The question's been popped and the date's been set. Now what? It's true, you have a lot of planning and excitement ahead of you, but why not take a break in the form of a gathering before the matrimonial madness of wedding planning begins?
An engagement party is a cozy way to celebrate the joyous and important decision you have just made. It's generally held no more than three months after the announcement of your engagement. Traditionally, the bride's family hosts the engagement party, but like most other wedding traditions, this one can be modified to suit the couple's needs. Nowadays, it's not unusual for friends of the couple to host the celebration, or the couple to throw the party themselves.
Your engagement party doesn't have to be extravagant for it to be a grand success. It's meant to be more of an intimate affair so your families and friends can bond and rejoice in your upcoming nuptials.
Here are some things to remember when planning your engagement party:
Coordinate Your Calendars
As with any party, you'll need to set a date and make sure that the important guests are available. Of course that means the major players on both sides. In general, those who are invited to the engagement party will expect an invitation to the wedding, so plan your list accordingly.
As mentioned, the engagement party usually happens two to four months after the formal engagement announcement. This is an ideal time slot because it's early enough to not get in the way of the heavy wedding preparations, yet not so soon that it doesn’t allow you some breathing room. It's a good idea to give yourselves some time to enjoy being engaged and to plan what kind of wedding you want.
Put Family in Focus
The engagement party is all about bringing your families together to meet, greet, and mingle. Because of this, it's important to take into consideration what will make both sides of the family comfortable. Think about your soon-to-be in laws: what's their style? Are they conservative? Casual and fun? Consider your parents as well. If the two sides of the family are very different from each other, you'll have to find a happy medium. Most engagement parties include toasts by the father of the bride, the groom, and other important people. This will give your guests a chance to bond by sharing their thoughts and memories of you as a couple.
Pick the Place
Many people choose to hold their engagement party at a restaurant, but there's nothing wrong with hosting one in a home, outdoors, or the location of your choice. While many restaurants have private rooms you can reserve just for the occasion, you may enjoy the flexibility—and comfort—of hosting the party in a home. If your primary goal is for your families and friends to get to know each other, you may want to consider the potential challenges of, say, a particular restaurant’s seating arrangements. Does it promote bonding? If the answer is no, remember that most restaurants will cater a special event, which opens the door to your creativity and a myriad of locations that are better suited for your event!
Set the Mood
The flowers, music, favors and décor for your engagement party are entirely up to what suits your tastes and budget. It can be casual, formal, or anywhere in between. Generally, it's nice to have soft lighting and pleasant music that easily fades into the background so that your guests feel relaxed, welcome, and inclined to engage in conversation.
Plan the Food
If your engagement party will be held in a restaurant, the food will be taken care of, just be sure the menu includes offerings that are appropriate for everyone. For example, if there are vegetarians in the family, be sure there are adequate meat-free dishes available (not just salad and bread)! An engagement party held in a home can include a potluck-style dinner where everyone brings a dish to pass. This can be a fun, informal, and delicious way to share favorite family recipes and traditions.
There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to giving gifts at an engagement party. Some guests will choose to give you gifts, while others will not. Rather than feel offended either way, why not expect to receive nothing so you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do? It’s a good idea to register at your place of choice before the engagement party to make things easier for those who decide to bring gifts.
When it comes to engagement parties, it's best not to stress out. This is a happy time for you and yours. You have plenty of planning and expenses coming up for the main event. Let your engagement party be simple, classy, and a celebration of the joining together of two families –however how you define “family.”