It’s time! The ring is sparkling on your finger, you can barely contain your excitement, and everyone important knows you’re officially a blushing bride – it’s time to plan your engagement party. As the first party you will throw during your engagement it should set the tone for the rest of the year (preferably without breaking the bank). Let’s talk details.
Find a venue. Do you want a sweet garden party? Or a chic cocktail hour at a city lounge? Even an evening in your new house? Strive for a venue that is FREE. This savings will come in handy later.
Pick a day and time. A Sunday afternoon says, casual and relaxed. A Friday or Saturday night says let’s get the party started! Like any good party, the day and time indicates the dress code and food that will be available. Pick a time that is in between typical meal times so guests know a meal won’t be served.
Invite the guests. An inexpensive way to invite guests to your engagement party is to use a Facebook event, a mass email, or a free online invitation. E-vite.com and Postmark.com have gorgeous wedding-worthy invitations for any event. They are free to send and they keep track of RSVP’s and plus ones!
Create ambiance. So far, your engagement party budget is still at zero. Keep décor to a minimum. No-one is expecting floor length table cloths or lush centerpieces filled with peonies. Grab all the candles from your bedroom, the bathtub – wherever you keep them, and scatter them in groups of three or five on the tables. The ambiance will take care of itself. Try to keep harsh overhead lights to a minimum, except in the kitchen. Create a music playlist, or if that is too much work, Pandora makes a fantastic DJ, as does Comcast’s music stations.
Buy beverages. Plan for two drinks per adult. Some guests will drink more and some less, but this will ensure you have enough for everyone. Although expensive, alcohol will help calm nerves and ease tensions that may arise when your families meet for the first time. Stick to beer and wine, or a signature cocktail in a punch bowl. Also, set out a pitcher of water and some soda for those that don’t indulge. For a party of 30 guests, 7 bottles of wine and 2 cases of beer will be plenty. You won’t run out and there will be some left over for you and your fiancé’s after party. This will cost anywhere from $150 – $200 for medium grade wine/beer.
Draft a menu. Engagement parties should be more upscale than chips and nuts. Serve hors d’oeuvres that are party pleasers and inexpensive. Try bruschetta for veggie lovers, and cheeseburger sliders for the carnivores. Skip the store bought veggie platter and stick to snacks that are filling and interesting. No-one will notice the lack of dinner when they are munching on sliders and stuffed mushrooms. Plan to spend up to $100 on food.
Save room for dessert. Visit your local bakery the day of the party with $30. It’s not a party without a gorgeous and delicious engagement party cake to finish off the evening. Bonus: it’s the perfect time to start deciding which bakery you will use, and what kind of cake you’ll have on your wedding day.
Have you been doing the math? There should be around $20 left over. Perfect for a last minute manicure to get your hands ready to show off that ring!