First off, I’m going to be a bit presumptuous here and say that shortly after he/she said ‘Will you?’ that you shared this exciting news with the world, or rather the large part of the world that’s on social media platforms. For so many couples, this is the way and only way they’ll announce and celebrate this momentous occasion with their friends and families. But what if you want to do something a bit different? If that’s the case, we only need to look back to times gone by and think about planning your engagement party.
I love, love, LOVE engagement parties! As a photographer, it’s not something I’m really ever asked to photograph but I’ve been to my fair share as a guest. The reason I put so much value on engagement parties is simple, it’s an opportunity to gather your nearest and dearest before your wedding and celebrate this huge change in your relationship. So, if you’re planning an engagement party, this helpful post will give you a few things to think about.
I. The Host
Long ago in times of old, wedding duties were very clear cut. Back then, the engagement party was always hosted by the bride’s parents. However, in these increasingly modern times, old traditions are fading. This is sometimes because they’re outdated traditions as attitudes to weddings change or simply because something better replaces it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. Nowadays, when planning your engagement party, both sets of parents may come together to share hosting duties or more commonly, the couple will choose to host the engagement party themselves. It may even be a close friend who throws you a big bash! Since the ones hosting the party are usually the ones who pay for it, this is an important decision to make before any other planning gets underway. The chances are, if no one has offered and you want an engagement party, you’re going to host it yourself.
II. Guest List
It’s essential when planning your engagement party to think about this one a little more than you probably want to. Rightly or wrongly, guests who are invited to your engagement party are almost certainly going to expect an invitation to the wedding. I’m not saying you need to spend hours now finalising a definitive wedding guest list. No one does that and why would they, you want to savour this perfectly sweet moment you’ve created together not be bogged down with what most couples find the hardest part of wedding planning! But what you do need to do is talk with your fiancé/fiancée as you decide whom to invite to the engagement party. Furthermore, be sure that both of you will be happy to invite these people to the wedding as well, should you decide you want to.
III. Formality & Theme
Now, this is a biggie. Whether you’re thinking of a lavishly formal black-tie soiré, an exuberantly British afternoon tea or a celebratory drink and nibbles – it’s really up to you! But since the level of formality and the general theme will influence everything from the venue to the decor to the food and even your dress code, it does deserve careful thought. It’s really important that you don’t feel pressured to match the style of the engagement party to the wedding! After all, it is two separate events and at this early stage you haven’t hammered out your general wedding theme and styling ideas yet and why would you? You’re enjoying this huge ‘engagement buzz’ -(full disclosure, I’m not sure ‘engagement buzz’ was a thing, but it is now). Instead, as you’re planning your engagement party, think about what kind of party will help you celebrate the connection between you and your fiancé/fiancée. What makes you who you are together? What interests do you share that has helped lead you to this exciting point in your lives? Once you decide on a theme and level of formality, make sure you let your guests know!
I am an avid lover of stationery! There’s no denying it, there’s no changing it. I honestly feel there’s nothing better than invitation in the post or better yet, hand-delivered. That being said, in this modern age, it’s not a faux pas to use digital invitations for the engagement party if that’s what you choose to do. You can even get really creative with it! You can post it on Facebook, send it via WhatsApp, or you can Snapchat your invite with a cute video message from the two of you. The above ideas are especially great if the party is happening very soon after the proposal and you don’t have a lot of time to prepare! But if you choose to opt for the trusty stationery and decide to have invitations printed, remember that they don’t have to coordinate with your future wedding invitations so don’t let the decision feel so daunting. You’re not committing to anything for your special day yet. Whichever you choose, the invitation is the perfect opportunity to convey the theme and level of formality of the event and to share the link to your wedding website if you have one.