The moment you say “yes” marks the beginning of an extraordinary journey towards forever. As you embark on this exciting new chapter, an engagement party presents the perfect opportunity to celebrate your love story with friends and family.
Planning an unforgettable engagement party requires careful consideration of various elements, including the theme, venue, menu, and entertainment.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through every step of the process, offering expert tips, creative ideas, and budget-friendly hacks to help you design a memorable event that honors your unique bond and sets the stage for your upcoming wedding.
So, gather your loved ones and raise a toast to the beautiful adventure that lies ahead, as we delve into the art of planning the ultimate engagement party.
1. Determine the Guest List and Budget
The first step in planning an engagement party is to determine who you want to invite and how much you want to spend. Consider whether you want to invite close family and friends or a larger group of people. You should also consider how much you can afford to spend on the party, as this will impact your venue, menu, and decorations.
Tip: Be realistic about your budget and guest list. Remember that this is just the first event in a series of wedding-related expenses.
It’s always a good idea to do a bit of research on the typical costs in your area. For example, in some places, $5,000 might be a reasonable budget for a simple party with around 50 guests. This would work out to about $100 per person, which should cover expenses like catering, drinks, decorations, invites, and entertainment.
Planning ahead is key when it comes to staying within your budget, so it’s always a good idea to get started as early as possible. And if you want to make sure you’re not overspending, using a budget planner can be a great way to stay on track and make sure you’re not blowing your budget.
2. Choose a theme that reflects your personality
Selecting a theme for your engagement party will help create a cohesive atmosphere and guide your decision-making. Consider your interests, hobbies, and personal style when choosing a theme. Here are some theme ideas:
- Travel: Use decorations and food inspired by the couple’s favorite destinations.
- Rustic chic: Opt for countryside elements like wood accents and mason jars.
- Vintage: Choose a specific era for decorations and attire, like the 1920s or 1950s.
- Garden: Host an elegant outdoor party with greenery, flowers, and soft lighting.
- Beach or nautical: Use coastal decorations, seashells, and a relaxed dress code.
- Wine tasting: Offer a variety of wines, charcuterie boards, and themed decor.
- Hollywood: Create a glamorous atmosphere with a black-tie dress code and gold accents.
- Masquerade: Encourage guests to wear masks and elegant attire.
- Fiesta: Use vibrant decorations, Mexican-inspired food, and festive music.
- Game night: Plan a casual party with board games, card games, and trivia.
- Art-inspired: Host an art gallery or painting class for guests.
- Sports: Incorporate the couple’s favorite sports teams or activities.
- Casino night: Set up card games, roulette, and themed decorations.
- Winter Wonderland: Create a cozy winter theme with faux fur, warm drinks, and twinkling lights.
You can curate visual ideas via Pinterest. You can check out our Engagement Party Theme ideas Pinterest board to get started.
3. Select a Venue & Date
Once you’ve determined your guest list and budget, it’s time to choose a venue and date. The venue you choose will depend on your guest list and budget. You can choose to host the party at home, at a rented event space, or at a local restaurant. Consider the location, transportation, and accessibility for your guests. You should also think about the time of year and weather when choosing the date and location.
Think about the atmosphere you want to create and choose a venue and date that reflects that.
- Host at home: Save on venue costs by hosting the engagement party at your own home, a friend’s house, or a family member’s property.
- Public spaces: Consider using a public park, community center, or local clubhouse for a more affordable venue option.
- Off-peak times: Booking a venue during weekdays or off-peak hours can be significantly cheaper than weekends or peak times.
- Combine celebrations: If your engagement party date is near a holiday or another family event, consider combining the celebrations to save on venue and other costs.
- DIY decorations: Save on decorating costs by using simple DIY decorations that match your theme.
- Potluck or BYOB: Encourage guests to bring a dish or drink to share, reducing catering expenses.
4. Send Invitations
Once you’ve chosen a venue and date, it’s time to send invitations. Invitations should include all the important details, like the date, time, location, dress code (if applicable), and RSVP deadline. You can choose to send paper invitations or use an online invitation platform.
Tip: Make sure to include a note about any gift expectations, such as “no gifts, please” or a registry link.
5. Plan the Menu & Drinks
No party is complete without food and drinks! You can choose to hire a caterer, order food from a restaurant, or prepare the food yourself. Make sure to consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of your guests. You should also consider what type of drinks you want to serve, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.
- Serving style: Choose between a sit-down dinner, buffet, or appetizers.
- Theme: Align your menu with your party theme, if applicable.
- Dietary restrictions: Offer options for guests with dietary needs.
- Variety: Include different flavors, textures, and colors in your dishes.
- Signature dishes: Add one or two dishes that are meaningful or represent your backgrounds.
- Dessert: Plan for a sweet treat, like cake or a dessert bar.
- Drinks: Provide water, soft drinks, and alcoholic options, such as beer, wine, or a signature cocktail.
- Budget: Be mindful of costs and consider alternatives like potlucks or DIY food stations.
- Test recipes: If cooking yourself, test recipes in advance to ensure success.
- Caterer: Hire a reputable caterer if you’d prefer not to handle food preparation.
6. Plan Activities & Games
Engagement parties don’t have to be all about food and drinks. You can plan activities and games to keep guests entertained and engaged. Consider games and activities that reflect the couple’s interests or something that can involve all guests. Example games:
- Trivia Game: Create a trivia game about the couple and their relationship. Include questions about how they met, their first date, and other important milestones.
- Photo Booth: Set up a photo booth with fun props and a backdrop. Encourage guests to take pictures throughout the night and share them on social media.
- Advice Cards: Set up a table with cards and pens and ask guests to write down marriage advice for the newly engaged couple.
- Video Messages: Set up a video camera or phone and ask guests to record a video message for the couple. These messages can be compiled into a keepsake video for the couple to watch later.
- Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt with clues that lead guests around the party venue. The first guest to solve all the clues can win a prize.
- Ring Toss: Set up a ring toss game using a bottle or a post. Guests can take turns tossing the rings and trying to get them around the object.
- Newlywed Game: Have the couple answer questions separately about their relationship, then ask the guests to guess their answers. This game can be a lot of fun and get guests laughing.
Keep the activities and games light and fun. You want to create an atmosphere where guests can socialize and get to know each other.
Money-Saving Tip: Keep the entertainment simple. Adding fun to your party does not require you to spend more! If you’re using your own home as the venue, you won’t need to pay for sound system setup. Simply prepare your playlist and play it while the guests are coming in and while the food is being served. If you have a piano and can play it, that would add a pleasing mood to the party, too. If you keep your guest list to just your close friends and family, playing board games or video games can be fun!
7. Finalize Details
Before the big day arrives, make sure to finalize all the details. This includes confirming the number of guests attending, the menu, and the decorations. It’s also important to have a plan in place for any unexpected issues that may arise.
How to Save on Engagement Party Expenses
Dos and Don’ts of Engagement Party Planning
If you’re still wondering how to pull off your dream engagement party, here is a cheat sheet for you!
|Set a budget
|Make someone not close to you host the party
|Choose a venue that fits your style
|Invite too many guests
|Provide food and drinks
|Forget to RSVP
|Incorporate personal touches
|Overspend on decorations
|Plan for entertainment
|Overthink the party favors
- 5 sneaky ways to save money on your engagement party