You might want to save the cake for the wedding itself, but there’s nothing quite as crowd-pleasing as a beautiful cake. If you want to offer your guests a slice, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Games are a great way to entertain your guests and get everyone talking and laughing. Here are 10 of the best engagement party games to lighten the mood:
Throwing an engagement party might call for a few extra decorations to make sure your venue pops. Here are some suggestions for brilliant engagement party decorations:
Gifting your guests a small party favour is a lovely and thoughtful way to let them know that you appreciate them attending your engagement party. Here are just a few ideas that will suit a variety of budgets:
Looking to keep your engagement party simple and not break the bank, but still conscious that you want people to have a great time? Keep things easy with these party ideas:
Before you sit down and start planning your party, consider the following tips to make sure your party goes down without a hitch.
Planning an engagement party is just one of the exciting steps towards getting married. Sign up to Bridebook today to use our free resources and tools to help plan your engagement party as well as your perfect wedding.