The funny thing about getting engaged is that all of a sudden everyone is happy for you. Even before you can start to think about dresses and flowers, someone will likely offer to throw you an engagement party. It could be your parents, it could be some friends. Whoever asks, the correct answer — much like when the ring was offered to you — is always Yes!
Today on the New Bride Guide we go over the nuts and bolts of the engagement party, everything from who to invite to whether you should asks for gifts.
1. Who throws this party? 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. It should be held within four month of the proposal, but at least six months before the wedding.
2. Only invite people you plan to invite to your wedding: While it’s a fun idea to throw an engagement party the week after he puts a ring on it, hold your horses if you haven’t settled on a wedding budget yet. It’s also bad form to invite anyone who would have to travel a great distance. Engagement parties are traditionally cocktail parties, and it’s a lot to ask for someone to travel a lot for a party that lasts only a few hours.
3. Rent a fabulous dress: It should be obvious you’re the bride, so get on Rent The Runway and find something sparkly. The site offers fantastic dresses by designers such as Badgley Mischka, Milly and Nicole Miller. You pick out the dress you like, enter the dates you’ll need it and they’ll send it out to you. You can rent many for under $100. Check out our ideas for engagement party dresses if you need inspiration.
4. Pick a theme: Even if it’s just backyard barbecue, it’ll be good practice for putting together the big show — your actual wedding. It also gives guests an idea of how to dress for it, etc. If you’re stumped for a theme that is easy to pull off — and will get people talking to each other — try a drive-in movie night with home videos or create a party around bold colors such as red, pink and turquoise.
5. Try a classy evite, such as Paperless Post: Engraved invitations aren’t really necessary for an engagement parties, but you still want to get the word out. Paperless Post is an online invitation service that is on par with getting the fancy invitation in the mail. Guests can RSVP online, see who else is coming, etc. Designs are modern and many are free.
6. Don’t ask for gifts: Between the bridal shower and the wedding, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to give you things. Let the engagement party be a legitimate celebration with no expectations. Of course, some people will feel obligated to bring you something, and those gifts should be set aside. Don’t open them during the party. You’re not eight years old. No one wants to watch you open presents.
7. Get ready for lots of toasts: Etiquette dictates that the father of the bride goes first, then the groom, and then whoever else wants to say a few words. Start your toasts about two-thirds of the way through the event. Be sure have special toasting flutes on hand. You’ll definitely use them.
8. Make sure there is lots of bubbly: It’s a celebration, toasts will be plentiful, so make extra sure the festive beverages are flowing.
9. Get yourself a cake: Why not? It’s a party and you can use it as practice for cutting your cake on the big day. Get on Pinterest and check out the engagement party cake-spiration.
10. Be sure to thank the party host: It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. It could just be a nice arrangement of flowers or something small but appropriate. They just threw you a party, so gratitude is in order. Even a handwritten note on special stationary goes a long way.
One you’ve got the engagement party planned, work on the rest of the wedding. Check out our tips for picking your venue, what you absolutely must register for and please, stay off Pinterest when planning your wedding.