A newly engaged couple celebrates their engagement by opening champagne near the river in downtown Austin, Texas. Image by Austin, TX wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen. Overlaid with text that reads What is An Engagement Party and How to Plan One?

You’re engaged! YAY! It’s time to jump into wedding planning, take your engagement photos, and... have an engagement party! Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait...what is an engagement party, actually?!”

If this is your question, don’t worry! Today’s post is just for you! We’re answering the question, “What is an engagement party?” and giving you our favorite tips on how to plan an epic engagement celebration.

What is an engagement party?

If you’re wondering “what is an engagement party?” the answer is actually quite simple: whatever you want it to be! There isn't just one way to throw an engagement party; it’s really about having a gathering that makes you and your fiancé feel truly celebrated. In fact, an engagement party is probably the first time you will get together with your family and friends to celebrate saying “YES!” 

An engagement party can be as big or as small as you'd like it to be, but the main point is to spend it with your closest loved ones. Plus, these will likely be the people who help you plan your wedding and also the people who will be in your wedding party. They will each play a role in your big day, so it is particularly special to get to celebrate your engagement with them!

How to plan the perfect engagement party

Even though there are no official rules for engagement parties, there are some traditions and tips that will help make for the perfect party. These are our top engagement party planning tips:

#1 - Who’s hosting?

The bride’s parents have often been the ones who traditionally host the couple’s engagement party. However, many couples do opt-out of this tradition. If you want to throw your own party, or if you’d like to take up a friend’s offer to host the party, go for it! Or, maybe both you and your fiancé’s parents can plan the party. Whoever hosts your party will likely be paying for most (if not all) of it and will also need to dedicate a fair amount of time to coordinating the event.

Therefore, you should make sure that whoever is hosting the party is up for it financially and time-wise. 

#2 - Engagement party timing

You may feel obligated to have your engagement party right after getting engaged. However, you can actually have your engagement party whenever you want! Don’t feel pressured to rush into a party or make it happen immediately after your engagement. Some couples like to take some time after getting engaged to just relax and enjoy themselves before jumping into any planning or wedding-related events. If you identify with this, that’s totally okay!

With that said, many couples like to have their engagement parties within the first few months of getting engaged. This way, you’re still feeling all of the fresh excitement that being engaged brings without being too stressed about wedding planning details. It’s the perfect time!

One of our favorite ways to choose a party date is to combine it with another holiday or type of celebration. For example, you could host a glamorous New Year’s Eve engagement party, or combine your engagement party with your fiancé’s birthday celebration. Or, maybe you and your fiancé LOVE football, so an epic Superbowl-party-turned-engagement-celebration would be perfect for you. 

A close up of a newly engaged couple drinking champagne as they talk about what an engagement party is and how to plan one. Image by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Whatever you choose, make it your own and make sure your party feels like a good fit for you personally. 

#3 - Choose your venue + start dreaming of decor

Next, you should also focus on finding a party venue. As you choose a venue, use your answers to these questions to help guide you:

  • What is my budget for this party?
  • Does this venue work with my budget?
  • What is the aesthetic and/or theme for this party?
  • Will this be a day or night time party?
  • Will it be a more casual or formal event?

Your answers to these questions will help narrow down your venue options and help you choose the right venue for your event. You want your venue’s setting to match the aesthetic and vibe of your party. For example, if you want to have a glamorous and formal event, a backyard party during the day probably isn’t the right choice for you. Instead, you should choose a more luxurious venue with gorgeous grounds and a more classy vibe, like the South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas. On the other hand, a high-end hotel likely isn’t the right fit for you if you want to have a more laid back get together. Basically, we’re saying: figure out what the theme and aesthetic of your party is and then choose a venue that matches that! 

Bonus tip: Once you choose a venue, you can really start getting inspiration for your party decor. Similarly to what we were saying above, you’ll want your party decor to complement your venue space. One of our favorite wedding party decor options is to use photos from your engagement photoshoot. There’s no better time to show off your gorgeous photos!

#4 - Decide on your menu

Now, it’s time to finalize the food and beverage menu for your party. Whatever you decide on, make sure it’s something that you and your fiancé will enjoy. After all, this party is about celebrating the two of you! 

It’s always fun to choose food from a restaurant or food truck that has played an important or special role in your relationship. Maybe you can get the restaurant where you two had your first date to cater the event. Or, maybe you can serve a signature cocktail that you two love to drink together at your engagement party. 

The bottom line: have fun with your menu options and, if you can, personalize it to your relationship. 

#5 - Choose your guest list and send out invitations

Once you have a lot of the engagement party basics down, it’s time to choose your guest list and send out invitations. As we’ve said before, don’t do anything out of obligation! Only invite people who are important and special to you (and your fiancé) and that you’ll enjoy celebrating this party with. 

Also, remember that it is common etiquette that everyone invited to your engagement party will also be invited to your wedding. So, planning your engagement party guest list is naturally a great time to start building your wedding guest list.

Once you’ve finalized your guest list, it’s time to send out invitations! You can send out formal, paper invitations if you’d like or digital ones via a website like Minted. If your party is going to be super casual, a Facebook event and/or text invitations could also be the way to go! 

A newly engaged couple smiles at each other as they run off a dock in downtown Austin, Texas and decide what is an engagement party and how to celebrate it. Image by Austin, TX wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

No matter which route you end up taking for your invitations, make sure you send them out as early as you can so people have ample time to RSVP and set aside the time on their calendars.

#6 - Delegate day-of duties

This is one of our most important engagement party planning tips because it often gets forgotten. As your party gets closer, start making a list of who’s handling what on the day of your party. This way, nothing will get forgotten or cause last-minute stress to you. Wherever you can, delegate tasks to your family and friends. They love you and want to help! 

#7 - Pick out your outfits!

You and your fiancé are the stars of this party and you both should have outfits to match that! Many brides like to wear white to their engagement parties, but you don’t have to if you have another snazzy outfit in mind. What’s most important is that you feel gorgeous, comfortable, and fabulous! 

Just make sure that your outfits match the formality and aesthetic of your event, so that you’re not underdressed compared to any of your guests. This is THE time to outshine everyone around you, so enjoy it and take advantage of it!

Now you know the answer to “What is an engagement party?”

If you’ve read this entire post, you now know the answer to “What is an engagement party?” and how to plan one.

The main thing to remember is that this party is about celebrating YOU and your relationship. Therefore, it needs to reflect you and your fiancé's wants, personalities, relationship history, and favorite things. As long as you plan a party that allows you to really have fun and let loose with your favorite loved ones, that’s all you need! Happy planning, and more importantly: we hope you have the best engagement party ever!

Did you recently get engaged? Congrats! Feel free to reach out using the buttons below if you have any questions about engagement parties or engagement shoots!

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A newly engaged couple stands in front of Standard Bar & Grill in downtown Austin, Texas. Image by Nikk Nguyen, an Austin, TX wedding photographer. Overlaid with text that reads What is An Engagement Party and How to Plan One? Learn More
A close up of a newly engaged couple  pouring champagne to celebrate their engagement. Image by Austin, Texas wedding photographer, Nikk Nguyen. Image overlaid with text that reads What is An Engagement Party? And How to Plan One.

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