Celebrating an engagement is the first step in the long journey that is wedding planning. It is customary for the family of either the bride or groom to throw an engagement party for the happy couple, but it is not uncommon for couples to plan their own engagement party. Whether you choose to plan your engagement party because no one else volunteered or because no one can execute your vision of the ideal party, here is a planning guide to everything a bride should know to plan her own engagement party.
Decide how large you want the party to be and create a guest list. Keep in mind that the larger the party, the more expensive it will be, and the money you spend on your engagement party might affect how much you are able to spend on your wedding. My advice is to keep the party small. Invite only your closest family and friends. It is also common courtesy to only invite those who will be invited to attend the wedding ceremony and reception.
Pick a date. It is generally a good idea to have the party soon after he engagement. If it is within your budget, 4-6 weeks is an appropriate amount of time.
Send the invitations. Mail the invitations 2-3 weeks in advance so that your guests will have enough time to plan their attendance. Be sure to include an RSVP date so that you can have an exact head count of the amount of people coming to the party.
Select a venue. The venue you choose is largely dependent upon the overall atmosphere you are looking for. Two suggestions are to either host your party in your own home, or have the party at a restaurant. Many restaurants have party rooms that can hold a decent amount of people. By having the party in a restaurant, you will free yourself of the stress of trying to find a caterer and having to coordinate different vendors. Restaurants will be willing to work with you, and you will have the choice of preselected menus. Hosting the party in a restaurant will also prevent you from having to worry about any decorations.
Choose the dessert. A cake will be a nice touch to serve as dessert. It can be a very simple sheet cake. A unique feature would be to have a picture of the bride and groom printed on the cake. Before you purchase your own dessert, check with the restaurant to see if a dessert menu is a part of the dinner package.
Decide what to wear. Both the bride and groom should keep their attire simple. A simple cocktail dress will be fine for the bride if the engagement party is in the evening, and a sundress is appropriate if the party is a brunch or lunch during the daytime. For the groom, a button down shirt and dress pants are fine for an evening event. For a brunch, the groom should wear a polo shirt and khakis, or a polo shirt and dress pants for a luncheon.
Other things to keep in mind when planning your party are the entertainment and whether or not you will give your guests any favors or parting gifts. Music is a simple choice for entertainment. Whether the party is in your home or in a restaurant, you can use a portable system to play soft music in the background. In regards to favors, I suggest that you forgo giving any favors because they are expected at the wedding. Instead of giving party favors, send each of your guests a hand written thank you note for attending your party.