An engagement party is a brilliant way to get all your family and friends together to kick off the celebrations for your exciting news.
Most people have never planned a huge party before so it’s an ideal way to get some practise in before the wedding with a fun, relaxed and as stress-free-as-possible gathering.
Remember, it’s not a requirement to have an engagement party. But if you feel like you’ll enjoy hosting one, you’ll find lots of easy and inexpensive ideas below.
We’ve got 16 engagement party ideas to help you choose a theme, plus hints and tips to make it truly memorable. From a black tie affair to a relaxed back garden BBQ, here are our favourite engagement party ideas.
READ MORE: The Best Engagement Gifts for the Happy Couple
First, What Happens at an Engagement Party?
An engagement party is a gathering to celebrate your engagement news. It’s a chance to let the future in-laws meet and get to know each other better; to catch-up with friends and family; and to show off your ring!
What happens at an engagement party depends on what you choose to do. It can just be dropping in for drinks or an engagement brunch, but if you want an activity consider something like a treasure hunt, boat ride or throwing a movie night with an outdoor projector.
READ MORE: 13 Things That Happen After Getting Engaged
How Do I Plan an Engagement Party?
If you’ve wondered where to start with throwing an engagement party, what happens at one and who gets invited, here’s the place to start.
1. Pick a Host
Traditionally, the hosts would be the bride’s family, but there’s no set rule on who hosts the engagement party. Most commonly the couple will throw the engagement party together with their parents. Address this question with them early on so you know what budget you have for your theme.
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2. Set a Date
An engagement party is typically put on around a month after the proposal. It’s enough notice for guests to keep the day free and maintaining everyone’s excitement. Not many people will have seen the ring, you’ll still be on cloud nine and everything will have a bit of a buzz to it.
3. Create a Guest List
As a rule we’d say people will assume they’re invited to your wedding if they’re invited to the engagement celebrations, so start by drawing up a preliminary guest list for your wedding.
The most important thing to remember is that this is about you and your partner and who you want to celebrate with. Keep the engagement party guest list smaller so you get to speak to everyone and don’t let your parents pressure you.
That said, if you’re planning on having an intimate family wedding, or have a limited guest list because of the venue or destination, invite all the guests you want to the party and make it clear that this is your way to celebrate with them as the wedding will be a much smaller affair.
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4. Choose a Venue
Your venue is going to be very dependent on guest numbers and the atmosphere you’re trying to create. For a more formal party, hire a private room in your favourite restaurant for a meal. For something more informal, book some tables at a cocktail bar or pub where people can drop in and out. If you’re trying to keep costs down, a picnic in a local park or a BBQ in your garden or parents’ garden is a great idea.
5. Plan the Theme
Because you’re unlikely to know your wedding theme yet, it’s best to stick with something easy and non-restrictive for now. You both love to travel or met abroad? Do an adventure theme. You’re foodies? A slap-up brunch. Love glamour? Great Gatsby.
Seasonal is great too. Having the party in summer: Pimms on a roof terrace; in winter: mulled wine and lots of fairylights at a cosy pub. We can’t stress enough that if you’re serving drinks, you’ll need to provide food too – nothing fancy necessarily, but something to soak up the booze.
READ MORE: Fun Date Ideas for Newlyweds
6. Send Out Invites
As mentioned, plan your party about a month after your proposal and get invites out as soon as possible. Paper invites are beautiful, but costly and not hugely environmentally friendly (even if recyclable). How about e-vites instead? You can design a cute one on a website and send round to your guest list.
Another option is to throw a secret engagement party. Tell your family and friends (but not the close ones you should have told in person) that it’s just a Christmas party, casual summer BBQ, or even a birthday party, and then drop the bombshell!
7. Find Yourself an Outfit
Lots of brides choose to wear white for the engagement party too, but naturally a much less impressive dress than your final wedding day outfit. However, just dress in what feels appropriate for the party, whether that’s a summery play suit or cocktail dress. Partners match accordingly. If you’re a same-sex couple, one might want to be in black and one in white.
READ MORE: 23 Accessories Every Bride-To-Be Needs
16 Engagement Party Ideas and Themes
Image: The Letter Loft
When it comes to engagement party ideas, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get big impact.
With just a handful of things and a good idea for your theme you can throw together a night to remember in not much time at all.
No doubt your budget will be a little stretched after you’ve bought an engagement ring and started saving for the wedding. There are plenty of ways to adapt these themes to throw an inexpensive engagement party:
- Host at home or a family member’s home
- Keep the guests list small and use e-vites
- Make your own food rather than getting it catered or buying pricey finger food. Keep this simple with something like wine and cheese
- DIY as much of the decor as you can
- Have everyone bring a dish or bottle to save you on costs – this is great for a picnic theme
Here are some of our favourite engagement party ideas, themes and decorations.
1. Travel Theme
If there’s one word for your impending marriage, it’s adventure – so why not go all out and theme your engagement party around your love of travel? It’s especially perfect if you got engaged while on holiday. Either host at a restaurant with your favoruite type of cuisine or do it at home.
Travel Theme Party Ideas:
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Themes
2. Summer BBQ Garden Party
Transform your garden into the best BBQ joint in town. BBQ parties are simple to throw, easy to keep to a budget, great to prepare lots of in advance, and you can ask people to BYOB and drop in and out when they’d like. Rain or shine, Brits will be out in force for a good burger. What’s even better is your can leave your Dad and future father-in-law to man the grill while you catch-up with friends.
BBQ Party Ideas:
- If you don’t have a large outdoor table, make a big seating area out of cushions, rugs, old wooden pallets, lots of lanterns and outdoor chairs. No one wants to stand for a whole party
- Have a ‘pimp your drink’ station so kids can add cordial and fruits to their lemonade, and adults can shake their own cocktail. Later, turn it into an ice cream sundae station
- An outdoor games station is a must: frisbees, giant Jenga, Twister, croquet. Water balloons are fab for a warm day if kids are getting hot and restless
- Gingham napkins are a cute all-American touch, a chalkboard menu with what’s being cooked up, and galvanized tin buckets of flowers can transform your tables
- A fire pit can keep the party going late into the night, and is perfect for toasting marshmallows
3. Great Gatsby/Roaring ’20s Theme
Add some vintage glamour to your day with a Great Gatsby theme, complete with a speakeasy, flapper dresses, and gangster and moll costumes. Everything about the roaring twenties was about extravagance: think a champagne glass pyramid and photo booth full of feather boas, pearls and diamond props.
Great Gatsby Party Ideas:
4. Picnic in the Park
Picnics are a quintessential British summer activity and perfect for a relaxed engagement party. Head to your local park with plenty of blankets, lots of sandwiches and some jugs of Pimm’s. Set up a table and cushions if you can find a back garden big enough to host one. Friends can drop in and out as needed and it’s a great idea if kids are coming too.
Picnic Party Ideas:
- Hang streamers and tassel garlands from the trees
- Set up a piñata for kids and big kids (we love this metallic diamond one)
- Prepare little picnic baskets for your guests with paper plates, napkins and cutlery
- Make your food engagement party-worthy: stuffed focaccia, chorizo scotch eggs, Vietnamese summer rolls, mini frittatas and flatbread
- Play a big game of rounders or bring along outdoor games
READ MORE: Your 13 Step Wedding Planning Guide
5. Wine and Cheese Night
Pair up your port and Stilton for an elegant night of wine and cheese tasting. Local wine bars are often really happy to hosts these for you, or you can do it at home. It’s a fab chance to find a wine you love that you’d like to serve at your wedding. What a wonderful story you’ll have to tell! If you’re doing this yourself, Waitrose have a handy pairing guide.
Wine and Cheese Night Ideas:
- Serve charcuterie boards, crisps, baked brie and sourdough too so there’s more to line your guests stomachs
- Print out wine tasting scorecards
Personalise wine glasses with your names and engagement party date for guests to drink from and take home
- Stick these keepsake personalised cheese markers in each variety so your guests know what they’re eating and you can use them again in the future
6. Casino Night
Image: Moonlight Fun Casinos
If your partner’s found their Lady (or Lad) Luck, put that winning hand to good use with a fun casino night. It’s so easy to host at home or in a garden marquee. You can hire the tables and croupiers from party companies or set up your own. It’ll be much more fun if you use fake chips so no one has to worry about ponying up at the end of the night. Stipulate a black tie dress code for total James Bond vibes.
Casino Night Ideas:
7. All That Glitters Theme
Hello, when else in your life do you get a pretty bit of bling given to you? A diamond theme gives the perfect excuse for plenty of glitz and glam. To go all out why not have everyone dress in black tie? Hire out a fancy hotel bar or restaurant and kick the night off with champagne.
Diamond Theme Ideas:
READ MORE: Inspirational Quotes on Love & Marriage
8. Floral Theme
Love yourself some beautiful blooms? Why not throw a floral themed soirée? Having such a pretty idea to base your engagement party decorations around can only mean one thing: an Instagram-worthy bash.
Floral Theme Ideas:
9. Christmas/Winter Wonderland Theme
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whether you choose Christmas or a generic winter wonderland theme, it’s all about sparkle, merriment and tonnes of cosy touches. So many things are easily DIY’ed like fairy lights in glass jars, pine cones in hurricane candle vases as centrepieces, wine glass charms and paper snowflakes. Kick proceedings off with a mulled wine, crack out the Christmas playlist and serve only the finest holiday canapes (when else do you eat a mushroom vol-au-vent, followed by a spring roll, pigs in blankets, prawn tempura and a mini wellington?)
Christmas Party Ideas:
- A hot chocolate bar will go down a treat, as will a s’mores station with biscuits, chocolate and marshmallows to melt over tea lights
- You can never have enough fairy lights, fact. String ’em up inside, outside and all around. Light lanterns up the path to the venue, make fab holly-shaped wall decorations out of red balloons and some green paper, and spray anything not fixed down with fake snow and glitter spray
- Pre-mix some big jars of signature Christmas cocktails to make it easy to keep your guests topped up
- Make flavoured ice cubes (or these cool ice cube shot glasses!) by freezing cranberries, pomegranate seeds and sprigs of rosemary in the trays
- Adults love a fun party game too. Shovel the Snow is a great one – move cotton wool balls from one bowl to another using a spoon in your mouth in a set time – or try Pin the Nose on Rudolph. Winners get prizes
10. Recreate Your First Date
This is a super sweet idea. If your first date was really memorable then recreate it with your friends and family. For example, go bowling, hire out a room in a museum where you went to see an exhibition, or head to an outdoor cinema with wine and snacks.
First Date Theme Ideas:
READ MORE: Our Favourite Engagement Cakes and Cake Toppers
11. Halloween Couples’ Costume Party
Famous couples is a fantastic theme for a costume party – and there’s no better time to throw one than at Halloween! Whether your guests go for a spooky Gomez and Morticia Addams, a sexy Sandy and Danny or Barbie and Ken à la Beyonce and Jay-Z, you’ll have amazing memories and photos. Any time in October is justifiable for a Halloween party in our eyes, but if you just love costumes, you can do this theme any time of year.
Couples’ Costume Party Ideas:
- Games! Get a round of Who Am I? or Heads Up going, where guests have to describe a famous person from a slip of paper to their partner. Else try Halloween movie trivia, a treasure hunt or spooky charades
- Have a ‘How well do you know the couple?’ competition, where you must put baby pictures in order and answer tricky trivia
- Play UP in a separate room to keep young guests’ entertained – arguably the best Disney couple ever!
- How about a murder mystery game?
12. Boat Party
Depending on which part of the country you live in, a boat party could be very different! We love the idea of a swanky nighttime party down the Thames taking in London’s sights, a lazy day swimming on a boat just off the Cornish coast or even puttering along a canal in a narrowboat for a weekend. Your style of boat party is exactly as formal as you want it to be, but it’s all guaranteed to be Instagrammable.
Boat Party Ideas:
13. Rent a Rooftop
If you’re in a big city, take advantage of the height and head to a rooftop bar for some serious skyline views. Obviously the weather in the UK isn’t always guaranteed to be great so find somewhere with some roof coverage too, like Pergola’s branches in London.
Rooftop Party Ideas:
- Rosé all day! It’s the perfect summery drink to keep you cool. If your rooftop bar is able to make frozen drinks, ask them to make a batch of frosé, which looks amazing on Instagram
- Set the mood with loads of comfy cushions, lanterns, flower garlands and potted plants to complement the wow factor of the view
- Summer parties need a killer playlist. Hire a live musician to have some light guitar music in the background or make a Spotify playlist with all the latest bangers. As the evening goes on, you’ll want everyone dancing
READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Engagement Shoots
14. Big Brunch
Everyone’s favourite meal of the day is also an incredibly relaxed way to catch-up with friends. Book a big table at a cafe or restaurant and choose a set menu for brunch with things everyone will enjoy. You can do it at home of course, but it’s a lot of work to keep all your eggs and bacon warm while toasting your bread and mashing avocado. If you’re doing that, stick to one thing well, like bagels with lots of topping options, or a cold brunch buffet with fruit, pastries and muffins.
Brunch Party Ideas:
- Even though it’s a brunch, give it a party feel with a cocktail like a mimosa or bloody Mary – and have lots of coffee ready
- Make-ahead recipes will be your best friend if you’re hosting at home, like a frittata, french toast casserole or bircher muesli pots
- For a polished look, have no cartons or containers on the table. Decant juice in mason jars, milk into jugs, granola in a serving bowl, smoked salmon on plates, cream cheese on a butter dish, etc.
15. Rock n’ Roll Theme
“Let’s rock/ Everybody, let’s rock/ Everybody in the whole cell block/ Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock!”
Celebrate the fabulous ’50s with a retro rock n’ roll themed engagement party, full of Elvis tunes, Marilyn Monroe wigs, muscle cars, and fierce Pink Lady jackets.
Rock n’ Roll Party Ideas:
- Music is your most important factor here, then clothes. If you’ve got the funds, hire a jukebox or swing band, otherwise a Spotify playlist will be great
- Gentlemen, channel your inner American high school jock, rockabilly Greaser or East End Teddy Boy. Ladies, think swing dresses with big petticoats, oversize bows, Audrey Hepburn white gloves or even a tight-fitting capri pant
- Serve diner food, like shakes, sliders and fries in the traditional black and white check packaging.
- Bags of popcorn are an easy treat to give to guests as they leave to remember the party
READ MORE: The Most Glamorous Wedding Venues in the UK
16. Pastel Theme
For a subtle theme you could go for a colour, instead of basing it on one strict idea or another.
Our favourite broad colour range for an engagement party is pastels. This soft palette ensure everything looks really tasteful, while still adding a splash of colour. It’s ideal for a spring engagement party.
Pastel Party Ideas:
Personalised Love Hearts are great to get guests on a sugar high (we’ve found it helps keep the dance floor full)
- Go all out on old fashioned pastel party hats for a bit of fun and flair. String pastel floral bunting and paper fans around the room
- If you like unicorn-themed things, search for pastel rainbow and unicorn items that will add some whimsy to your theme
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Engagement Party Dos and Don’ts
It’s easy to give a great list of dos and don’ts, but it’s best to take the below with a little pinch of salt.
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All engagement parties are unique to the couple, which means you should only pick and choose what resonates with you from the below list. As a guide we think these are the most commonly agreed dos and don’ts when it comes to engagement party etiquette.
Send out your engagement party invites as early as possible, to give people plenty of time to set aside the date
Make sure the date is okay with key people. There’s nothing worse than booking a venue to then find out your maid of honour is busy
Make a note of any engagement gifts you get as you open them, so you can remember who gave you what when you come to write thank you cards
Think about the music. Whether it’s a band or a Spotify playlist, make sure the songs you pick are likely to keep the dance floor packed all night. We all know that’s the true sign of a good party
Feel like you have to put on all the food or drinks. A little bit of money behind the bar for nibbles and your first glass is great, but from our experience people come expecting to pay for plenty themselves
Forget to take plenty of snaps. Your engagement party is a really monumental occasion, so having those memories documented will be precious in years to come. If you’re likely to forget get one of your bridesmaids or friends to be in charge of snapping away all night
Expect to spend any time with your partner! The evening will go so quickly, and with so many people there it’ll be hard to catch a minute where it’s just the two of you. If possible try and sneak off, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, for a quick moment of quiet
READ MORE: What to Do if You Hate Your Engagement Ring
Engagement Party FAQs
Got one of those questions that you’re not sure if it seems silly to ask? No worries, we answered them all!
Do Guests Pay for the Engagement Party?
That depends on your budget. It’s totally up to the couple if they want to have the party, so it’s up to you (or your parents, if they’d like) if you want to cover all of it, some or none. Just make it clear on the invites if you’re expecting guests to pay for their own food and drink and if it’s a cash bar etc. If you can’t afford it, it’s totally OK not to have an engagement party.
Should We Expect Gifts at the Engagement Party?
Not necessarily. Some people like to give gifts for both events, but most people would save up the cash and buy you something bigger for your wedding present. The engagement party really isn’t about getting presents – but be super grateful if you do get any!
How Long Should an Engagement Party Last?
This isn’t your real wedding; it’s not an all-day event. A few hours is more than enough time to catch up with everyone, get them fed and watered and excited for the wedding.
Who Gets Invited to an Engagement Party?
Close family and friends are definites on the engagement party guest list. Ensure early on that they can make your chosen date. Other than that, it’s your decision. Maybe you’d like to have separate parties for your family and your friends. Maybe you just want to keep it family. There are no set rules.
Once your engagement party is out the way, make sure you read out complete guide to everything you need to do once you get engaged!