Engagement party planning is all about being organized, so before you freak out and worry about all of the pressure that comes along with throwing a party, read these tips and use our guidelines and worksheets to help you with your event.
Although you might have a blast by just calling everyone up and telling them to come over for pizza, with a little planning and a few details, you can throw a really great bash, regardless of your budget.
The first step in throwing any kind of party is to ask and answer some very basic questions.
So let's get started and begin planning your party ...
Who: How many guests are invited? Who are they? You have to plan for the entire number, but know that every party has an attrition factor, and some people wont show up—not your problem, you will be ready anyway!What: Yes, an engagement party, but what type? Will it be a simple gathering? Will the party have a theme? If so, pick a running theme for the party—from the invitations to the food, decor, even suggesting how the guests should dress.
When is the party: Day, afternoon, evening? Is it on a weekend or during the workweek? Everyone has busy schedules, but you're the one who's throwing the party, so dont hesitate to let the couple know when the best time for you is, and then see if that works for them. They will appreciate the time, effort, and planning you're putting in to the event so don't worry about being open with them.
Where: Is it at your house, a restaurant or club? Hosting an event at a restaurant isnt necessarily easier than having guests in your home—you still have a lot of responsibilities, so keep that in mind. You can also read about the pros and cons of having an in-home or public venue engagement party.
Now that you've answered these four basic questions, you need to start making a list—and that list might have little side notes, and be on several pages. Making a list (or lists) is probably the most important element in planning a successful party. They'll keep you from leaving any detail unattended.
In terms of managing the lists, always remember to check things off as you complete them.
If you're planning an engagement party and you aren't sure how to get started, download our FREE Engagement Party Planning Check List & Worksheet.
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It lists almost all of the things you'll need to think about when having a party at home and includes a place for notes (and you should take lots of these).
It also suggest planning timelines/deadlines for each of the tasks.
Use it as is, add to it, or turn it into a "table of contents" for a more extensive engagement party planning file.
Now on to some important guidelines....
Step 1. Get the guest list from the couple.
Step 2. Decide on the invitations:
Invitation Design: This can be a simple scanned photo of the couple with the date, time and RSVP contact info, or if you have a bigger budget a local printer can run something up on a custom card. If you're not sure what to include on the invitation check out our page on engagement party invitation wording.
Delivery: Mail/Email—As popular and quick as email is, some people love to get old-fashioned snail mail—an invitation received in the mail or hand delivered is so much more special, plus its a keepsake.
Step 3. Maintaining the RSVP List: Use Excel if you know how and simply make four boxes before each name: Yes, No, Maybe, No Answer.
Or, download our FREE Engagement Party Guest RSVP Chart and use that instead.
We recommend using a pencil in the beginning to mark their response, as people might change their mind.
Dont get frustrated if the guest count goes from 20 to 40, then back to 20 and you have to adjust food and drink quantities—this is why you have all of those lists.
Step 4. Deciding on the Menu:
Does the couple have a favorite food, or more importantly, one they hate?
Are you making the food, or is all or some of it catered? With an organized plan, you can cook for a large group. You can also ask for some help, either have a few friends bring something, or buy something prepared at the local deli, grocery store or from a favorite restaurant.
Do you plan to ask friends to help, or can you afford to hire some cater-waiters?
Think about all these options and then come up with your plan. The menu is usually what most of us get anxious about, but with proper planning ahead of time you can completely eliminate that stress.
Step 5. Decorations:
Again, depending on your budget, you can make any event look special with a few custom touches. If you have a large budget, imagine having pictures blown up poster-size, and then line the dining area with them. Keeping it simple is a good rule, too—just pick a common theme and place a few touches around the venue.
Step 6. Entertainment:
What are your guests going to do besides eat and drink? Again, a simple theme could help a lot in planning a fun night. You should also consider playing some engagement party games which can really help break the ice if a lot of the guests attending don't know each other.
Engagement party planning is all about thinking through the details. You'll see that once you get yourself organized and know what your deadlines are for each task you'll be able to relax and enjoy the planning just as much as the party. Have fun!