Whether you're a close friend or the happy couple, an engagement party is a perfect opportunity to pull out the champagne flutes and soak up all the joy of this special occasion. Here are the ten steps every engagement party planner needs to take to pull the event off with complete success.
1. Establish a Host
Decide who's hosting. Is it the newly engaged couple themselves? Or a family member or good friend? It's fairly typical for one or both sets of parents to host, but pretty much anyone who is close to the couple and who will be invited to the wedding is an option.
2. Pick a Date
Because the goal is to celebrate the engagement – not necessarily the wedding day – make sure to select a date that's close to when the engagement occurred. Within several weeks is great (and surprise engagement parties are equally welcome!), but no matter what date you settle on make sure it works for immediate family members, especially if they live close enough to attend.
3. Set the Guest List
While engagement parties tend to be on the smaller side as far as guest lists go, there are certain people who should always make the list. Parents, siblings and close friends are a great place to start. Remember that only people who are definitely receiving an invitation to the wedding should be invited to an engagement party.
4. Select a Venue
There are a ton of options for engagement party venues. Basically anything goes as long as it fits with the style of the party you're planning and the budget – backyards, dining rooms and restaurants where you can reserve a private room are all excellent options.
5. Create the Setting
Once you've settled on a location, it's time to sort out décor. Don't feel you need to go all-out (and, of course, feel free to go all-out if you'd like!), but do add in some personal elements. Engagement-inspired balloons, cute desserts, games and traditional décor like flowers are always welcome. Don't forget to add some photos of the engagement if you have them.
6. Choose the Food
A great menu may be the missing ingredient in your party plans. Whether you're headed to a restaurant with its own offerings or preparing your own snacks, appetizers or full buffet, set aside time for shopping and preparation.
7. Make the Drinks
Beverages of some sort are an essential part of any celebration, but an engagement party is an especially fun place to break out a signature drink or two. No matter what, be sure to have something bubbly on hand for a toast, whether that's Champagne or sparkling cider.
8. Select a Dessert
Cater to your sweet tooth by including an engagement-oriented dessert display. A personalized cake with best wishes across the top is great, as are cupcakes or even donuts with diamond-shaped toppers, while diamond ring-shaped cookies will steal the scene.
9. Build Your Playlist
While a soundtrack isn't a party necessity, it adds ambiance to any event. Use it as background music or create a personalized playlist of romantic tunes or the couple's all-time favorites, but do have something planned to up the atmosphere.
10. Activity Agenda
An engagement party is a great opportunity for both sides of the soon-to-be family to interact and engage, especially if they haven't had much time to do so prior. Put together a few ice breakers, or even lawn games if it's an outdoor party, but keep the agenda fairly laid back.
Bonus: Manage Gifts Proactively
Gifts aren't always an expectation at engagement parties. If you (or the couple you're hosting for) would prefer not to receive presents, indicate that preference on the invitation. If guests do arrive with gifts, open them after the party so those who didn't bring presents don't feel too awkward and be sure to keep track of who brought what for thank you notes.