YAY! The ring is on and you are starting your wonderful road of festivities with an engagement party! Before you delve into our South African wedding venues or glamorous wedding dresses you have to celebrate the soon to be newly-weds. Here is everything you need to know to plan an epic engagement party to be spoken about for a long time to come.
WHY: Cause you’re engaged!! Soak up the memories darling!
WHO: Traditionally the bride's parents host, however these days anyone close to the couple can choose to host the event. It has also become more popular to have more than one engagement party hosted by different people.
WHAT: An engagement party that is so you and your spouse to be. This could be a small cosy event, or a massive splurge, or perhaps a downright crazy one – it’s entirely up to you!
HOW: With Bride Control of course – we have you covered! All you need to plan is here.
WHEN: Usually within the first 3 months of your engagement however there is no real rule here so whenever is most suitable. It is typically no later than 6 months before the wedding.
WHERE: Any venue can host an engagement party. The home of the host is most popular however other venues could be restaurants, beaches, parks, rooftop venues etc. Match the location to your décor and theme if possible.
Now let us dive into the detail of what to keep in mind in 15 steps:
1. Availability: Ensure that the bride and groom are available for the party before you choose a date, obviously! Sometimes there are work or travel commitments and we cannot leave out the main stars!
2. Decor: As the journey starts, it is advisable to match the décor and tone of the party, regardless of how small or big, with that of the wedding. This keeps your guests on your journey and gives them a little teaser on what’s to come.
3. Invitations: Consider your decor and match this style consistently through. An electronic invite is perfectly acceptable for this. Should your event be elaborate, you should consider a physical invitation.
4. Budget: Set a budget from the start and include all costs from invitations to thank you gifts to drinks in order to manage expectations and well uh costs!
5. Menu: Here you need to decide the time and type of event. Are you having a cocktail party or a sit down banquet or a bit of both? Budget permitting, having a thought out menu is quite important. Remember to cover drinks. Guests should not be expected to pay for drinks at the event. A self-service bar is appropriate if you are serving wine and beer only, however a bar tender would be required if there are various drinks available.
6. Engagement party favours: This could be as simple as a rose or candle or perhaps something more meaningful to the couple – did they get engaged in Paris? What about Eiffel tower key chains? Be creative and send your guests off with a little something.
7. Your Guests: Engagement parties are typically intimate occasions, since it is generally considered inappropriate to invite anyone who will not also be invited to the wedding. It is therefore not necessary to include acquaintances or work colleagues on the guest list. You can always have another party for friends.
8. Entertainment: Other than background music, very little entertainment is expected at an engagement party. The objective of the party is for the two sides of family and friends to get to know each other better on their way to becoming one!
9. Names: As the very purpose of this party is to get to know each other’s’ families, remember to make introductions and note the affiliation. For example, this is my Aunt Mary; she is my mom’s sister and looked after me when I was little. Etiquette dictates that women and older guests should be introduced first when making introductions.
10. The small things: Ensure guests are comfortable by having hand wash and creams including sufficient toilet paper at the event! Serviettes, glasses and seating should also be plentiful to last the night.
11. Logistics: Space, rain and cars - ensure there is sufficient space for a receiving area to greet guests and to snap photos; have a plan B if rain is expected and accommodate the parking of your guests’ vehicles!
12. Toasts and Speeches: Traditionally, the father-of-the-bride is the first to raise his glass in a toast to the couple. The guests drink at this time, but the engaged couple does not. The future groom should offer a few gracious words to his bride-to-be and her family, as well as to their guests. Brides are welcome to speak (no it is not 1950!)
13. Jewellery: The bride to be is sure to show off over her beautiful ring at the engagement party. The bride to be may gift her husband to be with a present of his own in return. This can also be held off until the wedding day. Popular gifts include a watch or bracelet with a special engraved message.
14. Gifts: Gifts are not traditionally given at an engagement party. It is generally considered inappropriate for a couple to expect gifts or to create a registry before the engagement party, as this communicates that this is an expectation. If you are lucky to receive gifts, open them after your guests leave.
15. Wedding Basics: The bride and groom will have to field questions around the wedding planning and should be cognisant of providing clarity of location and date or if it is surprise experience, to word it appropriately to guests.
Photography: Stelle Ella