Imagine, they have taken a knee and you have said “Yes” and then, instead of taking to Facetime to break the news to friends and family, you’re whisked off to a party where all await to see you sparkle in person.
Most engagements are intended to be a surprise. As a result, many decide to tack on a surprise engagement party. It’s a day worth celebrating, so why not invite all your favorite people to take part in that special day. We’ve compiled some tips for pulling off a surprise engagement party.
Designate a Planner
Decide whether you would like to completely plan the party, partially plan it or assign all of the planning to someone else. Much of this depends on how extensive the party will be. What typically works well is planning it yourself, with the input of a close friend/family member then designating that person as a point of contact on the day of the event. Utilize the resources you have friends and family. If you plan on throwing a larger bash, it might be worth investing in a party planner.
Think about what you would want as a couple. An intimate backyard BBQ, a sit-down dinner at your favorite restaurant or a full-blown party in a rented space that lasts late into the night — what celebration style best suits you?
An engagement is the first step in wedding planning, so get ready for the budgeting to begin. When planning the engagement party, you’ll need to take things like the location, food, alcohol, décor, photography, favors and more into account. Your budget will vary greatly based on these factors.
Keep it simple when considering who to invite: immediate family and other family members who you’re in contact with frequently; friends who you would put in your bridal party; other longterm friends. Send out invitations that give guests plenty of time to plan, especially if travel is involved. The most important aspect: ensure they are aware it’s a surprise. Encourage them to come up with fake plans in case the soon-to-be fiancé asks what they are doing that day. And stress that punctuality is key when arriving to the party.
If you’re seeking a free option that’s almost foolproof for a surprise party, your own home or the home of a friend or family member is a wonderful option. Just say that you’ve got a bottle of champagne at home to celebrate with or you’re stopping by your parents’ house to show off the ring. Inside wait your guests. Another popular option is going to a restaurant or bar you love or have always wanted to try. Have the guests already waiting at the table. If your location is a venue you don’t frequent often, tell our intended that you’ve planned a surprise date or use a blindfold to keep the surprise date under wraps.
Your décor depends on your location. Some venues may not need additional décor or may not allow you to put up your own. When permitted, a banner, flowers and photos of you as a couple are nice touches that are relatively inexpensive, but make an impact.
Food and Beverage
Much of this will depend on the time of day, but regardless, some form of food and beverage should be available for guests. Mornings or afternoons, lighter fare is acceptable with the option of no or some alcohol. If you plan a party at or around dinner time, dinner should be provided. If the party is at someone’s home, you can have the event catered, make food beforehand or make it potluck style. In a restaurant or other venue, have a pre-selected menu that guests can choose from. Libation options could include a champagne toast, beer and wine, drink tickets, a cash bar or open bar.
Hire a Photographer
Many couples wish to remember as much of the wedding process as possible. What better way than with professional photography? A cost effective and wise option would be to hire the photographer to capture the engagement, then have them attend the party. Don’t forget to save them a plate of food, too. Rely on a photographer to capture surprise reactions.
Encourage guests to be at the location at least 30 minutes early. Should a guest run late, ask them to wait 10-15 minutes after the party has begun to enter so as not to ruin the surprise. Have a plan for parking. A friend’s car can be a dead giveaway. Provide guests with the party planner or designated day of contact in case they have any questions. You don’t want your phone blowing up with texts as your proposing. Be aware that things don’t always go as planned and the surprise could be revealed Don’t let it ruin your night, laugh it off and enjoy being with your people.
Feature photo courtesy of Desiree Gardner Photography