Follow our tips to host an engagement party so lovely your guests will want to put a ring on it.
Send notice to family and friends with an Evite invitation, like the premium “Tying the Knot” invitation below, or this premium “She Said Yes!” invitation. Or, check out our engagement party invitation gallery for more designs.
The point of this party is to celebrate the spouses-to-be, so start with photos of the delighted duo — especially ones from the beginning of the relationship and/or those they don’t have copies of themselves.
For extra points, contact the couple’s parents and ask for pictures of the bride and groom growing up. Since these won’t be digital, vow that you’ll immediately scan them — if you don’t have a scanner yourself, you can get it done at a copy store like a FedEx Office — and send the originals back that same day. (And then actually do that.)
You can blow up the photos at the copy store to hang around the party or create a photo display on heavy poster board celebrating the history of the couple that they can later show off at their rehearsal dinner or the wedding itself.
Flowers (especially the couple’s favorites), candles, balloons and streamers also set a festive mood.
The bride’s parents traditionally host the engagement party, but the groom’s parents, a friend or even the couple themselves can also throw one. However, before you start writing the invitation, make sure one of the couple’s parents aren’t already planning an engagement party of their own. Feel free to throw another one, especially if the parents live in another area or are only inviting family, but it should be after theirs.
An engagement party is usually held within four months of popping the question and at least six months before tying the knot. That said, you’ll probably want to give the couple at least a month to pull together the guest list for the wedding (since the engagement party guest list will be based on that), plus a little time to begin registering for gifts. Although engagement gifts should not be expected, some guests will still want to offer a celebratory token, so it’s helpful if there are some inexpensive items on the registry for those so inclined. However, since putting registry info on the invitation suggests a present is required, you may want to let guests approach you for gift details on their own.
What kind of party should you have? It’s your decision — an engagement party can be anything from a fancy cocktail soiree to a laid-back backyard barbecue. However, if you’re hosting a party that both the bride and groom’s parents will be attending, take into account what kind of event will make both families most comfortable, since the engagement party is traditionally considered an opportunity to let the couple’s parents get to know each other.
As for the guest list, don’t invite anyone who won’t be invited to the wedding. And don’t invite anyone other than the couple’s parents who will have to travel far, since they’ll already be expected to travel for the ceremony itself.
The main event at an engagement party? Toasts with the most. Custom dictates that the father of the bride goes first, then the groom, and then whoever else wants to say a few congratulatory words.
The couple may even want to throw a surprise engagement party — for the guests, that is — and announce they’re engaged at what everyone will assume is just an ordinary get-together. However, close family and friends should always be told privately well before the party, since the couple’s nearest and dearest may feel hurt if they don’t get to hear the big news personally.
One activity you should not plan on is opening gifts. Gifts should not be expected for an engagement party, particularly since guests will already be buying presents for the wedding and in many cases a shower. Some guests will still bring them, but they should be put aside (no gift table, please) for later or opened privately to avoid making empty-handed guests feel remiss.
The type of food to serve depends largely on the type of party you’re having, but a cake would be right at any of them. Go white wedding with vanilla cake and buttercream frosting or coconut cupcakes decorated to spell out “congrats” to the blissed-out twosome.
You might also play off the nuptial theme for the rest of your party food. Could we interest you in a celebratory toast point topped with crème fraîche and caviar, for example? How about a Ring Pop® slipped over a ladyfinger? You can even give a nod to the rice throwing tradition by serving rice pudding in glasses or Rice Krispies Treats® . Let your imagination run wild!
Since toasts are typically a centerpiece of the party, make sure you have plenty of cheers-ready beverages on hand, including sparkling grape juice for those who don’t imbibe. Champagne is the obvious libation choice, but for a surprising twist that originally rose to sparkling popularity in the 1800s, try the classic champagne cocktail instead:
- 1 sugar cube
- Dash Angostura bitters
- 1 ounce brandy (optional)
- 4 ounces champagne
Drop the sugar cube into a champagne flute, add the bitters and brandy (if desired), and fill the glass with Champagne.