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Grace: Engagement Party Perfection

Grace: Engagement Party Perfection

04 Avenue N OutsidePaul and I had our engagement party at Avenue N American Kitchen (above), our favorite restaurant.

A list of dos and don’ts for planning a great engagement party.

By Grace O’Neil

November through January: a period of cozy sweaters, snowflakes, sparkly lights and romance. It’s engagement season, which, according to Wedding Wire, is the time of year that accounts for 43 percent of all engagements.

Throughout an engagement, a couple has a number of opportunities to celebrate. Throwing an engagement party has become an increasingly popular way to kick off wedding festivities. From personal experience, getting together with family and friends is the perfect way to celebrate this special moment and officially announce your engagement.

04 Grace Mom Dad_cropThanks to my parents, Paul and I were honored with an engagement party we’ll never forget at one of our favorite restaurants, Avenue N American Kitchen. For those of you in the early stages of planning, here is a list of engagement party dos and don’ts to help prepare you for this occasion.

DO be open. Traditionally, engagement parties are hosted by a bride’s parents, but this isn’t always the case. In some instances, other family members or friends might offer to do the planning, and parties can even be thrown by the couple. These gatherings can range from intimate get-togethers to larger celebrations and may be held at a number of different locations, from a family member’s house/backyard to a private room in a restaurant.

DO draft your wedding guest list first. Prior to sending out invitations for your engagement party, be sure to write up a guest list for your wedding. Family and friends invited to your engagement party will most likely assume they are invited to your big day, too, and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings due to a lack of pre-planning.

04 FoodsDO create an atmosphere where family and friends can mingle. Think about arranging your engagement party space with a set-up that encourages people to socialize. Keep in mind that for many guests, this gathering is an opportunity to meet one another for the first time. Scratch formal seating arrangements and consider serving appetizers that don’t require sitting down to eat. You can even create a mix on your iPod to get invitees in a festive mood.

DO announce the date. If you and your fiance have decided on your wedding date and venue, be sure to share this news with your guests. Having a specific date for your wedding will make celebrating even more exciting, and your family and friends will appreciate the early notice to mark their calendars.

DO make your wedding party stand out. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen have made a commitment to be an important part of your wedding. An engagement party provides you the chance to introduce them to the rest of your guests and one another. Paul and I chose to display a few framed pictures of our wedding party so that everyone could see who will be by our sides when we say ‘I do.’04 Sign

DO ask a guest to snap pictures. Have a friend or family member who loves to take photographs? Ask them beforehand if they’d mind capturing the day by taking pictures. We were lucky to have Paul’s talented Aunt Gail offer to take photographs for us and are so glad to have pictures of our families and wedding party celebrating together.

DON’T choose a date too close to your wedding. Typically, engagement parties are held soon after a couple becomes engaged. A one-to-three-month window after your engagement is usually a safe bet. For couples planning a shorter engagement, try to host your party at least six months before your wedding date.

DON’T go overboard. While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment while planning a party, don’t forget that you’re simultaneously preparing for the ultimate party — your wedding. The trick is not to have the engagement party upstage your big day. Keep this in mind when choosing the location, menu, decorations and even the outfit you decide to wear.

DON’T forget to say ‘thank you.’ Our three-hour engagement party felt like it flew by in a matter of minutes. Make it a priority to greet all of your guests as they arrive. If you receive any cards or gifts, write and mail your thank you notes as soon as possible.

Regardless of the details you choose, I hope these tips will help you with organizing a special celebration that will make you even more excited to tie the knot.

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