Congratulations! While you’ve probably been asked (more than a few times) about your plans for the big day, you don’t have to decide immediately. Slow it down and celebrate all the moments along the way to the wedding. An engagement party certainly isn’t an expected part of the wedding, but why skip sharing such happy news with close friends and family? Since they are typically one to three months after the proposal keep the festivities simple—you shouldn’t feel like you’re planning two weddings. Pop some bubbly and get inspired with our engagement party ideas to suit any love story, and the engagement party invitations to match.
Where to find engagement party ideas
Rather than using the engagement party as a preview for the wedding, consider a party that feels wildly different, so the events don’t compete. If you’re having a garden party wedding, try a glam cocktail engagement party. Or if you’re going for a formal feel on the big day, try a backyard bbq.
Once you have a general sense of the celebration, mine your relationship for specific-to-you references to make the details feel personal. Where you got engaged, your go-to restaurant, your first concert together, or the movie you watch on repeat can turn into a cohesive party theme that will give guests a peek into your life as a couple. Use it to inspire the invitation wording, the decoration, the menu, and even a punny signature drink name.
Virtual engagement party ideas
Coronavirus means that couples have been changing their wedding plans to fit the situation, whether that means keeping things small, postponing, or adding a virtual component. Wedding planning may look a little different for the foreseeable future, but we don’t think it should stop you from making it official. Gather your nearest and dearest virtually to share the news.
Virtual engagement parties need a bit more structure than a classic cocktail party. Borrow a trick from live performances and have a “run of show” that gives guests a sense of what is in store for them. It doesn’t have to be complicated: ask parents or close friends to make a short toast (save the waterworks for the wedding!) and have the couple share their proposal story. If there is time, see how well everyone knows the couple with a few rounds of trivia. Add an IRL twist by including the recipe for a signature cocktail along with the invitation.
Seasonal engagement party ideas
Consider the season. Do you head to your local pumpkin patch as soon as the weather dips below 60 degrees? Use your favorite season rituals as inspiration for your engagement party. Do a cider tasting and apple picking in the fall, a sunset sail in summer, apres-ski in winter, or move the party outside for a party in the garden in the spring. Lean on the season to decide the venue, decor, and activities to make planning easy. You don’t need to do a lot to make an afternoon on the water or a morning at an orchard magical.
Love in bloom garden engagement party
Show off garden-fresh flowers while staying close to home with a garden party in the backyard or at a local botanical garden. Make it a family-friendly affair by hosting in the early evening.
Wear: Lean into nature’s maximalism with a mix of print & pattern inspired by spring greenery or oversize blooms.
Serve: Keep it light & bright with spritzes, Pimm’s cups. Top petite passed apps with edible flowers.
Play: Badminton, croquet, or horseshoes are all games that guests of all ages can play while chatting and sipping.
Fall in love at a vineyard engagement party
Oenophiles will fall for a wine-tasting and vineyard tour followed by a picnic on the grounds. Stick with one winery to allow everyone time to catch up with each other. If it’s harvest time, you may be lucky enough to make a vintage that will be ready to serve by the time you walk down the aisle.
Do: Walk guests through a wine tasting at your favorite winery. Offer a flight that includes a variety of styles that will have something to please everyone. End with something sparkling for a toast.
Wear: Keep it casual with creamy white jeans and a sweater or a fall floral dress.
Serve: Linger longer with an outdoor plowman’s lunch or cheese and charcuterie boards. Some vineyards will cater a meal, while others may encourage you to bring your own and spread out on the lawn or nearby picnic tables.
Over the moon celestial engagement party
If you found out your partner’s astrology sign and knew that your love was meant-to-be, play up the dark, moody feel of a starry night sky with a celestial theme.
Decorate: Get your venue in celestial shape with Mylar star and moon balloons or twinkling lights above you.
Do: Hire a tarot card reader or astrologer to do readings for your guests. Head outside to stargaze and hand out sparklers as guests head home at the end of the night.
Wear: Go for materials with luxe textures like velvet and satin or shine bright with shimmery paillettes paired with statement jewelry.
A lobster bake on the beach
Get things cracking with a feet-in-the-sand kind of clam bake. Off-the-cuff is the name of the game, so feel free to let your shellfish feast consist of whatever is classic in your neck of the woods, whether that is crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters, or crayfish.
Serve: If you’re lucky enough to be near a beach, use a company that will serve right on the beach. Keep wine and beer on ice in oversize galvanized steel tubs for easy access.
Do: Bring along frisbees and beach-friendly games and see whether your area allows beach bonfires as the sun (and the temperature) drop.
Decorate: Prepare for the inevitable with newspapers and load up on napkins (that are actually tea towels) and seafood crackers, because we aren’t animals.
Getting hitched hike
For outdoorsy couples who want to gather their group for low-key fun with high vibes and amazing views, they head to the closest hiking trail.
Do: Go on a day hike, followed by a few pints. Look for a trail with spectacular views but well within the experience level of everyone involved. You may also want to look for a hike that welcomes dogs and include furry friends on the invitation.
Serve: End the afternoon at a nearby brewery to toast the couple with a flight of local brews.
Surprise engagement party ideas
We love to see the engagement party planned as part of the proposal. If there are people that you can’t imagine celebrating without them, invite them for drinks on a nearby rooftop or a cocktail party at a classic hotel in your town or as part of a weekend of surprises. Another perk–it’s quick. You party hard, and then you can think about planning a wedding.
Bling ring engagement cocktail party
“Let’s see the ring” is a phrase engaged couples hear again and again and again. When the ring plays a leading role (Was it passed down from grandma or custom-made?) lean into the proposal’s excitement with cheeky nods to the engagement ring throughout the party.
Wear: Metallics like silver, platinum, and gold or weave the color into the celebration if the ring is a colored stone.
Decor: Hand out oversize ring pops at the door and use diamond or jewelry-inspired shapes for the invitation, balloons, or dessert.
Serve: Keep the party small and festive with a Champagne tower and bites of blini and caviar.
Brunch or tea engagement party ideas
Drinks parties aren’t the only way to celebrate a recent engagement. A party early in the day is a sweet and civilized way to host, especially if you’d like to include older relatives or skip the alcohol. Channel decades past with a vintage-inspired tea party, a nod to New Orleans with a jubilant jazz brunch, or host an ’80s themed breakfast club party.
High tea engagement party
If you’re planning an outdoor or low-key wedding, mix it up and consider heading inside for a formal tea at the engagement party.
Where: Host at home or at a hotel that serves a daily high tea. If your guests are flying into town for the event, suggest they stay at the same location. An early hour means the couple can head out on the town with friends afterward to drink or celebrate with close family at an intimate dinner.
Decorate: Go for a vintage throwback vibe (and potentially inspire the wedding day fashion) with photos of parents and grandparents scattered around the venue.
Serve: Tea, scones, finger sandwiches (we love egg and watercress, cucumber, smoked salmon), tarts, and teacake.
Backyard engagement party ideas
Nothing says “welcome to the family” like a party in the backyard, but this isn’t Father of the Bride. Work with the landscaping you have and add simple touches to make guests comfortable. Rent additional tables and seating if you’re expecting a crowd and channel your favorite restaurant with bistro lights and hurricane candles that will last all night and stand up to a mild wild. Plan on spending some TLC in the garden in the weeks leading up to the event. Add pops of color with fresh potted flowers that will last for the rest of the season.
Say I do to a classic backyard bbq
Think about the backyard as an extension of your home and create rooms/separate areas for guests to mingle and move throughout the party. A drink station tucked away in a shaded area, long tables on a patio, and any lawn games in an open grassy spot.
Decor: Add a focal point with a bonfire (or fire pit) for ‘smores after the sun goes down.
Food: Put a local twist on traditional cookout food with a food truck–think Frito Pie in Texas, sausages in the midwest, pulled pork in the south, or an outdoor pizza oven. Serve ice cream or lemonade for an afternoon event.
Do: Play low-effort lawn games like ladder toss, bocce, or horseshoes. We also love the less-expected Kubb, KanJam, and giant Jenga.
Tropical engagement party
Set the tone for a destination wedding with sultry tropical-themed festivities in the backyard. Think: hot nights and cold drinks with pineapples and poke.
Decor: Go for tropical foliage like oversize monstera leaves that can withstand heat and humidity or blooms like anthurium or birds of paradise. With long, hardy stems, just a few stems in a vase will make a colorful statement placed along outdoor tables.
Wear: Pass out fresh orchid leis straight from the Big Island to members of the wedding party.
Serve: You’re going to need frozen cocktails but even if you’re going the DIY route for dinner, think about renting a restaurant-style frozen drink machine to keep guests with frosty drinks in their hands all night.
“Ring on It” by Paperless Post
Movie Night engagement party
Host a movie night for couples with a cinematic love story or flair for the dramatic. Was the proposal captured on film? Relive the moment with a viewing.
Do: Use a projector and a white sheet to view a movie in the backyard. Surprise the couple with childhood video clips or a screening of their favorite classic film.
Serve: Lean into movie snacks with popcorn in theatre-style boxes along with Twizzlers and Junior Mints. Rent a popcorn machine from a local vendor to simplify serving.
Ready to host an engagement party? Get started with classic stationery-inspired Card invitations or fresh, textable Flyers. Then find our ultimate guide to invitations that spark romance for more tips.