Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Engagement Party

So... we're engaged, now what?

Throw a Party of course!! (any excuse)

Its a pretty exciting point in your lives. Its the first time we have had something to really celebrate that wasn't a birthday or graduation, so we made the most of it!
I highly recommend it. It gave us an opportunity to catch up with friends and family we hadn't seen in years and let them meet each other. These people are going to be in both of your lives now. Best to let them meet and greet now before they are seated at a table together in a years time (or so).

So how did we go about it?

Dad and Nenden (my step-mum) took the reins with the planning. With Chris and I being stuck down in Wellington it was such a blessing to have so many people wanting to share the experience and help out.
Dad sent me photos of a Community Hall up the road from his house, an easy walk home for some guests later that evening. It seemed like a decent sized room, with kitchen, bathroom and seating facilities. It just needed a bit of dressing up.

 The Engagement party is normally within a few months of the proposal, its still fresh in everyone's mind and they want to hear the juicy details and see the new *bling* for themselves.
We had ours in April, as it was important for me to have my bridesmaid Tammy there, and she was traveling out from Australia around that time, so it worked out nicely.

We went with a purple and white colour theme. You can go as subtle or as inventive as you like with the theme, be it, dressing up the guests, just the room, or working the theme around the venue (ie. boat and nautical theme). Just be warned, it will probably all take longer than you had expected, so plan ahead, give yourself plenty of time, gather yourselves an army of minions and keep an eye on the clock. 
Oh, and give the keys to someone who will be there early..... *oops*

 Invites are your guests first insight into what the event will be like. Will it be formal, casual, indoors or out etc. You can also personalize invites to within an inch of their lives. This whole experience of getting married is about you as a couple, so don't do what everyone else does, let your personality shine through where-ever possible. It doesn't need to be expensive but if you put some thought and time into it, you'd be amazed at what a difference it can make to the overall feel of the event.

Hopefully there will be plenty of people with cameras to capture the evenings activities, this being said, try to get photos with as many people as you can. We were so busy playing host/hostess that we didn't get a photo of just the two of us or with all of our guests. (Lesson learned for the wedding)
Something that might prompt more group shots is a photo-backdrop or even silly props.

 Something I wish I had done more of is DELEGATE, delegate and delegate some more!
Everyone has their special talents and most are just waiting for someone to need a hand. A well organised wedding is a lot for one person to handle. The people you are including in this event love you, make the most of it.

Now like any good party, there were plenty of cold beverages. Our venue allowed BYO so it was just a matter of estimating how many of our friends were booze hags/hounds.
We found the Liquor King Function Calculator quite helpful. Don't forget lots of mixers and juices for any sober drivers (bless 'em)

As much as we hear "Eating is cheating" said at social gatherings, we consider ourselves responsible hosts and so to soak up some of that grog, we also provided yummy party food and snacks.
 The ladies really stole the show in this department. Nenden did a awesome job baking all the warm savoury snacks (the curry-puffs were amaze-balls!!) a lot of which can be bought frozen from the supermarket and taste just as good as homemade. Mum made her signature salmon pickets, and Holly slaved away and got very creative with our chocolate mud cake - shaped as a ring box, engagement ring included!

We organized our own music for this event. We made our own playlists and borrowed my brothers sound gear. We put together two playlists - one for quiet background music, something you can chat over but still has a party atmosphere. The second playlist was for later in the evening when the dancing was meant to commence, with songs that were made to be played LOUD and get everyone up grooving. 
In hindsight people are usually more inclined to dance if the lights are dimmed or if there is a specific "dance floor" area. It wasn't an issue though, those who wanted to dance came with us to town after and there was a lot more mingling between groups because of it.

Expect a few speeches, people like that sort of thing. You don't get many occasions in life to publicly gush over/make fun of the couple - certain individuals will want to make the most of it.

We had planned on having the speeches video recorded (no one uses videos these days, this word is redundant) but once the time came, the handy-cam was left sitting on the side table and everyone forgot about it.
You may only watch the video once or twice but it can still capture some wonderful memories, those people speaking put a lot of thought into what they said, and with all the excitement and distractions that hosting and drinking can promote, you may need a refresher the day after.

Not everyone can make it to these sorts of events, due to illness or distance, but with modern technology they can still share a part of the day by making a video. My other bridesmaid Tiffany, was in Japan at the time and still wanted to say a few words on how she felt about the news. We waited to watch her video with everyone else. Chris's family also couldn't make it over from Australia, so the family got together and made a group video of well wishes. With most of my family not having met Chris's side, it gave them a better understanding of who Chris is and where he has come from. It was really lovely touch to have them all included.

Also, be prepared to say a quick speech yourselves (we did it together, unscripted), your guests will want to hear your responses to the other speakers, be it smart-ass comebacks or kind thank yous for those who went the extra mile.

  • Test the acoustics/lights before everyone arrives
  • Dim the lights to promote dancing - not everyone likes to bust a move in the limelight
  • Assign someone to be a casual DJ in the evening (to change the music when the mood suits)
  • Hide or lock the music playing device (laptop/Ipod) to prevent "skippers"
  • Choose a range of songs that various groups will enjoy. It's all about you, but not everyone appreciates your musical tastes.
  • Assign someone to video speeches who is not him/herself giving a speech.


  1. Well written and entertaining, but come on - its been 5 days since your last post, when is the next chapter due?

  2. Thanks! I am putting the final touches on the next one now. This is the beginning of the new "Wedding Wednesday!"


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