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Everything You Need on Your Engagement Party Checklist

An engagement party is the perfect opportunity for the bride and groom’s families to get to know each other better before the wedding. Though, in some circumstances, the families may already know each other, or the engagement party may be the first time they meet. Either way, this is your chance to celebrate your engagement with your family and friends — and it’s a good practice run for the big day. You’ll get to see how your extended families interact with each other in a relaxed, less formal setting than the actual wedding. We’ve put together an engagement party checklist to make sure you don’t miss any steps while planning the occasion. Feel free to customize it to make the event uniquely your own.

1. Select a host and make the guest list

First, decide who will be responsible for hosting the party. Although it’s customary for the bride’s family to host the event, it’s really up to you: if both families live in the same city, they can throw it together. Alternatively, you can throw it yourself if you want to make sure everything is just right. If your families live far apart, consider hosting two separate parties for each set of parents.

Then, put together a guest list and get an estimated headcount for the occasion. An engagement party is usually smaller than a wedding, so keep it restricted to your close friends and immediate family members. Everyone who comes to your engagement party should be invited to come to the wedding, but not everyone you plan to invite to the wedding has to be invited to the party.

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2. Pick a date and choose the venue

Once you’ve decided who’s throwing the party and how many people are likely to attend, settle on a date that works for all of your immediate family members. This should be no more than a few months after your engagement. And it should be nine months to a year before your wedding — soon enough that the excitement hasn’t faded, but with enough time for your guests to RSVP to the event.

Next, start looking for a venue that’s suitable for the season and size of your crowd. You can host it at your own home or backyard, a bar or restaurant, or an unconventional Peerspace venue. For example, if you’re throwing an engagement party in LA, you could choose from phenomenal locations, such as this secret garden loft with a balcony or an enchanted rainforest event space.

Aim for something classy, yet casual. Remember: the wedding is your chance to go all-out. Your engagement party can be much more low-key and informal.

3. Create a gift registry

The next step on your engagement party checklist is to create an online gift registry. While this step isn’t strictly necessary, you should let your guests know if you prefer not to receive gifts at your party. If you are accepting gifts, a registry makes it easy for your guests to pick out small to mid-range items for you to open after the event.

According to Brides.com, it isn’t proper etiquette to mention the registry on your party invitation, but you can make it available for guests who ask. Another option is to create a registry for your wedding, and guests can choose whether or not to bring gifts to your party. Regardless, take note of who brings what so you can thank them later!

4. Send out invitations

Now that you’ve worked through the first few items on your engagement party checklist, it’s time to send out your party invitations. Decide whether you want to send out formal invitations or just keep it casual with an e-mail or online invite. If you’d like, use the opportunity to try out the text and colors you plan to use on your wedding invites, but don’t stress out about getting it perfect.

5. Find a caterer and photographer

After you’ve chosen a date and venue, it’s time to start hiring some professionals. Unless you plan to have a low-key BBQ or backyard gathering, considering hiring a caterer. That way, your guests’ food and drink needs will be taken care of and you can focus on socializing. If you’ll be hosting the event at a Peerspace venue, ask your local host for a recommendation. Or, call up the Concierge service to line up a professional caterer and bar staff.

You might also want to hire a photographer for the occasion. Some couples may have already had their engagement photos taken, but having a photographer at the party means you can get the whole family involved. Alternatively, you could book a photo booth so your guests can take candid pictures without the pressure of a formal photography session.

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6. Choose your outfits and decorate the venue

Now, decide on a theme and outfits. While you don’t need to dress up as formally as you would for a wedding, you should let your guests know how casual or formal to dress. Will you be having a relaxed backyard BBQ or a classy soiree at a nightclub? If you’d like, you can give your party a theme and ask your guests to come dressed in a particular style.

Whichever theme you choose, make sure it’s reflected in the venue. You can hire a florist or professional decorator if it needs some extra flair. Make sure you have enough seating for all of your guests, as well as protection from the rain or sun depending on the season.

7. Come up with a playlist and party games

Consider hiring a DJ or creating your own Spotify playlist. This is your chance to try out a few songs that may end up on the soundtrack at your wedding. If there’s a dance floor at the venue, choose music that speaks to you as a couple and will set the tone of your engagement.

If you plan to have games at your engagement party, choose activities that will help your guests get to know each other, such as a scavenger hunt or Newlywed-style trivia game. 

Engagement parties are less work to plan than weddings, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put some effort into the occasion. Use this engagement party checklist to make sure you’ve taken care of the basics — and then do whatever you’d like to make the event your own!

Once it’s over, be sure to send thank-you notes to your guests. Also, show appreciation to your parents or in-laws if they’ve helped you plan the event. After all, this is just step one — now that it’s over, you’ll have to work together to plan the entire wedding!

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