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How to Plan Your Dream Engagement Party

a close up of a wine glass

Posted on: January 17, 2020

The love of your life has just proposed, and you’re on cloud nine as you gaze at the brilliant ring on your finger. This amazing feeling is one you want to share with everyone. Once you can focus again, it’s time to begin planning an engagement party so that the most important people in your life and in your partner’s can meet and get to know each other.

Pick a Party Location: Location is critical when it comes to an engagement party, as it can set the tone for the coming reception and ceremony. Moreover, it is the place that many people in you and your partner’s lives will be meeting for the first time. Envision a location that will be both intimate and upscale, welcoming and sophisticated. Be sure to ask the appropriate questions at prospective venues to ensure that your party will be well-serviced by a helpful host or hostess and a sufficient number of waitstaff. Things to consider include the centrality of the location for your guests, parking availability, the popularity of the location at certain times (to avoid overcrowding), etc.

Invite Your Guests: Depending on your style and the tone you wish to set for the event, you can spread the word with paper invitations or even send e-vites. To avoid the awkwardness and potential hurt feelings of excluding anyone, come up with your wedding guest list (or at least an initial approximation) and use it to select your engagement party attendees. Of course, make sure the venue has room for everyone.

Plan the Menu: With your guest list in hand, it’s time to choose the menu for your engagement party. The menu can be based on the number of guests, the time of day, or your personal preferences. Some couples offer cocktails and appetizers only, while others prefer a full-course meal. Keep in mind that you don’t want to upstage your wedding reception. The primary aim of an engagement party is to provide a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere to allow the people you and your partner care about to meet and get acquainted.

Whether serving only hors d’oeuvres or a full meal, make sure to have enough to satisfy everyone. This is especially important if you plan to include alcohol. Also carefully consider the diversity of your menu and the dietary needs of your guests. Whether for personal, health, or religious reasons, you want to ensure that all of your guests can dine with ease.

Decorate: To help personalize this special gathering, you might decorate the tables with something that you and your partner like, such as lovely floral arrangements, personalized candies (e.g. M&M’s with your initials or even photos), a tasteful runner, etc. And, of course, candles add beauty and romance to any table. If the venue you’ve selected is already gorgeous, you may just want to keep your embellishments to a minimum and enjoy the location’s existing ambiance.

Plan Some Entertainment: Since many of the guests at your engagement party will be meeting for the first time, it helps to plan some games to break the ice. There are a number of fun activities with engagement themes. Here are a few clever ones:

  • Play the engagement version of the old TV show, The Newlywed Game, by having the couple stand back-to-back and asking them the same questions. How closely will their answers match?
  • Gather up some photos of you and your fiancée and cut them in half so that either the bride- or groom-to-be is in each piece. Have guests pick one photo snippet and challenge them to find the guest who has the other half of that picture.
  • Hide a bunch of plastic wedding rings around the room. Whoever finds the most rings by the end to the party is the winner.

The great thing is that even if you don’t know how to plan an engagement party, going ahead with it will give you the confidence and experience to start preparing for a possibly larger and even more involved event — your wedding reception.