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WOOHOO! You’re engaged…now what?

Hello lovely humans!

For those of you who are new around here, last week I wrote about my fellow Corona-brides and this weird new world we’re finding ourselves in. Nothing has changed on that front unfortunately but what has changed is it’s officially June which means it’s engagement and the start of wedding season!!

If you’re here because you’ve recently acquired a new shiny accessory (…I mean a symbol of your everlasting love and promise to each other) then let me start by saying congratulations! This is a weird time we’re in right now but if you’ve found happiness during quarantine and you’re planning your future, I’m happy for you! Good news is exactly what so many of us need to hear these days. Leave a message in the comments and share your love story, I’d love a reason to smile!

If you’ve been engaged for some time now or if you’re an eager beaver and starting the planning process early, welcome to you too!

Now, lets talk about engagement parties. Should you have one? Do you need to have one? What is an engagement party? Those are all valid questions and the truth is, the answer is different for every single one of you. One of my newly engaged girlfriends and I were chatting about this recently – what’s good for me and my fiance might not be good for you and yours and that is OK. The decision for us to have an engagement party was a simple and quick one – we knew we wanted to have a time and place to celebrate with all our family and friends at once because we were planning a small and intimate destination wedding where not everyone would be able to come.

Engagement Party Etiquette Q & A:

Who throws the engagement party?

Traditionally, an engagement party is hosted by the bride’s family but now days, really anyone can throw it! We decided to throw our own engagement party in our backyard! This option worked best for us because we wanted to have control over the party – the foods, the drinks, the decor, the guest list, the space etc. We found that when other people are financially contributing to something, it gets messy quickly as they want to have things done their way because they are paying for it and the party often can lose focus. We know who we are best as a couple and we wanted our party to truly reflect that.

When should you have your engagement party?

If you’d asked me this 6 months ago (pre-covid) my answer would be to throw your engagement party fairly soon after you get engaged. There are going to be many other festivities in your honour along the way so it’s great to spread them out. If you’re having a longer engagement or don’t have time to travel home right away, a slight delay is no problem. However, living in this covid-19 world, that might not be possible depending on where you live and what the restrictions are.

If you’re set on having something sooner than later, maybe consider a Zoom engagement party that can be put together with a few weeks notice. You can decorate your space, have party items shipped to everyone in advance, ask everyone to get dressed up nicely, there are so many options if you want to explore that route.

Do you need to send a formal invitation?

Deciding whether or not to send formal invitations to your engagement party depends on the type of event you’ll be having. If you have a little time and are hosting a seated dinner, paper invitations are an elegant option. Going more casual? Opt for an e-vite with a playful theme. The great thing about e-vites is that the design options are endless!

We used evite for our engagement party and we loved it! The design process was simple and we loved that it shows you in real time when someone has last opened the invitation and it sends you a notification when someone sends a rsvp. I’m also a big fan of Paperless Post. My main love affair with an e-vite is the rsvp time and how fast it is. Instead of having to mail something back, all your guests need to do is select one of two buttons and you’re set.

Who do you invite to your engagement party?

This one I find to be a loaded answer. Typically the rule of thumb is if you’re invited to an engagement party then you’re expected to be invited to the wedding. In the event that you’re having a smaller and intimate wedding or a destination wedding, I think that’s grounds to change the rules. Just make sure if you are doing that, you make everyone aware that you’re having a private wedding so this is the celebration with everyone who unfortunately cannot attend. The only must haves for your guest list though needs to be your wedding party! All best men, maid of honour, groomsmen and bridesmaids are expected to be there. This is their chance to meet everyone in your family and friend circles so they can better help and mingle at other events. You want your friends and family to know who you’ve chosen to stand by you and who they can go to if they need something without disturbing you and your partner.

Can you have more than one engagement party?

Totally! Having multiple engagement party is actually becoming more and more common, especially if the couple are from different places (or live far from home) and want to have a celebration with those who cannot travel. If your friends, family or coworkers want to plan something informal, like after-work drinks, you can invite a larger group without worrying about an etiquette faux-pas.

Should you include registry information on your invitation?

It is totally OK to set up a registry for guests that want to bring a gift to your engagement party  however, it’s not appropriate to include registry information in your engagement party invitation. Instead, include registry links on your wedding website if you have one or rely on word of mouth. Just remember that giving gifts, while certainly customary, is not mandatory for engagement parties.

We were not going to set up a registry at all because we didn’t want people to feel obligated to bring a gift. We were truly just looking forward to seeing everyone and celebrating together. However, once more and more people started asking, we decided to set one up. We didn’t advertise it anywhere but it spread through word of mouth and that was fine.

Could we combine our engagement party with the holidays?

Possibly, if done correctly. If you got engaged over the holidays or any other time of year, you have the option of combining your engagement party with another celebration. For your guests sake, just try to avoid holidays for which people will have other plans and will be focused on family traditions, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, or a date like Valentine’s Day when people will want to make plans with their special someone. If you decide to do this, just be mindful that not everyone will be able to make it, same goes with long weekends.

Steps to planning an engagement party:

Step 1: Decide who is hosting the party.

Whether it’s you and your fiance, your family, your BFF, or your partner’s family, just about anyone can plan (and pay for) the celebration. This is an important time to discuss and establish a budget too, everyone should be aware of this number and respect it.

If your budget allows for it, you can call in the help of a professional if you’re going all-out for your engagement party (some wedding planners even include it in their overall package).

Step 2: Pick a date.

(Covid permitting) The best time for your engagement party is within the first few months of your engagement. The excitement is still fresh and new, and any potential wedding planning stress has yet to kick in…hopefully! Plus, as I mentioned before, there are going to be tons of events in the near future, this is the time to relax and enjoy the moment – the calm before the storm.

3. Create the guest list.

This is the time to decide if you are going to be having an intimate party or if you want to celebrate with everyone and anyone you know! Take your budget and venue into consideration (see step number four below for more on this)

4. Choose a venue.

Your engagement party can be anything you want it to be – it can be as big or as small and as formal or informal as you’d like, this gives you endless flexibility when it comes to picking your venue. You could decide you want something super formal and host it at a restaurant or an event hall, maybe a beautiful local winery, or even your back yard.We decided to host ours on a sunny (thank goodness!) Saturday afternoon in May in our backyard. We hosted the official engagement party from 1:00pm – 4:00pm and then the majority of our friends stuck around for evening festivities and shenanigans. For us, we knew we wanted something light and fun that represents who we are so opted for something less formal – it was more about who was there than where we were.

5. Set up a registry.

If possible, you want to try and have your registry completed before sending out invitations. The catch though is that you don’t want to do it too far in advance because items you choose may go on sale / clearance and be sold out by the time your registry is shared is with your guests. Keep an eye on your registry list and make sure the items are available and you can also add and subtract from anytime.

When selecting your registry items, I recommend having a mixture of low and medium priced items. You can include a few high end ticket items but be mindful your guests will likely gift you things for a shower (if you’re having one) and the wedding so provide them with options that fit their budget for these events.

If you prefer to not have gifts at all, make sure that is worded clearly on your invitation.

6. Send your invitations.

Usually the rule of thumb is to send your invitations out about a month in advance. Personally, I don’t like that rule very much and I prefer to have closer to 6 weeks notice on an event that I really want to attend. The sooner the better in my mind  – I like to consider those with kids who need to make arrangements, those who work weekends, those from out of town etc.

Make sure your invitation includes the following information (I have received so many invitations without all these things and I hate to have to ask and stress out the bride and groom).

  • What type of event is this? Your invitation should clearly state “Engagement Party” in some form of verbiage
  • Where and when? This one seems obvious but be sure to include the address and a start time. You can also include an end time if you’d like to make sure the party wraps up by a certain time. Something else to consider is letting your guests know anything specific to the where – if it is in your backyard on grass for example, maybe let them know to leave the stilettos at home.
  • What is the dress code? There is nothing worse than being under dressed to someone’s big event. I cannot stress how important this information is to your guests!
  • Who is your engagement party being hosted by? If your family is hosting and paying for the party, they may want that to be known on the invitation. Something as simple as Mr. & Mrs. Smith along with Mr. & Mrs. Brown request your presence as they celebrate the engagement of  Jim & Sally.
  • Remember to include an RSVP date!! This date will vary based on your plans but be sure to give yourself at least a week before the event to have your RSVPs back. This will effect your food amounts, beverage amounts, seating etc. so having this is super important to a successful party.

7. Plan your menu.

Anytime you are serving alcohol, you need to make sure you are serving food as well! For an elegant evening cocktail party, maybe some passed appetizers, a charcuterie board or some specialized food stations would be great. If you’re going the route of an I Do BBQ then you’ll of course want to make sure you have your favourite stuff ready for the grill.

As a consideration, consult your guest list when planning your menu. If you know you have a group of  vegetarians, food allergies, etc. – make sure they have options!

Same goes with your beverage choices, you want to have something for everyone!

When we made our beverage menu, we opened an Excel file with all our guests imported and then went through the list and wrote in their beverage preferences to we knew how much we needed. Our theory was it was better to have something then to need something so we did go a little board but it worked out great!

Something else that I think is fun to do while planning your beverage menu is coming up with a signature drink. We always try and do this for every event that we have (big or small) and fill a large glass beverage dispenser with it and serve a welcome drink from it as guests arrive. I have tons of unique recipes if you’d like me to share some with you! My years of bartending and mixology come in useful from time to time!

8. Set the vibe.

Same thing goes with your vibe / theme – whatever you want to do, do it! Decide on the theme, the vibe, the colour, decor. It can be as simple or as outrageous as you want it to be. Remember the focus should be on you and your boo and celebrating your love so whatever you choose will only elevate that! If you’re doing a daytime thing, some beautiful floral arrangements can go a long way. Something in the evening? Think about lighting.

9. Go shopping!

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to what to wear to your engagement party. I went the option of wearing white but not everyone has to do that, you can wear whatever colour and style you want! It’s your day and you make the rules! Find an outfit that speaks to who you are and fits with the event. Your other half should compliment your outfit as well.

When I was figuring out my outfit, I had a bit of a hard time to be honest. Our engagement party was June 1st and I knew I wanted white but not many stores had switched over to spring yet so I took to the internet and struck gold at Lulus. I totally recommend you start looking there!

That’s it ladies and gentlemen!

That’s all the advice I can give you today! Let me know in the comments if you like these type of posts and you want me to share more about our experience – what we served, what we did for decorations, the playlist we made.. whatever! While you’re at it, give this post a like so I know if I’m onto something here. And, don’t forget to leave a message with your love story, I’d love to hear it! I’m a sucker for love!

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XOXO.

B.