You’re engaged! How to party after popping the question

By Rosie Earl
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The question's been popped and you've said yes! Read on to know essentials for planning your engagement party

Throwing an engagement party is by no means a necessity, but it can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to celebrate the next stage of your relationship, give you a chance to show off any new rings to friends and family, and is particularly good if you’re going to have a long engagement. Allows you to party straight away, even if the nuptials aren’t going to be for a few years. With the right planning, the engagement party can be fun, inexpensive, and (above all) stress free. You don’t want to be considering divorce before you even make it down the aisle!

Decide on the do

Before you even write the first names on the guest list, think about the type of engagement party you’re going to have. Will it be a sit down dinner, or friends at your house, or a buffet in a community centre, or pints down the local? This may be determined by a number of factors, but the most important ones are your personality and your budget. Pick something you can comfortably afford and makes you feel happy. Easy Weddings suggests six suggestions for a fabulous engagement party, including afternoon tea, which I love!

Get on the guest list

The type of do you’re having will often dictate the number of guests you invite. For example, if you’re hiring out your local community centre, you will probably need to invite 40-60 people to stop it looking empty. If you’re having people over to your house for cocktails, you’ll probably invite 20 people max (depending on the size of your house… five people if it’s my house!) Wedding expert Katrina Otter advises that there is an expectation that guests at the engagement party will be invited to the wedding, so make sure you factor that in when drafting up your list to avoid heartache come the big day.

Interesting invitations

Invitations can be as traditional, modern, fancy, or simple as you like. You may splash out, and visit a store like Tree of Hearts to get some invitations printed up, or you may pick up some craft supplies from Hobbycraft, and make some yourself. Alternatively, you could send out an e-vite or set up a private Facebook group to let people know the details.

A tip from a friend

A great tip from a friend of mine who got married recently was to set up a free email account just for wedding business, and to keep track of responses through that account. Ask your guests to RSVP via the email address, stating any requirements they have, such as vegetarian/vegan, food allergies, children coming etc, so that you can prepare appropriately.

Balance your budget

Every good event needs a budget, otherwise it will run out of control. Check your savings, and work out exactly what you can afford to spend, then break down how much money needs to go to each area.

You’ll possibly need to allocate money for:

- Venue hire

- Catering

- Drinks

- Decorations

- Entertainment

 

Some pubs will offer their function room for free, or you can provide entertainment via an iPod and speaker, so you can always make your money go further if you’re smart.

Finding the food

The type of party you choose to have and the venue you’ve picked will give you some guidance as to what food will be served and how it will get there. Easy one first, the restaurant. If you’ve decided to hold your party at a cafe, restaurant, bar, or other food serving establishment, the catering will be done for you. Check when you book whether they will be doing a set menu or ordering when you get there, and be sure to let them know in advance if any of the guests have special requirements. You don’t want Auntie Carol going hungry because there’s nothing gluten-free on offer.

If the party’s at home or at a non-catered venue, such as a church hall or community centre, you will have to arrange the food yourself. You can find a local caterer to serve up some delicious nibbles, or you could host a ‘pot-luck’ and ask all the guests to bring a dish each. If you’ve set up the wedding email, you can ask guests to tell you in advance what they’re bringing, so you don’t end up with 40 bags of Doritos. If you’re going DIY, there are some great inspirational ideas on Pinterest.

Dress up the decor

If you’re having a proper party, you’ll want to decorate the room to be a bit more fun. Choose something appropriate to your personality, that your guests will associate with you and your partner. If you’re a bit nerdy, you might have a Star Wars themed party. If you love to travel, you might have a globetrotter themed party. Heck, it could be your favourite colour, your favourite flower, or your favourite holiday destination, but once you’ve picked it, a few little items can make the room look amazing.

Pictures are a quick and easy way to scream the theme. For example, if you had a Paris theme, you could have pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, sourcing postcards, travel brochures or using pictures you’ve taken yourself.Table centerpieces are a great and quirky way to add character. You can put flowers in a mason jar, for a laid-back, boho vibe, or create something fun with Lego.The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination (or, at the very least, your budget!)

Hit the high streets

You can find some fabulous and unusual items on the high street for tiny prices. Sass & Belle has a great wedding section, which could easily be used for an engagement party too. Flying Tiger Copenhagen has some cute, unique items that start at £1, so you can find something interesting on any budget. Primark’s home range is another treasure trove of scented candles, battery operated fairy lights and table decorations, and can be found on nearly any high street.

Top Takeaway

- Set a budget and stick to it. Engagement parties are very easy to overspend on because there are so many beautiful things available. Be strict with yourself - you’ll be grateful later!

- Let caterers know in advance about any special requirements. The party will be ruined if someone goes hungry, and there are very few caterers will knock up a vegan masterpiece on the hoof.

- Save money by looking at free venues and providing your own music. An iPod and a speaker will no toly cost less, but ensure that the you’re playing 100% floorfillers.

- Check out Pinterest and Instagram for interesting and quirky DIY ideas. You can spend hours getting inspired by all the fabulous pictures. The only limits are your creativity… and your budget!

Have you held the ultimate budget engagement party? Share your tips in the comments below.

Author bio: Rosie is a massive geek who loves anything Hello Kitty or penguin related. She writes every day and wants to be Caitlin Moran when she grows up. If she was an animal, she would be a baby dragon (with a solid background in finance). The Sorting Hat would have put her in Hufflepuff, and she is cool with that.

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