How to Plan an Engagement Party

Engaged? Congratulations! Of course, now you’ve said yes, it’s time to share and celebrate your good news with the world. An engagement party is a joyful occasion and a great way to introduce both families and sets of friends to one another. There are no rules as such – just make sure you have fun. We’ve got a lot of experience in planning successful events and special occasion parties, so here are a few helpful pointers we thought you might find useful when planning yours.

The Big Announcement

Generally, it’s a good idea to hold the party soon after the engagement, unless the announcement is to be a surprise at the event itself. Ideally, we advise you don’t organise it too close to the wedding, so there’s time to build anticipation around the big day. Send out invitations around two months in advance. Make sure you tell your parents and grandparents (and children, if you have any) about the engagement before unveiling to everyone else, and definitely don’t break the news by sending them an invitation in the post!


Technology plays a prominent role in modern day life, allowing you to invite your guests in many different ways. A Whatsapp message or specially designed template emails are becoming more popular over the formal option of printed stationery. Choose according to how formal or informal the event is, but ask guests to RSVP regardless, so you can get an idea on exact numbers for catering purposes.

Who to invite?

Traditionally, the engagement party is similar to the wedding, but usually with fewer guests. Those who are invited to the engagement party would normally be invited to the wedding too. Guests aren’t expected to travel long distances, unless they’re close friends or family. By contrast, if you’re marrying abroad, the engagement might be your main celebration, whereby you would want to invite the people who won’t be attending the wedding itself.

One party or more?

This might depend. If your parents insist on an intimate, formal reception, but you’re dying for a big bash, you might want to have two celebrations - many people do. First of all, who’s paying for the engagement party? They would expect to have a say in who’s on the guest list. If the bride’s family is paying for the wedding, they should have a say in the engagement party too.


Any kind of celebration might mean people bring gifts. Some might ask, so it’s a good idea to have a list or some suggestions in mind, especially if you are collecting a dinner service and would like items to match. The question of gifts of money is a thorny one. Some people prefer to give it, so that the couple can put it towards something they really want. By all means accept money if it’s offered, however it’s normally considered bad form to ask for money. If gifts are presented during the party, leave the actual opening of them until afterwards. That way, anyone who hasn’t brought one, won’t feel embarrassed. Don’t forget to make a list of who bought what and send them a thank you note after the event!

What kind of party?

The possibilities are endless: from a formal cocktail party in winter, to a barbecue or garden party come the summer. A lot will depend on your choice of venue and the capacity of the rooms. By choosing somewhere with flexible accommodation, you can ensure that your small gathering isn’t overwhelmed by the imposing room size. You might simply opt to have a do-it-yourself party at home. Alternatively, if you’re inviting a large number of guests, you might opt for somewhere that has a ballroom or a suite of rooms with outside spaces, so that they can mix and move around in between. Opting for a specialist venue, such as Clevedon Hall gives you a choice of dedicated partying spaces and also allows you to take advantage of the advice and expertise of our party planners.


Whatever the style of your engagement party, informal food like a buffet, is good because it allows guests to mingle and meet new people. If the party is an occasion to bring together family and friends for the first time, a variety of food stations and finger food provide them with an opportunity to move around and chat to different people. Our chef has a great repertoire of delicious canapé and drinks suggestions, which we’d be delighted to share with you.


Traditionally, the bride’s father makes a toast to the bride and her fiancé at the engagement party. To this, the fiancé may then respond by toasting the bride-to-be and her parents, followed by his parents. However, this is just tradition – you can do it how you like.

Importantly of all, don’t be daunted, organising any kind of party should be just as fun as the event itself. Remember, it’s your celebration, with no rules to say what you can and can’t do. For maximum enjoyment, make sure you’ve considered your guests based on the sort of crowd they are. Clevedon Hall offers large and smaller rooms, with catering and a list of recommended suppliers.

Our party planners know how to celebrate, so why not give them a call today and make sure you throw the party that everybody will remember.

For more information, or further advice on throwing an engagement party, call us now on 01275 778160, and speak to one of our party planners.

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Photo credit: Creative Commons