Engagement party planning is all about being organized. Don’t stress out or worry about the pressure that comes along with throwing a party. Read our tips, use our guidelines and worksheets, and take it one step at a time.
Although it’s true that you might have a blast calling everyone and telling them to come over for pizza and beer, an engagement is a special occasion. That doesn’t mean you can’t serve beer and pizza. It just means that with a little planning and a few added details, you can throw a really great party instead, 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 …
Engagement Party Planning 101
The classic Who, What, When & Where . . .
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 won’t show up—not a 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, you can even suggest party attire if it makes sense with the theme.
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 don’t hesitate to let the couple know when the best time for you is, and then see if that works for them. They’ll appreciate the time, effort, and planning you’re putting into 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 isn’t necessarily easier than having guests in your home—you still have a lot of responsibilities, so keep that in mind. Read about the pros and cons of having an in-home or public venue engagement party.
Engagement Party Planning: Stay Organized!
Now that you’ve answered the four basic questions, you need to start making a list—and that list might have 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 and allow you to add things as you think of them. And, by checking off each item as it’s completed you’ll be able to stay on top of things.
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Download our FREE Engagement Party Planning Check List & Worksheet.
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. It also suggests 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….
Engagement Party Planning Guidelines: Guests & Invitations
1. Get the guest list from the couple.
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 it’s a keepsake.
3. Maintain the RSVP & Guest List:
Use Excel if you know how and simply have columns for the RSVP info you need next to each name. Add more columns for their contact info, if they sent a gift or card, and if they did… whether or not they were sent a thank you card.
Or, download our FREE Engagement Party Guest/Gift RSVP Chart and use that instead.
Don’t 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.
Engagement Party Planning: Menu, Decorations, Entertainment
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.
Again, depending on your budget, you can make any event look special with a few custom touches. If you have the 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.
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!