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YES!  You’re engaged!  Now what?  Celebrate with you’re loved ones!  While this isn’t a “required” activity, most couples want to kick off their wedding planning journey with an engagement party, and it’s a great way to start the celebrations!  It’s also typically a couples first glimps into the complicated world of planning a larger party, dealing with guest lists, others opinions, and SO MANY QUESTIONS!  Don’t worry, we’re here to give you a few tips to help you through the party planning, and have a great start to putting together your big day!

Who hosts the party?  Let’s first take a moment to address “wedding traditions”.  If you’re looking through traditional wedding books, you’ll see that the bride’s parents would host the engagement party.  Tradition definitey has it’s place with wedding planning, but when it comes to roles in hosting and contributing to events, along with many other things, these “rules” really don’t apply anymore.  Most couples will have a friend or family member (bride or grooms side) offer to host a party, but it’s absolutely acceptable to throw yourselves a celebration!  With distance often being a factor between families and groups of friends, it’s also pretty common to have two or more celebrations to make sure you can include everyone.

Should we offer to pay for the party? If someone else has offered to throw you a party, they will be planning on paying for the bulk of the event.  If you feel uncomfortable with having them pay for everything, you can offer to take care of a specific task or cost, the invitations or desserts, for example.  Regardless of what you contribute, you should definitely give them a gift to thank them for their generosity.  If they have a favorite restaurant, spa, or store, gift cards to those locations would be the perfect option!  You don’t need to make a big presentation of giving it to them at the party, but do plan on bringing it with you to the party.

How do we decide the location and budget? Isn’t this always the big question?  How much is it going to cost?  And with so many other things, my response is “well, that depends on what you want”.  Each couple and event is so very different, there’s no way to give a generic answer to what you can plan on spending.  The biggest thing I can recommend is to have a solid grasp of the budget BEFORE committing to any locations or guest lists. We’ll get into much more detail in the Budget Bundle (coming soon).  When it comes to engagement parties and showers, the wedding couple are generally not the ones paying for it, and so it’s important to respect the budget of the hosts.  Keep in mind they might not have the abiity to host a large party, or secure a fancy venue.  While talking about money can be very uncomfortable, make sure to have a general idea of what their budget range is before suggesting venues or guest lists. Regarding the location, the party really can be anywhere!  Some chose a small gathering at home or at a bar/restaurant, others opt for a more formal event venue.  Your engagement “party” may be more of an informal gathering, just giving everyone the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate you and your fiance.  Make sure to chat with the hosts about the style of party that you would like.  It would be a shame for them to reserve a large formal party space when you’d prefer a casual backyard celebration!

Who do we invite? Here we go again… “well, that depends!”  Again, there’s really no solid answer to that, but here’s a few things to concider while putting togehter your guest list.  While showers tend to be more family or friend specific, engagement parties typically cross over the guest lists.  Unless you’re having multiple engagement parties, it’s common to invite both sides of the family and friends to attend.  One question that we often get is should I invite someone that might not be invited to the wedding?  Tradition would state that anyone extended an invite to any “pre-wedding” events like the engagement party or showers should be extended an invitation to the wedding.  While I definitely agree with that for your showers, I think there’s a bit more flexibiity in this for the engagement party.  Most likely, you won’t know your wedding venue or budget yet, and for that reason you can’t know for sure who will be on your guest list.  If your engagment party is more casual, I don’t think you need to worry about only inviting guests that will be at your wedding. If your party will be more formal, this might be something to consider in a bit more detail.

Do we give a toast?  It’s not required to have the traditional toasts that you will see at a wedding, however, you should make sure to publically thank the hosts for throwing the party for you at some point.  Additional toasts, or words of congratulations are definitely acceptable, but they shouldn’t take up a large portion of the event.

What do we do? Kick back and enjoy!  Save the games and wedding bingo for the shower, no need for any set activites at your engagement party.  If the venue provides the opportunity for things like pool, lawn games, or dancing, definitely embrass it, but don’t feel like you need structured activities.

Should we register? Some of your guests will bring gifts, expect to have several bottles of bubbly after the party!  Becuase the party will be held so early in the engagement process, I personally don’t think you need to worry about registering before the party.  Chances are that you will need to do so quickly, and you might change your mind about what you’d like as the planning moves forward.  Additionally, people might view registering for an engagement party as a way to encourage bringing gifts, which should not be the expectation of the party.