The question’s been popped. The wedding date’s set. But first comes the engagement party – the party before THE party. And if you’re a freshly-minted fiancé or fiancée, here are a few trends to consider as you celebrate your off-the-market status:
- The Where: Family homes are always solid but consider taking it off-site to shake things up. Think roller rink, favorite park, stadium suite, hotel ballroom or art gallery. The Kimpton Alexis Hotel in Seattle combines the latter two with its own “art walk” of rotating works by Pacific Northwest artists. Casual or formal, the idea is to choose a place that reflects your interests as a couple.
- The Wow: Themes don’t have to be cheesy and it gets everyone in the mood. Elevate a Hawaiian luau with elegant tiki drinks and wear your best florals. Alfresco aficionados can host a garden party, complete with shaded canopies and herbal sodas, or even a grown-up carnival with a handful of fair-related games and dressed-up popcorn. If you already know where you’re honeymooning, make your destination your theme. Or if you’re near the beach, a lobster bake is a stylishly down-to-earth way to jubilate.
- The Menu: A proper sit-down dinner may be right up your alley, but if not, no worries. Cocktail hours are a great way to avoid multiple-course menu stress. Have a dessert and champagne bar, or a DIY chip-and-dip station with margaritas—both simple and classic. By the way, engagement cakes are really in now. James Beard Award winning chef Caprial Pence of The Bookstore Bar & Cafe makes mini cakes adorned with flowers that can also double as table centerpieces. After all, why wait till your wedding day for a chic sugar high?
- Activities: An engagement party isn’t a bridal shower, so planned activities aren’t as important. The intent is for your guests to mingle, revel and share quality time with you. However, if you’re leaning toward having something to do, lawn games like a bean bag toss or croquet are a laid-back way to connect. Or bring out your guests’ creativity by inviting them to write or draw their well wishes on a plain, oversized throw pillow or even an Adirondack chair. Instant keepsake for you.
- Favors: Since your engagement party guest list will be smaller than your wedding guest list, favors are do-able. Go with edible treats like chocolate bonbons or homemade jam in cute mason jars. Or something for the home, like beeswax candles or personalized matchboxes.
- Hashtags: Social media is a fun way to share the engagement fun with friends who couldn’t attend the party, and hashtags help keep those Instagram-wedding-season pix organized. Customize your hashtag to the party itself, or use the same one from now until the honeymoon is over.