How to Plan an Engagement Party: Top Tips and Ideas

Sophia Shafiee
Last updated: 22nd Sep 2023

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.

When should you throw an engagement party?

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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.

Who pays for an engagement party?

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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 should you invite to an engagement party?

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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 does an engagement party cost?

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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.

How to plan the perfect engagement party

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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.

Step 1: Set your budget

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.

Step 2: Think about the size of your party

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.

Step 3: Decide on a date

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.

Step 4: Secure your venue

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.

Step 5: Create your guest list

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? 

Step 6: Pick your theme and style

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?

Step 7: Send invitations

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.

Step 8: Think about the food and drink

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.

Step 9: Think about the decor

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.

Step 10: Book your entertainment

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.

Step 11: Pick your outfit

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.

Step 12: Prepare to give a speech

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.

Step 13: To hire a photographer or not to hire a photographer

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.

Step 14: Think about your favours

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.

Step 15: Enjoy the party

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.

Step 16: Thank your guests for coming

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.

75 ideas for the perfect engagement party

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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.

Engagement party theme ideas

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.

  • Romantic garden party – Twinkling lights and gentle music while surrounded by beautiful gardens.
  • Casino night – Crack out the cards, roll the dice and put it all on red. Casino games are fun, exciting and a great way to get your guests betting on your happiness.
  • Fairground – What’s more fun than the fairground? You could have a carousel-themed cake and a hook-a-duck game where the prize is gummy fish in boozy jellies.
  • Hollywood premiere – Roll out the red carpet for a Hollywood movie premiere theme full of glitz and glamour.
  • Globetrotter – Fill your venue with maps and globes and serve a selection of dishes and nibbles from around the world. You can even tie it into the places the two of you have visited together.
  • Beach blowout – Sandcastles, ice cream and volleyball are a fun and relaxing way to celebrate.
  • Cheese and wine – For something a little classier, you could pick up a selection of wines from around the world and pair them with some delicious cheeses – the stinkier the better.
  • Movie night – Put together a selection of your favourite movies, grab some popcorn and nachos, and settle down to watch some great flicks together.
  • Fairytale – Everyone loves a good fairytale, with plenty of whimsical options for food, drink and decorations.
  • Retro – Love an 80s disco or a bit of 50s rock and roll? Retro-themed parties never go out of fashion.
  • For more great party inspiration, read our post featuring creative engagement party ideas.

    Engagement party venue 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:

  • At your home or the home of a close relative
  • A back garden (with a plan B if the weather doesn’t behave)
  • Beach or lakeside
  • Gardens or park
  • A restaurant or pub
  • Hotel
  • Rooftop bar
  • Canal boat
  • Rental property like an Airbnb (that allows parties)
  • Golf club
  • Engagement party food ideas

    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.

  • Pizza party
  • Mexican food
  • Brunch
  • Omelette station
  • Build your own nachos and tacos
  • Sandwiches, sausage rolls and other cold buffet items
  • Sushi
  • Salad bar
  • Dessert table
  • Food trucks
  • Engagement party cake 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:

  • Classic multi-tiered cake
  • Naked cake
  • Victoria sponge cake
  • Selection of cupcakes
  • Supermarket cake
  • Retro cakes
  • Floral decorated cake
  • Piñata cake
  • Novelty cake
  • Dripping cake
  • Engagement party game ideas

    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:

  • Couples quiz – Test each couple to see how much they really know each other.
  • Pictionary – Play a game of Pictionary with all the answers being wedding-related.
  • Trivia – Put together trivia questions related to the two of you and your journey to engagement.
  • Guess the year – Put together an album of photos from your past and ask guests to guess the year they were taken.
  • Karaoke – Once your guests have had a few drinks, why not crack out the karaoke and belt out a couple of numbers?
  • Ring hunt – Hide some wedding rings around the venue and those who find them throughout the evening win a small prize.
  • Ring toss – Throw some oversized wedding rings onto bottles and total up the score.
  • Photo booth – Hire a photo booth, put together a selection of props and encourage your guests to get creative with a photo session.
  • Two truths and a lie – Ask your guests to name two truths and a lie and guess which one is the lie.
  • Cocktail making – Create a delicious (and not too boozy) cocktail to tempt those taste buds. See which guests can create the most delicious drink of the night.
  • Engagement party decor ideas

    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:

  • Floral arrangements
  • Homemade bunting
  • A photo collage of the two of you
  • Balloons
  • Fairy lights 
  • Candles
  • Themed table numbers and name cards
  • A custom welcome sign
  • A printout or canvas featuring your favourite photo from your engagement photoshoot
  • Themed postbox for cards
  • Engagement party favour ideas

    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:

  • Retro sweets
  • Hot chocolate kit
  • Bubbles
  • Marshmallows
  • Personalised magnets
  • Wildflower seeds
  • Tote bags
  • Homemade jam
  • Mini bath bomb
  • A charity donation
  • Simple engagement party ideas

    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:

  • Summer BBQ – Pick up a few burgers, sausages and veggie kebabs and light the barbecue to cook up a storm.
  • Function space – Have a word with the landlord at your local to arrange to use a small function space so you and your loved ones can enjoy a few drinks.
  • Brunch – You don’t need to party into the night, some salmon and scrambled eggs washed down with a Buck’s fizz will do the trick.
  • Ice cream social – Why not hire an ice cream van or shop for a selection of ice cream flavours and toppings and let your guests go crazy?
  • House party – Host a no-fuss, no-frills get-together and ask your guests to bring a bottle with them.
  • How to Plan an Engagement Party: Top Tips

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    Before you sit down and start planning your party, consider the following tips to make sure your party goes down without a hitch.

    • Discuss what you both want from your engagement party and be open and realistic about your budget.
    • Always remember that within the next two years, you’re likely to have your wedding, which is the ultimate goal. Don’t have a blowout engagement party if it’ll impact how much you can spend on your wedding.
    • Try not to get hung up on the little details. Your guests will have a great time no matter what you choose to do.
    • Don’t worry too much about the entertainment. If you’re looking to save money, just a few CDs or Spotify playlists will do the trick.
    • Make sure you pay attention to any dietary requirements. For example, if you’re having a barbecue make sure there are more for the veggies and vegans than just a few salad leaves.
    • Make sure you include a guest book so your guests can send you well wishes for the busy wedding planning ahead.
    • Make sure you send your invitations out in plenty of time so as many people as possible can come.
    • Make sure you prepare yourselves to give a speech. It doesn’t need to be anything big, but make sure you thank your guests for coming.

    Plan the party of a lifetime on Bridebook

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    Happy Planning!