Invitations & Guest List
A formal, printed invite is not required. They are a lovely touch, but not necessary with social media working just fine for this casual get together. If you need to cut your budget somewhere, this might be the place to do it, especially if your guest list is small. Speaking of the guest list, don’t invite anyone that won’t be invited to the wedding. If the couple hasn’t set their wedding guest list, stick to very close friends and family, just to be safe.
If you want to throw a welcoming, easygoing party, decor doesn’t need to be a budget-buster. Hang a few string lights across your patio or in your living room. Purchase a flower arrangement for the entry way. Perhaps make a chalkboard sign or two. If you are a big fan of DIY, you could always find a cheap, but statement-making project like this heart balloon backdrop (below).
An engagement party isn’t like a bridal shower–no one will expect games. However, if you think that conversation may not be enough to entertain your crowd, you can always prepare a few activities to break out in case of emergencies. Play bar-style trivia games about the couple’s love story, have the game on in the background for a sports fan family, or plan on going out afterwards for karaoke.
Food & Drink
This is going to be where you spend your moolah, so keep it simple. If you want to serve alcohol, stick to beer and wine. Make sure to set a party time that coordinates well with your budget. For example, if you only want to serve small bites, don’t host the event around a meal time. Put it at mid-afternoon or after dinner. Creative and affordable meals can be things like a baked potato bar with green salad, spaghetti and meatballs, hamburgers and munchies, or chili and cornbread. Each of these things can be easily prepared for a crowd.
Toasts & Gifts
Toasts are not as expected at an engagement party as they are at a shower or rehearsal dinner. However, if you want to give a toast, that’s great! Guests should look to the host to kick off the toasts as their cue to give one as well.
Guests shouldn’t feel obligated to bring a gift for the couple. But some people might feel awkward showing up empty-handed. They might bring a token gift for their engaged friends, or a host/hostess gift for you. As the one in charge of the party, thank them graciously and put the gift on a table. Even if there are many gifts, don’t make time to open them the way you would at a shower. Have the couple simply take whatever was given to them at the end of the night.