11 Steps for Planning the Perfect Engagement Party

Suggestions for creating your desired post-proposal celebration.

Gather tips on how to plan an engagement party that will celebrate your new status as a bride- and groom-to-be!

Photo: Tessa Maxine

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Your sweetheart just popped the question and you said yes! To celebrate the happy time, many couples opt to have engagement parties. It’s a great way to celebrate your upcoming nuptials in a more intimate, casual manner.

As you envision your perfect post-proposal bash, there a few tips to consider throughout the planning process. The following 11 steps will help ensure that your engagement party is exactly what you want.

1. Make your guest list. This is a key step to consider before determing other factors because it influences the outcome of all elements. When making the list, be sure that these same loved ones will be invited to the actual big day because it would be in bad form to ask them to celebrate your engagement and not the wedding. Also, don’t assume anyone won’t attend – they might surprise you! 

2. Set a budget. You don’t want to overspend on this party, especially because you’ll likely already be planning for the wedding. Planning an engagement party is also good practice in communication and to work with your partner closely. Collectively decide on what you both feel is an appropriate amount.

3. Pick a theme. There is no rule stating that the engagement party theme needs to match that of the wedding. It is entirely your choice whether you want wow factors or simplicity, so pursue whichever theme you want – or choose no theme at all. Just be sure to envision how you would like the space to look, including colors, lighting, and accent pieces.

4. Be strategic about your date. Choose a date that works well for you and your fiancé, obviously, but also consider when your loved ones are able to attend. Sometimes holiday weekends work well for larger families or friends that don’t live close by. Give yourself enough time to plan not just this party but the wedding as well, and make sure that your set date will give you that amount of time.

5. Decide where the party will be hosted. Traditional engagement parties are hosted by the bride’s parents, but lots are hosted at the couple’s home, other family members’ houses, even halls or restaurants. It’s the first of many pre-wedding celebrations, so select a place that provides the space you need, offers delicious food and drinks, and exudes the ambience you want for the special celebration.

6. Create your invitations. Whether you want invites with exquisite custom details or just a simple electronic invite, give yourself enough time to plan and design the invitations to be the way you want. This is important for not only your guests but for your party in general, as it sets the tone for the event and gives guests a hint of what to expect. Note: Since this is usually a more intimate affair, personal phone calls are also a perfectly suitable way to invite guests.

7. Determine the menu. Considering the budget, theme, and number of guests, you will be able to narrow your choices of food and cocktails. You might even think of guests’ allergens and preferred types of food to decide which menu is most affordable and enjoyable for all.

8. Think about fun things for your guests to partake in. An engagement party is a good time for respective family members to get to know each other if they haven’t already. It might be fun to play a game or introduce other ice breakers.

9. Don’t think this party needs to match the wedding. This is meant to be an easygoing gathering to celebrate you and your soon-to-be spouse. Don’t feel like this has to be as fancy or detailed as the actual wedding.

10. Create a wedding registry. You might feel it’s too early to create a wish list, since the wedding is several months away; however, your loved ones are excited for you and will likely bring a gift to express their happiness. Though gifts are not expected at an engagement party, it’s best that you create a registry list for those who want to get you something you both will love.

11. Relax and enjoy the day. Have your friends or family members help throughout the day to eliminate stress and give you time to spend with loved ones. Enjoy it and have fun!

Ready to plan your engagement party? See Pinterest for tips and inspiration on themes, decor and more. Read the first thoughts you'll have upon getting engaged, see gift ideas for recently engaged couples, and learn how to have a personalized engagement session.

Opening photo by Molly Hauge for Molly + Co.