woman shows off her engagement ring

A Simple Engagement Party Checklist for a Successful Event

Aug 14, 2023
By Wedding Spot

Congratulations on your engagement! Planning an engagement party is an exciting way to celebrate entering this new chapter of your life with friends and family. Whether you’re having a simple gathering or a large event, there are some things you should keep in mind when planning an engagement party.

The guest list, menu, decorations, entertainment… it can be overwhelming to make sure everything is in order. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive engagement party checklist to help you stay organized and ensure your celebration is a success.

With the help of our guide, no detail will be overlooked, and your engagement party will be an unforgettable event!

Engagement party planning tips from the experts

We spoke to wedding industry experts about what to do after getting engaged and the do’s and don’ts of planning an engagement party. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Hold your horses

Has it been less than a week since you got engaged? Engagement ring and wedding band expert Jordan Cullen of Cullen Jewelry has some advice for you: “Take some time to bask in the glow of your new commitment before jumping into party planning mode. This is a special moment in your lives, and it's important to cherish it.”

“After saying yes to each other, take some time to celebrate your engagement privately before announcing it to family and friends,” wedding planner Kate Norris from Bridilly adds. You may consider taking a romantic walk, enjoying a special meal together, or spending a night in a luxurious hotel.”

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2. Keep it VIP

Dustin Sitar, CEO of The Groom Club, suggests keeping this party intimate. “Before finalizing the guest list, consider the size of the venue and whether it can comfortably accommodate the number of guests you have in mind. Also, think about the personalities and interests of the couple and their guests, and try to invite people who will enjoy each other's company and get along well.”

3. Talk it through

Norris also suggests having a conversation with your fiancé before diving headfirst into party planning. “Have an open and honest discussion about your future plans as a couple. Talk about your goals, aspirations, and timeline for your future together. This is a great opportunity to ensure that you're on the same page and start planning for your life together.”

Once you’ve got at least some of those things out of the way, you can confidently move forward into planning your very first public event as an engaged couple!

The ultimate engagement party checklist

Start with a budget

“This will help you determine what type of party you can afford and guide your decisions when it comes to venue, food, drinks, and decor,” Cullen told us. Just like your wedding budget, your engagement party budget rules the day. Luckily, this party will be smaller and likely less extravagant, so your money should stretch a little further than you might think!

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Determine the guest list

Start by creating a list of the people you want to invite to your engagement party. Make sure to include close family members and friends, considering who is a must-attend so you can find a date you like that they’re available. And the golden rule of engagement party guest lists: anyone invited to the engagement party should also be invited to the wedding.

Set the date and time

Choose a date and time that works for you and your guests—you don’t want the party to be just you two! Think about how close the party will be to the wedding. If you’re working with a short timeline, like six months or shorter, you’ll want to keep in mind that guests will be attending quite a few celebrations for your wedding in a short period of time. Choosing a holiday or weekend date can help reduce the number of times guests have to take time off of work, and a weeknight is great to reduce costs if everyone is local.

Choose the location

Deciding where you want to host your engagement party means thinking about both venue and city. If your whole family lives two states away, this could be a good time for a quick road trip. As for venue, anything from a house to a park to a restaurant works great. “If you're planning a small gathering, your home or a friend's home may be the perfect setting,” advises Cullen. “For a larger party, consider renting a venue or reserving a space at a restaurant or bar.”

Send out invitations

Once you have a date, time, and location set, send out invitations to your guests. Make sure to include all the necessary information, such as the dress code, parking or transportation information, and any other special requests. If you’re thinking of hosting a party with food, make sure you have a place for guests to let you know about dietary restrictions. When it comes to invitations Cullen says, “consider using a digital service to save time and money.”

Plan the menu

If you’re having the party at someone’s house, consider hiring a caterer to make things easier. Cullen says to “think about what you and your guests will enjoy”, and even if you DIY it, “consider hiring a caterer or bartender to take the stress off of you.” If you’re hosting at a restaurant, they’ll likely have group dining menus for you to build your menu from.

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Choose the decorations

Your decorations will take their cues from the theme, so decide on that first. It can be as simple as “black and white” or “clean and elegant”, then use that to choose your decor. This could include balloons, flowers, banners, and other party decor. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the wonderful decor options, Cullen suggests you “keep it simple and focus on creating a cozy and intimate atmosphere.”

Plan the entertainment

Entertainment will vary depending on the venue and length of your party.  It could include things like music, games, photo booths, and more. If you’re in a park, a photo booth would probably be difficult to arrange, and if you’re at your house, a black jack game suddenly seems feasible.

Hire a photographer

Far from a must, but consider hiring a photographer to capture the special moments of your engagement party. Professional photographers not only have better equipment than most people—read: better quality images in the long run—they also have an eye for composition and imagery that many lack. If you’re looking for a place to save money, having your best friend snap some pics on her camera isn’t a terrible option. But a professional photographer will likely be able to capture some of those emotional moments of you and your new fiancée.

Buy or make party favors

Party favors are a great way to show your guests you appreciate their support of your upcoming nuptials, but can also be sweet reminders of the event. Small favors can go a long way. Even simple options like personalized coasters, a bag of cookies from the restaurant you held the party at, or cute Polaroids snapped during the event make great engagement party favors.

Plan speeches and toasts

Decide if you want to have speeches or toasts at your engagement party—not a requirement, by the way! If you’d rather everyone chat amongst themselves, that’s fine. If you do choose to have someone make a toast, whether it’s one of you or a friend or family member, make sure to give your speakers plenty of notice so they can prepare.

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Prepare for any special traditions

Traditions vary from country to country, culture to culture, and family to family. While there aren’t many established engagement party traditions the way there will be for the wedding day itself, think about the elements you really want to include, like a cake cutting or engagement ring presentation. Make sure the venue is able to accommodate these, as well.

Make a timeline

The timeline for your engagement party is there to make sure everything runs smoothly. You probably won’t have as many moving parts as you will on your wedding day, and working with a venue like a restaurant will take a lot of the logistics out of your hands. But it’s still a good idea to have a schedule in place so everyone is on the same page. Don’t forget to include time for setup and cleanup!

Confirm details... and confirm again

Confirm all the details with your vendors and guests a few days before the engagement party. The last thing you want is for the day to arrive, and you discover the restaurant thought you booked for the following weekend. Double check dates, times, and order details with anyone helping you execute your engagement party.

Maximize efficiency

We also spoke to expert event planner Jordan Harper, owner of Harper Bond Events, who had a lot to say about using your engagement party to glean some important info from your guests:

“It’s not the flashiest activity, but with so many of your future wedding guests in one place, we always encourage couples to make an effort to get contact info at the engagement party!

I suggest having a QR code that links to a short survey somewhere near the food or drinks. You can start with the basics like ‘What is your mailing address’ and then bump up the fun by including questions like ‘What song is sure to get you on the dance floor’.

If you are ahead of the game enough to have your website ready, you can even include a link to that! Great way to gather info, and also your guests will rave about how tech savvy you are!”

Send thank you notes

“Finally, after the party is over, make sure to send thank you notes to your guests and any vendors who helped make the event a success,” advises Cullen. “This is also a good time to reflect on what worked well and what you would do differently for your next [wedding] party.”

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Some more A’s to your engagement party planning Q’s

1. When should I have my engagement party?

The timing of your engagement party is up to you, but it's usually held a few months after the engagement. This gives you time to plan and allows your guests to fit the event into their calendars. Make sure to consider any scheduling conflicts, such as holidays or major events, when choosing a date.

2. Who should host the engagement party?

Traditionally, the bride's parents would host the engagement party. However, these days, like weddings themselves, it's common for the couple or a close family friend to host the party. The important thing is to make sure the host is someone who is close to the couple and can handle the planning and hosting responsibilities. That probably means choosing someone who is good with details and is comfortable coordinating with many guests and vendors.

3. How many guests should I invite to my engagement party?

The number of guests you invite depends on your budget and the size of the venue. It's important to create a guest list that includes all the important people in your life, such as close family members and friends. Keep in mind that the more guests you invite, the more expensive your engagement party will be. And again, the golden rule of engagement parties: anyone you invite to this event should also get an invite to the wedding.

4. Do I need to send out formal invitations for an engagement party?

While it's not necessary to send out formal invitations, it's a nice touch and makes the event feel more special. You can send out paper invitations or digital invitations, depending on your preference and budget. If you’re going the digital route, a Facebook event can also be helpful, but an email works too!

5. What should I wear to my engagement party?

The dress code for your engagement party depends on the venue and the theme of the party. If you're having a formal event at a fancy venue, then you may want to wear a cocktail dress or a suit. If you're having a more casual event, then you can dress in more casual attire. The important thing is to feel comfortable and confident in what you're wearing.

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You’re ready to plan the perfect party with this engagement party checklist

Planning an engagement party is an exciting and memorable experience that celebrates the love and commitment between you and your partner. With careful planning, attention to detail, and the help of this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure that your engagement party is a truly special event that you and your loved ones will cherish.

Your engagement party should reflect your unique style and personality. Take the time to plan a party that is truly unforgettable, and enjoy the beginning of this exciting new chapter in your life!

Need more wedding event planning help? Here’s how to figure out whether or not a wedding planner is right for you (even if you think you can’t afford one)!

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.