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Fun Ideas for Your Engagement Party
Originally engagement parties were formal events held by the father of the bride to surprise all of his guests with the announcement of his daughter’s wedding.
This was also the time when a man would never considering directly proposing to a woman, but always went to her father for her hand in marriage.
Times are changing, and so are traditions. Today, engagement parties can be thrown by just about anyone, from the bride and groom themselves, to the parents of either party, to even a friend or family member that desires to celebrate with the couple.
And these parties are the perfect time to share your good news with everyone and celebrate your engagement! How better to celebrate than with great fun, great music and great friends. But not everyone has an engagement party.
Some choose to share their news in other ways, like texting, phone calls, and even Facebook. None of those options sound even remotely fun when you are given the option of a party instead! Let’s look at what engagement parties are all about.
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Although you may be bursting with excitement about celebrating your upcoming nuptials with friends and family, when you’re the ones getting married, it’s generally more appropriate for you to leave the party in someone else’s hands.
Nowadays all kinds of friends and family members are coming out of the woodworks to celebrate with you. People will want to congratulate you, and, well, a party's a lot more fun than a phone call. Enjoy it.
Before asking one of your friends or family members to host the party, however, be conscious of the financial implications. This also means that if you decide to host your own party, that you are responsible for footing the bill. Parties can be fun, but be aware of the cost before jumping in whole hog.
All bets are off these days when it comes to an engagement party budget. This get together could be as informal as a backyard BBQ, a fun surprise party, or an announcement at your office with drinks and finger foods to celebrate, or it could be the biggest bash your neighborhood has ever seen with all the stops pulled out.
The budget and formality of this party really depends on the wishes of the couple and the person hosting the event.
All of the old rules of etiquette state that you shouldn’t invite anyone to the party that won’t be invited to the wedding. However, at this early stage you may not have a guest list even drafted, much less thinking about any other details of the wedding. You’ve just gotten engaged!
But with so many people that want to celebrate your good news with you, the fact that many couples are not involved in hosting or planning this event, and with couples getting married all over the United States, much less all over the world, this old rule doesn’t make sense anymore.
In fact, you might have several engagement parties amongst many different groups, like your mom’s friends, your mother-in-law’s friends, your office groups, your book club group, your poker buddies, your golf buddies, and maybe even your neighborhood.
As this is an engagement party we are talking about, the party should happen as close to the actual proposal as possible. If he’s really smooth, the groom might even tip certain groups off that he’s going to propose and he can do so at the engagement party, or have the party as soon as that afternoon or that weekend.
The couple can then share their incredible news with everyone right away. What an amazing start to such a wonderful time in your life!
What kind of food is served at the engagement party will really depend on the formality and possibly the theme, if there is one. It would be silly to offer a BBQ buffet to individuals invited to a black tie affair. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to have five-star service for a simple office party or backyard get together at picnic tables.
Anything from passed appetizers or tasting menu stations to a family-style buffet or an eat-when-you-want cookout will work. You can offer simple finger foods, nothing but desserts, have a potluck get together, or even get creative and serve up dishes that share something about you.
I had a bride and groom known for their love of Mexican food, so of course they brought it back with margaritas, mini fish tacos, and great guacamole for their guests. It just made sense and was a genuine touch.
To say the least, no one is going to be looking at the décor, unless you are considering yourself and your new fiancé as the décor. Be fun and creative with it. Engagement parties are not supposed to be super serious events.
Hang some streamers, choose a fun theme to get everyone in the party mood, and make it light, bright and interesting. Even the most formal affair can be fun and exciting. If you so choose to go all out and decorate, consider candles, personal pictures, fun pieces from important events in your lives, and a theme that really tells everyone about you as a couple. This is a great opportunity to express yourselves and tell your story.
What you decide to wear will ultimately depend on the formality of the party, whether or not you even know about the engagement party, and what you’re told and when to get you there without giving away the secret.
Hopefully, whoever is throwing the party for you will be nice enough to give you a heads up on whether you should be wearing jeans, nice Sunday wear, or duds for a black-tie event.
I wouldn’t worry so much about what you’re wearing as your do enjoying every moment of this time. Engagement parties are a great time to introduce the people that mean the most to you, spend time with those you may not see very often, and celebrate the fact that you’re getting married.
In another couple of years, you’ll be glad that you took advantage of this time in your lives to truly appreciate it.
Tips to Remember
Think Budget - there's no reason to spend your life savings
Think Fun - come up with a fun wedding theme to get everyone excited
Think Creative - share music and food that the couple will love
Think Friends - have all of your friends and loved ones there to celebrate
Think Simple - good food, good music, good friends
Ideas to Set Your Bash Apart
So you’re getting married, or maybe your friend or loved one is, and you want to make this special. There are tons of amazing ideas for making this the bash of the century.
Fortunately, there are also plenty of ways to throw a respectable engagement party on the cheap, so you don't have to divorce your savings account just to celebrate your upcoming marriage. So you want it to be fun, you want it to be exciting, and you want it to be memorable. You’re in the right place!
Your engagement party shouldn't be just another beer bash. Turn up the dial on your party with one or more of these amazing engagement party ideas.
This get-together can be just like the wedding if you want it to be. Choose a fancy hotel or upscale restaurant, either set up a menu which offers limited drinks, appetizers, and entrée items, or offer your guests the entire menu to choose from, and have a nice layer-cake covered in fondant to finish off the bash.
Send out fancy engraved invitations, use the fancy tablecloths and glasses, have a formal seating chart, and engraved menus at every place setting. Use an abundance of flowers and candlelight, and break out the champagne. This is a special occasion isn’t it!
Go all out for a BBQ in the backyard with hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, and beans, and even put checkered tablecloths on picnic tables. Bust out the paper plates and plastic silverware, put on the tunes, and enjoy a more laid back way to celebrate with everyone.
Informal doesn’t always have to mean BBQ though. Have a potluck buffet in your home. Invite all of your closest friends and family members and serve champagne for everyone to offer their toasts of congratulations when you make your announcements.
This party can be just about anything you want. Informal can simply mean you didn’t spend a whole lot of money, and you don’t expect anyone to dress up. You could send out hand-written invites, email everyone asking them to come, or even spread the word by mouth through all of your friends. Serve pizza! Really, it can be whatever you’d like.
This is where it can get really fun! Why just throw a party with food, and music, and drinks, when you can make it a Hawaiian Luau? Or a Mexican fiesta? Or a beach clambake?
Parties should be fun, and this is a great way to get your guests in the mood for a party. They can come dressed appropriately, they can bring the right kinds of food, and they know exactly what to expect. Fun!
Check out my article on Amazing Themes For Your Wedding to get some inspiration for your engagement party!
Keep it Simple
So you’re not big on themes, or you don’t think you’re quite creative enough to come up with a whole coordinated event theme. Not a problem.
There’s nothing wrong with a simple get-together with friends and family members. Great food and great music tends to bring great company. Make it comfortable for everyone. Create an environment that allows for mingling.
An engagement party is a great way for families and friends to meet, and get to know each other. Offer simple finger sandwiches, chips, fruit and veggies, and other finger foods. This will bring everyone together around the buffet table and get everyone talking.
Keep it in a smaller location. If everyone is a little closer, not tight but close, this will encourage more mingling and make for a friendly welcoming atmosphere.
Focus on Your Love
Allow all of the choices you make for your wedding reflect you relationship somehow. The location, the food, the music, even the décor can tell your guests the story of how you met, how you’ve lived, and even how he proposed. Let your love guide you.
Plan your party in the place he asked you to marry him. Proposed at the baseball stadium? You could see about renting out the place, or somewhere inside of it for the celebration, you could have a baseball themed event, or you could still have your event at a local baseball field.
Did you have a favorite restaurant that was always at the top of your list for date nights? Share food from that same restaurant with your guests. Have a song that you’ve designated as yours? Play that music for your loved ones.
Or if you're a couple who likes the great outdoors, secure a picnic pavilion at your favorite state park. Organize a scavenger hunt where guests find objects that when put together tell a story about your romance.
Use pictures from your relationship, stories of experiences you’ve shared, food and music you like, even your favorite colors to decorate your event. Your engagement party could be a walk through your relationship helping your guests to better understand your love for each other.
Set up bowling, croquet, mini golf or any number of games for your guests. Rent a karaoke machine, pull out all of your board games, or set up a mega video game console to entertain everyone.
You could even get inventive and have your guests act out skits based on topics you have pre-prepared, set up a huge game of Pictionary, Charades, or other group games that will keep everyone laughing, excited and involved.
Your engagement party can be a great place to test out a few items for your wedding. What do people like to eat? What kind of music do they want to hear? What wedding cake flavor was the most popular?
Talk about forethought! You’ve got most of your planning done in the very first event. This would take some great planning on the part of the host, and you would have to coordinate a few things ahead of time, but it could be done.
Set Up a Playlist
Play tons of great music throughout your event. Some big band, some jazz, some alternative, and whatever else you may like. Talk to your guests, and get some of your friends and family to do the same, about the music and what they like.
If you’re creative and sneaky enough, you might just have your whole line-up taken care of by the end of the party. Want to know more about what you should consider for your ceremony music? Just ask your guests. I’m sure your Aunt Millie and your Grandmother Tessie would love to give you their suggestions.
Want more “modern” suggestions? Talk to some of the younger crowd at the party about how excited you are to start your planning. Ask them about their favorite parts of past weddings they’ve attended. Was there any music they really liked?
Offer Some Yummy Desserts
Instead of finger foods, or even in addition to them, offer a dessert bar of little minis to your guests. With some careful planning, and a great baker, you can provide a number of traditional wedding cake flavored petit fours, mini versions of pies you like, a variety of cookies, etc.
Just like you did with your music, you could make suggestions, like “Wow, I really liked that purple one, what did you think?” Your guests will simply tell you which desserts were their favorites without you even having to ask.
You could also do something a little more fun and set little jar next to each one, asking guests to put a ribbon in their favorite one(s). At the end of the party, you’ll have your answers.
Offer a variety of foods to your guests in little single serve versions and have a few friends pay attention to what everyone is choosing. You could even put little shot glasses out with different types of casseroles, dips, soups, and samples along with little spoons or appetizer forks.
Little miniature samples of food have been extremely popular at many of the weddings I have planned in the last couple of years. Keep in mind, if you really like something, it’s impossible to take just one. You’ll go back for a second, third, and possibly even a fourth one if it’s really good.
You’ll soon know which ones were favored over the others. Were the Mexican items running out faster than all of the others? Great! Serve Mexican themed fare at your event.
Whatever you decide to do to share your exciting news with the world, have fun doing it! There are so many areas that lend to creativity in these types of events. Use those creative ideas with the food that you choose, the music that you play, the way you decorate, and even the location that you choose.
Even with the most simple of ideas, your party is sure to be a hit, because you’re celebrating an exciting time with friends and family. Good luck!
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness