There are plenty of pre-wedding parties to get excited about - one being the engagement party. If you’ve recently said Yes! to the love of your life and you want to shout it from the rooftops, putting together and hosting an engagement get together is the perfect way to do so.

First, let’s get into some engagement party basics.

an engaged couple clasp hands and dance outside of Laguna Gloria in Austin Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Engagement Party Questions and Answers

1. Who hosts the engagement party

Traditionally, the bride’s parents planned and hosted the engagement party, but these days anyone can take on the role. Some couples even have multiple parties - a formal party hosted by the parents and a more casual get together thrown by the couple, for example. Whoever decides to take on hosting duties should pay for the party and send out invites.

2. When is the best time to throw an engagement party?

Ultimately, this depends on the length of your engagement. For a short engagement, you might want to throw the party a few weeks after you’ve gotten engaged. For longer engagements, a few months after you’ve gotten engaged is an ideal time. This allows you to envision the event and decide on who to invite. Not to mention, it gives you time to enjoy your engagement before all the wedding planning to-do lists pile up.

3. Who is invited to an engagement party?

Just like a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner, an engagement party should only include guests who will also be invited to the wedding. You may not have a handle on your wedding guest list yet, so consider having a more intimate engagement party where you invite only your nearest and dearest (the people you know for sure will be at your wedding).

Related: Your Top 10 Wedding Etiquette Questions Answered

4. What about gifts?

Guests aren’t expected to give gifts at an engagement party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a registry for those who want to pick up a little something for the event. Starting a registry now will also come in handy for other pre-wedding parties, and you’ll be able to add the information on your wedding website and other invitations. There is some debate on whether it’s okay to add registry info on engagement party invites, as some see it as inappropriate. On the other hand, it’s acceptable to let guests know not to bring gifts via the invitation.

Related: Fun and Practical Wedding Registry Ideas

A man and woman press their foreheads against each other as they embrace while standing outside in front of a wooden fence with a vine growing on it in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Engagement Party Ideas

Now that you know the basic rules on throwing an engagement party, you can start planning or passing on these ideas.

Formal or Casual Invitations?

Deciding on what kind of invitations to send out depends on the kind of event you’re having. Since the invite sets the tone for the party, think about the kind of event you’d like to have. If it’s a laid-back get together at your home, you might want to skip the invites altogether and create a Facebook event, text, or email. If that seems too casual, you could send out digital invites that match the vibe of your engagement party. For something more formal, like a sit-down dinner, you’ll want to send a more formal invitation, but it doesn’t have to be as fancy as or match your wedding invitations. You can find plenty of pretty stationery items and print them yourself or head to a local stationery company for assistance. Remember to send out your invites at least a month in advance so guests can make arrangements. You can find plenty of pretty stationery items and print them yourself or head to a local stationery company for assistance. Remember to send out your invites at least a month in advance so guests can make arrangements.

When it comes to picking out a venue, menu, and decor, don’t stress out too much or feel like you have to match your wedding vibe. In fact, the engagement party shouldn’t outdo your wedding. Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and throw a get together that’s totally different from your big day visions. Some fun ideas I’ve come across:

Brunch Engagement Party

Brunches are a great way to gather friends for a laid-back late morning. Pick your perfect venue (home, restaurant, tented garden, rooftop) and serve coffee, juice, water, and cocktail options like Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, and champagne. When it comes to menu items, the options are nearly endless! You could set up an omelette bar or waffle station or full on brunch buffet. Keep decor simple with a few fresh flower arrangements as centerpieces.

a man has his arms around his fiancé's  waist while her hand rests on his arm as they look into each others eyes smiling while outside at enchanted rock in Fredericksburg, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Summertime Soiree

If you’ve gotten engaged during the warmest season, consider throwing an engagement party under the summer sun. Set up shaded areas and an ice cream bar or host the party near a pool. Put on a summer vibes playlist, serve tropical mixers, and provide finger foods to accompany the cocktails.

Backyard BBQ

Almost nothing beats a delicious backyard barbecue complete with everyone’s favorite smoked meats, burgers, hotdogs, coleslaw, potato salad, and cold pastas. Set up tables and comfy seats for guests to relax in and offer refreshing drinks like lemonade and iced tea. You might also want to stock a cooler of beer or come up with a signature cocktail for guests to enjoy.

Starry Night

If you love the idea of a nighttime fete, invite guests to celebrate with you under the stars. Consider hosting the event in your or a family member’s backyard, recreation area, garden, or park. Decorate with twinkling string lights or lanterns, set out blankets and pillows in lounge areas, and serve warm drinks. Go the extra mile by setting up a telescope or hosting the party at a conservatory.

Dessert as Dinner

If you want to skip dinner and get straight to dessert, throw an engagement party that’s all about the sweet stuff. Stick with one kind of ingredient, like chocolate (chocolate fondue station, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cocktails, etc.), or serve a variety of cakes, cookies, tarts, and candies. For drinks, offer water alongside coffee, tea, and espresso.

Remember that an engagement party is optional, and if you do choose to have one, don’t get too stressed out over the details. It’s really all about celebrating with friends and family in a way that feels good for you and your fiancé, so go as big or small as you want.   

Wanting some more ideas and planning tips for your engagement party? I bet I can help.. let's talk more about what you're looking for and how you can achieve it!

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