I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t started planning everything to do with my wedding years ago (yes, I’m one of those girls) and it only took around 24 hours after getting engaged to start planning the first bridal event…The engagement party.
Ollie and I got engaged on the 27th of June 2022 and of course I’m biased but it was definitely a proposal to remember. We were jetting off to Palma Mallorca on a 2-week family holiday to celebrate my mums 60thbirthday and little did I know, this beautiful city would now become one of the most special places to me.
Ollie popped the question at the gorgeous Hotel Cap Rocat and to throw me off, months before he had started telling me that an important client was staying at this hotel and had invited us to dinner. When we drove up to the hotel entrance, Ollie even said his clients name for the reservation, I remained none the wiser. He had planned a private dinner on the edge of a cliff surrounded by a sea of lanterns and candlelight. As the sun started to set, he led me down a windy path with champagne in hand. We reached this perfectly designed table set for two, with what could be one of the best views on the island. Desperate to take a video I got out my phone and then when I turned around, I found Ollie on one knee holding up the ring I had always dreamed of. I apparently didn’t say yes straight away, probably because of the amount I was crying or maybe I was just in awe over the ring? One of the best parts was that Ollie had hired a photographer who was hidden in the surroundings to capture the moment, take note boys, this is a must have for any engagement. The night ended with a stunning tasting menu, which we ate while franticly phoning all Ollie’s family members to tell them the good news. Once we’d drank enough champagne to make this whole moment feel somewhat a dream, we headed back to the villa to be greeted with more champagne by all my family, which quite honestly was the icing on the ‘wedding’ cake to end the most special of special days.
So, here comes the start of the planning…
When to throw an engagement party?
For me sooner the better, you want it fresh in everyone’s minds, plus we couldn’t wait to celebrate this moment with family and friends. Ours was around 8 weeks after we got engaged but there’s not a set formula. These days more and more people are having longer engagements and if you’re thinking of doing the same, then don’t put yourself under the pressure of organising a party right away and throw it a little later on during your engagement, as this way it gives you something to look forward to. Remember though that an engagement party will set the tone of the wedding, so it does require some planning.
Where to host an engagement party?
Really this depends on the budget but for a good engagement party you definitely don’t need to break the bank. Pretty much any venue can be made beautiful, you’ll be surprised what a difference some candles or vases with seasonal flowers makes. We chose to host our party in a private room at the beautiful The Maine Mayfair. It was the perfect space for us as it had a private bar, terrace and even a vinyl DJ. In all honesty though it’s the people that make the party, so don’t over stress the venue, once you’re celebrating with friends and family you could be anywhere.
How many people should we invite?
Depends on the space but it’s totally up to you. You could stick to just family and potential ushers and bridesmaids, or you could invite the whole wedding list and some extras who may not even make the cut to the main event. Ours ended up at around 65 guests.
Do you need to send formal/paper invites out?
I love paper invitations, I feel it’s so much more intimate and personal to receive a paper invite in the post and you definitely avoid the invite getting lost in people’s email junk! But like most things wedding related it comes down to cost and for us we needed to use this cost elsewhere. We created a beautiful e-invite and then WhatsApp’d it to all our nearest and dearest. If you can use paper invites then do, but an e-invite will absolutely do the job and you do get a much quicker response, which is handy for venues. Although I didn’t get to use paper invitations for the engagement party, rest assured I will be for the wedding!
Does an engagement party have a dress code?
100% yes! It’s an excuse to dress up and why shouldn’t your engagement party have one? For such a special and memorable occasion, I feel there is a need to make some sort of an effort. I chose a gorgeous white number from the bridal brand Christie Nicole, which was extra enough to scream ‘bride coming through’. My tip would be to not be afraid of putting a dress code on the invite. We decided on Summer Smart, which translated into ladies in flowy dresses and heels and men looking smart in trousers and crisp shirts.
Do we have to pay for all the food and drinks?
No, but I would recommend supplying at least a welcome drink to kick the evening off. We started with some bubbles and ice buckets filled with bottled beer, this way all those people not so keen on champagne don’t waste the expense stuff. We then had the private bar serve 4 of our favourite cocktails including Spicy Paloma’s and Moscow Mules which kept the party flowing! One small thing, if you do this make sure you set a limit on the bar tab!
To serve food or not to serve food?
In my opinion if it’s a party there must be both alcohol and food, but the ratio of that combo is up to you! Ollie and I like to think we’re foodies, so food needed to feature and The Maine Mayfair provided 5 amazing different canapés such as cauliflower tacos, salmon blinis and mini fried chicken. There was enough for around 5 canapés each which was perfect as we had no waste. Make sure if you’re just doing canapés to let your guests know on the invite, as no one wants guests going hungry!
Do we need to have music and what sort of music should we have?
Music is a must at any party. We had a vinyl DJ who read the vibe in the room and played a wide range of music throughout the night. I’d recommend starting the night off with something light, maybe some chilled jazz to allow your guests to meet and get chatting without having to shout over each other. Later on, get the music turned up or if you’re doing the music yourself, stick on your best Spotify playlist and dance the night away.
Do guests bring presents?
It’s quite an old fashion tradition for guests to bring presents to your engagement party but some people still do. We didn’t expect any presents at all but were greeted with an array of personal cards, bottles of beautiful wines and bubbles, frames and even a sabrage sword! I would let your guests decide for themselves if they want to bring a present. Always expect nothing and then if something is handed to you, then it’s a lovely surprise.
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