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Monday, June 26, 2017

How To: Engagement Celebration

Words by A Fare Extraordinaire

Congratulations, you or someone you love are officially engaged! With a successful proposal comes months of planning for the big day and the first order of business is to celebrate this momentous occasion with an engagement party. After all, people are going to want to congratulate the happy couple and, let’s be honest, a party is a whole lot more fun than phone calls, texts and emails of well wishes. 

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Think of an engagement party as the official kick-off event for all the upcoming wedding festivities. Not only is it meant to be a celebration of the couple, but the engagement party is also the perfect time to introduce family and friends of the bride and groom to one another, as they are likely to spend a lot of time together over the next year or so (and beyond).

Whether you are the host of the event or one half of the happy couple, we have put together a roadmap to guide your planning of the ultimate engagement celebration!

First Things First

Once a couple gets engaged, it’s often asked who will/should host the engagement party. The obvious answer is whomever the bride and groom would like! However, for those looking to tradition for guidance, the bride’s parents host the first official celebration, followed by the groom’s parents. Over the last few years, we have seen more couples gravitate towards unconventional trends, opting for close friends to host the party and more couples are even hosting engagement celebrations themselves.

Once it’s decided who will host the party, it’s time to determine the guest list! When creating this list, tradition says to invite those who will also be invited to the big day. On the other hand, if the couple plans to have a small, intimate wedding, the engagement party is the perfect opportunity to invite those you aren’t sure will end up making the wedding list, but still want to include in this momentous occasion. 

The engagement party should fall within the period of time we refer to as the “sweet spot” between the first few months of the proposal and the start of serious wedding planning (pro tip: make sure to give guests about a month’s notice of the event, or more for out of town guests who may need to book flights).

Mastering the Menu

Deciding what to serve can be pretty overwhelming, but don’t feel pressured to plan a five-course meal complete with an open bar for an engagement party. Passed appetizers, clever food stations or a beautiful buffet display will work perfectly! Don’t be afraid to get creative and customize a menu representative of the couple’s favorite foods and/or culture, or create an out-of-the-box food option. For example, a donut wall designed in the shape of the couple’s initials is a tasty way to display food and celebrate the couple at the same time. Décor that is edible and creative is always a win-win!

Cocktail duos reflecting the personalities of the bride and groom are also festive crowd-pleasers and offer a creative way to limit the drink options at the bar during the soirée. When determining the signature cocktails, consider options that are representative of the couple, but also offer flavor options for guests. For example, if the bride’s cocktail is sweet or fruity, consider a dry or sour cocktail for the groom to give the guests options.

Another option is an interactive bubbly bar, bourbon bar and/or bar cart with a variety of mixers and garnishes where guests can customize drinks to fit their personal preference. Self-serving stations are fantastic for parties without a wait staff because it takes the pressure off the hosts to refill drinks, allowing them to enjoy the party. Not to mention, bar carts make for adorable décor!

Set the Scene 

The location of the party is entirely up to the happy couple, as well as the hosts. Hosting the event at a private home can provide an intimate setting for the occasion, while event venues often provide essentials that would need to be rented for an event at a home (tables, chairs, linens, etc.). 

Besides delicious food, guests will remember the décor and overall atmosphere of the event, so let your creativity run wild! Some of our favorite 2017 wedding décor trends are more greenery with fewer pops of floral, over-sized balloons/balloon letters and favors/décor customized for the couple.

When hosting an event at a private home, it is always a good idea to provide a marker to let guests know they have arrived – it’s never fun to circle the block or strain to find an address at night! The understated design of the white balloons paired with the greenery tassels is an elegant way to mark the path into any soirée.

Custom koozies are a fun take-home gift for guests to keep their drinks cold during the event and remember the occasion long after it ends! 

Don’t forget to add fun activities! Not only are activities encouraged to entertain guests, they are also excellent opportunities to create keepsakes for the happy couple. From large Jenga sets, where guests can sign the game pieces with notes for the bride and groom, and engagement books filled with pictures for guests to sign, to photo booths with fun props and corn hole boards personalized with the couple’s initials, there are plenty of customizable activities to choose from.

Remember, the engagement party serves as the official wedding countdown kick-off, where family and friends can get together and celebrate the happy couple. With unlimited options for hosting the ultimate celebration, make sure to get creative, add customization and, above all, have fun!

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Brandy Stoesz Photography (1st, 2nd, 4th & 6th-7th), Robert Lopez Photography (3rd), A Fare Extraordinaire (5th) & Janica Boles Photography (8th).

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