Congratulations — You’re engaged! You want the whole world to know and celebrate with you (or at least a few friends), but the wedding is far, far away. One fantastic way to celebrate early is with an engagement party. The amazing thing about engagement parties is that there aren’t as many “rules” and expectations as there may be with other aspects of your wedding planning. This is your chance to do whatever crazy party theme you want, test out your hostessing skills, and above all, enjoy yourself with your fiance and friends. If you’ve decided to throw your own engagement party, keep reading for planning tips and menu ideas.
The Venue + Guest List. First, where are you going to have this party? Is it going to be in your home or apartment? Do you have access to a rooftop balcony or outdoor courtyard? Will a friend let you take over their place, or do you need to rent a space? How many people need to fit into the room, tent, or backyard? Decide where and when your party will be before you start inviting friends. Once you know those details, start compiling the guest list. Before you send out any kind of invitation, think about your wedding guest list. I know, you probably don’t have it ready yet, but keep in mind that anyone invited to the engagement party might later expect to be invited to the wedding. If you know your wedding will be tiny, and you want to use your engagement party as a giant celebration, make that clear when you speak to people or word your invitations.
Outsource. Let’s work smarter, not harder. Decide what you need, and then see if any friends or family can help do some of the work for you. Do you need help cleaning your home before the party? Maybe a cousin, bridesmaid, or parent could help. Do you have friends who are especially crafty or have a stockpile of decorations? Ask if they’d like to help. Do you have a friend that loves to cook or bake? Don’t be shy – ask for help. Obviously, everyone has different circumstances, and if your friends seem reluctant, there was no harm in asking. It’s probably best to stick with friends or family who you know are reliable, and you might want to volunteer to cover the cost of food or supplies if it’s something that could get pricey.
Menu Plan. Unless you’ve decided to have your party at a restaurant, you’re probably going to need to organize and prepare some food. Think about your party a little before you start food planning. Are you planning on serving a formal dinner? If you’re having an outdoor barbeque, consider asking guests to bring a covered dish. For a cocktail party held in the late evening, you could have appetizers and desserts.
Don’t forget that it’s completely okay to cheat on the menu. Know yourself – If you’re a terrible baker, outsource any bread and cake! Use a local bakery or a friend. Play to your strengths when cooking for a crowd. Most importantly, try to avoid making something for the first time for a party. This is especially true if you can’t taste it without everyone knowing. That missing slice of cake might be noticeable.
No matter what you decide – Plan Ahead! Make your menu, see who can help, and whatever you do, don’t panic! Meal prepping can begin about a week ahead if you use your freezer, and can continue to be spaced out throughout the week before the party by using your refrigerator and slow cooker. Use the following timeline to help you plan: