If planning a wedding feels like an intimidating chore involving lots of expectations and spreadsheets, take a breath and just celebrate your engagement with a party that is as relaxing as you need it to be. On the flip side, if laying out all of those wedding plans only makes your heart beat faster with excitement, then the engagement party can be another element of the thrill ride. Here are eight ways to take advantage of an engagement party’s flexibility in accommodating this joyous moment.
- Go on a Shopping Spree
Turn a bit of wedding business into a bit of engagement party fun. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options that seem to attend every step of the wedding process. Luckily, you’ve got a small activity-friendly crew who is essentially a ready-made wedding party. Since you value their advice and they are going to be affected by the choices you make, why not involve them in the selection process for some of these wedding supplies. Sample some desserts to see if they take the cake. Maybe shop for some accessories like bridal earrings and bridesmaid jewelry and let the groomsmen pick out their own ties and cufflinks. Does the potential rehearsal dinner spot get rave reviews for their charcuterie board? Try it out with folks you trust to give you honest feedback about the cheese.
- Pick a Local Hangout
If you are planning a destination wedding and you know that not everybody is going to be able to make it, consider an engagement party at your favorite watering hole or brunch spot. You have full confidence in the menu, and the owner is happy to set aside that back room for one of his regulars. With the familiar setting and the usual crew, enjoy some festivities without worrying about logistical complications. There will be time to tackle transportation issues for your South Pacific nuptials later.
- Dream Up a Personalized Theme
This is a great chance for a themed party. Indulge your unique personality. If you love sci-fi movies but “interplanetary” doesn’t really fit the wedding aesthetic, your engagement party can make a place for outer space. If you and your partner have a history of shared travel, decorate with mementos of those whitewater rafting trips. If you first bonded over a mutual love of Broadway shows, mix the soundtracks of those musicals into the party playlist.
- Take Props from the Proposal
Center your theme around the proposal itself. Be as literal as you want! If you want to incorporate some sparkly decorations or riff on the park bench proposal with a festive garden party, go for it. Heck, if you are going to be telling your proposal story over and over, have a picnic in that same park so that you can point out the magical spot itself.
- Choose the Right Lighting
If you plan on taking lots of engagement party pictures, especially if they feature the engagement ring, remember that natural light is your friend. Grab yourself a rooftop patio or a backdrop that still lets the light in. Oval engagement rings are gonna seize every advantage to sparkle, but they don’t have as much to work with in the darkened corridors of a laser tag maze.
- Honor Your Heritage
Your Italian grandma on the opposite coast is mourning the fact that she isn’t getting the chance to feed all the wedding guests, so if she wants to make pasta for the engagement party, let her. In fact, feel free to transform your engagement party into a cross-country tour in which you celebrate with the friends and family who may or may not be able to travel to the wedding. That’s fine, too. And if you want to bring your fiance to the diner where your parents got engaged and order the pie your whole family swears by, that works, too.
- Make It In-Law Friendly
A crazy engagement party isn’t always the best setting for the two families to meet each other for the first time. Or maybe it’s an ideal place to minimize potential drama by turning up the background noise. Every family dynamic is different. But if the engagement is where they are interacting for the first time, take that into consideration. If your mom gets seasick, maybe don’t have a boat party. And if there is a planned activity, make sure that it is the kind of thing that allows conversation. It is a little easier to trade pleasantries at a bowling alley than a ski slope, for example. If the escalation of virtual interaction during the lockdown means that faraway family members now expect to be incorporated into big life events, find ways to make their inclusion less awkward.
- Treat Yourself to a Classic
Your engagement is a legitimate reason to reserve an evening for fancy cocktails or a sumptuous steak dinner. At your wedding, you might be so busy dashing around the dance floor and greeting guests that it will be hard to carve out time for relishing the actual food and drink. This is your chance to put your feet up and sip on that martini.
Remember: The success of your engagement isn’t riding on your engagement party, but the excitement over your engagement is driving it! So celebrate your future with confidence!