This is a comprehensive engagement party checklist and some ideas to help in planning your engagement party.
* Engagement notice in newspaper, Facebook etc
* Arrange Engagement Party (easy to create an event in Facebook to invite your friends)
Engagement Party Checklist
* Date & Time (most Engagement Parties are held on a Saturday night, but a Sunday breakfast or brunch option is also a popular option. Always check any events held locally or nationally that may clash with your date, you don’t want to find out you’ve chosen the football grand final – unless you want to include it in your theme!)
* Guest List (not usually as many guests as the wedding, but it’s entirely up to you! Also don’t forget about whether children can come)
* Location (usually a parent’s home or your house, but venues can be great for fuss free entertaining, or even a River cruise!)
* Budget (it’s hard not to get carried away when your excited by the wedding, but try and look at the entire amount you can afford and work backwards from there. For example if you have a $1200 budget and 40 people, then you have $30 per person, which will determine whether you can get catering etc.)
* Dress code – Casual/Formal/Black tie etc (remember to include on your invites)
* Theme & Color Theme (good time to introduce your wedding theme on a smaller scale and try out some ideas)
* Entertainment/Music (Hire a Band/DJ or even a jukebox)
* Food & Catering (another way to save money is to get guests to “bring a plate” instead of gifts, but there are many options such as a barbecue, or getting it catered for with a spit roast or cocktail style. Some caterers supply just platters of food, which can be a good option to “top up” what you may already be providing)
* Alcohol & Drinks (guests usually expect some alcohol, wine and beer are the most economical with some fruit juices. Also a good time to introduce a “signature cocktail” to be used at the wedding, or try a few out and get guests to vote on the best one!)
* Cake (to save money DIY, or enlist family or friends instead of a gift. Cupcakes are another option you can make yourself and freeze ahead of time, you can defrost them and decorate the day beforehand. Some bakeries allow you to buy “blank” cakes which will save the time in cooking and you can just decorate and ice. Fresh flowers are great for an instant and effective decoration on a cake)
* Invitations (a lot of people just email invites now, and you can get email templates or customisable printable invites from Etsy and Madeit, alternatively you can have them printed professionally)
* Decorations (add instant colour with balloons, most party shops can do custom helium designs quite economically, or hire your own cylinder, enlist some friends and do them yourself depending on your climate the later you have to do the balloons, the hotter the less time they last. Try to do your decorating the day before, it’s also important that if the party is at night to see what the venue is like then, you may need to add in some hire fairy lights, uplights under trees, candelabras and bamboo torches etc to set the mood. Another option is flowers in vases, you can often buy in bulk at market sellers, and just sprinkling masses of rose petals around tea light candles on tables, gardens and the driveway can make a cost effective but amazing impact. Most party shops have disposable plates, crockery and cutlery which will make cleaning up a lot easier too! )
* Gifts (consider how far away from the wedding the party is, as you don’t want to impose on guests too often. If you are already set up in your house, money in lieu of gifts is OK to ask for on your invitations. Guests will need some direction so making it easier for them on the invite is the best way, donation to a charity is another option)
* Organise any Hire items – such as tables, chairs, lighting, crockery & cutlery etc. (Party hire places have many options that you might not be aware of such as small, good for rain marquees, carpet runners for your entrance, archways, vases, lighting, eskies, fabric draping etc for decorating. Most have a price list you can download or get them to email you so you can find out all your options before purchasing items)
* Videographer/Camera (ask a few guests who have video cameras if they would mind videoing through the night, try and follow up with friends afterwards for photos. It can be a great regret later in life that you didn’t capture everything that you wanted to on the night. If you budget allows a videographer can be a great way to capture memories. If you’ve found your photographer already for the wedding, a lot of them offer engagement photos as part of a package which can be great for invitations and keepsakes as well)
* Games/activities (depending on your guests and venue you can add in some fun activities such as wine and cheese tasting, karaoke machine, Trivia contests, Twister, Wii or PlayStation contests etc. If this is the first time your families are meeting, then you might just have to gauge the night as it goes along, but it’s always good to have something preplanned if you may need to “break the ice”. Don’t expect to do everything you’ve thought of, but you might be surprised at how happy guests are to indulge in some fun once they’ve had a few drinks!)
* Contingency Plan (If your party is outside you may need extra cover for rain, or to move to a completely different venue. You can check the previous year’s weather at the Bureau of Meteorology, but always be prepared no matter if it’s “never rained that time of year”)
* Do a run sheet (all event organisers have run sheets which is basically a time line of what’s happening when, it also includes all your suppliers and contact details and numbers on one page of all the relevant and involved people. You will need an overall run sheet that has each item listed on a table with two columns, one for whether it’s been organised and the second for confirmation and payment. A run sheet for the week and day leading up to the event is handy also (depending on how involved your party is). If you have friends/family doing (delegated!) certain things for you it’s good to give them a checklist of their own if they have multiple things to do.)
1 week out – bake cake and freeze, clean driveway, hair cut, check RSVPs etc.
Day before – decorate cake, pick up hire items, check weather forecast, get flowers, set up lighting and check that night etc
Day of (this list needs to include the time as well) – Pick up balloon decorations, put drinks on ice, set up tables and chairs etc.
The easiest way to make a run sheet is to literally look at each item on your list and work out what needs to be done in relation to it – for example –
* Venue (Mum and Dad’s house) –
1. Clean patio
2. Get Dad to fix the gate
3. Draw up lighting plan give to Brother
4. Put flowers and extra toilet paper in bathroom etc
* Me –
1. Find a dress and accessories to wear
2. Get hair done
3. Take emergency kit to Mum and Dad’s (makeup, hairspray etc)
Notes – If you are doing a lot of the setting up yourself make sure you allow time to have a shower and freshen up before your guests arrive, and don’t forget to eat and hydrate! If budget allows a Event Organiser is always a good option, but ensure you have solid ideas on what you want beforehand to save you money. A “mood board” of pictures you’ve found, cut out and placed on some pages to give them a visual idea of what you want also is a great help. You may find that family and friends want to “say a few words” at your Engagement Party, make sure you talk to those people first to ensure there aren’t any surprises on the day. Most of all have fun, and see this as a “dress rehearsal” to the next exciting event – your wedding!
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