It may not have sunk in just yet, but that gorgeous, sparkling rock on your finger means two things: that the love of your life wants to share every moment from this day forward with you and you now have the best reason to throw an amazing celebration.
Just think about it for a moment. This is a chance to put your over-the-moon euphoria into party terms and start planning an amazing engagement bash because, let’s be honest, the time between you popping the champagne with your parents and you walking down the aisle is way too long. You just got engaged. You just got popped the question. You just said the mind-blowing word ‘yes’, and that means, before you start planning your big day, you need to pull on a gorgeous number, hold on tight to a bottle of the bubbly-stuff and start jumping up and down with your best friends; shouting and squealing and turning the best kind of happy-crazy.
So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about pulling off the perfect post-proposal party (try saying that three times fast!):
1. Know Who The Host With The Most Will Be
If you’re all about the traditions, then you’ll be wanting the bride’s parents to host this bash. That said, you can ask absolutely anyone to host your engagement party. You could ask the groom’s parents to do it, you could see if both sets of parents want to join forces and host a mega-party, or see if your best friends want to do you the honours, or you could even try your luck and write a letter to Sir Elton John seeing if he’s up for it. It’s your call.
One thing that’s growing in popularity is having lots of little engagement parties thrown by lots of different people. Now we know this may sound one-part bonkers and two-parts greedy, but it makes a lot of sense for those couples that live in a different part of the country to their parents, or for those that want a more formal bash thrown by their parents, and a more casual one for their friends. Basically, there is no set way of doing things, only guidelines, so just do what you want.
That said, it’s probably worth mentioning that the hosting duties do come with a few responsibilities, such as sending out the invites, reeling off a memorable toast and, yup, footing the bill too, all of which you should consider when having the whole ‘who wants to host’ chat.
2. Raise A Glass & Then Decide On A Date
From the moment you get engaged, your heart, mind and soul go into overdrive and you immediately start trying to sort out all things engagement party and wedding day. But try not to. Not just yet. You’ll have plenty of time to do this. For now, just take a deep breath, raise a glass with your nearest and dearest and enjoy the moment you’re in because it will only come around one... and then pick a date for the post-proposal bash.
Now you might not be able to wait more than a few weeks to have everyone dancing and laughing and drinking in your honour, or you might find that you don’t want to tie the knot for another 18 months or so, in which case, an engagement party six-months down the line might seem perfect. But to give you our advice: apart from popping a few bottles of bubbly in your parent’s home and enjoying an intimate little cheers, try not to organise anything too big or lavish in the first month. Like we said above, you’ve just got engaged to the love of your life - the person that makes you smile when you wake up in the morning and the darling that sees you sleep well at night - so enjoy it, embrace the fact you’re newly-engaged and take it all in, all of it, every emotion.
During this time, you’ll probably find yourself making decisions about your wedding naturally; things like who you want to invite, where you want to tie the knot and what sort of wedding you want to have, all of which will help you decide what sort of celebration you want for your engagement. Like the age-old adage says, great things come to those who wait.
3. Getting The Guest List Together
The best thing about planning your engagement party is the fact there are no rules, except for the one cardinal law that cannot be broken under any circumstances: everyone you invite to your engagement party should be invited to your wedding too. Trust us, nothing will be more gut-wrenching than bumping into Bill and Janet after your wedding knowing the last time you saw each other was at your engagement party. It’s just the worst. Luckily, this cardinal law only applies to formal engagement parties. So, if you and your mates are just going to a bar to get drunk in the name of love, then the more the merrier.
Anyway, what this means is you might want to think about the size of your wedding before you succumb to the engagement excitement and start handing out post-proposal party invites to everyone you bump into, whether it be friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, club bouncers, your dentist and even total strangers. Like we said, there are no rules per se, but having an engagement party with 250-people when you’re planning an intimate wedding with just forty-five guests may see you sting a few friends.
Of course, if you don’t have any idea about your wedding guest list or how big or small you want your wedding to be or anything else because all you can think is, “aaaaarrrgghh, I’m getting married!!!” then we suggest you just play it safe, keep it small and celebrate your bestest friends, favourite family members and all those you can’t bear to be without.
4. Time To Play The Invitation Game
Just as you’ll find with your wedding day, when it comes to planning your engagement party, there are certain bits and bobs that need to fit in with the formality of your day. Your venue of choice, the dress code you hint at and, last but not least, your invites. For more casual celebrations, such as a barbecue blowout in the back garden at your parent’s place, then you can absolutely embrace the E-vite, sprucing it up with a little bit of a summertime vibe and that sort of thing. If, however, you’re using that rock on your finger as an excuse to throw something a touch more extravagant, say a nice dinner at that posh restaurant that’s just opened its doors in London’s Soho, then the classic paper invite could be more fitting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to phone up thirty different invitation designers and see which one will give you the biggest discount or anything; something you’ve designed yourself and printed off at your local Staples will be more than charming enough.
What’s more, because your engagement party invites don’t have to match the rest of your wedding stationery, you can rock something that suits your personality and not have to worry about things like colour palettes and whatnot. Pretty, funny, rustic, storytelling - whatever feels perfect in the eyes of you. Just make sure your invites are sent out at least a month before the proposed date - or six weeks if you’ve invited people that live a healthy dollop of miles away. Oh, and don’t worry about any save the dates. Once you’ve settled on a day, just let your guests know what’s going on in a WhatsApp message or tell them over the phone call, and then let the invitations do the rest.
5. Set The Scene To Celebration Mode
The best thing about planning an engagement party is there are no pressures to overcome. You get to do exactly what you want to do. Casual, formal, complicated, simple, bohemian, traditional - whatever grabs you by the heart. After all, the reason people are coming is to celebrate the fact he asked and you said yes (or the other way around), so just make sure you put that at the focus of everything you do.
The aim is to get people into that party-loving-celebratory-vibe. A few bunches of fresh flowers, some string lights hanging from the ceilings and some lanterns dotted about with candles dancing on the inside, that’s all you need to make a space more special.
If you know what sort of wedding you want, then you might find it really fun to drop a few easter eggs around the place and see if anyone cottons on - arrangements of wildflowers that hint at a garden wedding or seashells-centrepieces that suggest a beach walk will be involved, that sort of thing. Of course, you don’t have to do anything. You can just as happily embrace the existing ambience of wherever you’ve chosen and still have a day and night you’ll never-ever forget. That’s the beauty of an engagement party.
6. The Big Question: What To Wear?
This is your first celebration as the soon-to-be-married couple, and that means you deserve to look the part; you deserve to be rocking super-special outfits. Maybe you want to start wearing something white straight away, or you might want to wait until you walk down the aisle before you look fifty shades of angelic; so long as you keep the party setting in mind you’ll be more than fine.
For the bride-to-be, it is about doing the obvious, by which we mean, if you’re having a casual garden bash with a little marquee set up for a hog roast then you don’t need to wear the kind of backless evening gown that you would find on the red carpet in Cannes. Instead, if you’re having an outdoor celebration, then something like a gorgeous sundress will look amazing whereas, if you’re going for something a little more upmarket and wow, then a cocktail dress will be sure to turn heads.
As for the groom, just hold off until you’ve seen what you’re bride-to-be has chosen to wear and then match their level of formality. And, if you’ve read this and are still struggling, then just remember that the aim is to stand out from your guests without outdoing your wedding look.
Thanks for reading!