Engagement Party, aka The Games Begin

When Craig proposed to me this past Christmas Eve, I was elated. Not only was I about to spend the right of my life with the most perfect man ever for me, my Type-A personality was ready to shine: I feel like I’ve been prepping for planning a major event like a wedding since I was a little girl.

Never one to shy away from hosting anything (from intimate dinners to lavish themed parties), planning a wedding seems like a stressful, beautiful time. As someone who has gotten a bit of an adrenaline high from stress since she was little (I always secretly loved having multiple deadlines), I can’t help but smile when I say “I can’t believe I have so much to plan!”, because I am actually quite excited.

The first event for wedding business seems natural enough–the engagement party. I was excited to share the good news of our engagement with our loved ones (not like I hadn’t text them within 24 hours of Craig proposing or anything…), but was a little nervous about how to get a party going while working full-time and being a busy bee in general. Luckily, I have an amazing family team behind me, so my parents and sister took on the bulk of the planning and executing. I was able to pipe in with some hopes and expectations, but for the most part they took charge and it was AWESOME.

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Save the Date Banner: WeddingBannerLove, via Etsy, Letters & Collage: Robin & Shawna Grasty

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The spread of food! Holy cow!

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Donut diamonds: SEVENTHandJ, via Etsy

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Mimosa and Manmosa bar

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Save the Date cookies: Ruth & Ranshaw of Fairview, NC

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Engaged sign: OkieHeartStudio, via Etsy. Photo cake: Wal-Mart (believe it or not!)

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Happy couple! Dress: Trina Turk, via Rent the Runway 

So, what did I learn from hosting an engagement party? Let me tell ya…

Question: Who the hell do I even invite to this thing?

This was something we struggled with, mostly because we have so many people in our lives who are such wonderful, dear friends. We stuck with inviting only folks who lived in town or were less than 2 hours away, and also were somehow a part of the ceremony. There were a couple of exceptions to this rule (my aunt and her husband made a special trip from Durham, I invited two of my co-workers), but for the most part we wanted to keep it small(ish). Another factor was that since we are going to be asking people to travel for our wedding, we didn’t want to bombard them with lots of events to have to drive/fly to. Since we travel to see our friends throughout the year, we felt we could celebrate our engagement with sporadic trips throughout rather than force everyone to come on one particular afternoon!

Question: What do I do about gifts?

In lieu of a traditional registry, we asked that if people wanted to bring a gift, they bring a bottle of wine. The wine people brought will be served at our wedding! Not only did we get a ton of delicious bottles, one of Craig’s best bros brought us our own “Michelle & Craig” homebrewed beer! It was a great idea and helpful since we’re on a budget.

Question: What do people actually do during an engagement party?

I think this is probably a case-by-case basis, but at our party folks just talked and ate. We didn’t have any games prepared, and there was only one brief speech (I can never pass up a chance trying not to cry in front of people I love). Before we had our own party, I did some research and saw that lots of other couples plan games, but honestly there were so many people at our house, games probably would have felt awkward. Know your crowd, I say.

Question: What would you do differently?

Honestly, very little. My parents and sister did an amazing job and everyone seemed so happy and excited to be there. I guess one thing would definitely be that I would eat with everyone else–I drank plenty of mimosas, but didn’t eat a thing until everyone left at 2pm. This wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, but it is something I would keep in mind for future engagement party-throwers. Also, I wish Craig and I had socialized together more. We always made sure to check-in with each other, but mostly we were both flitting about talking to our guests and making sure everyone was happy.

Overall, our first wedding party was an absolute success, and definitely set the tone for the excitement our actual wedding will have. I can’t wait to share more of the process with you all!

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