Summer is here, and that means it’s time to start planning an engagement party for your bestie, a sibling — or yourself. Throwing a party for someone is a great way to kick off their journey as a couple, and now is your time to shine as bright as that exquisite engagement ring. With that in mind, here are six engagement party ideas to help walk you through the planning process.
When you’re selecting a place to hold a summer engagement party, you’ll want to base your location on a few things:
- Money. If you’re ballin’ on a budget, you may want to consider throwing the party at your home, in a friend’s backyard or in a park pavilion.
- Number of people. Keeping your invite list small? Renting a room out in a restaurant or cafe can create an intimate engagement party affair. If the engaged couple has a long list of family and friends, a reception hall or other large space may be ideal.
- Weather. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. If you live in a coastal state, you’ll want to keep your eye on any hurricanes or storms. If you’re anywhere in the U.S., you may be beating back mosquitoes and mugginess throughout the summer. If you do choose an outdoor location, just be sure there’s ample shade, cooling fans and plenty of water for guests. And always, always, always have a plan B in case of rain.
Parties are also a great way to flex your creative hosting skills, particularly when choosing a summer engagement party theme. Whether it’s a formal or casual affair, you can play up the season with something that informs your party decorations, invitations and menu. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- A summer garden party with an abundance of florals, a flower-topped cake and fruity, colorful cocktails.
- A nautical-themed engagement party with blue and white decor, sailboat cupcakes and blue punch.
- A brunch bash complete with mimosa toasts and a buffet of bacon, breakfast casseroles and fruit.
Hosting a successful party, however, doesn’t hinge on a theme. If you want to have a casual get-together in the backyard and serve beer and pizza, that’s totally okay too. And it’s summery! Win-win.
Throwing the shower for your dearest friends? Be sure to sit down and discuss who they want (and don’t want) to invite and how many guests can come based on space and budget. A good rule of thumb is that anyone invited to a shower is on the bride or groom’s wedding invitation list, too.
When it comes time to create invitations, you can go the professional route and hire a company or artist to create custom invitations. You can purchase ready-made downloadable invitations from sites like Etsy, or you can create your own invitations using premade templates from a site like Canva or Shutterfly. If you have a theme for the summer engagement party, make sure you incorporate the colors or thematic elements into the invitation — and don’t forget to add the couple’s registry information to the invite.
Send out invitations at least four weeks before the event and up to six weeks prior if you anticipate guests traveling from out of town. Always ask for an RSVP so you have an accurate head count on guests.
When determining your menu for the affair, be mindful of the occasion theme and the space. If, for instance, you’re planning a summer engagement party at a restaurant, you may have the restaurant offer a limited menu. For a backyard barbecue, you can plan a buffet with summer salads and “fixins” for smoked meats or burgers … with cold drinks on the side. If you’re planning a brunch, bring in catered foods that can serve a large crowd. Hosting a party late in the evening or mid-afternoon? Think pared-down summer hors d’oeuvres, easy-to-hold foods like cupcakes, cold, slushy drinks (or margaritas!), or desserts and champagne punch. Keep plenty of water on hand, particularly if your party takes place outdoors.
Let your party theme inform the decorations. For a tropical engagement shower, think tiki torches for ambiance and bug control, fruity drinks served in coconuts, brightly colored tablecloths, tropical plants and leis as your engagement party decorations. Set the mood by adding colorful or white lights.
With any theme or venue, make sure you have enough dining chairs if you’re sitting down for a more formal meal. If you’re hosting a casual indoor or outdoor event at home, set up seating throughout the party area. Think comfy couches and chairs, small side tables that allow guests to set down food and drinks, and plenty of misting fans for outdoor, midday affairs.
Between greeting guests as they arrive, feeding the masses and opening gifts, you’ll also want to make sure you have a rough idea of how to keep guests engaged throughout the life of the party. Here are a few activities that can up the fun ante:
- Set up a photo booth or selfie station with wedding-themed props for guests to take home a memento of the party.
- Add a station for invitees to write words of wisdom or well wishes to the engaged couple.
- Set up a series of games guests can enjoy at their leisure. Bocce, ring toss or cornhole are great lawn games. If you’re hosting a pool party, set up a volleyball net or basketball goal in the pool.
- Hand out couple-themed mad libs for a hilariously fun take on the betrothed.
- Encourage guests to dress the part in keeping with your summer theme.
Choose your gifts and favors based on your party’s theme. If you’re throwing a wine-themed dinner, let each guest leave with a stemless glass or commemorative wine stopper. A backyard barbecue may call for custom koozies to keep drinks cold long after the event. Give guests a small bag of local coffee to take home after that brunch party.
Much like an engagement ring, any party you throw will be unique to the engaged couple’s style. A bit of planning on the front end will create a memorable experience leading up to the wedding.